Tuesday, November 30, 2010

So Behind Already

Holy smokes, it is November 30th, and I've just returned from a long vacation with my family. That's the good news - vacation with my family.

The bad news? It's November 30th and that means tomorrow is December 1st which means things are about to get really busy. It also means it's time to dazzle my family with the latest advent calendar inspiration. Every year it's a bit different.

Last year, I numbered little galvanized pails and hung them on a clothesline filled with little trinkets and messages. Kind of like this one from Garnet Hill which is SO on sale, I just ordered one. Just because. I know, that seems silly, since I have one already. Shoot. Maybe I shouldn't have done that. Oh well.

Via Here

One of my traditions is to have more than one advent "calendar". I know, it is wrong. It's like having multiple planning calendars. But, I can't help it. My love for advent calendars is genetic -- just ask LoveVermont. (And, while you are there, check out the amazing advent finds she has spotted!).

This year I'm resorting to my old standby (which is still going to require some work between now and the morning)--a little Christmas tree with tiny decorations to add each day. It is super nostalgic for me, as my Nana made one of these for us when we were kids). In year's past I've wrapped tiny little boxes and put little miniature gift tags on each. This year, since I'm out of time, I'm going to use this cute little advent wagon I picked up a few years back (I told you, advent calendars are an obsession) to hold a little ornament for the day. I'll try to post a photo tomorrow.

And, as our second advent calendar, we'll be using the German one my husband picked up on a recent business trip there. It's filled with chocolate. Good chocolate.

Now, my big worry is little Baby R. The rascal, as she is so fondly nicknamed. Neither of these are appropriate for her -- and, yet she will surely want to join in the counting fun. Hmmm. Can I come up with something before dawn?

Do you count the days til Christmas with an advent calendar? What's your tradition?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Taming the Art: Unique Ideas for Preserving Your Child's Art

In six plus years, my daughter has created many treasured pieces of art. Some of my favorites, include the very early people drawings. Huge heads with big smiles. Big bellies. Skinny legs. Love 'em. My daughter's current specialty? Flowers, especially Roses (inspired by her baby sister, I suppose). I love the idea of preserving these masterpieces in unique ways. Naturally, some crafty folks at Etsy have come up with some super clever and beautiful ways to preserve (or repurpose?) your child's art.

Pendant. I love this pendant with a miniature version of your child's drawing. Check out the details.

And, how about a nifty Key Fob that anyone would be proud to carry.

And, here's another great pendant or charm.

I'm thinking there are some great grandparent gift ideas here....what do you think?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Taming the Art: A Portfolio of Their Own

{photo via Schoolfolio}

A few years back, I told my daughter it was time to recycle some of her artwork off of the gallery (a clothesline with clothespins in our kitchen). I had no idea the effect this would have.

I saw her secretly try to hide artwork around the house. Behind a plant. Under a bed. Behind a door. Etc. And, then, I realized that she wasn't ready--she needed to hold onto her artwork longer. But, where could we keep it? Well....

A dear friend of mine created a brilliant solution for storing your child's art -- Schoolfolio.

Schoolfolios are archival quality (no fading masterpieces!) plastic storage cases or portfolios. These attractive (and highly practical) portfolios come in two sizes - a single folio and an all-in-one.

{photo via Schoolfolio}

Now, all year long, my daughter puts her art (after it has gotten due time on display) in her portfolio (the single version). At the end of the year, I sort through and pick out a good sampling and put them for more permanent storage in the all-in-one. From time to time during the year, my daughter pulls out her portfolio and admires her work. I love watching her sort through it.

 {photo via Schoolfolio}

If you decide a Schoolfolio is right for you, order at Schoolfolio.com -- please select my name (Michelle Lambert) under Affiliates so my friend knows I referred you! :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Taming the Art

I love kids art - especially art created by my little artists. I hang it with pride.

Or, at least it started out this way. 

But, a couple of years ago, I started getting pretty overwhelmed by the quantity of art being cranked out by my prolific aspiring Van Gogh.

I haven't found the solution. But, I've been slowly figuring out a way to tame the art. It's a delicate balance of proudly displaying these masterpieces, then finding it's next life. (Yes, sometimes that includes the recycle bin.) This process has involved a lot of research into clever ways to display, store and re-purpose art -- and, I thought I'd share some of my learning.

So, throughout the rest of this week -- and into next week, I'll be highlighting the various cool things I've learned about. And, as always, I'm eager to hear from you. What do you do with your child's art?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wicked Cool New Photograph Technology

In Maine, when something is really something, you say "wicked". Wicked cool. Wicked cold. Wicked hot. You get the idea.

Well, I have some wicked cool photograph technology to tell you about.

About a month ago, I was given the opportunity to try out Fracture for free. I wrote about how excited I was to try it out. And, I'm so glad I did.

Basically, you upload your photo to their website, pick the size and border you like - and then Fracture prints your photo, complete with border, right onto glass that doubles as a frame. A few days later you receive your Fracture print and it is ready to go. It comes ready to hang -- or with an easel for tabletop use. Here's a snapshot of the product I got!

It's super affordable and cool looking. I'm thinking holiday gifts...

Footnote: I received a free Fracture frame for review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

This coming weekend includes the first Saturday in November -- and, here in Bath, Maine that means something important.

It's the Early Bird sale.

What IS the Early Bird sale you ask?

It is, among other things (I would be remiss if I didn't point out that it is also the opening of hunting season - which for me means the beginning of many solo Saturdays and the need to add flame orange to my wardrobe), one of the very cool things that happens here in this town.

Before dawn, hundreds of area residents in search of bargains will head to town in their PJs. Most stores open at 5:30 to 6 a.m. with huge sales. The sales begin to diminish as the morning arrives. By 9 a.m., store prices are (typically) back to normal. It is a hoot. People in curlers and PJs, scrambling around in the dark trying to score a deal. As the clock strikes 9, people gather in the streets to say hello to friends and neighbors and enjoy some donuts and hot coffee.

For those of you unfamiliar with this cool town, you should know that we have a real main street--we work hard at keeping our historic downtown alive. Here on Front Street in Bath, you'll find everything you need (and no big box stores or chains). There is a fabulous coffee shop, a bookstore, a 1950s style got-everything-you-need-department-store, an awesome cooking store, a couple of banks, an everything-made-in-Maine-gift store, a toy store (with really terrific toys), a kids clothing boutique, a couple of gift stores, a pharmacy, a health food store...oh, and I'm probably missing a few things...but you get the picture!

So, now you know what I'll be doing on Saturday. And, Miss Baby R who is our resident social butterfly and early bird, is counting the days.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Do-Over-Dinner: Thai Curried Fish Chowder

I can't believe I'm even going to admit this.

I'm a Maine-r and I've never made fish chowder (or, more appropriately said, "chow-dah"). Shocking, right?

Truth is, I'm not a huge fan of it. Don't get me wrong, I won't refuse (and, I'll probably even really enjoy) a really good chowder. But, the really good ones are few and far between.

But, I decided it was time to learn to make my own fish soup or chowder. I mean, goodness, I have fresh fish at my doorstep and I love soup...what is holding me back?

So I purchased some really fresh chowder pieces from Port Clyde Fresh Catch (at the Bath Farmer's Market -- but you can also order online) and decided to try my hand at a Thai Curry Fish Chowder. But, remember, I live in Bath, Maine. And, while this town has many wonderful things to offer, an ethnic supermarket is not one of them. So, naturally, I couldn't find all the ingredients I needed for any of the recipes I found. So, my recipe, which one do-over status, involved a whole lot of improvisation.

Maine-ly Home's Thai Curry Fish Chowder

What You Need:
  • 1 tablespoon live oil
  • 5 green onions, finely chopped (white and green parts)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 tablespoons green curry paste (start with 2, add another -- or more - for more spice)
  • 3/4 cup fish stock (I bought it in a box - but your fish counter might sell their own.)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cans (~13 oz each) of coconut milk (I used one "light" one regular.)
  • 1 large carrot, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 handfuls of snow pea pods
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb of fish, cut in small chunks (my fish was haddock)
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh mint, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh basil, chopped finely
  • salt, to season
  • a wedge of lime
What to Do:
  • Heat oil in dutch oven (or a saucepan with a thick bottom) over medium heat.
  • Add garlic and saute until fragrant (20 seconds-ish).
  • Add green onion. Saute 1 minute, stirring frequently (to prevent burning).
  • Once garlic is browned, add a large spoonful of the coconut cream (don't shake the can - just open and the coconut cream will be separated).  Melt.
  • Add in green curry paste. Stir and cook approximately 3 minutes. The fragrance is amazing!
  • Add the rest of the coconut cream and "milk" (the watery part), water and stock.
  • Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Add in fish. Cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add in carrot. Cook another 5 minutes.
  • Check fish for "done-ness".
  • Add in pepper, snowpeas, basil, mint and lime juice. Simmer 1 minute.
  • Serve over jasmine rice.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Love and Elections

Today I celebrate two things.

My marriage to a wonderful man...

and the freedom to vote.

Two very important things.

Monday, November 1, 2010

November: A Planner

Yikes. It's already into November and I haven't got my ducks in a row. Here are some of the things I've got planned for November.
  • Raking leaves. We have three trees that have a whole lot of leaves.
  • Hitting the Early Bird Sale in Bath. Saturday, November 6th.
  • Planning December (because it will be here before I've digested my Thanksgiving turkey and as you will soon learn - December is a very important month in my life and in Maine life).
  • Eating lots of turkey.
  • Snipping winterberry for my holiday decor.
  • Starting to think about holiday gifts - though I'm really excited to say that we have successfully scaled back the gift giving in our extended family. 
  • Heading indoors for the Bath Farmer's Market.
  • Picking up my local meat for the winter. This year, we're getting half a lamb, a turkey and a quarter of a pig. Honestly, I've never done this before - and, I know nothing about cooking lamb or pork - but, I'm looking forward to the adventure.
  • Signing up for our Maine Shrimp share through Port Clyde Fresh.

Halloween Weekend

Well, we did it. We survived Halloween 2010. Here's a glimpse into our Halloween weekend.

Jumping in leaves, waiting for the high schoolers who were supposed to rake them (They never showed up! Grrr.).

 We carved a jack o' lantern.

We tried to make our house look festive and a little spooky.

We got dressed up in our costumes. We were able (luckily) to convince our eldest that we shouldn't (as a family) be the lifecycle of a butterfly. D and I were duking it out for the roles of chrysallis and caterpillar. And, I thought the photo opportunities for Baby R (appointed "the egg" by big sister) were limited (and disappointing!). But, many kudos to our eldest for her smart idea! :) In the end, we decided on a beautiful monarch butterfly and a lovely flower. With the exception of the wings, we were able to piece together the outfits from things we had (and a couple of thrift store finds!).

We gathered on the steps (we seem to alternate steps) for our annual neighborhood photo. These kids have been trick or treating together most of the last 7 years.

We (Baby R, really) discovered candy. Eek.

The one thing I am bummed about is that I forgot my camera (what is up with that?) when we went to the Pumpkin Festival at LL Bean. It was a truly magical event - many thousands of jack o lanterns lit for a cause (Camp Sunshine). It was especially fun as Baby R is currently obsessed with pumpkins which she calls "pum-pums" -- so it was an hour of "pum pum, pum pum, pum pum." :)

And, how was YOUR Halloween?

November - Updike's Take

In keeping with tradition at Maine-ly Home, here's John Updike's monthly poem from A Child's Calendar.

The striped and shapely
Maple grieves
The loss of her
Departed leaves

The ground is hard
As hard as stone.
The year is old.
The birds are flown.

And yet the world,
Displays a certain loveliness--

The beauty of
The bone. Tall God
Must see our souls
This way, and nod.

Give thanks: we do,
Each in his place
Around the table
During grace.