Friday, December 20, 2013

ode to snow

The snow falls sideways, blowing from rooftops in billowy sheaths. 
My windchime sounds a muted song, metal chilled by snow.
The dogs are wary to venture outside, paw prints staying close to the house.
When I dared to go out, hoping to capture a few pictures I was met with disdain from a hummingbird perched in the cherry tree.  I cleared snow off of his feeder and hurried back inside, not even looking back to see if he cared.

I cannot now seem to draw my eyes from the snowglobe out my window.  It is a beauty we rarely see.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

soul talking

Pumpkin spice tea and a big chocolaty was a rough day so I pulled out the big guns.  The even bigger gun was pajama pants which I put on as soon as I got home. 

I'd be lying if I said this whole month has not been a rough one for me.  Some nonsense about missing my family and feeling isolated.

My heart of hearts wants to sit with my sister and drink coffee and chat about life.  I want to go camping and hiking with my brothers.  I want to have lunch with my mom and my mother and father-in-law.  I want to window shop with my sisters-in-law.  I want to paint nails with my nieces.  My heart aches in the absence of these things.  Family is so important and that is not more evident than when you haven't seen your family in a year. 

It hurts in my soul.

Brownies make it feel better a little.

Monday, December 16, 2013

the weekend with some recipes

I wish every weekend could be like this last one.  Where we roll out of bed just whenever on Saturday morning.  We make breakfast together, him on coffee, me on pancake batter.  We sit around the table, the four of us, enjoying bacon and buttery pancakes dripping with syrup, fresh cut fruit, and glasses of cold orange juice.  We do a few things around the house during the day, just slow and easy.

That evening we left the boys with a pizza and took off for the company Christmas party.  It was at an upscale restaurant, definitely out of our price range.  But things were beautiful, the light was soft, and the food prepared with attention to detail.  It was a special treat.

We spent Sunday where we spend all our Sundays, with our church family.  We sing together, make food together, clean up together, laugh together, and hopefully there's some encouragement, some sharpening that happens amid the day.  Sundays we get home usually around 4:30 in the afternoon.  Since it is football season, the guys spend the evening watching whatever football game together and I sit with them with the laptop and headphones and watch a girlie movie.  We eat Sunday night sandwiches, our tradition for almost 5 years now.

Monday closed our long weekend.  Austin had to get up to go to class but the rest of us slept in again.  Aaron spent the morning at the dentist and I spent the morning correcting quizzes and cleaning the house.  We did a little Christmas shopping this afternoon and took the boys to Wendy's for a late lunch.

Now everyone is gone at wrestling practice.  There is a yummy stew in the oven, bread dough rising on the stove, and dogs snoozing lazily.

About the stew:  I've discovered that baking stew in an enamel pot on a low temperature for an extended time produces delicious results.  The recipe I'm using today...
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Saute in oil in a large pot: 1 chopped shallot, 1 peeled and cubed sweet potato, 2 small cubed red potatoes, 1 sliced carrot, and minced garlic.
  • Add to pot: 1 pound cubed pork. Stir and sauté for a couple of minutes.
  • Coat meat and vegetables with 3 T. of flour, stirring well.
  • Add 1 T. Thyme, 1 t. pepper, 1 1/2 c. chicken broth, 1/2 c. white wine (or more broth with a splash of white wine vinegar).
  • Move your lidded pot to the 300 degree oven and bake for 2 hours or so, stirring once midway through.
  • Let stew sit for 15 minutes before serving.
About the bread:  this recipe comes from a friend whose very spirit evokes love in my heart.  She is a kindred soul.  The first time I tasted this bread I swooned.  It is airy and crusty and simple in it's elements.
  • Dissolve 2 1/2 t. yeast in 1 cup of warm water.
  • Dissolve 1 T. salt in 2 cups of warm water.
  • Measure 7-8 cups of flour into large bowl and add yeast and salt mixtures.  Mix together then knead the whole thing until smooth and elastic.
  • Place in a large greased bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour.
  • Shape as desired (2 or 3 loaves) and bake at 375 for approximately 40 minutes.
I have learned that bread dough doesn't have to be babied too much.  It can rise for more than an hour.  You can punch it down and let it rise again, and again.  Maybe there are some picky dough recipes.  But for a simple bread, don't let it rule your life.  Work it around your schedule.  Another trick that works for me (when making just 1 or 2 loaves of bread) is to knead it right in my big mixing bowl.  Most of the mess stays in the bowl and then I hold the dough ball in my left hand while oiling the messy bowl with my right hand, put the ball in oiled bowl, then turn the dough over so it's oiled bottom is now it's top and set it aside to rise.  My lazy self loves this method and it's never proven to be a bad way to go.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

iron skillet

Last night when my boys got home from wrestling practice they were greeted by a yummy iron skillet deep dish pizza.  It was so good that I just had to talk about it and share it and encourage others to try it.

I am not very good at using my heavy iron skillet, still learning the in's and out's of it.  I like that every iron skillet develops it's own personality and I hope that with good care and lots of use mine will serve me well for a long time.

On to the recipe...

This is not my picture.
1.  Make a pizza dough using your favorite dough recipe.  Press dough into and up the sides of a greased iron skillet and let rise for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 425.
2.  In a separate pan brown 1 lb. of ground beef.  Add 1/2 cup chopped onion, and clove or two of chopped garlic, continue cooking.
3.  Add to meat in pan whatever Italian herbs you like (I used basil, thyme, oregano).  Add a 6 oz can of tomato paste and 6 oz of water.  Cook and stir.
4.   Spread the meat and sauce mixture over your risen dough.  Top with one chopped tomato. 
5.   Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes.  Top with 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes longer.  Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes.  REALLY, let it sit.
6.  The whole thing should slide easily out of the pan onto a cutting board for ease of cutting.
Served with a salad this is an amazing meal.  Definitely a hungry family pleaser!!

Monday, December 9, 2013


My eyes have been drawn to the windows, gazing for long periods of time, searching the air for movement.  Here and there a tiny little snowflake floats gently, silently.  The others are so few and far between that you would only see them if you were watching for them.  It happens so rarely here that it is still magical, that first snowfall.  And I have found myself highly distracted by the possibility.

As much as I'd like to see it snow, making the most of the winter while it is here, my heart of hearts will always long for the spring to come.  My gaze looking beyond the snowflakes to the first shoots of green springing from the frozen ground, the first sight of new growth on a tree. 

This upcoming spring offers some new adventures that I am looking forward to.  Come March and April I will be hard at work digging up the ground and starting a garden.  There is just nothing like watching a garden come to life! 

AND, I am pleased that my husband agreed to keeping chickens.  Our city even recently lifted the ordinance against chickens.  We will all at once learn animal husbandry, teach our boys the same, and provide ourselves with a food source.  New adventures!
Fresh Eggs
For now we are in the throes of December along with everyone else.  Watching for snow, bundling up, drinking all sorts of warm beverages.  I love the activity of the birds this time of year.  I know that they are hungry and it thrills me to be able to offer them some respite.
Just today:  thirteen little tails in the air, thirteen little beaks, all descended at once!
What's the hullabaloo out the window?

A peek into my home:
The shelf in the dining room...full of things that make me smile.

It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.

 - Laura Ingalls Wilder

Saturday, December 7, 2013

sunny Saturday reflections

I have found a warm sunny spot here in my red chair.  The December sun is streaming through the window and I am content to sit right here and soak it up.

We ventured out in the chill this morning, not-so-bright-and early, my boys and I.  We took in coffee and toasted bagels at Starbuck's.  We traded in our old books and found new at the library, each of us weighed down with promising reads as we left.  We picked up some necessities and groceries, even daring to enter WalMart on a Saturday (will I NEVER learn?).

Back home now and one boy is reading his new books, the other is working on his schoolwork.  The house is still and quiet.  The rest of my day will be spent baking, cooking, and putting away laundry and maybe, just maybe, stealing away some time curled under a blanket with my pups reading my new books!

Tomorrow after church services we are having a themed lunch.  The theme this week is "Mom's (or Grandma's Recipe".  I don't have any of my grandmother's recipes.  My paternal grandmother died long before I was born and my maternal grandmother passed when I was very young so I never knew either of them.  My mom does say that her mother was quite the hostess, loving to entertain (just like my sister!).  I didn't get that gene. 

Some things my mom made frequently while I was growing up were: spaghetti, roast beef with potatoes and carrots, and French dip sandwiches.  I have decided to take French dip sandwiches to share for lunch.  Another thing my mom made that I always thought was so fancy was a little salad, served up on individual plates.  Each salad was a half of a pear (from a can) on an iceberg lettuce leaf.  Each pear had a dollop of mayonnaise and a sprinkling of paprika on top.  As a kid I thought this was gourmet eating!

Outside my window...  sunshine, birds, frosty patches

I am thinking...  about stages.  Having an almost 15 year old and an almost 13 year old is not dull.  Each boy is going through so many changes that every moment with them is an adventure, sometimes a fun adventure, sometimes a dreadful adventure.

I am thankful...  for my sweet sister.  I miss her like crazy.  And I'm thankful for a Christian employer.  And heaters in my house.  And Christmas decorations from my childhood.  And music in my heart.

In the kitchen...  the scent of pumpkin coffee cake will soon be drifting from the oven

I am wearing...  dark skinny jeans, my favorite black boots
from ModCloth,  navy blue sweater, gray and black scarf, gray hat, and pigtail braids in my hair.

I am reading...  my checkout list form the today's library trip:

  • A Little House Reader: A Collection of Writings by Laura Ingalls Wilder  A Little House Reader: A Collection of Writings by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • What the Amish Can Teach Us About the Simple Life - LifeWay Reader What the Amish Can Teach Us About the Simple Life by Georgia Varozza
  • The Book of Tomorrow  The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

A favorite quote for today... 
Little by little
the time flies by
Short if we laugh through it
Long if we sigh.
-Laura Ingalls Wilder
A peek into my day...  my day began with a little fluffy Charlie dog, curled up next to me under the covers.  He is ONLY allowed in my bed when my husband is gone for the day so it's an extra special treat.
The sun has moved on and my cozy spot is now chilly.  I must get on with my day.

Friday, December 6, 2013


The big chocolate lab lays just inside the front door, letting out a little whimper now and again.  The boys took little Charlie out for a walk and left him behind.  So he pouts.  It's rather pitiful.

Christmas has descended on our house.  The boys decorated the tree last night (it still looks forlorn and sad).  I found myself  tucking a lot of the décor back into the tote, to come back to next year maybe.  My heart cries for simplicity, so simplicity is my goal.

The apple pie I baked yesterday afternoon was gone by 9 a.m. this morning.  We had it a la mode last night and warmed up for breakfast this morning.  Nothing better.

Aaron got the new baseboard heater installed in our bedroom last evening.  We turned it real low and it sure took the chill out of the air!  It makes it a lot easier to get out of bed in the morning when that chill doesn't loom over a body.

I'm going to fire up the ol' oven and bake some cookies this afternoon.  I haven't decided on peanut butter or oatmeal raisin.  Either way, the kitchen will be warm and my family will feel my love.  Now if I could just kick this headache!  My eyes are watering from the pressure and pain.

Happy weekending friends!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

this is life

Do you know the feeling where you have so much to get done yet your body just will not cooperate?  The feet are heavy, the legs are weak, the mind is wore down.  Yes, that's where I am.

This month is full, as Decembers are.

We are beginning our new year of homeschooling this week.  Strange timing, I know.  Do you love how curriculum is expensive?  I do.  It's my favorite.  Maybe that's why I'm so adamant about using every resource we can through the public school because our taxes are paying for it anyway, we might as well get some use out of it.

Some people get exciting things delivered to their homes.  Today UPS brought us a baseboard heater.  Yesterday we got an Algebra book.  This is life right now: taking care of our home and educating our children.

It's literally freezing in our neck of the woods.  I bring the hummingbird feeder inside at night so it won't freeze.  This morning I took it outside then went back in to get some more bird seed.  When I went out to the patio to spread some seed I notice a hummingbird completely absorbed in eating at the feeder.  It let me get within 3 feet and never once stopped swallowing.  Poor baby was cold and hungry!  Lots and lots of Juncos came to the yard and mixed in among them was one sparrow but I don't think any of them minded.

I should probably get on with my afternoon.  Laundry to wash, schoolwork to correct, apple pie to bake, and maybe some Christmas decorating.

Monday, December 2, 2013

day in the snow

We found a winter wonderland.  Driving up into the mountains with boys and dogs and sled and guns and Cheez-its, we drove till the ground was white and then a little further.  The boys were all about the sledding.  Aaron and I were all about picking out the perfect imperfect Charlie Brown Christmas tree.
Dogs ran amuck, sniffing snow, marking the territory.  Charlie got a little overwhelmed with all the snow (it's rough being a little dog) so I did have to "baby" him a little and carried him around while he thawed.  Silas was happy as a dog can be.  By the end of the day he was tired and stiff and I had to give him a couple extra glucosamine.
My camera is temperamental as of late so I've not been taking many pictures.  I really wasn't able to capture the beauty of this place we were in:
     the stream that ran, fed by snow, down the ravine
     the deep green of the trees next to the pure white of the snow
     the cold red cheeks of a boy that has waited all year for snow
     the tree that stood alone on the hillside that we chose to be ours.



By the time we chose the tree (truth be told Silas pointed it out to us) the sledders were frozen, the dogs were exhausted, and it was high time to get to lower ground.  We drove below the white, into rain.  Austin had his hopes set on getting some shooting in though and his dad, frozen himself, made the time to the rain.  Blake and I suffered in the warm Jeep with the pups and ate Cheez-its while listening to Christmas music (it wasn't so bad).

The tree now sits in the garage in a bucket of water.  We haven't had time to get it put up and decorated.  It's kind of bare, a little thin in the branches.  It won't take long to decorate this one but it will be imperfectly perfect and we will enjoy it.  It does smell divine!