The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at
home in the bosom of my family.

-Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Buzz

Every third bite of food we eat is bee dependant, that’s over $15 billion worth of crops. But, where are the bees going? Scientists and beekeepers are stumped at the mysterious disappearance of the nation’s bees. There have been other declines in the bee population before now, but they have all been regional as opposed to this widespread absence. The cause is unknown since the bees are not returning to the colony to die. However, scientists have several hypothesis—diminished number of beekeepers (and consequently less bees) but still more crops to pollinate, stress (a little bee has a lot of work, you know!), a virus, pesticides, or mites. Something I never knew is that most of our honey is imported from…guess? Yeah, China—what isn’t these days? It is also sent to us from Argentina. Because of this outsourcing, the US honey market is depressed which has led beekeepers to create “pollinating contracts” where they actually pack up the colonies (hives) into 18 wheeler trucks and travel to agricultural sites. So, we will keep seeing the amber colored Sue Bee bears at Wal-Mart for the same price because of our idiocy in saving a penny while in return endangering the nation’s crops.

So, less doom and gloom and more proactivity always helps me to sleep better. What can we do to help our little fuzzy friends? Start locally by planting bee friendly flowers: lavender, glory bushes, jasmine, rosemary, coreopsis, violets, thyme, wisteria, bluebells, trumpet vines, sunflowers, cosmos, and cone flowers. Another way is to support the beekeepers by buying local honey and bee products (i.e. honeycomb, beeswax candles) and by using natural honey instead of sugar at home and in restaurants. Also, you can EAT ICE CREAM to help keep the buzz alive—twist my arm! Haagen Dazs is donating to the bee cause anytime we buy “bee-dependant flavors” such as almond, fruit, or honey flavored.

Many view the disappearing bees as a sign of things to come. I’m not a bee expert, and maybe I’m being paranoid, but I love fruit more than I love any other food and it makes me scared to think of arriving at a grocery store to find empty produce aisles. Let’s help the little striped guys!

Monday, March 24, 2008


Costco writes my shopping lists for me. I had no idea I "needed" a seahorse kite, but I'm glad that despite the overwhelming snow drifts, I had the foresight in January to buy it. "Kiting", or the act of flying a kite, was a wonderful way to begin the routine of sunny family outings. Have we mentioned yet that we pracically shed tears of joy that winter has finally ended?

"Seriphina" is the newest addition to the family. The Easter Bunny purchased it as an impulse buy--but the rabbit was obviously inspired. It will not be long before the white kitty is dingy-the cat goes EVERYWHERE with Alli since the arrival of the basket. Seriphina is a perfect fit since Alli's alter personality is a cat.

Nick is a hottie while handling the kite. And of course, no picture taking would be complete without some mack action!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Springtime Easter!

We were really blessed to have Nick's mom and little brother, Drew, stay with us for the past several days and they were able to join in our pre, during, and post Easter celebrations. This year we tried to find some fun traditions to not only maintain but start, as well. For example, Good Friday tasted sweet with Hot Cross Buns (Alli can now sing the tune, even while eating them). We also did Easter "devotions" every night--using cutouts to reinact the last days of Christ's life, singing songs about the life of Jesus, and opening 12 plastic eggs each containing a bit of the Easter story (a broken piece of bread, a miniature cross, nails, etc.).

Of course, Paas came through with flying colors. I really despise the smell of hard boiled eggs, but Drew and Alli had a blast experimenting with the palatte of vinegar extracted rainbows, so I just tried my best to block out the sulfer smells.

The Easter Bunny delivered Alli's basket on Saturday. I highly recommend starting that tradition since the din during the Sunday service was obviously sugar based. Alli got all dolled up for the day, princess hair inclded! (She's so cute waving to Nick who was inside the house trying to hurry us out the door)
The whole family came over for the dinner and egg hunt. Nick and I love to cook and we were pretty proud of our chosen menu and the success of it's tastiness. We had ham, curried fruit, funeral potatoes, green bean cassorole, and more hot cross buns. While the cooking process took place, the adults gorged ourselves on caramel rum pecans with shaved What a celebration of new life and the love we have in our beautiful family.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Unfortuantely Perfect

It is sad to discover a tasty recipe sometimes. Drat the internet. The least I can do is pass along the calorie laden goodness in recipe form since Nick and I have devoured most of the baked goodness known as: Unbelievably Good Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
¼ pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
½ cup sugar
¾ cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1 ½ t. vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten
7 oz bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/2 inch chunks [I just used half of a 12-oz bag of bittersweet Ghirardelli chocolate chips]

1) Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

2) Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugars on low speed until it is smooth and lump free, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.

3) Add the vanilla and egg and beat on low speed for 15 seconds, or until fully incorporated. Do not overbeat. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.

4) On low speed, add the flour mixture. Beat until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the chocolate chunks and mix until they are just incorporated. If using a hand mixer, use a wooden spoon to stir them in. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.

5) Preheat oven to 350. Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats. Spoon the dough using a cookie scooper 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets. (makes about 23 3-inch round cookies)

6) Bake for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Wait at least 5 minutes before serving or 20 minutes before storing in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rec Center Gems

One of the best parts of not joining a “gym” but rather reaping the civic benefits of a community recreation center is the morning conversation in the women’s locker room. I’m a bona fide eaves dropper and since the water aerobics ladies are such a riot, there are several giggles I’ve had to stifle to mask my unknown involvement in their lives. Sometimes I prolong my pre-swimming rinse off just to catch the rest of a conversation thread. Here are a few of the bits of wisdom gleaned from ladies who spend their mornings gabbing in the buff:

1. As a woman’s body form changes, it is important to become “crease conscious” in the shower—and it’s okay to tell your friend in the next stall to do the same

2. Use a cane to drop over an unattended, locked shower stall and shimmy the lock it to get it opened. “Mischievous little kids!”

3. Grandkids spend too much time with electronic toys

4. All children really want is to spend more time with their elders

5. When one lady noticed some of the scars on my legs, she exclaimed, “You’re too young to have had a hip replacement!” When she found out that wasn’t the case, she resigned, “Well, I guess we’ve all got something, huh?”

6. It is not acceptable to have a friend that goes “cold turkey” on eating out with the girls for lunch just because she wants to watch her weight and save money

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Fashion Savvy

The only fashion advice I've been able to successfully impart to our little diva has been "no pink pants/shorts with a pink shirt"—something about walking pepto disturbs the senses. However, I don’t dare try to squelch her creativity by telling her what some of her choices really look like. Oh well. Honestly, who am I to judge when there are many days when I walk out of my house knowingly committing a fashion faux pas of the grandest sort? Panties being worn on the head and polka dot shoes with unbuttoned capris is acceptable as a preschooler just as it will be when she's teetering around as a toothless granny. Who says fashions don't come back in the same lifetime?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Knitting Friends

There are no major happenings in the Nick and Miriam family except the pleasant ebb and flow of life. Nick stays busy putting his genius to good use in creating computer masterpieces for the hungry audience called “clients”. He maintains his sleek physique as he continues training for the multiple upcoming 2008 triathlons. Miriam LOVES being a stay-at-home teacher, laundress, tailor, chef, chauffer, nurse, librarian, interior decorator…she is an incognito mom hiding behind those other titles. Alli is enamored with Junie B. Jones and giggles at all the right places. She is truly a princess in attire, attributes, and adoration. We are so blessed with copious evidences of God’s love in our family.

Blog title disclaimer: we don’t knit. Earlier last week I began pondering the intense friendship between Jonathan and David described in 1 Samuel, “…the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1 Sam 18:1). That stands out to me as perfect imagery for the intense love that we feel for each other in our family. Every day we play a game with Alli called “I love you more than (fill in the blank)”. It is really something special when a three year old tells you that she loves you more than chocolate and swimming. We’ve also tried to quantify in the game but she pretty much just understands that when you love someone “all the way from Barbie’s to Ladd and Sophie’s house” that it must be a lot and tells us that our “all the way to the moon” is not as much as her choice. There is no doubt that we bask in perfect, soulful love for each other—which certainly helps to make up for our imperfect foibles as mere mortals.