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"?


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?)


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?


October 24, 2011


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!

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!

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.


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)

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.


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. :)

(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)

(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!