Saturday, December 19, 2009

hustle & bustle...

Kev turned to me the other night and asked "Are you feeling Christmas this year...'cause I'm sure not." I had to admit, I'm not. I'm dreading the holiday deadlines, craziness, the scramble to find something meaningful for the people I care so much for. It's all so far removed from the simplicity of Christmas. I know it's cliche, but the true meaning of Christmas is so easy to lose in all the hustle and bustle. It's so easy to give presents, but the real gift is to give of ourselves.

That being said, I am looking forward to enjoying this season with my family and friends, and I am trying to be so, so very thankful for the gifts that I receive every hour of every day. We are SO blessed, and this is a perfect time to remember that.

Friday, November 20, 2009

felted sweater hat and mittens

I've been fascinated lately with all the amazing things people make out of felted sweaters. I had no idea people actually shrunk wool sweaters on purpose to make things out of them. I've been itching to try some of the projects I've found online and scouring local thrift stores looking for felting candidates (the sweater needs to be 80% wool or higher in order to felt well). I found a few the other day, one of which was 100% new wool and hand knit in Ireland...just lovely. I felt a twinge of remorse as I threw it in the washer on hot and then in the dryer. Sure enough, it came out about one third of it's original size and REALLY thick (my thumb started going numb from trying to cut through it with my little scissors)

Next, I got to work finding patterns online. I decided on this one. I must offer this caveat, though: I never, ever follow patterns or recipes...even if I want to. I did all the measuring and made a template and cut all the pieces and sewed a few together, only to find that the hat was hanging down to my nose and would have been WAY to big for my head, if I had used all the pieces. So, I only used four of the five pieces I cut, and then turned the cuff of the hat under and hemmed it so it didn't cover my eyes.

For the mittens, I found a lot of patterns, but thought the simplest way to make them would be to use the cuff of the sleeves of the sweater for the cuff of my mittens. So I put my hands in the sleeves the wrong way and then traced the outline of the mitten where my fingers were. The sleeves had shrunk so much they almost weren't long enough for my hands. Then I turned them inside out and stitched a very small seam around the raw edges (which was not easy because the felt was poor sewing machine had a rough time...but we made it through).

I really like the finished products, especially the mittens. The seams are a little annoying because they are so thick, but they are very WARM and look oh, so nice. Wish I had enough for a scarf...

Saturday, October 10, 2009


This lovely fall...or, more precisely, winter weather has been making me want to bake and, as we always seem to have a plethora of overripe bananas at out house...I thought I'd make some banana bread. I had all the ingredients, and got to work looking at recipes online. Apparently I was not the only one craving banana was in the top searches box on allrecipes.

Now there seems to be a misconception about banana bread, at least in my brain, because it's made with must be more nutritious than, say cake. Not so, I found as I perused through all the top rated recipes. Two sticks of butter in one loaf of bread is a bit excessive, in my opinion, especially when I'm sure I would probably end up eating most of it.

So on to Plan B. I needed to find something that called for overripe bananas, that tasted good, and was somewhat nutritious. I must admit, I wasn't optimistic. But not only did I find a recipe that met all the criteria, it also called for apples...which I had, and needed to use. The stars were in alignment! All was right with the world!

So I got to work. Of course, I had to change the recipe, because I can never actually follow a recipe to the letter. First off, I tripled the recipe, because I wanted to make muffins we could eat for a week or so, and a loaf of bread. The recipe called for raisins...plumped raisins... not a fan. So I left them out. Actually, I substituted walnuts. And I added an extra egg and a substituted a little all-purpose white flour for some of the whole wheat because some reviews said they didn't rise well. So this is what the recipe looked like when I was done with it:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 4 1/2 cups bran cereal {I used bran flakes}
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter or oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 apples, cored and shredded {zucchini would work too}
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup brown sugar or honey
  • 1-2 cups chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 36 muffin cups or two large loaf pans.
  2. Beat the eggs and the milk in a large bowl, and mix in the bran cereal. Let the mixture stand until the cereal absorbs the liquid, about 5 minutes (this is when I mash my bananas and grate my apples). Add the mashed bananas, shredded apples, melted butter (or oil) and vanilla. Gently mix in the dry ingredients, and stir a few times to combine.
  3. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, and bake in the preheated oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
They were wonderful! Not quite as good as banana bread *smile* but still very good. A new staple at our house for breakfast, I think.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

10 things

I discovered a blog last week that has really been inspiring me. From time to time the author does a post of 10 things that she loves at that moment in time. I am loving that idea, of taking a little snapshot of the things that are occupying my thoughts and dreams at a given moment in my life. So here are my ten things for this very moment...most of which have to do with the turning of summer to fall {which just happens to be my favorite season}

1. Harvest food

I am loving the fresh, local produce, some of which is coming from my little garden {my boys "helped" me by picking all my tomatoes...ripe or not}

My mom came a few weeks ago and picked me some peaches from a local orchard. We made freezer jam and frozen slices for pies, cobblers and such. I love peaches...

I ventured out on a limb last week and made a butternut squash bisque with some homemade soup sticks that were absolutely delicious {this is coming from someone who doesn't like squash...yeah, try it}

And of pie.

2. Wool socks

I may only wear sandals during the summer, but I'm also among the first to pull out the warm fuzzies as soon as it starts to get chilly. This most favorite pair of wool socks my sweet husband bought for me when we were dating. Yes, you read that right...these socks are 10 years old, but pulling them on is still one of my favorite things about fall.

3. Finally...a family photo collage

It's only taken me 3 years to finally hang these pictures on the wall next to the staircase where I envisioned a pottery barn-esque collage. My friend gave me a picture frame for my birthday and that was the impetus to get it done. Now, we'll see how long those pictures stay on the wall...

4. New slippers
Doesn't get more warm and fuzzy than these...

5. Blogs & blogging

A few new favorites are the sometimes crafter, soule mama, and the long thread.

6. Fall sunshine

Not too hot, just enough to warm you in the cool fall air. It's sunshine at it's best. Perfect for lying on a blanket in the backyard.

7. A clean kitchen

But don't look at the rest of the house...


9. Coffee and books

That won't ever change, but, as the mornings get colder, getting up early for hot coffee and some time in a good book gets all the more appealing...

10. These boys...

They're my world. I love these rare moments when we are all together in one room {usually piled on our tiny queen bed} They just don't come often enough.

Friday, August 28, 2009

first day of school

Oh my.

Josiah had his first day of preschool today. He's turning 4 in November, so he misses the cutoff for K4 by about a month. So he's in K3 and is a bit of an anomaly among the other 3 year olds. He's about 43 inches tall and could quite easily blend in with the 5 and 6 year olds, if it wasn't for the fact that he acts exactly his age.

He has been going through his school supplies over and over since we bought them a few weeks ago. He'll line them up perfectly into a row and just gaze at them for several minutes. Then he'll put them back in his backpack only to pull them back out and repeat the really is quite darling.

I found myself feeling quite "mom-ish" as I labeled all his supplies with a permanent marker, laid his clothes out, and packed him a lunch last night. It feels like I am entering a new phase of parenthood...the one where I watch the little ones that I have held so close begin to venture out, testing the bounds of their independence. It's bittersweet. And for Josiah, it's absolutely exhilarating! He really didn't want to come home today, but I'm afraid his mom had had enough independence for one day...


Finally finished this blanket for one of my dearest friends who had her third child about a month ago. The sex of her baby was a surprise, so I waited till she delivered to start (that's how I justify it taking so long...) Technically it's not really a quilt, because there's no batting in between the's more like a glorified receiving blanket. But it's patchwork and it looks like a quilt so that's what I've been calling it...

I thought it turned out well, for a first attempt. The squares of the various fabrics were already cut and came pre-packaged, for which I was grateful. It's not always easy for me to pick out complementary fabrics for this sort of thing, although I think I'm getting better at it.

I didn't have the time or dedication to hand quilt it, so I machine- sewed down the the middle section of squares in one direction to keep the layers together. The backing is just a chocolate colored twin sized sheet I found on clearance, cut to size and used to bind the edges.

One final note: I finally bought a rotary cutter and mat for this project, and can now say, with conviction, that they are most definitely necessary tools for any sort of quilting.

Monday, August 10, 2009


We went up camping in the South Hills this weekend with some of Kevin's co-workers. Here are some of my favorite shots of the family...
Eli and his hot dog (that he just dropped in the dirt)...

Eli with some chocolate (and dirt) on his face...

Noah staying warm...

Josiah loves camping...

I shouldn't be surprised that the little wild man LOVED this 4-wheeler...

Keeping warm...

Noah and I by the fire...

We were fortunate enough to be able to use our friends' trailer, so we stayed fairly warm and everyone made it through the night relatively unscathed. We were all completely exhausted by the time we got home...and we were only gone about 24 hours! Camping with three small boys is something, let me tell you. I've never seen such dirty, happy faces! They didn't want to come home, but mom and dad were totally worn out.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I made some blueberry scones tonight with this basic scone/biscuit recipe and was reminded how wonderfully versatile and easy it is. I got it from my mom a few years back when I was trying to make homemade strawberry shortcake and just couldn't quite duplicate her light, slightly sweet shortcake. This recipe can be used to make plain shortcake, scones, or savory drop biscuits depending on what is added.

Here's the basic recipe:
  • 2 cups flour (my mom always sifts it...I never do)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar (increase to about 3 tbsp if you are making shortcake or scones)
Mix these dry ingredients together thoroughly and then cut in:
  • 5 to 6 tbsp butter, slightly softened
You should have a sort of crumbly mixture after cutting in the butter. Then add:
  • 1 cup milk or cream, stir to combine.
If you are making scones, stir in your additional ingredients and top with a bit of raw/turbinado sugar. A few of my favorite scone variations are orange zest with cranberries, dried blueberries, and of course, chocolate chips...the possibilities are quite endless.

For savory biscuits, you can try adding bacon, cheese and chives or sundried tomatoes and feta...again, endless possibilities!

Drop by tablespoonful onto cookie sheet and shape as desired. Bake at 350 until the tops of the scones start to turn golden, 10 to 15 minutes depending on the oven.

Monday, August 3, 2009


I snapped these shots of my middle son Eli the other day. He's 19 months old and finally growing into that noggin of his, even though he's quite small for his age. I think he's still catching up from his early start. That's baby Noah's hat he has on, and it's a little too small, but he loves it and just looks so darling when he puts it on. He walks around the house like a little drill sergeant and barks out unintelligible orders to all of us, the dog included. He says a few words like "baaaay beee" (that's what he calls Noah) and "wooo-woo" (that's what he calls the dog-when he says it he sounds just like a little hound dog) and, of course, "mama" and "baaa" (ball). Everything he says sounds like a question, because his little voice goes up about an octave at the end of every word. He loves to climb on the table or up on the window sill (as he was doing in these photos) and frequently topples off, only to climb right back up again. He is, by far, my most determined child, and it takes a LOT to redirect him. Sometimes I wonder if he's getting lost in the shuffle, but he lights up when I stop and just pay attention to him. He's got the most darling little dimple on his right cheek, and it's so worth the time to get him to smile! It will be good to have a little more one-on-one time with my little wild man when his big brother heads off to preschool this fall.

Friday, July 31, 2009


I've been wanting to re-upholster this pair of chairs I bought at a yard sale several years ago. I had a few fabric options, but couldn't commit to them for some reason.

I found some fabric that I really liked this week and it really seemed to fit the chairs. So here are my "new" old them!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

first post

I've taken the's official. I have a blog.

I've been fighting the urge to start blogging for several reasons. Here they are:
1. I have three small children...all boys.
2. I journal about once every 3 years or so...
3. Did I mention I have three small children?

So why? Why am I doing this? I've been feeling like it's something I want to do. But I think the main reasons are:
1. & 3. I have three small children...and I'd like to cherish the fleeting moments I have with them everyday. Not just the big stuff, the everyday moments. Like this morning, when I was sitting on our porch swing rocking my baby in the early morning quiet...nothing spectacular, but it was a beautiful moment, and one I want to be reminded of.
2. It's true, I'm not the world's most consistent journaler...but I love to write. Often, I don't know how I feel until I start writing. But some days, there just aren't words. So I'll share what's happening in my life through the lens of my camera. Either through words or photos, this will be a record of life, in all it's intricacies. Today, this blog may be a short post of what's on my mind. Tomorrow, it may be a moment I had with one of my three precious sons, or my amazing husband. Or it may be a picture of a place we visited, a dish I prepared, or a project I'm working on. Whatever it is, my goal is to remind myself that I am truly living la bella vita...the beautiful life.