Archive for ◊ October, 2007 ◊

29 Oct 2007 Our Favorite Quick Supper
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Chicken Risotto with Veggies

This started as a throw together meal that has turned into one of our favorites. It’s easy to make, doesn’t take a lot of cooking time and is pretty nutritious too. It’s a neat toss it all together kind of thing and you can use what you have on hand. This is what ours usually looks like

ingredients:
1/2c chopped onion
1 clove of garlic
olive oil
1 and 1/3 c risotto
4 c chicken broth
1 to 2 cups of cooked, chopped chicken
frozen veggies (we like the green giant mixes that have the sauce in them. They add a lot of flavor with a little effort).

Start by drizzling your olive oil in your pan and sauteeing yor garlic and onion. This is a skip-able step and I do skip it sometimes because Emily’s not all that fond of onion. After your veggies start to soften, stir in your risotto and let it get sort of toast brown.

After it gets toasty brown, dump in your chicken broth and bring it to a boil Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook it for 15 minutes.

Add in your frozen veggies, give it a good stir and cover it up again stirring frequently for 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in your precooked chicken and serve.

I like to serve this with garlic bread and I don’t worry about extra veggies because it’s all in there. :o)

20 Oct 2007 Marketing to kids: a Whole ‘Nother Kind of Evil
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During our trip to Tennessee in August, we spent several nights in downtown Gatlinburg after the sun had gone down. We visited shops, listened to music and had ice cream. It was a great time. Off of the main street is a little enclave of shops with a seating area and fountain in the middle. The shops are small and rather boutiqueish, selling expensive specialty items. One of the stores was a fantastic, overcrowded with merchandise toy store.

I ventured in alone and looked around for a while and on my way out spotted a display of Ty Girlz, the Ty toy companies hoochie answer to Webkinz. You buy a soft cloth doll and she comes with a code allowing you access to games and activities you can play with your doll on Ty’s website. I walked past them and ten went back and bought both girls a doll-Cadence a sweet little brown haired cloth baby and Emily, a least hoochie available Ty Girlz doll. I gave them to the kids and Emily was psyched to come home and play with her doll on the Internet, just like I thought she would be.

So, Emily has been playing with her Ty Girlz since August. A couple of weeks ago, she began announcing that she “needed” another Ty Girlz doll. That items on their website were locked out to her because she only had one doll. I did some investigating and she’s right.

Clicking on play on Punky Penny’s Purple Pad acitivity pops up a bouncer with a guest list informing you via speech bubble that you need to register i.e., purchase another doll to play that game. To play the Ice Cream personality quiz, you have to buy, oh I mean register, two more dolls. At 14.99/piece, of course.

Now, naturally the appeal of these dolls are in the fun makeover activities because yo can play these simple flash games nearly every where (most notably at webkinz world who do NOT require you to continuously register pets to play games or unlock activities). Emily, of course, would like to play these extra games and is now asking for another Ty Girlz whenever we walk past them. But I have to say, I’m not sure Ty is getting any more of our money because I’m finding their marketing tactics kind of shitty.

Webkniz world which, by way of my unofficial, unscientific world of mouth, research seems to be wildly more popular. I see little mention of Ty Girlz as I meander around parenting websites. Webinz is able to offer a full featured website to their players with the purchase of just one. Ty, on the other hand, locks portions of their website to encourage you to buy more, more and more, depending on retail prices where you live $36 to $45 worth of hoochie dolls to play all of their games. And this seems manipulative at the very,very best. And downright dirty, to be honest.

Ty could take a page out of Webkinz’s book–just create a good product and kids will line up to buy. Emily now boasts four webkniz–two purchased by us and two by others because she has such a damn good time with them. Ty Girlz, she will only have one and as an aside, she actually plays with her webkniz. I haven’t seen her play with her Ty Girlz doll since TN.

15 Oct 2007 China, how you vex me.
 |  Category: Heavy Stuff, Momdom  | Comments off

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat……oh….wait. I digress. Well, Christmas IS coming and I admit to having a dilemma. I have a lot of concern about purchasing items produced in China are involved in Recall after recall after recall.

Eric and I have both felt that our “Low Cost at ANY Price” has caused our country countless issues with more to come. Unsafe manufacturing processes are really just the tip of the ice berg, really. We do pay a price be constantly seeking super low priced items, in contaminated pet food, tooth paste, bibs and toys.

So, I am trying to take a stand in my own way. I’ve passed over impulse items that have been marked Made in China, some things I’ve still purchased have still been produced in China and I get perverse satisfaction in buying something made in Vietnam or Sri Lanka. The new, cute Monkey t-shirt I bought Cadence last week was made in El Salvador.

But, back to the Stand and Christmas (and the goose?). I would dearly love to try and have a Christmas free of Chinese produced items, but to be honest, it’s a difficult task. Emily, for instance, as a two item Christmas list and both of those items are made in China with no reasonable or close substitution. Item number one, is the much coveted, well loved American Girl doll (crazily enough produced in China) and a Littlest Pet Shop set. And so, I’ve hit a kind of a wall.

Is it enough, for instance, to buy as many items produced outside of China as possible or is that totally pointless? Is it hypocritical to make a selective boycott? I won’t buy products made in China IF I can buy what I want otherwise, but if I can’t well…..boycott shmoycott.

Cadence will be having a china free Christma,s thanks to websites like Mookla and Oompa I can get some great, quirkly, fun, whimsical toys for my little mouther (everything goes into this kids mouth including butt wipes (clean), beef sticks (knocked off the counter by Angus) and sand (licked off of my Dad’s kitchen floor up north).

But what is the point to all of this rambling? Well, it’s really to urge people to consider carefully what they buy. I know I’m trying.

09 Oct 2007 I’ve been sewing. Here’s what I can show…
 |  Category: Love in every stitch  | Comments off

I am closerthanthis to finishing Emily’s halloween costume. I want to do a ribbon detail/tie to pull in a waist. She asked that I NOT put a waist on the costume and I didn’t. We went to Michael’s last night and bought some really pretty cream and gold ribbon and I did a ribbon detail around the hem and the cuffs. As soon as the waist is done, I’ll make sure to post a picture. Honestly, I think it’s the best constructed item I’ve made to date.

Cadence’s knit circus pajamas are crazy ugly. I made a lot of mistakes and problems with the serger and my machine didn’t make the process any easier. I only paid $4 for the yard of fabric, so I don’t feel too down trodden. They’re fine for pajamas. I have some scraps left, so I may look into finding a plain colored knit fabric to match them and use the scraps as trim. The pants look okay, but the top if horrible. Oh well, I learned a lot, right?

Anyhow, here’s what I’m showing off…

My new fall bag….

and a matching wallety thing

05 Oct 2007 Sergers ain’t shit
 |  Category: Love in every stitch  | Comments off

I’ve been sewing lately. It’s what’s making me happy at this point. I go through phases were different things catch my eye and I’ll focus my energy on that for large amounts of time. I’ve finished Emily’s halloween costume, sewn her a skirt, sewn Cadence a tunic and am now working on making my first correctly sewn pair of knit material fabric pajamas for Cadence.

My sewing machine, though apparently equipped to handle knit fabrics, really doesn’t do the job. It appears to hate them. I’ve tired everything I can do to try and get the machine to handle knits and it just won’t.

During a trip to Eric’s mom, I noticed she had a serger just laying around. Sergers are better equipped to sew knits. They roll the seams in thread and trim off the excess for you, leaving a small, professional looking seam. The serger was Eric’s grandma’s who decided she couldn’t thread the darn thing. Eric’s mom mentioned that I could use it if I wanted to. I declined in hopes that my machine would be able to do the job with a change of needle.

After a miserable night of trying to sew these little jammies with no luck I told Cheryl that I would indeed try out the serger. She said cheerfully that the good news was that the serger was already threaded. I had no idea how significant that idea would be.

Last night I give my machine one more try at sewing the knit material. Even with a different needle it was a bust and I bring in the serger to set it up and proceed to spend, oh, two and a half hours, trying to get the damn thing to sew.

And, by the way Grandma, threading that machine is a nightmare, even for me, with small fingers and okay eyes (with my glasses or contacts, of course). I was so frustrated that I couldn’t make it work.

But after threading and rethreading and trying and retrying, I finally managed to get the machine working and began sewing and honestly, now that it’s working, it rocks.

I will say the serger is just about 10 years old and it’s pretty hard to figure out the manual (shouldn’t that make it EASIER? Apparently not). But I’m happy to say the little pajamas are moving along and may even be finished today.

But I don’t blame Grandma. Not one bit.