Monday, December 29, 2008

Only Steve

could make de-boning turkey soup into an anatomy lesson.

Steve cooks on Sunday. We had a turkey carcass in the fridge that absolutely had to be used by Sunday. I helped him make soup. This meant that he got to do the yucky job of separating out the meat from the bones after the broth had boiled for several hours. H started pulling out bones and naming the parts to the kids. He pointed out all the different parts of a back bone and talked about how it related to a human back bone. He even told the kids what part of the body the wishbone is, something I didn't even know. (It's the bird's collar bone.)

Sarah and Joshua were fascinated.

I just had to laugh. Only Steve would find a way to make bird bones interesting.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Everything is Cuter When It's Small

Especially houses.

It opens up to show a little front yard and a wild wallpaper. This is a doll house I made for one family of nieces and nephews. There are four kids all under eight in the family. I think they will enjoy this. I followed the pattern on the blog UK Lass in the US.
I made mine a little bit bigger, 5x5x7 rather than 4x4x6. If I were to make one that size again it would be a 5x5x8 because of the construction method the bigger side would be easier to work with. I will be making another one for Libby because I think she would fall apart if she doesn't get one complete with a bunny family to go inside. (She's sitting on my lap reading as I type and just giggled and danced at the very mention of it.) I will also be doing either button tabs or velcro tabs in the future because the elastic was so hard to work with and I'm having a hard time with one loop in particular. I am also making a little barn (shown in the same link) for my nephew for Christmas.

If you do want to make one of these, keep in mind they take a long time to make. I invested over six hours in that house yesterday. I think a second one won't take quite so much time, but I don't think I'll save much more than an hour if I'm lucky.

They are worth it though. :) This house is the epitome of cuteness.

Monday, December 08, 2008

All Done

With the Christmas dresses anyway. I still have several more projects to do.

Sarah looks cute doesn't she?

She says thank you.
She likes to curtsy too. I think she's the one that taught it to Libby actually. Notice the cummerbund just like her sisters? I'm feeling particularly clever these days. You should see the doll dress that looks exactly like one of Libby's summer dresses right down to the orange ribbon. (You probably will after Christmas. It's a present.)

oh and spin. Every girl loves to spin. She has a bow in back too.

We started a little later than I wanted to when we headed out, but the positive side was I got sunset pictures.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Another mouth to feed

This is Leo.

Leo is just your average orange tabby. He's also a bit camera shy so this is the best I've got. It's not even Caterday worthy. We'll have to work on that.

He's technically Joshua's cat. We had a friend who had managed to acquire too many pets and asked us to take one of their cats for them. They offered the cat that Josh had bonded with this summer. He's cuddly and playful, not mean in anyway. He also doesn't really like Peaches, but he'll just have to deal with that.

If it weren't for the fact that his litter box stinks to high heaven all the time, I'd be 100% for the little guy. I can't handle litter box stench. Joshua is required to clean it out every morning and we're using expensive "multiple cat" litter. Not helping. What's also not helping is the fact that the cat keeps missing. How can he not know his butt's in the wrong place?

As soon as he's fixed (Thursday) he'll be more of an indoor/outdoor cat and hopefully that will translate to less litter box stench. I need less stench.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Marilla's Christmas Dress

I finished Marilla's dress! I'm losing a bit of steam lately on these projects I need to get moving faster if I'm going to be done with all my Christmas projects in time.

anyway, same pattern as Libby's, and to be frank the same size around, but a size 6 in length. Rilla's a skinny one. ;)
Gotta have the big bow. Rilla's sash is cut from the border design, so I left them rectangular to show off the print better.

With Rilla's I also cut the bodice from the border and left her cummerbund removable. I doubt we'll ever wear it without the cummerbund, but it does give us another option if we want it.

Detail shot of the edge of the skirt. I do love this fabric. I love the green and black and gold on this. So pretty.
And of course, the doll, Gracie, got a matching dress!
Whew! Now onto Sarah's. Hers is turquoise and her border design has elephants in it. She wants a cummerbund and full skirt as well. We chose the pattern for the bodice style we like and I'll cut a skirt in a basic rectangle to fit like we want it to fit. The rectangle shape isn't the most flattering skirt shape but it has to be that way so we don't cut off the poor elephants.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Nothing To Say

Really. I feel like I need to update my blog but nothing much has happened this week worth reporting.

I have a few more wrestling pictures from Sarah's last match. She lost both matches but she fought hard. Both wrestlers were more experienced than she is and were able to control the match.

Joshua is obsessed with paper airplanes. He makes several a day, throws them around the house, and then leaves them there on the floor. He keeps trying to find the perfect paper airplane, whatever that means.

Rilla is excited to get to try on her Christmas dress today. I'll be sewing in the zipper today and finishing the cumberbund. It looks like Libby's except hers is green.

Matt is still a spelling freak. Libby brought home magnetic letters from a library reading class this week and it's Matt who plays with them. He loves to spell words. Word World on PBS is his favorite TV show.

Libby decided to make a shopping list this week. We needed TOES (toys) and a princess car. She is writing more words now that she's more comfortable with reading. She's progressing well and is now about a mid 1st grade reading level.

Tomorrow we're going to do family pictures and we're going to the zoo. We tried to go last week but the Africa exhibit was closed and that's the reason we were going. I'm excited to get to use one of the parks in Boise for the pictures. I'll have lots to say next week, I'm sure.

Monday, November 10, 2008

She's a Winner

It was a pin in the second round. (Sarah's the one in red.)

She fought hard and was really tough. The other girl never had a chance really. Steve was so proud he could have burst. Of course, he spent the whole match yelling instructions to her from the stands. I doubt she could hear him, but he yelled them anyway.
She has at least a meet a week until the end of the season. I think she's even more excited now that she has a win notched in her belt.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Target practice

No really. I did go target shooting. I know, not exactly in my normal character. I'm a peer pressure pushover though, so when my friends decided the wives needed to join their husbands on the shooting range, I followed along.

I shot a 22 rifle, some pistol that I can't remember what it was, a Glock with a silencer (that was easier than the one without the silencer to aim,) a small .22 pistol, and the one that will make my brother jealous: an AR-15 assault rifle. Yeah, one of those army type guns.

I discovered that rifles are easier to aim than a pistol. that I need to shoot rifles left handed or I can't aim a thing. Being left eyed and right handed doesn't exactly line up the barrel right. But I did best with the big army gun because it had a scope. Once they adjusted the stock so it fit me, I did pretty well.

My friends were impressed anyway.

Steve was not impressed when the girls went the car and visited instead of watching the menfolk shoot clay pigeons. Apparently we were supposed to be sitting in the car ooohing and ahhhing over their rifle shooting prowess. He should have warned me.

I wish I had pictures but I forgot my camera. dang it. I totally planned to bring it and then didn't grab it before we left. It would have been cool to have a picture of my shooting the AR-15 right about here:

You'll have to use your imagination.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Libby's Dress

They match.

And you can cursty in it.
With the requisite big bow.

I think she's happy. Don't you?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Experimenting in the Kitchen

I have quite a bit of fresh herbs I rescued from my herb garden before it got too cold. Lots of lemon thyme (love it so much more than standard), mint, Oregano, and a bit of basil. I have no clue what to do with most of it now that it's sitting in my refrigerator. Today I decided to experiment a bit with the mint just for fun. This is what I came up with:

Creamy Mint Risotto

2 c Arborio rice
2 T butter
1/2 sweet onion, like Walla Walla or Vidalia, chopped fine
5 c chicken broth (aprox. 3 cans if that's what you use)
4 t finely chopped mint leaves
1/4 c Romano cheese
1/2 c sour cream

Melt the butter over medium heat. Add onion and sprinkle with a dash of salt. Cook until onion is soft. Add rice and cook stirring until edges of rice turn translucent. Begin adding chicken broth. Start with 1 c. and stir until the broth is absorbed into the rice. Add rest of chicken broth 1/2 cup at a time, cooking until broth is absorbed between each addition. Cook until all broth is absorbed and the rice is soft and creamy. Reduce heat to low. Stir in mint and cheese then add sour cream.

I garnished mine with a mint sprig because I've got plenty, and served it with pork chops. I think it would also be good with chicken flavored with a mild marinade. Risotto can be heavy and rich, but the mint lightens the dish as a background note. It was very good. Let me know if you try it and like it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


computer that is. I have no clue where the supposed "virus" is on my blog. I have no clue how it could have gotten on the page or why it's so "dangerous" when you don't actually download files from here, but whatever.

So if anyone can give me an idea of how to fix the virus warning I'm getting from my virus protection program, I'd love to know. It tells my it's in my temporary Internet files, but I can't get to the right folder to delete the problem. How do I get there, because the "my computer" file route isn't giving me what I need.


and my bum still hurts. new guess is that I did break my tail bone rather than just bruise it. Lovely.

But in good news, I have Libby's Christmas dress half done and the matching doll dress completely done. I'm excited because they are matching what I pictured in my head when I planned them and I love it when that happens. Pictures coming soon.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Why you should ignore dirty towels after 11pm

I fell down the stairs Saturday night. thank you all for your sympathetic wincing. I do appreciate it. There were dirty dish rags in the sink, leftovers from the all day apple cider making marathon (50 quarts, btw.) I thought to myself, "I'll just take these downstairs and get them in the laundry now so the sink doesn't stink in the morning." Myself was interested in the idea and agreed to go along with it.

The dog agreed to go along with me too, although I didn't invite her. She decided to lead the way and then about halfway down the stairs she thought better of that without telling me. That's when I slipped. The first step wasn't that bad. It was the other two that did me in.

Luckily nothing is broken, but sitting is somewhat painful. So is walking. Standing's not so bad until my feet get tired.

I'm just so looking forward to sitting on the bleachers for Joshua's last football game tonight. I did manage to get out of church (yea! I got to lay down instead of sit on hard chairs for three hours.) but I don't think I'm getting out of this football game. He sort of needs me there.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Following in Daddy's (sport) Shoes

Sarah signed up for a sport today. She didn't tell us she was going to do this and she didn't really plan it. Some of her friends were going to sign up, so she joined in on a lark. One of the boys razzed them, not believing they would follow through and really join the team. This, of course, made Sarah even more determined to join.

So my daughter is now a wrestler. A wrestler. I'm still very uncertain about all of this. Part of me wants to put my foot down and tell her no, say it's not appropriate, good girls don't wrestle. Part of me is ready to go cheer her on. It's tearing me up.

Daddy, of course, is all for it. "Right on!" he said when he heard the news. He's very excited for her and happy she wanted to join the team.

The coach, strangely enough is happy to have girls on the team as well. He's already planning on the purchase of girls' singlets for the team. It surprises me that they make such a thing as girls' singlets, but I guess times have changed.

We're a long way from the instigation of Title 9. I guess we'll see how my girl does in the 105 weight class. She's strong and she's stubborn. Sort of like the perfect mix of her mom and her dad.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Following Through

I love to look at magazines. I especially love the ones like Better Homes and Gardens and Martha Stewart with their lovely picture perfect homes. I love the dinner party ideas with decorations and themes and great food. I always wanted to have a real dinner party with friends. I wanted them to show up dressed up and eat under candle light. I've wanted this for years.

Tonight I finally did it.

I served dinner to ten of my very best friends. We sat twelve at two tables pushed together. I always said my house was too small for parties but it fit us all just fine with the couch taken out of the living room. I made table clothes and napkins. I decorated with gourds and silk leaves and cute little acorns. I cooked all day and served, to be completely immodest, a very good four course dinner.

I had a moment when we sat down to eat, everyone paused just before the prayer, where I felt overwhelmingly grateful for the chance to be together as friends. I admit I teared up just a little. It felt so good to finally follow through.

There's something I've learned from my friends this year. It's something I thought I had learned back in college, to be honest. Just do it. You want to do something? You want to go somewhere? Just do it. We've had a great year with lots of socializing with lots of people. When my friends say "we need a girls' night." We all say "how's Saturday for you?" and it happens.

I love that.

I can be a very passive person. It has been a great lesson for me to break out of my shell and really actively pursue friendships and a social life. I've been a lot happier.

Two of our friends who sat at that table with us are moving shortly. We'll never again all sit around a table together. I can almost kick myself for not having a party sooner so this wouldn't have been the first party; it would have been the third or the fourth or whatever. I won't let time pass me by again.

I'm tired. My feet hurt. I never want to look at chicken cordon bleu again. I don't care because it was all worth it. I followed through and it was everything I hoped it would be.

Monday, October 06, 2008

I have a book, do you have a book?

My friend Helena sent us a present a while ago. She sent us The Happy Hocky Family. You need to have this book too. It's about a first grade reading level (slightly higher in places). Libby can read it and she loves it now.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Non-buyers remorse

We got a new bed last weekend. It's new to us anyway. We are in that socio-economic bracket where getting used furniture from relatives is still considered a good thing. It's not one I would have chosen, being dark cherry stained and very fussy, a tall, carved fourposter with acorn finials. We have to climb into it every night because it's so much higher than our last bed (Hollywood frame, no headboard.) It's nice and the mattress is better than what we had previously.

Even though I'm happy to have a bed and not just a frame (which was totally a step up from the years we just left the bed on the floor. I can't believe I just admitted that.) It still doesn't fit my picture of what I want my bedroom to be.

The other day I was just browsing at Overstock in the bedding department and ran across this bed set: Branches It would have been perfect for my room. The french blue, the modern pattern that would tie the simple lines I love in with the dark cherry fussiness of the bed. Perfect.

Only I didn't buy it. they sold out of the queen size of course. I hate it when I do that.

I do try to keep our budget in check. I want to be better with our finances and so I will deny myself things I want. For the most part, this is a good thing, but this time I'm sad and I'm annoyed with myself and now I hate my bedding set because it's not french blue with cream colored branches.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

small notes

--I love the beautiful gloss grape jelly takes on the minute you add the sugar to the juice. So pretty. I'm about 1/3 of the way through my jam project.

--It's scary how high Libby can get a swing going all by herself. She doesn't need me to push her because she can pump her way right up until the swing's so high she squeals with little thrills of fake fear.

--Joshua it seems doesn't want me to wash his football pants because then the lovely, bright white makes him "look like one of the wimps that don't play!" Two weeks down, four to go in the season. He doesn't carry the ball but he's a wide receiver. He's one of the boys that goes out and tells the quarterback what the play should be, you know the boys who rotate on and off the field every play.

--Life is easier with my new kitchen. Six months later I'm still in love. I've been canning nearly all month and I've yet to get frustrated enough to throw something. Last time I tried canning in my old kitchen I believe at least one hot pad and a wooden spoon went flying toward a wall. (not at any heads, Mom. I'm a big girl now.) There's a huge difference between 10 square feet of counter top and 50 square feet of counter top.

--I'm editing too many pictures. It was a lovely wedding, shot all in digital of course. I enjoyed being able to just get pictures developed and hand them off back in the day (and I miss my eye control focus on my film camera.) 200 pictures down, 500 pictures to go. I need to find my wrist brace. ouch.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

We found one!


We actually found two and a half yesterday. Sarah's holding the one she found. It was a toughie. We almost gave up and were about to give up when I found the annoying little note that said "keep looking," which of course annoyed us all enough to keep us hunting. We didn't bring anything to trade but we remembered to sign the log that time.
The first one of the day was harder than it should have been. It's supposed to be a three part hunt but we only found the first marker and couldn't even get to the second set without going on private property. We figure we're doing something wrong there.
The second one we gave up on after looking for 15 minutes and only finding an animal carcass and poison ivy (which we all avoided thank goodness.) The one Sarah is holding in the picture is our third cache we looked for. The fourth was also successful. I found that.
I have to report that the kids had a ball. They were sad when we had to quit; they asked when we could go out geocaching again. I can see why it's become so popular. It's so easy to just grab a few and it's perfect for families.
If you don't have a handheld GPS unit, you can also try Letterboxing. It's what geocaching started as and is still going on. There are websites for it too.
For the geocaching coordinates, we started at It's a huge website and it has the capability of downloading the coordinates directly to our Garmin GPS. (which is good because Sarah's lost the instruction book and we can't figure out how to enter coordinates when you aren't standing at the place you want to find.)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Late to the Party


We went Geocaching for the first time today. Sarah's had a GPS unit for over a year and we've always planned on using it to go. (She won it during a review quiz on a field trip. It pays to pay attention!)

I went online today and not only discovered a fun site that listed several hundred thousand caches, I found there were two within walking distance of our house. will even download the coordinates directly to Sarah's Garmin GPS.

I've already downloaded 11 more cache sites in the area and that will be our Labor Day activity with the kids. I'm excited about it.

I think this time I'll remember to take the camera.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

It's Not Exactly Reverent

My husband has a game he plays with the kids at church. They get bored and start begging dad to "make my hand white." This means he has them put their hand in a fist and then Steve proceeds to rub the blood out of the hand, pushing back through to the wrist.

This has the disturbing effect of making their hands look just like a corpse. Right there in church. It's startling and something about the whole game just seems so irreverent. They of course love it.

I just try very hard not to look. It's unsettling to know what my child's hand would look like if there were no blood running through it anymore. It's like he's taken my deepest fears and sat them down next to me in a place where I should be safe from fears.

To the kids it's just a game. They have no associations with death and corpses. they just think it looks cool. Dad just thinks it looks cool.

Mom just thinks she should probably not read so many murder mysteries.

Friday, August 22, 2008

It always has to be big

My kids' play. When they do stuff it's much more often some big imaginative play. They don't just sit and build with blocks or Polly Pockets. They have to build with Lego and then create a Lego museum and everyone is going to come to the Lego museum and they can charge admission and then . . . . see? Big. Poor Barbies. Left out in the cold.

Rilla decided yesterday that she was going to be a magician. She practiced her disappearing acts and her switching tricks. She wore a costume. She then declared that she was going to put on a show. This means she'll need tickets. She spent 15 minutes this morning hand writing those out.

She's crazy. Although maybe not quite as crazy as Libby who chooses to wear the same play dress every single day.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

First Day of School

yup, school time is back. Thank goodness. I'm glad to get my routine back. My house hasn't been this clean all summer long. Mostly because I'm the one cleaning it this time. there was no way I was cleaning up their messes this summer. They had to do that and they tend to miss corners and skip the vacuuming. ;)
Here's our back to school pic. Aren't they cute? I do it in front of the same tree every year so I get a visual record of how they've grown. Sigh. I still remember the first back to school picture with Sarah in her braid getting off her first ride on the school bus, barely five years old.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

As Promised

Sarah's hair:

Cute huh? I'm used to it now.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Husband is very different from me

Today Steve locked his keys in the car, luckily we have roadside assistance for him (and luckily he was in town and not at work.) He called from home because his cell was in the car and then went out to the car about 15 minutes before the tow truck was going to be there.

The tow truck that took two hours and a couple of phone calls from my end to get it to actually show up. After this time I was spitting nails for Steve's sake. That kind of wait was completely unacceptable. 30-45 minutes for the on call guy to wrap things up and drive five minutes to the car? you bet. no problem. 2 hours? no. not even close.

The boss finally shows up completely apologetic. Steve's fine. Don't worry about it he says. No big deal. Hey, he finished two songs! It was productive time!

Good thing he was the one waiting for the tow truck.

He may also have been fine with the wait because he got out of helping clean the bedroom.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I love my neighbors!

I have found someone who can help me modify patterns! whoohoo! She's going to help me do two blouses Monday. She also is in the process of opening a fabric store here in town. I told her if she had a class to teach pattern modification, I would totally sign up. Oh and one on pattern making. wouldn't that be cool?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Good Luck

So I'm babysitting full time now. Just one two year old, which gives me my two year old fix (I love kids that age, so adorable) and some money at the same time. Between gas prices and my husband's appendix, we had to do something. Oh and my amazing lack of practical skill with money. We should have more than we do because I know all the theories about how to handle money. It's like the stuff melts.

We're attending a couple's dinner for church this evening. I'm supposed to bring a dessert, so I made a cheesecake. Rasberry chcolate swirl cheesecake. Yeah, I'm a show off. I can't help myself. I love baking and making lovely desserts and I have this itty bitty little vanity problem. Just a little one. really. I like to picture people telling me how delicious my dessert is and asking for the recipe and telling me how awesome I am. Just a little vanity, perfectly normal I'm sure.

I've also got the day off today and all I've done is bake a cheesecake. I need to get my hair cut (no idea how) go to JoAnn, sew buttons on a shirt, and start on other sewing projects. But hey, I learned how to make custom Flair on Facebook. That's good right?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

It would be an early morning

I'm half considering waking my sweetie up at 2am tonight (or this morning or whatever.) It would be the 15th anniversary of our engagement. A pretty good milestone if you ask me, and of course, it looks even better knowing we just celebrated the 15th anniversary of the day we met two weeks ago.

Love you, babe. I'd go ahead and post lots of lovey dovey private like things here but those things are always better in person anyway. ;)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Not Dead Yet

So yeah, I disappeared. Life caught up with me. I'm getting maybe two turns on the computer per week this summer and somehow finding out who the Fug Girls have dissed lately is more important than updating which book I read that day on my blog.

I've learned that it really is better for me to not go to the library, that I'm not the type of gardener who should venture past petunias, that tomatoes can grow in a garden full of three foot weeds, that husbands probably shouldn't put together swing sets the week after surgery (but they will anyway just to keep the wife from doing it all herself), that children get tired of each other about six weeks into summer vacation, and parents get tired of summer vacation about three weeks before that.

I'll post pics of Sarah's new hair cut soon. Well as soon as I can kick a kid off the computer long enough to download the pics, edit the pics, and post the pics. It's cute but very dramatic. I'm still getting used to it.

I might post pics of the swing set. That might be pushing it, though. I still have at least three quarters of the library left to read.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Libby read Dick and Jane to me this evening. That's right. She read.

She's three.

Yes, I'm proud.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I have a major regret from my college years. (Not the student loan thing, although those suck) I wish very much that I had taken a pattern making class. With all the sewing I'm doing lately, I'm finding it very difficult to find patterns to fit the clothes I have pictured in my head. It's very frustrating.

Especially since pattern companies didn't get in on the vanity sizing act and a size 16 in patterns is exactly the same size it was 30 years ago and most definitely to small to fit my normally size 16 chest. About 3-4 sizes to small. Which means I must buy plus size patterns.

Plus size patterns stink. That's all I'm saying. For the most part, the blouses are all either basic button up or a tunic. I look terrible in a tunic. Since I have an hour glass figure and gain weight proportionally all over my body, wearing an item of clothing that hangs straight down is exactly the wrong look for me. I basically look about 20-30lbs heavier. It's awful.

I want a plus size blouse pattern that is shaped at the waist. I want a feminine blouse pattern, with gathers and shaping and cute sleeves. Apparently, I want too much. Hence my desire for a pattern making class. If I had, I could at least have the skills to alter existing patterns to fit me and maybe even design some cute patterns of my own.

Of course, since I can't even manage to get the clothes I have patterns for sewn, It doesn't seem to make that much difference anyway.

Goal today: at least cut out the brown skirt.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Ultimate in Geek Achievements

The other morning I walked into the living room to see Matt sitting at the table with a paper and dice. He was rolling the die and writing down the result on his paper, a D&D character sheet.

My children all decided the other day to put together a D&D group. Four character sheets were printed off the D&D website and they spent the afternoon filling out all the proper places on the sheets. Joshua also e-mailed his older cousin to be sure he brought his DM books for the summer so the cousin could be DM when he came to play at our house.

So I have achieved that ultimate: I have raised geek children.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

All Is Forgiven

Of course, you knew I forgave my husband shortly after his gift faux pas Saturday, didn't you? Because you know the secret to a happy marriage, right?


Get over the slights. Get over the weird stuff that comes out of their mouths. Chances are they didn't mean to hurt or say something off.

Anyway, I was feeling down yesterday and Steve noticed. I didn't tell him what was wrong until today, but he worried about me and wanted to make me feel better. This afternoon he called me from his cell and told me to come look out the living room window. I arrived in time to watch him pull onto our block in the world's most perfect car: The BMW Roadster. Sigh. Sweet little black convertible with only two seats and a five speed on the floor. He borrowed it from a local car dealership to take me out for a drive, only I got to drive.

Yeah, I'm not a car girl, but that was fun. I'm a bit out of practice driving a stick. I could sure get used to that car though. It's a 97 and quite reasonably priced and it gets good gas mileage (allegedly.)

It would mean starting back up with car payments though and I'm not ready for that no matter how cute the car. I sure enjoyed my joy ride, though.

PS. Steve wants to know about how he forgave me. He has his own blog though. Tell your own side of the story, buddy.

Monday, June 02, 2008

News Flash: Men are weird

This year for Mother's Day I got a grocery store card clumsily handed to me in the middle of church. that was it. No gift, not even a chocolate bar. I was moderately ok with this. I hadn't made a big deal about the big day or anything, so whatever. He usually gets me something nice, so one year of nothing shortly after getting a new kitchen is a forgivable offense.

Until Saturday.

I said: "what do you want for Father's Day."

Instead of giving the only appropriate response I would give in simmilar circumstances, namely, "oh nothing dear. You didn't get anything for your day, so we'll skip my day too." He actually gave me some suggestions for gifts he might like.

The only thing that kept me from decking him is that his suggestions were all under $20.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Unusual ingredient

Ever had Jello cookies? When I was a kid, one of my aunts brought a cookie recipe with her when she came to visit. The official name was "Pastel Cookies" and they were pastel colored spritz cookies. I remember them, though, by their secret ingredient, you guessed it, Jello.
The Jello gives them a fruity tartness and a fun color. I imagine they were invented in the 50's or 60's back when Jello had it's heyday and everyone was trying to invent a new Jello recipe. My favorite flavor is strawberry, but lime and orange are both good. Just about any Jello flavor will work, although you'll get a better lemon cookie with a standard spritz recipe and lemon extract.

I had forgotten about these for years until last week when Libby requested I make "pink cookies." She had never had pastel cookies before; she just loves pink. Her favorite flavor of ice cream is strawberry only because it's pink. Anyway, I dug through my recipe box and couldn't find the official recipe. I called my mom, but she was no help, having throw the recipe out after giving me her cookie press. In desperation, I turned to my new old copy of James Beard's American Cookery (purchased at a second hand store for all of 50 cents.) I took his recipe for spritz cookies and adapted it. It's a fun cookie that kids love. The bright colors make them perfect for a baby shower or a wedding shower, just change the flavor to match the theme. These are slightly more tough than I like a spritz cookie to be (I blame the gelatin), but the novelty of the Jello makes up for it.

Pastel Cookies:
1 c butter
1/3 c white sugar
1 package Jello (not sugar free!)
1 egg or 3 egg yolks
1 t vanilla extract
2 1/2 c flour
1/8 t salt (unless using salted butter. Keep in mind Jello has salt in it)

Cream the butter until very light and fluffy. Cream in the sugar and Jello gradually, and continue beating until very light. Beat in the egg and flavoring. Sift the flour with the salt and add to the mixture. Do not over beat. Press through a cookie press onto cookie sheets. Bake at 400 degrees until the bottom of the cookies turn light tan. The edges will be dry and starting to color as well. Be careful not to over bake. Remove from pan immediately and cool before eating. These cookies are actually best if given a day to rest and mellow before eating. Makes 6-7 dozen depending on cookie shape.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Long time no see

I hope most of you have me on a feed, otherwise you may have given up on me ever updating again. I didn't get sucked into my kitchen (although I'm still enjoying it. You have no idea how nice it is to actually cook these days.) I've actually be taken prisoner by my sewing machine.

I made these:

Isn't she cute? I also used the same pattern to make a sun dress. That is a green background with a butterfly print. Also cute and adorable but I can't get Libby to try it on. She seems to think that dresses are only for Sunday. I hope she gets over that soon. That sundress counts as part of her summer wardrobe.

Matt's pirate shorts. Every time I've gotten the sewing machine out these past few months, he's asked me if I was making something for him. Poor kid. He just doesn't look good in a dress and I hate sewing pants with zippers. I did set aside an hour to make him pirate shorts. They made him happy which made the shorts worth it.

Speaking of pants with zippers, the zipper in these was a pain. I loved the way the looked so much that I bought more plaid to make her another pair.

Right now I'm working mostly on Libby's summer wardrobe. I don't have a lot put away for her this year and I'm enjoying sewing so much that I've decided to make quite a bit for her. So far I've made three pair of shorts, two dresses (one is for Sundays), and a t-shirt for her.

When I'm done sewing for Libby, I get to start sewing for me. That makes me really happy.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Falling in Line

I read a blog at every day. She's funny and wise and takes great pictures. She's also a pretty good cook and keeps a recipe section at her website with step by step instructions. Most of what she posts is pretty down home stuff, lasagna, dump cake, doughnuts, etc. Things for which I already have recipes I love. However, there are lots of women out in cyber space singing the praises of PW mashed potatoes (She puts in cream cheese and lots of butter. I already knew that secret.) I did keep an eye on the site though just in case she posted something I might want to try.

She did this week: risotto. I've always been curious about the stuff, heard foodies rave about it and all that. It's just tediously cooked rice, right? A few months ago though, Steve took me to a nice restaurant where I was served risotto as a side dish. It was heavenly. Risotto is pilaf on steroids. Creamy, savory, cheesy.

However, the standard risotto recipe starts by dumping a cup of white wine into the rice. I don't cook with wine because I don't buy wine or keep it in my home. Pioneer Woman saved me though. Her risotto is a complete teetotaler. No alcohol allowed. Anyway, go to this web page right here and cook some. It's not cheap. I spent over $10 on enough risotto to feed 4-6 adults a side portion. I served it with a romaine salad and grilled chicken but next time I'm going to serve it with Chicken Kiev.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Update? what update?

ooooh, this update.

The kitchen is almost done. It only waits on money to finish it. We still need to buy the lighting and the tile for the back splash. I'm ok with that because I used to have an ugly old kitchen that looked like this:
yes, it was that bad. Those cabinets you see there? That was all I had. (I used to laugh at my mother when she would tell me how badly I needed a rice cooker. Where was I going to put a rice cooker??) The entry into the living room is there to the left beyond the fridge. The entry into the kids' rooms and the basement is down photo to the right. The kids would be running through the kitchen all day long and trying to play in there while I cooked. The cabinets were original but I believe that nasty floor was updated in the late 60's. I could be wrong, of course.

However, the lack of new lights and back splash is easy to get over because now I have this:

yeah, I think I could find somewhere for a rice cooker now.

This is the view from the living room:

The cabinet that faces the living room is my game cupboard. I love that I can keep a better eye on the games and it encourages the kids to play them on the table. I need more bar stools, too. The bar will fit five stools, just right for breakfast time.

and the view from the kitchen into the living room:

Isn't it pretty? The counter tops are Formica with a solid surface edging in a color that's very close to the floor tile. I love the way it ties it all together. I went with half cup drawer pulls and simple knobs. The microwave on the counter top will be replaced with an over the stove model. You can't see the best part of my kitchen in these pictures: the dishwasher. sigh. I love my dishwasher. My dishes actually get done and when they aren't done they are hiding away so no one knows there are dirty dishes in the house. Isn't that lovely?

Sunday, March 30, 2008


We painted this morning. I was still feeling chipper and full of energy after that, so we decided we had time to tile the kitchen, too.

I have a chemical burn on my arm from tile mortar, a blister behind my right knee from the knee pads, and mortar stuck in my cuticles. We aren't done yet. I still have two full tiles and quite a bit of partials to go.

I'm not feeling a bit chipper. And my Italian Soda was flat.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What's a Little Remodeling Without a Few Tears

The original part of our house is on a slab, this includes the kitchen. I was not surprised at all when the plumber declared that there was nothing we could do to reconnect the hot water except open up the concrete. The slab had been broken into before and a lovely patch job about a foot wide lay all down the length of the kitchen. This made it easy to see where we needed to open the floor to find the pipes.

That was of course nearly three weeks ago now. In the meantime we have had to stare at a badly done patch all down the length of the kitchen, a concrete patch that was raised above the rest of the floor by at least 1/4", which might as well be a foot when you are laying tile over it. More than one person suggested we just break open the patch all the way down the floor and redo it. Concrete is cheap and patching the piping mess really wasn't that big of a job. We even still had his dad's sledge hammer.

Saturday, we finally decided that's what we would do. I got out the sledge and started the job. Joshua and I got about three feet in when it was time for me to quit and get ready to go photograph a wedding. I handed the concrete breaking reigns over to Steve.

Steve begin breaking up the concrete and all went well for another foot. Then all of the sudden the concrete began to slide downward as he broke it up. It cracked and fell down. Down is not good when there is supposed to be dirt there.

There was no dirt. There was instead a big, big hole under the north end of my kitchen. The main slab was still solid and holding just fine, but we now had a 1' by 3' gap in the kitchen floor with a 7' deep by 4' wide hole under it. Don't ask me how the previous owners managed to lay a concrete patch over thin air. It baffles us to this day. There are no signs of support materials in the hole. No frayed burlap, no wire mesh, no cardboard, no wood, nothing. The last thing we expected when we broke open that concrete patch was there would be nothing supporting it from underneath. It's just simple logic.

Steve called me in to see the hole 30 minutes before I had to leave. He sat there on his knees, completely stunned. He had no clue how to fix this.

I did not cry when I had to downgrade my kitchen vision to cheaper cabinets. I did not cry when I saw how quickly we were running out of money. I did not cry when the cabinet guys mis-measured my cabinets. (although I may yell at them if I don't hear something from them soon.) That big hole in my floor brought me to tears.

Luckily, I ran over to a neighbor's after the wedding to borrow a sewing machine (another long, but more boring story.) Her husband happens to do construction work for a living. When I told her about our lovely hole in the floor, she suggested to her husband that he might want to go help Steve fix the floor. The neighbor had the perfect solution. He pounded in concrete stakes and put a support piece right beneath the slab. The guys screwed concrete mesh into the hole to help support it. It only took two cubic feet of concrete to fill the mess.

I have to say that was the worst moment in our remodeling venture. I'm sure it could have always been worse, but I'm glad I didn't have to see that.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Important Is a Relative Term

Coming home from Grandma's last night with a car full of Easter candy:

Rilla: Turn on the back light, Dad. I need to show Sarah something.

Dad: please.

Rilla: Please turn on the light.

Dad: ok.

and the light goes on in the back of the van.

Rilla: Sarah, what color is my tongue?

"It can wait" is not a phrase my children understand.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


This is Shawn. Isn't he nice? I know you don't know him but all you do have to know about him is he is installing my cabinets. That alone makes him nice, don't you think?

I have lots and lots of cabinets. I'm having a difficult time deciding what goes where. It's a good problem to have.
If you look at the first picture again, you will see some gaps in the lower cabinets and some big empty wall space. When Shawn showed up on Monday to install, he discovered that his boss mis-measured my kitchen resulting in four cabinets being the wrong size, two wall and two drawer bases. Boss guy immediately set to work figuring out how to fix it. Instead of two 12" drawer bases symmetrically flanking the sink, I will have a 15" drawer base on one side and a pull out spice drawer on the other. It won't look quite as nice as the symmetrical arrangement, but I know I'll like having the spice drawer. I was having a hard time figuring out what to do with all those drawers anyway. ;) The new cabinets will show up next week and Shawn will install them then. This means my dishwasher can't be installed until next week either, that I'm not so OK with.
The mistake cabinets we get to keep, of course, and we won't be paying for the correct cabinets. We still get to figure out where to put the extras. It will be a topic of great debate over the next few weeks I'm sure. Any and all suggestions are welcome.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

More info than you ever wanted

This was my house Friday afternoon. Do you notice there is no water heater? No closet? Yeah. That was fun to bust up. I busted up my pointer finger doing it, but I still like sledgehammers.

I like them so much that when the plumber needed to break into the floor to get us hot water to the bathroom and kitchen, (you should have seen Steve's face when He found that out. oooh boy.) I volunteered to swing it. I did a dang good job, too. See that nice big hole in my floor? I didn't care. I wanted a shower, dang it.

Steve says I look cuter swinging a sledge hammer than I do running a power saw. (Only he said sexier, but my mom reads this blog, so I edited that line for you. I'm nice like that.)

This is my dad helping out on Friday. He and mom stopped by to see the progress we were making and dad got roped into helping. Considering the fact that he got a goose egg on his head from a board falling on it last time he helped, we were feeling pretty lucky. Dad helped me tear down the closet walls and clean up the mess. Thanks dad. Love ya.

This is my house as of this evening. Not a lot more visible progress. We did get the mess cleaned up and the drywall is up on the beam wall with it's first coat of mud. Steve was knocking my mudding job this evening. He might get to do the rest. Dude. Don't knock my work if you don't want to work alone.

This is the view from the wall in the living room. That is the far end of my house. My house finally looks it's size. It feels big and open and even though it's a mess right now, I already love it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Easter Dress

Last week, on Monday actually, I looked at the calendar and realized that because of the remodel I was out time to make dresses for my girls for Easter. They need the dresses and I was looking forward to it this year. I expressed my disappointment to my spouse who promptly responded "oh you have to make them Easter dresses. You have time. You won't spend the whole week working on the house."

1st of all. ha. Yes I am spending the whole week on the house. Either working or trying not to fall over from exhaustion. Remodeling is hard work.

2nd of all. I listened to him anyway. Isn't she cute? I sewed that dress in a few hours. Rilla's looks just like it only her lining is yellow. If you can't see it from the picture, it's cotton eyelet with a broadcloth lining in pink.

My favorite part of the dress is that adorable bodice. I love the tucks. So cute. I'm going to have to use that pattern again.

Sarah's dress is also empire waist and eyelet. Her lining is a light teal blue. I'll be sewing that next week while I watch the workmen install my new kitchen (!!)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Never Sneeze Into a Dust Mask

Wise words from my husband, who is currently hard at work tearing down plaster board. What is plaster board? It's what construction people used in houses between lathe and plaster and drywall. Plaster board is actually a cross between the two. The boards are 12"x8' rather than the drywall standard of 4'x8' (or 4'x12' which I avoid using when possible because it's a bear to hang with two people, which is how many people we usually have around to hang drywall.) The boards on plaster board have 1" holes drilled all along the length so the scratch coat of the plaster would push through and create the key. Then they did a surface coat. Anyway. It's thick, strong (I think it's stronger than lathe and plaster) and a bear to remove. How much have we torn off?

Look and see for yourself:

That's my living room as of 2pm today. The water heater and the rest of the closet it's sitting in will be completely torn out. We have a new on demand water heater being installed in another part of the house where it won't interfere with traffic patterns. (Yes this cost quite a bit of money to put in the beam and move the utility closet. You try living for six years in a house where five children have to go through the middle of the kitchen to get between their bedrooms and the only bathroom and see how much you are willing to spend to make them STOP RUNNING THROUGH KITCHEN WHEN I'M COOKING ALREADY.)
This is my kitchen as of 2:03 this afternoon.
You will notice there is no sink, but I still have a stove and fridge. I can still cook even in the mess. This is what we call brilliant planning. (Brilliant planning is not what we call the multiple trips to the hardware store and Home Depot I'm making on a daily basis this week. )
I stood at my living room window (the one the termites ate) to take this photo. Picture lovely new cabinets along that wall soon. Six days from today actually. As of yet, I'm not hyperventilating about the time frame. I may if more doesn't get done tomorrow though.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Deep Sleepers

My children are anyway. They've been trained that way.

Thursday is Steve's music night and has been for the last six years or so. He likes to get together with his music friends and jam. This was his band rehearsal night for back when he was in a band. Sometimes the guys went somewhere else (because you always go to the drummer. Drum kits aren't near as portable as a guitar.) Sometimes they came to our house.

This is why my kids are deep sleepers. The bassist always brings his amp, although he's been nice lately to bring his smaller one and not the one that's the size of a Shetland pony (the small one is about the same size as our dog.) Last night there was an electric guitarist in the mix. He's new to the group and according to Steve a very good guitar player. We also had a pianist and her husband (on the Seagull guitar) here for the first time. It was quite a crowd. It was also loud.

The kids fell asleep and stayed asleep.

This is what you call training. After six years of jam sessions in the living room, those kids can sleep through anything.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

More Baby Pictures

Isn't he cute? I got to go take Keith's picture yesterday.

His daddy stuck around for pictures too. I think Keith was happy about that, don't you?

This is Keith's whole family, dog and cat included. The cat is starting to get a bit jealous of baby, but is still curious and mostly indifferent. The dog thinks the baby needs a herd dog to take care of him and will come get Mommy or Daddy if baby cries.

I also have cute feet pictures. I'll only subject you to my favorite:

You're welcome.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Brand New Nephew

Born just last night. Isn't he sweet? He looks a lot like his daddy. Weighing in at 9lbs 2oz, he was definitely ready to come home.
Here he is with his mommy. I'm going over next week to do family pictures of the three of them. I'm looking forward to it.
This is the whole thing from Libby's point of view. She wanted to take pictures, so I let her point the camera and press the shutter while I held it up to her eye. She did a surprisingly good job. This one cracks me up. It's all baby.

We had a good visit and we were very happy to go welcome little Keith to our family.