Ultimate Blog Party 2008

Welcome to the party!  Let me take your coat (as the weather is a bit dreary here this morning), and make yourself at home.  Let’s celebrate by enjoying the simple pleasures of life.  Every day is a gift!

If you’re still in your jammies, you’re welcome to a bowl of my homemade granola that I just made yesterday.  One of my favorite foods to make for our family, is creating new flavors of granola.  I love sending Calvin off for a long day’s work after a hardy breakfast of granola.  It’s also great on a bowl of yogurt.  I make my own customized version of a baked granola, but here’s an easy “skillet granola“, if you want to try making your own.  You’re welcome to snuggle up with a homemade quilt while you eat it.  
Parties at my house are usually laid-back tea parties, brunches, or family-style dinners.  So, let me pour you a cup of tea from my red-orange teapot.  Since it’s a special party day, we can even use the “fancy” teacups from my collection.  Perhaps a Blue Willow one for you?  Our favorite teas at the moment are Tazo teas.  (But, if you prefer, I’d be glad to make up a pot of organic nettle or rose hip tea for you!)  
Feel free to browse my bookshelf while the water boils!  We have shelves of books at home, and as you can see by my Amazon list on the left, I read rather quickly.  I thought it would be fun to make a list of all the books I’ve read so far this year.  You might also notice my collection of Victoria magazines.  I’ve kept every issue I’ve received since the late ’90’s, and was thrilled to see that Victoria has started being republished again.  Feel free to immerse yourself in the beautiful pages of bliss!  
If you happen to be here at lunch time, I am likely to whip up a tuna & chickpea (garbanzo bean) salad.  (Don’t forget the organic balsamic vinegar!)  Would you like it on a bowl of fresh greens, wrapped in a tortilla, or on some sprouted grain bread?  
Do you have any suggestions for my flower pot garden?  At the moment, I am eagerly awaiting my tulip blooms!  (They sprouted a couple weeks ago.)  I am also hoping to add pots of vegetables (possibly lettuce and chives?), and maybe some summer flowers.  I have to keep in mind that I’m not growing things “in the ground;” everything is in pots on the balcony of our apartment.  It faces west, and gets plenty of sun.  
At this point in the party, our 15-month-old daughter is likely to be begging to be held, and read a story.  Let me put her in my baby sling (she loves it!), and pull out a copy of Goodnight Moon or The Big Red Barn.  She would be glad to do all the animal noises for you!  (Oh, look, if we have a quick game of “Chase & Tickle,” we can get her giggling!)
We’ve been trying to transition to more “safe” and “less waste” cleaning practices lately.  I’d love to hear your experiences and suggestions.  We’ve switched to using Bi-o-Kleen all-purpose cleaner for stain-removal on laundry, and disinfecting in the kitchen & bath.  We’re also using a wonderful dishwasher detergent from Bi-o-Kleen, that only takes about a tablespoon per load!  (I buy it on sale from the co-op where we are members.) We have also switched to using cloth wipes, instead of disposables for wiping up messes at meals and diaper changes for our daughter.   
When we have company, I usually have a homemade pot of minestrone soup, or a pan of veggie lasagna.  Help yourself!  (And make sure to have a slice of homemade bread and apple butter, alongside!)  Save room for a slice of cake.  We can top it with tart raspberries grown at our home last summer before we moved away.  (I’ve kept them in the freezer.)
Shall we spend our afternoon scouring thrift stores and antique shops?  I love dreaming of what life must have been like for the previous owners, when I come across the well-worn furniture, clothes, linens, and books of the past.  (Maybe pick up a small handkerchief or dish to serve as a memory of our day?)  
If you’re stopping by for a late evening visit, we must certainly mix up some homemade hot chocolate!  (Oh, would you mind bringing a bag of marshmallows?  I seem to be all out.)  Let’s pop some popcorn on the stove.  (We’re still whittling away at a 25 lb bag!)  How about a movie?  Can you stay for one of my favorite classics:  My Fair LadyHello, Dolly, or Casablanca?  I’d be glad to pick one up at the library.  I’ll light a lavender candle, and pull out the quilts and pillows.  
Thanks for joining me at my party of simple pleasures.  Now go to 5 Minutes for Mom, and start mingling!  There are links to blogs to visit, and a list of prizes to check out.  
There are many incredible prizes this year! I would love to win something fun for my toddler daughter, or a beautiful “indulgence” for myself to wear!  My top choices would be:
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