Wednesday, December 30, 2009

January Give-Away!

When I was at my mom's, I dug up a bunch of old stuff from the basement. One of the items I found was this box, addressed to my brother and sister. I sent it when I lived in Tuntutuliak, Alaska, a little fishing village where I taught fourth grade for a year before going to grad school.

It inspired me to put together a kid kit of sorts for one lucky reader. The kid kit will include:

A set of five Trapp Family cards with envelopes.

This one says, "Mrs. Trapp in Family Living Room."

Secretary's hand cleaner in convenient single-serve packages.

And possibly some other items.

To enter, leave a comment or send me an email telling me your favorite song, character, or part from The Sound of Music. My favorite part is the puppet show... or maybe when the children are in the trees... or when Maria comes back... no, it's the Austrian folk dance!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


This is a picture of my mom with her gift from Karl and I. We got two copies of Alligators All Around by Maurice Sendak (Nutshell Library edition, of course!) and a big piece of matboard. We cut the books apart, cut rectangles in the matboard, mounted the pages into the rectangles, and put the whole thing in a frame. I chose this book because it's a very fun alphabet.

And now for the great unveiling of Elsworth's gift.... drumroll, please.... Yes, it's the Christmas Set from Susan B. Anderson's newest book, Itty-Bitty Toys! Knit in cotton, stuffed with wool.

On Christmas day, Karl and I had both of our families over for Feliz Navidad: A Mexican Christmas. It was actually just an excuse to eat enchiladas and nachos, not an attempt at being multicultural. Elsworth made a thematic outfit for the mouse just for the occasion:

Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Best News in Town

Guess what? There is going to be a sequel to A Little Princess published in January! I already love it. It's called Wishing for Tomorrow, and I just cannot wait to find out what Ermengarde, Lottie, Lavinia, and the rest of the girls are up to.

Also, this morning I finished knitting Elsworth's Christmas present. I can't show it to you here, so I'll show it to you all wrapped up:

Hint: It is three pieces.
You'll never guess what it is.

Elsworth is getting here from DC late tomorrow night, so he'll be our first official houseguest. I'll have to find some mints to put on his pillow. Wait! His pillow! We only have two pillows. Uh-oh. I know what I'm doing tomorrow night...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pro Shoveler

Here's my husband, digging us out of last week's blizzard. I took this picture from the front door... I was probably still in my pajamas! What a great husband.

Smart Cookies!

Here they are... a few shots from our open house/cookie decorating extravaganza!

Rowan enjoyed the frosting. He's only three, and he knows the difference between flourescent and incandescent lightbulbs.

Some people were very ambitious.

Scott with little 10-month-old Jackson.

The table full of cookies and decorating materials.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Potato Report

Dear Shazam and other readers,

You asked for a report the potatoes. Here you go: They are completely amazing. I've made them once before. They're very rich tasting, thanks to the wine and garlic combination. I recommend using lots of garlic, and a nice dry wine. So good. So easy. And very substantial; they could be a main dish. Just add a green salad and you're done! Thank you, Pioneer Woman!

Are you tempted to try making them? You totally should. I dare you. And then tell me what you thought. Remember: heavy on the garlic, dry on the wine.


Things I am not good at while cooking dinner:
  • Sipping water and munching on carrot/celery sticks

Things I am good at while cooking dinner:

  • Eating M&Ms
  • Eating cookies
  • Eating chocolate covered pretzels
  • Eating other non-carrot/celery stick items

Well Hello Again

You know what I am in love with? Google Reader. If you have gmail and you don't use Google Reader, you are missing out. I like to read a few blogs here and there. Before I discovered Google Reader, I was checking the blogs using the "favorites" tool on my web browser. And it was so disappointing when there were no updates. But with Google Reader, I just click once and it tells me which blogs on my list have been updated since the last time I logged in. So easy. So fast. And so not disappointing.

In other news... I forgot my camera. Otherwise you would be seeing pictures of the cookie decorating party/open house we had on Saturday. We had more than 50 people come to visit, decorate cookies, sit by the fire, eat snacks, and drink wine. That's right, 50 people in our tiny little house. Not all at one time, thankfully! It was perfect because a lot of our friends hadn't seen the house yet.

Today is Karl's last day of the semester! This is the first of two semesters of the LPN program. I'm so proud of him for working hard this year. I know he's anxious to be finished. I'm secretly planning a special dinner to celebrate his last day: beef tenderloin and these delicious potatoes. Maybe I'll also grab some fresh asparagus on my way home.

And maybe... just maybe... I'll remember my camera tomorrow, so I can show you some snapshots of the Struckmeyer household in full Christmas spirit!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Give-Away Winner

Dear Give-Away Poets,

Thank you for all of your poems! So creative, and so celebratory. What better to celebrate this time of year than the BSC?

So... after reading all of the poems over and over, and giggling a lot, and changing my mind about which one I liked the best, I decided that I simply could not choose a "best" poem all by myself. I narrowed it down to four entries, and we drew one winner randomly from those four.

And the one we picked was... I hate to say it because it means that everyone else didn't win, but don't worry, there will be more give-aways... TK's acrostic! Congratulations, TK! Your mint cocoa will be on the way soon!

Snow Day!

This is what our backyard looks like right now:

I especially love the grill. It looks like a Super Mario mushroom.

Because of the blizzard, the library is closed today, and Karl's classes were cancelled. We get to stay home, put on some Christmas music, and bake cookies.

This is the perfect chance to wrap a few last gifts, work on some knitting, sip cocoa, and enjoy our beautiful tree.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


We're getting our tree today! I'm so excited! Karl put electric candles in the windows the other day (he even put them on a timer, so they go on every night at 7:00- what a genius!), and we have the stockings on the mantel and a gorgeous wreath on the front door (thanks, Mom!), so our house already looks kind of Christmassy. But the tree is totally going to seal the deal.

This morning I got up ridiculously early because I wanted to do two projects in preparation for the arrival of the tree. The first was a pad to protect our wood floor from the tree stand. I found an old thick wool sweater that I had been meaning to felt and make into mittens. I cut two big circles out of the sweater's front and back, just larger than the base of our tree stand, then sewed the circles together. Done.

Then I made a tree skirt. I had snagged a cute piece of vintage fabric at a recent swap (our knitting group gets together every so often to trade clothes, craft supplies, and random other items). I cut a big circle out of it and then cut a smaller circle in the middle, for the stand. Then I hemmed both edges. It slips right on- no buttons, zippers, velcro, snaps... Of course, this means we'll have to remember to put the skirt on before putting the tree in the stand!

The skirt's not very big, more of a mini-skirt. But it covers the stand, which is really the goal, right? And it wasn't made in China. And it cost $0.00. Sweet.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Give-Away Reminder

There's still time to enter the December Give-Away! Put on your poetry hat and send in your BSC tribute!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Stockings Were Hung by the Chimney With Care

Here is the pile of scraps left on the couch's armrest after I finished weaving in the ends on nineteen little stockings last night.

Karl helped me hang them up on the mantel...

Soon I'll finish five more, for a total of 24. One to open each day in December up till Christmas.

And I have to say, they're turning out much cuter than I had expected.

I already started filling the stockings with little treats. They're the perfect size for two Lindor truffles, a rolled-up note, six Andes mints, a fat little mini-sausage I found at Cost Plus World Market, or a couple of small candy canes.

Oh! I almost forgot- today is Day Thirty of 30 Days of Thankfulness. I'm thankful for knitting, Christmas, and our cozy little house.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: 11/29

Today I am thankful for...
  • Thanksgiving leftovers... such an easy dinner when I get home from work tonight!

  • Holiday stamps (the kind from the post office, not the rubber kind). I love them. In fact, I love everything about the post office.

  • Working within walking distance of a fabulous coffee shop/wine bar, Barriques. No wine on my lunch break, of course- just coffee, tea, or hot cocoa!

Speaking of cocoa, I just cannot wait one more minute to start our December give-away. I'll be sending one lucky reader a canister of Alterra Natural Mint Cocoa Mix (purchased at Barriques).

One reader (who shall remain anonymous) has requested a give-away that is less random and more competitive. I'm going to warn you, anonymous reader, you have no idea how competitive some of my family and friends are. Here's how to enter:

Write a poem in your choice of style about your favorite character in the Baby-Sitters Club. It could also be a poem to your favorite BSC character (a love letter of sorts). Please leave a comment with your poem and the name of the style you chose (I might not be able to tell on my own!). After the poem, leave a note describing what you would wear to a BSC meeting if you were heading over to Claudia's after school today.

Please enter by Saturday, December 5; Karl and I will choose a winner on December 6.

Have fun! Oh ya, I almost forgot-- I'm also thankful for the Baby-Sitters Club. And their fashionable outfits.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thirty Days of Thankfulness, 11/28

Wait a second here! It's already the 28th day of Thirty Days of Thankfulness, and I don't even feel like I've scratched the surface. But today is a big one... I'm so so so thankful for my health, and for awesome friends.

Right now, my friend Bridget, a children's librarian and young adult author, is battling advanced colon cancer. Bridget and I went to library school together and had all kinds of fun, and now she lives in Portland with her husband. An online auction has been set up to help with Bridget's medical expenses, so you can snag some unique holiday gifts while supporting a great cause. Check it out at, or or just go to and use the Auction ID: bridget and Password: rules (as in: Bridget rules!!) to view the auction. Because a lot of the people who donated to the auction are librarians and authors, lots of the items for sale are children's literature-related. Happy bidding!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Bonus Sticker Give-Away

So... I brought my childhood sticker book home from my mom's house, and I'm going through it right now. I'm keeping the really cool 1980's stickers (E.T., Lisa Frank), but I have a big bag of stickers up for grabs! They would be perfect for kids who like to stick and stick and stick. Just email me or leave a comment, and at the end of the week, I'll divvy the stickers up among everyone who asked for some and send 'em out!
xo Amanda

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thirty Days of Thankfulness, Thanksgiving Edition

On Tuesday, on my way to catch the bus, I found this leaf on the sidewalk.

It had that little perfect heart in it... and it reminded me of how thankful I am for all of the people I love. I'm so lucky to have the best husband ever, a wonderful family, and awesome friends. AND my sister-in-law just had a baby boy on Tuesday, so I'm thankful for him (my first nephew!) and for a safe, healthy delivery. Congratulations, Dale and Shannon! Welcome, baby Levi!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thirty Days of Thankfulness, 11/24

Today I am thankful for...

  • Drivers who stop for pedestrians in crosswalks

  • The smell of just-washed hair

  • Working within walking distance of an awesome indoor pool with fabulous lap swim hours

  • This photo, emailed to me by my friend Anna, who won the November blog giveaway... I guess her son Henry likes Anthropologie, too!

Henry, turquoise is definitely your color!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: 11/23

I love days when the date has a cool number sequence in it. Like today's has 1,2,3. Love that. I can't wait for August 9, 2010: 8/9/10!

Today I am thankful for...
  • Warm enough weather to go outside without a coat

  • Thanksgiving coming up!

  • The chance to use up lots of the beets from our CSA... I'm taking roast beets to two Thanksgiving dinners!

  • My new knitting book:

Not only are the patterns adorable, but also the author lives in Madison! We're basically best friends. Okay, I've only met her once, but still.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thirty Days of Thankfulness, 11/22

Today I am thankful for progress on my knitting project! I'm making an Advent calendar for Karl... twenty-four little stockings that will be hung on the mantel and filled with little treats and notes. One for him to open every day in December until Christmas!

Fifteen down, nine to go!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thirty Days of Thankfulness, 11/21

Today I am thankful for...

  • My friend Amanda stopping by unexpectedly! We did a little shopping and went out for dinner. It was so nice to see her. Amanda and I ran a marathon together in May. Since that time, I have run about one mile total. Amanda has run another marathon and done several triathlons.
  • The lovely baby shower I went to today.
  • Warm weather! Enjoying not wearing a coat while I still can...
  • A whole day tomorrow with nothing I have to do.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: The Big Two-Oh

Today I am thankful for:
  • My bus buddies. I see the same people on the bus every morning and every afternoon. We don't chat or anything, aside from the ocassional " 'Mornin.' " But I like seeing them anyway.
  • The awesome woman we contract with at the library who does bilingual storytimes on Fridays. She is amazing. And I can only imagine the disaster that would happen if I tried to do a bilingual anything.
  • Thanksgiving next week!
  • A two-day work week coming up. Karl and I have a Christmas shopping date with his grandma on Wednesday. I hope the stores are ready for us! We're planning on taking care of her Christmas gift list, then going out for lunch, and then setting up Santa's Worshop at her house, where we'll wrap all the gifts. PS, she's in her 90's. And she still lives alone in her own house. She's going to get her first great-grandchild this December (due the 23rd!).
  • My sweet, hard-working husband being almost done with his nursing clinical for this semester! Way to go, Karl!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: November 19

Today I am thankful because my officemate and I are going to be moving into a different office soon. Right now, we share a tiny office. I just measured it, and it's 9' x 12', but sometimes with all of our stuff in here (librarians = packrats), it feels more like 9" x 12". And we don't have a window. Well, we do, but it looks out to the back room of the library where books are waiting to be shelved. Very exciting.

But all of that is about to change! We're moving into a larger office... I'm guessing it's at least four times the size of our current space. And it has a nice big window that looks out on the actual outdoors. And my officemate is always cold, so I get to put my desk by the window!

I'm also thankful for a yummy chowder cooking at home in the Crock Pot... mmm, dinner.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thirty Days of Thankfulness, November 18th

Today I am thankful for:
  • My knitting group. They are so great and they seriously turn out the most amazing projects ever. Owls, hedgehogs, blankets, sweaters... you name it, we knit it!
  • Christmas approaching!
  • Thanksgiving next week, and days off on Wednesday and Friday.
  • Microwave popcorn. I'm on a total kick right now. I bring a little one-person bag of it to have every afternoon at work.
  • My sweet husband who called earlier to ask what I wanted him to make for dinner. I told him to surprise me.
  • A home warranty that is fixing our washing machine for us for just $85. Hopefully very soon. I'm almost out of socks!
  • Socks
  • Laundromats

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Meep, Meep!

I heard this hysterical story on All Things Considered this weekend. It's about a high school where the principal banned the word "meep." Which is kind of funny, since "meep" isn't even a word. Well, unless you're one of these guys:

Today I am thankful for:

  • Public Radio
  • The fact that I don't work in a school anymore. I'm not saying schools are bad; I'm just saying I'm glad I don't work in one anymore.
  • New lights in our living room! We didn't have any overhead lighting in there before- just a lamp. Now we have two lights, and it is so awesome.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thirty Days of Thankfulness

I was about to call this post something really sarcastic, like "Thirty Days... are we done yet?" but I'm trying to be less sarcastic and more thankful. It's my New Year's resolution.

Today I am thankful for:
  • Time to read the newspaper

  • Pumpkin muffins in the oven making the house smell so nice
  • A clean house!

  • Our home warranty, which covers our washing machine (thank goodness!)
  • An extremely delicious weekend. Last night, Karl got out the Griddler, Jr. We got the GJ as a wedding gift, and it rules. My sweetheart grilled up some perfect yellowfin tuna steaks on it last night, and I made a warm spinach and squash salad. Mmmm. Then for lunch today, we made the leftover fish into avocado tuna melts, again in the GJ. So good.

And as if that weren't enough, I made my favorite vegetarian chili tonight. Look at these adorable cans of tomatoes. Could they be any cuter?

Here is the recipe. It's from Monty's Blue Plate Diner. They ran it in the newspaper about 10 years ago, and I cut it out and glued it into my cookbook.

In a 6-quart pot, saute the following in 2T olive oil for about 10 minutes, until tender:
2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 c. sliced mushrooms
1 c. sliced black olives
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced

Add the following and continue to saute for 5 more minutes:
1 T chili powder
1 T cumin
1 t salt
1 T black pepper
1/2 t cayenne (I skip this)
6 dashes Tabasco sauce
Juice from one lemon

Add 28 oz. tomato sauce, 28 oz. diced tomatoes, 14 oz. kidney beans, 14 oz. great northern beans, and 14 oz. garbanzo beans. You can switch up the types of beans depending on what you like or what you have on hand. Simmer the whole shebang for an hour; add water if you need to. Scrumptious! Text Color

A big congratulations to this month's blog give-away winner, ANNA! Anna, you can expect your apron and cookie cutters in 4-6 months. Just kidding, I mean 4-6 weeks. No actually, I mean 4-6 days. Wait! I mean 4-6 hours... I'm going to walk over to your house right now. I take that back... it's 4-6 minutes. I'm in the car and we're heading over. And we're almost there... make that 4-6 seconds!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thirty Days of Thankfulness

Maybe I should have called this little project "Ten days of thankfulness scattered in a thirty-day span."

Today I am thankful for...
  • My wonderful husband, who also happens to be a fabulous chef
  • Christmas songs on the radio
  • Checking things off my "to do" list
  • Nine completed little stockings for Karl's Advent calendar... 15 to go!
  • Great weather

Tonight is the last night to enter our blog give-away! Tomorrow we'll draw a winner- it could be you!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thirty Days of Thankfulness, 11/12

Today I am thankful for:
  • My friends Kate and Jeremy who make me laugh
  •, which makes it possible for me to rarely go to Best Buy. I hate Best Buy. I had to go there last night to recycle a TV, and it was horrible. It takes at least an hour to get one of those twelve-year-old employees to help you, and their merchandise is expensive. It's not the best buy. It's not even a good deal. You know what a good deal is? The library.
  • The library (see above)
  • My new memory card reader! Yes, I purchased it at Best Buy. I had to sneakily put the fancy schmancy expensive one the guy recommended back on the shelf and get the normal one I actually wanted. So now I can share my pictures with you...

Knitted hat and booties for my sister-in-law

Cookie cutters- part of this month's give-away

The give-away apron! This is my own. I keep it hanging on a magnetic hook on the side of the fridge, so it's always handy. You can see how well it coordinates with our orange countertop.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November Give-Away

I just can't wait anymore. My memory card reader still isn't working, and I haven't made it to the store to get a new one yet, so these photos from the Internet will have to do.

This month, I'm thrilled to give away this apron from Anthropologie. I bought one for myself last month, and I liked it so much, I went back and got another one for the give-away. It's a nice canvas-ish material. And I love the green button! If you win the give-away, we'll be apron twins!

I'm also including a set of two little cookie cutters: a gingerbread boy and a gingerbread girl. Or, if you want to be completely PC, two gingerbread people, one of whom appears to be wearing a dress or skirt. They're not exactly like the ones in this picture. And they're small (three inches maybe).

Here's how to enter:
Leave a comment or send me an email telling me the name of your favorite Christmas song, movie, or book. Enter by midnight on Saturday, November 14. Karl and I will draw a winner on Sunday. It could be you!

Thirty Days of Thankfulness

Today I'm thankful for:
  • My friend Erin, who stopped by work and surprised me with a toasty cup of caramel apple cider!
  • The time leading up to Christmas. I've already started wrapping gifts! I can't wait to have a real tree in our new house! I also made a batch of my favorite Christmas cookies to put in the freezer. I can't make anymore now because I may have eaten a few of that first batch... or all of them.
  • My wonderful husband who called me at work today to say that the city had piled all of the leaves from our street into one humongous pile in the middle of the road. He even took a picture for me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thankfulness Catch-Up

I have this little USB memory card reader that I use to transfer photos from my camera's memory card onto the computer. I got the card reader for $9 about three years ago. It finally stopped working. But I'm thankful anyway for $9 items that last for three years!

On the memory card are:
  • A photo of a little hat and bootie set I made for my sister-in-law, who is expecting a baby in December (I'm thankful for knitting)
  • Photos of the items I'll be giving away in my November blog giveaway (I'm thankful for giveaways)

I'm also thankful that The Office is now on every night at 9:00. That show is so hilarious.

I'll attempt to get a new card reader soon so I can start the giveaway!

xo Amanda

Saturday, November 7, 2009

On The Sixth Day of Thankfulness

Today I am thankful for...
  • Christmas movies (Watching my fave, The Night Before Christmas- the one with the mice- tonight)

  • The Community Car minivan (I got to drive it today!)

  • Knitting (which I'm doing tonight, while watching the Christmas movie)

  • Weekends (love love love)

  • Sunny fall weather

  • Butternut squash (lunch today)

  • Nice people

  • Peppermint mocha Frappuccinos

  • The farmer's market... here is what I got there today:

Eight squash, four onions, two cheese danish, and a bag of spinach. All for $15.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thirty Days of Thankfulness 5.0

I am so thankful today for a luxurious, energizing day off yesterday. It was so nice. I stayed in my pajamas, finished reading a book, and did a lot of relaxing.

I'm also thankful today for storytimes at work. And for people with awesome ideas who don't mind if you copy them. For example, my friend Marge shared her idea for a storytime sleepover. We did it at the library, and it was so much fun. Kids came on a Friday at 5:00 for a special storytime. They wore their pajamas and brought a soft friend. All of the books and songs were about bedtime and sleeping. At the end of storytime, we tucked all of the animals in...

(Thank you, Blogger, for once again deciding that a photo needs to be vertical when I want it to be horizontal-- oh wait, was that a sarcastic "thank you"? I don't know if that is allowed in the 30 Days project).

And the kids went home, leaving their animals to sleep over at the library. When they came to pick the animals up on Saturday morning, each child got two mini-muffins (one to share with their stuffed animal, of course!) and a few photos, showing what the animals did during the night. Turns out they got into quite a lot of mischeif!

They rode around on a book cart...

They colored...

They even did the Bean Bag Rock!

Hee hee hee! So much fun!