Tuesday, January 31, 2012

T-minus 6 days to demo

As is the trend this winter/spring, we are embarking on a kitchen remodel.  The cabinets and appliances are in our garage.  Monday is the predicted start day, when demo will begin.  We learned this yesterday afternoon.  So 6 days to pack everything up, not only in the kitchen but the adjacent family room, and relocate to the living/dining room.  Should be smooth.

The project is expected to take 8 weeks, hopefully less but I'm not holding my breath. We've done the kitchen remodel on the PDX house, so we kind of know the drill.  Last time we had a microwave, hot plate, BBQ, with a dishwasher rigged up in the basement.  Erin was about 9 months old at the time, so we were pretty much only cooking for two.

This time we're considering paper/compostable plates, microwave, BBQ, and our camping cookstove.  We are thinking of having a very basic menu of 7 easy meals - either all made in the microwave or in one pot - and using the same menu for the span of the project.

Any meal ideas, dear readers? I mean, other than Budget Gourmet one night and Asia Palace the next.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Almond Citrus Salad

Time for a crazy "let's-see-what's-in-the-fridge-and-try-to-make-something-paletable" experiment.

Romaine lettuce
segmented grapefruit
toasted slivered almonds
pickled ginger - this is not the sushi kind, I think it's more of a Korean style and was a random buy at the local Asian grocery store

Olive oil
rice vinegar
little bit of apricot jam
dash of sesame oil
dash of soy sauce

I liked it.  It was really bitter and sour.  Brian took one bite and passed his bowl to me.  Well, 50% is not bad for a random recipe. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Seattle Domination!!!!

This weekend, McMiller Inc. is in Seattle, visiting Stunt Dad and family. * Our long weekend has been composed of overnight yeasted waffles, a trip to Costco, visiting an awesome park with lots of ride-on toys, an outing to a play gym at the Y, a swimming trip, a rainy visit to a beach, much cousin craziness, extended bedtimes, and enjoyable glasses of wine and TV after the kids are asleep. Our girls loved seeing the newest McFeely boy cousins** and getting more time to play with Liam.  Thanks for the great visit!!

* I have zero pictures because I didn't bring a camera, but hopefully some of Brian's iPhone pictures and movies will make their way here.
** Holy moly, twins are a lot of work.  I bow in honor to all mothers and all families with these special two-fer blessings.  

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Extreme Piggyback

It really should be an olympic sport.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fashion Friday: Hair Clips

Frequently, in lieu of combing Erin's hair she has the option of pony tails.  Today she decided hair clips would be better. Two of each color.  Worked for me. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Stalagmite experiment: FAIL

We found a kid experiment to try from my latest obsession - growing stalagmites and stalactites in your own kitchen.  Looked easy enough and we set it up.  The hope was for a beautiful column of crystals dipping down and upwards to touch.

We ended up with this:

The crystals were pretty, though:

It was a good lesson that experiments rarely work perfectly the first time. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sweet Big Sister

Erin is turning into a very, very sweet big sister.  It was a little hairy for awhile there, especially last summer, but since she's entered the 4's and since Robin thinks she's 4, Erin has been good natured, helpful, friendly, loving, and generally interested in her little sister.  They play together.  Erin helps her out, whether it's choosing the right color crayon or getting onto her tricycle.  Erin defends her.  Erin nearly always saves a bit of her candy to give to Robin, even if Robin has been given the same exact piece and would never give any to Erin.  Erin had a fit of cuddling with Robin last night at bedtime and asked Robin if she wanted to sleep in her bed together. It was the sweetest thing.

In exchange, Erin is Robin's favorite person.  She is the classic little sibling mirror of Erin.  It's like having Peet and RePeet.

In no way to I expect this sibling bliss to endure uninterrupted; no doubt they will have ups and downs.  But it's so nice to know they will have ups. And how sweet these ups are!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Today's reading list

Down By the Bay
Three Hungry Spiders and One Fat Fly
Peek a Who
Goodnight Moon
The Daddy Book
Go Dog, Go
Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?
Farm Animals
Giggle, Giggle, Quack,
Click, Clack, Moo
Maisy's Big Book of Flaps
Good Night, World
My Cold Went on Vacation
Ladybug Girl (2x)
Officer Buckle and Gloria
If You Take a Mouse to School
Diary of a Worm (2x)
I Loved You Before You Were Born
The Desperate Dog Writes Again
Where's Waldo: The Great Picture Hunt
365 Penguins
She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown
Haiku Baby
I Must Have Bobo
10 Minutes to Bedtime
Ladybug Girl Dresses Up
Pete & Pickles
Insect World

We still have snuggly reading time (just before bedtime) to go.

My voice is hoarse.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Knitting Project III: Fingerless Gloves

Technically, this project is only HALF done (still need to do the other glove).  This was supposed to be for Erin since she's been asking for mittens for awhile now.  I thought fingerless gloves would be a little more functional for her.  I used the smallest needles and a thin yarn.

Yet this pattern is still WAAAAAYYYYYY too big for her. Might look good on me though. . .  Will have to find her a kids size pattern. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Moustache III

And goatee, I suppose.  Robin also loves the blueberry smoothie.  And making funny faces.  And mustaches.

And look - eyebrows!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Playtime: glow sticks

2 glow sticks + 2 girls + 1 bath = super fun 
Got this idea here.   Awesome blog.  Go check it out.  Now.  Even if you don't have children.  You will find something there you want to try.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


We received a VitaMix for Christmas from A's parents.  I had no idea how much of a thing this was until my sister-in-law D clued me in.  And we've used it nearly every day since.  Smoothies with whole fruits/veg/ice, sauces, hummus.  I mean, I put an entire carrot, in huge chunks, and it is pulverized to deliciousness in a few seconds.  I even chopped an apple, cole-slaw style, for a salad tonight.  I love this appliance!  Some of our better smoothies: 

Orange, carrot, banana, pineapple, orange juice, ice.

Blueberries, protein powder, banana, milk, whole apple, ice.

Carrots, orange, orange juice, coconut milk, pineapple, ice.

There've been some flops too.  No one liked the spinach smoothie.  Well, I did but no one else.  And one avocado one was a little, um, odd.  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Meet Cody

The most patient cat in the world.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

McMiller Puzzle Sunday

The girls love jigsaw puzzles.  Erin will happily do and redo and redo the same one over and over.  She can do up to 100 pieces.  The cutest thing is how she now helps Robin do puzzles, offering her the correct next piece, suggesting tips to get the piece to fit, encouraging her to look at the colors and designs on the pieces ... she's a patient teacher. And Robin loves the Big Sister attention.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

This is Winter?

This season there's been 14 "Spare the Air" days in SFBA.  On these days, it's illegal to burn wood, and it's recommended to limit driving due to poor air quality.

In Dec there 0.1" rain. In January so far, 0".  That's several inches lower than normal.  Rather it's been very cold at /night, in the 30's and below, but quite warm, sunny and pleasant mid-60's during the days.

Partly CloudyTodayTonightTomorrow
Partly Cloudy / WindMostly ClearSunny
Partly CloudyPartly Cloudy / WindMostly ClearSunny

Don't get me wrong, I've really appreciated being able to go to the park with the kids, minimally bundled.  I've enjoyed the extra vitamin D.  But we haven't had a winter.  At all. It's a strange feeling that we might go from a summer to a pleasant fall straight into spring/summer.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Enthusiastic eater

Robin loves food.  She loves to eat.  All meals are called "dinner time".  Any time she hears the microwave going (no comments on how we cook, please) she gets very excited, and sits nearby to see what tasty treat emerges.  She greets the Trader Joe's Indian food boxes with a happy bouncy "Panak Paneeer Panak Paneeer" chant.

Tonight I was getting dinner on the table and she decided she was ready enough.  While I was putting on the finishing touches on the chicken, she helped herself to not one, but two servings of mac n'cheese.  Then went on to eat a full plate of chicken, mashed potato, and carrots.  Followed by some builder bar and a slice of butternut squash pie.  The kid eats.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Knitting project II and bonus crochet project


A cute "eat your veggies" hat for my nephew, Kai. I've made 4 of these hats in the last month or so, but this one turned out the best.


A crochet Swifter cover. Found this idea yesterday on Pinterest. Needless to say it was a fast project. Erin enjoyed the results and quickly started cleaning. Double bonus!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Homemade bread

I mentioned we have 50 lbs of flour, right?  Brian realized it won't last forever, flour does eventually go bad.  So while we're waiting for the pandemic, I though I'd get cracking' making some wheat-based treats.

And I give you bread.  This was a white sandwich bread recipe from America's Test Kitchen cookbook.  We've made better yeast breads in the past: I love the ATK pizza dough recipe and we've got a delicious pretzel recipe we do frequently. But I thought having a good white sandwich bread recipe would be great, but I think I'll keep experimenting.  

But it was tasty. And with the stand-up mixer the kneading work was done for me. Love the dough hook. 

The lesson from this batch was oil or put parchment on the bottom of the pan.  We nearly couldn't get it out.  Not that it stopped us from gorging ourselves on it right as it came out of the oven.  So tasty we ate half the loaf in about 15 minutes.  We were supposed to wait 2 hours until it cooled down, but with the whole house wrapped in the delicious fresh-bread smell, who could wait? 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Farmer's Market Dinner

This turned out really delicious.  Lots of different flavors, and since it was a lazy Sunday I could do one thing here, chop another thing there, stir every now and again and it all seemed to come together.

Roasted beets topped with caramelized vinegar beet greens, beef stew over baked potato.

1 bunch golden beets (3 total) with greens intact
3 potatoes
2 carrots
2 ribs celery
1 onion
1.5 # beef

Seasonings and fats-
For beef stew:
oil, salt, pepper, thyme, beef bouillon, ~2c homemade chicken stock, dash of wine, scoop of tomato paste
For sautéed greens:
Oil, 1 clove garlic, 2-3 tbs balsamic, sprinkling of sugar and salt.

Beets & Potatoes:
 Cut off tops, chopped and soaked in water to rinse off dirt.  Wrapped beets in foil, roasted at 350 for 1 or 1.5 hours. Wrap the potatoes in foil, and throw them in at the same time.

For greens (do closer to dinnertime) - sauté in a bit of oil, with water still clinging so they sauté/steam until wilted.  Sprinkle on a bit of sugar, salt, and the balsamic vinegar.  Cook down till most of liquid is gone and greens are in a slightly sticky syrup. Toss in a minced clove of garlic, earlier if you like it mellow, closer to serving if you like it stronger.

Beef stew:
Saute chopped onion, celery and carrot in some olive oil until it's smelling good and looking soft.  Throw in meat.  Throw in broth, bouillon, seasonings you like (I like thyme, bay leaf, and rosemary). Cook 1 or 2 hours, or until meat is nice and soft and sauce has reduced to thick deliciousness.

To plate: peel and slice a beet, arrange on plate.  Spoon some greens on top.  Cut a baked potato in half and squeeze a bit to mash the cooked potato flesh a bit.  Spoon stew on top.  Drizzle with a bit of oil, or dot with butter, sprinkle a bit of fresh herbs if you like.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ruffle skirts!

A little more fashion for Sunday. 

Erin got this skirt for Christmas from Santa Cruz cousins.  The size is bigger than her normal size, but it seems to fit.  She's found out the top part of the skirt can be pulled over her chest to make a strapless dress.  

Robin got this skirt as a dress-up set for Christmas.  She loves it.  She wears it all day and cries when I have to wash it.  She calls it her, "Yo ho a pirate life for me". 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Music Critic

"Mom, I don't want to listen to the news!  I want to hear girl music.  Soft girl music.  Maybe with a little guitar.  And some gentle drums.  And maybe some violins.  But soft violins."

I switch over to an appropriate station.

This is playing.

"Perfect, Mom.  Thanks!"

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fashion Friday: Sweatshirt edition

Our model, Brian, shows off the latest in sweatshirt fashion: the kangaroo. It comes in two sizes currently...

The 4 year old

And the 22 month old.

Sizes and selection in your area will vary.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Knitting project 1: Baby Squash Hat

Pattern was from here.  A fast, cute little hat in infant size.  Size 5 round needles, and used a fancy yarn, Cascade Yarn 220 Superwash color 893.  This one is going to my Cousin who is due with a little boy in April.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Robin loves to have a moustache.  She makes this funny, pucker face and says in a low, gravely voice, "mooooooouuuustache!"  She's a total ham.

Oh, and like that shiner?  This was a few days before the Christmas madness.  Girls and I went to the zoo with another mom and one of Erin's classmates.  We had *just* gotten there and were waiting to show our pass when Robin decided to get out of the stroller.  By herself.  Sideways.  Yeah, you could hear the smack on the pavement from 100 yards.  The other mom was nearly beside herself with worry, and wanted to scour the park for ice.  Turns out, the zoo had a water main break the night before and there was no water, much less ice, to be had.  I knew Robin wasn't that bad off, even though the purply-red goose egg was ginormous.  She's quite the roller-derby queen and was being her normal silly self in about 30 seconds.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Today's new game: Orange Ball

The game: take an orange, try to land it in the box with one good throw.  Optional: run around the other boxes when an orange has successfully landed in the box.   Equipment: 5 oranges (more or less, depending on how many each kid wants), a few empty christmas boxes, giggles.

The kids were going stir-crazy and starting to throw the oranges in the house.  Solution?  Get them to throw them outside.  Erin made up the rules of the game after the equipment was strategically placed outside.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Birthday Sushi!

The salmon was by far the tastiest.  In the demitasse?  Sake.  

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It's 2012. Are you ready?

With the new year, we update our "go bags".  This year we expanded our emergency supplies from 72 hours to about 1 month. Some of our supplies for the 1 month set:

50 # flour
50# rice
25# pinto beans
25 # salt
1 # yeast
10 # pancake mix
16 oz vanilla
4# trail mix
1 gal oil

Mmmmmmm..... emergency rations.