Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Say It With Alacrity!


Our friend, Dave, lives by the most interesting lists. One of those is something like, "Words Best Spoken With Alacrity". (Dave, if you're reading, feel free to correct me on the details.)

Here's one to add to the list of 
Words Best Spoken With Alacrity:

"Spanakopita"!

Say it again:

"SPANAKOPITA"!

It simply means "spinach pie", but this is where the Greeks do it better than their English-speaking counterparts.

I have a son who would be slap-happy if he could eat burgers or pizza (or both!) for every meal. So, it pleased me last week when I asked him to suggest a dinner idea for my menu list, and he mentioned spanakopita.
I had actually been thinking of it already, and it was nice to see that we were on the same page, so to speak.

This same young man who drew a line through all of my "healthful" menu items in protest, also chose a food item that has spinach as its key ingredient.
Heh.

This recipe actually came from Martha Stewart. I used to get her magazine, and I would save the perforated recipe cards that came in each issue. I first made spanakopita a few years ago when we lived in Alabama, and it calls for a LOT of butter.

This is one of those recipes that not only tastes good, but that I enjoy for the actual process of making it. It's fun to work with filo dough - although it bears an unsettling resemblance to the parchment paper that lines the baking sheet.


This photo is from the archives. This is the first one I ever made, and I posted it on my old blog. It's been about four years. I just wanted to compare the two.

So, do you feel inspired yet?

February 2012: Month of the Wish


Don't worry. 
I'm not superstitious, and I don't make wishes. 
I believe fully in the sovereignty of God.

Still, what stay-at-home-mom doesn't "wish" for more hours in her day?

Well, it's leap year, and that means that we get 24 days' worth of an extra hour per day.
The beauty? 
It's all crammed into one day!
So, the way I look at it is that I get an entire day to devote wholly to doing all the things that I can't seem to accomplish most days.
And I have 28 days to plan.

Is this recognized as a national holiday? 'Cause it should be. Maybe we can have a party...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fun Saturday


Our Saturday was kicked off nicely, and it's still only the beginning. We have more in store for later.
I just wanted to share, in case you're interested.
Read about it here and here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Get This App!


Are you trying to gain weight? If so, then this is the recipe for you. Otherwise, make it anyway, and then join a gym or take up running.

A while back, I downloaded the Epicurious App for my iPhone. Because I'm a creature of habit, I kept forgetting to use it when planning our menus. This week, I was determined to finally use the "shopping list" saved from my "favorites".

The recipe for Sweet Potatoes with Blue Cheese and Pecans (pictured above) is actually the second recipe I've used. (The first one was what we had for breakfast this morning, but I'll blog about that at another time and another place.)
Trust me when I say that there's a lot of guilt involved in this recipe, but the flavor makes one forget about it.
In my estimation, that's precisely what makes a recipe appealing!

The down side to the Epicurious App is that the entries can only be viewed in order, and once a category is left, the sequence starts over from the beginning when that particular category is resumed. The problem with that is that some categories have over a thousand entries. So, if you come across something you might like, mark it as a favorite, just in case. That way, you won't have to weed through the first 726 entries to find it again.

Other than that, I'd say that there are all pluses in the app! There's even a category called "I Can Barely Cook", aimed toward the novice, as well as "I Cook Like a Pro", for the more adventurous home chef. There are seasonal lists, weeknight dinner lists, and so on.

The best part is the "shopping list". Simply click (or tap) the "+" while viewing a recipe, and presto! You'll have an instant shopping list for the necessary ingredients!

Man, they should hire me, or something!

Happy Apping!



Love This Girl!


In just a few days, our little dimpled baby will turn eighteen. I know it's early to be doing her birthday post, but I just felt inspired.

Morgan enhances the dynamics of our home and family in many ways. 
Here are just a few: 

She's ultra-self-motivated, taking charge of her health and fitness and setting a strong example for the rest of us.

Her interest in art has recently been revived, so she practices cursive handwriting in order to improve her drawing skills.

Having taught herself piano, she fills our home with beautiful music, and recently began teaching her brother, Graham, how to play the violin.

Morgan is wise beyond her years, and often encourages me by offering counsel when I appear to be losing my compass. 

She aids in keeping the atmosphere of our home light and pleasant by making us laugh with her quick wit and clever impersonations.

But in all honesty, when Morgan eventually leaves our home to enter the next season of her life, I'm pretty sure that what I'll miss most are her chocolate chip cookies:


Don't you wish that you had a Morgan, too? ;-)



Friday, January 20, 2012

Camera Strap


I finally got my camera back from the repair shop on Wednesday. It had been there since December 7th, and it had been broken since early fall. Now that it's back, I'm setting aside my white board list, in favor of a couple of camera-friendly projects.

This camera strap is the first of those.

I've been compiling a mental list of all of the residents of my dream kibbutz
I'm thinking that Paula Deen, despite my fear of her excessive use of butter, would make a good go-to neighbor when I need advice on home accents. I like her style. (Besides, my kibbutz - which would likely be in Israel or Africa, where my husband prefers to live - wouldn't be complete unless someone spoke in an authentic southern accent.)

Some of my favorite bloggers would have to live there, too, like Amy & Penny.
There are others that I'd want there, as well, like my friend, Terri, who makes me laugh until I cry. 
Of course, my parents would have their own wing in our home, with the kitchen strategically centrally located, to allow Mom & Daddy plenty of opportunity to make us some ultra-yummy food. Maybe I'll do a separate "Dream Kibbutz" post in the future.

Still, there is one woman who simply MUST live near me. Right now, she's about a four-hour drive from where I live. I may try to work this to my advantage one day. In the meantime, I'll have to settle for gleaning from her amazing patterns. I do hope to meet her one day, though.

Anyway, I awoke before my alarm this morning, ready to "Bring It"; but instead, I decided to rid my toenails of three-week-old chipped blue nail polish, and head up to meet with Clara in the sewing room.
(For those of you who don't know, Clara is my sewing machine.)

How nice to have a finished product just in time to walk downstairs to breakfast.


Morgan is as excited as I am that the camera is back in our lives.

Watching her attach the strap was almost as torturous as awaiting the first pan of chocolate chip cookies, fresh from the oven... OK. No comparison. But I was anxious.

Voila!
Bye-bye, phone photos! 
(Well, except, of course, for the photos of the camera, which made it necessary to use the phone.)



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rejoice With Me!

My!

Camera!

Is!

READY!!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Soft Globe Trial


My to-do list is looming over me like a bad debt, but I managed to at least breathe some of the air in my sewing room this week.
I debated over whether to even post this, but here it is - my trial run.

I saw fabric globes similar to this (Ha! I flatter myself!) at a local decorating store. I fell in love with them, but the price would repel any sensible shopper. For several months, I've wanted to see if I can come up with a suitable substitute.
I think it's kind of cute, but I'd like for it to be much larger.

I had forgotten how unpleasant it is to cut out fabric map pieces - sort of like forgetting how much childbirth hurts, so you go ahead and have another (and, in my case, another, and another, and another).



Anyway, I did it. And it hurt. And I got lazy. 
If you look closely at the cutting job, you can see just how lazy.
But don't.

I do plan to revisit this project. I couldn't decide which fabric would work best, so I'd like to try others. Also, I want to try to make this larger. For this one, I used the back of the Potterybarn duvet cover that used to adorn my bed, but is now, at least in part, a set of big pillows for the bench in our school room. The blue plaid appliqué fabric is left over from recycled Potterybarn Kids curtains

I hope to get back to sewing next week. For now, we're enjoying a visit from a very special family of ten. Caelyn went to Alaska for three months in 2010 to be their nanny for three months. They've had three children since the last time our entire family saw them, but we knew them before they had any children.

Before their arrival this afternoon, I ran errands and did some last-minute grocery shopping to complete our weekend menu items.
Kudos to Craig Grayson and Morgan, who provided fuel for my morning tasks. CG made his should-be-famous chocolate chip scones (inspired by this friend and this family), and Mo took scrambled eggs to a new level:

The photo doesn't do justice to these amazing scrambled eggs. She sauteéd vegetables first and added the scrambled eggs to the pan. Then she topped them with crumbled turkey bacon. I should probably post these on our breakfast blog. My parents' legacy truly lives on in my children. I'm a blessed woman.

This says it all. I couldn't waste time photographing the scone. Actually, I ate it while driving and photographed the result in the grocery parking lot.

It was 27 degrees this morning. Twenty-seven. In Houston, TX. I'm so thankful to have these boots. By the way, I've actually been pursued in the mall before by someone who stopped me to ask where I got my boots. Twice.

Ok, I'm rambling now. It's time to go and see what the others have made this week at Amy's Sew & Tell.
Have a fun weekend!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

So Exciting!


Shabby Apple is offering 20% off of NEARLY everything on their site until the end of January!

Take your time, because the sale lasts all month long; but hurry, because time flies.
:-)

Just follow the button on my sidebar.



Wednesday, January 4, 2012

To-Do


I've already mentioned that I don't do New Year's Resolutions, yet I can't help but get caught in the turbine of newness at this time of year. Everywhere I turn is a "fresh" or "new" idea for making things better, more organized, updated, etc.

I just can't help myself. I get hooked every year. It goes with the territory when we're faced with a new menu plan after Christmas and New Year's Day, and getting into the groove of a new school semester. It just seems that all aspects of life should be thrown onto the drawing board for reconsideration.

So far, I've cleaned all of our "good" dishes and serving pieces, along with the glass cabinets/doors in our kitchen, to make them all shiny and beautiful again. After that, I tackled the pantry in preparation for yesterday's trip to Costco.
In between a few jobs, I've worked on the attic in small "bites", but I'm not really ready to go all-out in there just yet.

Today, while Caelyn and Craig Grayson did our grocery shopping, I thoroughly cleaned the refrigerator. I have two words for that experience:

Science Experiment

In the process, I salvaged just enough leftovers to make Clean-Out-The-Refrigerator Beef Pot Pie.
Everything else was either pitched into the trash or put into the freezer for future consideration (like leftover glaze from Sunday's cinnamon rolls).

This week has been a relaxed process of easing back into a daily school schedule. For now, the children are working on music, and together we're making our list of reflections on 2011.

Today I finished planning our new menu.
Up next will be the following tasks, if I can make the most of the rest of the week:

* Thank-you notes

* New chore lists

* New daily schedules

* Outline/plan for my new breakfast series

* Part 2 of "Why We Homeschool"

* Lesson Plans

Right now, though, I'd love to just get the sheets back onto my bed!


Clean-Out-The-Refrigerator Beef Pot Pie, just before going into the oven

Monday, January 2, 2012

Wise Counsel




I don't make New Year's resolutions, as a rule. I know myself far too well. I start strong, but I don't always finish well, depending on what it is. I need to take ownership of something in order to be motivated to see it through to completion, and a calendar date doesn't normally serve as a catalyst.

I can decide that it's time to eat better, work out harder, clean more, get organized, revamp our school schedule, be nicer to my children, remember to iron Craig's shirts before he needs them, catch up on emails... the list goes on; 
but God's Word tells us to number our days, to make the most of every opportunity, to take up our cross and daily follow Jesus.
None of those former things matter much apart from the latter, and January 1st doesn't have to be the day that spurs me to frantically start checking things off, just to find in a couple of months that I don't have enough steam left to accomplish my lofty ambitions.

Still, while cleaning up Christmas and New Year's messes, putting away decorations, and gearing up for the rest of the school year, it's a good time for reflection and planning.

2011 was an exciting year for us, full of change, blessing, and challenge.
I can't make any particular declaration about what I expect to see happen in 2012, but these things I do know:

~ God is faithful. (2 Timothy 2:13)

~ His mercy is new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

~ He longs to be gracious to His people. (Isaiah 30:18)

~ He has promised in His Word to bring to completion the good work that He has begun in us. (Philippians 1:6)

Tomorrow, we have the wonderful opportunity to take a day trip and visit some special friends. I'm looking forward to this time of fellowship and refreshment before resuming our daily routine here at home.
After that, I plan to spend the rest of the week doing some spiritual "assessment" with the children and seeking God's will and direction for the rest of our school year.

A friend shared this blog post from a faithful brother in Christ, which I find especially useful and inspiring. Craig and I read it and have decided to put Mr. Phillips's counsel into practice.
I'm sure that our lists will differ from the Phillips Family's lists, but several of Doug's suggestions are worth copying, such as his advice to personally thank those who've blessed and influenced us, and encourage our children to do the same.

I'm excited about taking time with the children to recall God's specific blessings and provision for our family over the past year, and looking ahead to what He has in store for us next.