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So How Does My Garden Grow?

May 5, 2010

With empty beds and tools in sheds and little seeds all in their packs.

So the other day I looked up from my knitting needles and realized: It’s May!?! Already? What happened to April? I should have started my seeds a month ago!

The pictures you saw the other week was a gardening day, to be sure, but we only put in 3 tomato plants with their cages. They look lovely, if only a little aphid infested. (I think the recent rain has solved that problem.)

I sometimes think I’m more of gardener in theory rather than practice. I love to sit curled up with a gardening catalog and browse for out of season flowers and produce, but once the season comes around I delay or forget or figure I’ll get to it tomorrow. I’ve got seeds for gorgeous wildflowers, melons, squash, beans, peppers, eggplant–all heirloom varieties. They’re sitting on a shelf idly awaiting the day they get to see the sun.  And the thing is, I know in 2 months I’m going to be so mad at myself when I’m buying armfuls of produce at the farmers market, and wishing I could be pulling it from my own garden.

There is a little hope, though. It’s not too late plant some of them, especially the pumpkins and flowers. Maybe I can get to it someday this week?

Cloth Diapering Dilemna

May 3, 2010

I mentioned in this post that I’m a huge fanatic about cloth diapering. I still am. I’m so used to the ebb and flow of routine that it doesn’t phase me to do the extra steps of washing and folding diapers. I would never reconsider my choice about the matter if it wasn’t for one thing: diaper rash.

I won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say that she’s never had one this bad before, and I think it’s because of the diapers. I’ve put her in some disposables I already had on hand, and it was getting significantly better. But back in cloth, it got bad again.

I’m not sure what to do at this point. I’ve tried washing and rewashing the diapers with my natural detergent, stripping them with oxygen bleach, and drying in the sun, but nothing seems to help. I think I may switch to disposables for the time being until it clears up entirely, then try the cloth again. I’ve tried some more natural diaper creams, but I may have to go purchase something a little stronger. I hate to see my poor little girl uncomfortable!

Do you have any other suggestions? Should I try a different detergent or something? I’m not ready to give up my diapers just yet, so your thoughts are appreciated!

Eat.Sleep.Knit

April 30, 2010

One thing that most knitters love about their craft is the shopping and collecting of yarn.  It seems that many of the die-hard knitters have baskets and baskets of beautiful skeins just waiting to be used. I’ve always been interested in yarn, but more for the feel of it through my fingers rather than using it for a project. Once I picked up knitting, though, I can’t stop browsing for yarn! There are so many gorgeous yarns on the market now, and my favorites are the beautiful handpainted ones that use different tones of the same color. I’ve been planning several projects ahead of myself now, and if I purchase the yarns I would like it would get quite expensive!

So anyway, I found this adorable little online yarn shop through my searches in Ravelry. This little shop carries tons of gorgeous hand-painted yarns in so many beautiful colors. Not only that, but their selection is outstanding–the carry a large variety of colors for every brand.

I’ve put a referral button on my sidebar for those of you who would love to check the website out! Plus, I get bonus points added to my account for every click through.

Now hopefully I can stop talking about knitting!

Gardening Day!

April 24, 2010

For more cute Maddie pictures, visit our Flickr page.

Three Little Hats, All in a Row

April 23, 2010

Knitting has been all-consuming lately. I’m totally in love. Completely smitten. This new hobby of mine just suits me perfectly, and I may never, ever, ever get tired of it. Maybe it suits me a little too perfectly, as I spend a few hours every night working on projects after Maddie is asleep. And I spend way too much time on Ravelry looking up more and more projects that l want to do. I may never finish them all. I may just have to be buried with my knitting needles so I can finish everything I want to start. 🙂

I’ve been cranking out projects left and right for the new babies in my life. And, I absolutely love making baby hats. They whip up quickly, aren’t too hard, but are interesting enough to be fun. I learned how to knit in the round with these (they’re basically a knitted tube that’s closed on one end). I’m always looking for project to help improve my skills.

Here is the trio of hats I completed over the last month:

It’s a little hard to get size perspective on these, but they’re all newborn sized. I tried to put them on Maddie, but they were a bit too small to go over her 18-month-old sized head. The third hat is my favorite–I love the flower and the colors I chose. It’s resting on a grapefruit to give it shape. I wish I had thought of that with my first two photos!

The first two hats aren’t the same–one is lighter in color. These are going to a friend that is having twin boys next month. The beautiful red hat is for another friend due at the beginning of June. Her baby shower was last weekend, and I made a complete set for her–the hat, a pair of socks (with matching flowers!), and an adorable frog with a tennis ball inside (so he bounces!).

I’m about halfway done with a super cute sundress for Maddie. I can’t wait to finish it, and I’m really hoping it fits! This is my hardest and largest project by far, so I hope it comes out okay.

To My Maddie-Girl: 18 Months

April 10, 2010

My friend Ashley writes letters to her little girl every few months, and I loved the idea. This is a wee bit late, as Maddie’s 18-month birthday was 4 days ago.

To Maddie:

18 months have come and gone, but it seems like only yesterday that we brought you home to our little apartment in Houston. You were so eager to get into this world, and you’ve not slowed down since! You’ve always been a curious baby. You can’t get enough of exploring this great big world, and you feel the need to try everything, especially if Mommy is doing it! You simply love to be outside, and usually ask several times a day if we can go play in the grass or take a walk down the street. I can’t wait to take you outside to garden! You can be a little stubborn, though, especially when there is so much to explore. If we’re shopping at the craft store, you always want to go your own way and see everything!

You’re an absolute delight to be with, Maddie. You’re always a smiley little thing, and I call  you my little giggle-box. Your laughter always brings a smile to my face, and you’re laughing most of the day. You’re always optimistic–even when the kitties are less than thrilled to see you, your always smiling and laughing at them.

You’re developing so fast now; it seems as if you’re learning a new word every day! You’re very first word was “up,” but you’re able to express yourself so much more now. You can tell me if you’re hungry and want food, or if you want to cuddle, or if you’re ready to wear your favorite pair of shoes. You surprise me all the time with the things you understand, especially when I think you’re still too young. You know when I grab my purse that it’s time to go “bye-bye,” and you so eagerly wait by the door to get in your carseat!

My most favorite thing, though, is how much you love to cuddle. Most mornings, right after our breakfast, you curl up in my lap and snuggle with me while we watch a cartoon or two. I love that so much! Never grow out of that!

I love watching you grow up, sweet girl. I can’t wait to see the big girl you become!

Love,

Mommy

Computer Fast Reflections

April 7, 2010

I mentioned here that I was planning on taking a computer fast during the weeks preceding Easter.  Since Easter has come and gone, I figured it was time for an update. I must say, it was much, much harder than I thought it would be.

I had much gusto the first week or two. I wrote down the recipes I needed the night before and recorded the things I needed to look up later in the day when I thought of them. The computer sat idly in its spot on top of the  TV until Maddie went to bed. After those first few weeks, I would take sneak peaks during the day if I needed something quick, then put the computer back without a second glance. After that the bottom dropped out. First thing in the morning I would take a “quick peak,” then discover an hour had flown by. I rarely spent time in prayer, chores were still neglected, and Maddie spent more time in front of the TV than I care to admit.

Here’s what I learned over the course of this journey:

I discovered just how hard it was avoiding quick hops on the computer to check something out. So many times during the day I would think of a recipe I wanted to look up, a pattern I wanted to knit, or something like that, and then I would remember that I shouldn’t be on the computer. Sometimes I would write it down for later, but more often than not I would cave. Also, I found when I wasn’t on the computer, I compensated by spending more time watching TV or trying to knit (hard to do with an active 18-month-0ld!). Basically, I was substituting one distraction for another. I still neglected chores and quiet time. And unfortunately, there were many times I pushed Maddie away for “me” time.

So, in other words, my fast has been an epic failure. I went in with lots of good intentions. I wanted to spend more time in prayer, more time with Maddie, and more time serving my husband with good food and a clean house. However, the time went progressively downhill until I wasn’t even trying to stay off the computer during the day. I’ve discovered how little self-control I actually have, and how much time I allocate during the day doing mindless things. I get so me focused that I put my priorities in the wrong place. I want to put Christ first and me second, but I can’t do it on my own.

Going forward, I plan on at least trying to stay off the computer during the day, even though it wouldn’t be so much of a commitment as the weeks before. I hope to spend more time in the Word and prayer, and then after that I hope the rest will fall into place.

Take Two: Spaghetti with Dijon Cream Sauce

April 3, 2010

Here is the second recipe in the first edition of my leftovers makeover series. This tastes complicated, but is little more than throwing together a little bit of this and a little bit of that. The ingredients are more like guidelines; add as much or as little as you want.

If you have plenty of leftover roasted asparagus, by all means use that in this recipe. The roasted flavor would add a wonderful layer to this dish. I didn’t have any leftover, so I boiled uncooked asparagus with the pasta until it was crisp-tender. This dish would also be good with other veggies, like fresh tomato (added at the end) or red bell pepper (sauteed until soft with a bit of olive oil).

Spaghetti with Dijon Cream Sauce

1 cup leftover pork or cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
3/4-1 cup leftover sauce
1/2-1 cup leftover roasted asparagus or uncooked asparagus, chopped into 1-inch pieces
Uncooked spaghetti (enough for 2)

Boil spaghetti according to package directions in a large pot. In the meantime, warm the leftover sauce, chicken, and roasted asparagus in a small saucepan until heated through. If using raw asparagus, add it to the pasta water 5 minutes before the spaghetti is done. Drain pasta and return it to the pot. Add warmed up sauce, and stir to combine. Serve and enjoy!

Take Two: Dijon Pork Chops

March 30, 2010

Here is the first recipe in a series of posts about leftovers. I eat a lot of them, but sometimes I would rather not eat the same thing 3 days in a row. This recipe is on the fancy side, but cooks up quickly. I reduced the amount of meat to serve 2, but kept the amount of sauce the same as the original, which served 4. The leftover sauce (and any leftover meat) needs to be saved for the second day.

I serve this dish with roasted asparagus, which Stu loves. Save any leftover asparagus for the next meal as well (but it’s not necessary.)

Are you ready? Here we go.

Dish number 1:

Dijon Pork Chops

Adapted from Simply Recipes, whose recipe directions were so clear that I didn’t alter them

1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 center-cut rib or loin pork chops, bone in (preferred), about 1 1/4 inch thick (I used thinner chops, and cooked them for 5 minutes less)
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp chopped parsley (optional)

Melt the butter in the oil in a large deep skillet over medium high heat. Season chops with salt and pepper and brown them, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Reduce heat slightly if the chops brown too quickly.

Remove chops from the pan and pour off most of the fat. Add the green onions or shallots and cook on med high heat until softened, about 1 minute. Add wine and bring to a boil, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the stock and return chops to the pan. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook until chops are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the chops to a warm platter; cover with foil to keep warm. Raise the temp of the pan to boil the pan juices, reduce the juices by half, about 2 minutes. Add cream and boil 2 minutes more, until sauce reduces and thickens. Remove from the heat and whisk in mustard and parsley. If you want, add more mustard to taste. Spoon sauce over chops and serve.

Wondering what dish #2 could be? Stay tuned!

Because It’s My Birthday and It’s Finally Spring . . .

March 28, 2010

. . . here is another picture of the lovely Maddie.