Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pumpkin Carving

The Halloween festivities are continuing around here. We waited until this morning to carve our pumpkin for fear that the ninety (yes, ninety) degree weather would have our poor pumpkin a moldy, rotten mess.

Grace had numerous ideas of how our pumpkin should be carved. She finally narrowed it down to star eyes, a triangle nose and a cute toothy smile. We had her draw the images onto scrap paper, then we were off to the backyard with our pumpkin in hand.

Grace taped her drawn shapes onto the pumpkin.

Then she poked holes around the images so we would have an exact replica of her drawings come carving time.

The next step was carving. This is when Grace headed off to the swing - since carving a pumpkin is "yucky" business you know.

Here's the final product, ready for this evening.

It's toothy smiles for both of our "pumpkins" - Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Spooks are on the Loose

There has been a flurry of activity around here preparing for Halloween. We have moved from one project to the next, having fun together at every turn.

A batch of pumpkin cookies was baked,

the perfect pumpkin was picked for carving,

lots of Halloween inspired art has been created,

and neighbors have been spooked.

We look forward to what the remainder of the week will bring!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Celebrating Gotcha Day

We're just getting home from our latest Disney trip. During this visit we celebrated Grace's Gotcha Day. It always seems quite fitting to be away from home on this special day - staying in a hotel and getting to our destination by bus, just as we did in China four years ago. Oh the memories that Dean and I share from our amazing journey to become parents, no trip can quite compare!

Here's some photos from our wonderful weekend.... in the China Pavilion at Epcot

....Grace eating her favorite breakfast of Mickey waffles

....her creation at Legoland, fitting for the weekend indeed

....riding on Cinderella's Carousel, the turquoise horse was a must of the many "hidden Mickey's" we found during our stay

We send hugs to all of the families from our travel group - Happy Gotcha Day!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Grace's Baby Quilt

Yes, you're reading the title correctly - I finally finished Grace's baby quilt. It was started over four years ago prior to Dean and I bringing her home from China. Once I had the quilt top pieced I was very disappointed in the way it turned out - the solid pink fabric turned out to be too bright. So the quilt sat unfinished until Grace discovered it a couple of weeks ago. Upon finding it she said, "It's so beautiful". Her love of the quilt changed my attitude towards it and gave me the motivation to have it quilted and bound in time for her fourth Gotcha Day (which happens to be tomorrow).

Here's a portion of the top - it's a "Snowball" pattern. Thankfully the quilt is still large enough to cover her even though I used the measurements for the "baby" size.

And here's the back. I ended up making some last minute adjustments to the backing fabric and I'm happy with results.

So there you have it, a once unloved quilt found it's way into loving arms. A story that sounds a bit like fairy tale with a happy ending to me! (Speaking of fairy tales, there are times when even a princess doesn't care to have her picture taken - hence Grace's feet instead of her face in the first photo)

Quilts aside, in celebration of Grace's Adoption Day we're off to Disney World. Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Baked Oatmeal

When we awoke this morning it was a cool forty-four degrees outside - perfect oatmeal eating weather if you ask me (Dean and Grace have another opinion). I found a yummy recipe for baked oatmeal several months back from the "King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking" cookbook. Since then I've tweaked the original recipe to my liking. On warm and cold mornings alike I can be found with a bowl full of it in my hands at breakfast time.

Baked Oatmeal

1/2 cup steel-cut oats
1 TBSP butter
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup fresh/frozen/dried fruit
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk or milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Bring the water and butter to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove the pan from the heat and add the steel-cut oats, cover and let sit for 20 minutes. In the meantime combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the steel-cut oats to the bowl, stirring well. Place the mixture in a greased 8x8 pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

I hope you enjoy this tasty oatmeal as much as I do!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pumpkin Fest

We took full advantage of the second cool front of the season by attending Pumpkin Fest at a local farmer's market. Along with the perfect weather, all the pumpkins, hay bales and scarecrows got us in the fall spirit of things.

While at the festival....

......silly pictures were taken,

......hayrides were enjoyed,

......horses were ridden,

......and pumpkins were painted.

A perfect way to spend our Saturday - hooray for fall!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Special Quilt

I have always enjoyed picking Grace up from school and checking her mailbox - not necessarily looking for what she had learned that day but what she had drawn (most often it was an animal of some sort). We would bring the pictures home and display them on the fridge or on her art clip rack. Somehow I felt the desire to do something special with them. That is how this quilt came to be.

I had originally planned a quilt that was much larger in size to incorporate approximately thirty-five of her drawings. But as I put more thought into the time it would take to hand embroider, piece, then quilt that many blocks I opted to scale the project back a bit. I couldn't be happier with the results....

The finished quilt measures 58 inches long by 36 inches wide. It contains 15 blocks of Grace's artwork, 14 being animals and 1 being her self-portrait (if you click on the picture it gives a better view of the blocks). Each block is a hand embroidered replica of her original art (including the color crayon/colored pencil that she used). The quilt layout was inspired by this post (here).

This is the center block. Grace drew a colorful picture of herself wearing a pair of ice skates and yes, that is her handwriting which I embroidered in black floss.

Here's an example of how her original drawing compares to that of the finished quilt block. Some of the pictures, such as this one, required some downsizing to fit within the square.

A big thank you goes out to Meme who helped embroider some the animal blocks and assisted me with the fabric selection. To think that three generations of us took part in this project - makes this one special quilt, indeed!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

All About Apples

I must say we're in love with apples these days. Our enormous batch of homemade applesauce, made just one week ago, is officially gone. Grace had a bowl with almost every meal and Dean and I had our fair share too. We had some nightly atop our homemade cheesecake slices - yummy I tell you.

Our homemade applesauce days aren't over yet. On our trip to Whole Foods today we purchased another eight pounds of three varieties. Some of those will be used for a fresh batch of applesauce and the others will become an apple pie.

Oh, and we're not only eating apples daily - Grace has been incorporating them into her artwork too. Above is her "Apple Lady" painting which she created on Saturday and today she did a cutting activity that included a bushel of apples.

Hooray for apple season!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Diva-ween Costume Contest

Here they are, The Princess and the Pea......

The costume contest was held at Max's, the dog bakery downtown. Unfortunately the turn-out was low but we had a great time anyway. Grace got a kick out of the other dogs dressed-up in their costumes - there was a dragon, king, fairy princess and a cheerleader among others.

And yes, the judge awarded The Princess and the Pea a trophy for their cuteness, exciting times indeed!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sophie's Pea Costume

There's a doggy costume contest being held downtown this weekend. We knew Grace would get a kick out of the whole thing, seeing the dogs dressed-up and all. The idea occurred to us that she and Sophie could both get dressed-up and participate together. Our brains swirled with ideas. Dean thought they should go as Little Bo Peep and a sheep but then we would need to create two costumes with little notice. So we settled on Grace being a princess and Sophie being a pea - get it, the Princess and the Pea.

Thankfully Grace has many options as far as a princess costume is concerned but Sophie on the other hand needed a costume created for her. So guess what I did this morning while Grace was at school - yep, sew a costume.

Grace created a "pattern" for me to follow (as drawn above). Unfortunately the single pea idea just wasn't working so I made a pod - Meme had the great idea of using several of Sophie's balls as the peas.

Here's the finished costume, modeled on giraffe since I didn't have the heart to torture Sophie two days in a row.

Check back tomorrow to see Grace and Sophie starring as the Princess and the Pea!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fall Performance

On Tuesday Grace participated in her school's "Fall Follies" show. Her pre-kindergarten class sang and danced to five songs. It's amazing how just a short time ago Grace was adamantly apposed to partaking in such events but now she loves being up on stage. Here she is.....

.....singing "Feelings in my Heart" with her pre-K class.

.....performing "Hula Hands" with her dance class (she was on stage twice - quite exciting I tell you).

After the show was over we all (Meme and Pop came too - they haven't missed a show yet) headed for dinner at Tijuana Flats - a great ending to a perfect evening!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Book Inspiration :: Homemade Applesauce

Our latest book inspired project came from the story, "Applesauce Season" written by Eden Ross Lipson and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein. The book was about a family that had a yearly tradition of making homemade applesauce during the fall months.

After Grace and I discovered the recipe at the end of the wonderful story we decided to try making applesauce too - after all, Grace has the jarred variety nearly every night along with her dinner. We waited until today, while Meme was visiting, to cook our first batch.......

In order to make applesauce we had to have apples - six pounds of them. Since there are no apples grown locally (we would've loved to handpick them at an orchard) we headed downtown to Whole Foods Market to buy organic. We ended up with four varieties of pure yumminess.

Grace didn't care to peel, cut or cook the apples this time around. She waited until the cinnamon and sugar was ready to be added, then she joined Meme and I in the kitchen.

Here she is sneaking a spoonful of our first, but certainly not our last, batch of homemade applesauce. We had it along side our pizza for dinner and oh was it delicious!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Autumn Moon Festival

Today we celebrated the Chinese holiday known as the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. In China it's a time when families spend time together honoring the moon on it's brightest and fullest night. Here's what we did:

Grace and I made moon cakes, a tradition in many Chinese households during the festival. We had to do a bit of improvising since the moon cake mold that I had ordered many weeks ago didn't arrive in time. We used a biscuit cutter to achieve the shape and then Grace topped the cakes with rabbit faces (it is said if you dream of rabbits tonight you will have good luck), stars and moons.

Just in case you were wondering, we tucked a piece of homemade chocolate fudge in the center of ours. Fudge is by no means the traditional filling but I didn't think red bean paste would go over well.

We ordered take-out from a local Chinese restaurant for dinner. Grace just loves the "crunchies" - she ate them with her chopsticks.

After our dinner and dessert of moon cakes we headed out for walk to see the full moon in all it's glory. Upon returning home it was time for Grace's bedtime routine which included being read the books, "Mooncake" by Frank Asch and "Round is a Mooncake" by Roseanne Thong and the wonderful illustrator Grace Lin.

May you have sweet rabbit dreams tonight!