Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Week That Was

Another week in our little household.  A week of bubble baths, bumped heads, red-nosed children running around in the cold, cozy fire burning, what shall we have for dinner?, entire cities made out of wooden blocks, is it bedtime yet?, and goodnight kisses.

1. Baking in our p.j.s

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 2. Making our favorite lemon cookie recipe for special dinner guests.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA3. Building block towers whilst wearing a tutu (whilst is a fun word to say, don’t you think?)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA4. Our special guests!  A lovely evening with yummy food (thanks to Justin) and excellent company!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA5. Trying something new

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA6.  The sewing room, piled with Christmas projects.  I don’t like to have my desk so cluttered but from now until January it will most likely stay that way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA7.  Our new wall hangings

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA8.  Fabric sorting day!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA9. Snacking and listening to The Boxcar Children audio recording

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA10.  My little artist hard at work

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA11.  Animal cookies and milk after playing on the trampoline for over an hour

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA12.  Thanksgiving morning, all of our clothes ironed and ready

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA13.  My “quick let’s get a picture while they’re all clean and in one place!” moment

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA14.  My loves and I with my “happy but tired” face.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My thought for the week:  Enjoy your babies.  I know that sounds trite, but it’s so easy to fret away those first months.  Worrying about spoiling them, starting “bad habits”, all the “you should never…” type of advice people are so prone to give.  Just enjoy them.  The day is coming when you will have to worry about spoiling and disciplining and habit-breaking, but those first precious months are for loving, singing, rocking, walking the floors, and letting their little heads fall asleep on your chest.

Happy Thanksgiving my friends!

The Week That Was

I hope my “Week that Was” posts are not getting too tedious for you.  I am enjoying them so they will probably stick around for a little while.  It’s easy to get swept away in the daily ebb and flow of life.  These weekly entries help me pay attention, they help me to slow things down a bit and document these precious days.

So here they are in all their everyday-glory: pictures from our week with captions.

1. Momma attempts to bake something other than drop cookies with three eager and “helpful” children under foot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA2.  We gather around the communion table.  We remember.  We celebrate.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

3. Brothers and Matchbox cars

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA3.  I’m addicted to her smiles.  Honestly, they’re like a tractor-beam of adorableness that pulls me in every time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA4. Homework.  I love it and I loath it.  I love that it slows my busy pace; makes me stop and spend time with my sweet second-born son, but oh.my.word it tests my patience like few things do.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA5. Speaking of sweet second-born sons… he proudly sat down and read a whole stack of books one evening.  That’s a sight I never get tired of seeing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA6.  Rainboots and haircuts

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA7. Post haircut puddle jumping in her Easter dress

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA8.  Rainy day sewing with the friend who knows me best. Who for some reason laughs at my silly jokes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA9.  Making Thanksgiving treats for school friends.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My thought for the week:  Loving someone doesn’t mean you have the right to show them less courtesy and kindness than you do the sales-clerk at Target.  Manners aren’t just for the people we brush into in town.  The ones we are closest to deserve our best but so often they are the ones get the dregs, the leftovers, the curtness, the careless remark.  If we cannot show Christ’s love to our own spouses and children, then we cannot show it to our community.

How to: Turn your child’s artwork into a lasting keepsake

I love my children’s artwork.  Which is good, because I get a lot of it!  I will confess that some of the countless “masterpieces” end up in the trash at the end of the day (horrified gasp!), but some of them make it into the stack of “keepers” that I keep on the shelf above my sewing desk.  The trouble is, I’m not always good at keeping tack of loose papers.  Sometimes those beautiful works of art get shuffled in with the junk mail, or become bent and wrinkled, or just fade with time.

A few years ago I had an “ah-ha” moment and I started embroidering and framing the children’s artwork.  No more worrying about fragile pieces of paper that get lost and damaged, and it got all those lovely pictures off my desk and onto the wall were they could be enjoyed by everyone.

So, if you have some priceless pieces of art that you’ve been saving, and would like to turn them into lasting keepsakes, this is how it’s done:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAList of supplies needed: one embroidery hoop ($1.99 at most craft stores), an embroidery needle, embroidery thread in a variety of colors (33 cents/ bundle), a small pair of scissors, and some light colored fabric.  Plain old muslin works great but in this case I’m using fabric that has a subtle floral design.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow comes the hardest part; choosing from all that amazing art you’ve been collecting.  This is one that Miss E drew a few weeks ago.  I fell in love with her loopy circus animals, and decided to embroider them so I could include it in a wall grouping above her bed.  I usually make a copy of the original artwork, and then use a Sharpie to trace over the photocopy, just to make sure the lines are nice and dark and easy to see.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Next tape the photocopied picture to a window that gets lots of sunlight.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen tape your fabric over the top of the picture.  As you can see from the picture I cut my fabric quite a bit larger than the picture.  You want extra fabric all the way around the design, so that you can trim it down later to a size that will fit in a standard frame.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow, using a regular old pencil, carefully trace over the image onto the fabric.  This will transfer your child’s art work onto the fabric.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATake your embroidery hoop and pull the two rings apart.  Put the smaller ring under the fabric.  Center is around the drawing.  Then place the larger ring over the top of the fabric and push it down onto the smaller hoop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext, cut approximately a 12 inch section of embroidery thread.  Cut it too long and the thread will have a tendency to tangle up; cut it too short and you will spend most of your time tying off and re-threading your needle (no fun!).  As you can see I’ve threaded the needle with a standard knot and one end and a few inches of “tail” on the other end, just to keep the needle from coming un-threaded (apparently “un-threaded” isn’t an actual word. huh) .

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow we begin to embroider!  The stitch I’m going teach you is called the back-stitch and it’s one of the most useful embroidery stitches you can learn. Start but running the tip of your needle along the backside of the fabric, until you can see that the needle is right under one of your lines.  Then, gently pull the needle up through the fabric until the length of your thread has come through, and the knot you made is right up against the backside of the fabric.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATaking your needle move one stitch length to the left and push the needle down through the fabric.  (Note: a stitch length is however long you want to make it.  Just keep in mind that smaller, even stitches look the nicest.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPull the thread until it is taut with the fabric.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow to make your second stitch.  Position your needle one stitch-length to the right of your last stitch.  Gently pull your thread through so that there’s no slack thread on the backside of the fabric.  Put your needle down right next to the last stitch.  There should be no space between the stitches.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAContinue to follow the line of your design; making back-stitches from right to left.

When you start to run out of thread, or you’ve come to the end of your design, you will need to tie-off on the back.  Make sure that you have three or four inches of thread left to work with.  If you don’t leave enough thread you won’t be able to make a knot on the back.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo make a knot, slide your needle under the last stitch you made.  This time don’t pull the thread all the way through.  Leave a loop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASlip your needle back through the center of the loop, and gently pull the loop closed.  Then slide the needle back under that first knot and make another knot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt should look like this.  Cut the thread close to the knot, re-thread your needle and start again!  Continue to back-stitch all the way around your design.

Feel free to use a variety of colors.  In some cases my children used particular colors and I matched them as close as I could.  In this case Miss E’s circus animals were done in pencil, so I chose colors that would go well in her room.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce your embroidery is done, find a frame that compliments the artwork, and hang it up in a place of honor!  You will need to gently iron the finished embroidery and trim the fabric to fit the frame.

It took a little bit of work but now you have a keepsake that will stand the test of time.  And who knows?  Maybe someday it will hang on your granddaughter or grandson’s wall.

Thanks for stopping by!  I hope you’ve been inspire to try a little embroidery, I think you’ll find it very addicting :)

~April

PS- if you are interested in learning more embroidery stitches there are tons of great video tutorials on Youtube.

The Week that Was

Pictures from our week with captions

1.  The sweet ache of love

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA2. Hello Monday morning

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA3. In G’s world bunk-beds become bunkers, stuffed animals are barricades, rolled-up car mats are transformed into cannons, and yellow bike helmets are actually military issue camo. army helmets.  G lives in a fun world.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

4. Christmas present planning

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA5. Before school snuggles

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA6. Oh.  You have a report and diorama due tomorrow?!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA7.  Dad makes coffee. supervises breakfast. mom sleeps in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA8.  The sock basket (a.k.a the bane of my existence)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA9.  Miss E finds the camera

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA10. Christmas sewing (sshhh, don’t tell the kids)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA11.  The sign Miss E made and posted on her bedroom door:

Translation provided by Miss E: “E wants to be left alone but not cause she’s bein’ naughty or sneekin’. The end.”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My thought for the week:  You can love your life without loving every minute of it.  That’s okay.  That’s normal, and don’t believe anyone who tells you differently.

She and I

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA She fills my days.  Her impish smile.  Her infectious laugh.  The way she leaps and twirls about my kitchen.  The tutus, over-sized butterfly wings, dollies, and tiny plastic animals scattered about the living room.  Everywhere I look, reminders of her.  My little shadow.  Oh the wonderful pictures she draws!  Her brothers would always say “I don’t know how to draw that!”.  It would never cross her mind to say such a thing.  If she can imagine it she can draw it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all games and giggles with her.  She has a fire in her belly that sometimes baffles her laid-back momma.  She is so unlike me.  We’re good for each other.   Her wild, fearless, and independent ways make me smile, and see the world as a place of exciting and endless possibilities.  My relaxed and even temperament help to ground her and smooth off some of the rough edges.  On our good days we are like two happy, snug puzzle pieces, different but right for each other.  On our hard days we bump and scrape against each other.  I frustrate her. She wears me out.

But at the end of the day when I tuck her in bed and she wraps her little arms around my neck, and I kiss her on the nose, all the dustiness of the day washes away.  She presses her forehead against mine and grins.

Tomorrow we will dance our perfectly imperfect dance again, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Perfectly Adequate Pot Roast

I like to cook. I do.  I like trying new recipes and cooking for company.  But the task of cooking dinner for my family night after night, week after week, can be daunting.  I get stuck in recipe ruts, and nothing breaks me out of a rut like getting a recipe recommendation from a friend.  Even if it’s a common recipe.  A new try to and old way is sometimes just what my ho-hum weeknight cooking needs. The recipes I’m interested in are other moms’ tried-and-true recipes.  The workhorse recipe.

So, I thought I would do a little trading.  I’ll share one of mine with you, and (if you feel like it) you can share one with me!

This is my Perfectly Adequate Pot Roast recipe.  When you’re reading a recipe online do you ever get that “used car salesman” feel?  All these crazy words being thrown around like “Wold’s best!”, “Best Ever!”, “Most Addictive!!”, “It’s like crack!” (really? how is that appealing).

I will make no such claims.  It’s a pot roast, it’s easy, it tastes good.

This recipe is based on this pot roast recipe.  Over time I have changed it and tweaked it.  I start with a large pot roast in the 3 lb. range.  I use my dutch-oven to cook my roasts.  I know people love their slow cookers but I prefer my dutch-oven, hands down!  The meat can be browned and cooked all in the same pot.  When the roast comes out, it is falling apart and it has a lovely golden brown color.  When I cook a roast in the crock pot it’s always a little on the tough side, and tends to be an unappetizing gray color.

First, I put my beloved dutch-oven on the stove and turn the heat up to medium-high.  I add about 3 tablespoons of oil to the bottom of the pan and let the oil heat up.  Meanwhile I liberally coat the roast with salt.  Then I peel a handful of garlic cloves, and I roughly chop 1 yellow onion.  I rarely use herbs but in this case I had some leftover so I also added some rosemary and thyme sprigs (EDITORIAL NOTE: the rosemary turned out to be a bad idea. It was over-powering.  I won’t be including it again)

Perfectly Adequate PotroastOnce the oil is hot I brown the roast on all sides.

Perfectly Adequate PotroastAt this point I remove the roast from the pot.

Perfectly Adequate PotroastUsing a paper towel I wipe out any leftover oil.

Perfectly Adequate PotroastNow I add my wet ingredients.  1 cup of Dr. Pepper, 1 1/2 cups of low sodium beef broth (this particular day I used chicken broth because it’s all I had in the house), and a few good sloshes of Worcestershire sauce.  If you’re worried about the roast tasting sweet, don’t be.  The Dr. Pepper adds great flavor but it doesn’t taste sweet.

Pefectly Adequate PotroastAs I’m adding the liquids I use my whisk to scrape up all those lovely brown bits in the bottom of the pot.

Perfectly Adequate PotroastNext I throw in the roast, onion, garlic, and herbs into the pot.  (Note to self: next time put the herbs in a cheese-cloth so you won’t be fishing chewy herbs out of the broth).

Perfectly Adequate PotroastPlace the pot in the oven set for 200 degrees, and let it cook all day long.  Now you can go do the 7,439 things you need to do today, and let dinner take care of it’s self.  All day your house will be filled with that fantastic pot roast smell.

About 3 hours before you plan on serving your roast, gather up any root veggies you have lying about.  This time I happened to have carrots, russet potatoes, a few red potatoes, and some sweet potatoes.

Perfectly Adequate PotroastPeel (or don’t), and chop.

Perfectly Adequate PotroastYou don’t have to have and adorable blue-eyed baby sitting on the counter, but it’s fun if you do.

Adorable counter babyAt this point I take out my roast and remove the herbs and onions.  They served us well but it’s time to vacate and make room for the veggies.

Perfectly Adequate PotroastToss in your vegetables and return to the oven for another three hours.

Perfectly Adequate PotroastRemove the roast, pull it apart, and heap the vegetable around it. Be sure to have a pitcher of that liquid gold sitting on the table. Serve to your adoring family who will spend the duration of the meal signing your praises.  Right? You mean your family doesn’t do that?  Mine either.  But I do get the occasional “good dinner mom!” and that’s pretty close in my book.

Okay, I shared mine; now your turn!

 

Perfectly Adequate Pot Roast

1 3-5 lb. pot roast

1 8 oz. can of Dr. Pepper

1 1/2 cups of low sodium beef broth

3 T of Worcestershire sauce

1 yellow onion roughly chopped

5 garlic cloves

Herbs (optional)

An assortment of root veggies chopped and peeled if you prefer.

Liberally coat roast with salt, brown on all sides in oil, remove roast and any leftover oil.  Add Dr. Pepper, beef broth, and Worcestershire sauce.  Place the roast back in the pot and add the onion, garlic, and herbs.  Three hours before serving, take out the roast out the oven, remove the onion and herbs, and add veggies.  Return to oven and finish cooking for the remaining three hours.  Total cooking time: about 8 hours (I’ve been known to stretch it to 9 hours with no ill affects).  Serves: a family of 6 plus leftovers for the next day.

 

The Week That Was

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

PA302887-MIX

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pictures from our week plus a few words to go with them~

-This week marked a first for our household.  We got the kiddos dressed up and we went Trick or Treating.  Actually Trunk or Treating at a local church.  They ate candy for breakfast the next morning.

-I gave my warmest smile to the rough-around-the-edges, older man standing in line behind us in Costco.  He rescued Miss P’s blanket from the ground.  Then he returned Pearl’s wide grin with a shy smile as he gentle tucked the blanket around her pink toes.

-I didn’t expect to be buying teething tablets quite so soon.  Hello teething; you have not been missed.

-G proudly picked out his school outfit on October 31st.  Anything that had orange was happily donned!  J even wanted to wear something special.  He let me sew a felt pumpkin face to his orange t-shirt.  You could have knocked me over with a feather.  My firstborn, straight-laced son suddenly wanting to dress-up?!

-It’s November.  Wow.