30 August 2009

29 August 2009

Working the Days

Sometimes people ask me how I have time for everything I do. Perhaps the secret is that there is a lot I don't do! I also have to give the reminder ... I only blog about the good stuff.

I find that when I dwell on the beauty and joy that surrounds me in the ordinary bits of life, my perspective on my days is so much better. In short, my life doesn't always look like my blog! My bathrooms can get disgusting, the clutter collects, I forget birthdays, I'll snap at my kids, we'll eat sandwiches for dinner, and my attitude can be rotten. But I'm okay with that. I'm just working through life like everyone else. What is wonderful, is that while I have my own breed of trials and issues, they don't take away from all the blessing that God has, for some reason, seen fit to bestow upon our home. That is what I seek to focus on, and that is what, I hope, is reflected here.

So. Back to the practical question of how we work our days. I am not a perfectly organized person. It's true, I sometimes daydream about it ... but in reality, perfection is not worth the price of my time and energy. That said, keeping up on the housework and having a basically tidy home, really does make me feel good. To make time for the reading, the photography, the sewing, cooking, giggling, and playing, I'm a believer in crackin' out the work when you can! While I can't say I run a "tight ship," here's a few tips that keep our boat adequately strapped down:

• Do a load of laundry each day

I used to have "laundry day" which would completely exhaust me and leave me feeling defeated when the machines were still chugging at 9:00pm and the mountains of unfolded clothes and bedding threatened to block all household walkways. I find tossing a load or two in the laundry each day is so much more manageable. Some days it's just gathering all the towels, and bath mats and running them as a load.

• Wipe the kitchen counters down thoroughly each day
Again, if I take a couple of minutes to pull out a rag and cleaner, I can polish up those counters and it never becomes a big task. Plus, your whole house can be a disaster, but a clean kitchen somehow makes up for it.

• Make your bed
Like the clean kitchen, a made bed instantly gives the feeling of tidiness ... even if it isn't completely.

• Clutter Control
Before the kids get to watch a movie or have some treat, we race through the house and put everything (and I mean everything) that is not in it's place on the door mat. The house will instantly look picked up and now all the clutter is in one spot to work from. Much easier.

• Clutter Crisis
Sometimes hurried and drastic measures must be taken! Take the same strategy as above, but put it all in a large garbage bag and shove it in the closet until you can get to it later. Be forewarned! It is very easy to forget about the bag and end up with a giant closet project later. This is a risky procedure, but there are times you gotta' do whatcha' gotta' do.

• Clutter Reduction
I'm still working on this one, but I'm becoming more and more of a purger. Stuff can weigh you down and create burdens where there don't need to be. Before birthday's and Christmas, we purge the kids' rooms. I regularly purge closets and Pops' and I have a dreams of a purged garage. Not only do we frequently "move things along" but we learning to differentiate between meaningful or useful items and plain ol' stuff. The stuff is what we are trying to have less of. Again, still working on this one.

• Plan Meals for the Week
I despise not knowing what to make for dinner at 5:30. But ... when I sketch out the week's meals (I even write down ideas for breakfast and lunch), and shop for groceries accordingly, I save money, time, and lots of sanity. I will repeat, however, that I sketch out the meals. If needs or plans change, it's no biggie.

• Cook to Freeze
I absolutely love having meals in the freezer. Whenever I can get my act together, I make a double meal. One to eat that night, and one to stick in the freezer. I've also been buying large quantities of meat or poultry when there is a sale and freezing meal sized portions in ziplocs with a marinade. These freezer meals are so fantastic for nights when there is soccer practice, Mom gets sick, or you just don't feel like cookin'.

• Put Things in Vases
I always find it's worth my time when I take some clipping from something outside and shove it in a vase. Twigs, flowers, branches, herbs ... doesn't really matter. It doesn't cost a penny and is such an easy way to bring some pretty into the house. Things in vases make me smile.

• Rest Time
I realize not everyone has this luxury, but we still take time after lunch to rest. The kids go to their rooms and do whatever they want as long as it isn't too noisy and they are able to clean it up when they are done. This is when I read, blog, have some tea, take photos, sew ... anything I'd like to do. I rarely do chores during this time. If I get this little break in my day, I'm just more enthusiastic about pursuing the rest of it.

• Perspective
I'm not a Pollyanna. I can complain like a champ and am skilled at feeling sorry for myself. But it never makes any positive impact. When I'm in the Word and approaching my days as though it's the task He set before me, I want to do a good job. I want to find the joy in it. So much of what we have or don't have doesn't really matter. It's what we do with it that does.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord, not for men.

Colossians 3:23

28 August 2009

Now You See Him

- and then you don't -

My son, the stealth jungle boy.

27 August 2009

To Write the Love

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,

To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

The Love of God, Frederick M. Lehman, 1948

26 August 2009

The Ties that Bind

And he's here. After 40 years of life in Alaska, Great-Grandad James (along with dear Gigi) agreed to move to the northwest. We couldn't be more thrilled. Gigi has been able to visit many, many times, but it was not so easy for Grandad. Though pictures and stories were often shared, the children had never met him in person - a fact that has always troubled me. So, it was my great joy to see all of the hugs exchanged.

Right off the bat, Peter and Grandad hit it off like old pals. After discussions of the Rome-hungry Hannibal and his alp traveling elephants, various battle strategies, and thoughts on the oppression of Muslims during the time of the Crusaders ... I left them to continue and debate on their own. I hardly think they noticed I'd left, they were engaged in such enthusiastic conversation.

To round out the day, Aunt Joanna brought her new kitty, Button, for some sweet, furry lovin' and the children had some prized cuddle time with Grandma R.

Just a quick visit today. Had to bustle back up the freeway in time for dinner, but we're looking forward to the next visit already. Family is such a good, good thing.

25 August 2009

Her Lookers

I'm ready, Mom. I got my lookers on.
(Not to mention a little sidewalk-chalk dust for the upper lip.)

23 August 2009

Good Times & Monstrosities

Today, we had a most delightful barbecue with my Stone-family cousins. Such fun catching up, commenting on the warp-speed growth of the children, and eating our way through the day.

Unfortunately, someone pointed out to Pops that the garage sale across the street had marked all their left-overs with a "free" sign. Pops and I have different perspectives on a good deal. To me, "free" can still be junk. To Pops, "free" can turn junk into treasure. Before I knew it, all the men were cheering Monty-Python euphemisms over his new silver chalices. Chalices, I might add that no amount of polish could redeem and are brazenly emboldened with the words "MOM" and "DAD."

I pleaded that he return them to the heap of rejected junk, and the women nodded in agreement. The men, however, were most unhelpful and made Pops more determined than ever to find fond affection for the duo.

So Jen, here is my ode to the awful things. And George ... when you come over, I'm making you drink from the "Mom" goblet.

21 August 2009

Racing By

It is my joy to be caught in this whirlwind of life. The dashing, the laughing, the fit-throwing, the eyes twinkling, the delicious arm-squeezes about the neck.

Must catch these days before they are only sweet memories.

Beauty in Simplicity

Last week, Jane and I tumbled into a new thrift store while the older two partied at a morning VBS. We were looking for "vintage" (the 80's qualifies as vintage??) Polly Pockets. While we came up short in the Polly hunt, we did spy this beauty resting innocuously on a low shelf.

Ink on paper sketch. Signed in pencil by P. Schaafsma. I don't think an artist of note, although I'm rather smitten.

Nestled in a simple, gilded and black flecked frame, it's hanging happily in the living room. And I smile happily whenever I pass by.

To think, I almost didn't buy it because of the price ... a whopping $4.99! I can be so stingy when thrifting. At least I didn't lose my senses completely and snatched this little honey up while I had the chance!

20 August 2009

A Very Crafty Bunch

I had thought it to be a little too difficult for her. Once again, I'm learning not to underestimate Lucette. Her back-stitch is truly marvelous.

And her concentration fierce.

Jane is tackling her own embroidered kitty. It's a very vibrantly yellow "Chinese kitty." As a not-quite-4-year-old, she is doing remarkably well. I love her willingness to do her best, even if it looks different than someone else's best.

Peter was actually curious, too. I didn't have any more embroidery hoops (Perhaps a rocket pattern for later?), so he contented himself with making camouflage yo-yo's. I imagine they'll soon find themselves launched by one of his many apparati.

What a pleasant afternoon we've had.

18 August 2009

I Love Me Some Dilly Bread

There are lots of expressions of amore when I serve up Dilly Bread. It's a particular favorite with soup but the leftovers also make into delicious sandwiches.

Dilly Bread is made with cottage cheese and is a great way to use up a half-eaten container or when you accidentally buy the lowfat. (Oh please, let's cut corners elsewhere ... just not my cheeses!)

Dilly Rolls
Dissolve and set aside:
• 2.25 t yeast
• .25 c water

In saucepan, heat until warm:
• 1 c cottage cheese
• 1 T butter

In separate, large bowl, mix:
• 2 T sugar (or honey)
• 2 T dried minced onion
• 1.5 T dried dill
• 1 t salt
• .25 t baking soda
• 1 egg

Add dissolved yeast and warm (not hot!) cottage cheese mixture. Mix thoroughly. Add:
• 2.5 c flour (a mix of white and wheat is good!)

Stir in the flour with a large spoon to make a stiff but sticky dough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot for about 1 hour or doubled in bulk.

Stir dough dough, but do not knead. Grab sticky blobs and place on parchment lined baking sheet. (Your hands will get ridiculously sticky, but press on!) Let rise for another 30-40 minutes. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until golden. Serve with lots of butter!

Side note: These freeze wonderfully and you can also make it like Great Mother used to, as a loaf. Just plop all the dough into a greased bread pan, let rise, and bake for about 35 minutes.

Poppin' Up a Whole Lotta' Goodness

Last night was movie night for the Pops and myself. And what does a good World War II drama need? Yep, popcorn. But this time we got a little caa-razy. I'm talkin' crazy-delicious!

Pull out your air-popper and fill 'er up with seeds:

While the kernels are a-poppin', melt your butter ... and don't be stingy!

Pull out that cheapy sea-salt grinder that is already filled with salt, but works like a dream. Set it to a medium/coarse grind:

And the magic? Oh yes, my friends, it's Turbinado (raw) sugar:
Drizzle your butter, grind your salt, and sprinkle your turbinado. Give it all a good toss and grab a stack of napkins for those soon-t0-be greasy mits.

By the way, keep the rewind remote handy. It's so good, you may forget to pay attention to the movie.

17 August 2009

My Mama's Birthday

Light reflects on face gazed upon.
Peace found in simple song.
Delight bubbles from contented soul.
Generosity without effort.
Adoration in full.

My own. My mother.

16 August 2009

Thrifting is Good for Your Health

Turns out I have a sore throat today. Ugh. But ... I did manage a quick run to the thrift store and I'm soothing myself with peppermint tea and the morning's jackpot: a virtually mint-condition 1972 edition of the 50's game Sorry. A lovely prescription, if you ask me.

We're having lots of fun apologizing today.

Especially this one.

15 August 2009

Just Because

:: barbequed steaks, passionate conversation, lethal board game competitions ::

:: chocolate in abundance ::

:: tomfoolery, funny movie, late night,
sneak quietly upstairs so the grown-ups keep talking ::

13 August 2009

An Afternoon Ceremony

Did you know that crayons get married?
Well, they do.
They even kiss.

12 August 2009

Basil and a Kicky New 'Do

 Last night I went outside to pinch off the flowering tips of the basil. They were so fragrant, I couldn't help but plop the sweet ends into a vase on the kitchen counter. Now, each time I pass by the herb cuttings, I start dreaming of a Caprese salad. And, the tomatoes are almost ready to make my culinary dreaming come true! Add the basil, slices of mozzarella, a little balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper ... Mmmm.

While I was out herb snipping, Pops snapped a few pics on his own. I'm thinking basil also makes a nice backdrop to showcase a new snappy haircut, don't you agree?

11 August 2009

Scenes from the Pacific Coast

• sand skipping •

• sea water splashing •

• sunlight streaming •

• fingers digging •

• grandparents loving •

Zippy Pouch Tutorial

I find these little zippy pouches to be a most gratifying project. Very simple, quick, and a fun way to use up cute scraps of fabric. Since I plan on making more, and you might like to also, here is a simple tutorial to keep the steps right at hand. Let's get started!

You will need 4 pieces of fabric (two for outside, two for lining) and a zipper of whatever length your cut fabric is. (I love thrifting vinyl zippers. Nice and cheap, and you can cut them to size!)

Next, sandwich a right-side up zipper with a right-side up lining and a right-side down outer. Stitch across, close to zipper.

Flip fabrics so zipper selvedge is now inside. Repeat these two steps on the other side.

Looking good so far? If you'd like to top stitch close to the zipper, now's the time. You don't have to, just if you like the tailored look.

Flip fabrics so right-sides face each other, outer to outer, lining to lining. (Don't forget to un-zip the zipper at least halfway so you can turn it once it is all stitched!) Pin around the edges, turning zipper teeth and seams towards the lining.

Stitch all around the edges (about 1/4 inch) leaving a 2-4 inch opening at the bottom of the lining. Clip corners.

Turn so that right-side fabrics are now out. Stitch lining opening closed. A slip stitch by hand is always the prettiest, but I usually just run a machine stitch all the way down, very close to the seam.

Tuck the lining into the shell, give it a good press with a hot iron, and Voila! A nice little zippy pouch for you.