Monday, December 28, 2009

DVD Tote Tutorial

Santa was good to Ben (and Mommy and Daddy) ... well, OK, it was Grandma (or Nona or Mimi or whatever she decides to be called) and Papa-papa.

We're now the proud owners of a Philips portable DVD player. Woo hoo!
I saw a fab tutorial for a DVD tote on Make it and Love it and just HAD to make one. I won't recreate the tutorial (see above. It it F.A.B!), but here are my tips.
First, cut the pieces bigger than you think you'll need -- like 4-6 inches wider than the DVD player. Our DVD player is a little less than two inches think, so measured the fabric by placing the tote on my fabric, adding three inches to each side and just cutting around it. It made for a snug fit. Mainly because I can never get all my pieces to line up right, so after I sew them, I have a lot of trimming to do.
Second. For the divider, it should be just as wide as the other pieces, just not as tall. Somehow, I missed that from the tutorial.
Third, I didn't make the flaps because I was so over it by the time I got to that point. I mean, because I wanted easier access.
Finally, you could add a pocket on the OTHER side for DVDs... of course, genius me didn't figure that out 'til about five minutes ago.
Ok, so here's my final product. I used felt for the binding and a fuzzy old robe instead of the batting. My last step will be to pink the felt so that you can't tell how not strait my stitches are... but I don't have pinking shears... so when I visit my mom on Saturday, I'll have to snag hers.
...And by then, we'll have used the DVD player... yeah!

Note: the paragraph spacing is all out of whack today... anyone know how to fix that?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Delish dinner!

Being a mommy, has made the nightly challenge of making dinner harder. Why? Because the moment I walk in the door my little man is begging for food as if he hasn’t been fed for DAYS. And he attaches himself to my leg. Let me tell you, it’s not easy to come up with a recipe on the spot, prepare it and put it on the table a 25 pound child attached to your lower limbs.

So, here’s how it often goes instead:

· walk in the door
· hugs and kisses
· warm up last night’s dinner and give it to Ben
· prepare dinner for Brian and myself
· play with Ben
· bath time
· play/snack/book/Pablo/medicine
· bed time for Ben
· clean up kitchen

So… Ben usually ends up eating “leftovers,” but they are new to him.

And even though I make dinner AFTER (ok, or during) Ben’s been fed, I still have to rely on quick, easy recipes. Here’s my take on a new, fave recipe “Cheater Pot Pie” from, a fab Web site that’s full of great, everyday recipes. It tastes so ridiculously decadent you’d never believe it’s good for you.

Cheater Pot Pie
2 chicken breasts
1 bag frozen vegetables, I like the mix of carrots, celery and onions
2 cans 98% fat free cream of broccoli soup
½ C skim milk
1 can biscuits (not Grands*, but any other will do)

Heat a pan on the stove and spray with non-stick.
Cut up chicken into bite-sized pieces. Toss into pan.
Add frozen veggies.
Turn on oven to 350°. Pull out a casserole dish and spray with non-stick.
Stir occasionally until chicken is cooked. Turn off heat.
Stir soups and milk into chicken mixture in the pan. Pour into casserole dish.
Pop open biscuits, and layer on top of mixture in the casserole dish.
Cook for about 20 minutes until biscuits are golden on top.

* The Grands are so thick they take FOREVER to cook through. And they stay doughy on the bottom. I’ve actually had the best luck with the Kroger brand.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Our first visit to Santa

This year, was the first year we got a family picture with Santa.

Here it is:

Awww... what a nice family. Right?

Here's how it started, though:

Is it cruel that I like the second series of pics better?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Christmakah!

So... it's the most wonderful time of the year...

And in the Columbus Laeng household, we celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah. Because I'm Jewish.

Yep. Bona fide. Jew, here. This may be a surprise to many (ok, most) of you who knew me in high school and have only recently reconnected with me via facebook.

Sometime, if you're interested, I'll tell you the whole story. But long story short I'm Jewish. Brian is Christmas. (Not a typo. He's not religious but loves Christmas, mainly for Santa and presents.) And our parents are Catholic.

So we celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas. So far, so good. But Ben's only 18 months. So this year, here's how it basically goes.

Brian: Look Ben! Santa! It's Santa! See? Pablo is dressed as an elf! Presents!
Ben: Boblo?
Brian: Yes, Ben. Pablo is an elf! See? Presents!
Ben: Boblo?
Brian: Yes. Santa! Presents!
Ben: Bilk?
Me: Say please.
Ben: Bilk peeeeeeeeez.
Me: Here's your milk. Let's light the Hanukkah candles. See, Ben? This is the shamash. We light it first.
Ben: Gulp. Gulp. Ahhhhhh.
Me: Ok, now we light five candles because it's the fifth night. One... Two...No, Ben. Hot! Danger! We don't touch the fire. Hot.
Ben: Hot. Hot.
Me: Yes, hot. Don't touch. Ok, three... No! Hot. Hot.
Ben: Hot. Bilk?
Me: Yes. This is milk. Four... five...
Ben: Ball ball?
Me & Brian: Yeah! Kick the ball.

See? So far, so good.

Next year, though. I think it'll be a little harder.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Ok... so blogspot's acting up and preventing me from posting my next crafty tutorial... so here's my cookie baking (or attempt at baking post) and a couple no fail recipes...

Here's why I can't bake cookies: I don't keep butter or shortening in the house, and I hate to use egg yolks. "Wait," you say. "ALL my cookie recipes call for butter and eggs."

Yes. They do. And there's a very important reason for that: they make them taste good. And have a cookie-like texture.

I just can't bring myself to dump (literally) pounds and pounds of fat and cholesterol in the food I'm about to feed my family.

I will, however, happily eat your cookies. Mainly because I have the self control to not eat an entire dozen in proper company. At my own house, though, you aren't watching me stuff my face.

Oh, and I'll happily add fat to a recipe if that fat is in the form of peanut butter. :)

That said.... I LOVE to make chocolate dipped things (pretzels, grahams, raisins, nuts, marshmallows.) You name it. I'll dip it.

Also, I LOVE to make Puppy Chow. Here's a good recipe. Delish!

And these rum balls... Adapted from a Columbus Dispatch recipe ages ago. (Wednesday is my favorite Dispatch day because of the food section. A must read!) They never fail.

Rum Balls
3 1/2 C finely ground light, cinnamon sugar graham crackers (about one sleeve per cup)
1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 C powdered sugar, plus extra for rolling
1/3 C light corn syrup
1/3 C rum

Wash your hands.
Combine all ingredients.
Roll into small balls.
Roll in extra powdered sugar.
Note: Your hands will make the "cookie" dough warm and sticky on your palms. Coat your palms with extra sugar and work quickly.

Also note: You don't cook these, so there really is alcohol in them. Read: probably not the best choice for the kiddos.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

One pizza, zero calories

...but it's made of felt. Here's the how to.

This pizza page is a Sayonada original, so I'm sure peeps much craftier than I can figure a better way to do this. But, as I've said before, this is just the way I do it... not necessarily a recommended approach.

First, round up supplies.
  • Find round stuff to trace. You will need four circles, each slightly smaller than the other for the pizza pan, the crust, the sauce and the cheese.
  • Felt for the pieces
  • Fabric for the page
  • Iron on interfacing
  • Craft glue
  • Velcro
  • Sewing supplies (machine, thread, scissors, etc.)
  • Iron

Then, decide on your page size (I agonized over this, then just jumped in. In hind sight, I would have made the pages square like a scrap book. You live, you learn...) Then cut the page fabric (in my case an old sheet) and the interfacing to be about the same size. Follow directions on your interfacing to attach it. (If you misplace the directions like me, it's good to know that the bumpy side of the interfacing is the glue. This side should attach to the back of your page.)

Then cut all your circles and toppings. Don't cut the pizza into "slices" just yet. After that, I sewed two straight lines across the pizza in one direction (do not sew the pizza pan to the pizza here). And two more in the opposite direction. See that down there? So I actually sewed across the pizza four separate times.

Then, I cut the pizza into slices.

And it looked like this:

Then, I sewed the pizza pan on to the page. The interfacing helps keep the page from puckering and wrinkling. Trust me, you need the interfacing or it'll be a hot mess. Next, I used craft glue to glue itty bitty pieces of Velcro to the backs of each slice, each topping and on the pizza pan. I put the scratchier side of the Velcro on the movable pieces and the softer size on the page.

You'll notice I didn't glue soft sided Velcro on the pizza cheese. The scratchy side of the Velcro stick to the felt enough that the pieces stay put...But, as an afterthought, I added a strip of soft-sided Velcro to the bottom of the page to hold the toppings when they aren't being used. See it there?

It doesn't look very pretty, but it serves a function.

And that's it! If you try it, be sure to send me a pic. And if you need more explanation, send me a note and let me know. I'll try to be more clear.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Busy book, revealed!

So, I'm tuckered after a weekend trip to North Olmsted, but I'm dying to post my busy book pics for you. :)
Here's the big reveal:

Right now, this is the cover. (Ben's initials.) But as I improve, I am sure that will change.

See, they come off with snaps.

This is a place setting. I'm not encouraging my toddler to drink,

but a regular cup just looked kinda' weird.

This is the ocean. The boat moves along the horizontal blue ribbon.

This is a crayon box that holds actual crayons.

And this next one is my favorite. I took pics while I made this page (thinking of all of you :) ), so I'll post a tutorial soon. It's PIZZA!

See the little pepperoni and mushrooms? And it's cut into four little pieces...

I'm proud of myself for coming up with this one all by myself. (The others are very similars to other tutorials out there in the blogosphere.)

Also know that I'm by no means even close to being done. Each page I complete, I learn how to do things better, faster, etc. So I have plans for a race track page, a menorah page, a Christmas tree page and a few others... of course with Hanukkah starting Friday night, I have another deadline to fuel my newest obsession.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hot, sweaty and satisfied

I have a new machine that keeps me hot, sweaty and satisfied...

I especially like it because it's bigger than average and really strudy.

No. Not that kind of machine. (Out of the gutter, people!)

It's my brand spankin' new elliptical machine. Isn't she a bute?

I even brought my neglected magazines, a few hand towels and some de-germing spray down to the basement with it so it's like my own little gym...
Can you see the stress and negative vibes being released from my shoulders as I type? Because I can.

Yes, one piece of (amazing) equipment can make that much of a difference in my life. In fact, just a few days in, I feel like a saner person, a better mommy and more in control of my life.

Here's why.

Pre-baby, I ran or hit the gym every single weekday. In fact, I worked out until about six weeks before my due date (quit tsking... I scaled the intensity back and drank lots of water when working out while preggo). But the perfect storm of having a baby, moving and Brian working nights meant that my a.m. workouts just weren't feasible anymore. (The baby monitor's radius is something like 60 feet, not 6 miles.)

And post dinner workouts only lead to mega mommy guilt ... which meant I rushed the workouts, which meant I didn't enjoy the workout AND I didn't get a good workout AND I felt like I neglected my family. (Can you see the maddening circle here? I think it's the definition of downward spiral.)

Oh yeah, and I gained 12 pounds. 12! That's an entire pants size (or more!). That meant I had to pull my post-natal jeans back out of the maternity clothes bin. A sad, sad, sad day for me.

I have NOT been a happy camper. And everytime I thought about it... I just got more and more bummed. Even Jillian Michaels (whose DVDs managed to stop the weight gain) couldn't help me.

And just when I began to accept I'd be this weight for a while... I decided that I would NOT settle. After all, I can't go gaining 12 pounds with each kid I have. Right? Right.

Enter, the amazing elliptical. It feels great to be back in my old routine: Up at 5:30, in the shower by 6:45 and ready to wake up Ben Ben by 7:15... ahhh... it's glorious... it's the routine I need. I CRAVE. And I love it!