Friday, March 30, 2012

{this moment}

{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.
. . . . . . . .

{this moment} ritual from Soulemama

Thursday, March 29, 2012

sewing for some babies

My friend Elaina knows some babies. They were baptized this last weekend, and because Elaina 1) likes handmade and 2) likes to give handmade, she 3) supported handmade by placing (my first!!!) an order on etsy!

I made her (from vintage and thrifted sheets, of course) two baby bibs (using JCasa's awesome pattern), two matching contoured burp cloths, and a summer blanket. I'm hoping to start making baby items for ready-made sale in my etsy shop, but I think that's another post, another day.



Wednesday, March 28, 2012

what does victory look like?

Sometimes, victory looks like this:


Mark's. (Sealants won him a 50 point advantage- I never caught up).
Or this:

Mine. (Hexagon, Tread, Greedy, Grimy, Tinkers, Blonde, Forceps, Bulemic, Bile)
 But SOMETIMES... victory looks like this:

#26, folks. the big one!
  1. bathroom medicine cabinet
  2. underneath the bathroom sink
  3. Moses' toys & treats
  4. tea 
  5. cloth napkins
  6. cookbooks 
  7. media cabinet 
  8. DVDs
  9. important papers drawer 
  10. magazines 
  11. tanktops
  12. pajamas
  13. T-shirts
  14. fabric... dun Dun DUN
  15. silverware drawer
  16. notepads/journals/notecards
  17. under the kitchen sink
  18. unfinished projects
  19. sweaters
  20. books
  21. dishes/kitchen cabinets/above the fridge
  22. pantry
  23. socks/underwear
  24. paperwork: filebox
  25. shoes
  26. the massive mound of sewing stuff eating our loveseat
  27. holiday decorations
  28. camping gear
  29. patterns
  30. ribbon
  31. sand
  32. spices
  33. our cars
  34. jewelry
  35. Mark's music folder
  36. medicine drawer
  37. towels
  38. tool box
  39. china hutch
  40. freezer

 I also bought these lovelies last week, finally spending money that was given to me at Christmas time:

fuschia. matches nothing... or matches everything?
This means I will be simplifying my shoes by saying a final goodbye to these guys:

very, very old and cheap flats with an assortment of maladies (general wear and tear, holes in the soles and odor issues!)
Easter is practically tomorrow, so it couldn't be a moment sooner!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

mark's stir fry

This is Mark's stir fry.

 Mark has recently been crowned "King of the Wok" because of his variations of this dish, and it's second-day brother, fried rice. But that's another post. Stir Fry doesn't like to share.

He makes this probably once every two weeks, using different vegetables to keep things fresh. Here, he's used orange bell pepper and asparagus (one of our favorite combinations). He's also done broccoli, mushroom, onion...honestly, whatever YOU like, this stir fry can be about.

two kitchen appliances we couldn't live without: our rice cooker, and our kitchen scale
 This is a waistline-friendly recipe. We count this as 6 Weight Watchers points plus, and served with a cup of rice, this is a hearty 11 ppv meal.

proper portion sizes
Have I mentioned we like to weigh our rice? It helps us to be more accurate/honest with our portion sizes (I don't know if you know, but you can pack a lot more than 175g of rice into a one-cup measure...). Then we portion 1/4 of this stir fry on, add some sri racha and are good to go.

Hope you give it a try!

Mark's Chicken & Asparagus Stir Fry
serves 4
Weight Watchers: 6ppv per serving

3/4 cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth   
3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce   
1 Tbsp cornstarch   
4 tsp olive oil   
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into either strips or chunks, whichever you prefer
2 cloves garlic, minced   
1 Tbsp ground ginger (we like the jarred ginger from Ginger People)
1 pound uncooked asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces (we use Trader Joe's frozen asparagus)
2 medium uncooked scallions, finely cut
2 bell peppers, red, yellow or orange, cut into 1" strips

1. Whisk together the chicken broth, soy sauce and corn starch in a small bowl until no lumps remain.
2. Heat a large heavy skillet or wok over medium high heat until a drop of water sizzles in the pan. Add chicken and stir-fry until browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate.
3. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons of oil in the same pan. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add asparagus, bell pepper and scallions; stir fry until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.
4. Return chicken to pan. Re-whisk broth mixture (mixture will have settled) and add to pan. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture bubbles and thickens, about 1 minute.
5. Remove from heat and serve over 1 cup of steamed jasmine or basmati rice and sri racha.

Monday, March 26, 2012

having space

Moses knows the value of space.
Mark and I got to spend this past weekend in Binghamton with Mark's parents. We got to go for walks together, make meals together, play games together, and even see Mark's cousin in The Secret Garden at her high school production. Leslie and I sewed, Mark played guitar and even Moses got to stretch out. It was such a wonderful weekend for so many reasons. It seems unfair to talk about space in the same breath as all of the great family time, but the subject is on our minds these days, and more relevant after a weekend of living freely in a large space- and then returning home to our restricted quarters.

Having room to breathe is important. Having a space that is yours is important. In our tiny apartment, Mark and I make it work- we capitalize on vertical space by having floor to ceiling bookshelves. We do our best to keep things organized so we can find them. Most recently, we have begun actively working on reducing the number of things that clutter our lives (and apartment!). We generally always have a place to sleep and a place to relax. But we don't always have space for the things that we love-- Mark, his guitar, and I, my sewing machine. And we don't have space to grow.

The importance of space is pressing heavily upon me now as we consider where our space will be for the duration of Mark's seminary career. For me, those three (likely) years will encompass the end of my twenties. I'll move into my thirties and my flexibility will diminish and my desire for permanency will continue to strengthen. I'm not trying to be unreasonable; I am not ready to plant our family in one location for the rest of our lives. But as we consider our family needs and how they may shift in the next three years, I cannot fathom that we will be able to be satisfied with our small space. I admire others who are able to do it, but I do not kid myself that I might be among them.

There's no conclusion to these thoughts, just as there's no resolution to our space dilemma at present. I suppose it's good just to recognize that space is something we (all) value.

why lay in a corner when you've got the whole room?

Friday, March 23, 2012

{this moment}

{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.
. . . . . . . .

{this moment} ritual from Soulemama

Thursday, March 22, 2012

the things we eat

Mark and I have recently come to a realization. That is, we have been over-shopping when it comes to groceries! We started to put more effort into grocery shopping, meal planning and meal preparation when we came home from Texas after Christmas (upset with the weight we had gained and tired of eating out after four days on the road). Initially, it was easy to justify an inflated grocery bill because we weren't eating out! But somehow, now, we know it's time to cut back.

our freezer isn't huge. but, we're blessed it's full (and well-organized).

To do this, we've been doing our best to eat out of our freezer and pantry. To take a source of protein (like a whole chicken on sale at $.99/lb) and make it stretch for several meals (like roasted chicken one night, spinach salads with chicken for several lunches, and chicken enchiladas). But as we have been increasing our fruit and vegetable intake, we have not been able to make a dent in our grocery bill. Has anyone else noticed, maybe, how expensive it is to eat well? And maybe, the cost of food is rising?

that mango sorbet from Trader Joe's? DIVINE.

We try not to eat a diet full of processed foods, but Mark does like his cereal, and I will occasionally buy Weight Watchers mini bars or ice cream on sale. Even still, I think it may be time to start making more of our own. With our juicer, we use even more produce (and after a week, I am convinced that there is something we should be doing with our fruit pulp besides composting).

 This will be a challenge for awhile, but in the meantime, here are some of the things we've been doing with our freezer foods.

roasted chicken thighs with carrots (cooked only!) and lemon

we thawed out some rhubarb...

and added a little of this and that for a small rhubarb crisp

we used some frozen hash browns (the crust) and a serving of breakfast sausage and made a breakfast quiche!

We thawed out some sweet Italian sausage and Mark put together a baked penne dish

and of course, we LOVE our roasted frozen vegetables- broccoli and asparagus are our favorites.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

those Y-seams have earned their reputation

"Homemaker," block #47.
This Farmer's Wife block is by far the most difficult we have done so far. It involves Y-seams, which I don't believe I have ever done before. Mission accomplished... somewhat. As Leslie said, I had to iron this block into submission! I'm fairly sure that I had to rip out every seam in this block at least once. I sewed the white pieces on wrong first, and then the middle triangles on wrong a few times, and then those Y-seams. In any case, I accept the condition of this block (just don't look too closely at the corners of the square). Then I don't have to re-do it!

I love the bold light and dark purple fabric in this block. Both that print and the lighter purple floral were acquisitions from etsy (my seller also has a blog)!  I've never bought vintage sheets from anywhere other than the thrift store, but my collection is sorely lacking in the purple. Eventually, I'd like to be selling fat quarters of sheets on etsy myself, but at this point, my blog is unknown and therefore, I think my store would be, too.  A dream for another day (and a larger space)!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

say hello... to my little friend.

not a baby.

That is a Scarface reference, people. I hope you know it. If you do not, well, I just hope you didn't think that we were having a baby or getting a new puppy or something.

It arrived today in this enormous box!  Which contained another box, and inside of it was another box!  Normally I would be complaining about the packaging, but we know lots of people who are moving, so the boxes will definitely be used.

my little friend came in this not so little box!

We have already used it twice, in just about 24 hours. We L-O-V-E it. I don't think an electric juicer is an kitchen appliance I would have been interested in if not for Sick, Fat, and Nearly Dead (you can stream it on Netflix). While the title of that documentary is honestly enough to turn me off, it was recommended by someone at my Weight Watchers meeting who called it 'motivational'. I was in need of some motivation several weeks ago, and so Mark and I watched it-- and it was motivational!

Before you ask, the point of the documentary is NOT to make people go out and buy juicers. And if you've seen the documentary, then don't worry-- Mark and I don't harbor any illusions of 30 day juice fasts resulting in 60 pound weight losses. BUT, we do think that the juicer will help us meet our good health guidelines of eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables in a day, which is something that I have been struggling with.

After we saw the documentary, we got thinking about how juicing could benefit us. The documentary mentions micronutrients, and faster absorption as a benefit of juicing. We plan to have some juice with our regular breakfast in the morning and it will give us an edge (and for me, take the pressure off checking those boxes) throughout the day. Day one: so far so good!

We cashed in our credit card bonus to pay for this thing.  It's the Breville Juice Fountain Compact (I know I've mentioned kitchen space is at a premium over here). So far, we think it's easy to use, easy to clean and does an awesome job of juicing, which we can tell from both the pulp, which is fully juiced and left behind- no big chunks- and the juice (no pulp).

green juice from kale!

Our first run had two apples, a bunch of grapes, a pear and several handfuls of kale. We love that the juice was green but tasted like apple cider. No added sugar necessary!

frothy! orange from all the citrus.

Our second run was a combination of grapefruit, clementines, a nectarine, apple and some grapes.  We are loving the juices (although we have to count points for them because they are all fruit).  I can't wait to try a bunch of other combinations and see what we come up with!

Monday, March 19, 2012

look at my cute little dog.

We've (I've) been getting better at going for walks of late, and since spring is here in full bloom, I've been taking lots of photos on our walks. More and more I feel like I'm noticing annual things for the first time. How fast the blooms fall from the tree by our building, how vibrant the purples get, how delicate the cherry blossoms. How spring smells. I've been loving that about our walks. Now, if only I could remember all of this when I think of walking up and down that stupid hill!

"I'm even cuter when I lie in grass strewn with flower petals, aren't I?"
this is the garden where we'll have a plot this spring/summer/fall.
very interesting tree fungus
"Um... mom? That's enough pictures, I think..."
delicate cherry blossoms
look at these crazy purple buds!
by some strange and incredible act of nature the clusters of these things grow at equally spaced intervals on each branch. My kinda tree...
"I think this 'puppy in petals' picture thing is starting to get a little old..."

Friday, March 16, 2012

{this moment}

{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.
. . . . . . . .

{this moment} ritual from Soulemama