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, 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!