Thursday, February 25, 2010

Inspiration in a Piano Lesson

Inspiration comes from everywhere!

I've been teaching K how to play the piano since 2004.  She's learned a lot, she knows her notes, she knows her chords and the basic progressions.  She knows how to play a scale, and how to swing.  She can sight read, and she can perform- she's quite a talented kid!

Lately she's been having the hardest time with her songs- it's frustrating for both of us because I can't possibly pass them off in the state they're in, and she's playing all the notes right but it still sounds like she's hunting and pecking for each tone.  She sounds completely unsure.

Finally today I stopped her- "K, what are you looking at while you play?"

"Well...I kind of look at both staffs.  Mostly the bass (left hand notes) I guess."
"Are you looking at the notes you're playing?"
"Alright, quit it.  You already know what you're playing- look to the next note to see where you need to go!"

And you know what?  It made all the difference.

I want to quit staring at my own feet, and always look ahead to my goals.

Have joy in the journey, guys!


For more inspiration, head over to Melissa's

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Salt Paintings

(Yes, that's a very large jar of honey. We really like honey. And it stores really well.)

I saw Ebi-kun doing this project and thought it looked like fun! At last count, Ernie made...16 of these today? HUGE hit. You dribble glue all over a page, then sprinkle salt on top and shake off the excess (I shook it onto a plate, so I could reuse it for the next picture.) I gave her four bowls of colored water (about a 1/4 cup each, with 3 drops of food dye) and showed her how to lightly touch the top of the salt- depending on how wet your brush is, the color scoots along the glue and salt line, and it's really run. You can put colors next to each other and see how they mix, or put them right on top of each other. The original post says these won't 'store' well- I have them hung up on our art line, and can see that salt is falling off when they get bumped. But they sure are pretty! (She did it on black paper, which would be very nice. We're burning through a pile of scratch paper Bobby, that would be my business-man Dad, was nice enough to send for Ernie's use. And Bobby? It's almost gone. Wow. Have any more meetings coming up? With long printed agendas you never want to see again? Unless, of course, there's an original Ernie creation on the other side?)

Mimi couldn't get the hang of "lightly dabbing" so I gave her a blank paper and a brush. I quickly limited her to only yellow...and it still didn't end well. She sure had fun, though! Her pretty pink dress is in the wash, we'll see what color it is when it comes out.

***edit: The clothes washed up just fine with laundry detergent, white vinegar, and a little Oxy-Clean. Yay!***

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Early Spring

Our "early spring" has arrived! (As in, everything listed as "blooms in early spring" is alive and kicking. Man am I ever glad to see these ladies and gents put on their spring finest!)

Forsythia (I was glad my neighbor was at work when I snapped this picture- it's HIS bush, and I was nearly pointing my camera in his kitchen window!)


Lungwort- this came from my grandma's yard. I pulled it up from our last house right before we moved- I felt guilty about not telling the new owners, but also was very sad to leave behind all the other plants from Grandma's yard. I knew they would be missed though- this is nearly invisible once it stops blooming. I've collected more of most of the plants I had to leave behind- I'm waiting to see if they survived the winter! If this lungwort ever dies though, I'll be so sad- Grandma's was composted (by a well-meaning friend who thought it was dead) shortly after I took a piece home.

Lemon balm- it hitched a free ride when I brought mint from Grandma's garden, and is threatening to annihilate the mint. I didn't think anything could out-crazy mint, but lemon balm can. It's earlier, faster, and bigger. And I have no idea what to do with it! I'm going to try sorbet this year. I'm not really big into drinking tissanes, but I'm sure that would be yummy too.
Other friends I've seen in the yard: crocosmia, day lilies, tulips, and lots and lots of weeds. I'm starting to look like a gardener again, with lots of dirt under my fingernails and on my shoes! Mimi out-dirts me, though: I have gloves :) I think she must roll in the dirt while I'm not looking, that child goes though SO many outfits these days! She was crazy excited to go outside before lunch today, and refused to put on clothes. I looked at the thermometer (43), looked at our deck (damp in places), looked at my child (nothing but a diaper, and pleading.) Out you go! Five minutes later she was at my side holding her outfit, her parka, and her shoes. Smart kid :)
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Monday, February 22, 2010

Meal Planning Monday and Brigadeiros

First off, I have to tell you about the amazing meal we had last night.  OK, maybe our standards have been slipping...but it was DARN good!

Sunday: spaghetti with red sauce (lots of sauteed onions, carrots, and celery, then browned a pound of ground beef, then added more garlic, basil, sage, oregano, and a jar of canned sauce.  It would have been wonderful with canned tomatoes, etc., but I had a jar of sauce and I was short on time.)  The last time I made bread I made a triple batch, and one of those batches turned into 2 round loaves.  We wrapped them in foil and warmed them in the oven, and served the bread with softened butter doctored up with garlic and parsley- that was Wonder Daddy's idea.  It's must more garlicky today...and therefore, much better *grin*  Make it a day ahead!  We made brigadeiros for dessert- brazilian chocolate candies.  Cook two cans of sweetened condensed milk, 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder, and 2 Tbsp. butter until it makes a very thick batter that doesn't stick to the pan when you tilt it.  (You can stir constantly on the stove, medium heat, for 20 minutes, or we found that you can microwave it for a minute at a time for about 6 minutes, stirring in between.)  Let it cool to room temp, roll into little balls, and roll into sprinkles.  We have no sprinkles left in the house now, and I can't see my toes.  My gracious, are those little balls good!  Like perfectly fudgy brownies, without the bother of flour.  Even better the second day.

Monday: We have leftover sauce, so I'll throw in another can of crushed tomatoes and bake a spaghetti bake.
Tuesday: I don't finish teaching till 5- I'll put a pot of rice on before lessons start, and thaw some beans from the freezer.
Wednesday: Scouts night for Daddy, so that would make it Girls night!  We always have pancakes. (Long teaching day, so again: easy.)  If I  make them whole-grain, it's not so bad, right?
Thursday: The kids love salmon- I'll make salmon cakes and see if they like those, too!  Quinoa on the side and canned corn.
Friday:  Date night :o)
Saturday:  Up in the air- we're hoping to have a work party for our yard, so I'm kind of planing on feeding the world that day.  I'm thinking pizzas and a veggie tray, and a couple boxes of Krispy Kremes.  Men around here will do a lot for a box of Krispy Kremes.  Or Top Pot donuts (they're "Hand Forged" and simply ginormous.)  Or maybe a chocolate sheet cake.... or maybe I should see how many people are coming and then make my plans *grin*  Anyone want to come and move dirt?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Happy Sunday

Happy Sunday everyone!
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Friday, February 19, 2010

Questions to Think About, Azaleas, and Waiting

I love these azaleas in our yard- they're always the first of their friends to bloom, and they smell like lilies if you get in nice and close.

You all have been so kind about me getting back into singing regularly, and I want to tell you:  I've tried.  I really have!  I auditioned two weeks ago for a church show- I have no idea how it went.  During my 3 minutes and 30 seconds of singing (I timed it at home) Ernie poked her head in twice to try and get me to come see her chalk drawing in the next room, Mimi played a nice little piece on the piano before I scooped her up into my arms, and I started my piece 4 whole tones higher than I'd practiced it at home.  Because that's where it was written, that's why!  Did you know that singing a song 4 steps higher than you practiced, while holding a 22 pound toddler, makes for difficult singing?  The ladies were nice and had big smiles afterwards "What's your background?  Were you a music major?"  No, I was a music minor...and I'm trying to sing more often than I have been for the past few years.  And the moral of this story?  Momma shouldn't go to auditions during Tax Season, when Daddy is busy!  It's been two weeks and I haven't heard anything- the show is March 20th.

I wrote to my old high school choir director- I ran into him at a high school vocal competition last year that I was accompanying at.  He invited me to join his adult jazz group, and I took a rain check until the kids could both go to bed without me.  I wrote a few days ago, and haven't heard from him either....

but I'll keep trying!  Have I sung "Amazing Grace" for you guys yet?  I should record that one- it's such a pretty piece.

My friend came to visit last night, and we sat for hours just chatting and doodling with thread.  OK, I chatted more than I doodled, but here's what I made.

I found another towel in my embroidery box too.

I think it was supposed to be an apple :)

I'm so excited at the response to yesterday's post!  We have 3, possibly 4, lovely people putting their thinking caps on about what they want to say so far.  It is, admittably, a GINORMOUS topic to cover, and a daunting task trying to distill your entire religion into one written piece.

I thought I'd make it easier- I'll list some questions you could send in answers for, or just use them as jumping off points for what you want to say.

  • Name of religion
  • Current religious leader 
  • Structure- do you attend a local congregation?  What is it called, and who leads it?  Who does that person "report" to? And that person? etc.  
  • Unique terms- what do you call your leaders, your congregation, your services, the components of your service?  Can you define them and describe them?
  • What are the main beliefs of your church?  (Please don't say "Unlike _____, we believe ____.)  Where do you think we were before Earth?  Where will we go after earth?  What are the things your religion encourages you to do?  What should we accomplish while on this earth, and why are we here?
  • What is the "authority" behind your religion?  Is it ancient?  Is it inspired?  Is it based on the teachings of one person, whose works you try and emulate?
  • Does your religion believe in change?  If your religion were to change its official stance on an issue, who would decide that and how would it be decided?
  • What written works do you believe to be scripture and true?
  • Who do you worship?  Do you worship any one deity? Or multiple?
  • If you'd like to talk about it, why do you attend this church?
Chime in in the comments if you have any others you'd like to see answered, or if you want to participate!


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Your Turn

Photos of Ernie on the grounds of the Seattle LDS temple, July 2008. Photos by her aunt BW

I got into REALLY big trouble over the weekend. An old high school classmate posted a status question on Facebook, I responded with my own question, which was then taken horribly wrong by friends of HIS, and I found myself the unhappy recipient of Hate and Vitriol- I was being flamed, and it stunk.

I sent a note to the most vehement of the posters, asking her to stop- she didn't understand my statement, and I didn't like being publicly attacked. She saw my true point, and apologized to me (and on the original comment.) It started a weekend-long back and forth about civil rights, religious beliefs, and the state of politics in our country, and I think I have a new friend now. She's a lovely, feisty, heart felt girl who was trying to stand up for the rights of others, and I admire her for that.

It brought to mind a wish I've had for a while. I don't know if we can make it work, but it would be lovely to try.

I'd like to host a series of "get to know you" guest posts- I'm a religious gal (LDS/Mormon) and I know so many of you have wonderfully strong religious beliefs as well. I'd love to know more about them- I think we can all be better about understanding others around us, and the way to understand them is to know where they're coming from. If you think this is a good idea and sounds like fun, please comment below or send me an e-mail at madebymyrnie(at)gmail(dot)com.

You'll write a guest post about your religion- written works you follow (bible, talmud, koran, Book of Mormon, etc.), what the organizational structure currently looks like, history of the religion, beliefs, practices, terminology, etc.

I will post what you write, and link back to you. I will also be screening comments- anything belittling or questioning what you believe will be deleted and sent back to the original commenter asking them to please rephrase their question.

Let me know if you'd like to participate!
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Oilcloth Table Cloth

The sunny day came, and I got pictures of the fabric that I promised: I've finally been re-introduced to oilcloth, and I LOVE it. I love the durability, the wipe-ability, and the bright colors! This fabric was purchased from Vogue Fabrics online, but there are tons of retailers out there.

The fabric was a gift from my mom- she offered to purchase enough oil cloth for the both of our tables if I would make her a table cloth. Oilcloth doesn't fray, so I chose to just leave mine unfinished, but she's excited about having a scarlet-red serged edge- I'll have to take pictures when I'm done, you're going to love it. Her fabric is yellow, with big red hibiscus.

I actually think I'm going to go ahead and staple my oilcloth to the underside of the table- I love it that much! I think this gray weather is getting to me- I have purple, yellow, and green walls...and now I have an aqua and red and green tablecloth. All my mom and sister could say was "Wow, matches the rest of your house."

The basket you see above it one of my favorite thrift finds- a vintage egg-gathering basket. Right now it holds our collection of cloth napkins.

For people who have admired my chairs, Fred Meyer is carrying them again, in a slightly different style, but four different colors (red, blue, black, natural.)
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Meal Planning Monday

I hope everyone had a good Valentines Day!  I got to accompany my little brother and his friend at his church meeting, so we had a long day of meetings with the kids.  They were champs!  My family came for dinner- prawn coconut curry, naan, rice, and mint ice cream for dessert.  Family favorites, all- if you like coconut curry, try this one, it's amazing.  The mint ice cream was my easy vanilla ice cream, but I steeped 2 cups of bruised mint leaves from last summer's garden in the milk/cream mixture overnight.

Meals for this week:

Monday: Crockpot roast chicken (yes, this was from last week- the bird didn't thaw until Saturday!) with carrots, onions, potatoes, parsnips.  I'll freeze the rest of the chicken.

Tuesday: Pinto beans, rice.  Steamed carrots.

Wednesday: Pancake or waffle night- Daddy is at Scouts, and Wednesday is girl's night!

Thursday:  Baked potato bar- sour cream, green onions from the garden, cheese, chili, tortilla chips


Saturday:  sushi night

Sunday: TBD- I'm not sure if I'm hosting or not!

Not an exciting week, but the girls are still sick and it should at least be calm *smile*

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saturday Thoughts

Wonder Daddy and I watched "Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs" last night- it was painful.  I thought the ending and ending credits were cute though.  Ernie and Mimi watched it with their grandma last night while we were out on a date- Ernie LOVED it.  I think we'll get that book next time we're at the library.

Speaking of books, this one looks cute.

We like this one, too.  I think we've checked it out from the library 4 times in the past 12 months.  Very good stuff for the kids who do things a little different.  (Wouldn't that statement cover ALL kids?  I love kids :)

Went shopping last night for new jeans- I've been buying Gap "Long and Lean" for years, they always fit like a glove.  (Which is ironic since I'm neither long nor lean.)  I bought them a size smaller than I ever have before (6) and the legs are still a bit baggy.  Hello clothing-size creep!  My sewing patterns are still brutally honest, and peg me at a 14, so don't worry- I won't let it go to my head!  :)

Even still, I lost 4 pounds this past month.  I decided to wean the baby- I didn't offer milk, she didn't ask.  Wow, that was easy!  My body started shutting down the dairy factory, I started losing inventory (read: FAT) and I thought that was that!  Baby decided we WEREN'T done, and ramped up the feeding schedule.  Whoa! said the body, burn all available fat!  Make that milk!  I am SO hungry this week! :)  It doesn't help that the baby keeps climbing into my lap after she finishes her meals and eating everything on my plate.  She must be growing!

I hope everyone has a great Saturday!


Friday, February 12, 2010

Next Best Thing

I received a fabric order today, and I'm longing to show you guys...but I'm the Pacific NW, and the sun is not cooperating. My "sew me something to wear" project only got as far as the measurements stage. So....the next best thing is to show you this: Quinoa! (Because, sure. Hearty side dishes are the next best thing to sunshine drenched photos and completed sewing projects.)

If you haven't added this to your pantry, you're missing out. Seriously. Pronounced "keen-wa," it's a super old grain (well, pseudo-grain) that's indiginenous to the Andes. It's related more to beets and tumbleweeds than it is to wheat and rice, since it's not a grass. It's a seed, and has a high protein content (and, remarkably, is a nearly complete protein) so it's great for vegetarians and vegans. The vegetarians and vegans are going to want to hide their eyes when I tell you my secret for cooking this, though!

Quinoa has a bitter coating of saponins on the outside which you'll want to rinse off before you cook, unless the package says they've already rinsed it for you. (These saponins mean that the birds don't like it either, so that's good news for the farmers!)

It's easy to cook- put 2 cups of water and 1 cup of quinoa in a pan and bring to a boil. Bring down the heat and simmer, with the lid, for about 15 minutes or until all the water is soaked up and little curly-cues have popped out of the ends (that's the germ of the seed.) I always stir some chicken base (it's a puree of chicken and salt and spices, found in the baking section of the store) into the water once it's boiling before I put the lid on. You could use bullion or just cook it in chicken broth, too. Veggie bullion would be nice, as well.

This is so great as a side dish, or with beans or chili. If you cook it plain, you can make a nice salad by tossing in some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dried cranberries, and sliced green onions. (I make the same salad with cooked wheat, it's always a big hit at potlucks.)

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentines Crafts for Kids

The girls both woke up with sniffles Wednesday morning, so we canceled all our appointments* and had some quiet time at home.

I helped Ernie make valentines for her classmates, and they turned out cute! For her preschool class she made the suckers you see above- I flattened a toilet paper tube and sliced it into 5 pieces. Ernie decorated all the pieces with marker, and I pushed the pieces into heart shapes and punched holes so she could thread each heart onto a sucker. (I'm not sure where I first saw these TP hearts, but I know the Filth Wizardry girls were having a lot of fun with theirs!) Unfortunately it looks like Ernie is going to miss the class party due to her cold, but that just means the girls in her class can see these next week!

For her church class we made a double batch of our favorite playdough- it's soft, and if we keep it sealed tight in the refrigerator it will last for months and months. The recipe is below, and it's from my friend Mama Papaya. I mixed gold glitter in with the flour, and red food coloring in with the liquids. A stand mixer makes quick work of this, without any burned fingers. Check out the original post for lots of ideas to gussy this up, M. Papaya is awesome :)

We'll divide this up and punch it into heart shapes before bagging it up for all her classmates.

*Mama Papaya's Easy Playdough*
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup water

Heat everything except the flour- either in a pot on medium low, or in the microwave. Mix into the flour until a dough forms, and let cool. (Note: A stand mixer with the paddle attachment makes this really easy!)

*Seriously, we canceled our appointments- Wednesday is always Great-Grandpa day in the morning, with a long afternoon of piano lessons.
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Everything's A Little Early

February 21st, 2009:

February 8th, 2010:

I don't know what this bush is, but we have quite a few of them in the backyard and greenbelt- some are about 10 feet tall. They're always the first thing to bud out. They're already blooming this year! Our neighbor's are moaning about their roses- they intended to prune in March, but the plants have already put out fresh growth. They're going to be MONSTERS this year.

We've been having some gorgeous sunny weather, with afternoons in the low 60's. These poor plants are going to get quite a shock when the cold weather comes back!

All this gorgeous weather has kept me busy puttering and dreaming about my garden- I promise I'll be back in the sewing room soon! I went through my closet and pulled out everything that was stained, torn, or didn't fit. Umm.... if I don't get busy sewing this week, I'm going shopping this weekend! I'm dreaming of a fully, swingy, wool skirt to wear to church- dresses and skirts are so cold! I might even make an underskirt. Our building is always really cold. I have a nice piece of royal blue corduroy I'm hoping to make into an A-line skirt, too. I have some cast off clothes that I'm scheming to remake into something nice- I love the sweater dresses I'm seeing around, and I'm trying to see if I can get something together. :) I'll take pictures and you guys can tell me what you think before I start cutting!
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

DIY Mama

Heads up about a new blog I've started!

A few years ago I started getting into things I could "do myself."  First laundry soap, then a bit of sewing, then some dish soap, then bread, then... it just snowballed!  Our expenses went down, our health went up, and I spent way less time shopping so my happiness increased exponentially.

**Perspective: We've spent an average of $200 a month on groceries since May 2008.  We both lost about 20 pounds last year, and I've lost another 2 pounds since the new year.**

So many people were surprised to hear everything we could easily and cheaply make at home (all kinds of baked goods, chocolate sauce, fermented dairy products like yogurt and creme fraiche) that I found myself writing detailed e-mails to friends and acquaintances nearly every month.  None of this stuff is hard, none of this stuff is expensive!  Apparently, none of it is common knowledge, either *grin*

So, I've started writing about everything you can do yourself over at DIY Mama (  I get geeky about recipes, homemaking, child rearing, home schooling, gardening, canning and everything else we've gotten ourselves wrapped up in!  I hope you'll join us over there!


Monday, February 8, 2010

Meal Planning Monday with Easy Ice Cream

We have been pretty bad about sticking to our menu plans!  I either make way too much of something, so we eat it for days, or just make pancakes :o)

So, to use:
cheese (pepper jack, Parmesan)

Not a lot that's fresh in the refrigerator, but I need to work on "eating down" our freezers before summer.
In the freezer, that I want to use up:
berries (cherries, strawberries, blueberries, grapes)
cooked broccoli (I had thought to use this for broccoli cheddar soup, but want to find a dairy-free use instead)
plum chutney
various meats (whole chicken, ground beef)

I also need to go through our canned things from last summer- my goal is to can every summer, and restock every summer.
Apple Pie Filling
Jams (fig, blueberry, plum, marmalade, apple butter)

Sunday: sliced pork loin, skillet potatoes, home-canned peaches
Monday: pinto beans and rice- I'll freeze the leftovers
Tuesday: crockpot roast chicken with roast vegetables (carrots, onions, parsnips, potatoes)
Wednesday: Daddy won't be home till late, so we'll have breakfast- pancakes or french toast, eggs.
Thursday: Chicken-salsa pizza with pepper jack cheese (with chicken from Tuesday night)
Friday: no dinner- date night! Thanks, Mom and Dad!
Saturday: to appease the four-year-old, sushi.  (Or leftovers, depending on what's in the fridge)
Sunday: It will be our first "Big Family Meal" in a few weeks, so we'll do something festive.  Shrimp Coconut Curry!  I'll have to make everything early, because I'll just have time to reheat between church and dinner time.  I'll make an apple crumble for dessert, with the easiest vanilla ice cream ever.  Or maybe mint ice cream, because it's Mom's favorite?  (Skip the vanilla, and let 2 cups of mint leaves marinate in the combined milks for 30 minutes to a few hours, depending on how strong you want it.  Strain out the leaves before churning.)

Easy Vanilla Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk (I use skim)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pour all ingredients into an ice cream freezer, and let it churn until thick (it won't be quite as thick as soft-serve)  Takes about 20 minutes.

Pack into a freezer-proof container with a lid, smooth saran wrap over the surface of the ice cream, and store in the freezer for a few hours to "ripen."  

Friday, February 5, 2010

Signs of Spring

Spring, you say? Yes: Spring. Dad gummit, I want Spring. It's a yearly ritual in our house to get a little stir crazy in January-February...start making *almost* jokes about buying an RV so we can go park somewhere sunny for a month or two... (Obviously, that's crazy talk- we'd rent an RV, not purchase. Crazy talk!)

My first seeds of the year (leeks) have sprouted, and are growing like crazy. I'm such a mother hen- I let them germinate on top of the refrigerator, for that little bit of extra heat. Since our days are so short right now, they get an extra three hours of sunshine at night with my spectrum light. Such spoiled things! They better do well :)

All of the "it's winter still but Christmas is over" white decorations have been packed up and replaced with green and purple. This drawing sits on top of the piano now- isn't it lovely? My little sister drew it for my birthday, I love it! She's such a talented girl.

What are you doing to bring in Spring?

For more Winter Home ideas, head over to Melissa's weekly blog festival!
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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Seven Red Things

Su tagged me in her "seven red things" meme a while back- this was really fun!  I'm not going to tag anybody, but it's a fun post to do if you want to pick it up.

Here are seven red things from around the house:
The red Kitchen Aid.  I LOVE this thing, and as you can gets used a lot.  It's almost never clean.  (Don't look too closely at the reflections...but if you DO see the 5 pound Costco bag of pretzels, I confiscated that from my baby when she dragged it into my bedroom, asking for a light snack.)

Double whammy- red silicone spatula and an....?  I don't know what it is, it kind of looks like an urn and it's a great size to hold all my kitchen utensils.  Another lovely (wedding) gift from my interior-decorator aunt.

This Santa present has been a HUGE hit this year- it's an easel.  I regularly find the chalk in my large stockpot with an old make up brush- the baby likes to dab on her powder in the mornings.  *sigh*  And, as Ernie excitedly shouted from underneath the easel one day "Mommy!  This is from IKEA!  Santa shops at Ikea!  See?  The sticker right here says so!"  I am SO not used to having a girl who can read.

Those egg shakers are still hanging around, but have much more tape now than when they started out (check out the sidebar for more information on these- they were a huge hit with my kids and nursery classes.)  They live in a basket next to the piano now, with castanets, scarves, and ribbons.

Voting day is coming!!

Our church magazine, The Ensign.  We have "The Friend" for the kids, and "New Era" for the teens.  This is geared towards adults (but I noticed a few kid activities and messages for teens in this issue, which is nice.)  This is a beautiful painting of Daniel in the lion's den- you can't see King Darius' face very well, but it's priceless.

And finally, a red chair.  We bought our chairs a few years apart at the same store, as our table/family grew- they're all the same style, but two of each color (natural, black, red, blue.)  LOVE them!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

WIP: My Tiny Garden Plot

See that lawn? That lush moss and crab grass lawn?

It's not long for this life. Meet your Compost Pile Doom, horrible lawn!

We never water you. We never fertilize you. We hand pull your weeds. Wonder Daddy mows you every week during the summer, and sometimes TWICE.

Henceforth your iron grip on our front yard shall be curtailed. You will be pushed back and defeated. You will be replaced!

Step down, wretched sod.

Apparently our yard used to be full of flower planters, until the previous owners brought in truck loads of dirt and dumped it over everything, then built a shoddy retaining wall on top of a crumbling wooden edging along the driveway- the wall leaned back so far in places, it was a Life Goal for Ernie to be able to walk the entire length of the wall without falling off. (It took a year of trying, but she made it.)

In adition to that rotten wall, the entire lawn has been heaving into weird aquatic shapes- it was relatively smooth when we moved in, but has since settled into hills and valleys. We plan to push it back to at least where it was pre-dirt-dump. There's actually a retaining wall UNDERNEATH the grass. Did you see the yellow ridge in the first photo? There's only 2 or 3 inches on top of a boulder wall. We're bringing it back, baby.

See the barked strip on the right? That's the former dwelling place of the Tomatillos That Could Not Stop. It gets lots of sun.

Wonder Daddy spent last week pulling out all the wall stones and carting them to the backyard- they weigh 50 pounds each, he's kind of sore now, and buffer than he was.

You asked if I had a HUGE backyard. We kind of do, but it's almost entirely shady. This front yard is what I'm pinning all my gardening dreams on. That, and Wonder Daddy's amazing designing ability, to make it look Good. And not something the HOA will send us a letter about.

It helps that all our immediate neighbors have *always wanted* to do edible landscaping, but haven't gotten around to it/didn't know what it would look like. Our next door neighbor really wants a blueberry hedge between our houses- my parents have some berry bushes in their crying out for sun, I think they're going to take a trip to our yard this year or next! Our neighbor also wants chickens.

I love our neighbors.
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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

WIP: What is it?

My MIL gave me these when we last visited. Her mother made them all, but we're not sure for what kind of project. These are hand-appliqued Holly Hobbies- so cool. Every little girl is different.

My sister offered to make them into a quilt for me. Serendipitously, she received a few pieces of Holly Hobby fabric that could be the sashing...but would that be too much? I'm trying to decide if the whole quilt, as envisioned, wouldn't be too much. Or would it be charmingly kitschy? They might become tote bag appliques, or...? What would you do with 21 hand-stitched applique blocks? These guys are big, too. Maybe 12x15"? Nana Great put an amazing amount of work into these, I would love to turn them into something swell!

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Meal Planning Monday

We never quite finished our meal rotation from last week- whenever I make chili, it last for days!  It was super good with cornbread baked on top, though.  The stir fry from Sunday lasted quite a while, too.  I'm pulling the recipes we didn't get to last week, to this week!

Items to use this week:
sour cream
pepperjack cheese
goat cheese
parmesan cheese

I found out that Ernie LOVES canned tuna fish, so I'm going to try a tuna wiggle casserole- I'm pretty sure I can easily replace the canned cream of mushroom soup with a homemade sauce.

Since we have the kale, we'll have pasta with braised kale and parmesan sauce or maybe a cheesy kale dish my friend told me about?

If I go to the grocery store, we'll make a batch of Cheese and Potato soup (I don't have the celery for it right now.)  I can freeze half of this for another day.  If I don't get to the store, I'll do the tatties and neeps I had planned for last week.

Now is when you jeer, but I found out that the Cool Whip container in my fridge, ACTUALLY contains Cool Whip.  A lot of Cool Whip--I think someone left it here after a family dinner.  I used to love the stuff, but not quite as much any more.  I've seen a recipe for Cool Whip-Peanut Butter-Chocolate pie that seems as good a way to use it up as any!  The fact that only the baby and I will eat peanut butter is a moot point, right?  Wonder Daddy might make an exception if there's enough chocolate involved.  With 16 oz. peanut butter, 8 oz. of Cool Whip, and a few tablespoons of melted chocolate chips...I might be on my own.  I'm OK with that.  It will be a good Sunday dessert.

I can serve the carrots for veggies with meals- Ernie will eat them with ketchup.  Eww, but yay for veggies!

I'll make pinto beans this week too- that will use the sour cream and the pepperjack.  My outdoor green onions might be ready for a harvest by then, or I could slice up a bit of onion.  I like to use dried onions in the beans themselves- they're sweeter when they're dried, I've found.  We'll serve the beans over rice.

That ought to do it!  This week will be calmer than last- I was out Thursday night, Wonder Daddy was out Wednesday and Saturday.  If there's a night with no leftovers, we'll have a pancake and eggs night- the kids love those nights!