Monday, December 30, 2013

What I Read in 2013


I was so excited when Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas said she was going to host this link-up! My running goal for the past few years has been to read 50 books per year--a much easier feat when I was in grad school and required to read a book a week. This year I completed 41--not too shabby, considering we moved AND I gave birth to twins. :) That number includes several issues of Dappled Things Most (all?) of my reading in the past 6 weeks has been on my Kindle, since it's a lot easier to use while nursing. (I think I averaged a book every three days when the twins were first born. Lots of couch time.)

But, reading has slowed down the past week or so as the babies have woken up a bit more ... as has blogging time. So I've picked some of my favorites from the longer list to write a few words about. (Surprisingly, most of them are nonfiction. Generally I read more fiction than nonfiction because ... well, because I'm addicted ...? It's part of why I read so quickly. My husband just sent me link to this article that talks about the effect of reading novels on your brain chemistry.)

The Presence of Grace, by J.F. Powers

I didn't discover J.F. Powers until this year, and I can't even take much credit for it. Keith bought me this book last Christmas. This is a collection of short stories, all of which feature priests as the main character. (Except for two of them that feature a pastor's cat. Those are my favorites.)

In Praise of Homemaking: Affirming the Choice to be a Mother-at-Home, by Connie F. Zimney

Unfortunately, this book is out of print. But if you can get your hands on a copy, do so! My mom lent it to me, and it is a beautiful reflection on motherhood and the meaning of homemaking.

A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin

I got sucked into Martin's fiction this year, both the books and the HBO show. This series is not for the faint of heart, partly because it is a commitment (I mean, those books weigh like five pounds apiece) and partly because everyone you love will die. In particularly gruesome and/or unfair ways.

All that to say these are well-written books. The HBO series does a good job of adapting them, but ... well, it's HBO, so be prepared to avert your eyes!

The Summer House, by Alice Thomas Ellis

One of my favorite, favorite authors. This is actually three novels about the same event from the perspective of three different characters. If you like Flannery O'Connor, you HAVE to read this author; I'm not sure why more people don't know her, but she deserves to be read. And if you don't like O'Connor, you should read her too; she embodies the things people like about Flannery (the operation of grace among and through very imperfect and often less-than-virtuous human beings) without the grittiness and violence that depresses some folks. Also, she has a wicked sense of humor. (I'd recommend starting with her book The 27th Kingdom, unless you want to save the best for last.)

My Sisters the Saints, by Colleen Carroll Campbell

I read this with a group of other Catholic moms. Her writing is very engaging. I'm hoping to read some of Edith Stein's writing this year because of this book.

The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning, by Simcha Fisher

Simcha is one of my favorite people that I've never met. Some of the material in this book I'd read before in some of her blog posts, but all of it is wise, funny, and worth reading many times.

Pope Awesome and Other Stories, by Cari Donaldson

This was one of the books that I read while nursing, and I am so glad. I think I would have zipped through it even if I hadn't been stuck on the couch breastfeeding. Cari's experiences and insights are great, and some of them were exactly what I needed to hear at the moment I read them.

Mariette in Ecstasy, by Ron Hansen 

I'd been meaning to read this book for ages. It did not disappoint. I love how it is structured according to feast days and prayers, how it moves with the rhythm of convent life. I love how you don't know whether Mariette is holy or crazy, and yet either way it's clear she loves. A beautiful book.

The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy

I started this book because 1) Keith downloaded it, and 2) I felt like Walker Percy was an author I "should" read. I have to admit that I spent the first half of the book disappointed and unimpressed, because I feel that Percy's fiction is a lot like his nonfiction. More an illustration than a story. But by the middle of this book, his characters and their actions took on more force for me, and I can say that I'm glad to have read it.

2012 Tuscany Prize for Catholic Fiction

Excellent stuff. Especially the winning story, "Eyes That Pour Forth"--wow. I highly recommend buying it: it's good stuff, short stories are easy to read even if you're really busy, and you'll be supporting a small Catholic press.

How Do You Tuck in a Superhero? by Rachel Balducci

I read this book. Then suddenly I had three boys under age 2. I think it's Rachel's fault! ;) (Seriously though, this is a funny and heartwarming book, and I certainly recommend it to any mother of boys!)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas!

A blessed and happy Christmastide to you all. :)

(And if you are going to sing "Good King Wenceslaus," this is the day to do it. Happy feast of St. Stephen!)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Seven Quick Takes (15)

1. You know what's cute? A toddler resting his head on the couch with a cherubic grin so that he's eye-to-eye with his baby brother, then saying "Hi! Hi! Hi!"

2. What else is cute? A toddler holding a toy in front of his baby brother while he's in the swing so that every time the baby comes forward his feet hit it and saying "Kick! Kick! Kick!"

3. So yes, Michael is adjusting to having two younger siblings. It is a slow process and in the beginning it was really difficult. I think this age (19-20 months) is probably one of the hardest to lost only-child status (although I'm sure I'm biased by my own experiences ...). And I KNOW it's hard to go from being the beloved only child/grandchild who is always the center of attention to having two younger siblings. Sometimes there are simply no arms available to hold you. Especially when Mama had a c-section and can't pick you up at all. (Oh man. That was really hard. On both of us.)

He still gets jealous, of course. But he is secure and knows he's loved, and he is starting to interact with his brothers every now and then as opposed to either pretending they don't exist or glaring balefully at them.

4. So, Christmas preparations. Postpartum with twins. Oy. Thank goodness for online shopping, especially Amazon Prime two day shipping. We're set on everyone except my brother, and Keith's presents at least are wrapped and ready to go under the tree on Christmas Eve. (Michael's presents are still in transit!)

5. As for Advent, well, I did manage to dig out the Advent ring (it has no wreath) and the stubs of last year's candles. We made sure to light the purple ones in reverse order, but even so I'm not sure that the second purple candle is going to make it to Christmas!

6. And I am also doing Christmas cards. Which ... was a bit more ambitious of an undertaking than I thought when I started ...? They may end up being Epiphany cards. :-P As long as it's within the twelve days of Christmas, right?

7. Thanks for your prayers for baby Gregory. We have another appointment in four months to reevaluate, but it seems that he will likely not need surgery, which is such a blessing.

And now I'm off to try and get some Christmas cookies started ... head over to Jen's blog for more quick takes!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


I have some Christmas knitting, but ... I haven't been able to pick it up since Friday. I'm afraid someone is going to be getting a package with needles in it under the tree! The yarn is from Brooklyn Tweed, which I've been wanting to try out for a long time. It is a very wooly yarn, perfect for winter knitting; I can feel the lanolin as I work with it, which is something that I'm not used to.

Because it's Christmas knitting and I never know who may read this ... I will just give you a peek at the yarn. Upper right corner. :)

My reading has also slowed down a bit. I started The Moviegoer by Walker Percy but ... I don't like it as much as I'd hoped. I refuse to abandon it because I feel like it's something I should read. (Although really, it takes a lot for me to abandon a book.) I feel like Percy writes fiction as an illustration of his ideas more than anything else; I've read some of his nonfiction and his characters just go around monologueing or thinking or conversing about the same things he writes about. I think if I was reading him in a class or other setting where someone knew more about him than me I would appreciate his novels more, but as it is ... eh.

But still. Walker Percy!

Say a prayer for us today as we are taking one of the twins to Children's to see if he needs surgery. It is nothing dangerous and (most likely) not an emergency, but still ... This is out of the blue for us, as of yesterday's one month check-up. Otherwise both boys are doing well, gaining weight as they should and so on.

Aaaaaand .... I have a lot to do before leaving. (Getting dressed and feeding Michael before his nap ... but seriously, that's an impressive to-do list when you have two babies in the house!)

Grumpy Dominic is grumpy.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Stripe by Stripe

Happy to be linking up again with Ginny's yarn along

I have not been blogging much, but I have been knitting a little. Not every day, but some days. Stripe by stripe. This is the perfect pattern for me right now. Lots of garter stitch, nothing too complicated to keep track of. Just stripes in pretty colors.

As for reading, that I have been doing a LOT of, thanks to breastfeeding and my Kindle Touch. (I still maintain, as a hardcore bibliophile, that the Kindle is one of the best inventions for breastfeeding mothers ever.) I've read at least four books in the past two weeks and am working on the fifth--Delia's Shadow, by Jaime Lee Moyer. So far I am enjoying it immensely.

Jaime was published in a (now defunct) webzine that I once volunteered with. Her poetry was always very beautiful to me, and her poem "Rosemary" holds a special place in my heart--not just because of the name, but I do have it in my email signature for that reason. ;) (And in looking up that poem, I remembered that it was published alongside my first-ever-published short story in an anthology. Oh man. I love that story, but I wrote it in college. If for any reason you happen to read it please don't judge me by it! And Jaime's poem is MUCH better than that story.) Anyways, I've admired Moyer as a writer from a long time back, and so I've been eagerly anticipating this novel. So far it doesn't disappoint.

Anyway ... how about some baby blanket action shots? :)

Dominic with Smooth Sailing

Gregory with Hamako
 Unfortunately I wet-blocked Gregory's blanket and it lost a lot of the texture it had before, which makes me sad. :( It is bigger than before, which is convenient, and it's still pretty; but, sigh.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Seven Quick Takes (14)

1. So the twins' birth story is half-written, and I've had this thing about not posting anything until it's finished and up on the blog. And then I decided that was silly because ... well, let's be realistic. Who knows when that novella will get finished. (And I've tried writing it in a more succinct fashion, but ... it just doesn't work that way with me. Never has, never will.) Not that I would have been hammering out anything special in the meantime, but the feeling of not being able to post until this is finished was stressing me out. So I am posting.

2. Happy Feast of St. Nicholas! I'm afraid there were no shoes left out last night, so the good old saint had no place to leave us treats. (Although he might have left some M&Ms for this mama in a drawer in the kitchen somewhere ...) Although we have no Nicholases in the family, we have an icon from Keith's grandmother, who was (for a time at least) Russian Orthodox, so I feel like he has (or should have) a special place in our family's devotions. There's always next year, I guess. In the meantime ...

3. On a similar note. I have the advent wreath on the table. But it has no wreath--just the brass ring, unadorned. More to the point, it has no candles. I half-heartedly looked for them in the boxes of Christmas stuff, but decided to order fresh ones a few days before Advent started, and ... they just shipped yesterday. So maybe we'll have our candles by Gaudete Sunday ...?

4. Nor have I set up the Nativity. Partly this is because there's not much of a place to put it. Our mantle is piled with homeless books and a few random other things, including a fire extinguisher. We're just not with it in terms of Advent this year. But I guess I get a pass.

5. Speaking of Advent, decorating, preparation, and etc, Kate wrote a really great post about such things a few days ago. I think it's wonderful that people are writing about focusing on Advent as Advent and saving Christmas for Christmas, and I really like Kate's take on it.

6. The twins are getting baptized this Sunday, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. When Michael was baptized, he wore a gown that had been passed down from my Grandmom and worn by all her children. Luckily, Grandmom's first pregnancy was twins--so there are two of them. None of the boys will be left out, and they both get to be worn again. How cool is that?

7. I have run out of takes. So ... go see some more over at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Dominic Xavier

Gregory Atticus
The boys were born at 8:07 pm and 8:21 pm on November 15th, weighing 5lb6oz and 5lb3oz respectively. I hope to type up their birth story next week; my induced labor went very well, Dominic's birth went wonderfully, and the 14 minutes between his and Gregory's were among the most frightening of my life.

Recovery has been a bit rough, and so has readjusting from being a family of three to a family of five. But we are all home, we are all together, and we are all well.

God is good.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Color Affection

No baby socks on the needles. Instead I have cast on a Color Affection (because I am late jumping on any bandwagon ...?). From left to right the colors are Thyme, Night Bloom, and Composition Book Gray. All in Tosh Sock, of course. What do you think?

A local yarn store is discontinuing all their Tosh yarns, and so they are on sale at 20% off. I stopped by "just to look" and ended up taking home the middle skein. I've had the other two for a while, and when I put them next to each other it just seemed meant to be.

When I took Michael into the store with me, I made sure to hold him so he didn't run around and wreak havoc. He was so excited and kept waving his pointer finger around saying "Yarns! Yarns! Yarns!"

Right now he's upstairs in his crib, decidedly not napping (but also not throwing a temper tantrum, so that's good). We've been doing a lot of cuddling and reading lately. By naptime there are always at least a dozen board or picture books scattered around the living room. As for me, I am still trucking through Anna Karenina. Now that I am so far through (75%) I will be kind of mad if I don't finish it before the babies are born. :-P

Linking up with Ginny.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Knitting is a good way to keep me occupied during this time; it helps me feel as though I am preparing, rather than just waiting. (And unlike many other things I could do to prepare, with knitting I don't have to stay on my feet. That means a lot these days! Although I'm sure it doesn't help the pregnancy related carpal tunnel ... I can't even brush my teeth when I wake up in the morning.)

So, the two Milos now have two matching hats. And I still have a bit of each yarn left. Socks, maybe? And then ... I don't know. To be honest I'm hoping I don't have time to knit anything else, or even the socks, although I'm sure I could knit two pairs of baby socks today if I wasn't focused on cleaning ALL the laundry.

Here's the thing. Up until the Milos, I've had this belief (or hope) that the babies wouldn't come until I was finished. And I still kind of believe that, if I start something, I have to finish it before they're born, especially since I want them to be evenly endowed with handknits from Mama. (So if one gets a pair of socks, the other has to, too!)

BUT there's always Murphy's law ... just as I start a new pair of projects, surely I will go into labor and not be able to finish.

I kind of prefer the latter superstition at this point. Yesterday my OB told me not to bother making an appointment for next week because he felt that the babies were going to come soon. I think he jinxed me. I thought they were coming, too; in fact I thought I would finish that blue hat while in labor. But since he said that, everything my body was doing to prepare has ground to a halt.

So you see, I am torn. Do I start a bigger project for the twins--a set of Puerperiums, or maybe small stuffed animals--and hope that the Knitting Fates say "Nope, not happening!" Or does starting such a project mean I am doomed to finish it before the babies can arrive?

Because clearly Knitting is a powerful thing like that.

What do YOU think I should do? (And what should I knit after the socks??)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Still waiting

Well, hi! Our computer wasn't working all day yesterday, which meant I had no access to the internet. I didn't get online once in more than 24 hours. What's funny is after Keith fixed the computer and I got back online a few people had asked if I'd had the babies! :) We also missed our regular Mass this Sunday because we slept in, and I kept wondering if people would think I was in labor because we weren't there. These babies will be considered full term on Friday, which is crazy. But--they are still inside. :) I'm glad the computer was fixed today, because I think if I missed the yarn along of all things, that would truly be a sign of their arrival!

After a brief break to zip through The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning (highly recommend it!), I am still chugging along with Anna Karenina. A friend stopped by today with my order of Usborne books, so I am reading those too, because they're awesome. :)

As for knitting, I am working on a little blue Milo for one of the twins. The newborn size knits up very quickly and I imagine I will finish it tomorrow. I've already knit another in brown.

See the owls??
I think I would've rather knit Puerperiums, but the amount of finishing (ie buttons) put me off. With Milo I just have two ends to weave in and its done. And I do love this pattern.

Speaking of finished, one of the things on my to-do-before-babies checklist was to knit a sweater for Michael. And I did it! He hates having it pulled over his head, but otherwise he loves it. Every time he saw me working on it, I told him I was making a sweater for Michael. So he loved to come up and play with the ball of yarn or touch the sweater and say "Knitting! Michael!"

Of course, now he seems to think that everything Mama knits is for Michael. And he wouldn't stand still for me to get a good picture, but I guess one can only expect so much of an 18-month-old! The sweater is a bit big, but that is good, as it will fit him still next year.

Head over to Ginny's to see what other people are knitting and reading.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hanging by the yarn along ...

I write all sorts of posts in my head these days, but when it comes to having the mental energy to sit down at the computer and type them ... nope. Just not there. I have fallen miserably behind on my written correspondence for the same reason. 

Yesterday I spent most of the day at the hospital. I had one of my bi-weekly non-stress tests, and Baby A's heart rate decelerated a few times while they were listening, so I was sent downstairs to get an ultrasound and make sure his fluid levels were okay. Everything turned out to be fine, but ... it was a long day. 

I've been knitting the sleeves on Michael's Abate using the magic loop, since I don't have dpns in the right size. And that is probably the reason it's not finished yet. I hate the magic loop. One more sleeve, and then the collar, and then the finishing. And then ... babies??? Hehe. We'll see--I'm no longer confident in my ability to crank out two vests before they're born, even if they're tiny vests! (Right now I am leaning towards Milos instead of Puerperiums simply because Milo doesn't have any buttons.)

Still reading Anna Karenina. Last night I started The Sinner's Guide to NFP by Simcha Fisher because I needed a break from Russian literature, and it was next in line on my Kindle. So far I love it, but that's no surprise, because Simcha is pretty much awesome. IF I finish it before the babies come, IF I have the mental energy ... I will write more about it once I've finished!

Check out other yarn along posts at Ginny's blog!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


I forgot to grab the books I'm reading for the photo, but it's much the same as last week. Anna Karenina is a surprisingly quick read now that I'm devoting more time to it than the five or ten minutes in bed before the light goes off.

The sweater is an Abate for Michael, knit in size 2T (the smallest). It will be a bit big for him, even though I'm knitting it on smaller needles than the pattern specifies. But that means it will fit him next year too, I hope. I'm using Quince & Co. yarn for the first time and enjoying it immensely!

I have this belief that the twins will not come until this sweater is finished and the skeins of Tosh I posted about last week are knit into two Milos/Puerperiums. Because they just aren't allowed. ;) Also, a friend of mine is throwing me a diaper shower next week, so clearly they can't arrive before that!

So many people have been predicting the first week of November that I think I'm starting to believe that's when they'll be born, myself. Insofar as I believe anything; in the end I'm clueless! I can't imagine still being pregnant by my due date, and yet I can't really imagine having two little babies in the house, either. We'll see!

Head over to Ginny's to see what other people are working on!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Living Room Tour!

I finally had a chance today to snap some pictures of the living room. Aside from Michael's room and the kitchen, this is the room that feels the most "settled." There are still some boxes, and there are no pictures on the walls yet. But it is cozy and homelike, and my favorite place in the house to be. 

This is the little reading/knitting corner. It makes me very happy. :) Sadly only half of our books fit on that shelf. We had another that didn't survive the move (it was cheap and falling apart and we don't miss it) so we need to get another one (or two). Some books were obvious choices to put out (as Keith says, some of our books just represent who we are), and others were easy choices to banish to the basement. But there were a lot of books that were really hard to look at and say, "I'm sorry, you'll just have to live downstairs for a while." (Actually, all of these books are still upstairs, in boxes, as you will see in a moment. But still.) 

The part of the house you can see through the window is our kitchen, which has a door to the outside. Sometimes when I sit in that chair Michael goes into the kitchen, looks out the door, and shouts hi. It's a fun game. :) 

That door goes out to our deck. (Pay no attention to the toddler "cave" sitting in front of it ... ;) ) The pink curtains were left here by the previous owner. They are weirdly waterproof in texture, a lot like shower curtains actually.There is so much pink in this house, there was no way this room could escape it. 

We used our wood-burning fireplace for the first time a few days ago. Someday we want to build shelves above the mantel. (You can see the boxes of books that still live up here with us.)

The Moroccan wedding rug was a gift from one of Keith's groomsmen who spent time in the Peace Corps; I'm so glad we finally have a place to put it, although I worry a bit about whether it should be in such a high-traffic area. And the couches were given to us by a family friend. A huge step up from Ikea! :) We love them. Although we will need to invest in some slip covers as soon as possible ... white upholstery does NOT mix well with little boys, especially ones who like to shake out the contents of their cups when their mamas aren't looking. 

The view out our window. Isn't it lovely? This room gets a lot of light because the windows are so big. 

The last shot is kind of fuzzy. To the left of the couch is the hallway that leads to our front door. On the right you can catch a glimpse of our (very pink plaid-wallpapered) dining room.

And that is our living room so far!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Puffing (and still settling ...)

I finished my birthday socks--not quite in time for my birthday, alas. I was about ten rounds short. But they are complete and I am wearing them now. I would post pictures but socks are remarkably hard to photograph when they're on your own feet. ;) 

I am waiting for yarn to come in for a sweater for Michael, and have finished a sweater and blanket apiece for the twins, so for the past few days I've been knitting hexipuffs from the leftover sock yarn.

Surprisingly, I am still reading Anna Karenina. Perhaps I will stick with it after all. I didn't want to be in the middle of a massive Russian novel when the twins were born, but who knows? Maybe I'll finish it before then. (Probably not.) The other two books are These Beautiful Bones  by Emily Stimpson and Small Steps for Catholic Moms by Danielle Bean and Elizabeth Foss. I won both of these in giveaways--one on Goodreads, one through Ginny's blog--and am excited about both of them, particularly since I probably would have bought These Beautiful Bones anyway.

Both those skeins are Tosh DK--one in Antler, one in Betty Draper's Blues--and I am not sure what to do with them. Originally they were intended for a Milo for Michael. Now I am wondering if they should go into Milos or Puerperiums for the twins. What do you think?

In case you're wondering why that last picture was blurry ... I had to work fast.
 My stash is officially unpacked, as are all the books that will fit on our bookshelf, so our little reading/knitting nook is complete. We are getting new couches tonight, so when the room is more together I will show you pictures.

Linking up with Ginny for her yarn along!

Monday, October 7, 2013


One thing about living out of the city, and particularly living around a lot of trees: there are a lot more bugs.

Thanks in part to the warm spell we've been having, there have been a LOT of stink bugs in our house. A lot. They're getting in through the window a/c units (which we need to take out at some point), and the room they like most is Michael's. I've never been able to smell stink bugs before, but one day Keith vacuumed about fifty out of Michael's windowsill, and it's hard not to smell that many.

Michael doesn't mind them when they're just crawling around, but when they buzz around drunkenly and bump into things they scare him. Part of our routine before naps and bedtime now includes reassuring him there are no bugs (and removing them if there are any). More than once he has woken up from a nap crying and when I go in he looks at me with big eyes and says, "Bugs!" Poor guy!

It's not just stink bugs, of course. We've had a praying mantis on our back deck, spiders of various sorts both inside and out, beetles, and most notably there was a wheel bug on our porch. We took pictures, but I am not putting them up in the post, because seriously? Wheel bugs are not for the faint of heart. You can click to look if you want. These things, they just aren't ... terrestrial. They look like they belong in outer space, or a horror movie, or maybe both. We discovered ours right as the delivery many showed up with a pizza, so the three of us (plus Michael) stood around gawking at it until it started waving its arms at us, at which point we all sort of slowly backed away.

It hasn't showed up since then, but I have visions of coming onto my porch with an armful of toddler and groceries and things, fumbling for my keys, and suddenly ... nose to nose with the ugliest bug you've ever seen.

But, apparently, wheel bugs are one of the only things that eat stink bugs. So I guess it's our friend?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Birthday Socks

Last year, I knit myself a pair of birthday socks out of Koigu yarn. They were beautiful (although a bit baggy about the ankles), and I decided that knitting myself a pair of new socks to wear on my birthday each year would be a fine tradition. So yesterday, after jumping the car battery (AGAIN), Michael and I drove to Knit One and met up with a friend, and I bought myself some yarn. 

This yarn is by Richard Devrieze, who used to work for Koigu. It's called "Oz Opal," a fitting name. I just love the speckles.

Recently I won a copy of Big Foot Knits and I was excited to use it to knit my birthday socks. I figured this yarn was pretty enough to be knit into a nice "vanilla" sock that fit perfectly, and all that stockinette would fly by so I could wear these on my birthday (Saturday).

So! Last night Keith helped me take all my measurements and determine my foot shape. Then I started reading the directions ... and as of now, I don't really have the time or energy to knit and measure two swatches (one of ribbing, one of stockinette) and do the math. It's not all that hard, really; but I just ... can't.

So I am casting on for a pair of Froot Loop socks instead. (I think Katie suggested this pattern to me?) Whether or not I will finish them by Saturday is anybody's guess ... maybe I'll just walk around wearing one sock all day. ;)

Still reading Dappled Things, just one more issue to go! The books are packed away (still ... sigh), so I started reading Anna Karenina a few days ago because it was what I had on my Kindle. I'm not sure a massive Russian novel is appropriate reading at the moment for me, but we'll see!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Catching Up

There is so much still left to do. Yesterday we cleaned the rest of our things out of the apartment, did some cleaning, and handed in our keys. Today I am doing laundry and trying to catch up on some correspondence--mostly of the internet variety, but also a few quick notes to cousins.

I am hoping and praying that these babies stay inside for another 5-6 weeks because I don't see how everything will get done otherwise! In the end, whatever's finished by the time they get here is finished, and whatever isn't ... will get finished eventually.

I will be going shopping after Michael wakes up from his nap. One of the biggest adjustments for me is not having a grocery store right around the corner! We drive through a nature preserve to get there now, and it's very beautiful. The trees are starting to change colors. (Just in time for my birthday, right? ;) ) I'm glad to live where there are trees again.

I really hoped to celebrate Michaelmas yesterday ... but sadly, our own Michael had a meltdown after Mass, which meant going home instead of straight to the apartment; which meant Keith going out on his own while Michael napped to pack things up and start cleaning; which meant instead of roasting a chicken and baking with blackberries I picked up Five Guys for dinner and we ate on the floor of our empty apartment before I cleaned the fridge and Keith loaded the cars. Then we said goodbye to our first home.

So, no Michaelmas for us, which made me sad. But it was still an important evening for our family.

But there are some other really great posts others wrote about Michaelmas, and you should read them. Especially if you've never heard of it before. :) St. Michael is such a powerful patron for the Church. I remember being pregnant (before I knew Michael was a boy) and hearing a crowd of people say the St. Michael prayer and feeling a chill run down my back as I realized just how powerful a weapon it was against evil. There were a lot of factors that came together in our decision to choose the name ... but that was the first moment I thought, if I have a son, I want to name him Michael.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Empty Shelves


Sorry for the crappy picture. It's night time but I couldn't not participate in the yarn along! Today my mom came down and helped me unpack and organize things and was a HUGE help, and now we have a little knitting/reading corner in the living room, which is where I'm sitting as I type this. It is a lovely little corner beneath a huge window that looks out onto the deck. I love it. Once things are a bit more settled (and sometime during the day!) I will take pictures and post them. 

The hatbox is stuffed with hexipuffs.
As you can see, the bookshelf in the background is decidedly empty.  All of our books are still packed away, and my Kindle is practically dead. (Keith just found the power cable, so, yay!) Not much reading for me.

I did, however, manage to dig up my yarn swift, and when we moved I made sure my stash was readily accessible, so I wound up the third and last skein of yarn for Hamako and joined it the other day. That's all the knitting I've done this week. Hopefully by the next yarn along I will have a finished baby blanket to show you! :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

We are here.

Our furniture is here. (Most of) our stuff is here. The internet is here. Our new washing machine is here (but no drier).

I wouldn't say the moving process is entirely over, but this is where we are.

Michael knows his way around, is now proficient at climbing steps (and getting better at coming down them), and usually loves his new room, though not napping in it. The kitchen is almost entirely unpacked, as are our bedrooms. The living room and dining room are still in pretty severe disarray.

Yesterday Michael kicked/threw a soccer ball around the driveway, and we discovered a gravestone in the back yard. (I guess the previous owner didn't know about it??)

Our first real dinner, cooked by me last night, was salad and pumpkin mac-n-cheese. The perfect meal for early autumn!

Aaaaand I think Michael is now throwing his snack on the floor in the next room, if his repeated exclamations of "throw!" mean anything, so I will finish typing and leave you with a few pictures.

Helping Papa put together the bed.

Matthias the Squirrel

Housewarming gift from a friend

Friday, September 20, 2013

Seven Quick Takes (13)

1. I should be packing right now. Or at least taking a shower. But instead I am typing my (probably) last blog post ever from this apartment. We are so happy to be moving to our new home tomorrow, but just typing that out makes me feel a little emotional. (Hey, cut the pregnant lady a break. She's allowed to get teary-eyed.) This place has been good to us.

2. One of the best parts about living here has been our landlords. Last year they moved in downstairs, which could be potentially awkward, right? But it's been great. They're just good people. For example, my landlady the other day invited Michael downstairs to come see the kitty, which made him SO HAPPY. (Although now whenever he sees her, he starts crying to see the cat.) She's helped me carry groceries into the house more than once since I've gotten pregnant, offered to buy things for us from the farmer's market, and to top it all off last week she and her husband gave us a gift card to Babies'r'Us for the twins. How sweet is that?

3. I suspect Michael might have an ear infection, so I've been trying to call the doctor's office to make him an appointment. It took three tries. Try #1: I get to option 1 on the menu (making an appointment is option 3), when Michael starts crying. I turn around to see he has bitten a piece of plastic off the medal on a broken plastic rosary. (He is past that stage of putting things in his mouth, so I'm not sure exactly what he was thinking.) I hang up the phone and get the piece out of his mouth and decide that when he starts eating random crap it's time for a nap. (And I'm sorry, I really hope that rosary wasn't blessed because it's in the trash right now.)

4. Try #2: I wait a bit for Michael's nap to "take." When he settles and seems to be asleep, I call the doctor's office again. This time I get to option 2 on the menu before there's a knock on the door. I'm still in my pajamas. I hang up, get dressed quickly, and answer the door. It's my landlady, apologetically letting me know that some Italian guy is coming by to look at the house in the late afternoon. (Our landlords are selling this place.) We chat for a bit, and then ... Michael starts crying.

5. Fastforward to try #3: I finally get through the menu ... and have to leave a message. So, hopefully we will get him in for an appointment sometime this afternoon.

6. I have to say that this pregnancy has been kind of difficult. As a family we have dealt with a lot of stuff in the past few months that would have been challenging WITHOUT pregnancy hormones thrown in ... know what I mean? Between dealing with various crises, extended family drama, Keith working in overdrive to finish his degree a few months ago, house-hunting and moving, etc ... I feel like I've been in "survival mode" off and on for the past several months. As my due date gets closer, this has become harder for me to deal with, and it's taking its toll on me emotionally. I feel like any day the twins are just going to "show up" and I won't be prepared, at all. But I am trying to let go of things I can't control (including things that have happened in the past few months) and just live in the present and know that I am where God wills me to be at this moment.

7. Did you know that September 22nd is not only the first day of autumn ... but also Hobbit Day? Happy happy happiness!! It's also, sadly, the day after we move, so I'm afraid a day of feasting with friends hobbit-style is out of the question ... but I want us to celebrate it somehow! I'll think of something. :) Also, Michaelmas is a week from Sunday! So we will have to do something special then too.

Linking up with Jen for her Seven Quick Takes.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


I only missed a week, but it feels so good to be linking up with the yarn-along again! Things have been crazy around here, but I've been knitting. In fact, the very first thing I did after finding out two weeks ago that we might not be able to get our new house was cast on a second baby blanket. It gave me something to do with my hands, and a way to prepare for these babes even as we were unsure of where we'd be bringing them home to.

Knitting has slowed down a bit since we realized we could get the house after all, but I've been plugging away, row by row. 

The pattern is Hamako, which wasn't on my shortlist for the last blanket, but I was so intrigued by the texture that I had to cast on. I am using Malabrigo Rios in Cumparista, which is a very rich, deep red. (In some lights it does take on a purplish tinge, which Keith isn't too happy about; he doesn't think it's very manly. ;) )

Reading has slowed down as well. I am still working my way through older issues of Dappled Things; I'm hoping to finish them in time to pack them up for the move.

Linking up with Ginny.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

House and Home

Today, we bought a house.

The past week or so has been a little rough around here. There was a kink in the mortgage process and things were a little uncertain for four or five days. Which was really, really hard. I had started packing and then stopped because I just couldn't. I couldn't pack away the home we had when the home we hoped for might not happen. I've written about disappointment in house-hunting before, but when you are literally a week away from closing and something comes up? Ugh. I shed some tears.

But we got through it, and today's the day we signed the final papers. Now our bookshelves are slowly emptying (so many books!), I am gathering more boxes, and we may move as soon as this weekend.

(This is also why it's been a bit silent around here. First I was discouraged, then I was busy.)

We're gonna need a lot more boxes for all those books!
We had our walk-through for the new house yesterday. I hadn't been in it for more than a month. It's a little weird, the way "home" is building up around this place and yet ... "home" is still this apartment. Keith and I have lived here since getting married; Michael's been here his whole life. It will be weird to see our furniture in another place, along with all our other things, because they feel like they belong here.

I wanted to take pictures of all the rooms before packing, but instead found myself capturing corners, little places and gatherings of the things that hold meaning for our family. The owl cookie jar, a gift Keith gave me last birthday, sitting next to the plants on the kitchen counter; the kitchen Madonna standing amidst the teacups on the shelf above the sink; a sunny corner of our back porch where the rosemary plant sits by the fire escape.

I feel that being a homemaker can be such a challenge. We are called to keep our eyes on the next life, and yet as homemakers--wives and mothers--we are called to make that vision present in this life for our families, and we do that using tangible things. A home is so much more than the material, but the material matters. Material things communicate and make possible the rhythm of our life.

I know how we live here. I don't know what that looks like for our new home yet. So while I can picture cooking in the kitchen or the boys playing in the backyard, I still have trouble picturing the material aspects of "home" in the new house--our couches, my teacup collection, the kitchen Madonna near the sink. But I know that when we move and the Madonna is in her place, and owl cookie jar somewhere on the counter, they will soon feel like they belong there; that "home" will continue to spread over this house as it has already begun, and then slowly grow into it, sinking down roots, accumulating meaning and stories and love.

Soon Michael will wake up and we'll head over to the new place to do some cleaning, so maybe I will have pictures for you soon. :) In the meantime, have a Michael:

Friday, September 13, 2013

29 Week Update

This entire pregnancy, I've been annoyed at The Bump and Facebook for not acknowledging my newest week of pregnancy every Thursday. Because my due date is Thursday, November 29th, dang it.

Except I just realized something. To help people remember my due date I always tell them that it's the day after Thanksgiving. And what day is Thanksgiving? Every single year?

So, I apologize to The Bump and Facebook. You were right all along.

I have four post drafts in my blogging folder so know I have been thinking about you, even though it's been a week since I posted. A long, exhausting week, physically and mentally. But today I feel good, so! Here is a bump selfie for your amusement. Because this was the best of the bunch I took, and you are free to laugh at my facial expression, because I am laughing as I upload it.

Just act natural.
I am going to need to buy a few new shirts soon. Someone told me back in July that I was huge. Um, no. In July I just looked pregnant, thank you very much. (I look awful in all the pics from that time or I'd share.) Now I look ... due. :) People I don't know have started asking me when I'm due in that tone of voice that implies "Will you be popping out that kid this week or next week?" I assure them I feel as pregnant as I look! Within the last week or two I've been told a few times that I've "popped," which is funny because I've already popped at least twice this pregnancy--so hopefully it's the last time. ;)

I got to see the boys on Monday. Yay! I had to get my ultrasound lying on my side because the babes were putting too much pressure on my vena cava and I felt like I was going to pass out; not something you should try to tough out, by the way. Both the guys are doing well; Baby B, who has always been a bit smaller, has finally caught up to his brother. And they have both flipped. At my 20 week ultrasound Baby B was breech and Baby A head down--the way we want him. But when I went in to L&D a few weeks ago, Baby A was breech and Baby B head down. I wasn't too happy but figured they still had time and would be flipping all over the place for a bit longer.

Well, we are running out of room for flipping, and Baby A is still butt down.

The OB called the day after my appointment to tell me that Baby B (head down) is closer to the cervix, tucked under his brother's bottom, so that is good; but, A's sac is somehow still under B's head, so ... I'm not really sure what all of that means in terms of trying for a vaginal delivery.

It's not that I can't make peace with the idea of having a c-section. With Michael's birth, I ended up needing Pitocin because my water had broken and I wasn't progressing; the evil drug that does such horrible things to you and your baby and STAY AWAY from it at all costs!! But it was Pitocin that allowed me to deliver Michael vaginally. I was at peace with it because it was the right thing to do. I think if it becomes clear that a c-section is necessary with these babes, I will be okay with that and be able to accept it peacefully.

But ... I want to be able to try, you know?

Anyway. My energy levels have been incredibly low, but the last two days have been great. Honestly I think the weather has a lot to do with it. It feels like fall again! I haven't complained too much this pregnancy, I think; I'm starting to complain now. I am tired, incredibly uncomfortable, and the hip pain has started. And I totally thought I had a mild case of PUPPPS, until I realized I was getting bitten by fleas from the squirrels that hang out behind our house. (I know. Gross. No more hanging out on the back porch. Except I just stood out there to take pictures.)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Science! Culture! Facebook! (Seven Quick Takes (12))

I told my husband several hours ago that I was going to bed early. So I don't really know why I'm sitting here typing after 11pm, thinking "Hey, it's still Friday! I can do seven quick takes!" I didn't sleep well last night and am feeling a bit delirious and probably shouldn't be blogging at all, so please forgive (or forget) any weirdness.

1. There have been a few evenings in the past month where I suddenly looked up from my computer screen and told Keith that Facebook was turning me into a stalker. One of those instances: I saw a friend tagged in a picture and thought, hold on, is he getting chubby, or is it just the angle of the photo? And I spent a good five or ten minutes scrolling through old pictures to see if he had gained weight. I know I have problem, I just really, really hope I'm not the only one.

2. I also maaaay have looked up the "real" Facebook profile of a popular Catholic blogger (as oppose to the blog's Facebook page) and then said to Keith, "Hey look! [Popular Catholic blogger] commented on [other popular Catholic blogger]'s post!" And then I realized I was acting like a stalker again.

3. Does it make it more or less creepy that I'm confessing these things on my blog? I don't know. I like to talk about the weird things Facebook does to people now and then.

4. Tonight we argued about whether science and culture had anything to do with each other. Mostly it went along the lines of me saying, "Wait, that is NOT what culture means," and him saying, "Hold on, that is NOT what I mean by science." The first definition of culture that Google brings up is "the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively." I like that definition, although if spent more time thinking about it I might find it incomplete. Hard to say at 11pm. Anyway, I think that definition provides plenty of fuel for my argument that science certainly IS a part of culture.

5. We were arguing because of this event, which I wish I had known about a little sooner. I'm hoping to go to the poetry reading tomorrow night, mostly because I would like to meet David Craig. I've interacted with him via email (not that I expect him to remember me!), and he teaches poetry at Steubenville.

6. Anyway, my friend Stephanie brought this event to my attention. Her brother is a priest who played a large role in organizing it. (He's also the godfather of my godson, which makes him my ... I don't know. Anyway, he also concelebrated our wedding Mass.) Stephanie is expecting her third baby and due THIS SUNDAY so when she called at 9pm I was certain she was in labor. Nope! Spare a prayer for her if you will; the waiting is always so hard!

7. I have a sinus infection and it is way past my bedtime. Goodnight. :)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Finished x 2!

I am pleased to say that both cardigans are now finished! Sleeves, buttons, woven ends and all. I may block them, but I may not. We'll see. Today is a wee bit overcast so I went outside to chase the sunlight for photos. 

You'll notice I am not showing you the left sleeve on Hatchling. I never did get around to redoing it, and it shows. The bottom seam is very visible from the front. Sigh. I learned my lesson with Bairn and was verrry careful to make sure it was centered, but even taking the same caution with Hatchling's second sleeve produced less-than-perfect (although not horrible) results.

Right now I am catching up on a pile of partially read issues of Dappled Things. I've been meaning to do this for a while and now seemed like a good time. :) Last night Keith and I read together in bed until far too late an hour. Him because he was reading a creepy book* and had a hard time putting it down, me because I was reading an interview with Brian Jobe that was interesting and exciting and had me highlighting and making notes in the margins, which is something I seldom do. (I'd never heard of Brian Jobe, but his novel is now on my to-read list!)

Linking up with Ginny's yarn along.

*He is reading I Am Legend. You know, the book the movie with Will Smith was based on. I have seen the movie, Keith has not. Apparently in the book everyone in the world has turned into vampires. This is NOT what happened in the movie; it was much more zombie-ish, I thought, but it's been a while since I've seen it so I could be wrong.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Making Way

I am blogging from a new (to me; definitely not new-new) laptop because mine decided not to recognize its power cable anymore. The one I'm using now is my husband's old computer (and it has its own issues ...), which means it's Linux, which means I only got to use my shiny new Windows Live Writer once. Sigh. I have had so much trouble with the pictures in this post, so if any of the formatting is weird, I apologize.

If all goes well (say a prayer for us that it does!), we are closing on our new house two weeks from tomorrow. Have I started packing? No. But. I have started sorting through things in an attempt to prune and organize them, a sort of making way for packing. Lately I've tackled my crafting supplies.

This is the kind of thing it's kind of difficult to do when Michael's awake, but we manage. Until he gets mad because I won't let him dump all the buttons out of my new button box.

Or mad because I put the lid back on this lovely little sewing tin I got for a dollar at an estate sale, contents included.

(Button box on the left)

I love how this is full of little bits and bobs of the previous owner's work, including that crocheted lace. Unfortunately everything has a musty smell to it; does anyone know how to get that out?

I've also been going through my Grandmom's crewel and embroidery kits, I still need to go through some fabric I have tucked away (not much), and then, there's the yarn. Oh yes, the yarn. Would you like to see it?

Here is my yarn shelf:

But it is kind of deceptive. Only the prettiest yarns get to live on the shelf (and yes, there is a lot of Tosh there). There are various cardboard boxes and a canvas grocery bag that hold the rest (along with various WIPs). So here it all is spread out on the bed.

Toddler included for size comparison. ;) 

Colors make me happy :)

]Actually, it's not as "bad" as I thought it would be, if by "bad" you (who I presume would be a non-knitter) mean "having too much yarn." Especially considering that half of that yarn is from Knit Picks. Much of the nice yarn is destined for specific projects; much of the less-nice yarn is either left over from something or else was bought before I really knew what I was doing in terms of stash enhancement. ;) 

The top half is arranged according to weight, from worsted through lace, except the top right corner which has crochet thread. Then the middle is all Knit Picks yarn. And yes, most of it is varying shades of teal, because I bought it to knit flowers for our wedding. At the bottom, from left to right, are a few skeins of crappy acrylic (and no, it is not a coincidence that that's the corner where Michael is sitting), balls of leftovers, some miniskeins destined for hexipuffs, and balls of handspun from my mom. 

Michael was pretty happy the whole time. Mama was a little stressed, since just beyond the Knit Picks yarn was the Very Nice yarn that Michael was not allowed to touch and yet found very attractive. Then it was time to put the yarn away, and he was none too pleased. It ended with him angry-crying outside the bedroom door, which I closed until I could find a better time to put things away when he wasn't looking. Not even my offer to play trains with him made up for it. 

But now, at least, things are a little more organized. Next up: Keith's art supplies ... maybe. It's pretty scary in that corner. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Seven Quick Takes (11)

1. I am writing this post in a new (to me) blogging software called Windows Live Writer, thanks to a recommendation from Sheena. (Sorry for those of you who encountered a weird “test post” from me in your feeds … my husband accused me of spamming him. :-P) While so far it doesn’t strike me as amazingly better than writing the posts straight in Blogger (except for being more in control of the photos, which is a big deal!), I am glad to have a way to compose posts offline that doesn’t interact in weird ways with Blogger’s formatting. (That I know of  yet, at least. :) ) 

2. I missed the yarn along because I spent Wednesday out. It feels weird not to post about my knitting and reading! Bairn is finished except for … well, the finishing (weaving in ends, sewing the pieces together, adding the buttons). I also finished Sanditon last night—it was a quick read, since Jane Austen only wrote up to chapter 12 before she died.
3. Normally I wouldn’t write much about the whole Miley Cyrus thing, but I have two thoughts. 1) You could have turned off the television. In fact, you really should have. But there is a sort of deliciousness to being disgusted, isn’t there? I watched ten seconds total of her “We Can’t Stop” music video a few months ago to see what the fuss was about, and you know what? That was stupid. So I’ve been avoiding that this time around, but I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been tempted to ask people/Google, so what all EXACTLY HAPPENED???? It is so easy to condemn her. But we are the consumers of her actions. 2) What about the grown man who participated in this? Why is no one making a fuss about him? It reminds me of all the posts about modesty that inevitably crop up every summer and yes, women, we are responsible for how we dress; but men, YOU are the ones responsible for how you think about women, and ONLY YOU. (Not what you see of women—that can’t be helped sometimes, and I am sorry—but how you respond. And I am not talking about walking around with your eyes on the ground so you don’t catch a glimpse of cleavage, but rather looking on all women as made in the image of God.)

4. Tonight we went to dinner at P.F. Chang’s and then spent a little time in Barnes & Noble. Michael LOVES that store. He waves his hand around expansively and declares “Gook!” (book). And they have a table for trains in the kids’ section. We hung out there for a bit and found this:

I only flipped through it briefly, so I can’t speak to quality of the story itself, but seriously. Downton Abbey + knitted mice? It’s almost as good as the needle-felted Pride and Prejudice characters! I would buy the book just to admire their clothes. I love creativity like this; it always inspires a mixture of admiration and jealousy in me.

5. The reason we went to P.F. Chang’s was because we had a gift card. I know that gift cards often get a bad rap as less personal gifts, but they’ve been a real blessing to us lately. Because of gift cards from various people, we were able to buy birthday presents for a friend (Barnes & Noble), a MUCH needed maternity belt plus some clothes for Michael and the twins this winter (Babies’R’Us), lunch at Panera for Michael and I on the trip to Babies’R’Us, and some clothes for Keith and (again, much needed) new pajamas for me.

6. Ah yes, the maternity belt. I bought it last week, and just in time; it’s this week I’ve found myself really needing it. As I near the end of the 2nd trimester (27 weeks today), my hips have started hurting, and this belly is simply getting ridiculously heavy. I really can’t imagine what it will be like in another few weeks. I wore the belt today when we went out to dinner, and took it off in the car before we decided to walk to Barnes & Noble, and oh man, could I feel the difference.

7. Last but not least … you are reading the blog of a new assistant editor at Dappled Things! I am beyond excited about this! For a lot of reasons. I love the magazine as a reader, a writer, and someone who cares about Catholicism and the arts; working with them has been a hope of mine for a while. And I have been itching to get involved in the literary community again. It is on all accounts wonderful, and I am very grateful.

(Ok, that last take was typed in the brief moments I managed to get anything done between instances where Michael came and shut my laptop and shouted “CLOSED!” so I think it’s time to finish up.)
Visit Jen for more Quick Takes!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pantry Meals

Because we're buying a house and still renting for September, lately we've been trying to eat from what's already in our cupboards as much as possible. Especially since we live within walking distance of a grocery store, it's been really easy for us (okay, me) to fall into lazy habits when it comes to meal-planning and thus over-spending on food.

We've continued to buy fresh fruit two or three times a week, and we've been alternating between fresh produce and veggies from our freezer. (And this week we'll be getting a ton of fresh green beans from my dad's garden--yay!!) But it happens that pantry meals are rich in vegetarian sources of protein, so we've been spending much less on meat than usual the past week or two. Also, it's kind of crazy the food you find, forgotten, in the back of the cupboard when you force yourself to plan meals around what you already have. Like several pounds of lentils. (Why do I keep buying MORE lentils? My mother-in-law also bought a pound of them when she was here. So many lentils.) Luckily, since we are trying to eat that food, we won't have to move it all with us. :)

Here are some of our favorite pantry meals:

Mujadara. Oh so delicious. I discovered this recipe through Like Mother, Like Daughter and made it a few times during Lent. It is an amazing meal to make during the colder months, but it tastes good in summer too, and it only uses the stovetop so it's good hot weather cooking. It only has four ingredients but the flavor from the carmelized onions is just incredible. I can't recommend it enough. (I use brown rice for this and all other rice recipes, since it's what we keep in the house. I just added the rice in to pre-boil with the lentils and itcooked well and tasted great.)

It may not look like much, but trust me, it's delicious.

... and if you can't take my word for it, trust Michael.
Fried rice. I tried this for the first time two weeks ago and it turned out great! For the veggies I used a frozen bag of mixed (no scallions 'round here), and I used powdered ginger rather than fresh because that was what we had. If you want you can add chicken or shrimp, but you don't have to. I added an extra egg because it felt right.

Rice and beans. Unless we have tortillas, avocados, and salsa around for tacos, I think of this as more of a lunch meal, but with some shredded cheese and sour cream it is filling and tasty.

Quiche. I try to make this only on cooler days since it uses the oven, but it is tasty and easy to make. I use homemade pie crust which is cheaper than ready-made and, frankly, tastes a LOT better. (I was spoiled growing up by my mom's homemade pies; I actually don't like store-bought pies because the crust is so disgusting!) The recipe I linked to uses Swiss cheese, but I generally use cheddar. I add cream or half and half when I have it, but when I don't I just use whole milk.

Pizza. Actually, a friend brought us some homemade pizza a few days ago--I haven't made it lately myself. But pizza crust is easy to make, and it's easy to use whatever toppings you have on hand. Our friend used pepperoni, peppers, and broccoli, and it was delicious.

Pasta and meat sauce. We always have some sort of pasta in the cupboard and a jar or two of sauce, and it's easy to add a package of ground beef to the mix.

Vegetable Korma. This isn't necessarily the best summer food, because it involves standing over the stove and cooking. (In fact, when I think of this dish, I associate it strongly with autumn. But if you have the right spices stocked, it's a good dish to make with whatever vegetables you have on hand or that are on sale.

Meanwhile, this guy would be content to live on lemons.

Do you have any favorite recipes for pantry meals (or meals that are otherwise healthy but inexpensive)? I'm always looking for new ones!