Friday, April 30, 2010

Thankful for:

A LONG time ago Brett found this Lilac plant (I call it a plant because it was neither a bush nor a vine nor a tree at the time) amidst a jumble of weeds and overgrown juniper bushes in my parents' yard. He pulled up one of the shoots and planted it at our place and we proceeded to neglect it for about 7 years. Then it started to bloom! It is SO beautiful and fragrant and blossoms for a long time each year. I just love it, and had to bring a bit inside tonight since we are having guests over for dinner. It is in a mercury glass vase (thanks Gail) in my bathroom, and no, you can not see it because other than that vase of lilac, the bathroom has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

Soon I will let you know how my gluten-free/soy-free/lactose-free dinner works out. Hopefully I don't poison anybody!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Look What My Man Can Do - Third Installment

Here is another of the beautiful yards Brett put in. My photography doesn't really do it justice as the project included facing the entire house with composite rock and installing a beautiful lighting system. I love the olive trees the most. Nice work Brettie!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ho Hum (aka "at least the house got vacuumed")

Our Day so far:

1:30 am - wake up when baby cries... he goes back to sleep on his own. Mommy doesn't.
2 am - Check on big brother who is coughing up a lung in his bed. Bring him water, etc.
5:45 am - wake up when Daddy sneaks out the door for work
6:30 - baby cries a bit more but falls back to sleep. So does mommy (hooray!)
8:00 (WHAT?!?!) - both boys wake up having slept in MUCH later than usual. Mommy makes celebratory breakfast of French toast.
8:15 - change baby's diaper
8:45 - Mommy cleans French toast off baby, floor, table, high chair, and herself. Decides to skip a shower and makeup - wrangles hair into some sort of contained situation.
9:00 - Get everyone dressed. Change another diaper.
9:15 - 9:45 - Simultaneously do dishes, break up fights over toy cars, vacuum, dispense vitamins, brush teeth, and make important Junie None phone call.
9:50 - Head out to the car. Scold dog, save baby from falling into pond, tell 4 year old repeatedly to get into car and sit down, explain to baby that he will have to wait to eat crackers.
10:05 - Turn on car, drive 40 ft. down driveway. See wild turkeys in Papa's garden. Stop car, send 4 year old into pasture to chase the birds away.
10:07 - After brandishing a fist at retreating turkeys, 4 year old heads back to car, drenched from the armpits down in dew. Drive 40 ft. back to the house, run inside, grab change of underwear, socks, pants. Run back outside to running car and change 4 year old on driveway. Strap him back in. Baby is legitimately hungry now, so dash back to the house, grab a box of crackers, run back to the car, give food to baby.
10:18 - Drive down the hill.
10:32 - Arrive at in-laws' house. Get out stroller, load up kids with promise of playing at the park mid-walk. Begin walking.
10:37 - Get caught in downpour. Turn around and begin running back to in-laws' house.
10:38 - Phone rings with important Junie None business. Take phone call while running up hill in pouring rain.
10:40 - Rain stops. 4 year old convinces me to head back for the park. Turn around.
10:47 - Get caught in another downpour. Scrap the park idea completely. Turn around again.
10:48 - Rain comes down even harder -put down the rain shield on the stroller
10:49 - Rain comes down even harder - begin running
10:51 - Phone rings with important Junie None business. Take phone call while running up hill in pouring rain
10:52 - Briefly consider explaining to customer that no, I have not been running in the rain this whole time, but decide the explanation is weirder than her thinking that I regularly run up hill in the rain with my sick kids for fun.
11:00 - Arrive at in-laws' house soaking wet with a stroller full of two sick and disappointed kids.
11 - 11:30 - Grandpa saves the day by playing with boys while Mommy throws socks and sweatshirts into dryer.
11:31 - Realize that clothes are not drying. Put wet things back on, load up wet stroller, repeatedly tell 4 year old to get into car and sit down, explain to baby that no, he can absolutely not have any more crackers. Strap everybody in.
11:45 - Drive through McDonald's.
11:49 - Head up the hill. Notice that baby is falling asleep in car seat which will ruin his nap, so begin giving him the forbidden crackers to keep him awake.
11:50 - Congratulate self on grabbing the WHOLE BOX of crackers rather than just a few.
11:51 - 12:03 - Simultaneously hand baby crackers, close and open chicken nuggets box, explain why Happy Meal came in a bag rather than a box, and evade mother deer with 2 babies in road while driving.
12:04 - 12:20 - Arrive home. Unload everybody. Get into house. Warm up food for baby. Have long discussion with 4 year old about the fact that "I haven't had Ranch Dressing since I was a kid" means that I DID eat it when I was a kid, not the I wasn't allowed to eat it as a kid. (?) Try to feed baby, give up, put him down for a nap.
12:21 - 1:30 - Eat lunch, clean Ranch Dressing off table, floor, chair, 4 year-old, and myself. Make muffins. Put together puzzle of United States. Put away puzzle of United States. Read library books. Put 4 year old down for rest time.
1:32 - Feel guilty about neglecting blog. Decide to write a boring post about what happened today.

The end.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Brussels Sprouts

Here's a new favorite recipe of mine - quick, healthy(ish), and simple.

Braised Brussels Sprouts in Mustard Sauce

1 pounds brussels sprouts
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup minced shallots
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup water, divided
1/4 cup mustard
2 Tbsp brown sugar
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 package bacon

1.) Cook up your bacon, let it cool, then crumble it. (Cooking it until it is extra crispy makes the crumbling part easier.) Set aside.

2.) Cut off the base of each sprout, slice in half, then cut each half crosswise several times.

3.) Heat oil in large skillet and saute shallots until golden brown. Add sprouts, salt, and 3 Tbsp water from your 1/3 cup of water. Stir together, cover, cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.

4.) Meanwhile, stir together mustard, sugar, and remaining water until well blended. Once sprouts have cooked 5 minutes, add mustard mixture and bacon bits, stir well, and recover. Cook an additional 3-8 minutes, depending on how soft you like your sprouts.

5.) Remove from heat, sprinkle with pepper and enjoy!

Last night I made this with some store-bought ravioli in pesto sauce and it was a HUGE success. Moses had seconds and loved the sprouts! Even daddy, who used to refuse to eat "lettuce bombs" ate a bunch. Hooray!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy Weekend!

At the end of this week it feels like we have earned a couple days of sleeping in, some sort of fun family trip, and at least one big pancake breakfast. I think I can make 2 of those 3 actually happen... Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Today Titus and I played with buttons, a long-loved activity in our house. For whatever reason, my boys LOVE playing with collections of tiny, should-probably-be-off-limits things. Moses used to pick them up one at a time and place them into different toys - cups, little dump trucks, upside down hats, and so on. Titus likes to scoop a big handful into an empty cup then hurl the cup across the kitchen floor and watch the buttons explode all over the place. (Tells you a bit about their different personalities, doesn't it?)

I have a huge stash of buttons, old and new, and today I was particularly fascinated by them. They are so pretty and quirky! Since I had my camera with me and lots of time to take pictures, you get to experience our afternoon of buttons too.

This color combination caught my eye - orange and purple. If I could go back to childhood I would totally have an orange and purple room.

All the pink and purple buttons in a pile. How could something so simple be so dang pretty?
All the green ones. I love that every single shade of green matches with every other shade of green. You just can't go wrong with green. Hopefully I haven't bored you to tears - but I am totally delighted with these button pictures!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Busy Season

I seem to be in (another) phase where I can't seem to get everything done. Or is that the way the rest of my life will be? I'm actually getting a lot of sewing done, but my poor blog has been neglected as a result. Lots of projects are getting completed: the hutch is covered with almost finished or need-to-be-photographed items for the shop ... but the hutch is COVERED. *sigh* Life could be much worse, couldn't it? :)

On a different note, if you are a sewer or want to be, or just love looking at beautiful pictures of other people sewing, you must read Anna Maria Horner's recent post on hand quilting - it is totally inspiring and downright helpful. Someday I will make a huge quilt just for me and hand quilt the whole thing. Maybe when I'm 80...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Man is 32

When Brett and I started dating, he was 19 and I was 17 and I thought I was madly in love with him. Today he is 32 (and I'm barely hanging onto the end of my 20's!) and I am constantly thankful that God put me with a husband who is much more wonderful than my 17 year old mind could have even hoped for. To be able to live life with someone who is all man, yet kind and gentle at the same time, regardless of the circumstances, has been a wonderful and humbling blessing.

Happy Birthday Brettie - I love you so much!

Monday, April 12, 2010


I just love spring! Everything is blooming and green and lovely. The colors outside are breathtaking!
For the first time I noticed how beautiful the lichen is that grows on the old fence posts and rocks along the driveway. What great colors!

And, of course, my boys love the spring too. More time outside, less time getting bundled up. (Of course, right now it is pouring down rain outside, but the sun will be back soon enough.) It's nice to have a healthy baby again and feel like life has returned to normal. I have a tray full of sprouts waiting to be transfered to the garden and a huge pile of sewing projects in the works, so I'm excited about what the next few weeks will bring. Hope all is well in your neck of the woods!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

We're still here...

I have been pretty bad about blogging lately, and for that I am sorry. As I'm sure life has been for you, it has been crazy for us. Not bad crazy, just the normal two-kids crazy. Baby is sick, big brother is trying out many new ways to test the limits of my patience and creativity of my punishments. The house seems to be messing itself up even when we are not home, and by the end of the day all I want to do is sit on the couch and stare into space while someone else washes off my makeup and puts me in my jammies (seriously, there is REAL money to be made for people offering that service... I currently have to settle for washing off my own makeup while someone else blows up my couch bed.) I have begun to hear the phrase "more hours in the day" echoing in my head, and it is in my OWN voice, not my mother's. You know how it goes - life is good, but it sure is busy!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Buttermilk Scones

These would be a nice addition to your Easter brunch - my mom used to make them on special occasions and every once in a while on school mornings just to surprise us. The dried apricots are what put them over the top.


3 Cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp cream
cinnamon & sugar

1.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix together the first 5 ingredients. Cut in butter. Stir in dried apricots.

2.) Make a well in center of mixture and add buttermilk. Stir until dough cleans the sides of the bowl.

3.) Roll dough out 1/2 inch thick. Cut into heart shapes (that's what we usually do, but of course you can do circles or triangles...) Place on greased baking sheets. Brush tops of scones with cream then sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

(When I was a kid my mom had me hand write a bunch of her best recipes on her recipe cards. I've since stolen a few of them - I love how this is stained with the ingredients of years of making these scones. Anything that holds a hint of my mom is precious to me.)