31 March 2011

Fighting the Good Fight

 Other than the fact I've been coughing and hacking and sounding much like a chain-smoking, gravely-voiced secretary from the 60's named Pearl ... I'm doing much better. In fact, we are all doing much better. We are, once again, walking in an upright fashion, complaining about too-spicy toothpaste, and telling jokes about monkeys with indigestion problems. Totally back to normal.

And with 'normal' comes appetite! Having lost poundage during my unplanned fever/starvation diet of last week, my body is insisting that we fight back and fight back hard. We certainly can't risk losing the mom-bum we've worked so hard for, now can we? It's time for battle! It's time to take back those hard-earned love handles and stand up for all that is good and wonderful in this world! It's time to brandish our baked goods and and gird ourselves with butter. Yes, yes. Baked goods, my dears. Baked goods with excessive amounts of sugar and butter. This is a cause I can stand up for.

Pack-the-Pounds-Back-On Orange Cookies

2 c. sugar
1 c. butter

Beat in:
2 eggs
1 c. sour cream
1 t. vanilla

Mix in:
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
5 c. unbleached flour

2/3 c. orange juice
orange zest (half of a large orange)

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Once cooled on rack, frost!

Might-As-Well-Frost-Your-Bum Orange Frosting

 Whip together:
6 T melted butter
1.5 t. vanilla
3 T orange juice (more if needed)
orange zest (other half of that orange)
2. 5 c. powdered sugar (more or less as needed for consistency)

**You could top with chocolate sprinkles if you don't like silky-orange frosting from heaven, or ... you could frost and then top with chocolate sprinkles. Yes. that sounds much more reasonable.

30 March 2011

Knockin' Out Some Drumsticks

Here's an easy spin off of a Nigella recipe. Toss a dozen or so chicken legs into a freezer bag (or whatever chicken pieces you prefer, really). Add 2 c. buttermilk, oil (a few good glugs will do), garlic, cumin, salt (at least 2 teaspoons) and pepper and ... a tablespoon or two of maple syrup. Let marinate in fridge overnight or on counter for up to an hour or so.

Crank up the oven to 425 (convection roast, if you have it) and place chicken on foil or parchment lined cookie sheet (shake off extra marinade before placing on sheet!). Bake for 30-40 minutes, 'til outside is very crisp. And if you're in a kicky mood, baste chicken with a smidge more maple syrup and a grind or two of sea salt and pop back into oven for 5 more minutes.

Once summertime comes, I imagine this dish to be even better when cooked on the grill ... or served cold for a picnic! Ahh, sunshine ... I dream of you!

29 March 2011

28 March 2011

Art on the Shelf

 Have you seen these gorgeously bound reprints by Penguin Publishers? So many classics exquisitely done. Oh, there is Woman in White, Little Women, Treasure Island ... the list just goes on. They've been producing them for a little while now and I just keep forgetting to hint during appropriate gifting seasons.

So today, armed with a rare 40% off coupon and a store gift card (my spending hiatus, still in effect) I happily toted home an edition of Pride and Prejudice for our own shelves. Because, really. Books read even better when lovely, don't you agree?

And these particular books? Mercy, I'm so smitten. I've already begun mentally ticking off holidays and b-days as reasons to start purchasing them for the children so we can create a collection. For I've long been a believer that a book, thoughtfully inscribed, is a gift that will endure the seasons. Toys come and go, but isn't there always more room on the shelf for a lovely book?

**Just discovered a smattering of children's titles due out in the fall by Puffin Publishers!

26 March 2011

Love and Other Things

Jane and I have returned from our visit to Oklahoma. Grand state of open plains, friendly smiles, and culinary establishments called ... The Cracker Barrel (He-llo, fried okra, turnip greens, and southern sweet potato casserole like I've never had it!).

Celebrating Granny Doris' 90th was rich, rich gift and I am still processing the depth of it all. I'll need to sift through some photos and memories before I can begin to articulate my gratitude.

And now, the business of getting healthy. Jane and I returned late Monday and brought home souvenirs in the form of a flu of herculean proportions. Unfortunately, Lucette managed to procure a version for herself while we were gone and is on her own day 7 of fever and general rattiness. Needless to say, we are just now beginning to crawl from our beds, eat something other than saltines, and walk about with straight spines. However, I have no doubt (and I'm serious) that Granny could still beat us in a sack race. And if she were here to nurse us, I know she would fluff our pillows, stroke our brows, and ask us earnestly ... "Oh sweet dearies, how would you like me to tell you a joke with no point at all?" And we would all like it very much.

Glad to have been gone. Glad to be home. Glad for the gift of health and family.

15 March 2011

Adventuring, Me and the Littlest

Miss Jane and I are setting off tomorrow for a little adventure. Granny Doris is turning 90 and we get to go celebrate with her. Jane and I are most excited to travel together and thrilled to see the forecast for Oklahoma is mid-70's to mid-80's. Not only do we get to love on dear family, but we get to do it in some sun-shiny rays. Splendid.

In preparation, we've watched the classic musical, Oklahoma (I fear, however, Jane may now be disappointed when we don't ride around in horse-drawn surreys with "the fringe on top" ...), loaded up on granola bars, nuts, chocolate, and good reading material, and are now completing our packing. My goal is for us to only bring carry-ons so I'm planning out the outfits for each day we are gone and ruthlessly demanding double duty by most everything we are bringing. Never before have I packed this little, but been so sure that I would have what I need. Why haven't I always done this?

Oooo, I do love to travel. Back next week!

14 March 2011

Intoxicating Daphne Nestled Right In

What to do when your daughter picks lovely blooms without any stem? Find a cute dish, fill with pebbles and water, and nestle those blooms right in.

11 March 2011

A Big 'Ol Mess

Currently, this is how my whole house feels. Haphazard, disorganized, and in a serious need of a scrub. (Lest you think yesterday's post is indicative of the state of my entire house.) The real problem, however, lies in my complete lack of motivation to do anything about it.

Can anyone else relate?

10 March 2011

Gallery Wall by the Laundry Room

Now never-mind that this photo is truly shabby, due to the complete lack of natural light, but I'm awfully pleased with the overall effect. Several months ago I put up a gallery wall in our downstairs hallway. I decided it was time to finally display some of the photos I've taken, as I had not yet framed a one!
Previously, I had a few older black and white images up (in black and silver frames) and I decided it was time to pepper it with new, color prints and larger frames. For an easy freshen-up, I snagged some white and natural wood frames from Ikea to modernize and unify. (Ikea frames come with the mats and are cheap, cheap, cheap!)

Now every time I walk down the hall to the laundry room I find myself glancing at these photos and smiling. Even guests seem drawn and we'll often find ourselves standing in the tiny hallway reminiscing over our families and memories and treasured stories. Pictures are good like that, aren't they?

And I had to snap a close-up of this photo of Pops and his dad at the sand dunes. Isn't it marvelous? One of my true favorites.

What is one of your favorite photos? Any tricks for display?

A Fresh Start

I feel like today is a day of new beginnings. A fresh baby to visit and fawn over (oh, sweet deliciousness!) and the start of the Lenten season.

Yesterday we celebrated a simple Shrove Tuesday with our traditional pancake dinner and thought about what kind of "yeast" (as scripture often uses as a metaphor to sin) we have in our lives that we might "sweep out" just as the Israelites did, quite literally, during their preparation for Passover. Choosing something to fast from during Lent provides a similar opportunity that encourages me to prepare for Easter, the day of the resurrection of our Passover lamb, Christ Jesus.

Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast--as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. I Corinthians 5:7

I have decided to go on a spending fast for the next 40 days. I feel like God has been calling me to this for a while and this is a good opportunity to follow through. While I don't think I'm necessarily a spend-thrift, I can definitely work on reducing and deferring. My prayer is that I'll use that previously directed time, money, thought, and energy towards purposely seeking Him and being a good steward of all the myriad blessings He's placed in my life.

Speaking of blessings ... how much greater can there be than a new babe. New life, a fresh start full of hope. Exactly what He offers each one of us.

09 March 2011

Well, That's Pretty Much Correct

Dinnertime conversation:

Pops: I was talking to our neighbors and found out that Mrs. R is going to have twins!
- (general excitement commences) -
Mama: Jane, Mrs. R is having twins! Do you know what twins means?
 Jane: Yup! It means she's going to lay two babies at once!

08 March 2011

A Pile of Pretty Bangles

When I had wee ones about, I viewed jewelry as just one more thing that could be yanked, broken, or become horrifyingly unsanitary. Dangly earrings? Out for obvious reasons. Long delicate necklace? Choking hazard. Bracelets while changing diapers? The gross potential here is off the charts.

So it is only recently that I've begun to re-discover such joys. Lately, I'm loving me some clinky-clattery bangles. For some reason they feel slightly luxurious to me. Especially when wearing more than one at a time! Maybe because they make me feel like a lady and we all know that sensation can be easily lost during active mom-ing.

Above you see my recent bangle faves. Excepting the hobnail bracelet (an excellent ebay score) they are all from the thrift store and cost an average of two dollars. Don't be afraid to rummage those dirty little wicker baskets on the shop counter full of writhing piles of odd jewelry pieces. You'll almost always find something ... and you can wash your hands later. In fact, if thrift-store shopping oooks you out a bit, jewelry and kitchen items are a great place to start ... easily scrubbed and sterilized.

What are you loving lately?

04 March 2011

Plenty for the Freezer and Afternoon Playdates

My mother-in-law kindly brought over a large bunch of bananas the other day. Seems they ended up with over 3 dozen bananas when each member of their household managed to purchase some on the same day. That's a lot of bananas.

As the happy recipient of banana-overflow, banana bread was on the mind. I always like to make big batches when it comes to baked goods. They typically freeze well and it's nice to have something tasty on hand for surprise guests or late evening munchies.

Below is a favorite recipe that has been coddled and tinkered with and produces some mighty fine bread. Beware, however ... it makes a lot! You could easily halve this recipe. (And if you end up with just a smidge too much batter, use a mini-loaf pan (see above photo) and serve the cute loaf to little girls having a Friday afternoon playdate.

• Sweet Nest Banana Bread •

Blend together:
4 beaten eggs
2/3 c. buttermilk
1 c. canola oil
2-3 mashed ripe bananas

Mix in:
2 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2.5 c. unbleached white flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. pumpkin pie spice (or nutmeg and cinnamon)
1 t. vanilla

Pour into 3 loaf pans or 2 large loaf pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 80 minutes or 'til done. When cool, slice and place in freezer. Excellent toasted for breakfast with cream cheese!

01 March 2011

In the Business of Recuperation

Off for a bit, gang. Struggling with getting healthy over here and time at the keyboard is just not happening this week.

Back soon ...