Friday, December 28, 2007

Recycled Christmas Cards

Are you hesitant to throw away those beautiful Christmas cards from all the people you love?

My college roommate tipped me off to several creative ways to reuse them next Christmas. This year she wrapped her presents in washed and dried paper grocery sacks and did a type of decoupage of last year's cards on top of them. I didn't get to see it but it sounds crazy creative.

Next year I plan on using mine as gift tags. Just cut up your favorites, punch holes and tie them up with ribbon. You won't even have to write a name on a gift if you use last year's photo card to give your niece a present with her picture on it.

You could also buy blank cards for next year's Christmas cards and decorate them with a hand written message and a collage of last year's cards. You could start this now and send everyone a very special greeting.

Be creative and give your Christmas cards a second life.

Will Bake for Food II

Ambition is a wonderful thing. Satisfaction with reality is even better.

I didn't even get half of the items on my wish list baked, but I am mostly happy with the ones I did accomplish. The baby's first birthday cake was tall and dense and spicy. His second birthday cake was light, sweet and cute (he had four cakes total, if you count his smash cakes). There was no toffee, brittle or cordials and my pralines failed, but I tried a new recipe for peanut butter bites and they were pretty good.

Everything else I accomplished was pretty standard, chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, sugar cookies. The highlight of the season was probably helping my Mother-in-law make a raspberry and almond whip cream tart, the desert was really hers but it was new and it was fun helping.

Of course the season isn't quite over and tomorrow I'm making the blueberry coffee cake for a visit from my real estate agent. If you see me ask me to make your favorite holiday treat, I'm still looking for excuses to bake.

Relax and Regroup

Our family had a truly Happy Christmas and I hope yours did as well.

After a month of perpetual motion, I find myself with a little down time. My Happy husband is still on vacation and I even got to steal away for an afternoon movie. However, the future is always present in my mind and I have begun taking inventory of the chores that have been neglected during the holiday insanity. Closets have gotten cluttered and the refrigerator is now almost as gunky as the microwave, let's not even discuss the garage. My New Year's Resolution should be to keep the aforementioned spaces clean and organized at all times, but it's just not possible. Little girl's pajama drawers just can't stay tidy for any extended period of time. So my intended Resolution is to set up a weekly schedule for the maintenance of messy spaces.

As simple as this sounds you all know this is painfully ambitious, but it is my goal to stay organized and on top of my daily chores.


  • Microwave
  • Refrigerator
  • Pantry
  • Hall Closet
  • Bookshelves
  • Toys
  • Children's drawers
  • Garage
  • Car inside and out
  • Junk Drawer
  • Laundry closets
  • Desk

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hired Help

While folding my tenth load of laundry yesterday, I watched a few minutes of an old Doris Day movie. There are so many cultural differences between the early sixties and today, to start with practically all of her movies have a moral dilemma that she is trying to navigate with good humor. That Touch Of Mink and Move Over, Darling couldn't even be made as Hallmark movies today because the sexual morality is so innocent. But that isn't what struck me the most.

With all of my holiday chores compounded by being out of electricity for half of last week, I couldn't help but be jealous of Doris Day's hired help. I collect vintage cookbooks and they often discuss the role of the domestic employee. Forty years ago housewives of a certain economic status had staff. Housewives, not lawyers or movie stars. Today's equivilent of these women may still have gardners and a cleaning service but live in staff has been relagated to the very wealthy. Even the lower classes of bygone years had grandmothers or spinster aunts that lived in the house to help with the children and chores.

We may have many conveniences our predecessors didn't have but being a housewife has always been a sunrise to sunset job. It's a wonder we're all running around frazzled, and I can't even imagine the stress on the single mother or the working mom. There literally aren't enough hours in the day to get all their work done.

For now I'll just have to take it in stride and remember that I'm working so feverishly in order to relax and enjoy myself over Christmas break.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I Think I Have Christmas OCD

I love Christmas. I look forward to every last little part of the whole season. I even love to be in the middle of a busy mall and watch people bustle by, their arms loaded with bags...

...but I have a confession to make, I think I have Christmas Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It has always manifested in my selection of Christmas Cards. I start looking for the perfect cards before Thanksgiving and usually purchase two to three selections just to make sure everyone gets the right card. I purchase a new calligraphy pen and they cannot be sent out unless they have Madonna and Child stamps.

This year my COCD has spread to my daughters Christmas dresses. I am always particular about what my children wear, but their Christmas and Easter dresses are the two most important outfits of the year. Last year I stumbled onto a great sale in Dallas and I was done early.
For some reason this year I just cannot be satisfied. Every boutique, department store and resale shop in Tulsa and Owasso has been visited. So far I have bought two dresses for my eldest and I just lost out on one I really wanted on ebay, because I wasn't home when it ended. There must be 200 companies that make dresses for little girls, why can't any of them make something original? Even the World Wide Web is letting me down, why is everything I like online over $100? When will Le Pink learn to make a dress out of something other than shantung and tulle? Does everyone else feel satisfied with the banal cookie cutter offering this year???

I'm afraid. Next year it might the cards, the dresses and a completely new Christmas tree (it's started bothering me this year). This Happy Housewife needs to learn to be Happy with three beautiful healthy children, even if their Christmas outfits do coordinate but don't match.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Will Bake for Food

Baking season is here! Hooray!

Finally, I have an excuse to try exotic recipes and stock my pantry with nuts and chocolate and five different kinds of flour. This is the only time of year we allow ourselves to make the truly decadent candies and morsels that satisfy the baker's soul. My fingers get all twitchy as I start making a mental list of the goodies I'll craft for friends and family. Shopping for presents is lots of fun, but baking for presents is sheer delight. All is well with the world when you can assemble a tin of nut brittle and toffee with pecan sandies sandwiched in between...or maybe pralines.

Alas, my early season ambition is always thwarted by the busy reality of kids and chores and even illness. So I have decided to chronicle my seasonal quest for baking perfection and see how close I can get to accomplishing what I want. Maybe writing this all down will help keep me in the kitchen.

Confections and Baked Goods

  1. Fruit cake (taken with rave reviews to Thanksgiving in Indiana)
  2. Toffee
  3. Pecan, almond and cashew brittle
  4. Peppermint and chocolate bark
  5. Chocolate covered cherries
  6. Cheesecake
  7. Coconut cream pie
  8. Mounds of hot buttery rolls
  9. Pecan tart
  10. Blueberry coffee cake
  11. Decorated sugar cookes
  12. Giant birthday cake for my son's first birthday
Potential Gift Recipients
  1. Three Sunday School teachers
  2. One Public School teacher
  3. Six close friends
  4. Several neighbors
  5. Mailman
  6. Trash Collectors
  7. One giant gift and goodie filled basket for my aunt and grandmother
I'll be pleased if I can get half of this done.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


My parents love to take my children to Chuck E. Cheese. This is a tremendous blessing because the kids can get their semi annual fix and I don't have to brave the chaos by myself with three children.

This evening we discovered a new game called Colorama. It is essentially a simple roulette wheel for children with flashing lights and psychedelic patterns. Up to four people can slip in their quarter, chose from up to five colors and spin the wheel. You watch as the silver ball comes to a stop on one of the colors. This is Vegas for children! Unrestrained joy is the only was to describe my daughter when she won. Lights, tickets shooting out like the big pay off, she couldn't contain herself. "I won, I won, let's play again." We had fun chunking tokens and letting it ride on all five colors. At the end of the evening we had over 500 tickets and a good time was had by all. But I could sense a pattern developing...

The last time I went to CEC with our church group I found myself using my check card at a token vending machine. This time the culprit was the little shovel game where you flick tokens at the shelf where hundreds of shiny gold tokens are precariously dangling over the edge just waiting for you to tip them all off in one great avalanche of ticket yielding glory.

There are two thing I have learned about myself at Chuck E Cheese, first I think I need to stick to Skee Ball and secondly under no circumstances should I visit Vegas.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Joys of Multiple Siblings

Back when we were DINKs (Double Income No Kids), we had friends with two beautiful children; a boy and a girl. Then one day they showed up pregnant with their third child. My initial gut reaction was "why would they have another kid, isn't two enough?" I was surprised at myself and my inner dialog settled down remembering that they were great people with the means and desire to care for as many children as they wanted. But the feeling was out there, two children is more than enough. Of course here I am four years later with three kids.

When you are pregnant with your second, third and beyond people always tell you, "It gets easier after two" or "it gets easier after three." True and False. There is more work and more helpers, if you can call a five year old a helper. But the best thing about lots of kids is lots of siblings.

Tonight, my 5 year old walked around the house holding onto the 10 month old's hands helping him learn to walk. To them it was just simple fun, but I saw a lifetime of cooperation and brotherhood. I saw big family gatherings twenty years from now that will be filled with the joy of shared lives. I saw three grownups who helped each other grow up and that made me so Happy to have three kids.

Death by Daylight Savings

Ugh! It has taken us all week to get used to the new daylight hours. My children have been waking up at 6:30 a.m. and the results have not been pretty for any of us. On Wednesday, my three year old was particularly irritable when she woke up.

Me to Husband "It is killing these kids to wake up so early, but they do it anyway."

My 3 year old "Mommy, am I going to die?"

One more expression I didn't realize I used too much.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Compassionate Child

My oldest daughter started Kindergarten this year and the texture of all our lives has definitely changed. One of the surprises for me has been how much my child is asked to participate in charitable and fund raising endeavors. In the past two months she has been asked to raise money or procure goods for seven separate projects.

First in School she has had a canned food drive, the obligatory shiny cataloge PTA thing(the only one we sat out) and a specific food item drive for the Salvation Army's Thanksgiving dinners.

Then at Church she has had a canned food drive, a booklet of quarters collected for orphans in other countries, a shoebox collection of gifts for underprivileged children around the world and a monthly piggy bank collection to purchase literature for missionaries.

This has all been in the past two months. We chose our church partially because it is very "outreach" oriented and we have always enjoyed being involved in the compassion ministries in the past. The school's community efforts I find pleasantly surprising. We live in a very working class/immigrant neighborhood and no one has resources to just throw away. All of this outward giving has made an impact on my five year old. She is routinely looking for quarters "for the orphans" and telling me why they need our money.

I'm pleased that she is learning to give outside of the home...but I have to say I'm just a little overwhelmed. It's an effort to find cash (who uses cash anymore?) and I have started adding food drive items to my regular grocery list because she needs more items than I have stuck in the back of the pantry. Perhaps that is the way it should be, every time we get something for ourselves we should get a little something for those less fortunate.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Cartoons I Have Loved

Every parent has watched cartoons with their children and you either found yourself laughing or grimacing. My husband has recently been ordering those eighties gems from Netflix, that hold after school memories for him. I have compiled lists of my personal current favorites and golden oldies that I have loved.


  1. Little Bear--He is kind, creative and my personal favorite obedient. Each episode is like a little adventure and it is the least formulaic of the bunch.
  2. Handy Manny--"You break it, we fix it." Love the tools and Manny. How cute is a town named Sheetrock Falls?
  3. Veggie Tales--Wisdom and Morals in a funny, clever cartoon. Pitch perfect writing that I have used over and over again with my children. For example "a thankful heart is a happy heart," can be used in so many circumstances. Thank you Madame Blueberry.
  4. Little Einsteins--Beautiful music and art in an adventurous fantasy world. Probably my kid's favorites and I find them humming the classics all the time.
Golden Oldies
  1. Penelope Pitstop and the Wacky Races--My sister and I used to fight over who would be Penelope.
  2. Bugs Bunny--The most classic of all, if you have watched any vintage bunny recently it's also a time capsule. There are tons of WWII references and even a few shameful episodes that deal with race.
  3. The Chipmunks--Probably a really dreadful cartoon, but I loved it as a kid.
  4. Tom and Jerry--They still hold up today my kids argue over who is the mean one.
  5. XMen--My favorite of all the comic book cartoons probably because they had plenty of cool girls to relate to.

Cartoons I Have Hated

There are two categories of cartoons I have hated.

Merely annoying or not to my taste

  1. Scooby-doo--I think I was four when I realized the show was formulaic, painfully, not endearingly formulaic.
  2. Road Runner--He is just so smug, does the poor skinny coyote not deserve to win just one hot meal?
  3. All anime'--Their mouths don't move when they talk, too creepy.
  4. Max and Ruby--It does have it's cute moments, but Max is like five and he can only speak in monosyllabic responses. Why does Ruby have to bee so bossy? Maybe because they appear to be orphans alone in a big house.
Cartoons my children are forbidden to watch due to content
  1. Spongebob Squarepants--It's just not written for children under 10, it's gross and in the words of my five-year-old "all they ever do is shout at each other."
  2. Dora the Explorer--She's too cute and innocent, what could be wrong with her? It's really just more of a feeling I get when we watch it. Too much chanting, too many brujas (a little crazy family history, but a witch in Spanish has a different meaning to me) and just an overall new age-y new world order vibe I get. I know, I know it's just me.
  3. Jimmy Neutron--the kid's a genius and his father is a clueless fool.
  4. All those mid afternoon Nick shows that are just about loud, obnoxious deviant behavior.

Monday, October 29, 2007

It's Pomegranate Season

Fall is such an exciting season for produce!
Just when the peaches disappear and the watermelon gets expensive there is a whole new crop of exotic autumn wares. Even the most boring of grocery stores are carrying all those beautiful gourds and squashes not to mention the quince and persimmons, but tonight I purchased the king of fall fruits, the Pomegranate. It is such a manly fruit, all red, tough skinned and difficult to open. And what other fruit is both juicy and crunchy at the same time?

In honor of it's arrival, I've listed out a few tips and suggestions for enjoying the sweet and tarty Pomegranate.

Part of the fun of a pomegranate is opening it up, you want to get to the juicy seeds, but you don't want to pop them all over yourself in the process.

  • Never slice through it with a knife, instead gently insert knife into the bottom an inch or so and then pry it open with your hands. It should just crack apart leaving all those juicy pods intact.
  • Fill a large mixing bowl with water and submerge pomegranate and hands into the water, now you can gently pop off the seeds into the water without squirting juice everywhere.
  • Do several at a time and then save the seeds in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
While they are great just eaten from a bowl there are many other ways to enjoy their heart healthy goodness.
  • Juice them in the food processor then pass through a sieve to get rid of extra seeds.
  • Add them to vanilla ice cream.
  • Fruit salad with pomegranates. How gourmet!
  • I wonder if they would make good jam, think I'll have to try that.
  • They are a hit in holiday fruit baskets.
Official Happy Housewife Recommendation
  • Pomwonderful fruit and juice are truly superior to other brands, especially the juice. To my knowledge they are the only company who juices both skin and fruit which produces not only a deeper richer flavor but more concentrated health benefits as well.
Pomegranate Trivia
  • In greek mythology it was eating a pomegranate that doomed Persephone to spend three months each year in the underworld.
  • I once heard Martha Stewart say that she loved to sit up in her white bed with a knife and a pomegranate as an evening snack, as if she was defying the fruit to get her sheets stained.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dinner at Home

I make dinner for my husband every night. After taking care of the kids, I consider this to be my most important task. All of the other daily chores can be shirked, but dinner must be served. Forgive me if I sound archaic, but I make it for my man. The children and I would all rather have cereal and fruit and on the nights when he's not home for dinner that's exactly what we do. Sometimes I have to drag myself into the kitchen and stare blankly at the cursed freezer, what could I possibly make with that mess? Sometimes I get all excited to try out some new recipe or technique, but usually my level of excitement lies somewhere in between. But one thing I know is that he is the only one at work (male or female) who consistently comes homes to a hot meal waiting for him. Whatever happens during the day, he can come home to share a table full of food with his family, and I think that means a lot to him.

Except for last night when I had him bring home some chicken.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Halloween is for the kids, too

Halloween was not a big holiday in my home growing up, last minute costumes were worn to church functions and candy was the most important goal. After I got married it became even less important, one year I went shopping at the mall for a new suit and we made sure to keep the house dark to keep from attracting the odd trick-or-treater.

It's a BIG deal now. The beginning and end of Halloween for me? My kids have to have the perfect costumes. Thanks to a costume contest at our church it is my general obsession from the first day of October. Ah, healthy competition brings my creative juices like nothing else. My poor daughters are forbidden from being "princesses" which is always their first instinct.

"What are we going to be for Halloween this year?"

"A princess!" shouted with genuine cheer.

"Well...all the other girls will be princesses." We must first kill this banal instinct, then nurture my choice for costume. Last year I put all my contest eggs in one basket, the four year old. She was given a genuine antique kimono when she was born. Finally it fits her.

"Let's go upstairs and look at your Japanese princess costume." This was the beginning of my plan to flatter and convince my four year into something she wasn't interested in. It worked and she looked amazing, but alas a little scarecrow girl won and I had to admit she deserved it. Her costume was homemade, creative and impeccable.

I had high hopes this year: one homemade green velvet Scarlett O'Hara, one homemade Strawberry Shortcake complete with giant straw hat and one prepurchased Darth Vader for the 10 month old, too cute. But alas my life is way too busy (and sick) this year I'm just gonna have to let go and let the kids have all the fun.

A Perfect Place to Start

I had hoped to begin this blog several weeks ago, but illness has plagued me and my family almost nonstop since then. Nothing catastrophic or tragic, just all those nagging little viruses and infections that come with fall and the beginning of school. We have been attacked one by one over the past few weeks, until this weekend when we were all hit en mass with a stomach virus.

So, I sit here beginning a blog dedicated to domestic bliss, housekeeping harmony, organization and just an overall enjoyable quality of life, while my home and person are completely neglected. Ah, what a perfect place to start! I hope this blog will be a real discussion and reference for all of us trying to maintain a genuine "happy house" with all of its pitfalls and pleasures.