Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Work Here is Done

Today while retrieving one of his bouncy balls from under the kitchen table, Moses looked wistfully at the sewing machine and said "Mom, I wish I was a lady." Of course, he quickly changed his tack once I explained that you don't have to be a lady to use a sewing machine, just an adult. (After a bit of negotiation on his end, I admitted that one might be able to use the sewing machine upon reaching "older boy" status.)

My husband got a mildly panicked look on his face when I relayed this story to him - until I explained that the only reason Moses is interested in the sewing machine is that it contains a motor and is propelled by something closely resembling a gas pedal. And while the whole situation made me wonder about the gender stereotypes my son is being exposed to and reminded me of the countless videos I watched in psychology class about people giving their little boys dolls to play with and pink sweat suits to wear, it ultimately made me realize that I don't really care.

Moses has been exposed to both ends of the spectrum. He has 5 uncles and no aunts - in fact, he has started to refer to my brother's fiance as "Uncle Cindy" and looks at me as if I'm nuts when I tell him she is going to be his "ant." A typical evening for him involves helping daddy load the tractor onto the trailer, feeding the neighbor's goats, riding the zip line, and wrestling Daddy. However, during the day he is involved in the finer pursuits, often helping me bake cookies, pretending to knit, and handling the un-pinning of any sewing project I happen to be working on. He has been known to utter a heart-felt "Oh - that's so cute!" in the middle of the fabric store, as well as telling me that "I'm going to gun that rabbit that ate your flowers." It's a really great combination, and I am happy to be the feminine side of the mix, raising two boys to both appreciate and take an interest in "non-boy" activities. ... Even if they do use the knitting needles as swords. :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Project Time"

Man, having 2 kids sure makes it hard to find time to sew! Thus, the introduction of thrice-weekly "project time." I LOVE this and can't believe I didn't come up with it earlier. If there happens to be a time during the day when Titus is asleep and I don't urgently need to be cleaning something, it becomes "project time." Moses and I sit at our huge kitchen table, I at the sewing machine, and he with play dough, markers, or whatever other project he decides to work on that day. It is really fun to have a crafting buddy - we get to spend some one-on-one time together, and I get in some much-needed creating time. Afterwards I can tell that he feels just as refreshed as I do. Hooray for project time!

Monday, April 20, 2009

I Have a Pigeon Named Moses

AAAHHH... there's no better way to unwind after a long day at preschool than sitting on the deck with your shirt off, blowing your horn (thanks Karen), eating a nice big bowl of ... birdseed? Admittedly, this was not the intended purpose of the bowl of birdseed - I thought he would throw it all over the yard like he usually does for the benefit of the birds. It seems, however, that today I didn't feed him enough lunch, because I looked out to find him shoveling the stuff into his cute little mouth. He noticed me watching him, took one more mouthful, then said (quite seriously) "The rest is for the birds."

Oh, and in case you were wondering, it tastes "birdy." 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Oh, Happy Quilting Day

In the midst of a very long week (wait - is it only Wednesday?!!?) of fevers and boogers and a hopelessly messy house, the EMS truck pulled up the driveway today carrying something to brighten my day. Something exciting for me from Japan!

To date I've kept myself from buying any Japanese fabric because I knew once I did I would add some serious fuel to my fabric addiction. But it's all over now - I'm hooked.

This fabric is so gorgeous and it came packaged so beautifully! It was folded up and placed in a cellophane envelope, sealed with a tiny piece of very Japanese-looking red and white tape. When I opened it, a tiny knotted piece of silk cording fell out with it. That just put me over the top. This had obviously been packaged with great care by someone who loves all things beautiful. And all the way from the other side of the world! I'm still surprised that such a small gesture could have such a big effect on me, but I've been smiling about it all day.

The fabric is for a very exciting special order quilt I'm working on. Above is a collage I put together of the fabrics I'll be using - it's going to be so great! I had a blast working with the customer to choose these fabrics. I already know this one is going to be hard to ship out - I'm attached already!

P.S. For your own fabulous Japanese fabric-buying experience, go here.

Miracle Meringue Cake

Yesterday was Brett's birthday, which meant my once-yearly attempt at making this cake. It is my Grandma's recipe and, like all her recipes, only has some pretty non-specific instructions on how to make something really complicated. Last year I totally messed the whole thing up, but this year I think I mastered it! I'm even more proud because I did it while holding a very fussy baby and taking care of a feverish 3 year old at the same time. Happy Birthday Brett!!!

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup rich milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup cake flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

Cream butter with sugar very thoroughly. Add 4 yolks, beating well after each addition. Then add milk and vanilla, beat well. Add sifted dry ingredients. Beat for 2 minutes more after all ingredients are combined. Spread in 2 greased 9 inch cake pans and set aside.

** I did this last year and found that the above recipe only made two VERY thin cake rounds, so this year I doubled the cake batter recipe and it turned out much better - thicker cakes. It didn't even affect the baking time!

Make the meringue...

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Beat egg whites till stiff. While the mixer is still running on high speed, add the sugar slowly (seriously - go SLOWLY because otherwise your meringue will turn to taffy) in a trickle until it is all added. Add vanilla slowly in the same way. Beat another minute after all ingredients are added. Spread meringue on top of the batter in pans. Do this lightly so that it is in uneven peaks and touches sides of pans. On one layer sprinkle the nuts. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.

Set baked cake layers aside to cool in their own pans. Make filling:

1/2 pound dried apricots
2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream

Simmer apricots in water for about 25 minutes or until tender. Add sugar and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and mash. Put in fridge to cool. Whip the cream in a mixer and fold into the apricot mixture once it is cooled to at least room temperature.

Assemble cake: Place the non-nutty cake layer meringue-side-down on a cake plate. Spread 1/4 of the apricot filling on top of this layer. Place second cake layer meringue-side-up on top. Spread remaining apricot filling around outside of cake.

Take it from me: your messy kitchen will totally be worth it. Enjoy!!!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

I hope you had a lovely Easter. Things here were different than usual since poor Moses came down with Pink Eye last night. His goopiness kept us from going to church - instead we made a morning run to the doctor to pick up eye drops. That was a big bummer because Easter has always been my very favorite day at church, and I always try very hard to focus on the real reason we're celebrating. However, it was nice to have a relaxing day at home. Brett's parents and brothers braved the germs and came up for sandwiches and to watch the one-man Easter egg hunt. Goopy eyes and a fever were not enough to keep Moses away from THAT anticipated activity! (And if Pez and Jelly Beans could cure Pink Eye, Moses would be completely healthy by now. I can't believe I let him eat candy while he had a fever! Yikes!) It was wonderfully laid-back.

Things were made even more wonderful by the fact that my little brother (can I still call him that?) got engaged last night to awesome Cindy. Hooray!

What could have been a long day with a very sick kiddo somehow turned into a fun day with family. As long as no one else gets Pink Eye I think everyone else would agree that it was a wonderful Easter.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Can I Brag About My Husband Again?

Some of you may remember my post from a while back about my hubby's landscaping skills. Well, I had to do it again because this yard he put in is GORGEOUS! He built this bridge. Seriously. I love being married to a guy who can pretty much make or fix anything.
The homeowner on this project wanted a low-maintenance solution to the back yard area of his home (no lawn to mow or hedges to trim, etc.). So, Brett came up with the idea of putting in a meadow - he searched long and hard for the perfect seed mix and this is how it turned out. I think it is so beautiful - you would think this stuff had grown naturally. And you can't see it, but there are a lovely little play house and tree fort that Brett built for the kids, both nestled in the midst of the meadow. Perfect.

Good work Brett! (See more about his company and his work here.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Somebody's Special...

I busted out the ├╝ber-fancy (is that the right way to write that?) stuffed bell pepper recipe last night as a surprise for Brett. These guys are GOOD! I don't make them very often, though, because it is a 4 step process (which is why I'm not writing the recipe here on the blog.) and a lot of dish washing! I got it from the America's Test Kitchen Cook Book, which is definitely worth the purchase. Everything in it is great!
The best part about these guys is that there are always left-overs, so no cooking tonight! :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sale in the Shop!

Junie None is having a sale! Go check it out - you might get a great deal on something you've been eyeing... :)

Friday, April 3, 2009

First Digital Art Work

Moses "painted" this today on Photoshop - I decided it was high time he learned what a "mouse" was other than those annoying little guys who keep eating the rice in our cupboard. Doesn't it look cool? He especially loved choosing what colors to use. Now I need to get a good color printer - my brain is full of ideas for kid-created artwork for our walls...