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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. 🙂

Maddie Died and Went to Strawberry Heaven

May 21, 2010

I may have mentioned before that Maddie is a wee bit fond of strawberries. She likes them diced in small pieces which she can easily pick up. She can eat a whole quart by herself during the course of the day as long as the bite-sized pieces keep coming. It can be hard to keep her supplied in berries when the farmers market sells them for 4 dollars a half quart.

So the other day Maddie and I headed up north to a farm out in the beautiful country. I called first and made sure they were open, then we preceded out the door and down the road. This farm is about an hour north of us, but the journey was gorgeous. Clear skies and low humidity made the drive through the countryside so relaxing. All too soon, we passed the farm’s U-Pick sign, and we knew we were on the right track.

We arrived, collected our basket, and headed for the fields. The smell of ripe strawberries as we made walked through was simply intoxicating in the warm air. Maddie asked to carry the basket, so I obliged. She loves to carry shopping baskets when we’re yarn hunting, so I knew she could handle it. I knelt down, picked a couple ruby red fruits, then plopped them into the basket. Maddie quickly swooped one up and into her mouth. By the time I had another small handful, she had polished off the berries she was carrying.

At that point I knew I was alone in my picking. I took the basket back and picked up the pace–I wanted to fill up the whole basket before we both got sunburned. At first I was leery that Maddie would be a handful with little to do–after all, her favorite thing to do outside is walk away from me. She was fine however. She quickly figured out what was going on and was soon picking berries for herself. I’m not sure how many she ate, but by the end of the trip she was a brilliant shade of red and quite sticky. Alas, I got no pictures.

We paid for our basket (and purchased a few more as well) for jam and for freezing. Maddie was quite content to snuggle back in her carseat for the long trek home.

All in all, we purchased 3 gallons for $28, which I estimate to be about 15 pounds. So not bad for 30 minutes of work. The berries are amazingly sweet and so full of flavor. Anything in the grocery store just doesn’t even compare. I’m hoping to use these for smoothies and muffins, but I’m not sure how long they will last us with my little berry fiend.

I’m so glad that I have the resources to be able to take Maddie out and see the countryside, and learn where her food comes from. I can’t wait until she can understand the importance of locally grown food. I feel that it’s so important for kids to realize that food comes from farms, not the grocery store. Food that is freshly picked is far healthier and tastes so much better–plus, the experience of picking your own food is so much fun. I also love that I am able to support a local farmer.

Now that summer is swiftly approaching, I’m hoping to go peach or blackberry picking when their seasons come. Maddie loves peaches too, so I bet she can’t wait!

Summer Squash and Spring Onion Egg Scramble

May 18, 2010

I’m not a huge fan of summer squash, but since it’s become abundant here the past week or two, I’ve been trying to find ways to use it up. Both Maddie and I enjoyed this dish, and since it comes together quickly, it would be great for a fast breakfast or lunch. Feel free to substitute with other veggies you may have on hand.

Summer Squash and Spring Onion Egg Scramble

Serves 1 adult and 1 toddler

1 medium crookneck yellow squash, sliced and quartered

3 small spring onions, chopped

1 Tbls butter

3 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup colby cheese

sea salt to taste

Heat butter in skillet over medium heat. Add veggies and scramble for 3-5 minutes, until soft. Add eggs. Cook and stir until desired consistency. Top with colby cheese and season with salt. Serve and enjoy.

Life in Bullet Points

May 16, 2010
  • I’ve rectified the situation I mentioned here. Last week Maddie and I planted the whole bundle of seeds–cucumbers, melons, squash, pumpkins, beans, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. Whew! Maddie has discovered a new love of the garden hose. We have one of those sprayer attachments that she loves to stick her hands in. We can’t even walk past the thing without her asking for a squirt.
  • Reason #314 on why I hate driving:  On my way home from church a few weeks ago, torrential rain started as we were barreling down the highway. I was driving, as Stu was on call. The car in front of us spun out, which was quite scary! At first I was confused as to why the SUV was turning left, but then saw him spin into the wall and do a 360 back into my lane. Praise God that I was far enough behind to brake in time, and that no one was behind me!
  • Reason #315 on why I hate driving:  Our car has been having  issues over the past few weeks, involving several trips to the dealership for repairs. Oh the joys of car-ownership!  At first, the gauge to the water pump was busted, so Maddie and I had to wait an hour and a half for the car to be fixed. A few weeks later, the check engine light came back on, and it turns out that the whole water pump needed to be replaced. At least we had recently purchased a second car–I can’t imagine dealing with car trouble with only one car!
  • I’m enjoying the wonderful produce coming in this spring. We went to the opening weekend of our farmers market last Saturday, and it was busy but so much fun! Lots and lots of gorgeous produce, and most important of all is the ruby-red strawberries. Those things are like baby crack–Maddie could eat a whole pound by herself in one sitting if I let her. We’re enjoying all the fresh summer squash, spring onions, crisp lettuce, and new potatoes now. I made an egg dish with all the bounty, and I hope to post the recipe soon!
  • I’ve been struggling to keep on top of all the chores around the house, so I’m hoping to create a new game plan that will help motivate me to tackle the tasks. My thoughts are still vague at the moment , so I may hash them out here.
  • I’ve been knitting (of course!) and I’ve recently completed a few projects. I may do a comprehensive post to update about the progress.

So hopefully I’ve whet your appetite for more to come!