Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A List

I inherited the list writing gene from my mother. At any given point in the day I have a least 3 lists going; some are short term for the day, and some are more far-reaching (like what needs to be done before Christmas!).

Here is a list of the small and the great from our recent lives:

1. The top of the list is the life-changing event of my father's stroke. At the end of October, his 58-year-old self was changed by a blood clot that traveled to his brain.

2. After over a month of hospitalization in a neuro-intensive care unit, then a stroke ward, then and in-patient therapy facility, dad is now home! We praise God for His mercies.

3. My dad still has major paralysis of his left side, so therapy will continue for at least a year.

4. In two days (if not earlier), the baby inside me will be induced! Friday is two days earlier than her due date.

5. Small Fry was induced two WEEKS before his due date, and he was almost nine pounds!

6. Christmas baking is officially finished! The kids and I made cookies, candy, and Chex Mix. Pans of cinnamon rolls were also baked to gift Sunday School teachers and neighbors (and we're keeping some for us too).

7. Brookie and Small Fry enjoy a "light up the Christmas tree experience" every morning.

8. I don't think I'll stop saying the words "be gentle and kind" until the kids are at leasst teenagers!

9. With the amount of snow we have EACH DAY, the birds seems to be thankful for our feeder. Small Fry reports "Dee, dee, dee" when he notices the chickadees.

10. Big Fish has filled our freezer with his hunting expeditions in our backyard. Any good venison recipes out there?

The tea kettle is whistling; may you also enjoy a nice cup of something warm today!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hot Chocolate

One of the best things about weather that turns chilly or cold.....hands the steaming mug of hot chocolate ready for sipping! My kids, ages 2 and 4, each have their own little mug. Their "hot" chocolate is half milk to cool it. They love our store brand of multi-colored marshmallows.

I prefer two large, regular marshmallows OR a square of my homemade marshmallows. To me, the marshmallow adds the perfect touch. Not only does it provide the sweetness and creaminess, but the marshmallow helps the hot chocolate remain hot! As it melts across the surface it seals in the steam and heat - perfection.

I hope you take time to enjoy a mug of hot chocolate soon!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Catching Up

1. Small Fry had tummy issues for six and a half days! We ended up making a trip to the doctor and then sending a sample to the hospital only to find out nothing! We're still not sure what caused all this, but we're thankful he's better and that no one else in the house had the same problems!

2. Last weekend was a quick trip to my parents' house. We were able to attend their church picnic - a bonfire on a beautiful Saturday afternoon/evening. One of the highlights for the kids was picking up apples on the ground and sampling them. I do not remember what kind of apple tree it was, but I have a bagful ready for a little baking.

3. Cookie dough is chilling in the 'fridge ready to make some pumpkin cut-outs for us and maybe the neighbors. I'm experimenting with some new food coloring for the icing. This food coloring is all-natural with ingredients like strawberry juice!

4. We had our first fire in our fireplace two nights ago! I love it!

5. Our neighbor lady turned 94 yesterday! I hope to spend a little more time with her listening to how life was when she was a young girl. What a treasure trove her memories are; I remember a school assignment having us interview our grandparents.

6. My kids are learning to sleep in their new bunkbeds. We're trying to make this transistion before the new little baby girl arrives in December. They are doing very well at night, but naptimes are party time. Yesterday Small Fry joined Brookie in the top bunk before I went in to intervene.

7. We're studying the book of Joshua in a Bible study. Last night the discussion centered around the Jordan River crossing. What an awesome display of God's power this was!

8. We've been looking at plans for pig and chicken houses online. There are some creative options out there! I think I'm overwhelming Big Fish with the possibilities - poor guy. He was just hoping to put together some scrap wood, and here I come with these pictures of little barns and cottages!

9. The kids love to read books together; I wish my voice and throat could last longer!

10. Time to brew a cup of tea and figure out a little excursion to a nearby apple orchard/gift shop. I have some of my handmade things for sale at a couple of local markets, and I need to check in with them this week to see if the "stock" needs replenishing.

Stay warm!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Yesterday was a big garden day. Not only did we pick two pumpkins from our garden and lots of tomatoes, I also did a drive-by one of our local farm stands. I came home with apples, end-of-season-peaches, and spaghetti squash. I also had a call from a friend with a big corn picking happening next week. We hope to get together to freeze some.

I know for the people who do a lot of canning that this is just a busy time of year! I'm hoping to ease into canning bit by bit. Maybe I'll find some equipment on sale soon to prepare for next year.

Yesterday I roasted my pumpkins and made puree that went in the freezer. I also toasted the seeds for a fun snack. I'm thankful yesterday was a cooler day, so the oven and stove didn't make it too hot! A pot of tomato dill soup was also made. I just kind of threw things together, and it was pretty tasty. You have to be a dill lover to appreciate this, but here's a rough sketch:

1. A couple of diced onions and garlic cloves - saute them in olive oil until pretty soft. I start adding salt and pepper with each step.

2. Add about 5 cups of chicken broth. Some recipes use vegetable stock. I like to have broth stocked in the freezer. I can usually make a couple of packages when I boil a whole chicken. I just add some veggies and salt and pepper to the water, and the broth is flavorful.

3. Dump in about 12 medium to large tomatoes that have been peeled, cored, and rough chopped. Dipping the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute really loosens the peel; it slides right off!

4. Add a tablespoon of chopped dill. I used fresh, but dried would be awesome. Salt and pepper go in again here.

5. Stir and simmer for a few hours to cook down the tomatoes (you can be very flexible here with time). I actually stuck my cheapy immersion blender in at the end of cooking time to chop everything smooth (note to self - buy a better immersion blender soon, you just melted your cheap one).

6. Taste at this point and decide if you need more dill, salt, and pepper.

7. Add about a cup of heavy cream! This is my favorite step. Make sure you don't let this bubble, for the cream will curdle. Serve hot from the stove or refrigerate for another time.

Notes: I think carrots would work well in this. Other spices could be substituted for the dill. In the future I might add a little chicken bouillion (sp?) to boost the flavor a little more. We enjoyed this soup with grilled cheese sandwiches last night!

Friday, August 27, 2010

MInistry of Reality

Alternate Title: "Why Does it Smell so Bad in Here?"

A friend of mine came up with a great idea for blog posts. She writes about things without sugar coating. Reality, many times, is not for the fainthearted!

I immediately thought of this quick blog entry when the event of the morning subsided. Let me start from the beginning.

It all began two days ago, Wednesday, when I started noticing a faint odor. I only noticed it when I sat in my husband's seat at the table. Well, I forgot about it and went about daily tasks.

Yesterday, I noticed the smell again. I actually thought that something possibly had died and the smell was carrying in from outside. Our table is next to the door to the deck. I spent a little time looking around the immediate area of the seat and table.

I also thought that maybe the dogs had left a little scrap of food around or a large bug was decomposing somewhere that I could not see. I mean, the smell was bad; but it was not like a dead deer was laying nearby. The odor was enough to bother me but not anyone
else in the house. For the record, I have experienced dead animal smells; as I've gone running along many a country road.

So, today as the kids were finishing breakfast, I still noticed the smell! It was not getting better! I do not like bad smells! More action was needed. First, I needed to track down a flashlight for looking under furniture. Second, I needed to find another flashlight because the first one seems to have the lens broken. Third, I needed to find another flashlight because the second flashlight was out of battery power. "Properly" armed (the third flashlight was only the size of half a pencil) I was now ready to look under the cabinet and the bureau we use for linen storage.

Well, I looked under the bureau. I found from whence the smell cometh. I guess we had left a baited mousetrap under there. I say I guess because it has been several weeks if not months since we did this. Well, you guessed it, there was a little mouse trapped under there. I then used a couple plastic grocery bags to cover my hand to slide out the mouse and trap and dispose of everything.

I called my husband and asked how he could not have noticed that smell. His response? "Well, your dinners smell so good. I haven't smelled anything else." Hmpf. Nice save.

Moral of the story: do not forget about baited mouse traps.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Quiet" Day at Home

The kids and I are enjoying some homemade granola for breakfast today. I only wish that I had more honey on hand to make granola bars. Both are such money savers as well as yummy snacks!

We're thankful for a day at home, but we (namely, mama) have quite the to-do list! I'm sure you're all dying to know what it is:

1. Finish breakfast and clear the dishes.

2. Make toffee for book discussion group tonight. Dig out candy thermometer to make said toffee.

3. Fold a load of laundry and put another load in the dryer. We try to wash one load a day. We (mama, again) does well with the washing, but the folding and putting away cannot seem to cooperate with me as quickly. The kids are starting to be wonderful helpers with transferring the clothes into the machines and pressing the buttons!

4. Try not to torment Omma's dog too much. Omma has officially moved in last week, as she prepares to put a house in on the lot next door.

5. Make bread dough for tomorrow's dinner. We'll hopefully be having grilled pizzas!

6. Put chicken in crockpot for tonight's dinner. You can never go wrong with white wine and garlic.

7. Write a letter/color some pictures for Uncle in Africa.

8. Work on secret knitting and sewing projects - both are gifts for September birthdays.

9. Prepare peach cobbler to go in the oven while the potatoes are baking for tonight's dinner.

10. Water plants on the back deck. I'm surprised these plants are so forgiving because of how long it takes me to water them.

11. Check garden for the handful of cukes and tomatoes we get every day.

Well, that's the rough draft! We'll see what happens today. Hope your day is full of good things!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

We Have to Start Somewhere!

I noticed that the official first tomato of the season is ready to pick! It's a cherry tomato, so it will be interesting to cut it into three sections for our lunch - wink! It's funny how excited we are to see those green tomatoes turn to orange and then red. In a few weeks we'll be knocking on the neighbors' doors to hand them tomatoes, but today we'll savor the first-fruits from the garden.

By the way, does anyone want a cucumber?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Pork: It's What's for Dinner!

All day my house has had the aroma of roasting pork. Not just any pork, mind you, but this recipe for spicy pork. This is one of my favorite dishes; I just eat and eat come dinner time! The tortillas, limes, cilantro, and sour cream are just waiting in the 'fridge to be welcome additions for dinner.

I have to say that our local meat market provided the perfect pork shoulder roast; previously I have bought the roast from the grocery store. I am particularly excited about the nice layer of fat (healthy much?) on one side that will crisp up in the last 20 minutes of roasting when I turn up the heat.

Go forth and make this for yourself!

In other news, the week has flown by. The kids and I explored a local used book store. I needed a Dicken's novel in cheap, paperback form for an upcoming book discussion. We came away with a bag full of treasures. I've always thought that I'd like to read the Harry Potter series but have never taken the time to do so. I came away with the first book from the store!

The kids enjoyed blowing bubbles on the front porch step today. Small Fry is still mastering the art of blowing into his bubble wand. He had some pretty hilarious attempts today; one he actually spit through the hole!

I hope you all have a sweet weekend in your parts of the world!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Normal, Busy Day

A random list:

1. One of the items on my spring cleaning list was to clean my oven. Well, today it is officially scrubbed. I feel like my target heart rate was reached in doing that job.

2. Pandora radio is awesome. Today the kids and I are working to the tunes from my Johnny Cash station.

3. We used the first cucumbers from our garden (and my parents' garden) to make a huge jar of refrigerator pickles. They are yummy! Big Fish actually sliced all the cucumbers for me. The pickles taste even better because of that.

4. Why do my kids' fingernails and toenails grow so fast?

5. Every time Small Fry gets hurt he runs to the freezer and waits for me to put an ice cube in a baggie for him to carry around.

6. Baby vegetables are fascinating! The kids LOVE to do a daily garden check to look at the green tomatoes and tiny watermelons.

7. Brookie told me that the new little baby growing in by belly is a little sister named Molly.

8. I just can't believe how blessed we are; Big Fish's mother is moving in right next door. She'll be around when the new baby comes and everything. Actually she's moving up from FL in a few weeks. Wow!

9. So far we've had zucchini casserole, zucchini cake, and grilled zucchini. We love it.

10. Leftover chicken from last night is about to be made into cheesy biscuits and veggies for dinner!

Have a productive day!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Home Again, Home Again

Hello, Monday morning! Wow do we have a lot to do to catch up! Hopefully, the laundry piles will diminish today as well as the weeds growing in the garden.

The kids and I must make the grocery run to pick up the week's supplies and then come home and continue with the catching up. I need to bake something; we seem to have apples and bananas that need to be used.

We were excited to see lots of baby cucumbers and yellow squash in the garden and baby green tomatoes too! We're a little disappointed in the state of our zucchini; we found two babies. That seems to be a little low for zucchini!

Our last few days of vacation were a whirlwind: we toured the zoo and the aquarium, visited the monuments, returned to Chinatown for more yumminess, watched a movie, swam in the pool, etc. Some great food included: sushi, coconut milk soup, soft shelled crab, Lebanese sandwiches, strawberry/dark chocolate crepe, apple/cinnamon crepe, our weight in fresh berries from the hotel's breakfast buffet as well as a mushroom strata, etc. I have to figure out something to make for dinner!

Well, here's to starting the week with a bang!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day One of Vacation is Through!

Interesting night in the hotel with two kids in my bed - check
Museum of Natural History - check
Air and Space Museum - check
Near death experience on the metro rail - check
Chinatown - check
Evening swim at the hotel - check

What a fun and busy day! I'm sure glad that I'm only 15 or 16 weeks pregnant and not much more, for we've walked so much today.

The near death experience was due to the fact that we took our strollers on the escalator (the elevator was broken). I somehow got stuck at the bottom with Small Fry in his stroller. I had visions in those seconds of us being crushed - or at least my feet being amputated. Fortunately, I used my adrenaline rush to get us over that final step. We started going down the escalator facing forward; I excited with the stroller going backward!

We had an amazing dinner in Chinatown consisting of steamed dumpling, homemade noodles (the guy was making them in a window off the street), and Peking duck. Big Fish bemoaned the fact that our hotel fridge is miniscule; we would have done some damage to takeout food!

Tomorrow is living creature day - hoping to hit the zoo and the National Aquarium!

Here's to rests in the shade!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Vacation State of Mind

Last week the kids and I traveled to VA. We wanted to visit our friends/church family, as it has been almost a year since we moved away. How wonderful it was to meet new babies, see new houses, and catch up with our buddies!

My children were wonderful on the trip! The only thing I'm changing in preparation for this week's journey is buying a sun visor for the back seat windows. Small Fry in particular cries when the sun is in his eyes. I also bought them some travel size etch-a-sketch boards, so those hopefully will be entertaining.

This week we are headed to DC for a tiny family vacation. I looked over last night at an email Big Fish was writing to himself. I assumed it was a little itinerary, so I immediately exclaimed at the amount of time he had us spending at the Air and Space Museum. He patiently explained that he was only writing the daily hours of a few points of interest. Silly me!

I have never, ever been to DC; so I am excited to do a little exploring. One of the most exciting things for Big Fish and I will be the different foods we will consume! We are making a list of top-rated ethnic restaurants to try, for out here in the country we only have the occasional pizza night! I have to admit that my mouth is watering already (I'm also very late in eating lunch today!).

Here's to family vacations!

Monday, June 21, 2010

You Never Know What Might be Needed

Last week I was about to make a dinner for someone in our church. I had the bare bones of the dinner (the meat and the bread), but I needed a few more ingredients. I sat down to make out my list; I had to smile at the rather random things that I eventually put on paper.

1. Sour Cream
2. Fly swatter
3. Ritz crackers
4. glycerin
5. fresh vegetable
6. fruit fly trap
7. bananas
8. poppyseeds
9. cheddar cheese
10. disposable baking pan

The chicken casserole was quickly finished. The broccoli and cucumbers made some easy side dishes. My kids are enjoying their breakfast bananas.

I had the most difficult time tracking down the glycerin. The kids and I bought a large bubble wand that claims to make bubbles the size of beach balls. The homemade bubble solution directions suggest using a few drops of glycerin to help stabilize the bubbles. We haven't tried it out yet, but we now have all the ingredients!

I'm hoping the fruit fly trap works, as we keep a small bucket of veggie scraps under the sink. The bucket is lidded, and this is the transitional receptacle until I take it outside to our larger compost bin. I would like to save myself running out to the compost bin every time I peel an apple! I realize we live in the country, and it's normal to have a few bugs around. I'm just not comfortable with flies or fruit flies!

We actually have a couple stray lightning bugs in the house. Last night Big Fish was out in the yard with a Mason jar collecting about 15 of the buggies. He and Brookie concocted a plan to keep the jar in her room overnight! We had fun releasing them this morning "to go get their breakfasts". I wonder if they'll make this a nightly routine?

Happy summer to you!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Growing Like Weeds

These kids of mine, boy, they are tall! We had Brookie's 4 year checkup today and Small Fry's 2 year checkup. I cannot believe that Brookie grew 5 inches in the last year!! Both of them are over the 90th percentile for their height and weight.

Other things that are growing around here: tomato plants, several baby peppers, and the watermelon vine grows a couple inches a day it seems! I was wondering if anyone could provide suggestions on how to deal with the tomato blight? I have a chemical fungicide, but I haven't used it yet. I'd love to know if you have any organic solutions?

Happy growing season to you!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Family Update

We won't even think about how long it's been since my last post.....mmmm'kay?

Our family has been starting to spread the word about our latest news. We are expecting a new little one! Today was my first OB appointment, and it looks like we'll have a Christmas baby. The due date is December 22.

Needless to say, mama has been feeling kind of yuck-o. Hopefully, I'm coming out of that stage; the weirdest effect is that knitting makes me nauseous. It's the saddest thing! I'm thankful for a husband who does not complain over meals that are kind of thrown together and a house that's not the neatest!

Big Fish and I just celebrated our 10th anniversary, and Brookie and Small Fry BOTH had birthdays last weeks. We have just been one non-stop party.

Cheers for now!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Feeding the Masses

Well, maybe we just had our monthly church fellowship lunch yesterday. I tried this recipe for Mexican lasagna; and judging by the small amount of leftovers, this is something to be made again! As stated in the recipe, there is definitely room for flexibility. For example, I didn't really have access to salsa verde at our country grocery store. I substituted mild salsa. I also added a few small cans of chopped green chilies. I hope this recipe can be used for a party at your house!

The kids and I are headed out in the rain to pick up groceries for the week. The woods are just sprouting leaves left and right; we're surrounded by green! Spring is just so refreshing; Saturday I was out driving and saw the sweetest foal with its mama. Both were striking black paints, and that little baby had the tiniest hooves!

My strawberries in pots are really getting established, and I'm trying to refrain from putting seeds in the ground. The nights are still too cool; we're still seeing patchy frost.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ummm....a rather disturbing discovery

Recently, I have come across a practice that makes me feel funny. My husband (Big Fish) has been "treating" our daughter (Brookie) to a special ritual before bed. Not only is she allowed some of his blue toothpaste (special because I try to stick with my organic formula), but she is using the toothpaste on MY TOOTHBRUSH. While I am certainly happy that they are practicing proper dental hygiene, I am a little concerned about the whole shared toothbrush concept. I understand that my toothbrush is big and that it is pink, but clearly I need to make a trip to the store to provide another big and pink toothbrush. At least, I hope that will solve the problem. I mean, I already understand that MY TOWEL is the go-to towel when other towels are unavailable. What's next? Maybe if we all ate off one plate and one fork we could save on dishwashing. I'm just kidding; well, yeah, I'm just kidding.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Help You, Help Me

I am always interested in bargains (who isn't?)! I thought it would be fun to share some of the ways I have found discounts. Maybe you could help me with things that are working for you! Some of these things (if not all) on the list are probably already known, but I think they bear repeating.

1. Thrift stores and consignment stores: great for kids clothes! Kids grow so quickly that many donated items show little to no wear. I also love to find 100% wool sweaters for my craft projects. It's hard to find specific houseware items on each, but it can be helpful to keep a running list of things for which to browse the shelves. Currently, my mom is helping me keep an eye out for a large kettle in which I can dye wool.

2. Junk shops/Variety shops/Antique shops: worth popping in to glance around. Recently I have found a gold mine of sock yarn at a variety shop! Skeins and skeins of yarn were included in an estate, so now the shop owners need to move the merchandise. Score! On top of that, the shop owner is allergic to wool; so she doesn't even care for the yarn I'm using. We have found several kids' toys at antique shops. The toys were not antique - more along the lines of vintage. Antique stores generally will come down in the labeled price.

3. Auctions: Big Fish LOVES auctions. Last weekend he came home with golf clubs, a bucket of golf balls, and a box with at least 30 plastic horses for the kids. He paid $20. The golf stuff is for an upcoming work outing; we are glad he doesn't have to rent clubs! Auctions are listed in the newspaper or online for your area. Many times the event location will open early for previewing; you can decided if there is anything you would be interested in. We have bought furniture at auctions including an antique secretary we have in our living room.

4. Yard sales: 'tis the season (almost)!

5. There are many online options such as c*raigslist and f*reecycle that have all kinds of things for sale or free.

Well, these are just a few ideas that I hope can help you. My husband and I sure like to find bargains, so please share anything that works for you!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Garden Update

We have been enjoying some record meeting (if not breaking) warm temperatures. There is nothing like sunshine and mild weather to make me want to dig and plant. I am trying to practice some restraint because I fear that cooler temperatures can still happen for the next month or so. A friend at church says she doesn't plant until Memorial Day. Groan.....that's a long way off!

We have seen all of our herbs sprout, and an order was placed for thyme and sage. There is space in one of the flower beds to put in herbs, and our goal is to fill that with perennial selections. Chives our already in residence, and sage and oregano should be going in this year.

We (let it be known that the term "we" is used quite loosely. I plant, and the kids try to eat the dirt.) also filled 2 1/2 strawberry pots; and those plants are starting to take root it seems. Lily of the valley have been planted as well, and two baby rosebushes are awaiting a couple of holes to be dug.

Hopefully, a knitting post will be up soon! I've started some fun projects including my first lace knitting attempt.

Today, my friends, we enjoy temperatures in the low 80's. Lunch with a friend shall hopefully take place on the deck! Hope you are seeing the sun where you live.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Things I'm Enjoying Right This Second

1. Drinking a cup of coffee - I think I've mentioned before that I don't even drink coffee in the morning. An afternoon cup just makes my day!

2. Snuggling under a vintage quilt - my mom passed along a couple of quilts. I don't even know their history, but I love quilts!

3. Thinking of a comment from a lady at the library this morning - she was watching my son and said that "he is just one perpetual smile".

4. Looking at my little splurge from this a.m. - Liberty of London has a line they did for Target. I picked up some stationary and a few giftie bags.

5. Recalling how cute both kids were carrying their little bags of popcorn home from Target - the lady at the counter split a small bag for them. This and a diet Coke for Mama rang up for $1.59 - treats all around!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Waking up

It's a Monday morning, and the rain is falling. Due to the clouds, my kids are still slowly waking. They tend to think it's still nighttime, and I feel they could use the rest. We squeezed in a whole winter of not being sick, but they both came down with sore throats and coughs on the first day of spring! Hopefully, the coughs are short-lived.

We've planted some herbs, and the seeds are waking up! We have baby oregano, cilantro, dill, lavender, and basil. Currently they reside on a tray that can be transported to the deck during the day. We have lots of sprouts waking in our flower beds too! The former house owners told us that there are lots of perennials in the beds, but we did not find out specifically what we have. It's a springtime surprise to identify the plants and flowers that will be developing.

I've set a new goal of an earlier bedtime because I'm having a hard time waking up at 6 a.m. With the time change, it's dark when I'm exercising! I want to stay in bed; hopefully getting some extra rest beforehand will help me re-adjust.

Driving our country roads I've spotted a sure sign of spring. Colt's Foot flowers are on several banks around our area. They look like dandelions only smaller. Have you seen any wildflowers? My mom mentioned she saw snowbells. Soon the kids and I will venture into the woods. Who knows, maybe we'll have some trillium in our own backyard forest? What signs of spring awakening have you seen?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lily of the Valley

Flowers are such a beautiful manifestation of God's creativity, aren't they? I have some favorites: from the humble sunflower to the fragrant rose, from the sweet zinnias to the delicate lily of the valley. Sidenote - I have all of these seeds/plants on order!

The lily of the valley always makes me think of Mina (her real name was Alice, but we called her Mina). She was my mom's mother. Alongside her brick house, she had this flower bed. It only contained two types of plants that I can remember. Lily of the valley and mint were grown there. The mint was dried and used in cups of hot tea; she would give us a supply in glass mason jars. The lily of the valley was just for decoration, and oh how I loved (and still love) to use one finger to gently examine the tiny bells of pure whiteness.

My plants should come in a few weeks. I believe we are in zone 5 for gardens (it might be 6, don't hold me to that). Lily of the valley do well in shade, so they will be perfect in our backyard. I hope to put them around the patio or maybe even at the edge of the woods.

Lily of the valley reminds me of my grandmother. Stepping right out of her kitchen, always bustling with some cooking or canning or socializing I would turn the corner and see her little bed of fragrant and lovely lily of the valley. I can't wait to grow some at our place!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

List of Utterly Random Things

*The kids and I enjoy watching a baby squirrel hang out under our bird feeder.

*A ham bone has been boiled down, fat skimmed, cabbage and onion added, ready to simmer for dinner tonight.

*I'm looking forward to spring, but I know I'll miss a fire in the fireplace soon!

*Both kids are down for a "nap", and both kids are currently singing (so cute).

*The icicles are dripping and melting.

*I think it's hilarious that Big Fish doesn't think we have a big enough crockpot for church dinners. Sitting on our porch right now is a delivery of the biggest cooker I have ever seen. Where in the world do I store this? It's still on the porch....

*Knitting a sock brings me great joy.

*Yesterday, the kids and I "talked" (using skype) to my brother living in Africa! It doesn't feel like he's that far away. Brookie demonstrated her ability to imitate a dead bug to him - we couldn't stop laughing. She lays on the floor and sticks her legs straight up in the air.

*My dog (all of 6 pounds) has claimed the back of the sofa as his bed.

The end.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Meeting a Goal Using Bread

When we first moved in, one of my goals was to meet our neighbors. What better way to do this than to bring along a tin of cookies? Some fun things were discovered those wintry evenings: the neighbors below us were the "originals" (they've been here the longest and even owned the campground on our road at one point); the neighbors two doors down are the "originals'" son and daughter-in-law; and the neighbors above us are new to the neighborhood too. I'm hoping that warmer weather will give us more of an opportunity to see the people around us.

The neighbors right below us (the "originals") are an elderly couple; she is almost blind, and he takes such good care of her and their property. He is ALWAYS out shoveling his driveway before I get to ours! She takes the time to call about once a week - just to check on us. I've taken the kids in to meet them as well. She has lamented the fact that people are just "too busy" anymore to take the time to visit and help each other.

This "too busy" fact has long been something I've thought about. My goal (and I know a lot of you share this goal) is to move past the busy-ness of my life and really spend time meeting and learning more about other people. One book that has really helped me do this is "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day"! It has wonderful recipes, and one of its big concepts is to allow the refigerator to do most of the work. I have just found out this morning that there is a sequel - "Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day".

These little loaves of bread are great for meals but also for sending along with friends and.....neighbors! I have a bucket of this dough going almost every week, and it's a continuing goal to bake it for other people. I want to move past the busy, everyday things that get in the way. Today, my house may not be clean (well, okay, maybe I'll do the bathroom); but lunchtime guests are invited!

Here's to good bread!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Gardening Update - March is Here!

A few small packages have been arriving at our house containing tiny promises of Spring. My seed packets are here! Sidenote: "Things I Love in February" blog posts are so last month, but I do so enjoy how Brookie refers to our home as "our new house". She'll say things like: "When is Omma coming to our new house?" and "I'll take a nap in our new house!" and "Does God live at our new house or only at church?" Since we moved here in November, I feel we are settling in quite nicely, but I wonder how long she'll keep up her name.

My pots for my herb garden are set out, but I need a little more dirt before I can plant the seeds. During the move, a couple of my pots were broken. I've saved the shards to place in the bottom of my other pots; this really helps with drainage.

I have a few vegetable seeds to use in our small garden this year, and I think I'll purchase tomato plants and pepper plants locally. Big Fish and I are discussing what kinds of fruit bearing bushes we would love - red rasberries are at the top of my list; and he loves blueberries. I have two of those strawberry growing pots (the tall pots with several side pocket holes), so we might be able to have those growing on the deck.

I'll leave you with a tip: recycle your newspapers into plant pots! Start your seeds in little newspaper containers, and you can set them directly in the soil. Here's a mold I found to help make them.

How are your garden preparations coming along? Happy March to you!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Things I Love, February Edition

I love the fact that it's Friday!! We have dinner plans with friends from church, so I get to do some baking today. The fact that I've been watching what I eat means that not so much baking has been taking place. I apologize for the awkwardness of that last sentence; my editing skills have not been turned on this early.

Anyhoo.....butter and cream cheese are softening on the counter. No recipe is EVER complete without butter. The baking plans include a cream cheese pound cake with sour cream vanilla sauce and some mocha shortbread. My mouth is watering. Good thing I already put in a 30 minute workout this morning!

Big Fish's birthday is SUNDAY! I'm almost done with his knitted gift. Yesterday he received a fun gift card in the mail from his mom. I'm pretty sure it will be used to buy something related to fishing. Oh yes, we now have a hand-carved trout on the wall! Remember when we had that discussion about the mounted deer head? Well, a bit of a compromise has been reached. It's all about priorities, people.

Oh, oh! Another exciting little package came in the mail yesterday. I received my herb seeds. I have some soil left over, so I'm hoping to start my kitchen-garden-in-pots this weekend. We've decided to start small this year, so our garden will be in pots on the deck and a few plants in the yard. We have almost decided to purchase one motion activated sprinkler to help with the wildlife issue. Rhubarb plants, carrots, peppers, and tomatoes will probably make up our garden this year. Rhubarb plants take a couple years to establish, so we need to get them started!

Stay warm! This is the first day this week that I don't have to perform some sort of snow removal operation, so we will be cozy inside.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Things I Love - February

Valentine's Day has come and gone, and we had a special time. We were able to take a little weekend trip to my parents' house. We were able to spend time with them and also able to be part of a birthday celebration for my grandparents on my dad's side. My grandma turns 87 and my grandad turns 91 in February! We love them!

It was also fun to try some new recipes: oreo truffles and pink grapefruit gumdrops. I love candy; I have the most well-developed sweet tooth! Maybe this is also why I'm on a diet. Anyway, I also love baking; so making the candy was a fun way to spread a little Valentine happiness. I have no pictures of the candy, and the evidence has all been hidden away back at my parents' place. The only thing I can leave with is some additional info.

Here is the recipe for the oreo truffles. I doubled the recipe and dipped half in semi-sweet chocolate and the other half in white chocolate. I read a tip online that suggests freezing the shaped oreo candies before dipping to help them keep their shape. That seemed to really work! I never seem to have the melting discs on hand, so I just mixed a tablespoon of shortening with each package of chocolate/white chocolate chips before melting in the microwave. I did have to reheat the mixture about halfway through the dipping time.

The pink grapefruit candy recipe was from the February edition of Victoria magazine. Unfortunately there was a typo regarding the candy tempature, so I had to make a second batch after I realized what was happening! Let's just say the recipe should have read "213 degrees" instead of "113 degrees"! The second batch came out just fine; the flavor of honey with the pink grapefruit juice is a wonderful combination. Did I mention I love candy?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Things I Love - February Edition

My preference usually leans toward silver - especially sterling! I just love these hair clips (bobby pins). I was browsing this shop - for necklaces (see below) when I fell for these hair pins. Love!!

Wow...first you will notice how horrible I am at taking a picture of something in the mirror. I'm certainly not doing justice to the cuteness of the necklace here. Just go to Julie's shop, ok? Anyway, this necklace has my kids' names stamped on the disks. I haven't taken it off for about a month; I obviously love this necklace!!
Deal alert - if you become a fan of Juliethefish on facebook, I think there is free shipping this month! She always has some kind of special going on.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Things I love

Continuing the love theme :) in February, my description is a simple one today. I love being up early, finishing my workout, and finding my girl sitting on the couch waiting for me. She's laying right now with her feet on my lap cuddled in a fleece blanket. Soon, she'll be bouncing around with enough energy for 10 people; but I'm going to go enjoy a few precious snuggles before baby brother wakes up!


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Things I Love

My friend is doing this fun series for the month of February. I have some things in mind, and I'll start with something I use almost daily.

I first discovered the designer of these and other great products through another friend. When we moved into our new house, it was finally time to have an official spot for my keys.

These keyfobs are wonderful because they slip over the wrist. I am especially appreciative of this feature in the grocery store parking lot dealing with below freezing wind chill, 2 kids, and a cart full of groceries!

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Few Recommendations

  • My friend has recently launched her own website! I am very excited for and proud of her. She makes wonderful soap, so here's her link I am using the Bees Knees soap these days and enjoying it so much. I also love the almond coffee bar.
  • This book is wonderful - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Here's a link with some fun info:
  • I also have recently read this book: The Gentle Art of Domesticity. What beautiful pictures and information it shares! When I searched for a link to the book I came across Jane's (the author's) blog. Looks like I have some catching up to do!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom/Grandma!

We are so glad to be living a bit closer to you! We hope you have a great day. We love you!

Monday, January 25, 2010

One of my Loves

This is my favorite little girl wearing a dress that I had when I was a little girl!
I can't wait until she gets up from her nap, so I can cuddle with her. Today she told me it was one of her finger puppet's birthday. Then she asked me where the cake and ice cream were!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

We're in the Country Now!

Here are some clues we are definitely experiencing rural living:
1. The picture above is actually Brookie, playing with her barn and animals while I am writing this post!

2. Big Fish asked me to mail in our application for the Family Membership to the Boyers Sportsmen's Association.

3. I currently have a chart in my kitchen that tells how to measure grain in bins and ear corn in cribs.

4. Seed catalogues have been ordered.

5. The bird feeder must be refilled daily.

6. Trips to the grocery store are called "trips to town" and should only take place about once a week.

7. Mr. Tom at the local feed store/hardware store told me I should be shopping there once a week instead of the grocery store!

8. I had to shoo away a woodpecker from pecking on the logs of our house (two times now).

9. We ordered a quarter of a beef cow from church friends.
And the last reason we know we are in the country:

10. Our family has had actual discussion about hanging a mounted deer head in our living room.
How fun this adventure is! We are loving our country life; praise the Lord for His care.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Photo Trial

Ok, so I have a card reader now that enables me to actually save pictures to the computer! I sure wish the computer would save them in the right size. Each picture has to be majorly shrunk to be able to be emailed or posted on my blog. Well, baby steps are what I can do! Speaking of baby steps....just look at that little guy trying to play basketball!

I try not to compare my blogs to other like, oh, say, The Pioneer Woman's! Her photography and all kinds of bells and whistles on the blog are just beautiful. The next thing I might start fiddling around with is maybe a little photo editing. We'll see!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Breather in the Form of Writing a Blog Entry

The kids and I were out and about all morning and well into the afternoon. We had Small Fry's well-child 15 month checkup; we are so far behind on this since he is 19 months! He is off the charts for height and weight; but this is no surprise, as his sister is the same.

After the doctor's appointment, we tried a new grocery store over in Grove City. It's called County Market. I definitely did some damage there in filling my grocery cart, but I don't know if it's unique enough to deserve a special weekly trip. A friend of mine had mentioned that they carry chicken fresh from an Amish farm, but there was nothing else in the store that really grabbed my attention. I can't justify a 30 minute trip just for chicken!

So, the kids were put down for a super late nap; and I'm just beginning to look at my to-do list after getting the groceries put away and the refrigerator cleaned out a bit. Maybe I should make my list stretch for the whole week? I just crossed one item off the list a few minutes ago, as I ordered some yarn and a pattern book for some upcoming birthday gifts. I hope to get a hat and a pair of socks knitted with the new materials. The socks have a Fair Isle pattern, so that will be a new experience.

Anyway, if you are still awake to have made it through this post (!), I have a question for you. I'm interested in having my children use quiet time to listen to a Bible story on CD. Do you have any CD suggestions appropriate for pre-schoolers? I would love your advice.

Stay warm out there; I know our thermometer was reading in the teens all day!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Two Unrelated Links

Having some extra time around the holidays, we have found some new enjoyable locations. One fun place to explore is the Strip District in Pittsburgh. The name sounds a little odd, but there is a "veritable smorgasboard" of shops to poke through. Today I'll provide the link to a great coffee/tea shop. I am experiencing several loose leaf teas thanks to them including a vanilla almond and a hibiscus selection. It's called Presto George.

We are looking forward this evening to a dinner at the Black Forest Restaurant. It supposed to have authentic German food - even German beer and wine. Hopefully, we'll have room for dessert.

There is a snowstorm predicted for this evening, so we might have to stay at the Black Forest! I'm really just praying for safety, as I take my father-in-law to the airport tomorrow afternoon.

Stay warm!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Fun Fabric Favorites

Here's a list for you. It's part of a contest from True Up; you should check it out! Let's talk some fabric, specifically a few of my faves.

1. Favorite Trend (with Color) is blue! I love blue this year. This is a great example from Anna Maria Horner: Little Folks Voile, a Free Spirit fabric.

2. Favorite Holiday Fabric: Windham Fabrics, Merry Mushrooms. I just love the versatility of this one. It looks great with ribbons!

3. This is my wildcard entry - I love this design. It's My Mind's Eye: Just Dreamy, Riley Blake Designs.

4. One of my favorite motifs from the year are medallions. This one is a Free Spirit fabric. It's by Jennifer Paganelli - Sis Boom.

5. My favorite floral print (this was a toughie) is from Heather Bailey. This is from her Nicey Jane line from Westminster Fabrics.

6. My favorite quilting weight cotton collection is Nicey Jane. I just can't stop admiring it! Here's one of the examples from Heather Bailey.

7. The birdie on this fabric is the best! This is my favorite home decor weight fabric. Alexander Henry designed this - his fashion for home line.

8. This is my favorite novelty print. How cute are these ducks by Lizzy House? This is from Andover Fabrics - Lizzy's Red Letter Day line.

9. My favorite overall designer is Heather Bailey! I love her Nicey Jane, I've used so much of her Pop Garden and others. Check her out. She has a beautiful blog; the pictures are just to die for.

10. My fave fabric shop for prices has to be I also enjoy Glorious Color to check out my precious shot cottons.

Everything is New Again

- new fallen snow is just beautiful.

- new cell phone numbers need to be given to those who might want to call us.

- new house needs a new garden to go with it! Seed catalogues are starting to be ordered.

- new cookies are baked to replace the lingering Christmas cookies.

- new blog post is about to be posted at the start of the new year.

- new week begins a sweet visit with my parents.

- new visitor to arrive tomorrow (Big Fish's dad).

- new 50 lb. bag of birdseed is opened to feed the birdies who tell me they're starving.

- new ideas for a couple of Valentine's projects for my etsy shop are brewing.

- Thanking the Lord for each new day.