Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bang Bang

For some odd reason, I was actually sitting down yesterday watching the news instead of preschooler programming. They had this interesting piece on video games. I'll try to explain as best I can:

Some people in California were trying to pass legislation saying that you had to show ID to buy appropriate video games (like they do at the movies). They also explained of how they rated the games, which sort of grossed me out.

Teen- games where there is killing, and little to no blood

Mature- games where there is killing and excessive amount of blood

Adults Only- games where there is killing, excessive blood and sexual abuse

What? Did I just hear that last part right? Sexual abuse? I asked Greg if there were actual games that depicted that. He said that the game player wasn't actually doing the abusing, but in the video game story, there might be depictions of sexual assualt.

Also, there was a panel of 6 people who decide these ratings, and the video game corporations only have to give a snipet of the video game violence, instead of showing all of it. It was weird that the panel of people was never revealed. I can imagine it's a panel of 6 moms who resemble Betty Crocker, and close their eyes, and peak through their fingers at these violent parts. Or maybe it's a panel of 6 burly men who shout the whole time, "More shooting, more blood!" This is only a theory though.

Back to the legislation, they conducted a study to see if there was a connection between excessively violent video games and heightened violence in the schools or public domain. They didn't find a strong corrolation. My thought: just because we (mostly Americans) are desensitized to violence doesn't make us all axe murderers, just as most Europeans are desensitized to sex does not make them all sexual deviants. (But I agree there are definitely some kids out there who have a hard time drawing the line between fantasy and reality)

One worrying fact they did show: The gaming industry makes $26 billion a year on games, compared to $10 billion in movies. The scary thing is though that instead of watching a violent 2 hour movie, they are spending 30 to 40 hours playing a violent video game.

California finally decided that it was the responsibility of the parents to sensor what they bought their children to play. Some people weren't happy about that. But mostly all people will never be happy with what the government does. The people cry for less government in their lives and get mad when it doesn't work out to their advantage, so they cry out for more government in their lives and then claim that Big Brother is smothering them.

When decisions are sometimes left to adults, they aren't always the best ones. I was always a little bit bothered when I would ask my 3rd graders what their favorite movie was and they would reply, "Saw 3". What? Your parents took you to that movie? I guess since I never had the desire to see that kind of movie, I would assume a 9-year old wouldn't either.

I guess we'll see what Greg and I do when Nolan gets to be a teen and begs for the latest and greatest video game. But probably by that time, video games might be taboo and playing outside will be popular again...yeah, I know, in my dreams.

***If you google "violent video games" there is a ton of research done on the topic. Haven't read any of it, just found this interesting***

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Big Cookie Project: Week 10

This week came and went, and after trying to think of a really good cookie, I thought I'd struck gold with this one. It all started with my grocery shopping trip and wanting to get some basics. I mosey up to the peanut butter section, and there sitting on the shelf like a beacon of light is Nutella. Oh, how I have missed you. I think to myself that there must be the perfect cookie recipe out there with Nutella being the main ingredient. I snatched it off the shelf (well, not actually Nutella, but a rip-off that was $1.50 cheaper) and barely made it home to get a taste. Nolan, of course is a huge fan. He just thinks it's chocolate that I smear on his toast for breakfast. I can't blame him for loving it, it must be in the genes. So, here is the recipe I found:

Chocolate Nutella Cookies

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup white sugar

1 cup Nutella

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup of chocolate chips

1/2 cups chopped hazelnuts

Combine ingredient. Spoon tablespoon-sized drops of dough onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

After making them, I was very excited to try one. The reviews of the recipe made the anticipation even harder. Sad to say, they did not hit it out of the park. They are ok. I shouldn't expect all 52 weeks to be winners, but I was seriously hoping the Nutella cookies were spectacular. The reason they weren't great? Well, since Nutella being the main ingredient, I thought I would taste Nutella. No luck, cannot taste it at all. Some reasons why it might have gone wrong:

1. Was out of vanilla extract and had to use almond, was an overwhelming taste

2. The cocoa powder was a little overwhelming as well...will leave it out next time

3. Was fresh out of hazelnuts (kidding) and had to use walnuts

4. Didn't use a full cup of Nutella because we ate too much before cookie day :)

I don't know if any of these factors were major, maybe that's just how the cookie is supposed to taste. Greg likes them though, so they will slowly disappear.

The biggest disappointment is that I have a full container of cookies that I'm not going to eat, PLUS an empty jar of Nutella. Whoa is me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fireman Sam: Hero Next Door

In our house, we have a new hero and I quite enjoy this one. It is "Fireman Sam" who is very capable of putting out fires and doing a lot of other great things to save the townspeople. This veers off very greatly to the heroes that Nolan has loved, such as Buzz Lightyear or Woody. He has even started liking Spiderman (because of some hand-me-down pj's he got) and has never seen the show. Fireman Sam does not have super strength, but he is very sensible and reliable, which I love! And Fireman Sam keeps on saving the same unlucky people over and over again every episode. I might just give up on the town if they kept on setting fire to things every day (just kidding, I know it's only a cartoon). The townspeople seem to call 911 in the drop of a hat whenever ANYTHING happens, no matter how big or small...so my question is, have you ever called 911??

I haven't (knock on wood). For this reason, I always have the weirdest dream on this subject, and there are a few scenarios:

1. I call 911 because there is an intruder in the house, and they put me on hold and never come back on the line. But the intruder keeps on getting closer and I get more frantic until I wake up.

2. I call 911, because yet again of an intruder, they answer this time and take my address but they never come!! I think in real-life it should only take a few minutes (they are only down the street) but I wait and wait while I hide in a closet in my dream hoping to not be found.

3. I call 911, but can't speak. No words come out, I can't even scream. I always think that if someone does ever break in, I could just scream REALLY loud and a neighbor would come check on us. But in my dream they never hear me, because nothing will come out of my mouth.

I know this sounds so paranoid, and these dreams only come up when Greg is out of town for a few nights (like the past couple of days). One of these days I will have to eventually call 911, I hope none of the above happen.

While I'm hoping, if I ever have to call, maybe a Fireman Sam look-alike will come to my rescue :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Big Cookie Project: Week 9

I was almost worried that I wouldn't get these cookies done because of VBS, but have no fear the Cookie Maker is here!

On the first day of VBS we had to say our name and what we like to do. I told our kindergartners that my name was Ms. Patsy and I enjoyed making cookies. For some reason they dubbed me the next week "Cookie Maker". They would scream, "Cookie Maker! Where's our cookies! Make us some cookies."...a little scary actually with 13 6-year olds yelling at you. Anyways, I decided to grant their wish and made cookies this morning with the help of my niece and brought them the cookies this evening. It sort of worked out perfect because a little boy in the class had a birthday today, so we just made the cookies a "birthday snack".

They were pretty good, very rich actually. I loved the "surprise" inside.



(for the cookie)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup whole milk

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

About 15 marshmallows, halved crosswise


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees . Make cookies. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl

2. Put butter and sugar into the bowl and mix until pale and fluffy. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time until mixed

3. Drop dough on to baking sheets and bake until firm, 8 to 10 minutes. Immediately press a marshmallow half on top of each cookie. Bake until marshmallow begins to melt, 2 minutes more. Let cool completely on sheets on wire rack.

4. Make frosting: Melt butter, add cocoa powder and vanilla extract. Whisk in confectioner's sugar.

5. Spread icing over marshmallow to cover it. Let stand until set, about 10 minutes

Kids seemed to like them, hope you do too!

***Sorry pics came out a little funky, they were from my phone

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

...and puppy makes 3

Just to preface, Greg is a sucker for rescue dogs.
Example #1: Taco. Greg and I had been dating for only six months when he called me after he got off work and told me to come over. When I got there, he had a 2 lb. chihuahua mix in his hands wanting to know if we wanted to keep him. How did he come into possession of the dog, you ask? On his way home from work, he kept on hearing this whimpering and crying from the back of his truck. He finally pulled over to find the little dog wrapped in a towl that someone had dumped in the bed of the truck. In the end, of course we kept him! It's going on 7 years (or around there) that we have had Taco. I like him (mostly) but am glad that we saved him from the back of Greg's truck.
Example #2: Daisy. After Hurricane Ike we saw on the news that a pound in Conroe had such a huge overflow of lost dogs, caused by the hurricane, that they were going to euthanize a ridiculous number of them (I think 1,000?). We drove down there that day and picked Daisy out. The sad thing was that she had been spayed, and even electro-chipped, but someone had purposefully cleaned off her chip so they couldn't find the owner. We have loved having Daisy around. Eventhough she can sometime act a little spastic, she is very good with the kids and loves to play.
Enough backstory....now to the new stuff. A few days ago Greg came home telling me the SADDEST story about some puppies that an employee's spouse was trying to get adopted. The owner of the puppies had put them in a trash can, poured gasoline on them, and tried to light them on fire (I know what you're thinking). Thankfully, someone caught her before anything was lit, but they do have chemical burns from the gas because they were such young puppies. Now, they are staying with someone who works for the SPCA and are about 6 months old.
I asked Greg what he wanted for Father's Day, and he said this puppy. I could think of 100 reasons NOT to get the dog, but doesn't the story just break your heart?? I'm not totally sold on the idea until we see how the puppy interacts with our dogs and the kids, but I think the dog might be a "GO" in a few days.
I'm crossing my fingers that this will all work out for the best!
PS. If there are any "I" letters missing, that key isn't working too well. Don't worry, I know how to spell :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Mario Bunch

It is done! I found myself a week and a half ago scrambling to finish these. I had promised Nolan a set of Mario peoples for his birthday, which was great, but then I actually had to do it. 10 days ago I was short Luigi and Goomba, but buckled down and crocheted like a mad woman on a mission (which I was). The hardest decision I had to make was deciding what glue I was supposed to use on the felt eyes. Have you seen the glue section at Michael's?? Well, if you haven't, there is a whole aisle dedicated to the sticky concoction. I ended up getting Gorilla Glue and second-guessed myself that maybe that was a little too hard-core and decided to go with just plain Elmer's. Everything went great until Greg picked off the white glint in Luigi's eyeball. I told him not to touch it, but then next thing you know the piece of felt was stuck to the end of his finger. Easy fix though.

I was wondering if Nolan would actually like his Mario dolls, and the best thing happened, he did! He opened up his present and did that cute squeal that kids do and hugged Mario. He even took Mario to Nana's house for the weekend. That moment made my day.

My other crochet projects are coming along nicely as well. I have been making a little stockpile for a craft show in July. Carrie got me the best present, an amigurumi crochet book, so I've jumped in to that and made the cutest lion last night. If my stuffed little creatures do not sell at the craft show I will hopefully open up an etsy account. I never thought I would get to the point of selling my stuff, but I think it's finally coming. I am super excited to start getting them out of my closet, but sad to admit that I have grown a little attached to the little guys.

So, keep an eye out for these crocheted animals.

PS...I did not come up with the patterns for the Mario bunch, but if you want the FREE patterns, just email me and I will get you the link. Very easy patterns, just a lot of body parts :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Big Cookie Project: Week 8

Almost 1/6th of the way there! I guess when I put it that way I have a ton more cookies to fix. This week is one of my fave cookie recipes and the easiest EVER! I know I said at the beginning that I wouldn't fix any cookies that I had ever fixed before, but short of actually just buying them at the store, these were the quickest and easiest I could think of.

Peanut Butter Cookies


1 cup sugar

1 cup peanut butter

1 egg


Combine ingredients. Roll into balls, and then press down with a fork making an "X" pattern. Cover fork in sugar prior to pressing cookie, it helps it to not stick. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

That's it!

I've been making these cookies since middle school/high school and always enjoyed doing them. My mom owned (and probably still does) these clay stamps that were made to press in to cookies. I don't know if they were specifically made for peanut butter cookies, but that's what we did with them. There was a star pattern and even an X pattern that looks like the fork pattern. I would love using them all to personalize the cookies. I don't know if you know what I'm trying to put in to words, but if you've ever seen these cookie stamps, you know what I'm talking about. Since these stamps are at my mom's, I will have to continue to use a fork (which still makes a pretty pattern). Another good thing about these cookies is that it doesn't fix 3 dozen...well I guess it could if you made the cookies small enough. It makes 12-18 cookies for me, which is the perfect amount to fulfill a sweet tooth for a family of 4 for a few days.

Anyways, happy baking!

PS...if you haven't tried any of the other cookies yet, I suggest this one. Super easy, super fast, practically fool-proof.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pink Pull-Up Man

My friend Natalie told me about this article about a Canadian family who is raising their latest (3rd child) gender-neutral. Absolutely intrigued me. Here is a link to the article to fill you in:
www.washingtonpost.com/blogs (You might have to click around for a little bit)
I also just googled "raising gender neutral children" and it was the first link to pull up.
Very interesting...is it even possible?
Everything in our society seems to lean towards boy or girl, from bedding to clothes to even diapers. But don't kids naturally gravitate to things that might fall under "boy" tendencies and "girl" tendencies?
For example: little boys will make a gun out of anything. Stick, finger, baseball bat...whatever. I don't think Greg has ever walked around and tried to teach Nolan this, he just did it naturally. We never really owned a lot of cars or Thomas the Trains, but that was something he was drawn to in the toy aisle.
Likewise, for Mallory. She had gotten a toy purse for Christmas, and we had not played with it, because I thought she wouldn't like it. Then, I saw her playing in the arts and crafts drawer where she pulled out a chalk bucket, put it in the crook of her elbow and walked around like she was hot stuff and had a Coach bag. I pulled out her play-purse and she opened it up, chatted on the play-phone, sucked on the lipstick tube and then wore the purse around. Lord knows, she did not learn that from me. Okay...maybe the talking on the cellphone, but Greg does that as well. But I rarely put on lipstick, if I do, it's lipgloss .
Is this kind of stuff built in to their genes? I don't know, just makes you think.
Coincidentally, right after reading the article we ventured out to HEB for our weekly shopping trip. I was floored by the prices of pull-ups, but a HUGE bag of pull-ups that were in the markdown section caught my eye. I love a good deal, but the only downfall was it was covered in Disney Princesses, hot pink and hearts on the bottom. I picked them up fast and bought them, stuffed them in Nolan's drawer and crossed my fingers he wouldn't notice. When bedtime rolled around I told him to go get one, he grabbed it and put it on. Then, our conversation:
Nolan: "Are these for me? Is this a prize?"
Me: "Yes, they are yours. What do you think?"
Nolan: "They're BEATIFUL! I LOVE them!"
Me: "hahhahahahhahah"
He had not qualms about putting them on. Is it because I've done a good job of raising him gender neutral? Probaby not.
Then, today Nolan pulled out my gold snakeskin heels (which I've only worn a few times) he threw them on and walked around the house. I love that boy!

Back to the article: How are they going to keep him or her gender-neutral for more than 2 or 3 years? By that age they are going to notice that mom and dad look different, and have different features and body parts. And the child will probably want to know what they will look like when they get older. My fear would be that they would try so hard to keep them gender-neutral it would confuse him. How will they teach him/her to use the restroom? As talented as girls are, I don't know any who have mastered peeing standing up. What kind of haircut will they give him/her? Something in the middle, maybe a little too long to look like a boy, but too short to think of girl when you see the child.
Maybe I'm thinking way too in to this. I've never (and hopefully won't in the future) push Barbies on to Mallory or Thomas the Train on to Nolan just because I think they're gender appropriate. I'll let them play with what they want, but is that treating them gender-neutral? I don't think so, they are only toys after all.

PS...I didn't take any incriminating pictures of Nolan in a pink pull-up or heels, but I still might :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Big Cookie Project: Week 7

It is not officially summer yet, but the heat is here. And, like on cue on the hottest day of May, Nolan busts out Frosty the Snowman and we watch the video. I guess Greg got the "I wish it were Christmas" bug and wanted me to make a pecan pie. I informed him that a pecan pie was not a cookie, but I found a pecan pie cookie! It was really simple, and tastes like a little pecan tart, but definitely follows my cookie rules.


1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder


1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup whipping cream

1/ teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all cookie ingredients except flour and baking powder in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour and baking powder. Beat until well mixed.

Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Make indentation in each cookie with your thumb.

Combine all filling ingedients in small bowl; fill each cookie with 1 rounded teaspoon filling. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets.

Greg has already eaten a few and I took a bite of one. It does have the flavor of pecan pie, and the middle of the cookies aren't as gooey as I thought they would be.

The only thing that I didn't like was how much they spread out. As you can see in the pictures, when I started off the cookies had a cute thumb print. Then, by the end product, it looks as though I have a grotesquely huge thumb. There

was a little bit of filling run-off, but nothing to be concerned about. I made my cookies a little bit bigger (of course) so they would hold a little bit more filling.

So, since I made the cookies bigger, the recipe was supposed to yield 3 dozen, but only yielded 2 dozen.

My model this week was Mallory...well not really a model, but my helper. Okay, not really a helper, she sort of just clung to my leg and wanted to be up high and tall.

Note: in the making of this blog I tried to put detailed pictures on here, which was a super pain. There is actually one picture that isn't on here because it accidentally got deleted. Too bad, because I'm not wasting another 10 minutes to try and get it on here.

Have a good time making a "Christmas Cookie" in the summer!