Friday, February 28, 2014

This Moment

Playing along with Amanda today... in her words: 

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


It's been a while since I've stopped to appreciate the ambient conversations that float around me day to day, and the subtle nuances that pepper the parts that happen between the Littles. It's been an even longer time since the last time I jotted down the little 'isms' of my kiddos here in this space.

Yesterday I caught a few that are so taken for granted that I hardly even hear them anymore, and it struck me that it won't be long before they're all gone. So for posterity, I decided I better take a few notes...

The Lingering Audrey-isms (5 years old):
  • "Con-creek" : concrete
  • "Bak-set" : basket
  • My Gymnastics "Classic" : class
  • "Selth" : self
  • "Fank You" : thank you
  • "Bumble Up" : bundle up
  • "Bik-set" : biscuit
  • "Flosset" : faucet
  • "Refridgelator" : refrigerator  
The Few Henry-isms (I swear he speaks very well for an almost-3-year-old, there aren't many of these!):
  • "Pie-va-cy": privacy
  • "Brummed/Brumming" : the action verb to describe vehicles in motion
  • "Stoopie" : Snoopy
  • "Cowboots" : cowboy boots
  • "Napkim" : napkin
  • "Bup-pim": button

When I get the chance to overhear the sweet conversations between Bubba and Sissy here and there, I always find a smile on my face, and when one of these rare little 'isms' makes its way into the mix, it's even better. I can't believe how fast they're disappearing, but I hope one way or another they're never forgotten. 

So note to self- take more notes! 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chocolate Chip Muffins

We eat a lot of oatmeal around these parts, especially when the days kick off in the 20s with wind chills in the teens. We even eat a lot of oat meal when the weather isn't so cold, but there's a decent amount of milk that needs to be used up before it expires.

So I guess the moral of the story is: we eat a lot of oatmeal.

I usually make a gigantic batch to have enough for Henry to have seconds... or thirds... or more... but on the rare occasion when he only has one helping, it makes for a lot of leftovers. Leftover oatmeal reheats beautifully, so we can always have a second round the next day, but what to do if one wants something different?

My favorite use is oatmeal muffins. There's nothing better than splitting open a fresh, hot muffin, slipping in a pat of butter (or if you're one of my kin, a dollop of some kind of jam), and digging in.

That was my general goal this morning when I pulled out the leftover oatmeal and set to work... but then I glanced outside, saw the birdbath icing over, watched the gray sky slowly start to grow rosy with the sunrise, and decided that today we should have something just a little bit more special.

Today we should have chocolate chips and cocoa nibs.


So here's my adapted oatmeal muffin recipe, complete with a little chocolaty tweak, just in case you're morning needs a little something extra, too.

Ten Minute Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins
This recipe takes only about ten minutes to whip up before slipping into the oven
Makes a dozen muffins.

1 C leftover oatmeal
1/2  plus 1 C whole milk, divided (to loosen clumpy leftover oatmeal, if needed)
3/4 C whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 C unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
~1/4 C real maple syrup (or less if your oatmeal is sweetened already)
1 tsp good vanilla extract
1/4 C melted butter or coconut oil
1/2 C chocolate chips
1/8 C cocoa nibs (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 12-cup muffin tin (or line with paper liners). In a small bowl, combine oatmeal and 1/2 C milk (if your oatmeal isn't loose in it's leftover form already... try to make it as smooth and clump-free as you can before adding the rest of the ingredients), and set aside. In a larger bowl, mix melted, cooled butter or coconut oil with egg, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt. Add oatmeal and additional 1 C milk and mix well. Sift in flours and baking powder (or just thoroughly mix them together on the side and add them in) and mix until just combined (if batter looks a bit too thick, add just a splash more milk). Fold in chocolate chips and cocoa nibs. Scoop into muffin tins (I use a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop), filling each muffin cavity about 3/4 the way full. Bake in pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden around edges and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let 'em sit a few minutes before digging in, or the melted chocolate might burn your lips!


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Call of the House

This morning I awoke to an irritating, repetitive, not-quite-louder-than-a-whisper sound nagging at my ears. I tried to roll over and muffle it with my pillow. I tried to drown it in coffee. I tried to shut it out with my planners and books... but alas, I could not ignore... the Call of the House.

I have been out in the garden space non-stop since it landed in the spotlight a couple weekends ago. The kids have followed me there, and we've only been breaking for quick trips to the bathroom and for food. The garden is shaping up nicely and thanking me for the attention; the house is falling apart and most certainly not thanking me one bit.

So today I had to refocus on the things that have been ignored- you know, preparing food, sweeping up the sand that's followed us in and out, and the piles of laundry that have been adding up, to name a few. Certainly less interesting, but so needed. (and if I'm being honest, my back needed a little break...)

Tonight we had a good dinner, we ate on clean plates to the tune of the dryer finishing up its 5th load of laundry, and I can walk through the kitchen without sounding like a soft-shoe dancer.

Progress outside, progress in.

It won't be long before I pass the hump between shaping this virgin ground into the space I know it's capable of being........... and having a Garden, with a capital 'G.' Until then, I guess I'll just keep letting the laundry and such wait for the chilly, cloudy days to have the attention it deserves, and head back out when the sun is shining!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Right Now

Right now, I'm...

...about to strangle my dog. I have had to stick my head out the back door and tell her to stop barking no less than 3 times in the last 15 minutes. What is she barking at? Nothing. Seriously.

{ahem, moving on}

Right now, I'm...

...still house- and garden-project oriented. In fact, that's about all I seem to have to talk about today.
...finding myself spending my rare alone-time minutes online, searching for a fruiting/flowering vine to use as cover in the corner of the garden where the compost bins will be (leaning toward kiwi... looked at akebia and magnolia vine, but too invasive).
...still wondering what I'll border my beds with... rocks? Wood? Something more creative (and time consuming)?
...itching to plant my blueberry bushes and blackberry canes, picked up from a local nursery this weekend.
...trying to ration the last day or so before we get some rain- get out and run errands? Go back to the garden and work the soil some more? Clear out some brush and decide on the materials for my bed borders?

Also, right now I'm marveling at a project finally finished! The fireplace surround- after the deliberation it took to decide on a material to use, the first attempt to install the tiles, the oops moment when our pattern didn't match up, and the fix this weekend that took all hands on deck- is finished!

We used Aspect peel and stick metal tiles in champagne, and aside from the difficulties we encountered with the unevenness of the preexisting tiles and the inherent challenge in a herringbone pattern, I'd say they worked really well, and we're totally happy with the results.

Did I mention we used exactly every tile we ordered? Not a single whole tile was left over when we were done. Ha! I guess that's the way to do it, but whew, that was close!

Today, we'll land on a plan that will best use this last non-rainy, semi-not-chilly day, and keep in mind that this is the last week of February and spring is right around the corner!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Checking In

Over here, the sun has been shining, the sweaters have been shed and the sleeves have been rolled up. Our families have come together, good work has been done, and there's still stuff left to do before the weekend is over. We're having our coffee, comparing notes, and getting a plan together for the day.

The night was quiet and the morning is clear.

It's going to be a beautiful day. Hoping the same for all! Happy weekending.

Friday, February 21, 2014

This Moment

Playing along with Amanda today... in her words: 

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Where You'll Find Me

Is it possible to get spring fever in February? Because I think we have it. Lucky for us there's this garden project to keep us all outside. Windwhipped, sandy, a little achy, sure... but outside nonetheless, and glad for it! Oh, how restless we feel when the days start to warm up! How good it is to have a place to sink our shovels when the urge arises.

Our lovely neighbors, who raise race horses, were generous enough to bring over 4 tractor bucket-loads of composted manure to aid us in amending this sandy soil of ours. Yesterday we were out working it around our space, and I had amazing little helpers to boot. The sky was gray, there was a cool misty breeze, there were migrating robins all around, and there was a hint of wood smoke in the air. Our shovels were busy, our faces were a little dirty, and in that moment I was completely happy.

Now if that isn't a cure for spring fever, I don't know what is.

So- sore back, achy arms, tired feet be damned- if you need me, you'll find me out in the garden.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Right Now

Right now, I'm one happy gal! This weekend's weather was beau-tee-ful and the troops rallied and made some major progress in the garden department.

When everyone put their heads together and started measuring and taking inventory of supplies (those fence posts and split rails were salvaged from a restaurant construction site- they were waste! Can you believe it?), we ended up figuring out it was best to scrap my original L-shape and make it one big square. So now I have about another 250 fenced-in square feet, most of which will get at least partial sun, to use! I'm thinking maybe a couple fruit trees, or berry bushes....? So exciting.

This morning I'm wind-burned, achy, and tired, and the house has been completely neglected, but boy howdy do I have the makings of an amazing garden space under way!

Side note: shout out to my mother-in-law, who kept the kids entertained, meals on time, and little odds-and-ends under thumb while I helped dig post holes and such... and then when we got down to the wire with daylight and the end of the weekend closing fast, she came right out and helped finish up the work, too! What a family we have!

It looks to me like we get almost an entire week of this beautiful weather before it gets all chilly on us again, so I'm kicking it off with my grid paper, my shovel, and my two little helpers... we're gonna go dig in! Happy Monday!

Friday, February 14, 2014

This Moment

Playing along with Amanda today... in her words: 

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Because I Love You.

Dear Henry,

When I announced that my little sticker chart was finally motivating silent nights, I didn't mean for it to be a challenge issued to you to step it up. I didn't realize you read this blog... but if you could just ease up on the 3am-waking-yelling-screaming thing again, I'd be so so glad.

I hope you don't remember all this. I hope I don't remember this- well, not all of it. Not how intensely frustrated I feel. Not how exhausted I am every morning these days. Not how disappointing it is to withhold the stars from this chart I've created that now seems only to serve as a beat-down in the mornings when you've cheated yourself out of success and have to stand by and watch Sister get another and another. Ugh.

Being the one who has to teach you this lesson right now- that you can't yell and scream to get what you want... that you can solve problems for yourself without my intervention every time... that a real emergency is not finding a hole in your blanket, having an itch on your foot, or suddenly realizing you should have picked up your trucks- is hard. It's hard to know which times to respond to your yells and which times to ignore them. It's hard to know what types of consequences are appropriate. It's hard to figure out how to teach you why this isn't OK.

It's hard, but it's important, I know. I also know that some day, you'll be the teacher in a similarly difficult struggle, and I hope in that moment you'll understand that my participation in this struggle of ours is because I love you. I love you so much. I'm fighting this one out with you because I love you, and I know it won't be the last time we clash. We're setting all the ground rules for all the times after this and beyond where you'll learn and grow, and because of that I have to insist that my way is the right way. At least for now.

I have to be consistent. I won't give up, and I won't give in. I can only hope that any mistakes I make along the way are never big enough to overshadow the love I have for you, even in these sleep-deprived, trying nights. I just hope that some day, when this Big Deal has shrunk down to a little blip in your early childhood, we'll forget all the strife and you'll just marvel at how much I love you.

But until then, could you cut the crap, please?

Thanks. Love,

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Corners of Our Home, Part IV

Well, since our last look around the 'finished' spaces in our new home, a lot of time has passed, I know. Unfortunately, there haven't been many spaces added to the list of completely completed rooms since then, as the projects per room are just... well, there is still a lot to do around this place. But hey, we knew we were buying a fixer-upper, so moving on.

This past weekend, we put the finishing touches on some raw spots in the kitchen that have been waiting patiently since around Thanksgiving, and I'm so glad to say that pretty much pushed the kitchen into the 'finished' category. Yesssssssssssssssss.

When we bought this house, the kitchen was the dirtiest room in the house.

It also needed new floors, new back splashes, new paint, a new faucet, new light fixtures, some new cabinet knobs, the sink had to be re-set (it was being held up by the pipes, then later by some 2x4's) and all the counter tops had to be resealed and re-epoxied. Then we installed under- and over-cabinet lighting and filled a weird void in the cabinetry with a custom wine rack (handmade by my father-in-law).

Whew. So now you know why it's taken 6 months for another post showing off the house... and why it may be another little while before there's another finished space to share here. Ah well, no one can say we're slackin'.

Aaaaaaaaaand at least there's the kitchen.

My first ever hand-made Mother's Day gift from Audrey- a tiny
little bowl and plate, which holds my rings when I make bread

You've already met Scarlet

I can't even explain how satisfying it's been these last couple of days to make meals for my family in this space, all the while looking around at what we've done and remembering what it used to be. It's what makes DIY home renovation worth it, and oh mama, is it worth it!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Right Now

This weekend, Henry went back to waking the house in the middle of the night (though Sunday night was quiet, so I don't know what was up with Friday and Saturday nights...), our house got extra messy (thanks in part to a project that has finally brought the kitchen 'round to the '95% completed' column of the to-do list), and it got cold and damp all over again.

I'm feeling pretty tired. Not the most ideal way to kick off the beginning of a new week.

However, this weekend also saw us spend a little time surrounded by art, being inspired by art, and creating art.

So- right now, I'm choosing to leave the valleys of the weekend behind and bring with me into this second week of February the good stuff we found during our reprieve in The Studio.

Wishing all a little inspiration and creativity this week. Happy Monday.

Friday, February 7, 2014

This Moment

Playing along with Amanda today... in her words: 

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.