Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Comfrey


Still crocheting flowers! I'm working on purple now--a lovely lavender color called Comfrey. It goes a little slower for me than knitting, because crochet seems to be much less friendly to multi-tasking. You have to look at it. No reading, or watching television (at least not without a lot of pauses to look up). However, I suspect it might just prove perfect for listening to podcasts, so perhaps I should do that today.

I finished Story of a Soul and am now focusing on The Hidden Face. I'm also reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn before bed. I started it a few weeks ago and couldn't get into it, but now am enjoying it quite a bit. Funny that this is the second work of fiction in a row for me that takes place in New York.

This is the first time I've read it, but for some reason I've always thought of this book as one that everyone's supposed to read in high school. Like Catcher in the Rye, or Animal Farm, or what have you. So ... do people read this in high school? Because it seems a bit old to me. Which I guess may not be a bad thing ... but I feel like so many books are read in high school and then never again, which means that so much is missed in them.

The oven timer is beeping at me, and so I must pull my cookies out of the oven. They are Michael's consolation prize for not going to the library today, since I looked at the clock as we started getting socks on everyone and realized it was far to close to naptime. :( Given the choice he would still have preferred the library.

Linking up with Ginny's yarn along.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Seven Quick Takes (23)

1. Well, this has been an exciting week. On Monday Michael tripped and split open his forehead on the corner of a wall. There was blood everywhere. I have a vivid image of him standing in the kitchen trying to wipe blood out of his eyes but not being able to keep up with it as it dripped off his chin onto the floor.

We were able to stop the bleeding pretty quickly, and my mom stayed with the babies while Michael and I rode in the ambulance--a trip he did NOT enjoy. Luckily Keith arrived just in time to help me restrain him while they cleaned and glued the wound. Ugh. :(

Then the next day he picked the glue off. So he's had a huge band-aid every since, and it bleeds a bit every time I change it, but according to the doctor there's not much more to be done about it.


2. The next day we said "bye-bye" to binky. Ever since then Michael refuses to nap, and "quiet time" has been ... not so quiet. I am not ready for this!! I already knew and appreciated how much sanity naptime gave to my day, so this week has been really frustrating. I've had so many projects I'm itching to start and now no time to do anything. Hopefully a new normal works itself out soon.


3. I've been letting him bring books into bed, but what Michael would really love to do is build things with his door shut. And I would totally let him, except that his palaces of blocks and magnetiles or long looping tracks inevitably crash on his wooden floor, waking up his brothers. He is really good at building and puzzles ... I think he's a very spatial thinker.

At my parent's house, and with a little help, but in his signature style.


4. I've been knitting a lot lately but in a very non-committal way, jumping between hexipuffs and crochet flowers and leaves for Michael's blanket. All little parts of larger projects.


5. I've also had some non-knitting projects in the works ... I bought lumber for this table (before naptime ended ...), written up a spring-cleaning to-do list, and hung up teal paint samples in various places ... But it's all mostly on hold until this naptime/quiet time thing is sorted out.



Apparently Keith and I had an agreement some time ago that our kitchen would be white with teal accents, maybe a backsplash. He reminded me of this in dismay when he saw those swatches up on the wall. But I've definitely developed a taste for more color and would like to experiment a little. I think he's right that anything except, perhaps, a very light teal on the walls would be too much. What I'd really like is painted cabinets ... but since ours are laminate, that doesn't make sense. (Well, 75% of them are laminate. This section is wood; another is metal.) Which makes me a little sad. I'm determined to paint something though. Maybe the door frames?


6. I forgot to post about what we ate last week. On Friday and Saturday we had this curry with homemade naan, and other nights we had frozen ravioli with pesto, a quiche with broccoli and carmelized onions, and mushroom soup.


7. This week's meals:

Monday: Honey Lime Sweet Potato Tacos
Tuesday: Clam chowder
Wendesday: Broccoli pizza and mushroom and carmelized onion pizza
Thursday: Out to dinner at Burgatory with my family ... not particularly Lenten ;)
Friday: Fish tacos

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Little Things


I had an idea that I would crochet an Easter garland, and ordered some lovely colors in this yarn. But it's clear that crochet is largely foreign to me. As I happily perused patterns and pictures of various crochet flowers, the one thing that didn't cross my mind was gauge. When the thread arrived and I realized how small a hook I'd be using, my vision had to be revised. The flowers are smaller than I'd like, but they work up quickly and I intend to make a lot of them.

However, lately I've been drawn to my hexipuffs. Another quick and dirty project, and one I don't even have to look at much while knitting. I do need to buckle down on the flowers if I want a garland by Easter, though.

I've been reading a little of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn at night, but mostly I've been rereading Story of a Soul and The Hidden Face . I think I will read about Therese's family next, especially since her parents are being canonized soon, and her sister Leonie's cause for canonization was just opened. I've been on a Therese "kick" since reading Shirt of Flame, and I think her autobiography was perfect for me to read right now.

Linking up with Ginny's yarn along.

Friday, February 27, 2015

This Week's Meatless Meals

Another week of (almost) meatless eating!

Twice we ate with other people this week, so we ate what they served us, including the leftovers (my father-in-law sent us home with a HUGE amount of lasagna that made lunches for four days). Rather than being legalistic I simply have focused on preparing meatless dinners on the weekdays when we're home, and avoiding meat myself for lunch unless there are leftovers or something that needs to be eaten. (We often eat meatless lunches around here anyway.)



Saturday: Lasagna at Keith's dad's house.

Sunday: French dip sandwiches (loosely based on the Pioneer Woman's recipe) and a salad.

Monday: Tortellini with alfredo sauce, asparagus.

Tuesday: Cream of broccoli soup from this cookbook, with bread from Loafer's.

Wednesday: Chinese takeout with my family, for my brother's birthday. And birthday cake of course. ;) (I made it from a mix, which I basically never do, but I made chocolate swiss meringue buttercream to go with it, and it was delicious.)

Thursday: Salmon en papillote, with spinach and cream, served over couscous with feta. This sounds super complicated but it's so simple! I learned how to cook salmon this way while I had this cookbook out from the library, and none of the recipes I found online were quite what I remembered, so I fudged it and it turned out fine.

Friday: Enchilada pie. Was planning on making clam chowder, but I decided 1) I need more potatoes to go in it, and 2) I'd like to serve it with bread, and it was too late in the day to make it. So change of plans!

Saturday: We are having guests! The french dip sandwiches were a trial run for serving them, so we'll be repeating those.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Winter Knitting


Oh my goodness, but this is a long book. I stopped by the library today to renew it. I didn't expect to take so long to get through it. But it seems fitting, since I picked it up during the coldest part of winter--it has been so bitter these past few weeks. This book unfolds in a way that is vast and majestic--a particular sort of movement that is well suited to magical realism, I think, although that genre can also be smart and zippy--so it is hard to zip through, but I am certainly enjoying it. I'm hoping to finish it this week ... and maybe it will mean the end of winter? (Yes, friends, winter is still here and strong because I am reading this book. I am sorry.)

These socks. Today is my brother's birthday, and I'd hoped to hand them to him today. It would totally be possible if the kids slept for another two hours. But they have been in bed two hours already and are ready to get up. Sorry, Anthony!

Linking up with Ginny.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lenten Eating: Meatless Meals and Penitential Shopping.

This Lent, I am trying to do two things with our eating. First, I am only shopping at Aldi, which is ... not my favorite. I love the Market District, with its huge selection of international foods, gourmet chocolate, and massive produce section. (And people who bag your groceries for you.) What I don't get at Aldi, I will try to buy locally--bread from the baker's, coffee from the local roaster, fresh fish from Wholey's. And my beloved Market District will be a last resort for things I can't get elsewhere.

I meant to go to a local market this afternoon but found that I'd forgotten my shopping list, so rather than getting all the kids out of the car into severely cold weather with certain knowledge I'd forget half the things I needed ...I got some fresh challah at the bakery (and a free slice of cinnamon bread for Michael!), and then some whole bean coffee from a local chain in the same plaza. The coffee I remembered, because my coffee jar looked like this.



And that was yesterday. I don't think it's a coincidence I took a long nap today while the kids slept ... something I never do!


I'm also trying to cook mostly meatless meals this Lent. Right now my plans are to cook with meat on Sundays, and perhaps one other day during the week.

I'm going to try not to rely too heavily on dairy, partly because Keith is sensitive to it, but when I typed out the meals we've had this week they all included cheese or cream in some form.

Here's what we've eaten so far:


Ash Wednesday: homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese on sourdough

Thursday: risotto with peas and mushrooms

Friday: carrot, apple, and ginger soup with salad and fresh challah :)



Some old standbys I anticipate using (some of which are also listed in this post):


Sweet potato and black bean tacos (this recipe makes a lot and everyone here loves it)

Mujadara

Meatless pizza (I know! Dairy! But there's also this which is completely amazing)

Enchilada pie

Fried rice



And some new recipes I'm looking forward to trying:


Squash, lentils, and goat cheese

French onion soup

Clam chowder

Soups from this cookbook



Thursday, February 19, 2015

Kitchen Daydreams--a tentative "before"

Recently I started a Pinterest board devoted entirely to my kitchen daydreams. Painting that kitchen cart has only given me a taste for more. My brain is full of terracotta floors, teal cabinets, open shelving full of teacups, and pretty tiles. Right now my mom is borrowing our wallpaper remover to strip her bathrooms, but when she gets it back I am going to town on this yellow stuff. It's pretty, but not what I want. And then there's that bare spot. 

More than a year ago, I posted a picture of this kitchen from the real estate listing. There was a big (pink) hutch right there, and behind it ... a hole in the wall with the insulation spilling out. They fixed the hole, but I'm sorry to say we've just been sort of ignoring that eyesore for a year and a half. I wouldn't mind putting a hutch there, or some open shelving. Right now it's just our trash bin and the little Ikea cart I painted. 


There is so much to love about this kitchen. Two ovens! So much cabinet space! (There is more of it out of this picture, as you'll see, plus a huge closet with sliding doors.) Enough floor space to waltz in! 

But also: concrete right underneath the tile (no subflooring=a hard surface that dishes shatter upon on contact, and COLD cold cold in the winter). And a huge bare patch in the wall. And the colors ... I think they made the previous owner very happy. Me, not so much. Except for the greyish countertops, there is not a thing in this kitchen that isn't pink or yellow. 

Blurry. Sorry.
Back out into the dining room. My view as I cook dinner most nights.

(If you know me in person you've probably already heard this story, but: Keith brought that pretty blue tea kettle into the marriage. When we were first dating I saw it and loved it and asked where he'd gotten it. But before buying my own I thought--wait. What if we get married someday? So I held off. And we did. And now it's mine too. ;) )


This counter is the site of a perpetual battle. I recently moved the coffee maker and tea basket here so we could have a little beverage corner; the wine rack and bucket have always been there. It looks nice and clean now, but tomorrow? There will be something on it--papers from Keith's backpack, some mail, pages Michael has colored. And by this time next week there will be no free counter space, except perhaps where I've forcefully evacuated things from in front of my coffeemaker. I set up the little basket on the far left for papers that can't be thrown out or immediately filed, and it helps, but only so much. 

(That little door is an ice maker. The previous owner suggested we renew the warranty of $100 a month when we bought the house ... we don't even ever turn it on. It would be nice for a cocktail party, though.) 


 Another angle. Keith's plant life taking over a corner of the counter. ;) I would love to have potted herbs there but I'm not sure the light is enough?


The counter just keeps on going!


Other side--refrigerator, sink, etc. There's a bathroom to the left of the fridge.

I wouldn't have chosen stainless steel appliances, especially with young children; I don't even try to keep the fingerprints off. But all the appliances are new, which is such a blessing.


My view over the sink. :)


 Pretty things that make me happy.


I had to show you the chandelier up close. She painted this herself! She put so much attention into little handcrafted details, but her tastes were so specific. I wouldn't mind painting this another color but Keith says that someday it has to go. He is adamant. 


Sometime in the next week or two I am going to Home Depot and Lowe's--dragging all my kids along if need be--and loading up on primer and paint samples. Keith is reluctant to change anything until we know what we're doing with everything. But I disagree, at least in terms of paint. Paint is so easy to change! (If a bit more time-consuming when you have kids.) And I discovered while painting that cart that painting gives me energy. I enjoy it, and even if I spend all of naptime doing it, when the kids wake up I am refreshed and content.