Sunday, October 31, 2010

I'm Famous.

I nearly forgot that I was quoted in the newspaper today.  The column was about homemade Halloween costumes.  I promise, I won't let the fame go to my head.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"Look, boy!"

Toilet Training in Less Than a Day?

I am fed up.

My daughter is 2 years and 8 months old.  She is not potty trained.  We have been working on this for months.  She knows exactly what she's supposed to do in the potty.  But she has no desire to use the potty.  Sure, she'll go if I prompt her, but she rarely goes by herself.  I clean up lots of accidents.  She's so smart and I just don't understand why she refuses to potty train. 

I am packing away the diapers today.  We are skipping training pants and going straight to big-girl underwear.  Even for nighttime.  I am not looking back. 

I borrowed the book Toilet Training in Less Than a Day from the library.  Published in 1974, some of the language is laughable, but I've heard that the method is successful.

As a result of my frustration and of my pregnancy, my mind is mush and I had a lot of difficulty comprehending the book.  I googled the "potty training in a day" method and found some condensed versions.

Azrin and Foxx's method is summarized here:
  • Teach a doll to use the potty.  Praise the doll.
  • Correct the doll when it "has an accident."  The child should help the doll practice using the potty, including running from the site of the accident to the potty 10 times.
  • Check the child for dry pants at intervals and praise with a special snack and/or drink.
  • Encourage the child to use the potty by rewarding with positive reinforcement, drinks, and snacks.
  • The authors stress independence.  The child should be able to pull their pants up and down and change their clothes if they have an accident.
The method suggested by Dr. Phil is very similar: 
  • Teach a doll to use the potty and celebrate with a party.
  • Get rid of diapers and give the child lots of fluids.
  • Ask your child if she needs to go potty.  If the child has an accident, don't scold.  Take the child to the potty 10 times.
  • Celebrate with a party.
  • Use lots of positive reinforcement.
 Wish us luck!  We really need it.

Friday, October 29, 2010


I usually buy boxed brownie mix, which is pretty ridiculous considering that I think Bisquick is a rip-off.  However, a few weeks ago I needed something sweet and I didn't have any mix.  So, I went to the Hershey's website to find out what I could do with the ingredients that I had on hand, specifically cocoa powder.  It turns out that you can make brownies.

The following is a pretty simple brownie recipe.  And there's probably a better one out there that's just as simple but I wasn't exactly on a search for the best brownie recipe of all time.  I wanted a recipe that was fast, easy, and required just the ingredients that I had on hand.  Regardless, it sure beats sending Paul to the grocery store at 9 p.m. for something to satisfy my sweet tooth.  He really is not amused by those sorts of requests. 

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Hershey's Cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.   Stir together butter, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl.  Add eggs and beat well.  Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well blended.  Stir in nuts, if desired.  (I actually just throw all of the ingredients into the KitchenAid and don't concern myself with the order.)  Spread batter evenly in pan.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Cut into 16 squares, or however you want to cut them.

You can easily do all sorts of variations, like the mixes that you'll see in the grocery store.  For example:

Add nuts.  
Add peanut butter chips.
Add frosting (recipe below).  
Use peppermint extract instead of vanilla.  
Drop chocolate chip cookie dough into the pan with the brownie batter.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar. 
Creamy Brownie Frosting
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon light corn syrup or honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

Beat butter, cocoa, corn syrup and vanilla in small bowl until blended.  Add powdered sugar and milk; beat to spreading consistency.  Makes about 1 cup frosting.

Demolition on 24th Street

It's a Halloween miracle!

The heavy equipment has rolled in and demolition will begin very soon on the old Tuscaloosa County High School.  I believe the school was built around 1930 and was in use until about 2000, when a new school was built.  Since the school was vacated, it has not been maintained and although the building is not officially condemned, it should be.  The roof has collapsed in places and there is two feet of standing water in the basement.  Recently, we've noticed more and more broken windows, many at ground level.  Looking through the windows it's evident that people have been using the school as a place to party.  It's a dangerous place for people to squat, but it also makes me feel unsafe that this has been going on in my backyard.

For the time being, the plan is to create a practice field for the adjacent middle school.  Could that be considered a level playing field

This is the view from my kitchen window.

Here are some "before" shots.  I'll post more pictures as the demolition gets underway.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

'Tis (almost) the Season

I'm telling you early:  it's time to start thinking about your Christmas cards.  Do you write out a newsletter?  Write a personal note to each family?  Send a photo card?  We're photo card people, but I do enjoy receiving all kinds of Christmas cards.

Last year I didn't think about sending Christmas cards until we started to receive others' cards in the mail.  I promptly dressed Joey in a holiday dress, rushed her out for photographs, and then designed our cards online.  They were delivered pretty quickly, even considering that I didn't opt for express shipping or anything like that.  They were delivered to the recipients just barely before Christmas.  This year I plan to be much more organized.

Using a service such as Shutterfly for Christmas cards has proven to be the easiest route for us.  Their personalization process is very user-friendly, even allowing you to edit your photo on their site.  And if you have photos already saved on Shutterfly, you can use those for your holiday cards.  Their easy search feature allows you to narrow down card designs based on the number of photos, card size, price, etc.  Or just sort the designs by the most popular.  To make the whole Christmas card process easier, Shutterfly will even stamp, address, and mail your holiday cards for you.

Here are some of my favorite designs:

All Wrapped Up:  I prefer designs that are simple and modern.  If you're sending a photo card, you want the focus to be on the photo(s), right?  This one-photo design fits the bill.

Color Me Merry Christmas:  I love this playful, colorful design.

Holiday Lights:  Again, playful and colorful.  It's cute, but not cheesy.

Love 2010:  Figure out what was so great about 2010 and list your reasons on the card.  What a fun way to incorporate newsy stuff into your photo card!  This design incorporates two photos.

Love Peace Joy:  This one includes three photos in a not-cluttered simple design.

Sweet Stocking:  This four-photo layout is great if you have more than one kid, or you can't choose just one picture.  Having one super-cute two-year-old, I know that choosing just one picture is pretty tough.

While you're at Shutterfly, check out their personalized gift tags.  And if you're hosting a holiday soiree, look at their party invitations.

I have critiqued Shutterfly's holiday 2010 cards in exchange for 50 free holiday cards.  So that means that only 50 of you will get Christmas cards from us.  If you are interested in getting your own free cards, click here for more information.

Update:  It's the 12th of November and I've ordered my cards!  I am on top of things this year!

Stylish Snowflakes White Christmas Card
Make a statement with Shutterfly Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DIY: Joey's Bunk Beds

For several months I have been obsessed with Ana White, an Alaskan stay-at-home mom who designs and builds furniture and then blogs about it.  Paul does not like this obsession.  He has no interest in building our own furniture, although his help is both required and expected. 

Early Halloween Festivities

Each year we look forward to trick or treating at the UA sorority houses.  This is a great opportunity for us because our neighborhood is unfortunately not conducive to trick or treating.  This event draws a huge crowd, but the roads are closed to traffic so it feels safer than trick-or-treating in a neighborhood.  Especially since (in this area at least) some parents drive their kids from house to house rather than walking.

Unfortunately, last night there was the threat of "severe weather" and trick or treating was canceled.  However, there were indoor activities on campus that we were able to participate in.

The Student Alumni Association had a Halloween festival going on with games, a bouncy house, and candy.  We met our friends Hayley, Joe, and Adelyn there.  Joey bounced in the inflatable dragon, decorated a brownie, and dug through sand for buried treasure.  She especially enjoyed the sand.

Next we went to the indoor football field for a Halloween event hosted by the student athletes.  Joey kicked a soccer ball around and jumped in a bouncy house, but probably enjoyed running around the field more than anything.  She was so worn out that she was asleep in the car within five minutes after leaving. 
Joey chose to run around in her leotard and tights rather than in the adorable tutu that I made for her, but here are some pictures of her in costume that I took before we left the house.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Joey's New Haircut

Joey cut her hair today.  She used Paul's electric beard trimmer to give herself bangs.
 I honestly didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
I had to go back after her to correct it a little.  I'm glad that I pay attention when I get a haircut.
I'm really wondering if she got this idea from "the twin movie."

More on the DIY Diaper Burp Cloths

Several weeks ago I entertained myself by making diaper burp cloths.  So many of our friends are having babies, and I think that these will make cute, personal baby gifts.  Especially if they are monogrammed.  But I don't have an embroidery machine, nor do I know how to embroider by hand.

Last week I made a couple of diaper burp cloths for a friend's baby shower, which was Saturday.  On Thursday I realized that I should get the cloths monogrammed, since our friends had just decided on a name for the baby.  I called several local businesses for pricing and turn-around time, but none would be able to do the work by my deadline.  After a little searching, I found a local woman who does this sort of work out of her home.  Her prices were extremely reasonable and she was able to do the work overnight!  I dropped the things off on her porch on Thursday afternoon and picked them up Friday morning.  Paul said it sounded like a shady drug deal, but no, no drugs in these diapers.

This is how they turned out:

Baby Losavio: 27 Weeks

This is the last week of my second trimester.  I cannot believe how quickly this pregnancy is going by.  Our due date (1/24/2011) is just 3 months from today!

Baby Losavio weighs about 2 pounds and is about 14 1/2 inches long.  I just can't imagine that there is a baby that big in my belly.  The measuring tape in the pictures below is indeed extended to 14 1/2 inches.

And now a baby name hint:  Baby Losavio's name was not in the top ten for 2009.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Every Word's a Winner

One of Joey's favorite hangouts is Starbucks, where she loves drinking vanilla milk and playing "the letter game," known to the rest of us as Scrabble.  She enjoys "making words" with the tiles.  She's pretty good at identifying her letters, but doesn't exactly spell yet.

At home we've got a set of plastic letter refrigerator magnets.  Well, we used to have a set.  I think that we might only have eight letters at this point whereas we started with 26.  But only having one of each letter really limits the words that you can make.  Heck, you can't even spell "Mommy" or "Daddy."

I got the idea to make refrigerator magnets out of Scrabble tiles.  We actually have our own Scrabble set at home, but to keep it intact I needed to find just the tiles.  A new Scrabble set costs about $15, but eBay has tons of tiles on the auction block for less.  Since I really didn't have the patience to wait to win an auction, and then for the tiles to arrive in the mail, I used our Scrabble tiles.  I fully intend to order replacement tiles, but at least now I can hold out for the best price.

For this project, I used a set of 100 Scrabble tiles, 100 round craft magnets, and my hot glue gun.  I simply adhered a magnet to each tile using a small amount of hot glue.  Since the glue can get extremely hot, this is not a good project to do with your child.

After an hour of standing at my kitchen counter gluing magnets to Scrabble tiles, I was finished.  I'm very pleased with the outcome.

Warning:  Scrabble tiles are a choking hazard.  If you choose to replicate this project, please use common sense.  Joey knows better than to put these in her mouth.  However, when Baby Losavio (arrives and) becomes mobile, these will be moved out of her reach.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Arts and Crafts

Our friend Hayley and her daughter Adelyn came over this evening to watch the Alabama vs. Tennessee game.

Adelyn and Joey didn't care much about the football game, but Hayley came armed with arts and crafts for the girls to do.  They took a break from running amok to paint piggy banks. 

They turned out gorgeous, don't you think?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Paul!

Paul and I have been married for four years today.

We were married at St. Francis Catholic Parish on the campus of The University of Alabama on a beautiful autumn day.

Our wedding program had a typo.  Instead of "Best Man," Paul's brother Daniel was the "Beast Man."  We knew about the mistake but didn't correct it.

Our wedding was during the Alabama vs. Tennessee game.  Alabama lost.

Our priest's residence was burglarized during our ceremony.

Our reception was at the L & N Station in downtown Tuscaloosa.  Paul had milk and cookies in lieu of a traditional groom's cake.

My cousin Hunter ate nothing but cookies.
Caught up in the excitement of things, I neglected to pack a suitcase for our wedding night, so I had to wear Paul's shirt, boxer shorts, and shoes out of the hotel the next morning.  It was that or the dress.  If we hadn't have been carrying a wedding gown it would have been the best/worst Walk of Shame ever.

We went to New Orleans for our honeymoon and stayed at the Royal Sonesta on Bourbon Street.  The details of the trip are a little hazy, but we ate a lot of delicious food (I gained 5 lbs.), ate Beignets, went to the aquarium, and made some friends who brought us to an uptown bar.

Since we've been married, we've:
bought a house
bought a car
traveled out of the country
adopted four cats (and fed countless others)
had a baby
adopted a puppy
run half-marathons (Paul)
watched half-marathons from the sidelines (Lauren)
had another baby on the way

Happy Anniversary, Paul!  I love you!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Do you have Gilt?

Gilt Groupe is a members only online "flash sale" site for higher-end goods.  They sell discounted items, up to 70% off, in sales that usually last 36 hours.  

I've been a member of Gilt Groupe for quite some time, although it's rare that I actually make a purchase.  Last week I received an email that offered me a $25 Gilt credit.  I figured that I could use it to get a Christmas gift for Joey.  They had just opened a Melissa & Doug boutique and I was easily able to find something for less than $25.  I purchased the Melissa & Doug Slice and Bake Cookie Set, which was listed at $16, and shipping (which could be included in the $25 credit) was $7.95.  So it was absolutely free for me.   
Today, to my surprise, I received another $25 credit, this time from Gilt Children.  I thought that it must have been a mistake, but I decided to try to make a purchase using the credit anyway.  The Melissa & Doug shop was still open, so I picked out the Melissa & Doug Chef Role Play Costume Set, which was $25.  Gilt was also offering a free shipping credit if you invited 10 friends, which I did, and therefore paid absolutely nothing!
So if you are not receiving emails from Gilt Groupe, you should be!  Post a comment or message me if you want an invite.
My two-year-old daughter loves coffee. 
Could this be why she doesn't nap?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More on the DIY Cocktail Napkins

Earlier today I taught myself to make cocktail napkins with mitered corners.  I initially tried to figure out how to miter on my own, then referenced a web tutorial, which confused me, so I then figured out how to do it my own way.  The first napkin took a while, but I've knocked out several more since this morning.

I am horrible at explaining things but I'll give it a shot.  For the life of me I cannot remember sewing jargon.  I had difficulty recalling the word "crease."  Anyway, this is what I did:

Cut fabric to 2 inches larger than desired size.  Fold over an inch on each side and press.

Fold the one-inch sections in half and press.
 Your creases should look like this:
Fold the corners in and press.  The fold should be at the corner of the inner crease.  Flatten the napkin and flip it over.  Fold the napkin to make a triangle and sew along the corner crease.     
This is what your napkin will look like after sewing all four corners.  This is inside-out.
 Snip, snip.
Turn the napkin right-side-in.  Refold your creases and press again.
Stitch the hem of the napkin.
This process actually requires more ironing than sewing.  I'm lazy and I don't like to use pins, but I think that if you make sharp creases when you press, it's not really necessary to pin.


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