Friday, January 30, 2009

Marching Orders


Wouldn't Noah have been intrigued with this line up. The princesses certainly would have added a new dimension.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Feeling a Bit Puny

Grandma always said, "Mothers aren't supposed to get sick."
Unfortunately, they do.

While there are countless cruddy components to being sick with tots running around, here's my list of good things:

• Piping hot eucalyptus bubble bath
• Steaming mug of peppermint tea
• Husbands who put kids to bed
• Freshly laundered, cozy blanket
• Hot buttered toast with honey
• Friends who check in on you
• The Cosby Show
• Small hands which rub your face sweetly

I'll be feeling better soon.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Big Wide World

Our family is already eager for summer. For the girls, it means a nice long stay with Grammy and Gramps. For Pops, Peter, and myself, it means a missions trip to Honduras! Peter is busy scavenging for information on the area.


He has such a fascination with history, geography, and other cultures. It will truly be a privilege to accompany him on this trip. This week: get passports squared away!

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
John 17:15

Monday, January 26, 2009

Follow the Way of Love

I feel so personally inspired by Paul's words to the well intentioned, but wayward Corinthians. It is my prayer for this week.

1 Corinthians

If
I speak in the tongues of men and of angels,
but have not love,
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have a faith that can move mountains,
but have not love,
I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,
but have not love,
I gain nothing.
(13:1-3)


Follow the way of love ... (14:1)

Sweet Concentration


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pops' Punch Sandwich

2 slices bread
Slather 1 slice generously (using a spatula) with:
Peanut Butter
and the other slice with:
Jam

Slap slices together with gusto. Place/toss sandwich in front of child (on plate or directly on counter-top). Finally, take fist and punch sandwich solidly in the middle creating severe squashing and faint knuckle marks.

*Optional: Use pizza cutter and have at it--don't stop until each piece resembles a small, unknown geometrical shape.


Voila! Punch Sandwich, courtesy of Pops.

Listen to Me

Mama: Jane, you have to use your words and stop screaming at me.
Jane: I'm not screaming! I'm yelling!
---
Peter:
Lucette, you are not listening to me while I'm talking. (After long stream of rambling)
Lucette: Peter, (pause, sigh) there are lots of times when you talk that I don't listen.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie


Mmm, Mmmm! This one's tasty. Here's a variation from long-time pal, Dawnelle:

3-4 potatoes, peeled and diced
3 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced

Boil in water. Drain, reserving water.

3-4 c. shredded chicken (simmer in water/broth or use leftovers)
1.5 c. peas

Mix all, spread in casserole dish. (For two meals, divide and use two smaller dishes, freezing one when all assembled.)

White Sauce:
.25 c. butter
.25 c. flour
1.5 c. broth (use leftover veggie broth from above)
1.5-2 c. milk
salt, pepper, dry mustard, thyme (to taste)

Make standard white sauce. (Melt butter, whisk in flour off of heat, add spices,broth and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.) Pour over chicken/veggie mix in casserole dish.

Frozen Puff Pastry (break into pieces to fit dish)

Arrange on top of goodies in casserole dish. (You can use biscuit, phyllo, or a pie crust dough, too.) Bake 400 degrees, 30-45 minutes, until top is golden brown.

*Make ahead and store in fridge, waiting to place dough on top until right before you bake, or freeze.
*Don't forget to save veggie scraps in freezer for making broth later!

Buccaneers Eat Breakfast, Too

The hook is to ward off pecky hornswagglers.


And the cutlasses keep all ye scurvy dogs in line.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Vintage Simplicity - #6809


What a fantastic 1960's smock pattern. The picture on the cover cracks me up. I love how both mother and daughter spent time getting some "volume" when fixing their hair in the morning. And too bad I didn't have any clear vinyl on hand or I could have made the waterproof apron!
It is a shame it's not my size, so it's going in the shop.

Afternoon Light


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sunday Roast

Recently, we've been trying to appreciate the merits of a Sabbath. We like to think we are not over-committed and harried, yet we still find ourselves uttering phrases with words like "awfully busy" or "exhausted." If God rested on Sunday, perhaps we should too. With Saturdays allocated for events, projects, and errands, we've been settling down on Sundays to a little bit of churching, eating, loafing, napping, visiting, laughing, and playing. Quite nice!

While pondering how to make our Sabbath enjoyable, food inevitably came to mind. In our home, we do love a good meal, so maybe I should resurrect the ol' After-Church-Sunday-Dinner! This idea might turn out to be an unsustainable flash in the pan, but for the past few weeks, we've really been enjoying it. I toss some sort of roast in the oven before church and plan a couple easy sides. We all then scamper back home after church, eager for a tasty, lingering meal together. (Added bonus: very easy to invite guests over to share a meal after church!)

After a horrible crock-pot chicken incident from last Sunday (I can't bear to describe how dreadful it truly was and have pledged to never cook chicken in a crock-pot again), I attempted to redeem myself with a farm-house style pot roast. My carnivores were very happy.

•Sunday Pot Roast•

1 3-5 lb. beef roast (ask the butcher for a good pot roast cut)
1 lg. onion

Sunday morning, 8:00ish: Slice onion and place a on bottom of roaster or pan. Set meat on top of onion. Convection Roast (if you have it) at 400 degrees for a half-hour. (This will sear the outer layer and lock in those juices.) Go take shower! (Of course, if you have the time, you can sear all sides in oil and skip this former step altogether.)

5 med. potatoes
5 carrots
1 lg. onion
**Add turnips, yams, additional onions, or any other tasty item too!

Peel and chop into large chunks. Place around roast in pan.

1 c. water
seasoning salt, herbs, spices

Mix any seasoning salts, herbs, or spices you'd like (about 2-3 T.), adding some to the water and sprinkling the remaining directly onto the roast. Pour the water mixture around roast, over the veggies. Cover tightly with lid or aluminum foil. Lower temperature to 250 degrees and place in oven. After church your house will smell divine and the roast will be done! (Internal temp. of beef roast should be about 160 degrees).

Take roast out, cover with foil and let rest while removing veggies from pan. Make gravy from pan liquid with a little cornstarch mixed with water. Salt to taste.

*Buy meat on sale and freeze. Place in fridge to defrost on Friday and it should be ready on Sunday to cook.
*For the evening meal, plan something very easy and light. Tonight we had bread, cheese, olives, carrots, and Irish Breakfast (Decaf) tea.
*Have cute daughters help set the dining room table the night before. Cute daughters get to use fancy cups.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bright Spot


I treated myself to a bunch of raspberry ranunculus today, while out grocery shopping with my little circus. I trimmed the stems short and managed 4 little vases full, scattered about the house. They make me smile every time I pass by.


I particularly like the pairing at my kitchen window and, if you can spy it, the handle of Peter's digging shovel peeking in.

Here Come the Brides

My girls got married last night. It's fortunate for them that we share a lot of things, as they decided to both marry Pops. Pops came home from work to find two young brides glistening in sparkly lip-gloss and flouncing in feather slippers.

The ceremony was just under a minute to which the girls batted dreamy eyelashes and Pops pledged faithful fatherhood from here unto eternity. After a profusion of hugs and squeezes, Pops inquired: "What comes next?" The girls responded with great authority: "Now we dance."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I was getting tired of regular detergent. Costly, odd smelling, and probably full of chemicals that I don't know anything about. Thanks to my friend, the Internet, I've found a replacement that I adore. Now who would have thought laundry soap could be pretty?


1 bar Fels Naptha soap (grated or in food processor)
1 c. borax
1 c. washing soda
.5 - 1 c. oxi clean

Let washer fill up with a little warm water and add 1-2 T. detergent. Feel free to use more if a large or heavily soiled load. Won't suds, don't be alarmed!

*For easy fabric softener, find a pretty bottle, fill with mostly white vinegar and some water. Just to be nice, add a few drops of rosemary essential oil. Shake well and add vinegar to the rinse cycle. My machine has a little fabric softener dispenser that I just fill up and the machine releases it during the final rinse. Don't worry, it won't make your clothes smell like Easter eggs!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sunshine


So much fun to sew this sunshiny yellow dress for a soft little body. I can imagine it in the summer with some bloomers underneath or even layered with leggings. Aren't the front-paneled pleats so sweet?

Since it turned out too small for either of my girls, I'm placing it in the shop.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Grandma's Crostata

Grandmother Moreci Stone, known by the children as 'Great Mother,' is a dear and lovely woman. She serves, she makes, she care-takes, and she loves. The past year has brought illness robbing her of the ability to laugh, to cough, to talk ... to eat. Yet, she has borne what would disable so many, with a grace and fortitude that silently teaches those around her of Faith and perseverance.

Great Mother has always been a fine, fine cook. When Lucette was asked to bring a food item representing her family at the heritage fair, we excitedly selected her delicious, buttery Crostata recipe. It is a lovely Italian dessert made into bars and easy for little hands to help make. So very good with a cup of steaming black tea (and sweet thoughts of Great Mother).

3 c. unbleached flour
1.5 c. sugar
3 t. baking powder

Mix well.

1 c. butter
grated rind of 1 lemon
2 eggs

Add to dry mix. Use hands like Grandma to combine (or mixer if not feeling tactile today) until dough-like and well incorporated. Press into buttered 9x13 pan, reserving 1/3 for topping.

4-5 T. Jam (strawberry is a favorite)

Cover dough with even layer of jam. Place flattened pieces of remaining dough on top. (Take a dollop and smoosh flat between hands.) Bake at 350 degrees, 25-30 mins., until golden brown.

Glaze:
.5 c. pwdr. sugar
1.5 t. vanilla
.5 t. almond extract

Combine, add just enough water to make smooth, whisk well, drizzle over top. Allow to cool well before serving. Buon appetito!

Elementary, My Dear


I know it is hard to see, but I had to display an old "doodle" I found. Pops and his Dad had a few minutes and whipped up designs for what appears to be a time-machine or maybe a bread maker? I'm sure either is possible with those two.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Long-Distance Relationships

Peter: (Sigh) I wish you would stop getting organizing books from the library.

(Spoken after he realized our donation run to the thrift store included a hippity-hop ball and a forgotten front-loader.)

Speed-Clean

I'm always looking for a good organizational/cleaning tip. I'm told Suze Orman cooked this one up:

*Arm oneself with a large garbage bag
*Set the timer for 15 minutes
*Dash about the house filling bag with 25 things that you will donate/toss immediately
*Beat the clock!

Love this one! It took all the guesswork away from the "should I or shouldn't I" conversation I often have with myself. I was determined to beat the clock and didn't have time rationalize why I should keep the stuffed frog or the rusted muffin-tin. As soon as I was done, I marched the bag right out to the van trunk to be shuttled off to the thrift store.

Next, I'm going to try this method but seek out pure trash. I couldn't believe how much I ran into while hunting for give-a-ways!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Man Hands


Peter wishes to go to Lego Land someday. Some days I think we already live there.

Stray yellow heads with curious stares greet me under sofas. Rogue gears and wheels hide out in pockets and drawers. Every now and then, aggressive eight-knobbed blocks accost socked feet in the hallways. Eventually they manage, perhaps by some legonic force-field, to be pulled back to the mother bin and used for some noble purpose.

Peter's brain is like his Pops'. Always creating, always wondering. I love Pops. I love Peter. I think I like living in Lego Land.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Easy Roast Chicken

Roast Chicken is an easy favorite and looks so impressive! Plus, leftovers are great for soup and stock.
  • 1 5-6 lb. roasting chicken
  • salt & pepper

  • Let chicken (& some butter) rest at room temperature for 15-30 minutes. Rinse chicken, pat dry. Salt and pepper inner cavity.

  • 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • fresh herbs (if you have them)

  • Quarter lemon lengthwise and add to cavity with garlic and herbs.

  • 2 onions, sliced thick
  • butter

  • Slice onions and place in pan or on rack. Set chicken on onions. Tie chicken legs together with twine and tuck wings under. Rub chicken with butter and salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 1.5 hours (about 180 degrees when measured in breast--don't touch the bone!). Rest chicken for 10-15 mins.

  • 1 cup homemade or purchased chicken stock (for gravy)

  • After pouring off juices and skimming fat (use fat separator if you have one), pour back into pan, with onions and chicken stock, and heat med-high for 1 minute, stirring with wooden spoon. Strain and add a bit of butter for yummy gravy. (This step is optional!)

Tips:
*A free-range chicken is worth the extra money. I've found I only have to spend two to three dollars more.

*If they are a good price, buy an extra to freeze. Just take out 2 days ahead of cooking to defrost in fridge.

*Toss hardy veggies (potatoes, carrots ... just nothing cruciferous) in olive oil, salt, and pepper to cook alongside the chicken.

*Tuck ingredients under skin (lemon slices, herbs, butter, etc.)

*When dealing with leftovers and running low on time, shred the chicken and bag up the carcass (for stock) to toss in the freezer for a later date.

*Drop temperature if you need to roast longer than the 1.5 hours (like going to church!).

Monday, January 12, 2009

Laundry Basket


Perfect for stray buttons or lego men that come out in the wash.

Always nice to have cute receptacle for things you want to deal with later. Always nice to thrift it for two dollars!

Permanent Confusion

The permanent-press cycle is usually best for synthetic fibers and for wrinkle-resistant cottons while using regular (vigorous) agitation for a shorter period of time. This reduces wear and tear and pilling. It also provides a cool-down rinse, a cold final rinse, and a slower spin speed.

--Summary from Home Comforts, Cheryl Mendelson

I've always wondered what "permanent press" actually means. Now I know. Sort of. Actually, I might just keep setting it to "regular."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Jane


Little bit spicy. Little bit sweet. Lots a bit delicious.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Peppermint Purgatory

I did not plan these posts. Immediately after sharing of my peppermint nirvana (see post below), I set upstairs to brush my teeth. This is what I found:


which was attached to this:


Apparently, Pops did not appreciate the tots making off with our toothpaste all the time. Pops is an engineer. Pops does stuff like this.

(And yes, it is peppermint.)

Peppermint Heaven


I thought I detested vacuuming. That is, until I tried a few drops of peppermint essential oil in the vacuum bag. Any scent would be lovely, but I find the crisp, slightly sweet smell of peppermint to be slightly intoxicating. (What mom couldn't use that in the middle of the day?)

Since I was freshening the floors, I tossed a few more drops into the spray solution I use for the hardwoods. Mmmm...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Midday Enchantment

Yesterday:

and

Lovely.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hearth and Home

"Although homes in 1955 were startlingly different from those of 1915, they would turn out to be remarkably similar to homes in 1995 ... By the 1950s most homes had long had electricity, modern plumbing, and heating, and the average home had a vacuum cleaner, a modern refrigerator, and an automatic washing machine and dryer. Automatic dishwashers were familiar to everyone, although not many people had one. Synthetic fibers, prepared soaps and detergents, and polishes were not new. Sewing and needlework of all sorts were already fixed in their new status as enjoyable leisure-time crafts, instead of the urgent necessities they had once been ...

... so many people
(now) imagine housekeeping to be boring, frustrating, repetitive, unintelligent drudgery. I cannot agree ... I am convinced that such attitudes toward housekeeping are needlessly self-defeating. You can be male and domestic. You can have a career and be domestic. You can enjoy keeping house. No one is too superior or intelligent to care for hearth and home."

--Home Comforts, Cheryl Mendelson

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sweet Little Smock


Embarking on a fun little enterprise ... sewing for my shop. I've been loving ebay for all the vintage patterns I can find. This is an adorable 1950's smock pattern with 3 giant front pockets. I used thrifted yardage and my Grandma's vintage cherry red buttons, too.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Plan It, Cook It, Eat It

I find cooking for the week much less of chore if I have a plan. For me, this means sketching out (I don't plan out every carrot stick or apple slice!) individual meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including any of the ingredients to be added to my grocery list. I can plan crockpot meals for evenings busy with soccer practice, or a nicer menu if we are having company. Meals are always subject to change, but I find it reassuring that something is ready to slap together when mealtime approaches. One caveat ... weekends tend to be a free-for-all.

This week:

M: Eggs & Toast, Indoor 'Picnic' (crackers, veggies, & leftovers as finger-foods), Sweet & Sour Pork w/ Rice & Veggies

Tu: Raisin & Orange Sweet Rolls, Leftover Soup, Taco Salad

W: Oatmeal w/ Applesauce, Quesadillas, Mustard Chicken w/ Wilted Spinach & Wild Rice

Th:
Yogurt & Granola, Turkey Dogs, Tuna & Caper Pasta w/ Green Salad

F: Fruit Smoothies, Noodle Soup, Baked Potato Bar w/ Broccoli


Actually, the planning is really the easy part. The challenge? Grocery shopping with 3 tots in tow.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Curried Chicken with Apples

Salt
Paprika
2.5-3 lb. fryer, or chicken breasts work fine
Butter

Salt and paprika chicken and place in buttered baking dish.

1 apple, chopped fine
1 onion, chopped fine

Saute apple and onion in a little more butter or olive oil.

3 t. curry powder
1 can cr. mushroom soup (organic is extra tasty)
1 c. cream (milk works fine, too)

Add curry, soup, and cream/milk. Pour over chicken and bake at 350 for 1.5 hours.

*Very good with brown jasmine rice as a side and a green salad.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

What They Say

Jane: I can't eat anymore, my tummy hurts.
Lucette: She's just saying that so she doesn't have to finish her quesadilla.
Mom: How do you know these things, Lucette? Have you tried that excuse before?
Lucette: Oh, yes. I've also shoved things under the couch so I didn't have to put them away.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Miracles in a Box

My new find: Washing Soda. Having been forgotten and relegated to obscure shelving units in grocery stores, this inexpensive white powder was once a staple in the cleaning arsenal of generations past.

Washing Soda (not to be confused with baking soda) is a natural sodium carbonate and can muscle around dirty laundry, clogged drains, tarnished silver, and even mossy outdoor patios! Who knew. No nasty fumes or kooky chemicals, just wear gloves (it is caustic) and keep away from the tots.

Today's use:

Cleaning stainless steel sinks
•Wet down sink
•Sprinkle washing soda on base and sides of sink
•Scrub with scrubber, adding a bit more water if need be
•Wait 20 mins.
•Rinse well

Removing Tea/Coffee Stains from mugs and cups
•Mix 1 T. w/ 1 c. hot water
•Pour into cup
•Wait 10-15 mins.
•Rinse well and wipe with dry cloth

Fantastic!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Favorite Sour Cream Bran Muffins

1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. br. sugar
1 egg
1 c. sour cream
1/4 c. molasses

Cream butter and sugar 'til fluffy & beat in egg, sr. cream, & molasses.

1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 c. flour (w.wheat if you have it or 1/2 w.w. 1/2 unbleached white)
1 c. bran (or Miller's bran)
1/2-1 c. raisins

Add in dry ingredients while mixing. Stir in raisins. Will be a tad lumpy.

400 degrees, 15-20 minutes in muffin cups. Will be spongy to the touch when done.

*I like to make a double batch to freeze for an easy breakfast. Pop in the toaster oven and ready some fruit, applesauce or even an egg. Smartly done!

Beginnings

Not wanting to add one more obligation to my day, I've been dubious about The Blog. It did, however, occur to me that I am forever feeling remorseful over my non-existent journals. I've heard of the mothers who chronicle the years so their past-day fledglings have record of life in the nest --I've just never been one of them. Perhaps I'll start today.