December 14, 2011

                                         Christmas A La Carte...


Christmas is only eleven days away and the holiday spirit is rising with its quick approach.

This holiday season I have been enjoying a wide variety of Christmas music: Carols, jazz, crooners, blues, rock, techno, hip-hop, gospel, etc. The list goes on but as with most music, a staple artist this year has been Michael Buble; in particular his album, Christmas. 


I love it! He compiled our favorite songs from: Ave Maria (which surprised me) to, Cold December Night (I have a hard time keeping my head from bobbing with the bells.) Aka, traditional and non-traditional. As always, he hits every song spot on -- including Santa Baby (Don't be alarmed, I know this song is traditionally sung by a girl but I think you'll enjoy his rendition). Mr. Buble's expertise in picking all our favorite bits of our favorite versions of a song and combining them into one, is brilliant. His ability to take other's songs and still have his own unmistakable style stamped on them, is positively genius -- plus, it's wonderful on the ears. ;)

Anywho, enough gushing. Here,http://open.spotify.com/album/3CKVXhODttZebJAzjUs2un is a link to his album and the great part about it is, you get to choose the songs you want listen to -- a blessing from the internet...or rather, a gift from God. :)

I hope you enjoy this album while you're racing about trying to get all the last little details taken care of before the big day! Happy (early) Christmas!

December 13, 2011

Our Jesse Tree



Phew, it was a long weekend! Someone, we won't name names, is cutting his two top teeth at the same time. Oh boy!

But here is what I actually want to tell you about -- our Christmas tree! Since we're heading over to Washington for Christmas (only one week till we're there!), we didn't want to get a huge Christmas tree. Instead we got this potted one from Fred Meyer. And we're decorating it a little differently from your average Christmas tree. This is our "Jesse" tree. We made all the ornaments ourselves (can you tell? haha), and each one represents part of the story of the world (from the Bible :)) leading up to Jesus. We got some of our ideas for ornaments from this link, although we changed a few because we're not Roman Catholic. :) We also added some of our own (still from the Bible, of course!), because we're using it kind of like an advent calendar, adding one ornament a day. We needed to make sure there were enough ornaments for all of Advent! (And this also explains why it looks kind of skimpy still -- not all of the ornaments are on yet)

This is the first year we've done this and so far I really like it! I think it will be fun, too, as we have kids that are old enough to help make the ornaments every year (we just used salt dough -- super cheap, so we don't mind throwing it away!). It's been neat hearing a new part of the story every night, as we read the section from the Bible that tells about our ornament.

Here is our list of ornaments:

Day 1: A star, for creation.
Day 2: Adam and Eve (two ornaments for that day!)
Day 3: A tree with a snake on it, for the Fall.
Day 4: A rainbow, for Noah.
Day 5: A torch, for Abraham (when the torch went between the pieces of the animals)
Day 6: An altar, for Isaac.
Day 7: A ladder, for Jacob.
Day 8: A stripey long-sleeved coat, for Joseph.
Day 9: A baby in a basket, for Moses.
Day 10: A bundle of red yarn, for Rahab.
Day 11: A jaw-bone, for Sampson.
Day 12: A jar (of anointing oil :)) for Samuel.
Day 13: A shepherd's staff, for Jesse.
Day 14: A crown, for David.
Day 15: The temple, for Solomon.
Day 16. A chariot, for Elijah.
Day 17: A brick, for Nehemiah & the rebuilding of the temple.
Day 18: A saw, for Joseph.
Day 19: Hm...we're supposed to have something here for Mary, but we forgot to make her ornament! Oops. We'll figure something out.
Day 20. A bee, for John the Baptist (since he ate honey :))
The next ones are all about Jesus
Day 21: An open scroll, because Jesus is the Word of God.
Day 22: The burning bush, because Jesus is I am that I am.
Day 23: A rose, because Jesus is the flower of Jesse.
Day 24: A key, because Jesus is the key of David.
Day 25: The sun, because Jesus is the Radiant Dawn.
Day 26: A scepter, because Jesus is the King of the World.
Day 27: A baby, because Jesus is Emmanuel, "God with Us"
Day 28: A candle, because Jesus is the Light of the World.


Ryan has a very good memory for scripture passages, so he can turn straight to the places in the Bible that talk about each of our ornaments.


There are 28 instead of 25 because we started our Advent "count-down" on the first Sunday of Advent, November 27th. So I guess we technically needed even one more ornament! Oh well. We're still working the kinks out.


December 10, 2011

    
Saturday (day)Dreaming

It's Saturday again; the day we all like to putz about and do nothing but daydream. I love daydreaming -- it's my favorite hobby. Not only is it my favorite hobby, it is the hobby I am best at. Anywho, one of my more frequent daydreaming topics is traveling. I love to travel; whether by car, plane, or train or foot traveling puts a hum in my voice and a hop in my step -- placet mihi (it makes me happy). For my fellow travelers who'd like to know (and even for those who wouldn't) here, are my five top places I've been daydreaming about recently.

1. New Hampshire (in the Fall, of course): I'd love to drive down an old country road just to see all the beautiful trees.

2. Washington D.C.: I'm a history buff -- D.C. has a natural attraction. Museums, museums, and did I mention museums? Plus, all the gorgeous architecture.

3. England: I have loved England since J.M. Barrie and Shakespeare...and Jane Austen...and Charles Dickens...oh, and C.S. Lewis... Need I say more?

4. South Korea...Aja-aja fighting! ^-^: Aha, just kidding. Jeju (pronounced: tchae-tchoo) is a little island in South Korea that has fields of the most beautiful yellow flowers. There's even a festival in the Spring show-casing them. But really, fields of bright yellow flowers, unless you're allergy prone, there's no downside. :)

5. Everywhere: Ok, honestly, can you minimize your list of, have-yet-to-see-places, down to five? I can't; it's like saying I love one of my children more than the other -- shouldn't be possible, sad when done... (saying I had any children, of course).

My list is almost limitless; I'll admit there are places I could do without seeing, but in general, I'd like to see the world. What about you? Are there any places you've just got an itch to see? Tell me, I'd love to hear?

December 7, 2011

Some Pretty Music

The other day (pre-baby) I watched "The Pianist" and I really liked it although I might not watch it again. It is a very beautiful movie but it is about WWII and so there's a bit of violence and un-loveliness in it (I warned you, if you decide to watch it). Anyway, there's this one scene where the main character says, "There's nothing more beautiful than a woman playing the cello." The woman he's referencing had been playing Cello Suite No. 1 by Bach and it was *really* beautiful. So I went out and listened to a whole *bunch* of cello music and decided that I really like it. :-) Now, I know that Cello Suite No. 1 is *very* popular and probably everyone has heard it before but it is still beautiful and still worth listening to. And Addie likes it, too. :-)

  Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major - The Spotify Link

 Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major - The YouTube Link

And, because I know you want one, a picture of my beautiful baby!

December 5, 2011

That's some tasty bread

Have you heard about the crazy no-knead bread, that takes no work or skill and always turns out perfect? It is amazing stuff. :) I heard about it here, at smitten kitchen. Yum. The original is SO delicious. I take it places when people ask me to  bring bread, and I never get to bring home the leftovers (cause there aren't any!).

But I am a whole foods nerd, so I don't like to leave well enough alone! And I thought to myself, "Hey self, wouldn't it be yummy if this worked for whole wheat bread? and wouldn't it be great if it was a soaked flour recipe with some kind of culture added?" (you'll have to ask me why some time...even Cooks Illustrated agrees that soaked wheat flour makes better bread!) and I replied to myself, "Yep!"

So, beginning with the recipe from smitten kitchen, I came up with this variation which makes all my dreams come true. It doesn't come out as holey as the original...more of a sandwich bread texture. But that is great, because I need a sandwich bread for my sweet husband. :)


Almost No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread

3 cups whole wheat flour (hard white is tastiest!)
1/3 tsp active yeast
1/2 cup buttermilk or yogurt (or even kefir!)
1 cup filtered water
1 1/2 tsp salt
a dash of olive oil

Dump the flour in a big bowl. Put the yeast in, too, and mix it up. Then take a 2 cup or larger measuring cup and measure in your half a cup of buttermilk or yogurt (or kefir, if that's the way you roll :)). Then fill the measuring cup up to the 1 1/2 cup mark with filtered water (you added 1 cup of water, see?). Now toss all of that liquid into the flour mixture, and stir it up till it's all mixed. It should look pretty soggy. Cover it up with a damp towel, and let it set for 12 - 18 hours. (You can do more but it starts to taste VERY yeasty)

Once it's done setting, uncover it and add the salt. I just knead it in the bowl for 2 minutes or so to make sure the salt is worked evenly through. Then I dump it out onto a lightly floured counter and let it rest for 15 minutes. (not sure why, smitten kitchen told me to! :)) Meanwhile I wash the bowl out and oil it with some olive oil. Once the dough is done resting, I replace it in the oiled bowl, cover it back up with the damp towel, and let it sit for 2 hours.

About 1/2 hour before the 2 hours are up, I put my 3 qt dutch oven (with its lid on) into the oven and heat it to 450 degrees F. When the dough is ready, I hustle the dutch oven out, take off the lid, pour in the dough (literally, it's that wet), replace the lid, and pop it back into the oven. Bake it for 30 minutes with the lid on. Then remove the lid of the dutch oven, and bake for 15 more minutes to give it a goldeny crust.

Ta dum! Tip it out of the dutch oven, and let it cool!

A few thoughts:

-- If you use a larger dutch oven, your bread will have a larger circumference and be shorter. It looks very artsy, but is not as good for sandwiches. :)
--If you are a super health food nerd and use whey, you could sub 1/2 cup of water + 2 tbsp whey for the buttermilk.

Hopefully that made sense! I would love to answer questions if anything was confusing. :)




December 3, 2011

It's all her fault...

So we took a little break to greet this sweet young lady, Miss Adelaide Marie. She greeted the world on November 30th, and we've just been in an uproar over her since then. And you can see why! Just look at those sweet cheeks! She's beautiful, like Noble. :)

Of course, I haven't got to see her in person (which is why I have my hands free to type this post, of course :)). But Ryan and Blaze and I are so excited to see her at Christmas! Blaze has two teeth that he is just dying to show her.

Ack, just look at that sweet face again!

November 28, 2011

Christmas Decor!


Me, looking oh-so-fabulous at 39 weeks pregnant and decked out in a tree-skirt cape.
Pardon the crazy hair, it was Saturday....

Now I know that most of y'all have been trying to be well behaved and keep yourself from strewing tinsel and pine branches about in preparation for Christmas but *I* thought that I would be holding a baby by now and decorated for Christmas accordingly! :-) So today I have a brief picture tour of the bits and pieces of Christmas decorating I've done...


 Here we have our "fireplace"! Complete with stockings (although I still want to get one for BabyGirl even though I probably won't be able to put a bunch of stuff in it since she'll be so little...). When I packed up our Christmas stuff in AZ I conveniently left the lights and red stuff wrapped up in the garland so this year it was breeze to unfold and plug in! 

Over on the wall by the bookcase (you can kind of see the bookcase in the left corner of the top picture) I have some 3D snowflakes that I made following this tutorial. (Side note: In step six, I overlapped the points and cut off the extra pointy bits and used those straight edges for taping the pieces down. Also, instead of being able to staple the two sections of three together, step ten, I had to use a glue gun because I couldn't find a stapler skinny enough to hold them together as tightly as I wanted them. And I used card-stock so I didn't need to staple all the arms together, step 11, but I can see how that would be helpful if you were using a thinner paper.)



Over the front door we have an interesting mix of stuff! A red velvet bow tied to some sprigs of holly and some golf-ball jingle-bells. They're cute and they're not on the actual door so they don't jingle every time someone comes in. (A plus, I think. Jingle bells are are cute for about the first 10 rings. :-P)


(Note our hospital bags all packed and ready in the corner there next to Noel's shoes...)
Then, inspired by pinterest I cut out words from... well... if you can't figure that out then I'm not telling. :-P Anyway. It was super easy! (The second time. The first time I tried to be clever and print out letters on construction paper, which isn't made in handy 8.5x11 sheets by the way so I hand-cut them down to size, but after half an hour and getting only 1 1/2 inch tall letters I gave up on straight lines and cut them out free-style!) And the garland over the hutch is another "I was all clever last year and left it all put together" moment.

And here is our tiny living room window all prettied up with snowflake ornaments! (We have two other giant windows but I didn't have enough ornaments or patience to do this with them. :-P )This is one of my favorite bits I think. I just used a piece of red rick-rack tacked up to the corners of the window and grey thread (or whatever string was already attached to the snowflakes) to tie everything onto it.

 We are planning on getting a tree this year so I will put up a picture of that as soon we have it all lit and decorated. :-)

 Are y'all breaking out the Christmas decor yet? Do you have a set date you usually break everything out on? And what about Christmas trees, do you go get a new one every year or do you like the easiness of artificial?

 Merry Christmas to You!
~Noble

November 26, 2011

5 Things I've Loved for Blaze

Obviously, a huge part of my job description these days is "mom"! So for my list this Saturday, I thought I'd tell you five of the things that have been most helpful with Blaze (barring the obvious like diapers, crib, etc).

1. A door-length mirror (got mine on sale for $3!). I have it lengthwise on the floor, propped up against our bookcases. Blaze will sit in front of it and make adorable faces at himself for quite a while. :) I heard that a mirror like this helps babies develop better coordination, too, because they can see what they're doing.

2. A bouncy seat. I have this one. We took the toy bar off because the toys would just hit him in the face and they were an awkward distance for grabbing. Blaze still loves this, although he is SO close to being at the weight limit. Right now he is even sleeping in it a bit, because he has a cold and being upright seems to help him breathe better.

3. This youtube video. When Blaze was newborn, I would play it to help him go to sleep in the wee sma's. And to help keep me relaxed, too, because I tended to get a bit despondent at 3 am with no sleep in sight. Right now, with his cold, I've been playing it again to help him go to sleep.

4. Random household objects (garlic press, basket of measuring cups, anything with an interesting shape and texture). Now that he can grab, lean, and roll, he wants to be into everything! I try to give him lots of things to explore so that he doesn't get bored. The garlic press was especially a hit. :-D

5. A clock. Blaze was a pretty fussy newborn, and has been pretty fussy at nights for a bit. The clock (or cell phone :)) helps me narrow down why he's crying. For instance, if it's 3 am and I just fed him at 2:30, I am pretty positive that he's not hungry!



November 23, 2011

Christmas music...

Yep, I've done it! I've started listening to Christmas music. Thanksgiving is tomorrow, anyway! I'm a bit under the weather so I'm not sure what we're going to do for Thanksgiving (my lovely friend who invited us for dinner is pregnant, and I'm pretty sure she does *not* want the flu). I wanted the house to be tidy anyway, so I played a little Christmas music for some pep and energy while doing my clean up.

Our Christmas music choices are a little limited. :) It's a cultural thing -- when two people come from two different families, chances are they like different kinds of music. Sure enough, I like Bing Crosby and a host of other 40s crooners, while Ryan likes medieval Christmas chants. He thinks the crooners are fluffy, I think the chants are gloomy (I do like some chants! Just not at Christmas. Call me a philistine if you will. :))

The one thing we both like is Christmas carols, so that's what we listen to. My first choice is Robert Shaw & the Robert Shaw Chamber Singers' album Songs of Angels and the song that's been giving me a little spring in my step today is "Susani" (That's a Grooveshark link -- haven't been able to find this version elsewhere yet!).

Hope you like it! What's your favorite kind of Christmas music? And do you know any other good albums of carols?

Love,
Courtney



November 21, 2011

Some Harvesty Poems

In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought I'd post two poems today. This first one is a very favorite of mine, by Gerard Manley Hopkins (who is another favorite of mine ;)).

Hurrahing in Harvest

Summer ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the stooks rise
Around; up above, what wind walks! what lovely behaviour
Of silk-sack clouds! has wilder, wilful-wavier
Meal-drift moulded ever and melted across skies?

I walk, I lift up, I lift up heart, eyes
Down all that glory in the heavens to glean our Saviour; 
And, eyes, heart, what looks, what lips yet gave you
Rapturous love's greeting of realer, of rounder replies?

And the azurous hung hills are his world-wielding shoulder
Majestic--as a stallion stalwart, very-violet-sweet!--
These things, these things were here and but the beholder 
Wanting; which two when they once meet, 
The heart rears wings bold and bolder
And hurls for him, O half hurls earth for him off under his feet.

And this second one is one that I wrote in honor of my mother's Thanksgiving dinners, which I'm very sad to be missing this year.

Thanksgiving,
Watching mashed potato cities
rise and fall in the space of an moment,
laden with all the gold of Ophir,
or,
pardon my mistake,
that must be gravy,
red-gold with cider and turkey brine. 


For those of you who don't like poetry, here is another picture of Blaze. He is fat enough to be a Thanksgiving turkey, so it still fits with our theme. Enjoy your holiday!

Love, Courtney

November 19, 2011

How many books do you read at a time?



I am never reading just one book. My usual mode of operation is to have several stacks of books by my bed table. Variously mixed in will be Bible studies, cookbooks, craft books, novels...a little bit of everything really. Right now I am at various stages of 5 "reading" books (other books for browsing would include cookbooks and craft books).

My Life For Yours by Douglas Wilson has been wonderful fodder for discussion in our Ladies Group. This book walks through the house using each room to discuss all of the wonderful ways we have to lay down our life for others and grow in grace.  I can't recommend it highly enough.

Naked Wine by Alice Feiring is the tale of a woman who sets out to make wine with nothing but grapes. I am not far into it so I can't give a good review of it but the portion I have read has been well written and interesting.

Fasting Made Simple by Paula White is not as trite as it seems by the title. I was suspicious at first but am almost through and have gotten a lot out of her wise discussion of this mysterious topic (mysterious to me, anyway). It has always seemed to me that fasting was part of a scheme to get God to do something, as if He could be coerced. Paula White has done a really good job of giving a better biblical perspective and helping to clear the clouds in my mind about fasting.

Postmillennialism by Keith A. Mathison is, as it is named, a book about postmillennialism. I have to admit that I have been working very slowly through this book. There is a lot to grab ahold of and chew on and I have enjoyed this book a lot. I am half way through now and hope to pick up speed.

Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball is a book about a New York woman who met a farmer and how her life was turned upside down as she transitioned into a farmer's wife. But her husband, Mark, was not just any kind of farmer. Her farmer had a dream to have a farm that supplied ALL of their food needs and the needs of select others. He uses horses to farm, as the Amish do, and will do almost anything to not use any sort of machinery. Their relationship is not Christian but it is an interesting story about sinners who build a farm from scratch. I am one chapter from the end and I have really enjoyed this book.


November 18, 2011

Washing Dishes for God

"At base, hospitality is about providing a space for God's Spirit to move. Setting a table, cooking a meal, washing dishes is the ministry of facilitation: providing a context in which people feel loved and welcome and where God's Spirit can be at work in their lives. Hospitality is a very ordinary business, but in its ordinariness is its real worth." -- Simon Holt, quoted in Tim Chester's A Meal with Jesus

(Silly Blogger isn't letting me upload a picture right now. Too sad!)

November 16, 2011

Another day, another song.

It's Wednesday! And I have another song for y'all. :-)
 I love bouncy oldies love songs, I just can't help myself, so hopefully y'all like them too because that's what I've got for you this week!

You're The One - The Vogues
and
the Youtube Link.

Have a happy Wednesday!
~Noble

November 14, 2011




Stuck in the Middle...or Joy?

It’s that time of year again; the time when everyone is thinking about Christmas but can't do anything until Thanksgiving has passed. To me, I was officially stuck in the middle. I don’t know about you all, but this drives me bonkers. I like to do things when the idea *first* comes to mind. Needless to  say, constantly having to stall myself was getting a little annoying.

Then it hit me the other day, while I was brooding over not being able to hang up my, ‘Happy Christmas’ sign, that I was letting all my joy be swallowed up by my holiday-modernism. What is “holiday-modernism?” It is the belief that holidays should be prepared for at least, one month ahead (if not two) of the month the holiday is actually in.

Being able to celebrate Thanksgiving in such abundance (as we do) is a gift from God. We should rejoice in it. My distain for this time of year was just as bad as saying, “God, I’d rather be unhappy and see ugliness than be joyous in the all the beauty you have surrounded me with.” It is true there are no “Thanksgiving” songs, but there is always Fred Astaire. Yes, the decorations are the same as they were last month; but they were made with the same enthusiasm as the Christmas decorations, are just as beautiful, and are still a sign of God’s goodness. God gives us beautiful things not only so that we can be happy but more importantly, so that we can rejoice in him and give glory to his sovereignty.

This means, all my Christmas decorations will have to wait their turn so that I can rejoice in them at the proper moment -- not forgetting to give thanks for what God has given me at present. So after all, I was not stuck in the Middle, I was choosing discontentment over joy. 

“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Do any of you have those moments where, you’re so busy looking for the future, you forget to realize the blessings you have right in front of you? 

November 12, 2011

Saturday List

What are you eating for dinner this week?

Mmm, I wish this was on our menu! Delicious cheeses from the farm of some friends.
I menu-plan our dinners week-by-week to help keep us within our food budget. Here's what we're having this week:

Sunday: Burgers (Ryan's favorite! -- and I love that are hardly any dishes to wash afterwards)

Monday: Pasta with Chicken Alfredo sauce, and carrots prepared somehow or other (roasted? steamed?)

Tuesday: Black beans, taco-seasoned burger, and rice with salsa, sour cream and maybe avocado

Wednesday: Thai Red Chicken Curry (found on Noble's food board on pinterest :))

Thursday: Crispy Sweet Potato Fries, with some sour cream dip if I find a recipe I like. Every other Thursday we go hang out with some of our friends for a book study, and we all bring a finger food to share. So we will eat more than just sweet potato fries, but that's what I'm bringing. ;)

Friday: Meatballs & Gravy, my mom's oven-roasted potatoes (the secret ingredient is onion soup mix!), and broiled zucchini with butter, garlic and parmesan on top.


If you do a menu plan, I'd love to hear what you're having in the comments! I'm always on the hunt for awesome dinner ideas. And if you don't menu plan, do you have favorite dinners that you fall back on a lot?

November 11, 2011

Thoughts on Hospitality



"The context of hospitality is to be love--fervent love. The word for fervent does not refer to a fever pitch of emotional enthusiasm but rather to constant and continual exertion as an athlete running a race. A Christian people are to be dedicated to this. They are to think about how to use their house as an instrument that will enable them to pursue hospitality in a strenuous way."

 - Douglas Wilson, My Life For Yours

November 9, 2011

On-the-go-Wednesdays


Don't know about you, but I'm always on-the-go -- errands, work, etc. Much to the amusement of anyone who looks over, I'm a steering-wheel-head-bobbing-thumb-tapper, I love singing while driving. My latest, on-my-way-to-somewhere-band is, She & Him.



What do you all like to listen to in the car?

November 7, 2011

Perfect Holiday Pie Crust

Confession: We LOVE pie crust in our family... flaky, buttery, lovely pie crust. And while we all have opinions about what is best IN the pie crust we all agree on the pie crust itself.

Since I talked about getting pie crust ready early for Thanksgiving here is our favorite pie crust recipe to share with you all.

This is our beloved cookbook that taught me and my daughters how to make beautiful pie crust without having to include shortening. As you can see, it is a VERY used page in a very used cookbook. What I wanted to point out is that the trick to pie crust is not so much in the ingredient list...a humble 5 ingredients... but in how you handle those ingredients. As hinted at in the fact that the recipe, though only 5 ingredients, is an entire page long. But WAIT, don't run off in fear. It only looks complicated...I made 6 pie crusts in a half hour this evening...truly simple. So let's get to it!

First, credit where credit is due. This recipe is from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 sticks COLD unsalted butter
ice cold water


Measure flour into a food processor bowl fitted with an S blade. 2 1/2 cups flour equal 12 1/2 oz on a scale.
Add in the salt and the sugar and pulse a couple of times to mix.

Slice the cold butter and add to the food processor. Process for 10 to 15 seconds until the flour resembles cornmeal.

Measure 6 to 10 tablespoons of ice cold water into the flour mixture. This is the only place I deviate from the recipe. The recipe says 6 tablespoons but I can never get the flour to ball together with less than 10. I have no idea why. 
Stir with a fork until the dough balls together. Pick up the dough with your hands and finish pressing it lightly into a ball. Then tear the ball into two equal pieces. 

Wrap each ball in plastic wrap, flattening it down into a disc, and then again in aluminum foil to freeze them for later. Mark Bittman says it freezes almost indefinitely.

When you are ready to bake your pies take the dough discs out of the freezer and defrost in the refrigerator. Do NOT bring the dough to room temperature. While it is still cold roll out the first disc on a well floured surface and lay in your pie plate. For a double crust fill the pie and then get the second crust out of the refrigerator and roll it out. After you have the pie put together return the pie to the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes before baking. The key to a perfect pie crust is keeping the dough cold. 

Happy pie baking. I would love to hear back from anyone who gives this a try about how it turned out. 

November 5, 2011

You Can Never Be Too Prepared


I can feel the excitement of holidays approaching in the air. We feel extra anticipation around here because Noble's baby is due this month! And with all these activities creeping up on me quickly I am trying to think of what I can get done now to keep the our Thanksgiving dinner from being something I might be less than thankful for.

Five things to prepare for Thanksgiving

1. Plan the menu now. Can't start preparing if you don't know what you are preparing for.
2. Start watching grocery store sales for your turkey.
3. Make enough pie dough for all the pies you'll need. Pat it into a disc, then tightly wrap in foil or plastic wrap and freeze. Let the dough defrost overnight before baking.
4. Make cranberry sauce and either can it up or freeze it for later.
5. Shop now for all of the things you will need that aren't fresh, ie chicken stock and canned pumpkin.

Does anyone have other things they accomplish early to prepare for Thanksgiving? I would love to hear about it to help me be even more put together.
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November 4, 2011

A Bit of Friday Wisdom From 1913


So I have this awesome little book "Don'ts For Husbands, Don'ts For Wives, 1913", it is quite an entertaining read with plenty of solid bits of wisdom thrown in. As I was looking through it I had such a hard time picking just *one* bit to share with you, but I did, so here is a don't for wives on decorating:

 "Don't expect your husband to want to spend evenings at home if you don't make home the most comfortable place. Don't stuff your drawing room with priceless knick knacks that he will knock over when he stretches out his hand for an ash tray. Don't have chairs that look nice but are not comfortable to sit in, nor cushions that may only be looked at. It is a mistake to suppose that a man likes best the home of the 'pattern' housekeeper. He doesn't; it makes him want to kick things about."


(Okay, okay, I couldn't do just one. I laugh every time I read this: "Don't let your husband wear a violet tie with grass-green socks. If he is unhappily devoid of the colour sense, he must be forcibly restrained, but-- Don't be sarcastic about your husband's taste in dress. Be gently persausive and train his sense of fitness.")

~Noble

(I got mini-pumpkins for our house this fall as poor Noel is allergic to flowers.)

November 2, 2011

Dancing in My Kitchen

This is the song I turn to when I need to think on things pure, good, honest, and lovely. There is so much joy in this song. I can't not smile while I crank this up and dance around my kitchen. Anyone care to join me?

The Sound of Summer Running by Alison Brown on her Stolen Moments album.

October 31, 2011

Selectively Fruitful

         This past week I've actually been cutting down on projects. My body has been giving me some hints that I need to slow down, and I've finally decided to take them. That means putting off some projects in order to take a nap, so that I can be healthy and take care of my sweet husband and son.

        The trouble (or the good thing?) about slowing down is that it is really another kick in the pants for my selfishness. When I stop doing as many projects, it's the not the dishes or the laundry or the baby-watching that get to scale back. Those are the things that have to go on! And those are the things that I would happily procrastinate for a good nap. ;)

       The things that I have to give up are instead the fun extras, the knitting and drawing (and blog-surfing...). Those are the things I have to put off till another day. And those are the things that I would happily procrastinate a good nap for! But at this point in time, it's become pretty selfish for me to put of those naps in order to work on the things that *I* want to work on.

     Of course, there is balance in everything, and you can bet that as soon as I'm feeling better I will switch out a few of those naps for some nice knitting. ;) But during this (hopefully short!) season of my life, I need to be selectively fruitful and concentrate on the must-do's, instead of the want-to-do's.

     More of my posts here will have to be yummy recipes for now! ;)


Have you gone through seasons in your life where you had to slow waaaay down and just concentrate on those "must-do's"?

Love,
Courtney

October 29, 2011

Saturday Clickables (Mostly)

Good morning gentle-persons, I hope your Saturday has been peaceful so far! Today I've got a collection of crafts/recipes/tasks that I'd *love* to try to make/accomplish (sometime soon! eh heh).

1. Fabric Owls! I love owls (especially cute ones) and I think it would be fun to make one or two for Babygirl to play with. (Although maybe without the beaded eyes...) Something like this would be fun too!
Cloudy/rainy weather makes me feel craftish.

2. A Christmas Carol Banner! I think this is an awesome idea (and I have a great little hallway/entry way to decorate this year), and I want to use the words from Joy To The World. (Also, Noel thinks it might be a good idea for us to get our decorating done *before* the baby arrives just in case I want to decorate afterwards and make him do it. :-P So, be forewarned, I might be hauling out the Christmas stuff a wee bit on the early side this year.)

3. A Salted Caramel Mocha. Being from Washington and all, I love coffee. A lot. So does Noel actually, and we usually just make a faux-mocha by mixing a little hot chocolate mix (I <3 Costco) into our morning mug, but this seems more sophisticated.

4. A bunch of random projects around the house; organize my laundry room cupboards, clean out from under the kitchen sink (I'm *pretty* sure those are just coffee grounds...), wipe down all of Babygirl's stuffed animals (I can't help myself), clean the refrigerator, iron the front door's window curtains (thank you, mom, for pointing out the wrinkles, now they're all I see :-P), etc...

5. Re-listen to "A Pleasant Home" (by Nancy Wilson), slowly. I listened to the whole thing in about in about a day and a half this week (it was SO good) but now I'd like to listen to it more carefully and take it one bit at a time so that I can really think about it.

As Thanksgiving and Christmas get closer and closer do you try to focus * solely* on holiday themed projects and put your regulars aside for after the rush? Does the weather affect your craftiness? What are some holiday ideas you'd like to try this year? (Does anyone else have the urge to clean their entire house or is that just my pregnancy brain at work?)

~Noble


October 28, 2011

Jack of All Trades



"She should have not one trade but twenty hobbies; she, unlike the man, may develop all her second bests. This is what has been really aimed at from the first in what is called the seclusion, or even the oppression, of women. Women were not kept at home in order to keep them narrow; on the contrary, they were kept at home in order to keep them broad." ~ G. K. Chesterton, What's Wrong With World


(In case anyone needed justification for the 20 unfinished projects she has going at any one time.)

Shall I tell you mine to sooth your guilty conscience (using the phrase "at least I don't have as many as Candis")?

A cross-stitch sampler I started when my oldest was 2 years old (truly my oldest unfinished project)
A summer dress for my youngest daughter (all that is left to do is the pesky zipper)
A crocheted lap quilt
A knitted baby blanket
An awesome wooden lazy susan that I hope to repaint and freshen up
A photo collage (need to collect and print out the photos, of course)
A recycled sweater blanket (who has taken my large acrylic ruler?!)

I love that I can be at home learning to be cook, nurse, counselor, housekeeper, seamstress, knitter, and teacher, etc. And I thank God and my husband for the opportunity to do so.

October 26, 2011

Wednesday Pick-Me-Up

Have you heard this song yet? I love it. :) I've been listening to Josh Ritter this week!


Josh Ritter – Long Shadows from "So Runs the World Away"

And here is the youtube link, too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tji_DQv1IU

 What are you listening to this week?

--Courtney

October 24, 2011

Nesting!

I have been nesting today! Kaitie came over last night to stay with me (Noel is out of town visiting his brother) and today she's been my totally awesome helper; rearranging furniture, doing dishes... at this moment she's making me food! And while that sounds like *she* has been nesting I promise that I was doing stuff too. It was really nice that Noel got to go to visit his brother over night  last night one last time before Babygirl gets here, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to devote an entire day to cleaning and reorganizing without feeling like I was abandoning Noel. (Although I do miss him terribly!)

I've been stalking craigslist recently looking for a) a changing table or b) bookcases to stash baby stuff on, and on Saturday night I found a changing table in Cosi for $30! Whoo! (The next nearest nice one was in Olympia or some such nonsense and not as cheap.) So on Sunday I went and picked it up and this is what it looks like empty.

Pay no attention to the dresser... it's waiting for its turn to be taken care of.
Now I plan on papering the shelves at some point so they're not quite so blah, but it is a very sturdy little table! (I watched the gal's five or six year old daughter clamber all over it while I was waiting to take it away with me, and it didn't even wobble.) And since I am a very impatient person and couldn't wait till I had paper to put down, I went ahead and gathered my baskets for organizing baby stuff and this is what it looks like (mostly) done!
I did wipe it down with a some Simple Green first and then water, just as a peace of mind factor so that I could put stuff on it on not feel like I needed to wash everything again.

We also reorganized *both* closets in the bedroom and moved the other baby furniture around to make room for the table (Babygirl has her own wall in the living room for her things, and I'm trying to keep it all contained it *her* space). We even went to the thrift shop and found a nice flannel sheet ($1.50) to cut up and use for wipes! I'm so excited to have gotten all this done (couldn't have done it without you, Kaitie!) and to have it off my mind.

 Do y'all like to tackle projects on the weekends, or on the weekdays when spouses are away at work? Do you love (or love to hate) craigslist? What projects do you have piled up to tackle?

October 22, 2011

5 Things That Whacked Me in the Head

My mom has a list for us this Saturday, but she has been so busy bearing fruit in real life, co-hosting a baby shower, etc., that she hasn't had time to post. Her list is of ideas that have struck her from My Life for Yours (by Douglas Wilson), the book she is going through in the women's book study she is part of. The chapter they went over recently is "Sleep in the Bedroom."   Here is what she says, and her list of five things she's been inspired to do by the chapter: 

Some chapters [of My Life for Yours] are encouraging and good to remember
and some chapters whack me in the head. Sleep in the Bedroom did that for me this week. 

[5 Things to Whack You in the Head]

1.       Honor the Lord by rising early
2.       Be thankful for the blessing of work – work hard
3.       Recognize God cares for us and He is tender with His people
4.       Recognize that the peace that makes no sense is a BLESSING from God…not something we drum up
5.       Learn and sing psalms of gratitude

 She would have given us some other good words as well, but she was so busy! We will have to look forward to next time. 

We'll see you back here on Monday!
Courtney

October 21, 2011

Food-for-Thought on Friday :)

"We can find a book bad only by reading it as if it might, after all, be very good." 
C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism

(Don't you think that might be true of people, too?)

Happy Friday!
Courtney

P.S. Check back tomorrow for a new Saturday List!

October 19, 2011

I Can't Believe It's Not Friday!

 Nope, it's just a little ol' Wednesday. And wow are we facing a slump day here on the harbor! (Or at least I am, maybe other people who were able to sleep in a semi-normal way are feeling just GRAND.)

 I've been tuning in to the oldies radio recently in an attempt to be more familiar with the music Noel grew up listening to. Haha, not that he's sixty or anything, it's just that those were the songs his parents listened/let him listen to. ("To which he was allowed to listen"? That is just so weird.... But we won't go into grammar weirdness because I lost *that* battle yesterday. weeps quietly in a corner ) Anyway. I heard this song and even though I can only ever remember the words to the chorus I love it. And it's a good Wednesday Pick-Me-Up song.

Four Tops - I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)  (For Spotify peeps.)

YouTube video for peeps without a fav music player

Now I totally spoiled my song this week by having the entire rest of the girls here listen to it, but maybe this is a song that someone *not* directly related to me hasn't heard before? Do you like listening to oldies music, or do you prefer newer stuff, or do you just listen to whatever station the hedgehogs turned your car radio to in the night? (Don't ask me, I'm *tired*.)

October 17, 2011

Cracking the Madeleine



Madeleines are one of my favorite treats. Perfect for a cozy afternoon-tea or special event...or, a plan B, if Aunty M. is making an unexpected visit. Quick, simple, and delish. I have gone through many different madeleine recipes, from Julia Child to Le Cordon Bleu; after tasting, testing, tweeking, and a few re-dos I settled on the recipe from The Culinary Institute of America. It was simple; in ingredients and technique. The very essence of a madeleine is simplicity. A friend once told me, "This is the biscuit the French mother makes every morning to go with a good cup of coffee"-- it should come like whipping up pancakes, it should be simple. So here is my recipe, with a few notes on the side for inquiring minds.

Ingredients:

⅔ cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

½ tsp baking powder

4 tbsp (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature (This is very important! See Note 1.)

⅓ cup sugar

½ tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 large egg, at room temperature (Also very important! See Note 1.)

2 tbsp cold whole milk

¼ tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp powdered sugar (for dusting)
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat madeleine pan with oil (or butter, but it will brown more) and dust with flour.

Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and lemon zest on medium speed until smooth and light in texture, about 5 minutes (see Note 2). In a separate bowl, combine the egg, milk, and vanilla extract. Add the egg mixture to the butter mixture in 2 or 3 additions, beating well after each addition. On low speed, mix in the sifted dry ingredients. Scrape down the bowl as needed during creaming, gently mixing (not too much) to blend evenly (see Note 3).

Cool about 5 to 8 minutes in the refrigerator (just to make it a little more firm. This step is not necessary, but it is helpful if you're not using a pastry bag.
Fill pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch wide plain pastry tip with the batter (or just use a spoon, I was taught to use a small cookie scoop for portion control). Pipe into the prepared madeleine pan, filling the molds a little below the top. Bake until the edges of the madeleines turn a medium golden brown, about 12 minutes (see Note 4). Turn the madeleines out onto a wire rack while they are still warm, let cool before serving. Dust with powdered sugar.

Notes:

1: Although most home cooks seem to skip the whole, “at room temperature” bit in a recipe, it would surprise you to know that when the eggs and butter (for more on butter see note: 2) are at room temperature, the batter can actually become lighter! Interesting, isn’t it? Because, at room temperature, the eggs are lighter, it allows them to be mixed in softly yet quickly, reducing stir time (flattening time) and more importantly, when cold eggs are mixed with warm butter the mixture will leak liquid or curdle, causing the end product to be dry, grainy, and flavorless.

2: Creaming butter should take about five to six minutes. Just one more of those little things we all tend to skip. But, if you have enough patience, you’ll notice the butter will triple in size, that is if the butter is at room temperature; this is what helps to make the batter lighter. Warning: The creamed butter will start to sink instantly when it hits its peak, therefore, prepping all the other components is imperative to quick and effective assimilation. On the side: you should not microwave the butter to get it to room temp.

3: If the madeleines come out with air pockets in them (see example photo below), they were mixed for too long, allowing too much air to be incorporated. This creates the unwanted chewy-dense-texture that many people attribute to the defenseless tea-cake.


4: Also, if the madeleines bubble up like small mountains (see example photo below), they were baked for too long. They should round off a little, creating an even slope, not bubbling to such great heights .





October 15, 2011

A Saturday List

I thought I'd tell you about my projects I'll be working on next week. It's a short list -- I try not to think about too many things to do at once. :) There's a balance to this diligence thing. If I stack up too many things to do, that discourages me instead of motivating me! But here is what I'm working on next week:

1. Socks for Ryan. He doesn't like traditional dress socks, so I'm trying to make him compromise wool socks -- dressy enough for school (he's a teacher), but comfy enough for his toes. I have one finished already, and I'm about half way through the other one! I'm using this pattern (first time with toe-up, for you sock-knitters out there!), and this yarn. This is a spare time project -- I work on it in little free moments around the day. (10-21: Check!)

2. Decluttering my magazines. I've been inspired to do this by reading this book, which is about taking small steps to simplify your life. Most of my magazines are Cooks Illustrated, so I need to go through and decide which recipes and articles I really want to keep...and which back-cover art is worth gleaning. It's a little hard, because they are chock full of such useful information! But the truth is that what is important to me, I already remember after reading once (for instance, the trick of saving your butter wrappers to grease pans with later). (10-21: Check!)

3. Making biscuits and gravy for Ryan. He's on fall break this week, so I thought it would be a nice surprise for him to have biscuits and gravy one morning. :) (I know this seems small for a project, but that is what having a baby will do to you!) (10-21: Check!)

4. Cleaning the bathroom. I try to get this done every week. ;) (10-21: Check!)

5. Deep cleaning the kitchen. (10-21: Halfway Done!)

My secret to getting anything done now that Blaze is here is to try to do it before he wakes up in the morning.

What are the projects you're working on next week? This past week I finished my thank-you notes for all the sweet presents people gave Blaze!

 Who wouldn't want to give this chubby fellow presents? But maybe they should give his mama some sense of "matching." ;) 

Watch out for an update on Monday! And have a lovely sabbath. :)
Courtney

(10-21:  Edited to show that I did some of these! Woohoo!)

October 14, 2011

Sleep, Anxiety, and the Promises of God

We've been reading through this book at Bible Study, and this week's chapter was very encouraging (and convicting!). I've had so much baby stuff (only six more weeks before we meet our baby girl!) on my mind that sometimes I have trouble going to sleep, even when I'm super tired.

Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)

"Too many Christians try to deal with their anxieties by worrying on their knees. They worry, conclude it with "in Jesus' name, amen," and then, not surprisingly, have trouble sleeping. They have reversed the promise of this passage and tried to orient their hearts and minds in such a way as to 'keep' or protect the peace of God. ... But the promise is the other way around. The peace of God which makes no sense will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

- Douglas Wilson My Life For Yours: A Walk Through the Christian Home
(on sleep in the bedroom)

~Noble
(Next week it's Courtney's turn to post a quote on Friday, so make sure to come back and see what she's been thinking about!)
(Also, I apologize for my overabundance of parentheses... I'm an addict. :-P )

October 12, 2011

Back with a plan


Dare I say it...we might be back for real now. I had this baby, Blaze, and he has gone from a little smidge to a big opinionated chunk of 5 months. Now I feel ready to do things (and make other people do them, too!). So we are back, and we have a plan. We're hoping the plan will help us stay back with some consistency.

Part of the plan is having certain regular "features" (i.e. certain types of things to share on certain days).

Today is Wednesday, the middle of the week, when I start to feel like I swam waaay too far out from the shore (which is the weekend, in my analogy ;)) and might never make it back. I tend to listen to lots of fun music on Wednesdays to perk things up.

So here is our first weekly feature (eek, I said weekly! That implies commitment!): The Wednesday Pick-Me-Up Song.

The Wednesday Pick-Me-Up
It's celtic. Sorry if you hate celtic. I like it, depending. And this lovely song is by one of my favorite duos, Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas.

Jig Runrig/The Ramnee Ceilidh by Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas

It's from their album, The Highlander's Farewell. My link is a Spotify link, but if you don't like Spotify, I'm sure you can find it on iTunes or your music provider of choice.

Be sure to check back on Friday for our next update!

Do you need a pick-me-up on Wednesdays, too? Or are they your favorite day of the week? And do you have a favorite pick-me-up song this week? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Wednesday!
Courtney

January 27, 2011

Baby Things!

These are for me, but I need them because this baby is growing (23 1/2 weeks now!):


They're not maternity -- just normal, but the skirts are two sizes up from what I'd normally wear! I'll wear them low-rise, under the bump. :) For $12 at Goodwill, definitely worth it! And I love the springy Easter egg colors. My philosophy is, since it's January, spring is on its way!

Here are the two sweaters I've made for the smidge. The blue one, of course, in case it's a boy, and the pink one if it's not! They're actually from the same pattern, which is free on Ravelry. The blue one looks more like the original pattern. :)

January 20, 2011

Mushrooms!


Noble sent me a picture of these adorable felted mushrooms a few months ago; I think they were needle-felted, which I have no idea how to do! But I found this adorable pattern and made her a pair! Then I made a pair for another friend of mine who things that little nature decorations are cute. :) These red ones are Noble's. I made the small rounded cap and the small bell-shaped cap, and two medium stems.



This was my first ever hand-felted project, and it was so much fun! I just felted them in a mixing bowl full of water with a teensy dash of soap.