A List Maker's Life: May 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday Salad

I really enjoy getting the Kraft Food & Family recipe idea magazine each season. There were several yummy looking salads in the Summer '09 edition. The recipe featured here today is the first one we tried. Yummy!

Fruit & Almond Salad
5 oz. salad greens
11 oz. mandarin oranges (drained)
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 cup light raspberry vinaigrette dressing

Combine all ingredients (except dressing) in a large bowl.
Drizzle with dressing just before serving.
Toss to coat!

If you are wondering how to toast almonds, here are some notes:
Spread nuts in a single layer in a shallow baking pan
Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown
Stir occassionally

Please add a link to your salad recipe in the comment section. I will add a permanent link to the post after I review your comment. Thanks!

Heidi @ Sacred and Profane shared her recipe for Swiss Apple Pasta Salad.

Katie @ Katie's Nesting spot posted another yummy Kraft Foods salad full of tasty extras!

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

ABC & 123's Summer Prize Picnic

Welcome to the picnic of the summer & THANKS for stopping by A List Maker's Life!

As a bit of an introduction to my family, my interests, my blog, and me I've come up with a little list (of course!).

I must preface this list by saying that my favorite picnics are the impromptu, pick up Jimmy John's on the way to the beach, ones. However, if I must plan ahead here's what I'll pack.

The Perfect Picnic Packing List

~Kevin: My handsome husband of 9 years
~Gavin: My inquisitive, days away from being, 5 year old
~Anne Hope: My dramatically independent 3 year old fashionista
~Gibson: My 7 month old sweet, smiley sonny
~Camera: To capture the moment
~Napkins & Wipes: To organize the messes
~Play Equipment: For making new memories
~Food: I'm not a huge hamburg/hot dog gal, but I love picnic salads, sweets, and side dishes.
~Blanket: Something floral, pink, or purple(better yet pink & purple)
~Diet Coke: Yup, pretty much addicted...ask my Tweeps!
~Reading Material: I love to read to myself and to the kids
~Off Lamp: To keep away all the pesky bugzzzzzzz
~Conversation Starters: To prompt some interesting picnic table talk & reflection

I can't resist a cute bag, so I am most likely to shove all my stuff into a cloth tote instead of a basket.

Once I'm packed, I'm ready to head off to one of our perfect picnic destinations - ANY Lake Michigan beach between St. Joseph & St. Ignace.

I'd love for you to join me!
Pack your bag (or basket) and I'll look for you at the picnic!
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On a side note:
It certainly isn't a summer picnic food, but I just found out my Easy Potato Soup recipe is the champion for the May edition of The Iron Chef Challenge. Thanks to those of you who voted!!

Words Worth Reading

The kids are enjoying the personalized books sent to us by Frecklebox. This week, as part of ABC and 123's Summer Prize Picnic, there is a fantastic opportunity to win a personalized book for a little one in your life!
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Preschool Graduation

Last Friday, was Gavin's preschool graduation. The kids donned their caps and gowns, walked across the mini stage, and each received a special certificate of completion!

My reaction -
"I found myself getting a little choked up about my babe reaching his first school milestone. I wonder if I'd feel less emotional if I had a clue where he was going to go to Kindergarten."

Gavin's reaction -
"I am going to look RIDICULOUS in that red dress and hat!"

After the ceremony all of the Cherry Lane grads and their families celebrated at Timbertown, a fabulous wooden playground in our area. Post park, we took our little after party to Mickey D's so Gavin could treat himself and his sister to a Happy Meal with the graduation $ from Gram ("because Gram is the only one who lets me get a Happy Meal with a toy in it.")
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Friday, May 22, 2009

What's Your Name?

Does every family assign a collection of goofy petnames to the same sweet little lovies they so painstakingly poured over baby naming references to find the perfect fit for? I hope we're not the only ones.

Check out the list of monikers our kids have collected already:

Binky T Barnes

Anne Hope
Pipa (she has many variations on this theme, referring to the unique noise she was famous for as an infant)
Princess Pip
Pipa Cottontail
Annie Hop
Doodle (short for Hope-y Doodle, Momma's Noodle)

Bubby (that would be a baby/buddy slur)

I do love having special names for my babes and I tend to use them often. I think a nick name has to grow on a child, they can not just be assigned. (I would have never dreamed up BT for Gavin). However, it super douper urks me when others, who overhear our special pet names, think it is okay to use them when addressing our kids. Excuse Me! I gave those children perfectly lovely real names. Please use them....;)

How about you? What endearing nicknames have you acquired or assigned?


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Things I Love Thursday: Jon Schmidt

If you read Katie's Nesting Spot you have already seen this and know that I am all out copying her in presenting this beautiful piano arrangement. Since she introduced me to this particular song this week, by Jon Schmidt, I am hooked. I have been listening to song after song on his site. I have a whole list (of course) of the songs I want to purchase for download.

I LOVE his music!
Here is the amazing song he has arranged and performed that drew me in!
It's Taylor Swift meets Cold Play or as Jon has titled it,

Love Story Meets Viva La Vida

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Instant Grass

Weedy Grass

No Grass

Rolling Out the Grass

Voila', Mowable Grass
Walking Through, Laying on, and Playing in New Grass

Now THAT Works for Me!

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Introducing Beauty in Backlight

Along with ABC & 123's big summer reveal coming soon, I have been busy working on another blog project! I'd love to officially share Beauty in Backlight with you. Some of you may have already checked it out, as the button joined my sidebar in the midst of last week's makeover.
My new shop was inspired by paper silhouette suggestions I browsed when looking for Mother's Day gift ideas. I have developed a way to make your favorite photographed silhouette's into digital designs. Through Beauty in Backlight I will be able to offer this service to you to help with your gift giving and memory capturing.

I hope you will take a minute to take a look at my new shop. In fact, right now I am offering a special opportunity for those of you willing to give me feedback. Thanks for taking the time to check it out!

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Not My Imagination

Last week I wrote about the kid's new favorite way to pass time by playing make believe.

I never enjoy playinig make believe as much as they do. I have not found great pleasure in participating in the unique games, specifically the doctor game. I don't know who in the world would want to be the patient every round. Certainly I would not take on that role. We all know the patient's only job is to lay on the bed with their eyes closed. This time I took one for the team and acted sickly. Even though I was the patient there is no way I would enjoy those few minutes of time off my feet while being poked and prodded by wanna-be surgeons.

Upon asking the doctors to tell me their names, I did not take delight in Gavin pronouncing himself to be "Dr. Green" - the name of our real life pediatrician who seems to be a professional worth emulating.

It was not me who also giggled to myself thinking about said doctor - who Kevin would never (I mean NEVER) call the in real life, Doctor McDreamy. I could not secretly agree with him even though Kevin isn't the most handsome man I've ever met.

(Better clarify that for those who don't get the whole NOT Me thing. Dr. Green is good looking, but Kevin is the most handsome man I've ever met).

Okay. I digress.

My giggling, while under anethsia, did not give way to a full blown belly laugh when Anne Hope chimed in, "And I'm Dr. Purple!"

After my extensive medical procedure, it was not this momma who declared that playing make believe was very fun today. Thankyouverymuch. But, game over.

When the worn out doctors asked me to move on with them to a game of ice skating cowboys I did not tell them it was time for me to make dinner - you know, since I was all worn out from my surgery.

No, Not Me!


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday Salads

Warning: Eating this week's salad is like eating dessert! Probably not the healthiest choice, but Oh! So! Yummy!

Grape Salad
2 lbs. washed, dried red & green grapes
8 oz. sour cream
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. sliced almonds

Mix the sour cream, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together. Stir in grapes until they are all coated. Top with sprinkles of brown sugar and sliced almonds.

Do you have any desserty, delicious salad recipes? Please share!

Update: There seems to be a problem with Mr. Linky today. If you have a salad to add please leave your link in a comment and I will add it to this post.

Katie shared a Saturday Salad post all about Greek Salad.
Four Turtle Racers shared a recipe for a Cabbage Salad.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Hooked On A New Look

This Friday I am hooked on my new blog design. As you may recall, about a month ago I won a blog makeover through a giveaway on Family Traditions. Jen from Trendy Mom Blog Design did such a fantastic job of capturing my favorites in this new design. I'm so hooked that I've checked my own page repeatedly just to enjoy the colors and designs again & again - watch our stat counter!

You might notice that with the new design I also tweaked my title just a bit. It always bothered me, in that scratch your nails on a chalkboard kinda way, that listmaker was not a real word. I originally chose to have it as all one word for alliteration sake, but for spelling sake I had Tara correct it. For goodness sake...

Working with Jen was a dream. She cooperates with several great digital designers to be able to offer a huge selection of paper & elements choices. We began with a questionnaire where she was able to get a bit of an idea of my personal preferences. After she put together my design I was able to view it and make changes on her test page. She was incredibly patient with me when I made one specific change that was timely to switch.

If you have ever considered a blog makeover, I suggest you get in touch with Jen. You will be SO glad you did & you "I'll do-it-myself-ers" will be so thankful for the time & headache she will save you!

If you follow A List Maker's Life in a reader, you might have to click over and check out my new look today! Yup, I'm hooked!

To find out what others are Hooked on this Friday head to Hooked on Houses.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

"Maple Leaf"

It makes me smile to watch the kids play the game most of us refer to as "make believe."
I love childish imagination!

Here's the top 10 from this season's pretend activities Hot List!
1. Pterodactyl Tag
2. Dinosaur Races
3. Dinosaur Red Light
4. The Yarn Train Whistle
5. Cowboys on Ice Skates
6. Beauty & the Beast
7. Firefighters
8. Alligator vs. Monkey Wrestle
9. Dr. Purple
10. Rock & Roll Band

I'll let you use your imagination to figure out the crazy rules for each of these clever kid games.
I must get back so they can teach me to play "maple leaf" too!


Wednesday, May 13, 2009


The EasyBaked Potato Soup I entered into this month's Iron Chef Challenge was chosen as a finalist! A "Yummy Yeah" to that! If you have a moment to pop over to Sacred and Profane and vote that'd be fantastic. If you have a 1/2 hour to cook you may actually want to try the recipe for yourself so you know what you are voting for (smiles!).



Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Quiet My Heart

Most days I wrestle. I wrestle with myself. I feel stuck somehwere between wanna-be professional and playing house.

I love my kids . I am blessed to have this time home with them. Yet, I still find some self definition in my education, my career, and my job? I still introduce myself as the "teacher who is home with my kids right now."

This "retirement" of mine is temporary, yes. But the title MOM & wife are quite permanent. Why don't I function at 100% here? In the day to day, hour by hour events, am I mindlessly reacting to my postion or am I conscious of how I carry it out?

Right now, in this moment I'm given...

I spend my days at home cleaning, cooking, correcting, cuddling, chasing, crafting, and communicating. I fill the hours. I fill the minutes. I fill every second with activitites. I search for things that make me feel productive and professional. Being a mom doesn't seem like enough so I organize events, run a business, build a professional blog, write agendas, correspond with educators, compile activities, read professional literature, and plan learning centers for my kids.

Each second that's passing is filled with so much meaning...

I think I'm missing it.

This morning something was different. I snuggled the kids in bed as they woke up. I served breakfast while I was still in my own jammies. I really played trains, with my hands and my heart. When I did get dressed I chose the fuzzy sweatshirt and flip flops (you know the one - it probably screams SAHM). Today I was okay with that.

We didn't run errands. We didn't "hustle up."
We didn't prop the bottle.
We talked. We listened. We laughed. We wrestled.
We were all more content, more amused, more entertained, and more peaceful.

Without any conscious change on my part I found myself appreciating the opportunity to carry out the mundane chores of the day: laundry, trash, mopping, laundry, bathing babes, laundry. I didn't wrestle with myeslf about what I should be/could be/used to be doing. I found joy in our moments. I appreciated the pace of this "season." I embraced the job I've been given.

As the day ends I feel better about what I accomplished in the here & now, instead of feeling like I spent my day stuck between then & now.

I'll treasure the breath I'm breathing...


Monday, May 11, 2009

Not So Important

I was recently tagged by Together We Save to list 6 "unimportant" favorite things.
Since I really like to make lists this was a simple tag to write. Sorry it took me so long to post it!

Several of the things that came to my mind right away would be repeats for those of you who have been reading A Listmaker's Life for any amount of time... reading, strawberries, scrapbooking, diet coke, toothpaste, etc. Well, come to think of it, those things are all pretty darn important;)

6. the soft rabbit pellet-ish ice that is sometimes in fountain drinks - (Note to Simon - ice for lunch is a good thing)

5. wearing flip flops with manicured toe nails

4. listening to the radio

3. chenille bedspreads, blankets, and little girly clothes

2. willow tree angels & family figurines

1. etsy - it's SO fun to browse & Katie and I are currently working with several etsy shop owners to set up some great giveaways for ABC & 123!
I've tagged several people for different things lately, so I won't pick any specific bloggers for this one. However, I'd love to see your lists. If you post one please leave a comment or link!


Sunday, May 10, 2009

To You Too!

To the...
...decorating moms
...designing moms
...crafty moms
...clever moms
...caring moms
...compassionate moms
...decorating moms
...designing moms
...encouraging moms
...expectant moms
...frugal moms
...first time moms
...friendly moms
...generous moms
...grand moms
...grieving moms
...giving moms
...honest moms
...hopeful moms
...helpful moms
...lucky moms
...loving moms
...mind molding moms
...meal making moms
...patient moms
...praying moms
...resourceful moms
...stylish moms
...sharing moms
...thankful moms
...thoughtful moms
...tolerant moms
...teaching moms
...tired moms
...talented moms
...twin moms
...trendy moms
...working moms
...witty moms

To all of you.
Who are all of these.

Happy Mother's Day!


Saturday, May 9, 2009

You Say Potato, I Say Potato

Last month my friend Shelby was the winner of the Iron Chef Challenge. I agree that Shelby's crockpot recipe was a winner! This month I decided to join in the new challenge - potatoes! There is a potato soup recipe that I love, love, love! You may remember this specific recipe from one of this winter's Souper Saturdays, but I will re-post it now.

Easy Baked Potato Soup
3 to 4 medium baking potatoes, baked
5 bacon strips, diced
2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) condensed cream of potato soup, undiluted
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cheddar cheese soup, undiluted
3-1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Dash Liquid Smoke, optional
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
Shredded cheddar cheese

Peel and dice the baked potatoes; set aside. In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towels. Drain, reserving 1-1/2 teaspoons drippings.

Add the soups, milk, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, pepper, Liquid Smoke if desired and reserved potatoes to the drippings. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Stir in sour cream, cook for 1-2 minutes or until heated through (do not boil).

Garnish with cheddar cheese and bacon.
Yield: 10 servings (2-1/2 quarts).


Saturday Salads

Cashew Salad

1 head lettuce
chunks of feta or cheddar cheese
1-1/2 cups cashews


1 cup salad oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. mustard
1/3 cup vinegar
1 tsp. grated onion
1 tsp. poppyseed
Shake occassionally & refridgerate overnight.

Mix together before serving!

Do you have a salad to share this Saturday?


Friday, May 8, 2009

Talking About Grandmas

In honor of Mother's Day I interviewed the kids. I asked them a few questions about our favorite moms...their Grandma's.

What is a grandma?
Gavin: A Mom. Like Gram is your mom and Gramma Great is Gram's mom.
Anne Hope: A Gram E, or a Grandma M, or a Grammy Great.

What do grandmas like best?
They would love me best.
Grandmas love bears.

What do grandmas do?
They play with people. They bake some food and eat pizza from a real pizza place that's good.
They talk, play, and read books.

What do grandmas say?
I Love You.
Let's play cars.
Food time!
Let's put on your clothes to go to Lowes or something.
Who did that???

What does grandma smell like?
Um, I don't want to answer that one!
Anne Hope, not really...

What are your grandmas' favorite colors?
Grandma E. - pink
Grandma M. - purple
Grandma E. - red
Grandma M. - yellow or black

What is your favorite thing to do at your grandmas' houses?
Wii, Micro-Machines
Airplane toy
Coloring & Art, Abby & Emma
Airplane toy


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Things I Love Thursday: Parades

I like watching people.
I like crowds.
I like listening to bands.
I love a parade!

This week in Holland we have the opportunity to take in all kinds of parades, as we continue to celebrate Tulip Time. For the first time ever Gavin participated in a parade. I joined him on his school float in the Volksparade yesterday. Fun! He was such a trouper as he smiled & waved the entire parade route.

Here are the parades in town this week:

Wednesday: The Volksparade
"Watch hundreds of Dutch-costumed townspeople armed with brooms and pails scrub the parade route clean. The Volksparade features dozens of colorful bands, floats, and more. Our Exhibition Dutch Dance groups “Klomp” along the route in their authentic costumes and real wooden shoes! Volksparade approximately 1½ hours."

Our Parade Highlights -
~Watching for our friends and neighbors as they scrub the streets
~The Cherry Lane Preschool float

Thursday: The Kinder Parade
"This colorful parade gives over 7,000 area school children the opportunity to greet our visitors. Dressed in Dutch costumes, these children showcase Holland’s Dutch heritage with their creative use of props as they march with contagious enthusiasm. A great photo opportunity! Approximately 1½ hours."

Our Parade Highlight -
~Watching for all of my previous students as 1,000's of area children parade in their costumes.

Saturday: The Muziek Parade
"The grand finale of the festival! Nearly 40 bands and as many floats, giant helium parade balloons, horses, Klompen Dancers, and much more perform along a 2.4 mile route to the delight of young and old alike. Muziekparade approximately 2 hours."

Our Parade Highlight -
~The thrill of hunting out the best seat and putting our blankets & chairs on the curb at precisely 9 PM the night before the parade. Ridiculous, huh?
~Our favorite band in all 3 parades is the Holland High School marching band. They do a fabulous rendition of Tip Toe through the Tulips as they dance in wooden shoes through the entire parade route. At this parade they seem to kick with extra enthusiasm.

Yes, 3 parades in one week! Makes for lots of excitement. The area students love it too because parade days mean 1/2 days of school. YEAH!


Parade descriptions are taken from the Tulip Time website.

Crafting with Ribbon

craft challenge
This month Heidi challenged us to craft something with ribbon! I spent quite a bit of time trying to think of some clever, out of the ordinary, project to try using ribbon. However, when it came right down to it I realized I have many homemade ribbon projects I have made or used throughout this month.
Here's a list of the different ways we've put decorative ribbon to good use:

Rearranging Ringlets: Hair Bow

Replying: Thank You Note

Relaxing: Felt Play Mat
This quiet play activity was made by sewing a piece of felt to the inside of a decorated vinyl placemat. I sewed the ribbons in on one edge. The mat rolls up (with pieces inside) and ties together. The vinyl makes for easy clean up! To make fun felt play pieces I printed digital designs on photo paper and attached them to a felt backing. You could also do this with stickers.
Remembering: Birthday Cards
I am a collector. I have a really difficult time throwing things away. Even, or should I say especially, birthday cards. After each of the kid's birthdays I compile their cards into small books. I put a hole punch in the top of each card and design a cover card with their age.
Each of the cards is then tied together with a ribbon.
The kids love to go back and look at all their special cards from each year.
Repurposing: Key Ring & Coaster Mini-Album
Resizing: Belt
Reading: Bookmarks
The kids and I just did this project this week. It was fun to make designs using our button collection. We glued them to our ribbon of choice with Zip Dry glue If I were still teaching I would love to make these with my students for them to give their moms for Mother's Day.