Sunday, December 9, 2007

Christmas projects and cooking underway

Ahhh, I love getting ready for the holidays. I have an eternal list of projects I'm working on that may indeed never get finished. At this point, I'm working on 6 embroidered t-shirts. I just love them. Can't get enough! I also hope to sew two bathrobes for the boys and finish up some pjs I started for Carl when he was a baby, didn't finish for Gus, but now Louise can wear them, with a little bit of girl-ification. Nothing that a a little bit of pink embroidery floss can't fix.

The other thing I hope to do is get my granola made. This year for the neighbors and friends, I want to make a jumbo-batch of granola and package it in cute little handmade bags from a vintage sheet I have in my stash. The granola recipe was found in Bon Apetitit magazine, a request from some coffee shop in Colorado, I think. The boys go crazy for it, requesting it over sweets for snacks. Bring on the granola, I say!

I've been documenting cooking projects we've been doing with the kids. I blog in my head most days, mentally typing what I should be typing at the computer. Here's the rustic cranberry apple tart from a dinner party a few weeks ago. The crust had 3 (yes, three!) sticks of butter in it. Mmmmm.

The pizza was a "what's for dinner that is fun" kind of invention. I decided I might get the boys to be more adventurous with pizza toppings if they could help prepare it themselves. They loved the process. The more cheese, the merrier.

(how do I turn this???)

Here are the highlights from our applesauce-fest this fall. We drove to the farm to harvest the apples before they froze. Too bad we didn't wait longer... the mosquitoes were TERRIBLE! Check out the bites on Louise's and Gus' faces. They were outside the van for 6 minutes or less, fully covered except for their poor faces.

Later Carl and I dared get back out of the van to brave the elements (read, mosquitoes) and pick the easy to reach apples. Don't you just love the apple bushel baskets? A former co-worker found them at a garage sale and couldn't resist them when she heard about our farm purchase.Thanks, Melanie! To many more apple harvests.

The apple sauce adventure was fun, but more work than I bargained for. We had a few issues with the canning process... one jar that cracked while boiling, spilling the precious gold out into the boiling water creating a cloudy mess. The worst, however, was when I was trying to get the air bubbles out of the one jar of pink applesauce (the sweeter of the two kinds of apples we were using, and I left the skin on for the pink color). I jabbed too hard with the knife and the jar was hot with the hot sauce. Clink... and all of a sudden the luscious pinkness was slowly leaking out onto the counter. I couldn't rescue it either, as there were shards of glass in the oozing mess. What a waste. Lessons learned for next year. Note to self: only can when not distracted. Three little kids in a kitchen while using a canner is not a good idea.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Workin' on the chairs... an instant kitchen makeover!

From this....

To this....

A major improvement. I used to love the blue and yellow plaid, in a sort of farm house/Swedish way. It worked when we first re-did the kitchen. But once little boys with messy hands and spilling cups arrived into our family, the clean cushion covers were a thing of the past.

I bought this oil cloth a year and a half ago in Mexico, in Oaxaca I believe. I purchased several different prints by the meter, knowing that I would be able to find projects in which to incorporate them easily. The problem is that I love them too much and was afraid to actually use them. But here is the blue one, with figs. I also hung up a little shadow box with a Day of the Dead band that matches the blue. Just love it. I love recovering cushions with a staple gun too, about 3 minutes a chair and I'm satisfied.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Gus the ingester!

A conversation heard in the back of the van today, "Gus, where is your ginko leaf?"

"I ate it. I put it in my mouth."

Carl replies, "But Gus, didn't you know that you're not supposed to eat leaves?"

"It was yummy. But it was grandma's leaf."

"Grandma's going to be sad. Are ginko leaves poisonous, Mom?"

I respond, " I don't know, but I bet they don't taste very good. You should only put food in your mouth. No leaves, no dog bones. Just food."

Carl chimes in, "Yeah, Gus, don't eat leaves and dog bones."

Interesting conversation.

Last night while I was putting Louise to bed, I heard the cupboard open that holds the dog food and bones. A little rustling, but nothing unusual. Ten minutes later I came downstairs to the kitchen to find Gus, Milk Bone evidence in hand, green crumbs surrounding his mouth.

"I ate Molly's bone, Mom."

"Wow, Gus, how did that taste?"

"Yucky. I was hungry."

"How many did you eat?"

"Two green ones."

Monday, October 22, 2007

A second post... a month later?!?

Here it is, a month later. I had forgotten who my blog host was. I had forgotten my password. I had forgotten how it worked. With a little sleuth work, I got it. Here we are. Publishing. On line.

Over the past month I've been taking pictures of all the fun activities I have been doing with the kids, in hopes to someday upload them to the site to share the fun. I read other blogs and imagine that someday, mine too, can be inspiring. That will be for another day.

For now, my sweet morning.

Carl came upstairs this morning with two large Tupperware containers with blue lids. Inside, he had poured us each a bowl of Life cereal and milk. He brought with him two large spoons. In he walked singing, "Good morning every body, yes indeed, yes indeed, yes indeed. Good morning everybody, yes indeed, yes indeed my mommy and daddy." A big grin spread across his face as he saw our surprised expressions, "I brought you breakfast in bed." He returned downstairs to bring the smaller versions of the same Tupperware containers for himself and Gus, as well as small spoons, to join us for a family of five plus the dog, breakfast in bed.

He's 4 1/2, perhaps going on 35 with his idea for cereal in containers with lids, no spills, no drips, no mess in the kitchen. May I never forget his sweet face from today.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The first one!

Here I am, finally in front of the computer, alone.

I've been reading other people's blogs for quite some time now, although I have to admit, I've been quite a skeptic. Why would other people want to read a blog? Don't these people have more important things to do? Take a nap! Do a project! Clean a cupboard! Take a walk! Read a book! Anything, just don't read a boring old blog. I was WRONG!!!

I understand their charm now. I get it. As a stay-home mother of three little ones (5 mo., 2 and 4), I don't have the time to do all the things I would like to get accomplished. Instead of actually putting oil cloth on my kitchen chair seats because that would entail sanding, the chairs, painting them, new foam for the cushions and ordering the funky oil cloth I saw online last week, I just read about someone else doing it. There's just no time for that kind of involved project for me. I live vicariously through fellow blogger-mamas who have older kids and can find time to do the cooking, sewing, creating that I can't find time for. I'm too busy with fun kid stuff right now.... so I read them every night before bed.

I'm a Spanish and French teacher by trade on a leave of absence for this year. I have loved teaching, but know that it isn't my life-job. Actually, I'm wondering if at-home mom and crafter could be my profession. But I also have other vocations that are calling my name. Like, cheesemaker. Like, retreat center host. Like, study abroad coordinator at a college.

First, the cheese. My husband and I are both city kids. We both grew up in the Midwest in urban areas. Something about farms seems to have resonated with both of us and we have dreamed of owning some land in the country. Although our current home is in the city, we bought a 14 acre hobby farm last summer that is 30 miles away, but feels worlds away. The property has a house, an amazing barn, a pond, a hand-full of out buildings, trees and lots of area to roam.

The building that mostly caught our eye was the barn. Soaring beams in the hay loft, whitewashed walls in the lower barn... tantalizing spaces that make me realiz
e that I am meant to be in the country. The previous owners began to update the building, adding a sauna, a hot tub, fixing up certain rooms in hopes of someday using it as an entertainment building of sorts, the animal-free sort. There's a room in the barn, right off the room that we hope to someday use as an artist studio, that is begging to be turned into a cheese making room.

Cheese-making room? Yes, I have no background in cheese, but a desire to learn all about it, specifically goat cheese. One of the other small buildings is the future home of a few goats and chickens who will help provide the milk for my cheese making endeavors and eggs for the kitchen. While living in Paris during college, I took a cheese class, learning all about the nuances of fancy French cheeses. The goat cheese stuck out in my mind, covered with herbs, ashes and more, so delicious! Most recently I took a day long course on Cheese making at the University of Minnesota. Not very instructional in terms of hands-on cheese making, but enough to fuel my inner cheese fire.

I have a few cheese books on my nightstand with directions and a kit in my basement. Someday, when I'm not nursing baby Louise, chasing Gus around to potty train, or helping Carl with his little Legos, I WILL make my own cheese. Mozzarella will be first. But first, I need sleep