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Maddie, Please Stop Growing Up Already

November 30, 2010

I haven’t posted Maddie pictures in awhile, so I thought I’d put one up for those who don’t see her every day. She seems to grow by leaps and bounds every day, with new words flowing from her mouth all the time. She still has little hair, but at least it’s starting to creep in. I am loving this age and I hope she never gets any older.😉

For more pics, see our Flickr account.

Summer Has Overstayed Its Welcome

September 23, 2010

This is the first summer since the 4 year long one we endured while in Houston that I’ve enjoyed the season. After a lingering chill the previous winter, the warm and sunny days were a pleasure–we sipped lots of iced tea, swam in our new baby pool, and vacationed up north when the heat became unbearable. Now, with the ever present 90 degree days and not a raincloud in site, I’m ready for a change.

My garden is parched–many things haven’t survived the past month of little rain and blazing sun. Our poor grass is a crispy brown, and only the weeds have a hint of green. I’m aching to get my hands dirty again. Fall planting is calling my name. I’m dreaming of lettuce and garlic; cabbage and turnips; mums and pansies. Maybe even a new tree or two. But it will have to wait, as none of these fall beauties will survive if planted too soon.

I’m longing for piping hot soups with crusty homemade sourdough bread. I’ve been perusing over soup recipes that look amazingly good, especially these with mushrooms or pumpkin. I’m eager to fill my home with spices and cider and apples, but it just wouldn’t satisfy in this never-ending summer.

I bought a cute pair of boots almost a month ago to wear as the weather chills, and I’ve been aching to get them on my feet. Every time I do, however, my poor legs begin dripping in sweat. I’m eager for handmade sweaters, and warm socks, and tights with my dresses, but these too will have to wait.

Blustery nights, hot tea, and cuddles-under-a-blanket are just a dream. Maybe, hopefully, sometime soon summer will fade.

Cloth Diapering Update

August 31, 2010

Well, another month has come and gone, and I’ve done many changes to my diapering routine. I think it’s really made a difference with Maddie’s rash. It’s come back a bit, but it’s nothing as bad as it was before.

Here’s what I’ve been doing:

  • I scoured around for diaper liners at several stores and online, but everything I saw seemed pricey. I decided to purchase $3 worth of fleece at Joann’s, and cut liners myself. They’re 5″x12″ and the perfect size to fit on the inside of the diaper against Maddie’s skin. I was able to make about 24 liners, which is even more than the number of diapers I have.
  • I change her much more frequently now. I used to change her about 5-6 times a day, but now I’m doing 8-9 times a day. This has made such a huge difference! I have to wash diapers every other day now, but at least I know she’s not sitting in a wet diaper longer than necessary.
  • I found an inexpensive drying rack at Target, and I’ve set up a place to dry Maddie’s diapers outside in the sun. The sun is a wonderful bleaching agent, and this helps to get her diapers nice and germ free.
  • The last change I’ve made I’m hoping will be temporary, and that is that I purchased a regular brand of diaper cream instead of using my natural cloth-diaper safe cream. The regular cream from the grocery store is much more concentrated, so it works much better for her. Once this little flare-up clears, I’ll go back to the natural cream.

So that’s it! I feel like I’ve come a long way in helping my little one feel better, and I’m also glad I’ve found a way to keep using my diapers.

What I’ve Been Knitting: June Edition

July 16, 2010

Life has once again gotten in the way, with vacation and other odds and ends going on, so this is a wee bit late. I have gotten a bit of knitting done in the meantime, however.

The first thing I finished in June was this lovely little shawl I knit in a gorgeous purple and green yarn. I originally intended to use this yarn for a short-sleeved top, but I didn’t care for the yarn with the pattern. I wanted something that would show off the yarn without the colors getting lost in lots of pattern. I probably will wear this shawl around my neck as a scarf come colder months, as I don’t tend to wear shawls draped around my shoulders.

Since I originally planned to make a top with this yarn, I still have tons of it left over. I found a lovely little fingerless glove pattern that I think will match the shawl well, as it’s another object that uses the same stitch pattern. I may try to do those once the weather cools in autumn, as I still have several summery projects I want to finish first!

Another thing I finished was this sweet little lamb that I gave to my friend, Leslie, who had a baby boy in May. I gave the lamb a cute little bow in blue, but I forgot to take a picture with it on. Maddie found this little guy to be delightful, so I’ll have to make her one as well with the leftovers.

My final project for the month, and the one that took the longest:

I fell in love with this top as soon as I saw the pattern, and I knew I had to make it. The yarn is made from bamboo and silk–the bamboo provides coolness and the silk a gorgeous shimmer. It’s really hard to capture the pretty shimmer in the top on film, though. The top fits beautifully and I’m so happy with it. The cap sleeves are covered with lace, so I’ve included a close-up since it can be difficult to see.

This month I’ve already finished a top for Maddie, and I’m on my way to finishing a hat for my sister. Stay tuned to see these projects!

Chicken Stroganoff

July 9, 2010

You may have noticed a pattern here–one of my favorite combinations of flavors is that of mushrooms, wine, and cream. So of course this recipe features all three.

When I started cooking with more whole foods, some of our favorite recipes had to be reworked. This one for chicken stroganoff originally called for canned beef broth and something called browning sauce, which I believe is a mixture of browned sugar and vegetable stock. Both of these things have questionable ingredients in them, so I went to search for something else. The beef broth in the original has been replaced with homemade chicken stock, and the browning sauce with molasses (which I know sounds weird, but shouldn’t be missed.  It lends a depth of flavor with just a hint of sweetness).

Chicken Stroganoff

Adapted from Taste of Home

1 small onion, diced

8 oz portabella mushrooms, sliced

2 tablespoons butter

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices

1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses

1 cup homemade chicken stock

1 cup white wine or additional stock

2 tablespoons organic ketchup

1 clove garlic, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste (if using canned stock, add less salt)

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

8 oz sour cream

Cooked egg noodles

Saute onion and mushrooms with butter over medium heat until softened. Remove to a plate and keep warm. Add chicken and molasses, and cook until chicken browns, about 3-5 minutes. Add broth, wine, ketchup, garlic, and sea salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer 20 minutes (now is a good time to get the pasta going.) Stir together water and flour to create a slurry. After 20 minutes, return pan to a boil, then add the slurry, stirring quickly with a whisk. Cook for 2 minutes. Reduce heat, then add the sour cream. Do not boil. Serve over egg noodles and enjoy.

Serves 4

Stu and I enjoy this dish with fresh fruit or a light salad on the side. This is enough for me to freeze half to save for a later day. I thaw the frozen meal overnight in the fridge, then reheat in a saucepan and serve over pasta.

What I’ve Been Knitting: May Edition

June 7, 2010

During the quiet evenings I make a pot of tea, listen to Harry Potter on audiobook, and sit down with my knitting. I’ve finished a couple projects over the past month that I want to highlight.

My favorite is this little dress I made for Maddie. The pattern can be found here for those who are interested. The website is called Petite Purls, and it’s a great resource for free toddler and child knitting patterns. This was my first large project, and also my first using yarn from my local yarn shop, In the Making.

It’s unfortunately a little bit small for her, since I neglected to do a gauge swatch. I think it’s adorable, though, and she’s worn it to church a few times. I’m hoping we have another girl so that it will be worn again.

After finishing the dress, I started a top for myself, but I didn’t like the purple and green yarn and the pattern together (Although I love both separately–I’ll be starting the top again later this summer with another yarn.) Instead, I used the yarn I had purchased from Eat.Sleep.Knit to make this shawl.

I’m not sure what I’ll do the shawl yet. I love it and it looks great on me wrapped around like a scarf, but I’m thinking I might donate it or something. Still deciding.

I’ve got several projects on the needles right now as well, including a little lamb for a new baby, and another top for me (different from the one mentioned above.) I’m hoping to do a monthly summary of my knitting projects from now on, so talk of knitting doesn’t become too dominate around here.🙂

Housekeeping Schedule

May 31, 2010

I think it’s a great idea for every mama to have a weekly schedule for housekeeping tasks, but finding one that works can be a challenge. I’m in the process of shifting my schedule right now and thought that it would be good to hash out ideas as I try to figure out what works for me.

My Old Schedule: My main goal with this original plan was to spread out the various cleaning tasks during the week, so I would only have to spend a small amount of time cleaning each day. Laundry and vacuuming have been fairly easy to keep on top of, but all the other tasks get pushed aside and sometimes are not even done that week. (My bathrooms and kitchen are atrociously messy!)

Monday: Vacuum

Tuesday: Library/Bathrooms

Wednesday: Kitchen

Thursday: Dust/Vacuum

Friday: Bible Study/Change sheets/Meal plan

Saturday: Grocery shop

Every day: Laundry

I like how this works on paper, but it just doesn’t work for me in real life. I tend to have a very difficult time starting a task, but once I start I do really well. So I’ve decided to move the yucky tasks to one day, with the thought that once I get started, what energy I have in motion will stay in motion. I’ve left the vacuuming in the same spot since those days work so well for me. I also would love to have a weekly baking day where I can set aside time for freezer meals, or even something simple like a batch of muffins. I also made space for an “odd job,” like chores that need to be done, but not weekly.

New Schedule:

Monday: Bible Study/Vacuum

Tuesday: Library

Wednesday: Kitchen/Bathroom/1 Odd Job/Change Sheets

Thursday: Vacuum/Meal Plan

Friday: Groceries

Saturday: Baking Day

I’ll probably tweak this again once I’ve implemented the new schedule. I’ve already skipped  today’s tasks to leave for tomorrow, so here’s hoping I can get on top of things.🙂