30 May 2010

Immeasurable Joy

He's here. The darling, beautiful boy has arrived home to be with his forever family. Clustered together at the airport, we were all a bundle of excitement and anticipation as we waited. And then ... to see them. I could barely take this photo, my eyes were so clouded with tears of joy. My heart is full for our dear friends. God is good.

"Stand up and praise the Lord your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting.
Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise."
Nehemiah 9:5

28 May 2010

Our Furry Little Friends

The bunnies are growing by literal leaps and bounds. They nibble happily on anything we give them and hippety-hop with content. We can see them from our living room window and we'll just stand there and watch our own little zoo-exhibit with pride. They sniff and meander, and at times, they will get startled and zip about in such a fashion that we can't help but giggle ourselves silly.

The children are learning about how to best care for them and it seems like we are constantly on the internet trying to figure out what would be safe for them to have as a snack. They love our weeds to the point that I almost don't mind pulling them now. Who would have ever thought I'd look at a healthy weed and think, "Oh, good! Won't the bunnies be thrilled!"

Turns out, they also like cherry tree leaves. Our neighbor has a wily cherry tree that he is happy to let us prune and snip upon. Yesterday, Pops clipped a rather large branch to toss in, as they can gobble like Egyptian locust. As he approached their coop, they came scampering up to the door in eager anticipation. Instead, however, of walking in and placing the branch down, Pops gave it a good toss over the fence. Well, mercy! Apparently, the bunnies scattered in fright and were none too pleased about Pops' method. Butter came out from hiding, gave Pops a good stare down and gave his back leg a defiant thump, thump upon the ground. Pops was duly chastened.

Now, ideally, I like to function as Miss Prepared. But frankly, that can be a lot of work. In regards to these bunnies, we've been flying by the seat of our pants and loving every bit of it.

We researched some basics about shelter and food, but we've mostly just dove into the experience and are learning as we go. Maybe it's like having kids ... you know the general idea of the responsibility but if you knew all the ins and outs ... you might be too scared to ever start!

I've never felt like a natural around animals, but now I'm pulling on my wellies to tromp out into the coop just to give my furry friends a visit. Because, sigh, aren't they just the sweetest things ever?

Pride in Completion

Today was the last day of school. True, next week they have their final week of outdoor school (art, music, science, games ... kid heaven!), but this was the official final day of "class."

A trip to the garden store yielded simple, affordable, but pretty teacher-appreciation gifts. Because truly, they are so, so appreciated by this family. Perennials for the classroom teachers, and punchy orange zinnias for all the other devoted souls (Can't forget the secretaries ... those ladies make the world go 'round!).

It was a year of accomplishment for Lucette. The strides she made in this 1st grade year made us all proud. Proud from the tips of her toes up to her wiggly front teeth.

And what bragging rights Peter claimed this year. His effort, drive, and downright gumption took him through a rigorous year full of transitions. He's growing up. Fourth grade next year? My, my.

We've come a long ways from the 1st day. The haircuts are a bit scraggy, the school-clothes a tad small and stained. All evidence of growth and hard work. Well done, kids. Well done.

25 May 2010

A Wedding Shower

This past weekend afforded us a delightful time to celebrate the impending wedding of my brother and his soon-to-be-bride with a lovely little shower.

Well-loved family and dear, dear friends gathered to share in this bit of life together. How wonderful for the two families to meet and laugh together before the wedding day.

While the event was to be held in our home, my mother was a wonderful partner in planning and hosting. We decided simple, but well-done would be our goal. Naturally, we focused on the food to set the tone ... doesn't tasty food just make you feel good?

On the menu:
• Cakes - Carrot, Fruit Chantilly, Chocolate Torte
• Cheese Platter w/ Crackers
• Chilled Grapes
• Marcona Almonds
• Chocolate Truffles
• Baguette Tea Sandwiches
• Punch

The cakes, we decided, we'd leave to the professionals. While we don't mind time in the kitchen, we didn't want to be too exhausted or busy to enjoy our guests. This was my first time ordering a cake, and it was a lovely treat. Edible artwork!

The open-faced sandwiches were a smash-hit and oh, so easy. Slice baguettes thinly. Spread goat cheese and top with smoked salmon and capers and then an herbed chevre with english cucumber slices and a sprinkle of dill. I think I could eat this all day long.

For the punch, out came Grandma's punch bowl and cups. (These are at the thrift stores all the time for a very good price!) I purchased some peach and white cranberry juice and froze some in a bundt pan with some fresh mint-sprigs the night before. Right before the guests come, pop out of pan into the bowl. Add more juice and ginger-ale. Voila!

We used a number of stunning orchids as decorations and then offered them up as give-a-ways for some lucky ladies. So glad we did this! And my sweet mother found some beautifully milled soaps and wrapped them up like little petit-fours to give as parting gifts. They smelled divine and were so gorgeous, you almost wanted to take a nibble.

What a gift it was to us to prepare the day for Allie. She has become a fast treasure to our family. She has an ease and grace that make her a gal you just like to be around. No wonder my brother scooped her up as soon as he could.

And this morning I woke up to find the wheelbarrow of flowers that Jane picked special for the party ... and I smiled. Ah, the fancies of us girls. We do like flowers and parties. So glad we had the occasion to indulge in both.

22 May 2010

Pleasure in Surprising Ways

I heard a thunk awhile back. I was in our bedroom and when I looked up, I saw that a picture was missing from the wall.

When my grandmother passed away last year, I was fortunate enough to receive some lovely early 60's prints of roses that she used to hang in her bedroom (above her tufted pink velvet headboard!). Everything about them remind me of my grandmother. The style, the pink, the roses. Grandma.

Needless to say, I was most concerned to look up and find a bracket upon the wall with no picture attached.

I pulled the dresser away from the wall to rescue the print. Grasping the frame, I pulled it to safety and flipped it over to examine the bracket situation.

This is what I found:

I laughed aloud to see the multiple holes left behind by the lazy and unreliable bracket. They had made by my grandmother when the picture had fallen off the wall for her!

I can just picture her chastising the situation in her characteristic Italian way and forcing that bracket into a new hold ... again. I still smile imagining it.

It's quite apparent I inherited a durable piece of art, so I too, will just shove the bracket into a new position on the back of the frame every time it topples from it's post. And truly, I'll do so with pleasure as I run my fingers over the same spot my grandmother's once did.

21 May 2010

My Little is a Little Bigger

Our little lovey finished preschool for the year. Such a positive experience for all of us. Neither of the other children did a formal preschool, so I was hopeful but a bit uncertain about sending my sweet imp.

But, I needn't have troubled. Just a couple of hours twice a week, full of crafts, song, snacks and friendships. Not to mention the dear, dear teachers who shared about Jesus' love for them and modeled it themselves.

She was a proud little bug, that closing ceremony night. And we were proud too.

19 May 2010

A New Use for an Old Thing

She padded past me with these on her feet. "What happened?" I asked. Without breaking her stride she responded, "They got wounded in the war."

Oh. Of course. The war. The war? Apparently it was a good thing I never got around to throwing out that box of old, dried-up baby wipes. War-wounds call for quick thinking and creative action. After all, necessity is the mother of invention.

18 May 2010

Thrift Store Chic

I've been loving the big, garish, costume-jewelery that seems en vogue, once again. Imagine my delight when I stumbled upon this pop-bead reminiscent necklace (and matching bracelet!) at the thrift store a couple of weeks ago.

I've been noticing that a remarkable bauble or two seem to make all the difference. Toss one on and the basic t-shirt and jeans have been elevated to a chic level that a mom can actually aspire to.

Any other fashion tricks out there, ladies? What is cheap, simple, and makes you feel good? What are you always on the hunt for because you know it's a "no fail" number? Us Mamas want to know.

Upon My Return

We have a new swing. After months of battling rogue blackberry bushes, our green space is now a magical playland. Albeit an area rife with injurious possibilities ... but magical nonetheless.

I was gone this past Friday and Saturday at a women's church event. The family didn't really miss me. They stayed up late, ate leftover bits and carrot sticks, turned the bathrooms inexplicably filthy, and took a trip to the Home Depot. Some rope, pulleys, clamps, and a little outdoor-savvy later ... a suspended tree swing came into existence.

It's not coincidental that this effort took place while I was away. The swing is only marginally safe ... in my opinion. But Pops, with a one-shoulder shrug, deflected my concerns. Really, Mom. Is it that big of a deal that you can swing into large shrubbery or potentially fall off into a mondo barricade of branches and bramble that border a steep, swampy hill? Relax, Mom, relax!

Not only was the swing erected, but Peter broke ground on his new pit. With the arrival of the bunnies, his pit digging zone was displaced. He has been a bit of an aimless wanderer lately, mourning his loss of excavation abilities. Well sorrow no more, my son! Dig, dig, dig.

Of course, I'm sure our neighbors must think we are digging graves for any souls that may be lost to the swing. But then ... I think they've already realized we're too odd to figure, and probably don't attempt to bother.

So swing on, dig deep, my family. I have a feeling that memories are being made of a fond and dear childhood.

I'm so glad I left for the weekend. So much can be found ... and realized ... upon return.

13 May 2010

The Ringing of Opportunity

It was a very brief phone call after dinner. I heard the laughter and near-hyperventilation of the children, but I chose to ignore it. After all, it was just a very brief phone call.

Apparently, it was still enough time for a four year-old to repurpose her chocolate ice-cream cone, proceed to paint her face with it, then growl and claw about claiming she was going to "teach some bears a lesson."

12 May 2010

To Rejoice in His Blessing

I've been floating through the day today on the good news of dear, dear friends. After an agonizing wait full of delay, after delay ... they have been approved for travel to Ethiopia to go and bring their son home.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.
Ephesians 1:3-6

11 May 2010

Dinner Table Crescendo

• Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp •

This is a very "tossed together" recipe. The measurements are not precise, so increase or decrease as you see fit. This really is a recipe that you can make work depending on how much fruit you have on hand.

For Filling, Combine:
Rhubarb, sliced (about 4-8 stalks)
Strawberries, sliced (about 1-2 pints)
*other fruit combinations should be fine, if you wish!
• 1 c. sugar

After soaking fruit in the sugar for a bit, add:
• 2-3 T cornstarch
• 2 t. lemon juice
• 1 t. vanilla

Pour into baking dish (pie pan for smaller amount, up to 9 x 13" if larger quantities.)

For Topping, Combine:
• 1 c. oats
• .5 c. butter (softened)
• 1 c. brown sugar
• 1 c. flour
• 1 t. cinnamon

Mix well (adding a smidge water if difficulty coming together) 'til large crumbs form. Sprinkle over filling and bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes or 'til filling is bubbling and topping is golden brown.

**This makes a lot of topping ... but not really a problem, if you ask me.
**If you'd like, melt the butter and use half the topping to press into bottom of pan and top with remaining mix.

In Which We are Together Again

So good to have Pops home again. After being gone for a memorial service in California, we are so glad to be all together. In honor of Lucette's birthday and Pops' return, we had a particularly yummy (yet not-too-time-consuming!) dinner. It was a little slice of heaven hearing them all squeal and wrestle in the backyard while putting the meal together.

Wrestling and good food? That's a party in our house.

Glad-To-Be-Together Menu:
• Broiled Flank Steak (Better on the bbq but ... outta' grill gas)
• Broiled Zucchini & Squash
• Baked Beans (from a can but w/ molasses dumped in)
• Crescent Rolls (Whoops, forgot to serve them! Have you ever done that?)
• Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

09 May 2010

A Given Gift

A beautiful day to celebrate a beautiful girl. Fresh herb starts from Grammy and slices of sugar-dusted pound cake,

Sunshine and strawberries,

Bunny cuddles, loved ones, and her very own polka-dotted sewing box,

A creamy blue sewing machine, just her size.

Her smile, my heart.

08 May 2010

Lucette's 7 Year Reflections

Do you feel any older today, Lucette?
Actually ... I do. And taller too. It happens each year right before my birthday ... I feel it in my knees.
Did you have a nice birthday, my dear?
Oh, yes. It was the best ever.
What made it special?
I have my own bunnies and my own sewing machine!
I'm so happy that you are happy, Lucette.
(Happy sigh.) You have to wait 7 years for a birthday like this.

07 May 2010

Good Little Things

I watched a French foreign film recently and the chic main character favored striped blue and white Breton tees. Love them. In fact, I might wear them everyday 'til I'm 70. Well, maybe not, but I do think they are just about t-shirt perfection.

After getting dressed this morning, I was looking through some necklaces to compliment the shirt and came upon this little ladybug. Pops gave it to me the day Lucette was born, 7 years ago tomorrow. He thought it would be a sweet thing for a baby to look at while cuddled up with mama.

Somehow, the gift means more to me now than when I first received it. Funny how good things are like that.

Acquiring a Fondness

Recently I posted about my distaste for ironing. Blah. However, I was fascinated by the comments. Such a polarizing chore! It seems you gals either love or hate it. Now, the cringe crowd ... I get it. But some of you relish this task as almost an art-form. Well, knock me over with a feather!

Always one for a chore gimmick, I was particularly curious by Kelly's comment about how she loves to use spray starch and how crisp and lovely the garments turn right before her eyes.

Figuring housewives have been starching for centuries, mustn't there be a homemade version I could concoct and even make sweet smelling? Yes, of course!

After a little research, here's what I ended up with: Mix 1/4 c. cold water with 1 T. cornstarch. Mix well. Add about 3 cups of very hot water, stirring to combine. Add a couple of drops of lavender essential oil, if you'd like (It'll make the house smell good, too). All done! Wait to cool, place in spritzer and shake well before each use.

Kelly, you're right! It is kind of fun to hear that crackle pop of the steamy iron and watch the wrinkles vanish. Now, those of you who use the store bought starch ... if you try the homemade version, will you let me know if you think it competes? What other tips do you all have for me? I think I just might be developing a new fondness.

06 May 2010

An Early Birthday Surprise

They are here. Can you hardly stand how cute they are? Due to logistical circumstances, Lucette's birthday surprise comes early and we are all giddy with glee.

Please meet our new friends: Butter, Harvey, and Nibbles.

Their outdoor pen is not quite completed, but I think we are glad for the excuse to keep them indoors with us for a bit.

More pictures to come. Must go pet bunnies ...