Sunday, August 30, 2009

I want one of these.

So. You may or may not know that we rent our house. We had been thinking about buying it, but there are way too many undesirable issues to make us want to commit, you know? The thing is, now that the boys are getting bigger (and closer to school age) and I am hoping to actually make my business a success (and need a REAL work space to make some things happen a little more efficiently) the time has really come to settle down somewhere.

And we found that somewhere today.

We're talking like total perfection in a reasonable price range and in a great area with a great school district.

The problem? We have no savings and no "real" jobs and probably will make the bank people laugh in our faces when we ask about financing.

But I'm going in tomorrow anyway just to see. Can't hurt to check right? I mean other than the crushing, bitter pain of disappointment. And the sharp, stinging pain of being told what a loser you are by a third party.

Anyway, if you could spare a moment to cross your fingers/say a prayer/think deep thoughts for us, that would be much appreciated. And I don't mean you need to say anything here. I'm just honestly hoping for some good vibes to be floating around for us somewhere out there in cyberspace. :)

***There was another reason for posting this. I am now one post away from my 200th!!! And that means giveaway time and this one is a good one! I'm going to go fidget with something now while I try not to think about our little dream house and maybe I'll think up a 199th post for tomorrow like, "Horrifically Embarrassing Trip to the Bank" or "All My Hopes and Dreams Crushed in a Single Afternoon" or the one I'm really leaning toward: "NO FAIR NO FAIR NO FAIR!"... (Tongue in cheek here.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Edible Stuff and Garden Stuff

This year was really bad for our garden for so many reasons. The weather has not been good to us and spring was so late I didn't even get things in the ground until way past when I usually do. And then they just sort of took their time growing and not really wowing me.

For instance, I just harvested our first chard. Hello? Is it not August? Almost September?!
first chard

And our first full sized tomato.
this year's first tomato

And the beets, which are tiny and unimpressive.
mixed baby beets

And the sungolds still aren't ripe.
sungolds closer

But this is why we have the Farmer's Co-op downtown.
market goodies

And Matt the baker is there too. So when I am too lazy to bake bread, I have a backup plan.
matt the baker man's bread

And all the stuff I don't bother to grow yet is there.
garlic and onions

But one of us is having some gardening success, despite the lousy growing season. Ethan planted some seeds a few months back and look!
ethan's orange tree

He is so excited and checks on it every day. I love, love, love that he is involved in the growing and can't wait for next year. :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Family stuff.

I don't post very often about family things, do I? Our family stuff gets archived in a less public way and usually I don't think to repeat it over here. Most of it is pretty boring anyway. I seem to take a lot of shots of the kids eating. (I am more than a little food obsessed.)

Anyway, I feel like I need to start incorporating a little bit more of it into my posts before you all start to think I don't really have a family...

So for right now, I would like to share some of Ethan's drawings with you. He has officially entered the toddler era of art where you can really tell what it is he is trying to make and that is so, so exciting to me.



Pap Pap:


Ethan's self portrait:
ethan's self-portrait

The artist:

One of our lovely models:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Recipes: Dinner and Dessert

I am terrible at posting recipes. As I've said before, I am a guess and dump kind of cook, so I try not to tick everybody off by putting up something so ambiguous you wouldn't want to attempt it in your own kitchen.

But there were two things I made recently that are so easy, they are almost foolproof. The best thing is, they are only two dishes, but count as a whole meal and a dessert! :)

Dinner: Baked Squash and Risotto Casserole

squash and risotto serving

For a family of two adults and two hungry toddlers, I used the following approximate measurements and had enough left for a small lunch the next day:

Six small, thin-skinned summer squash
Three cups Arborio rice
One and 3/4 cups water
1 3/4 cups sauce (mine was improvised because we had no actual tomato sauces, but whatever your favorite pasta sauce is will do the trick)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup provolone cheese (topping)

Preheat oven to 375 F
Rinse rice and pour onto bottom of 9 x 14 inch cake pan
Slowly add water
Cover tightly with foil and put in oven
Wash and cut squash into cute little wedges - or whatever counts as bite-sized in your house.(Mine were fairly large because I really like to shovel it in when I eat...)
Remove rice from oven, uncover and place squash pieces on top. (If you're a fast washer/cutter, you will probably still have really watery rice. Don't worry about it, just make sure it stays buried under the squash and water.)
Do Not Stir. No. Don't do it. Cover again and return to oven. Set timer for 25 minutes.
When timer goes off, reduce oven temp to 350 and remove dish.
Add sauce and parmesan cheese and stir gently. Replace foil and set timer for another 25 minutes.
At end of baking, remove foil, top with provolone cheese and a little sprinkle of parmesan (and anything else you want. Some people are breadcrumb people and I like that. My family - not so much.)
Place under broiler until cheese starts to bubble and brown on top.

squash and risotto

Now you're done! It will be delicious, really. We ate almost the whole pan that night and it was awesome reheated the next day too!

Forgot to say that you could very easily add meat or your favorite meat substitute to this recipe if you wanted...

Now. Who wants dessert? Just say yes. There are no diets allowed on this blog.

Dessert: Apple Blueberry Crisp with Granola-esque Topping

apple blueberry crisp

Seven or eight small apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin.
One heaping pint blueberries
5 tbsp butter
Scant 1/4 cup sugar

Prepare apples and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Place butter in 9 x 14 inch cake pan and melt in oven .
Place prepared apples, blueberries and sugar in pan with melted butter and stir thoroughly.

1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cold butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups long-cooking rolled oats

Chunk butter into small pieces.
Add flour and sugar and crumb by hand until, well, crumby.
Add oats and gently incorporate by hand.
Sprinkle in cinnamon and ginger to taste and mix with fork.
Spread evenly over fruit mixture.
Drizzle honey over the top.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until fruit mixture is tender and bubbly and topping is golden brown.
Serve warm with fresh whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream. Also great cold. Serve plain or with a little splash of milk!

Okie dokie. You eat all that and let me know what you think. See you very soon, because I have a bunch of stuff piled up to share over the next week.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Antique day!

So last Saturday was a blast. I took the kids down to spend the day with their Grammie and Pap Pap (my parents) and I went to see my old pal Greg for a day of grown-up fun. We went to a fantastic antique mall in Red Rock, PA. Or it might be Red Rocks... But anyway - it was awesome. The building we were in used to be an auditorium for the campground that is still on the premises. There are tent sites and sweet little cabins, some of which you'll see in the pictures.

Then on the way home, we saw an outdoor antique fair with live music and food and everything in Orangeville, so we stopped to check it out. I am so very glad we did, because I got some of my favorite things there.

Before the pictures, I have to apologize for the abysmal quality. I only had my little point and shoot camera and I'm afraid it is on its way out. :(

Okay then. Here are a few pictures of some of the fun stuff we saw:

There are some more in the Flickr photo set. Check it out if you want!

Now. Here are the treasures I ended up with.

sewing machine notions box
An 1800s sewing notions "puzzle" box. It even has a few things in it:


really pretty curtains!
Some really pretty curtains. Perfect condition and turned out to be nine pieces rather than eight. Only two dollars!!!

Enamelware heaven. ♥ The three white basins are for hand balm and soap making, the blue basin and pie plate like thing are for displays only due to some chipping (but at 75¢ apiece, I could not pass them by) and the monster in the back is for I don't know what. But it was only two dollars and it is HUGE, so I figured I would find a use for it...

made by a real mailman for his "buggy"
According to the gentleman selling the sign, it was "...made by a real mailman to put on the back of his buggy." I'm not sure if he is suggesting that it predates automobiles, or if "buggy" is just his quaint way of describing a mail truck. I may never know, but I love it anyway and it is currently hanging above my kitchen window.

I seem to have started a small collection of odd medicinal objects a year or so ago, so I figured I'd help it grow. Then when I finally finish the bathroom (Nope. Still not done) I can display them all on a cute little shelf.

epsom salt tin

mason jar lids!
And speaking of little collections, I am adding this to my tiny display of Ball canning items. Mainly lids. In old boxes. Hmmm...

A really cool Singer machine foot in the original box.

And another awesome sewing machine thing with a really great story behind it:

Buttonholer! The story is maybe not really great, but it is sweet at least. And here it goes.

I bought a few things from a guy at this one stand, including that puzzle box. As we were chatting about it and he was wrapping my ammonia bottle, I mentioned that I liked vintage sewing items. Just some small talk while we finished our transaction. Well, fifteen minutes later I was on the other side of the fairgrounds talking to a woman with a bunch of cool Tibetan stuff and the sewing box guy's wife and daughter come up to me. The daughter says, "My Dad said to come find the girl who collects sewing stuff. He has something you're going to want." So I followed them back to their tables and sure enough, he had something else for me. The Buttonholer! I was so happy that he sent for me. :D

And you know what? I probably wasn't difficult to spot in the crowd. Not just because of my fabulous outfit and stunning good looks. That is total sarcasm in case you were wondering. But the real reason was this:

me on my new bike!!!

My best find of the day was this very bicycle, which I gleefully pushed around the grounds as I shopped. I may have ridden it if there had been less people around, more air in the tires and a pair of pants on my legs rather than the skirt I was wearing. Anyway, it is a Schwinn "Debutante" and I love it so much! I need to wax it and oil things here and there, but overall it is in really good shape. And it was only forty dollars! I was so excited. :)

Alright, this was a long one and I need to wrap it up. But I had to say that progress is being made on the giveaway items from the last time. And I have to get them done FAST because I am coming up on two hundred posts very quickly and of course there will be another giveaway for that. And it is going to be an apron. So I have work to do. See you later and have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bad blogger. Bad.

So much for my goal of weekly posting. But I have been doing so many non-computer things, I kind of let the time get away from me again. I was debating doing one huge post, but I think instead I will split them into different ones so as to not be overwhelming. Ya know, what with me being so exciting and all...

First things first. Last week, Ethan and I went blueberry picking at a semi-local blueberry farm with my friend Megan and her daughter Hannah. We didn't get to pick a ton of berries (we weren't expecting much with the two little ones in tow) but we had a blast anyway! Here are some pictures of our day:

It was a great day all around. Perfect weather, the kids had fun picking (read: squishing) blueberries and the mommies had a nice time too!

Next post: Something I haven't done in a long, long time and miss so much! Wanna know what it is? Antiquing!!! See you very soon. :)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Utensils, a book, and a very soapy weekend

So a few weeks ago, my Dad brought some more goodies from his basement. Among them were some child sized utensils:

tinted b&w utensils

And this sweet baby spoon:

baby spoon

Abrupt topic change here, but you need this book:

Sewing Green

I got my copy at Anthology and I LOVE it. It is full of so many great photos and projects. I feel all inspired just looking in it.

And now the soapyness:

I made my first ever batch of beer soap Friday night.

beer soap w/ barley flakes on bottom
Those are barley flakes on the bottom because, you know, its beer soap.

It did something, um, unusual in the mold. It was supposed to be a CP batch, but when I checked on it during its gel phase (yes, I'm a sneaky peeker) it was gelling up over the sides of its mold like a little soapy tsunami. When I unmolded it the next day, it had the consistency of HP soap. Weird! I think it was a combination of soaping a bit too hot, beeswax and probably the beer? I didn't insulate the top, just the bottom, but next time I might not insulate at all and see what happens. All in all, it turned out just fine and I kind of like the unusual shape of the bars.

Saturday was a three batch day. Yay! I started with a CP batch of Oatmeal Milk & Honey (just like the last one but with Heidi's comfrey infused olive oil this time) and it turned out beautifully again!

oatmeal milk & honey
And of course it has real oatmeal, milk and honey in it. :D

Next up was some HP Sugared Citrus Goat's Milk.

sugared citrus goat's milk soap
This little beauty has cornmeal and raw cane sugar mixed in, raw cane sugar on the top and the bottom and Valencia orange and lime essential oils. It is very nice, but I'm a little concerned about how much the scent is going to fade.

Finished up with a Lavender Oatmeal Goat's Milk batch:

lavender oatmeal goat's milk soap
This was also HP because I was using lavender essential oil and real lavender buds AND oats. Yeah. It is chock full of goodies and smells AMAZING.

That's all. I have been very busy creating a usable workspace in the basement and doing some much needed cleaning the past few days, but that is a whole different post for later this week!