Thursday, December 29, 2011

A few photos before Chaos Reigned

LOVE!!!Dipping chocolate pretzelsPerfect 4-year old job!"Help! Help! Help!"Messy activity...Sampling the finished product!
And Rowan cleans the spoon!Rowan Amelia, Christmas 2011Anya Genevieve, Christmas 2011Our daughters, Christmas 2011The Brownson GirlsWe're still working on that posing gene.
Christmas 2011, Mom and her girlsMom and Dad, picture by RowanMom and Dad, pic by Rowan"Helping" Anya open presentsA rhino?I looooooovvee him.
Barbie Bug!Christmas morningRowan's hitting the stockings...While Anya takes time to read the Bible. Ha!That Santa is one smart dude. Barbie Roller Skates.Anya opening a shopping cart from Santa

Christmas 2011, a set on Flickr.

Our first Christmas in our new home was just wonderful. Here are a few snaps before Hurricane Wrapping Paper took over. Hope your holiday was a special one, too.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas, Everyone!!!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!!!, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

May you have a joy-filled, blessed holiday. It will probably be a bit stressful, but there's chocolate, booze and comfy socks--make use of them. Much love, from our home to yours!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Pizza Cat!!!

Suddenly, things take shape. What, in the so recent past, was scribbles and blobs, now is people, animals, buildings--all with recognizable features and big smiles.

This is pizza cat. I hoped it might be some sort of super hero, but it's just a cat that really likes pizza. Pepperoni, I think.

She's pretty amazing, our girl.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Scandinavian Paper Heart Baskets

She's Norwegian, Swedish and Icelandic, and definitely looks the part. Today, she made her first paper heart basket, with (lots of) help from Mom.

After seeing a photo on the internet of a little girl dressed up for the feast of St. Lucia, she has big ideas about wearing a crown and serving us breakfast in bed. I have a feeling this will be more work for me than her, but it may be a fun thing to do, making her dream come true.

OK, and her mom's dream, too. I mean, how cute is that?

Via Flickr:
Instructions found here. I used cardstock and it worked fine.

I make my own laundry soap. Yep. Pretty sure I've gone off the deep end.

OK, I used to think this was crazy, but got really frustrated that everything I tried didn't work to get my clothes clean (with the added bonus of Allergic Reactions!!! Yippee!!!) So I figured, at 71 cents for 2 gallons, if it didn't work, it was worth the try. 

IT TOTALLY WORKS. My clothes are so much cleaner now, I don't spend time pretreating (if needed, I may just put the soap on the stain that was going in the whole load), and no big bottles to recycle. I use about a cup a load (it depends on your water hardness), and my clothes look better and feel softer and are much, much cleaner. (Especially hand towels that certain short people dry their hands with after "washing the paint off". You know where most of that paint goes, right? Also, crawler pants with brown knees that didn't come clean no matter how much I pretreated or soaked in Oxyclean--now, they look new again after one wash.) 

So, if you're crazy, too, give it a try. It really is worth 71 cents and the 10 minutes of your time.

Go here for the recipe. (Thanks, Crystal!)

Note: using my Microplane grater works best for the soap, it melts faster. 

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough in Dip Form (with no raw eggs!)

A friend made this, and I threatened her with bodily harm if she wouldn't give me the recipe. No, not really. But I would have if she didn't give it up easily. Seriously, it's good. Really good. Really, really good. And no salmonella!

You should make this.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup powdered (confectioner's) sugar
2 Tb. brown sugar
3/4 cup chocolate chips (mini are a great size for this)

Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffy. Beat in sugars until well blended, then stir in the chips. Serve with fruit, animal crackers, graham crackers, etc. for dipping. Stand back to avoid the stampede.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Halloween 2011

Halloween 2011, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

"A cat. A cat, Mom!"

No matter what I did, I could not convince her to be something clever.

But I've learned. You don't argue with a kid about her costume. It's what she wants (as long as it's appropriate.) It's her night, after all.

I got lucky at Kid-to-Kid and found Anya a snuggly dog costume for less than the cost to make one, so we had a theme going.

I wore my raincoat and boots, and pinned as many small stuffed cats and dogs as I could find to my umbrella. Turned out, that was a good idea as it was drizzling during the official trick or treat hours in town. The kids didn't seem to notice, but having a costume on made it easier to "collect for Anya" (read: cash in on the whole free candy thing so mom and dad can raid it when they go to bed.)

A few friends joined us for sloppy joes before we braved the chill, and about an hour of walking around tired us enough, and weighed the bags down adequately to call it a night. Many neighbors and friends came by for treats here, too.

I love having a Halloween neighborhood, and I love having kids to take trick or treating. Simple pleasures.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stand up and cheer! version 2.0

Stand up and cheer!, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

Just like her big sister, she's got green in her genes.

Fight on, Sioux!

My girl

...on a rainy day..., originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

She looks like me.

She loves things I love. Music. Art. Dancing. Good stories.

She's stubborn.

She's got a lot of fears. Heights. Zombies (even though she doesn't really know what they are.) Changing tables. Being alone.

But she's really brave, too. And she keeps trying. She works to conquer her fears.

She loves people. She wants to be everyone's friend. She believes everyone is her friend, even when they don't know who she is. She wants the whole world to love each other. She doesn't understand why some people do mean things. But she forgives them, right away. Because they are her friends.

She gets bored easily, so she sings songs she makes up, paints a new picture, dances to some music, explores and comes back with a handful of flowers, for me.

She says, "I love you!" Often. And she smiles. It warms your heart. She giggles, and everyone around her smiles, too.

I watch her, and I wish I could know more. I wish I knew what I was like at her age. I wish I knew what worked, and what didn't. How to solve the problems I can't figure out. I wish I knew what my mom felt when I was the four year old, and she was the one struggling and enjoying every minute.

Then, she does this. As I'm snapping away, she sticks her tongue out, and I see it. She's got something of her, too. Her grandma's sense of humor, apparently, is in the genes.

And I know, I'm blessed.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Cowboy Caviar Bean Dip

I made this for church coffee hour today, so thought I'd share the recipe here, too. This is one of my favorites, and I've just started tinkering with the recipe to make it a bit zippier, with not so much sugar or oil. Today's result was a hit, so I'm putting it here to make it easy for me to reference again.

My original recipe is from my Aunt Carol, but I made a few changes to suit our preferences, and it's easily adaptable. This is kind of a family tradition at the holidays, and it is always a big hit at parties. It makes a lot but keeps well in the fridge since it's in a vinegar/sugar dressing. I mix it up in an ice cream bucket. Serve with a slotted spoon.

  • 2 cans black eyed peas  (rinse & drain)
  • 2 cans pinto beans  (rinse & drain)
  • 2 cans black beans   (rinse & drain)
  • 2 cans shoe peg corn  (drained)
  • 1 small can chopped green chiles (drained)
  • 1 can sliced jalapenos, drained and chopped fine
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped fine
  • 1 med. diced onion (chop fine)
  • 1 c. chopped celery (chop fine)
  • 1 c. chopped sweet peppers (I used a mix of red, orange and yellow.)
Bring to boil:
  • 3/4 c. cider vinegar
  • 1/4 c. oil
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • juice of one lime
  • 2 T. Penzey's Bold Taco seasoning (or any taco seasoning)
  • 1 T. Creole Seasoning (Tony Chachere's, or any other all-purpose season salt--to taste.)
  • 1 T. Crystal Sauce (or Tabasco)
Bring to boil----cool and pour over ingredients. I do the dressing first, and by the time the veggies are chopped, it is cool enough to pour over. Allow to marinate several hours in the refrigerator. Serve with a slotted spoon and tortilla chips (scoops are perfect).  Keeps a long time in fridge. This can easily be cut in half, but this size serves a crowd!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sometimes I am amazed at how much fun I have with my kids.

Today, in the car on the way home from preschool, Crazy Train came on. Both girls had big grins and started to headbang in their carseats, giggling and grinning through the entire song. I cranked it up. We looked it up on YouTube when we got home, and Rowan said, "I wish we could get a ticket and go to there!" Someday, we'll all go see Ozzy.

After lunch and attempted (FAILED) naps, we got to work cleaning up the dining room art explosion and the living room toy explosion to a soundtrack of the Black Eyed Peas and Will.I.Am. I set up a playlist with Move it, move it/Don't Stop the Party/I got a feeling/Beautiful Day. Before the third song, things were ship shape and we were headed out the door to walk the dog before it rained again, slapping mosquitos the whole way.

I wish I could say there were no tears or tantrums today. I can't. But I'm gladly here, going off the rails. I love my life.

Monday, September 12, 2011

They are Full of Awesome.

Sisters!, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

Are you?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Day of Preschool: Year 2, The Big Kid

Rowan and Anya, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

Rowan began her second year with a bang--literally. A certain adult, who shall remain nameless, overstressed one of the supports of her toddler bed and snapped it, and then spilled coffee all over her carpet. So much for an easy morning! But we got it cleaned up (and grabbed the wood glue and a clamp), got in the car, and were at school in plenty of time to meet old friends and new. Rowan loves school, and would happily go all day, every day. Anya loves to visit and explore, but is still ready to head home with Mom.

In Anya news, as she came into the bathroom this morning, I greeted her with, "Hi, Anya! How are you?" And she responded, "Good!" First time--new word! She's been a little slower in language than her big sister, but pretty much anyone would be compared to Miss Talkypants. :) (At Rowan's 18 mo. checkup, the nurse thought I was crazy when I said Rowan had about 200 words--until she started talking in complete sentences!!!) Anya currently says "EH!" for just about everything, though she now does regularly say "Hi", "Bye" and "Anya!" Just like her sister, when she's hungry she lets us know by pointing to her mouth.

She does that a lot.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Don't let a little rain stop you from being glamorous.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Into the Woods we go again...

Into the Woods we go again..., originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

If you've wondered where I've been, it's here, in front of this score. Besides taking care of my family, I've been studying the score, lining up the performers, rehearsing, and preparing for opening night. Today is preview, tomorrow we open. The music is difficult to play, sing and conduct, and the show is almost non-stop music. It's witty and irreverent and sad and touching, and I'm going to have a real challenge to not laugh out loud during performance, which so far, I have failed at miserably. But, I do really think it will be an excellent show. It's my first gig conducting a musical, and it's one of the toughest to conduct. A fun challenge, I'm really enjoying it, though not so much the insomnia that comes after my brain gets all riled up and full of Sondheim.

We'd love to have you join us. Tickets can be purchased here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Yeah, I'm probably the last one to the party, but I'm having a good time!

Found this site, where I can pin up things I find on the net, want to remember, and would like to share with my friends. Then, I can follow others and find other stuff. How cool is that? The only problem is that it's becoming so popular, they're already needing to update their servers (which apparently they are doing right now, which is why I can't post any of my pins up here).

Nonetheless, I've found my newest time-suck. You know, because I needed something else to distract me.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

When you give a teething baby an ice cream sandwich...

she hoovers it down in 7 seconds flat.

Welcome, tooth #3!

Friday, July 01, 2011


Some days, I work and work and work, all day long, and when J gets home, he has to ask:

"What did you do today?"

Cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids--they're things that aren't noticed unless they're not done.

But today, we had PBJ and leftovers for lunch, the only cleaning done was the dishes, and not one load of laundry was washed.

Today, I finally took the cover off my sewing machine, and got to work. New curtains for Rowan's room.

"Wow! They look GREAT!!! Good job, Ronica!"

That was very nice to hear. Then, he took me out to dinner, and brought me a glass of wine while I gave the girls a bath.

Yep, I earned it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


The Brownson Family, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.


So yeah, haven't been here in a while. Sorry.

Been busy. Kids, life. Fires in the fire pit, sliding on the slip and slide, breakfasts and lunches and dinners and baths and bubbles and sandbox and playdates. Popsicles and sunscreen, trips to the library and walks through the neighborhood. And every night a bath to wash off the mud and the grass and the sand and the marshmallow gunk.

Summer. Loving it. Loving our new house, loving our family, loving our time together. Grandma and Grandpa B. are coming soon, and there will be parties and fireworks and lots of things cooked on the grill.

This photo was taken on our recent trip to Raleigh, NC. We had a ball, just eating and going to museums and shopping and enjoying being somewhere else, but still being together.

I'm sorry that blogging has pretty much dried up, but there's just too much life to be lived right now, and I don't want to miss a minute.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Retour de Chine

He's home., originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

It was a long week without him, while he was doing business in Beijing and enjoying some tourist time in Xi'an, but he's home.

We've survived with careful planning, praying for patience, some extra treats, plans with friends, and lowered expectations. Made it through the beginnings of summer colds, thunderstorms, and preschool field trips with only a few text messages.

At 11 PM, I bundled the sleepy girls into the car, and pulled up just as his plane was landing. He pulled gifts out of his bag, momentos of his trip to the other side of the world. Then he dug into a plate of good old American leftovers, popped open a beer, and relaxed on the sofa, watching a Chinese movie.

Jade is supposed to bring you luck. It must have worked. He's home.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

My favorite bouquet

My favorite bouquet, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

comes from small, grimy hands.

Happy Summer, everyone.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday the 13th is the Luckiest Day

Little Blue Eyes, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.


I can hardly believe you're already a year old. Crawling like crazy, pulling yourself up to stand, eating everything you can get your hands on (including chalk) despite still having only 2 teeth. Your nature, so calm and sweet, happy to play with any toy, busying yourself for long periods, then crawling over and pulling up on my pant leg for a hug.

You came into our life a year ago today, and it was like you'd always been there. You fit.

I can't imagine my world without you, my lovey. Happy Birthday, Anya.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Easter 2011: Best Shot I got.

Easter 2011: Best Shot I got., originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

The night before, Rowan threw up three times. (Once down her Dad's back, once all over his front, and one more for good measure.) After all the preparation for Easter, I was worried we'd spend it at home, in jammies, eating mass quantities of ham by ourselves. But happily, munchkins bounce back pretty quickly. Though she looks peaked here, by noon she was feeling fine and excited for her Easter treat (Root beer in a crystal glass.) I didn't push the photo session--it is what it is.

More photos on Flickr.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Rowan's First Rock Concert: the Imagination Movers!!!

I didn't order the tickets until the last minute, so we ended up in the nosebleed seats, and apparently my daughter has inherited my fear of heights. But happily, she took my advice (in through the nose, out through the mouth... breathe, just breathe...) and was soon dancing, clapping and singing along. We had a wonderful time, just the two of us. And no, I have still not decided which mover I have a bigger crush on... (though Scott's in the lead. I've always had a thing for long hairs.)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Celebration

Sprinkles!, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

I could have been folding laundry
or making the bed
or preparing lunch
or unpacking another box
but instead
I shaved my legs
put on white capris
and painted my toenails turquoise blue
(which doesn't suit me)
I saw the forsythia blooming
and today
the sun is shining.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

She has discovered food.

She has discovered food., originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

And she is a fan. Big. As in gained a full pound in 2 weeks.

With Rowan, I was so careful. One new food every 5 days, for allergies! Because it's so common to be allergic to green beans!!! As a result, she hates repetition, except for PBJ. Leftovers cannot be served the next day; she won't eat them. Sometimes, she won't eat them again for weeks. It's rather annoying. (And wasteful. And I get tired of eating the same thing for 4 meals in a row because she won't help.)

With Anya, whatever. We went from purées to chunks in days (she did wait until she was 9 months old to eat anything but Mom-juice, so she had more coordination than she might have at 6.) I gave her whatever we had handy. Bananas, sweet potatoes, avocado. Potatoes, carrots, peas, corn, salmon, beef, chicken. Crackers. Cheerios. Gerber puffs, Baby Mum Mums. Applesauce and oatmeal. She doesn't eat much yet, but she finally eats. And apparently, she enjoys it. Though sometimes it's tough to remind her that the food goes in more easily when she actually opens her mouth. She loves to feed herself, though, so gets a sprinkling of chunks on her tray to eat, carefully, one by one, mashing them with her toothless gums and grinning.

This was beef stew (with a bit too much paprika, oops) and applesauce on a Thursday at 1:30 PM. I think she liked it.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Yep, definitely genetic.

Determination!, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

You may remember this.

It appears the gene is not dormant.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Very Personalized Valentines

Rowan's Valentines, 2011

I saw a link to a blog a few weeks ago with a very cool and clever idea for Valentine cards, and I figured, why not give it a try? So after a few photo snap sessions, we got the shot. Though iPhoto doesn't allow you to add text to photos, I scoured the internet for some help, and found a thread that discussed how to easily edit and add text to a photo using Preview on a Mac. (I had no idea Preview could do all the things it can do!) I added text, including some little hearts, and emailed my photo off to be printed. A few slits cut with a sharp knife, a lollipop added, and here you have it: Rowan's Valentines 2011. We passed them out at her preschool Pancake and Strawberry party today, and they were a big hit. (The photo of the photo makes it look weirdly photoshopped, but it wasn't in person.)

Valentines for the Teachers, 2011 (We made flower pens.)
For her teachers, we added a little adult treat. Regular ball point pens with a flower attached by floral tape and some green electrical tape made a sweet addition to the cards. We made a few extras for at home, since I'm always hunting for a pen in my kitchen. These are easy to spot with their pink petals waving in the breeze.

And this morning, we celebrated together with pain au chocolat, strawberries, yogurt and espresso--our own tradition for special days like birthdays or Valentines day. It's a sweet way to start the day!

We hope you are having a lovely Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

We're moving!!! SQUEEEEE!!!

1 Exterior, front, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

We bought a house, and we finally sold ours. We close on both on Feb. 28th, so I'll be scarce on here. (Not like I haven't been.) Have a lot of packing to do. And planning. We are so excited.

More photos here.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Sold!!!, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.


Now, we get the new house. YAY! The right person had to come along, and as it was, two did, so we got to pick an offer. Better late than never!

So in the next couple of months, I've got a lot of packing to do.

But tomorrow? I am NOT going to clean the toilets. In fact, I don't even think I'll make my bed.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Walk in Paris

My friend is amazing. I miss her, and all my Paris friends. And I miss Paris.

If you don't read her blog already, please go there. Whether you like Paris or not, you'll like Irene. Promise.
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