Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas was good this year.  Audrey and Meredith loved opening their presents and the house is now overrun with new fun toys.
Audrey in front of Grandma in VA's Christmas tree 2012

Meredith opening presents Christmas 2012

Friday, December 28, 2012

Slow Food Fast

When I was a new SAHM with Audrey, she and I went to visit my Aunt Kalyn and her family in North Carolina for a week.  It was mind-blowing.  Kalyn is an amazing home economist.  She has perfected the art of having a variety of nutritious food at the ready for very low cost.  Growing up Mormon, I knew about the principles of a revolving pantry of basics food items (and food storage for two years!).  But Kalyn manages to take that principle to the next level. For example, when she made rice, she mixed wild rice, brown and white (so that it had a variety of nutrition, she told me), then she put the leftovers aside to use in fried rice for Chinese night later on in the week (with homemade eggrolls from the freezer).  Every dinner she made enough for leftovers, and she would immediately put it into individual serving size tupperware dishes with a scoop of frozen veggies and then labeled and into a specific spot in the freezer.  Her husband grabbed one each morning before he left for work - instantly a variety of homemade, delicious, and nutritious lunches.  Seriously, Kalyn makes an art of home economy.

What it made me realize is that if I thought things through a little bit, I could certainly make good food more often and easier. Here are a few things I now do for good slow food faster/easier:

  • Mire Pioux - (fancy French word (probably misspelled) which means onions, carrots, celery mix) - I like to buy organic produce and buying a bigger bag is usually cheaper, so I will cut up most of the bag at once.  It doesnt take much more time to cut up the additional carrots, celery, or onions.  I usually just do one type at a time.  Then I spread them on a cookie sheet on a layer of parchment paper and freeze them.  Once they are frozen I put them in a freezer bag in the freezer. And when I make soup I just grab a handful and throw it in the pan.  Souper easy.
  • Dehydrated kale - I love kale in my soup and my garden made a whole bunch, so i washed it cut it in strips and dried it.  It works wonderfully.
  • Meats - Ham - I will cube a bunch of ham and freeze it in soup size portions and use it in split pea soup or 16 bean soup mix or quiche.  I save any leftover bacon pieces and crumble it into veggies.  
  • Freezer chili - I save leftover steak (cut into bite size pieces prior to freezing), leftover tomatoes, tomato paste, sauce, taco meat, beans, etc.  Anything I think will work well with chili flavors gets thrown into a freezer bag together and every so often becomes chili.  It is usually really amazing chili because it has better quality meats than I are typically used for chili.  
  • Batches - As mentioned previously, I try to cook twice as much as I need of everything and I freeze the other half.  

As a side note - Kalyn worked for years to change my recipe for KA cookies into something healthy.  She says she finally achieved success and that the kids love them.  They now contain shredded zucchini.  Pretty impressive.

Friday, December 21, 2012

When it rains...

Since I started back to work, we have had one sickness after another.  We are at the doctor and/or urgent care for one of us every week.  I am not even exaggerating   Between daycare and school, we are a regular cacophony of germs around here.  We have been much more fastidiousness in washing our hands as soon as we get to the house, but even so, we have all been sick.  That is not that much fun.

However, last weekend, we took bugs to a new level.  While we were in line for the bathroom at the Kennedy Center (to see the musical White Christmas), I started playing with Audrey's hair to redo the barrettes   Suddenly I noticed movement on her head.  She had bugs in her hair - lice.  Turns out she had a bad case of lice and so after three treatments, we are still finding an occasional bug or knit here and there.  She just has so much hair it is hard to get them all.

So she and I got haircuts - shoulder length - homemade cuts by me.  Hopefully the follow up treatment will be easier now. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Office views

The cube farm
My daily view inside the office is cube ville. Eight full floors of it. This is a pic of the side I sit in. I like this side because we have an unobstructed view of the city. Georgetown is right across the river

View of the Key Bridge crossing the Potomac river looking towards Georgetown
Pretty fantastic office views.

But not nearly as good as the sweet little ladies I pick up at the end of the day.

Audrey and Meredith wearing wings and playing

Audrey and Meredith brushing their teeth before bed

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Dinner prep

Every evening, homemakers everywhere try to find an efficient way to have a good healthy economical homemade dinner on the table.  That in and of itself is a challenge, but when that homemaker also works outside of the house full-time (like me, for instance), it is even more challenging.  With a bit of planning, it can happen.

Since I first started back to work a few months ago, I struggled to make that happen every night. There have been many a night of quick scrambled egg dinners.  Slowly but surely, I have gotten back in to the groove and now things are coming together more often than not.  Using tonight as an example, here is my loose and evolving system.

Every weekend before we go grocery shopping, I try to think of several dinners that I want to make during the week and I try to make sure that there is enough stuff to double them and put whole dinners or partial dinners into the freezer.  Last night, I looked at the list of potential dinners on the white board and decided we would have spaghetti with meat sauce.  So this morning I pulled out a frozen brick of ground beef to thaw.  When I got home, I cooked the whole thing and a whole lot of spaghetti.  I buy the organic ground beef from Costco, which comes in 1.34 pound bricks.  Which actually turns out to be just about right for two plus meals for us.  After the beef was cooked, I put half into the freezer again - it will become part of crockpot chili another day (probably next week).  I added some jarred spaghetti sauce to the meat still in the pan and spiced it up a bit.  Then added all of the cooked spaghetti.  After dinner we had enough leftover for me to put that in a casserole pan - I threw that in the freezer too.  With a little cottage cheese and mozzarella on top (now on the grocery list) this will be a delicious spaghetti bake for the future.

Earlier in the week, I made a big crock-pot of refried beans - honestly they were the best refried beans we ever had - and I now have a whole bunch in the freezer and some in the fridge to be part of Mexican Friday night .  This week, Mexican Friday night will be a new recipe for shredded Mexican beef - another crock-pot recipe - with some flour tortillas and salsa from Uncle Julio's   I will be put the leftovers into burritos - which will go into the freezer for later of course. :) 

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Christmas Stockings

I love homemade stuff in general - but (in my humble opinion) Christmas stuff in particular is so much better when it is homemade.  So naturally, I have been wanting to knit matching Christmas stocking for several years.  I looked for patterns and started one stocking a couple of years ago, but frogged it about half way through because it was just not looking the way I hoped.  Two years ago, I spotted some beautiful fair isle knit stockings on Pottery Barn Kids, but I was still hoping I could make my own.  Last year I admitted to myself that hand-knit stockings were probably not going to happen and so I waited for the cute PBK stocking to go on sale at the end of Christmas.  Instead they sold out.  So this year, I bit the bullet and bought new stockings as soon as they came out.  So much for handmade and knitting a new set of stockings.  Sometimes a lady has to know when to be practical.

As you see there are five stockings, one is for Aunt William, because we are lucky enough to have her come to our house for Christmas more often than not.  I did not have names stitched on them because I thought it would be fun to be able to mix it up and switch stocking every year if desired.  Sure enough, Audrey told me that she wants to trade with Aunt William next year. :)

We usually begin Christmas decorating on Black Friday. I think it is a better way to spend the day than fighting shopping crowds. This year we got off to a slow start because we spent most of Thanksgiving weekend at the in-laws with cousins.   However, I did manage to get the stockings hung first thing Friday morning and I have been admiring them ever since.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Latest recipes

John Wayne Casserole
One thing I love about cold weather is good warm food. I love baking, yet in the heat of the summer turning the stove on for a soup or the oven for a casserole just doesn't ever sound appealing - which is unfortunate because  I love soups and casseroles.  Recently I've tried a few new casseroles that I found via Pinterest.

The first picture is John Wayne casserole.  It has a biscuity crust,  ground beef deliciousness, a layer of onions and green peppers and a layer of creamy/cheesiness.  It was  hearty and good all American yum.

Chili Relleno Casserole
The second picture is Chile relleno casserole.  I love Mexican food, and I love chili rellenos but I have never attempted making them because the whole process seems so fussy.  As a casserole the flavors are brilliant - a  blend of Mexican goodness with poblano peppers, cheddar and jack cheeses, eggs, and a layer of tomato zing.  It had a bit of spiciness, but not too much.  The chile relleno casserole was fabulous and will definitely be a part of my rotation. The pics do not do it justice.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Domestically speaking

I have a decent career. I'm a consultant at Deloitte and I get to work on a variety of projects for the federal government.

In my spare time I prefer to stick with the domestic arts. I am always thinking and scheming and testing and tweaking my house processes to try to make things run better and more efficiently.

I write at work ad naseum about what we do or don't do and how to improve this or that but I don't get a chance to write about my adventures in the domestic arts hardly at all. So I am going to be writing about all of that stuff more often.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mama/Audrey date

The other day I realized that I have not spent much time with just Audrey recently, so Saturday morning she and I went on a date to the new Starbucks in our neck of the woods.  She got a vanilla steamer and a snowman cookie, I got a latte and their delicious classic coffee cake.  

We also walked around the new shopping center - we have all kinds of fancy stores near Wegmans now.  It is crazy actually.  We finished up our date with grocery shopping - less fun for a 7 year old - I know.  I sweetened the deal by letting her pick one thing - she picked the Jim Carey version of The Grinch movie.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Holiday Craftshow

We went to a Holiday craft show this past weekend.  It was really cool to see so many talented artists displaying and selling their wares.  We each got a treat - I got a homemade dark chocolate peanut butter cup, Audrey got a marshmallow dipped in white chocolate and sprinkles, and Ryan got a whoopie pie.  I also bought a handmade lotion bar made of beeswax and olive oil - it is really lovely, and a couple of beeswax candles.  I love the smell of beeswax - that lovely honey smell is just awesome.

Beeswax tealight in small mason jar turned votive holder
I also took the opportunity to pay attention to the types and styles of decorations that I like the most.  I gravitate towards the homemade and country style decorations.  My favorites are always the more irreverent versions.  I am less into the cutesy decorations.  I guess I would categorize my holiday style as fancy handmade redneck. :)

Friday, November 09, 2012

New phone

I just got my new iPhone 5 and I love it already. It is noticeably lighter and that makes it so much more comfortable to hold in one hand while typing a blog post.

I also love the bigger screen. It feels less squished.

The one downside that I see so far is that the connection element changed so it no longer fits my fancy Bose speaker. I use that a lot so I am going to have to find an adaptor of some sort.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

On the sticks (works in progress)

Even though, I don't have a whole lot of time to knit (and crochet), I enjoy it immensely.  There is something so calming about the sticks just clicking away.  It instantly lowers my stress level and makes me smile.  What's not to love about that?  So, I always have a yarn project or seven in the works at any given moment. This is what I have in the works right now:
Pink and Purple Hexagon grannies

Hexagon granny style afghan in pinks and purples with white centers and trim:  This is supposed to be a stash buster project to use up the copious amount of pink and purple cotton yarn that I have.  Every time I buy a ball of cotton yarn in Audrey's presence she asks if I will let her pick one too.  I usually say yes, and the result is that I have more pink and purple yarn than I knew what to do with.  This will probably be for Audrey since she is the one who picked most of the yarn.

Living room pillow cover
Living room pillow cover: I started this project because I wanted to make a striped and wavy something with these colors.  I thought it was going to be a hand towel for my bathroom, but I quickly decided that it was not the right size or colors and it just so happens to be the right size and colors for my living room - so instead it is going to be a living room throw pillow cover.  As it turns out, we need to recover the throw pillows in there, so this is a practical project afterall.

multi-colored wool wrap
Multi colored wool wrap: My dad used to work near a fancy yarn store in Kansas City.  Several holidays in a row,  I was the lucky recipient of a ball of fancy yarn or two.  This multi-colored wool is beautiful was something he (or a store lady) picked.  The colors are deep and vibrant and they flow together in unexpected yet beautiful ways.  I had to order a few more balls of yarn in order to make the wrap big enough, but I really love how it looks so far.  I am excited to finish this and then block it so that I can see the pattern "bloom" (expand).  I do not have the fancy blocking materials that hard-core knitters have, so I am going to use some wire hangers to stretch the yarn.  Then I'll spritz it with water and let it dry.
Hot Water Bottle Cozy

Water bottle cozy:  This pattern is called winterberry and it has a lovely bobble pattern with some cabling mixed in to make it look like the bobbles are berries on branches.  It is really pretty and has been fun to work on.  Also, it is worked in the round, which makes it fast (other than the complicated center panel with the cables and bobbles).  I bought a nice wool blend for this pattern.  It is a dusky eggplant purple.  I wanted wool for the warmth, but I wanted a blend to make it washable.  I am pleased with how it is going so far.

Dishcloths - I always have a few dishcloths in various patterns on my sticks.  I use them everyday and I give them away a lot too.  Plus they are fun and portable.  The dishcloths in the picture are for my sister Farrah - she chose the bright yarn with the turquoise and purple.  I added a bit of white to accent it a bit.  I hope she likes (and uses) them when I finish the set.  The square with the triangle halves has been one of my favorite dishcloth patterns for years.  The center open pattern makes it dry quickly and it is super quick to make.  I add the crochet lacy edging because I think it looks prettier that way.

As you can see from my project list, apparently I have more good ideas than I have time or good sense. :)

Friday, November 02, 2012


I dyed Audrey's hair red for Halloween this year.  She decided to be Ariel (as in the little mermaid of Disney fame).  We got her a wig, but with her hair being so thick and long, the kids wigs just weren't cutting it and the adult wigs were too long and too expensive.  So manic panic hair dye to the rescue.  Allegedly it washes out in 6-8 washes, not that Audrey will be disappointed if her hair is red longer than that.  Her hair turned out great and she really did look like a seven year old version of Ariel.  She was also wearing pink sparkle tights and Ariel fancy shoes and her toes and nails were painted glittery purple and she added stick-on jewels on top of that.  I let her wear my earrings that are (according to her) just like the pair that Ariel wore for her wedding.  She also had an Ariel tiara and make-up on.  She was fancy from head to toe.

Meredith was a little chick.  Audrey was a chick for her second Halloween and I love that little chicken costume so much that I was determined to have Meredith wear it as well.  Meredith was less-thrilled with my plan.  The hat scared her at first, but then she got used to it (ie gave up trying to pull it off with limited range of motion due to an overstuffed bird costume).  She looked so cute though.  I managed to get no good pictures, but here is a mediocre one.  :)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

To live a long life

I don't know when I decided it, but I have long held the belief that I would like to live to at least 100, maybe even 125 if I can manage to keep my witts about me and my body moving.

So am always interested to read about people who have figured out how to live a long and healthy life.

So who is with me, let's move to Ikaria.  I better start learning Greek.

I do seriously think about what it will be like to be 85.  What will I do for a living?  What will I do for fun and  where will I live?  It makes me slow down and take things at a less frenetic pace (which I have an unfortunate tendency towards).  I hope to have a great garden then and to live in a small house with friends and family nearby (I like the closeness of my townhouse community a lot, but I sure wish some of my family lived here too).  I also hope that I will get to take a good walk and a good nap most days and that I will get to make things for grand and great-grand babies.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Anyone who has been to my house knows that my dishwasher is mediocre.  It looks nice and fancy - stainless steel can mask a variety of ills - but it truly does not clean well and usually things come out looking a little dull.  So I tried rinse aids and vinegar and different types of soaps - all with little success.  Eventually, I came to just more or less wash my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, where I would run the normal cycle and have them coming out dull but allegedly clean.

After a few years of that - ok, maybe it was 5 or 6 years - I figured I would try just hand washing my dishes.  It turns out, that the process of hand-washing and rinsing is faster and my dishes are cleaner. So I have been doing my dishes by hand for about a year and it works pretty well.  I still use my lovely dishwasher occasionally (mostly as a drying rack) and at some point might switch back to using it full-time.  For now however, I am doing dishes old-school.  Also, a big thank you to Aunt Myrtle (Desiree's mom) who taught me how to hand-wash dishes efficiently when I was a teen-ager.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


This is my favorite season.  I get giddy the first time the air feels crisp outside and I smell the fall leaves.  I love the colors of the trees and the nights getting longer and cooler.  I love living with the windows open and the breezes blowing through the house.  I love apple and pumpkin picking and going to harvest festivals.  I love trying to get that last little bit out of the garden (my kale is still going strong).  It is just a good time of year to be alive.  That stifling summer heat that makes days seem like they will last forever is gone and fall seems to hasten things for me.  As if I only have a little bit of time to enjoy it all before the cold of winter descends.

I also love that I get to start baking with gusto again.  Pumpkin muffins are one of my favorite foods and I usually have muffins ready all fall long.  Inside the house, we start the season of decorating.  First we decorate for the Halloween and Fall, then the Halloween stuff gets replaced by a few Thanksgiving things.  Last but certainly not least, we get the Christmas decorations out and the whole house seems cheerier.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Work project

I finally found a project at work or rather it found me. I was "on the bench" for five weeks which is a nerve wracking place to be. It basically meant I had a job but was not making the company any money. That is not a good place to be for long. So I am thrilled to have a real project.

I am working on a counter narcotics study of our (the US) work in Afghanistan. It looks like I may have to travel to the infamously dangerous Tampa, FL; but thankfully not to Afghanistan. :)

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Projects - Cross-stitch, VW, dehydrator

As mentioned, I love Alicia's style at Posie Gets Cozy.  So earlier this year, I bought a cross-stitch sampler kit from her.  It was so much fun to do, because once I got started, it was easy to just do a few stitches whenever Meredith would start playing with something.  And easy to set down again as soon as she noticed that I was not focused exclusively on her. ;)

Also, here is the finished lego VW van.  It turned out awesome and is perfect on my fireplace mantel.  Audrey and Claire both helped me with the van.

And last but certainly not least, I bought a dehydrator!!! I have a whole bunch of kale and basil to dry.  I am super excited.  Please don't be surprised if your Christmas present includes dried kale and/or basil this year.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Moving along

After our first week of school, daycare, and work;  we all took turns getting sick.  However, other than that, we are adjusting pretty well.  Audrey loves school and being with her friends again.  Meredith does not love daycare, but she is playing and calm when I pick her up everyday, so that is a start.

I am enjoying reconnecting with old friends and colleagues at work as I try to find a project that I want.  I am trying to stick with international public policy, but not the exact same project.  I would like to expand my perspective and work with other agencies.  I basically have one week left of looking for my dream project before the utilization gremlins come out to get me and I will be more or less assigned. 

Friday, September 07, 2012

Week one back at work

This week has been rough.  Apparently, I was so focused on getting us personally ready to go back to work for me, school for Audrey and for Meredith to start day care; that I forgot about making sure our house was ready to support those efforts.  So Audrey ran out of clean undies by day two, milk was gone by day three and the one freezer meal I had made was eaten quickly. 

Luckily, my job has *not* been the stressful part.  Right now I am not on any projects, so I just go to the corporate office everyday and work on all the company requirements that used to make my life miserable (because I did them late at night on the last day they were due as I never had time for them during the workday).  Now, it gives me something to do.  It doesn't seem like as much of a pain to download, learn and understand random computer programs when that is your entire job instead of last-minute late-night adventure.  I have also been reconnecting with old colleagues, updating my resume, and looking through open positions to try to find something that fits.  Eventually, I need to actually be a profit earning employee.  Embedded into this mix has been losing my badge, reconfiguring my computer and all kinds of other little issues to make the days more interesting.

School for Audrey has been wonderful.  Audrey loves the magic of childhood.  She was excited to reconnect with her friends and she has already made some new friends who love princesses as much as she does.  Unbeknownst to me, she brought a miniature magic wand to school yesterday and 'the princess club' buried it in the school yard during recess for the fairies.  She also left something under her pillow last night for the night time fairies (like the tooth fairy) to get while she was sleeping.  If I would have known I would have put something there instead for her. :)

Daycare is going less well for Meredith.  She likes playing and she has been taking short naps at the appropriate times, but she isn't fond of drinking from a cup for her milk and she is luke warm on their food.  One of the other kids bit her arm the second day.  And she cries like crazy when she finally sees me at the end of her day - like all the built up frustration and anxiety of a long day all comes out at once.  To top it off, she is sick with a fever today, so I am home with her this afternoon.  Ryan stayed with her this morning, so I could go into the office.

This week felt crazy and frantic, like I have too many things to keep track of, and not enough brain power, sleep and organizing power on hand to do any of it well.  I backed into a parked trailer at Meredith's daycare and I keep physically dropping things (computers, phones, my badge, keys, etc).  It is as if I am both physically and metaphorically juggling more than I can handle.  I am sure it will all smooth out and calm down.  In fact, I can already feel myself thinking through household stuff in a different way (I froze two quarts of lentil soup after we ate some for dinner yesterday, so that I will have a few healthy dinners on hand).  Little things like that will start to add up and things will start to run more smoothly.  I have to keep reminding myself that it will just take some time and patience (and a few deep breaths) and soon things will feel more calm again.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New shoes

These are one pair of my new shoes for going back to work - comfy red patent leather. The other pair is nice and sensible black leather loafers (snake skin leather though - I had to add a little pizzaz).

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Favorite blog reads

Lately I have only had Internet access via my phone and iPad. This has limited the number of blogs that I visit and without realizing it I found my favorites.

My all time favorite is: Down to earth is the title. It is written by a 64 year old australian woman who decided to leave the corporate world and simplify her life so that she could make her home her life. She writes enthusiastic and wise posts on just about anything and everything. Her blog has been so successful that she has now written a book (which I hope makes it stateside soon) and sometimes writes for magazines and does radio interviews.

My other favorite is: Poise gets cozie is written by a designer in Oregon. I love her style and I recently did a cross stitch sampler kit of hers and loved it. I love her photography too. She has just a wonderful aesthetic.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Garden adventures

Last year I really wanted to start a garden. So I built a 4x4 box and made a lovely concoction of soil (following the square foot method) and compost and planted every square of my nice little grid. It grew like mad. However, as a big pregnant lady I didn't have the energy to go out to harvest or weed or really anything that involved me spending any extra time out in the heat and humidity towards the end of summer.

This year I vowed to do better. So my neighbor and I went to some local gardening classes in February and March and planned and plotted our gardens. We even shared a seed order to a local nursery.

But then when Audrey and I went out to plant it started raining so we quickly sowed a few seeds rather haphazardly. I intended to write down what we had planted and where but instead...

This year my garden has been full of fun surprises. The squash turned out to be cucumbers. The lettuce is perhaps kale. Things are still growing like mad but I'm just not sure what they all are. I may have some carrots but that could be parsnips as well. I am quite sure that when I am a more experienced gardener I will laugh heartily at this garden of surprises.

Monday, August 06, 2012


I will be starting back to work in less than a month. Part of me is excited about that. I always enjoy work and I derive a sense of satisfaction and self from my job (no matter what it is).

However, a bigger part of me feels a sense of gloom over leaving Meredith in someone else's care. It was easier with Audrey because she was twice as old and I left her in the care of her aunt first and then her dad.

I know Meredith will do well away from me. She is a happy curious baby who will love having others to play with and crawl over. I am just not so sure I will do well away from her. :)

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Happy birthday project

My wonderful sister Claire sent me the coolest birthday present - a Lego model set to make my own Volkswagen van!

There are 160 pages of instructions and over 1300 pieces. I am amazed at the detail already. I just finished the engine. Here is my progress so far.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Today the girls and I went to a new thrift store in the area. I am trying to be a super frugal person and so I think I should shop primarily at thrift stores for clothes and other household things. However, in general I don't really like them. They are too much of a treasure hunt for my tastes. Same thing with places like tj maxx. It just seems like more work than it is worth.

Strangely I love antique stores and shows. I am trying to figure out the difference. I think it is the clothing aspect. I like looking at furniture and decorations and what not but not so much clothes or shoes.

Speaking of clothes... There are some things that I think should not be purchased second hand - under garments in general but thongs in particular. This store had a whole aisle of thongs - one side for women the other side for men. The thought of it still gives me the heebie jeebies, I wish I had taken a picture. As my mom would say different strokes for different folks...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cooking skills

I am fortunate. My mom taught me how to cook. It was just something she included me in for as long as I can remember. It is one of those life skills that has served me well. While I am preparing food or reading through recipes I remember instances of making those foods together or watching her cook them. (thanks mom).

There have been others who taught me a lot too. Mary taught me how to make quiche. She used to make it in France all the time. Recently Margaret gave me a jar of herbs de Provence and I remembered Mary telling me how she used it in quiche all the time.

Quiche with herbs de Provence is now one of my go to meals when I have leftover bits of meats cheeses and veggies. (tonight we are having sausage and spinach quiche)

Even with all the wonderful culinary teachers in my life I am always learning and trying new things. Tonight I made the pie crust which I don't usually do. Lately I've been baking our bread and that has been fun to learn about yeast. I have also been brewing my own kombucha. Which is quite good and easy once you get it going. And that is my personal conclusion for most homemade foods. While they may seem intimidating at first, soon they are quite easy. And they taste amazing.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Mommy necklace

I just ordered this necklace to help with my fidgety feeder. I appreciate a good pinch or a wack in the face as much as anyone but every few hours by my sweet baby girl while she is eating is a little much. Hopefully this necklace will do the trick to help distract her. It is double wrapped in the photo but I used it single wrapped while feeding her just minutes ago. She loved the necklace and was rubbing her eyes with it.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


Yesterday I went to put some holiday placemats away in my black hutch. It was a tight squeeze so I looked to see what was behind the holiday linens. It was an entire food storage kit sealed in #10 cans that we have had for 10 years. The expiration dates were years since past. I threw them all out and wondered about the rest of my pantry.

I cleaned that out today. The oldest thing I threw out (condensed milk) expired in 1999. That means I moved it from college with me. I only make one thing with condensed milk - fudge. And I only make fudge every few years. Which explains the two other expired cans that I also threw out.

Note to self: I do not need to store condensed milk. I can purchase it as needed. :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cloth Diapering

My sister Elena asked me about my cloth diaper system. As anyone who actually uses cloth diapers knows, it truly is a system - and it is constantly changing. Since I wanted to post write my thoughts on the various cloth diapers anyway, I will answer her question with this post.

With Audrey, I used fuzzibunz perfect size diapers. They work really well - they kept her dry and fit well. We never had blowouts and we rarely had leaks, when we did, it was our fault for leaving the diaper on too long. However, I *really* do not like the pockets for every diaper use - where you have to stuff an absorbent layer into the diaper and then pull it out to wash it. (I do still think they are good for night time, to be able to add an extra layer of absorbency and let the baby sleep dry all night long.)

Before Meredith was born, I decided that I was willing to do a two piece system (old school diaper and a cover) rather than stuffing. I went to the local diaper store (I am so glad we have one nearby), Abby's Lane (highly recommend using them online too - free shipping, fast processing, discounts/promos with email newsletter, points towards anything with every order), to see what my options were. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there are lots of options and that the covers now have snaps (or velcro (called aplex?)) and pins are not really needed. I bought a couple of newborn sized covers (which never fit my newborn who weighed over 10 lbs at birth) and a few hemp/cotton prefold diapers (think old school but better fabric) and considered myself ready. We ended up using disposables for her first few weeks instead because the newborn size did not fit her and the fuzzibunz we had did not accommodate her umbilical cord.

So I headed back to Abby's lane and found thirsties! I loved them. The diapers and the covers snap. The covers have gusseted legs that never blowout - so nice after having blowouts all the time with disposables. The diapers are so soft - a cotton velour on the outside and a soft micro fleece on the inside, are super absorbent, fit well, and they have this tunnel design that helps them dry quickly. Just awesome. However, having to snap both the diaper and the cover at every changing takes more time than my squirming baby will hold still for. I wished there was some sort of all in one option.

Lucky me, there are lots of all in one (AIO) diaper options. As Meredith started to grow out of her size 1 diapers at 3 months (that are supposed to last through 9 months, btw) I ordered two different AIOs to try - bumgenius freetime and grovia. The grovia is all cotton on the inside and that stays wet against the skin - I don't like that so much. The bumgenius freetime is awesome. It has the micro fleece against the skin, so it stays dry. It is possibly the perfect diaper. Thirsties just came out with an AIO of their own and I ordered one today. I have high hopes because I like the thirsties fit on Meredith better than the bumgenius fit (and they are cheaper than all the other AIOs on the market to boot!).

My system... I get a couple of thirsties wipes (love these guys) wet with water in the sink before I change Meredith. After I change her diaper, I put both the used diaper and wipe into a zip up bag (wet/dry type) that hangs on her changing table and put the new diaper on her - pretty standard stuff. I wash it all including the bag in hot water every morning. I never have to touch any messiness, I just turn the bag out into the washer and add 1 Tablespoon Rockin Green laundry soap. Then I do an additional hot rinse. I throw it all in the dryer and usually hang them (from a little octopus laundry dryer) until I use them, just to make sure every thing gets lots of air.

My system is always evolving with minor adjustments all the time. I plan to try homemade laundry soap rather than Rockin Green once I run out of it. I like the Rockin Green, but it is expensive. Also, I would like to line dry all of it - right now I do not have enough diapers to do that. I would also like to do the wash every other day, but again, that requires more diapers. I still like the diapers and cover system, and I use that to supplement the AIOs.