Wednesday, December 30, 2009

City Baby

[I was out sick yesterday with something wrong with my back.  I couldn't even lift the baby!  Stress, new exercises, fatigue...they lead to my body forcing me to take a rest.  Even to sit in this chair and type is pretty painful, so I beg your leave if this post is less than coherent.]

We've been making an effort to get outside whenever we can since the sunlit times are few and far between.  Thus, lots of Cora in her 'snow suit'.  (as if there were snow...ha!)  Walks in the morning, with stroller and dog.  We just kinda throw on warm layers and head out (sometimes.  Sometimes the warm covers call us back before we get out of the door!)

Since our little VW is taking sick days lately, we are down to one car.  And me and my city baby head to the bus stop and take rides downtown.  Mostly to the downtown library for story time.  I like that she is a city baby, but I miss the country.  I thought of that just before Christmas when I had to trespass to get some pine cones for my table!  So sad.

(Cora eyeballing a stranger on the bus)

I grew up with nature all around me on 24 acres where I roamed to my heart's content.  Mama just wanted a general idea of where we were, as long as we were home by twilight.  When I think about those days, our life here feels a bit confined, a little too urban (or sub-urban).  I don't want her growing up and not knowing how to light a camp fire, or how to catch crawdads in the creek, or how to worm a hook for fishing.  These are life skills, people!  It's where we are right now, and that is OK, but there is a soft tune of country roads in the back of my mind.  Who knows where that may end up calling us some day. 

Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry our own way

It was a wild day.  I am not even sure I survived it intact!  I was up until midnight on Christmas eve cooking and picking the first of two turkeys.  Then this evening after the Christmas mayhem died down a bit, I picked the second turkey.  All I could think about while up to my elbows in turkey carcass was shows like  CSI or 'Bones'.  How did this Turkey meet it's end?!  Words like 'viscera' keep floating through my head.  On the other hand, it's a great way to stay on a diet for the holidays!

I know I've been going on about the family across the street for some time, but through the generosity of both my MOMS club and our Church's neighborhood group, we were finally able to get them some wonderful tools to get them through the winter.  Both groups pitched in and bought them a kerosene heater while the fabulous mamas bought coats, blankets and fun things for the children and mama.  To top it off, we fed them a huge Christmas dinner here and sent the leftovers home with them!

The day was just beautiful.  Matt, Cora, and I celebrated Christmas morning and then I got down to the nitty gritty of putting a Christmas feast on the table!  Even with other mamas from the MOMS club dropping off wonderful dishes of tamales, cornbread stuffing, quiche, fruit, yams etc, it was still a heck of a job!  I never knew!  For all you wonderful relatives (Mama, Robin, Gramma, Mom) of mine that managed to do this every year, I owe you a huge thank you!  (Even posthumously!) You are truly amazing!

After the meal, the gifts, and pie, we all sang some Christmas songs together, while the youngest of the T- family entertained us royally with her rendition of a sort of lounge singer version of 'Feliz Navidad.'  Hilarious stuff!  We attempted a game of 'Clue', but my eyes were sliding shut, so we packed them all home with gifts in hand.  It was a good day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's not Christmas without it.

The stockings are hung, the presents wrapped, we have be-glittered everything that will stand still, the turkey is defrosting in the fridge, the pies are being baked one by one, the Christmas tablecloth bedecks the table with pine branches, homemade tea lights, and pine cones we found on our walk today (and glittered, because we can! And by 'we', I mean me, while Cora played with the glitter tubes).

But it's just not Christmas until we have put out the Psychedelic Snowman.  Here's a bit about where he came from and a photo of him from when he still had two arms.  So sad!  I just have to buy some resin glue and some brown paint and he'll be as good as new.

When we decorated earlier this  month, I wasn't the one who brought up the holiday stuff from the basement (you are the best, honey!), so I thought he was lost!  (Matt swears 'he' is really a 'she' snowman because of the outfit, but I digress).  So after weeks of casually digging through closets upstairs, I finally realized I was looking on the wrong floor of the house.  And there it was, on a shelf in the basement.  And now, our holiday is complete.  What weird or funny or unusual holiday traditions (or decorations) do you have?  Share!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Date Night

Matt and I seem to have very little time to actually spend with one another.  I hang with the babe all day long and when he comes home I talk his ear off.  He spends the day with people and when he gets home, needs a little down time.  It's hard to find a place to meet in the middle!  So Tuesdays are 'date night', even if it's just us, watching a movie we've seen a hundred times, even if I fall asleep on his shoulder at 8pm because I've had such a long day.  Time together is so precious these days.  Now if only we had a couch so we could sit on the same piece of furniture...

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Return of the Light

I love the sunshine.  I love it's promise, it's renewal, it's heat, the way it makes things grow.  And today, after a long stretch of dark days, it begins it's return north.  There's a lot of stuff out there about Winter Solstice, but this is just, for me, a celebration of the return of the sun to the northern hemisphere. It is a herald of the coming celebration of the Light of the World!  The sun is still sending out long rays of pale yellow, but we find them and bask.  Happy Winter Solstice!

Friday, December 18, 2009

A 'mom year' in review -AKA Things I never thougth I'd do.

I didn't take any photos that I'd like to share with you because, honestly, how many times can I show you my Christmas tree.  You are over it, right?  So this one is just words.  As I sat and fed my baby girl I realized that I often do things in my day that I SWORE I would never do as a mom.  And here I am, doing them, coupled with my favorite phrase when things like that come my way, 'Oh well.'  I thought I'd share since you mamas can (maybe) relate and you mamas to be should be warned.

  1. I have held the feces of another human IN MY HAND.  And I wasn't that grossed out about it.  My motto: skin washes!
  2. I have been know to pre-chew my daughter's food for her when there is nothing that she can eat on her own (no molars yet) and we are out and about.  Hey, birds do it!  At lease I'm not 'pre-digesting' it for her. 
  3. My daughter, when it is time for nap or bed, cries herself to sleep.  I know.  I'm scarring her for life.  I've tried every known 'no cry' method and they don't work for this kiddo. She just has something to work out before sleep finds her.
  4. I lick my thumb to wash a smudge off of her face.  At this point, there is no body fluid that this child produces that has not landed on me in some way, so if she gets a little spit cleaning in return, so be it!
  5. My baby has watched T.V. before the age of 2.  The horror! What else is there to do on day 2 of 3 of fever and the only place she will sit is my lap, for hours and hours on end?  Hulu to the rescue!  Granola mamas, please don't shun me!!
  6. All those rules about food allergies and things to wait on...I broke 'em.  I suck.  Graham crackers on airplanes were my standby travel food and after an hour + of delayed take off,  things can get a little crazy.  Who knew they had spores?!  So far we've been ok.  I keep Children's allergy meds in the house in case.
  7. We did and sometimes still do co-sleep.  Before we had her, Matt and I agreed that she should only sleep in her own bed.  That flew right out the window so this Mama could get some sleep!  She's on her own now, but some mornings (at 4am) she gets cold or lonesome, so I bring her in our bed to snuggle and warm up.  Matt, despite his fears, has never once rolled on her.

There are so many more, but that is enough for now.  I love this job and my favorite parts about it are 1. I get to keep learning and getting better at it and 2.  I can't be fired!  Talk about job security in an unstable economy.  Have a great weekend!  I'll be back on Monday with a brain full of blog.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holidays on the Cheap

Holidays, for me, are about knowing when to splurge and when to save, so I don't enter January bound for the poor house. Here are some fun examples of where we've cut corners:

  • Making things for others instead of buying them something.  I can't make an X-box, but I can make a lot of other things!   Plus, handmade is so sweet.  As long as it isn't a wonky sweater with my initials knitted in...come to think of it, that would be OK too.  I'd just pull it apart! 
  • Making decorations for the house - Home depot Christmas tree with free trimmings and ribbons bought from Joann with a coupon, after Christmas last year.  Apparently I also raided Target's after Christmas ornament sale last year (or the year before - no tree last year) and when we began decorating the tree, Ifound brand new boxes of ornaments I had stashed away!  Surprise!
  • Christmas dinner - looked for sales in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  We are all stocked up on cranberry sauce.  A little too stocked up!  And did you know that yams keep for months?  Me neither, but I've still got yams from the post Thanksgiving sale and they are still good!
  • Dinners in the weeks leading up to Christmas - I know I'm gonna eat too much pie on Christmas day, so I'll eat really healthy and avoid the fatty (and pricey) foods in the weeks leading up to Christmas and then...Hello green bean casserole!  I've also begun writing out not just a one week menu, but a two week menu.  I went to the store  recently, list in hand, fully expecting to have to put things back, but nope, I came in $60 under budget for 2 weeks worth of groceries!  How did this happen?!  I wasn't even using coupons!!
How are you saving dollars this Christmas, but still making merry?  Really. I want to know!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Camera

I've been asked about my camera several times now and I think I need to let you know about it.  Let me just say that it is really hard to take a picture of a camera without another camera and without showing off my spotty bathroom mirror.  So this photo was taken with my phone. 

Here it is, in all of it's 4.5 megapixel glory!  Yes, laugh now.  I know.  It's a piece of crap.  It's a Nikon Coolpix that is so old they don't even sell them any more.  4.5 megapixels!!  Really.  It's sad.  The ring has come off of the lens.  The battery door won't stay shut.  It's downright raggedy! I've been saving for a new one, but every time I get close to having enough, something else happens and the money goes toward that.  So me and my trusty old coolpix trudge on. 

Yet, it's not too bad because I get lots of compliments on my photos.  I do have some secrets though and I'll share them with you.
1. I take about 40 gillion photos of things I want to capture, just to get it right.  Because, hey, it's digital and it's not like I'm wasting film.
2. The details are more fun than the big picture.
3. Never, ever, ever use the flash.  (unless you life depends on it)
4. You can always fix the colors in a photo editor and it doesn't have to be a fancy one like Photoshop.  I often use Windows XP photo viewer!

I also have to say this is about making use of what I have.  Someday I'll have a fancy camera, but I'm not there.  If I wait to take pictures until I can do it perfectly with the perfect gear, then I'll never do it at all.  It's now what you have, it's how you use what you have!   

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The stockings were hung on the...uuh...bookshelf with care

I've been working on this stocking (Suzi is a friend's daughter by the way) for what seems like an age now!  I ripped out the leg part of the stocking no less than 5 times (too skinny and I needed to add stitches, too bunchy because I stranded the yarn too tight etc, etc.) and the heel and toe (my first foray into 'short rows'), no less than 3 or 4 times respectively.  And now, blocked, woven in, with scarf and jaunty little top hat added post knitting, and some lovely flannel lining sewn in, I give you 'The Christmas Stocking'!  Hurray!

This was definitely a learning experience for me.  Stranded knitting, pattern charts...this was a whole new world!  But I made it to the other side with lots of extra knowledge.  Plus, now that I've done a sock (albeit a big one), I  know I have NO desire to do socks.  None.  Perhaps that will come later, but for!  I am not a sock knitter.  (which is strange, since I love wool socks)  I liked the pattern even though the chart had what seemed like errors on it. (design ended in a strange place and should continue on to next row since it's in the round, but doesn't - the adding in of stitches when I widened the pattern fixed the problem )

It turned out very well and now I am debating if I should do knitted ones or felted ones for my own family.  Hmm.  Tough one. (Matt has cast his vote for knitted after seeing this one)

[For those who care about these things, I got the pattern from Annie's woolens and knitted it with Lion Brand Wool Ease - worsted weight, in Denim, Avocado, Ranch Red, Black, and White Multi which had a bit of sparkle in it. The yarn felted just a bit during blocking which added a nice clean look to the stitches.  I also had to adjust the patten for the smidge smaller gauge than what the pattern called for.  It called for 16 sp4i and the Lion Brand knitted up at about 19/20 sp4i (stitches per 4 inchs).  One would think that doesn't matter much until you get halfway through and realize how skinny the stocking is and have to rip it all out.  Ug!  The holly flannel lining is from Joann fabrics.]

Monday, December 14, 2009

Advent :: His story begins

[Hey all. We've been laying low all weekend. Cora's fever persisted for days and the docs told us to wait it out. No need to bring her in unless a cough starts. Which it didn't.  But talk of possible strep freaked me out, so we went.  Just a virus. Poor little had been sleeping most of the day and night, not eating very much and living off of milk, apple juice, pb&j's, and cheese (her favorite). Today was finally the turnaround.  I'm so glad to have a well household again!  Now on to the post]

Happy third week of advent!

This week in our advent readings begin the actual story of the birth of Jesus.  The first chapter of the book of Luke sets the scene.  A baby boy born to a childless older couple.  A boy who will grow up to be the herald of the king  Angels visiting people here on earth and amazing them with glimpses of God's plan.  A young girl says the words that would change history. (Imagine if she had said no!)

Here are the readings for the third week of Advent:
Sun. Luke 1:5-13
Mon. Luke 1:14-17
Tue. Luke 1:18-25
Wed. Luke 1:39-45
Thu. Luke 1:46-56
Fri. Luke 1:57-66
Sat. Luke 1:67-80

So many things are happening around here in preparation to celebrate my favorite birthday.  And an amazing thing has happened!  My moms group has decided to 'adopt' the family across the street for Christmas!  Such a beautiful outpouring of love and generosity.  There needed things, fun things, warm things, a tree and much more!  Including a heater!!  It is a beautiful season around here. 

Friday, December 11, 2009

Quiet Day

Cora woke up early with a fever this morning and is very, very, very cranky.  I hope it's just teeth.  Today calls for rest and peace.  No frantic running about and having everyone over (like I've done the majority of days this week).  Just me and my girl.  And a tiny alligator book by Maurice Sendak.

Matt and I went on a date last night (we made up from my insanity yesterday morning) and due to my bad timing, missed the movie start times.  Instead we went to Starbucks to warm up and to chat.  We ended up helping out a stranded girl by jumping her car, then headed to find something else to do and realized that after 9pm on a Thursday, unless you are going to a show (didn't plan ahead), a movie (ditto), out to eat (we ate a home) or a bar (smokey and we aren't much for drinking.  Nothing against it, just not a thing for us), there is nothing to do in Nashville.  Even our standby, the bookstore, was closed by 9pm.  So we went home.  Fuddy duddies!  But that was nice too.  Now today is brilliantly sunny, but cold and Cora and I are working getting her better.  (much sleeping - not much eating)  Maybe we will chance a really, really bundled up walk in the sun later. 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Just the facts...

Today came at me sideways, so here it is, 10pm and I am just getting around to writing a bit.  I have no pretty photos to offer, no deals, no craft projects, no witty conversations to recount.  Just me, grateful for the end of the day.  I realize more and more how broken and in need of something bigger than myself I am.  Just last night I was talking about how I am who I don't want to be.  I wake up with resentment in my mouth and then wake my sweet husband up with that resentment spewing out.   Not a pretty sight and who the heck wants to wake up to that?!  I did it again today.  Blame in on being tired, blame it on PMS, whatever.  It's not the girl I want to be and yet, I am that girl sometimes. 

I was so grateful for good conversation last night as I met with my neighborhood group (an extension of my church) and we reminded each other of the overarching story that began before time.  I got lost in the minutia of the details of my life today, but kind friends gently brought me back to center where I could show love again.  I am so grateful to bump up against that kind of truth in you beautiful people.  Thank you.  And now...(finally) Goodnight.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Wonder :: revisited

I love seeing the world through Cora's eyes.  She is just fascinated!  It reminds me to look for wonder in my day.  I know I mentioned this before, but like all things, I need reminding.  This is really the first Christmas that Cora will be able to observe and interact with decorations and her surroundings during the season.  It's beautiful to watch.  I am curious to see what memories stay put in that little noggin.

Where are you finding wonder these days?  I really want to know, so please leave a comment!  I love reading your words.  It's like a very slow and sweet conversation.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Goodbye to babyhood

Well, it's really, really official now.  Cora turned 1 in October, but in my head, I said 'She was early, so she won't REALLY be one until December'.  And now it is December.  Her actual due date was 4 days ago and I am having trouble wrapping my head around my girl as a big girl, not a baby.  Yesterday, she figured out how to feed herself with a spoon! 

And yet, I give her a bottle in the morning and we snuggle in the squooshy chair and look at all the twinkly lights on the tree.  I can always think of a reason to keep up this habit! "Well, if she was nursing, we'd still be doing this." (We aren't).  I just love the snuggly time.  I know it can happen with a sippy cup too, but she won't use one, just straw cups and they aren't really conducive to snuggling because, well, you have to sit up!  So I'm clinging to the last of babyhood.  Maybe I'll be ready when she starts to walk...

Monday, December 07, 2009

Advent :: A Light to the Darkness

Happy Second week of Advent!

This week, the scriptures we are reading are all about why a Savior is coming.  He will reconnect God's people with God and He will be a light in the darkness. 

To honor the Light that came to the Darkness, we light up our house and a tree.  Perhaps someday, when Cora is bigger, we will do the Jesse Tree decorations and readings, but for now, we decorate the tree and think of the Light that has come.

The readings for the second week of Advent:
Sun. Is. 11:1-10
Mon. Zech. 6:12-13
Tue. Mic. 5:2-4
Wed. Mal. 3:1-6
Thu. John 1:1-8
Fri. John 1:9-18
Sat. Mark 1:1-3

Friday, December 04, 2009

Deck the Halls :: Christmas Card Balls

I am kind of anti-spending money, if you haven’t noticed.  I kind of have mini panic attacks when I am faced with aisle upon aisle of toys and maniacal shoppers beating each other down just to grab that extra fancy gaming system which for a short time is almost worth the price that their children will pay in hours of slowly turning their minds to goo.  (Can you tell I’m not a big fan of video games either?  Yes, I admit it.  I am living a dichotomy since that is the favorite form of entertainment for Geeks everywhere.  Mine is no exception.  Sigh. Rabbit trail over…)

So in spite of the fact that local craft and hobby stores have amazing sales on Christmas doo-dads, I just can’t bring myself to load up on them!  Sad.  I know.  I should be out there shoulder to shoulder with all of the post-holiday deal hunters, right?   Umm.  Sorry.  No can do.  So I make my own!

My mama always had such great ideas for decorating on the cheap.  My favorite on was always the Christmas Card Balls.  It involves a bit of planning in advance and a bit of well, pack-rattyness. 

Take your hoard of saved Christmas cards.  You know, the ones with all of the pretty pictures that you just couldn’t bear to throw away come December 31st?  Yes, those.   You can even sort them by color!  Blue and silver, green and red, silver and gold.  Whatever. (If you don't have Christmas cards you can always use cardstock and make it pretty with some glitter.)

Now take a cookie cutter, a jam jar, or anything else that will make a nice small circle and trace 20 circles around the pretty parts of your Christmas cards.  (no overlaps!) Then cut them out. 

(The next step is a bit tricky, so you might want to make a little guide triangle to help you.)  Once the circles are cut out, fold the edges in to make a triangle.  (see above picture if you just turned your head and said ‘Baroo?’)

 Glue the folded edges of 5 of your little triangled circles together to form a little cap.  Then glue 10 more in a long strip, alternating the triangles up and down.  Then take the final five trianlged circles and make another cap.  Glue the end edges of the strip together then glue on the two caps.  All together they form a ball.  Use large circles to make large balls, or small circles to make ornament sized ones!

From there you can either fancy up the edges with a little glitter, or ribbon, or leave it plain.  Then punch a hole in one of the glued together edges, run a ribbon through it and hang on your tree or in a doorway for you to ooh and ahh at and for your tall husband to bonk his head on and swear under his breath every time he goes through that doorway.  Ahh.  The holidays.

Have a great weekend.  I'll be back on Monday!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Being still

Christmas season can be wild. The media and other outside forces try to whip us into a frenzy of spending and the appearance of holiday cheer, all the while draining our energy, our time, our bank accounts. Instead of a furious flurry of Christmas-y stuff, today I am seeking to be still. To make memories and traditions out of things that cannot be bought. I am reminded when fleeting moments like this come my way, how important it is to be still and enjoy them.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Baby, it's cold outside

Well, not so much today, but yesterday it was cold enough to bring the first frost.  We broke out the fleece and sweaters and found sun-spots to warm up in.  I love the bedhead that this doot gets!  I took early (and I mean EARLY) morning photos of the frosty yard while Cora observed from the sidelights (complete with baby, dog and cat nose prints.  Awesome.)

We made it through almost the entire autumn here in the city without much frost, in spite of what the Farmer's Almanac says.  I'm not sure how winter can compete with all of the paved space around here anyway!  But still I am glad for the welcome cold, even if it's an excuse for me to knit more for a little sweet gal I know! And how can I resist this little face anyway, hmm?

By the way, still no decision on the family across the street. They seem to have lights, but I think they are bumming it from their next door neighbor.  I'm thinking a lot about it as this cold sets in.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Advent :: His coming was foretold

Last month, the ladies (and often their tireless hubbies) of my church got together and with much sewing of tiny camels and other barnyard animals, wrangling of burlap, and gluing of tiny bits of velcro we created Advent calendars for the families in our church.  Based on this calendar (by Noel Piper which has been discontinued), it is about the true meaning of 'Christ-mas' rather than based on 25 days of presents.

Each day has something to add to the Nativity Scene as we tell of the birth of Jesus. We will be reading the Christmas story from The Message (revised a little by my sister) along with some other scriptures which have meaning to us.  Here is the complete list of advent scripture readings.

This week is all about how this story was written into all other stories from the beginning and that His coming was foretold, over and over again.   
Sun. Is. 40:1-5
Mon. Is. 52:7-10
Tue. Is. 40:9-11
Wed. Gen. 3:8-15
Thu. Gen. 15:1-6
Fri. Deut. 18:15-19
Sat. Ps. 89:1-4

Holiday Kitchen :: Pies

This post was supposed to be on Wednesday of last week, when I was baking up a storm, but the day got away from me as packing to leave that night took over and then the week got away from me in the midst of food, fun, and family.  Then, as I posted yesterday, I got sick, so everything else got away from me as I convalesced.  This is one of 2 today, since today is the day we start our Advent readings!

Pie.  I love pie. I've been in charge of pies since I was a girl and Mama had me make my first pumpkin pie.  It turned out so well, I got promoted to pie maker for holidays, and I love making them!  I follow classic recipes from Joy of Cooking for all of my holiday pies.  I've always said, don't mess with a classic! (And the lack of leftovers is proof)  I'd post the recipe, but I'm pretty sure it would be a copyright violation, so I'll post pictures of the beautiful pies I took to Thanksgiving dinner. 

Monday, November 30, 2009

Hiding out - the Post Thanksgiving blahs

I don't feel like posting today.  I caught some sorta crud while visiting family, just got back from a Doctor visit and apparently I'm wearing the turkey I ate on my thighs!  Plus, it's cold and the babies (mine plus the one I keep a few days a week) are howling upstairs after micro-naps and keep waking each other back up.  (this could possibly be the reason I want to eat my way through whatever sweets are left in the house - good thing there aren't any left!) and all my posting ambitions for Thanksgiving week got waylaid by sickness and lack of internet.  So happy Monday, I hope your Turkey day was great and I'm gonna go climb under the covers until I feel better.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful :: Family - all zillion of them

This does not even being to cover half of them, but it's a good start and is most of the immediate ones (at least on my side.  It's funny how family becomes more important with the years that go by.  I didn't think of them very much as part of the fabric of my life and there was also a time in my youthful selfishness that I didn't think very much of them either.  Now, this holiday spent without them while they all head to a family camp, I am a little sad.  I miss them, no matter how many weeks I head to TX to catch up on visits this summer.

So here's a smooch along the miles (and probably bounced between cell phone towers, rather than sent along the phone lines).  I miss you all and am so thankful for every single on of you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thankful :: My parents were (and still are) awesome

It's a great week to give thanks.  I have to remind myself sometimes that I have a lot to be grateful for.  I'll do some 'Thankful' posts this week as Thanksgiving approaches.  This post is inspired by a site called 'My Parents Were Awesome'. Which is a beautiful tribute to parents and how cool they once were!

I love these photos of my parents and even how they go together in opposing black and white.  We've come a long way as a family, through very rough patches and more.  At the center were two people who stayed together, no matter what.  And there was a lot of 'what' that happened.  I'm grateful for that.  Thankful that though doing the right thing was often the hardest thing, both personally and relationally, they chose that, not just for us, but for themselves.  And they continue to grow in beauty and richness as people.  (Here's a recent article about the work my Mama does.)  I am thankful to have such amazing people in my life.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Holiday Kitchen :: Candied Almonds

I love the holidays!  Especially the preparing (and let's face it, eating some too) of so many great dishes.  For a little brunch I attended this morning, I whipped up some candied almonds.  It was very simple! 

Candied Almonds
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp chili powder (or a bit more if you like them spicy.
2 cups of raw almonds

Set the almonds aside and mix all remaining ingredients over a medium heat in a large thick bottomed sauce pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil.  Add in the almonds.  With a wooden spoon or a silicone spatula stir the mixture continually, but not rapidly, until most, BUT NOT ALL, of the moisture has boiled out. 

Once the moisture has boiled out, the sugar will crystallize very fast.  Watch the edge of the pan for the start of crystallization.  You want to get the almonds out of the pan before that happens.  While the nuts still have a shine to them, but are not dripping in the caramelized sugar, pour them out onto parchment paper to cool.  Separate any clusters.  Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.  Serve at your favorite holiday gathering! 


OK.  I'll admit it.  I've been a slacker blogger this week, posting just before midnight and just eeking in a few words here and there.  I guess I'm having trouble adjusting to life with work added back in.  Maybe I'm just out of things to say (naaah.  That can't be it!).  Either way,  I'll be back to more punctual posting on Monday, chock full of ideas, I hope!    Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

These days...

I commented to Matt recently how much messier our house is now that I am keeping a second baby a couple of afternoons a week.  I look at it as practice for our future.  (No, this is not an announcement of any kind)  We have been recovering from a few weeks of parties (me and the doot).  And now are frantically crafting for the days to come.  I have a lot of projects to finish and start before Christmas gets anywhere close, and nothing really to show you.

These days are filled with the sunniest of babies!  After a pretty nasty drug reaction (to ear infection meds) and more drugs (steroids ack!) to counteract it, she is feeling much, much better.  In fact, she is more smiley than ever!  She has also figured out that camera means 'cheese your face off'.  Here's an example: (the super pink cheeks are part of her drug allergy, although admittedly cute)

I'll get back in the swing of things here soon.  I will, I tell ya!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On stage

the click of the pick
the scratch of the strings
the boom of the wood through my lungs as I sing
the moment, the lights, the song to the night
this is the thing I drink in.

(no.  It's not me.  I just got back from a Jen Knapp concert.  And like a dork, forgot my camera)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I can bundle myself and my baby against the weather and the world, but I cannot remain insular.  I took my neighbors to meet with the benevolence team from our church, but their need is so great.  It's everything.  Water, lights, gas, rent, food, clothes.  All these things that I take for granted.  All these are things they need. 

I'm pondering how I can help today.  Would you readers be willing to pitch in to get them a kerosene heater?  Just a thought.  Let me know.

Monday, November 16, 2009

On turning 33

It was my birthday yesterday.  I am 33 years old now and so far, so good.  I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I really like my 30's.  I'm so glad to be free of the angst that haunted my teens and twenties.  Whoever I was going to be, I already am, or am not.  I am me, and I have always been me.  What I do for a living isn't what makes me me.  What ever I was going to do, I know if I get to it, I'll enjoy it more, not looking for the ultimate moment, and whether I do it or not, it won't define me, it will just be a path I walked down for awhile. 

The days are glorious in parts, hard in others, sad, and joyful, boring and thrilling.  I have to remind myself to be present.  To stop time for a moment and look around.  To not get swept away in the raging current of life, dishes, laundry, projects, work, and bills.  To relish little hands, and little feet, and little teeth.  Furry pets and glorious sunrises, sweet kisses from my fuzzy Geek, good conversation, sweet alone time.  I was made to be in this moment, to know how much I am loved.  So bring on this 33rd year (technically 34th year in the world - if you think about it).  It's just getting better.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sick, sick, sick

Mama sick.
Baby sick.
Taking a break from blogging.
Have a great weekend. See you Monday!

Here's some sweetness to tide you over.

P.S.  Email me if you'd like to get 30% off this weekend at Old Navy, Gap etc.  5% goes to your charity of choice!  The first 25 get the invite. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


When it goes from a partially knitted thing, to this, balls of re-wound yarn, that is frogging.  Oh the dreaded frogging!!  I started this stocking and got about halfway through, then realized it is too skinny and WHO wants a SKINNY STOCKING?!  No one.  And you know why it's too skinny?  Any knitters want to guess?  Yes.  It's because I did not knit a swatch to check my gauge.  I just started knitting.  If you use the kind of yarn it calls for, it's usually not a problem, but I didn't!  So I'm going back to the pattern and adding in stitches somehow.  Ah well.  The point is to knit, right?  Right.  I enjoy it, so doing it over won't be that big of a deal.  And now, I have a pattern to modify.  Sigh.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gook! and glorious autumn foliage

Cora has had a verbal explosion!  Her first word came out on Saturday and it was 'Thank you' (two words technically)!  And me, not wanting be replaced by manners, asked her if she could say 'Mama' and she did.  (Still no 'Papa' though.  He gets 'Lala') To which she quickly added 'Stop' (I guess I say that a lot, to the dog, to a wiggly baby on the changing table, to the cat, oh well), then 'dog' and 'no' and even a sly little sing songy 'love you' which I said to her as I put her down for her nap yesterday and she repeated  back!  Then as we were reading her a book before bedtime she came out with 'gook' for book.  Today she has been crawling over to books and saying 'gook, gook, gook'.  Very fun.  We now have a talker on our hands!

Here's some gorgeousness from this past weekend. We went for a walk in Centennial Park and soaked up the sun and all of the beauty of trees still turning in this oddly prolonged season of fall foliage.

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