Sunday, January 31, 2010

Library Fun!!

We finally discovered the joys of attending the local library's bookreading activities for children! For once, our children are both of an age where they actually enjoy books, and can sit through a book reading.

The Peachtree City Library has some great kid's reading events on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. The Thursday morning one is geared for younger kids, but we take Ella anyways, and Ella enjoys it more than the 3-5 year old readings on Tuesdays. At the Thursday morning activity, they have reading time, sing songs (The Hokey Pokey, Hickory Dickory Dock, etc), and always finish with an art/coloring project of some sort.

Not surprisingly, Ella's VERY favorite thing at the library is to get on their children's computers, where they have preschool-type learning programs with matching/numbers/alphabet challenges. It's fun to watch her work the mouse (Wow! She's so good for not being allowed to touch the computers at home!), and it is very tempting to want to find her some Preschool CD-Roms for home.

The girls also love picking out their choice of books and children's videos to take home. Maiya tends to wander through all of the shelves, and pick up book after book after book--while I run around after her and try to put the books back in the correct order.

A few weeks ago, Ella chose a DVD called "Baby Ballet," which is a kid's ballet class video. It has been a hit for both her AND Maiya. It is so cute to watch them do plie's, learning arm positioning, stretch, etc. I think they both might be inclined to dance in future years--they already show such promise!

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Homemade Wheat Bread

We've been baking our own bread since we purchased this bread maker last summer. The $5 per loaf prices in Alaska were KILLING us. So, now we typically make a new loaf about every other day, which keeps Jared fed with PB & J to his heart's delight.

I picked up some whole wheat from the church cannery the other day (50 pounds for about $12! Wow!), and went home to grind it in the new dry Vitamix Container that Jared's parent's got us for Christmas (THANK YOU!). The first attempt to bake bread with the freshly ground grain was NOT GOOD. Okay, it was BAD. It was about half the size of a normal loaf! I guess the freshly ground grain is much different than the bags of supposedly "whole wheat" flour you get from the store. But I was determined to make it work!

So, I searched online for tricks to make bread fluffier, and tried a few of them.

And, I'll let you decide if it worked...

So, I've taken the tips I read, cut down the size of the recipe, and made a smaller loaf that didn't bake into the top of my bread maker lid . I still haven't completely perfected the recipe, because sometimes the bread is nearly FLAWLESS, and sometimes it is not. Here is my current bread machine recipe for a 2 lb loaf of whole wheat bread that is FLUFFY:

1 1/8 cup water
3 T oil
1 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups wheat flour
3/4 cup white flour
1/4 cup gluten flour
2 1/2 tsp yeast
2 T lemon juice

I have found that baking it under the "Basic" Bread mode (as opposed to "wheat") works better for my bread maker. The gluten flour seems to be the real trick to getting fluffy bread, and I've actually forgotten the lemon juice the last few times I've made it. has been thicker, perhaps adding lemon juice to make your bread fluffy isn't just an old wive's tale?

Are you still buying your bread from the store? You STILL don't own a bread maker? WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!! :)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Polish Pottery Blog

Well, it's about time that I admit that I have another blog, and I've finally started to post on it! I link to the blog from my retail website, but would never remember to post on it. Well, around Thanksgiving time, I went and looked at the blog's stats, and I realized I had many visitors--and I hadn't posted on the blog for probably 10 months! Ahhh!!

So, my Polish Pottery blog can be found here:

I apologize that the current post is an advertisement about my Valentine's Day Sale that is going on right now...but if you flip through the'll see that I'm finally starting to remember to take photos of all of the Polish Pottery we use at mealtime! Oh yes...and then there are always the classic Baby in a Polish Pottery Bowl photos...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


It's only the LARGEST, most OVERWHELMING gift show on American soil. For those of you not familiar with this concept...Store owners from across the US travel to Gift Shows, where they basically "window" shop for new products. This is where they meet up with business owner's they've done business with for years, place orders, order/find new products, or find out what the trends are in the marketplace for the upcoming year.

This time, I put aside my "Buyer's" badge (well, most of the time), and instead put on an "Exhibitor" Badge. For about a week I helped out a fellow business owner of Baskets of Cambodia, who I have purchased from for the past 5 years. Tom, the owner, has created an unbelievable company, with amazing moral ethics, sustainable fair trade practices, and some amazing products that are all hand-crafted in small villages in Cambodia. His workers can work for the neighboring sweat shops in terrible conditions, or work for him (often at home, or just in small groups, in great conditions) for about 3 times the wage. Their work generally consists of hand-weaving strong baskets from a ratan-type material, or weaving a local dried and dyed "grass" into beautiful purses. I have always loved the purses from Baskets of Cambodia...
and their baskets are such an amazing quality, they're the last ones you'll ever have to buy.
Anyways--my participation in this show meant that I had to drive a 1 hour commute into downtown Atlanta for a week (immediately following the unseasonal crazy snow fall that left packed ice downtown), and spend long hours on my feet. Okay, so, coming from Alaska...more than 2 cars in a row is "traffic," so I get a bit nervous on big roads!! Altogether, I thoroughly enjoyed helping Tom out, and I think I was a pretty darn-good sales' person. After all, I know from experience that his products sell (they were always a best-seller in my store), and I would tell browsing buyers upfront that I didn't even work for the company--but I've been selling the products for 5 years, and they're great! Suddenly--those browsers turned into buyers!

Anyhow...the Americasmart is a ridiculously LARGE show, that almost literally brought me to tears in 2006, when Jared and I attended it for the first time. I walked in the front entry, and was confronted with this:

This is just one of 3 buildings, with approximately 13+ floors in each building. Permanent showrooms take up a large percentage of the space, while other areas are designated for "temporaries," where temporary exhibitors set up booths and attempt to market and sell their product. Permanent showrooms are typically owned by one business (i.e. Bearington Bears), or owned by a Product Rep company, who represents/sells MANY different product lines. They make money by getting a commission for the sales that they make (such as we do with our Wood Watches).

Anyways...there's a bit of Retail/Wholesale education for you for the year. I'm off to bed!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mardi Gras!

Earlier this week, there was a ring at door, and upon answering it the neighbor put a large cake box into my hands. He had no explanation whatsoever--but I certainly didn't reject the cake!

Upon opening it, we found a "King Cake," mailed from Louisianna (, in celebration of Mardi Gras. I immediately recognized the cake as being similar to the "Rosca de Reyes" (King's Cake) that is eaten for the "El Dia de Reyes" (Three Kings Day) holiday in Mexico! I had to look up the comparisons:

The King Cake Tradition is thought to have been brought to New Orleans from France in 1870.
Mardis Gras or Carnival season officially begins on January 6th, which is traditionally known to Catholics as the first day Jesus showed himself into the world. The oval-shaped cake (which is more like a pastry than a cake) is supposed to resemble a jewelry crown honoring the Wise Men who visited Christ on this special day (aka the "Epiphany"). As a symbol of this Holy Day, a tiny plastic baby is placed inside of each King Cake. If your served piece happens to contain this little baby, you are bound by custom to host the next party and provide the King Cake. I sincerely thought Mardi Gras was just a random reason to have a party (and for most, it arguably is), and was surprised to learn that it has basically the same history as the Three Kings Holiday.
In Mexico, they celebrate Three Kings Day on January 6th for the same reason (commemorating the Wise Men visiting Jesus and delivering gifts). This is actually a more significant holiday than Christmas, and it is the traditional date when people exchange gifts (What? No Santa in this Holiday! I LOVE Mexico! I guess it is just one more reason we will fit in just fine...).
On Three Kings Day, Mexicans have a dinner of traditional corn tamales (can we say YES!!?), and if your cut of the Kings Cake has the miniature plastic baby, this obligates you to host your own party on "Dia de la Candelaria" (Candlesmas Day) on February 2nd, and also serve Tamales (YES, YES, YES!!).

The Yummy cake we devoured:
And lucky for us, the box included Mardi Gras apparel, which Ella & Maiya had a lot of fun with!
So, while my opinion of Mardi Gras as it is commonly celebrated has not changed, at least I have a better understanding of what it is SUPPOSED to symbolize (much like Christmas is SUPPOSED to be about the birth of Christ, but is celebrated as a season of parties, Santa and overindulgence).

Thanks to the neighbor's generous donation to this household, we DID overindulge for this holiday, and added to my growing belly with some delicious cake!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Saville Clan Family Photos

Here is the beautiful couple that started it all:

5 kids later, 5 in-laws later, and 7 grandkids later...
The grandkids (minus Baby Michael, who can't walk!)...
The playful crew...
The couples...
Nana & Papa with grandkids!
And us...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Georgia Aquarium, Roswell Ghost Tours, etc...

A few days after Christmas, most of the visiting family members bit the bullet, and paid big bucks to go see the Georgia Aquarium. It cost between $19-$27 for kids/adults to attend...HOLY COW!! We managed to scrounge up some discounts online, which made us feel better about the additional $10 parking fee they slap on you downtown. But what do you do?

The Aquarium was PACKED (waaaay too overcrowded), but it was fun, nonetheless.

Here are the 3 Sisters:
The kids were awe-inspired by the moving walkway in the aquarium tunnel:
Maiya and her cousin, Tyler, had hand-wars. He would see how far over he could put his hand on the glass in front of Maiya, and she would decidedly push his hand back.
Ella with cousins, looking for all of the "Dori's" they could see (think "Finding Nemo"...)
The awesome jelly fish...

On another day, Lara took us to Roswell, and gave us her own version of the "Roswell Ghost Tours" that she has heard many times. The stories are quite interesting, and made me want to learn more. However, I figure it is best for me to stay away from stories such as those...I have enough nightmares as it is...

Here we stand near the old (destroyed) mill where they used to make Confederate "Roswell Gray"...
Ella and her cousin, Hunter, sit in front of the mechanics of the operation...

Another family outing had us load up in golf carts, and take the many winding trails of Peachtree City to lunch at "Cafe Pig," apparently the best BBQ place around. The 5-minute car ride was instead a cold 30-minute cart ride...but it was great! Cafe Pig left a lot to be desired for a vegan in need of a hot meal...but that was to be expected from a place that specializes in BBQ!

On New Year's Eve, we watched the most recent Harry Potter movie, and luckily managed to stop the movie and switch it the NY ball Drop with only 15 seconds left on the New Year countdown! That was close! What happens if you don't count down to the New Year? Does the New Year not come?

We also celebrated Jared & Shayne's birthdays! Their cake was a manly pastel pink/yellow/blue.


It's times like these when I wish I didn't have kids or responsibilities...just so Jared and I could be on the first flight to a place like Haiti to lend a hand. But, alas, life has its responsibilties, and so life continues as it always does. I dream that perhaps in 15 years, when our then-youngest children will be old enough to be helpful, that we can be a blessing to someone else, somewhere in the world.

Meanwhile, a young couple who are from my home town in Kansas (I was good friends with the girls' older sister growing up) happened to be in Haiti when the earthquake struck. It was fascinating for me to read the account on their blog about their arrival in Haiti, their travels from day-to-day, and their records of Trip Day #8 when the earthquake struck, and their life experience was forever changed. Thanks to the generosity of some other stranded foreigners (who let them hop on their $7200 privately chartered helicopter), they were able to catch a flight out of the there, after several days spent "roughing it" with other stranded visitors. If you want an inside look at the before-and-after, check out their blog! I personally enjoyed going to Day #1, and reading forward in time!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Christmas with family!

After last year's humble Christmas in Mexico, our kids were bombarded with American Consumerism (aka...Grandparent love and generosity) this year! I have to admit that I am quite proud of our $2 Mexican Christmas in 2008, but this year, when the grandparents wanted to spoil our kids with presents that we would never be able to get them...who am I to say no?! They made out like bandits (and they better appreciate it--this is not the norm in our house)!

My parents arrived in Peachtree City only 3 days after we were able to make the week-long trek here from their home (they flew here--those cheaters)! On Christmas morning (spent just with my parents, as Lara & Greg left us their home to attend Greg's family's Christmas in Tennessee), the girls opened goodies like Candyland and Chutes & Ladders (our children's 1st board games!), a new Dora movie, tights galore, Goldfish Crackers (an easy hit with my children--you should have seen their enthusiasm over a palm-size box of Goldfish!), a playdough set, etc. Next, they opened their Grandma & Grandpa's present...a Dora playhouse! I hope you can see the shock and excitement on Ella's face in the middle bottom picture (let's just say it was a HIT)! It is officially the largest toy our children have ever been allowed to have. If we were still going to Alaska every summer, we probably would have had to reconsider. They play well with it, and it came with a ton of accessories (don't you love ebay?). We will be leaving behind some other boring hand-me-down toys to make room for this winner!
And on Christmas night, the rest of the Saville crew began to arrive. The final party filled the house the day after Christmas, for a 2nd Christmas Morning. This amounted to 12 adults, and 7 children running was chaos...but it was great! Ella scored with her white elephant gift bag from the dollar store. It included this cute chef apron and cap, as well as some glitter glue/paint, and some other goodies.

The next morning, Ella came into the office (where we were sleeping on an air mattress...due to the large amount of guests!), and whispered to me "Can I use the glitter paint?" I said "Are you going to use it by yourself, or with Hunter & Cole (her cousins)?" She thought for a second, and replied, "What do you WANT me to say?" BRILLIANT ANSWER. I quickly replied that I preferred that she didn't involve her highly active boy cousins, and do the craft by herself. And she did!

Maiya has begun to act like her older sister, dressing up in crazy outfits. This ensemble was particularly humorous--she has on an INFANT sweater/dress that I wore when I was a baby.
And just her sister, a few hours later, the ensemble changes...perhaps something like this?
And DARE I forget Maiya's new potty chair from Grandma & Grandpa that she got for her birthday? Maiya was SOOO excited to use it! Now, if only we could keep up that excitement, and get her to always use it? Ella trained herself by age 2...but Maiya is going to need more motivation/help than that!
If she fails? Maybe we'll just give her to the postman?
And this is where I admit that is the accounting time of year, again. I REALLY don't like it. So, I am avoiding the yucky work load by blogging (while Jared takes a nap, and the kids rummage through my purse behind me...pulling all the cards out of our wallets...and generally just making a mess), and by researching "other" things that simply "have" to get done...(right?).

Friday, January 1, 2010

Getting out of Dodge

We spent almost 2 months at my parent's new house in Utah this Fall. It was great! We were gone for 2 full weeks of that time, in Hawaii (thanks to my angel sister, Lea, who took our 2 girls in addition to her 3 active boys! And also, my parents watched the girls on the weekends), and when we were in town, we were generally glued to our computers, trying to get our Polish Pottery and Wood Watches website in working condition.

Remember how our Polish Pottery supplier went out of business with only 1/2 a day's notice this summer? Well, we got so many lovely emails from past customers, and we decided it was silly to not continue to look for a new pottery supplier. So...we debated...and finally settled on an incredibly diverse new collection of Polish Pottery for our website. Our Wooden Watch section has also tripled in size, and will continue to grow until I add the full collection of about 300 wooden watches.

Anyways...other than being stuck on our computers, and making a quick trips to to SLC, then Park City, and even St. George to find new accounts for the Wooden Watches...two months flew by fast! We didn't get a chance to see any friends when we were in Utah, which is somewhat astonishing to me (considering we had 1 1/2 months)...but I guess that is the life of a self-employed business owner. You just keep working...and working...and working...

The girls loved being with their Nana & Papa!
They also got to see their new cousin, Michael (my little brother's new arrival)! He is so cute, and I am always shocked at how little babies are, when they are born!
We re-packed our van/trailer, yet again (we're really really really experienced with packing and re-packing), and managed to empty out 17 boxes from our van/trailer. We left behind items that we didn't need for our short stay in Atlanta this winter...and we'll return to my parent's house in the Spring to be reunited with them. The girls insisted on helping, and Jared is such a good sport to let the girls think that they are actually helpful (ha)!
And just when we were about to leave in early December...this snow storm hit...

Needless to say, we did not leave. We waited until the snow settled a bit, and the roads on I-70 (crossing through Colorado and Kansas) cleared up. Then...we quickly crossed country in between 2 major snow storms...managing to miss them both! Whew!

In Colorado, we stayed with a family friend, Vanessa! Well, in many ways, we just consider her part of our family. Her family is so adorable, and she has done some beautiful work remodeling their cute house in Castle Rock. We enjoyed visiting with them, but wish we could have visited much longer!

We continued on to Kansas, to my home town of Topeka! There, we stayed with my old BFF from my high school days, Annie, and her wonderful hubby, Brett. Annie has red hair, and her and Ella looked like a great pair!

Thanks to the $4 and under section at Toys R Us (with a $4 off birthday card), Maiya got a few simple gifts for her 2nd birthday!
We went to the West Ridge Mall to get some walking in (KS was snow-covered!), and visited with another great friend (formerly known as Charlotte Carter) while there. Of course, half of our "walking" time was spent watching our kids play on the electronic toys that we never put coins into.
Next, we were off to Nashville, to see my brother Ben, and his wife, Jenny. They live in Franklin, which is a beautiful community.

Jenny was sweet, and made a cake for Maiya's birthday!

Ben & Jenny have a ridiculously cute boy named Tyler. Tyler is scrumptious...and you just want to eat his cheeks!
Of course, they found a hill to roll down...
They also took us to the Grand Old Opry Hotel, which I haven't been to since I stayed there when I was 11 years old. My sister was "Miss Kansas National Teenager" back in her beauty-queen days, and we accompanied her to the National Competition! It was fun to see it 16 years later, and compare it to my childhood memory. And of course, we had to take a bad photo in front of the giant Christmas tree (bad, because I had the photo setting set incorrectly)!

LAST, but not least, we finally drove to Atlanta, where we will be staying until April. My sister and her husband, Greg, live in Peachtree City, which is about 30 minutes south of Atlanta. It is a "golf cart" community, where residents actually drive golf carts to the grocery store (they get front row parking spots!), and down special paths connecting the communities, etc. It's a nice place, and we're happy to spend time here with them! Hopefully, they'll be able to stand us taking up their space! So far, they claim to not mind, because we're using all their un-used rooms in their beautiful, 4 bedroom home!