Monday, April 29, 2013

Moses Henry is 7!

Moses' new favorite toy is a tennis ball we put in an orphaned sock.

Today is Moses Henry's seventh birthday!  He is our little sweetheart, a constant source of joy I would not have known my life was missing if Mark hadn't brought him into our marriage.  He is the most laid-back pup ever; sleeping a lot of the time but still with enough spunk and pep to bring a smile to almost anyone's face!  He loves to snuggle and has mastered the commands 'sit,' 'down,' 'stay,' 'barrel roll,' 'bang' (play dead), 'spin,' 'counter-spin' (spin the other way), 'up,' and 'sayang' (gentle).  He is very smart and is a good listener (you can tell because he cocks his head to the side).  His favorite toys include tennis balls, which he brings home almost daily from the tennis court behind our home, plastic easter eggs, plastic water bottles and his best friend, Goat.  He loves going for walks, sniffing around our neighborhood (or any) dog park, riding in the car-car, and running through the grass (especially if you cheer him on by calling out 'yay!').

I have finally gotten (mostly) over my issues picking up his poo, and I could not love him any more than I already do.  He loves to eat rice and most fruits and vegetables (we don't give him the no-nos), and we both treat Moses to those kitchen scraps whenever the other isn't looking.  Happy birthday, Moses Henry!  Thank you for all the joy you bring to our lives!

Friday, April 26, 2013

{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, April 25, 2013

a fire and a flood

No photos today.  Although it is a bit dramatic, technically, there was both a fire and a flood in our apartment yesterday.

We decided to spring for a pizza for dinner last night.  Our kitchen was simply too messy to prepare dinner, and by the time we would have cleaned up enough to start cooking, either Mark or I would have already begun to gnaw off a hand or arm in hunger.  But we didn't want to spend $3.00 per topping to get a 'gourmet' pizza, so we ordered one topping and decided to dress the pizza a little more ourselves.  I laid out sliced sundried tomatoes and roasted whole garlic cloves on a baking sheet to warm under the broiler as we waited for our pie to be delivered (we also added proscuitto).  Only, I didn't want to add more mess by way of a dirty baking sheet, so I lined the sheet with foil and parchment paper.  Then I put the pan under the broiler?  The paper caught fire and flames leapt out of the oven!  I quickly shut the oven door until the fire died, but the sight of flames shooting up out of our oven was super scary.  I tossed the burnt mess and tried again, sans parchment.  It was a minor crisis, but the pie was delicious (thanks for asking).

Hours later (nearer to midnight, because that seems to be when I get the urge to clean), I had gathered enough momentum to do a few loads of dishes.  Load = 1 (tiny) dish drainer of dishes.  We have to wash a little, dry a little, put them away, repeat.  I was filling the (also tiny) sink with water to scrub up some silverware and Mark was just getting in on the fun, multitasking by pulling the trash to take to the dumpster while preparing to take Moses outside a last time before bed.  Pulling the trash bag, Mark cut the top of his foot on a broken piece of glass in the trash bag.  The cut was small but pretty deep.  It happened really quite fast, but I left my post in the kitchen to bring Mark some first aid supplies in the bathroom, and there was some business dragging a chair back and forth so Mark could elevate his foot and... I forgot the stopper was in the sink and the water was still running.  I dashed back to the kitchen only to find the floor absolutely flooded.  the carpet that meets the linoleum floor was saturated, the silverware drawer was full of water and everything in our cabinet under that was wet.  Of course I turned off the water, and frantically started to sop up the mess.  I used nearly every towel we own, including 3 'dog' (older) towels, 4 bath towels, 6 beach towels and a plethora of hand towels.  Plus a wad of paper towels.  And couldn't soak up all the water in the carpet... it was a long night.  Never did quite finish the dishes, but Mark's foot seems to be okay (thanks for asking).

I didn't get any complaints from our neighbors today, so it seems I lucked out and our flood did not affect the apartment below ours.  However, in my grabbing towels from the linen cabinet and rushing back to the kitchen I did manage to break the door to our linen cabinet.  I am so upset with myself.  I suppose there's a possibility of a wood glue repair, and I am lucky I did not break the glass door, but... what a disaster.  There's still a fan targeted towards the wet carpet, a full bag of wet towels; let's not forget the original dirty dishes/kitchen, and Mark and I are exhausted today from the lack of sleep.

Today, I began researching renter's insurance.  Not sure if these types of issues would even be covered, but my eyes are opened to the silly little stupid mistakes that can cause a lot of damage.

Well, I better hop to the laundry.  I've got a lot of towels to wash.  Thank goodness tomorrow is the weekend.

Monday, April 22, 2013

farewell, old friend.

Our beloved family cat passed away today.  He just made it past his 18th birthday.  I'm so grateful for many years of laughing at his antics, snuggles with him, and his determinedness when it came to being pet.  Crazy how sometimes that used to drive me nuts.  I would give him all that and more now, if I could.  Bubba, we love you so.  Hope you're reunited with your brother Stinky (Socksy) now, curled up like yin and yang the way I remember you both best.  Farewell, old friend.  You are already missed.

Patches "Bubba" Din, 4/13/95- 4/22/13

Friday, April 19, 2013

{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, April 18, 2013

daddy's quilt

Daddy's quilt

This was a long time coming!

Mark and Moses enjoying the quilt before it's washed and mailed.

I 'gave' this quilt to my father for Christmas the first year Mark came home to Texas with me (2010).  At that time, it was a pieced quilt top and that was it.  Needless to say, my father was less than impressed with my unfinished gift.

Moses knows it's not for him...

I brought it back home to DC with me and it sat for a good long while on my shelf collecting dust.  Eventually (I don't remember when), I got around to doing the quilt sandwich and started stitching.  But my straight lines weren't straight and the quilt was doing that horrible shifty thing quilts sometimes do.  In frustration, I stuck it away for another long period of time.

Last fall, I finally dug it out again and spent several hours with my seam ripper.  I re-basted the quilt and then started the stitches again with my walking foot, this time, smooth as buttah. I bound it, washed it and mailed it to my dad this last Christmas.

I'm so glad it's finally done!  

I quilted dense straight lines across the white sashing approximately 1/4" apart.

The fabrics in this quilt are very meaningful to me.  I am certain most quilters have favorite fabrics that they love to work with. These blue batiks are cut from a few meters that I truly consider some of my most prized possessions. I purchased the fabric from a market in Yogyakarta when I lived in Indonesia almost 7 (!) years ago.  They were probably the most beautiful thing I brought home with me!  I'm sure you can find batik fabric online and in stores that is also lovely, but I still remember haggling with the vendor, adding more meters to drive the price down, stretching my Indonesian language skills, working my mental math muscles as quickly as possible in the dappled sunlight.  These hand printed batiks will be very slowly portioned out for only the most special projects until I can kembali (return) to Indonesia some day!

I love the fact that the quilting isn't perfect.

Although I was afraid I mailed it too late to arrive in time for Christmas, it did finally arrive on time (after being two years late, that is).  Anyway, my dad knows it was worth the wait!

keeping the back simple with a soft solid white sheet.

I got creative and quilted two concentric squares in each individual batik piece.  It was a little bit of a bear to keep rotating the quilt, but I was so happy with the finished product that it was totally worth it.

you can see the quilting I did in each of the squares between rows of sashing.

We couldn't get to Houston last year, my first Christmas away from my family (besides the one I spent in Indonesia). As Mark says, a quilt is like a warm hug.  I hope my dad feels that when he lays in his recliner under this quilt at night to watch TV.

happy quilt!

I was glad to see my dad using his quilt during my visit to Houston.  It is already well-loved!

love you, Daddy!  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

my mama's garden

Although those photographs might all look similar, there is actually very little overlap in the contents of each image.  I took all the images standing in one spot in the middle of my parents' backyard, rotating clockwise about 25 degrees each photo.  My mama's garden is a container garden full of more than 30 10-gallon pots.  Plus, a fig tree (far left) and some smaller pots for herbs (pictured separately, below).

Houston is very lucky to have such a long growing season.  Actually, the weather reasonably permits two whole growing seasons-- time to grow a whole set of plants and start over in the middle of the summer with a whole new set of plants.  In DC, we hadn't even begun our seeds yet (although we could have), and my mama's already eating zucchini she grew in the backyard.

aren't eggplant blossoms the prettiest?  and those dark purple stalks!

My mama's growing all my favorites.  She has over ten tomato plants, bell peppers, zucchini, squash, eggplant... if I were home, I would eat from her garden all summer (and spring and fall) long.

pepper blossoms
more tomatoes.  tomatoes are my favorite to grow, too.
yellow squash

Although I have successfully regenerated green onions in our apartment before, and I tried to start a pineapple plant, I'm amazed by the plants my family has cultivated from pits of food purchased at the grocery store.  Mangoes, avocados and I think my mama might've mentioned a guava?

incredible avocado plant grown from a pit
mango tree grown from a pit
all the herbs: cilantro, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and basil
even lemongrass!

Definitely makes me want to get my hands in the dirt!  Even though it's getting a bit late to start our plants from seed this year, we will definitely be doing our own container garden again.  I can't wait!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

oil ranch

Alanna, posing at the entrance to Oil Ranch
my sister Michelle, 'milking a cow'.  sort of.

Friday during my Houston trip, I accompanied my sister Michelle on my niece Alanna's field trip to Oil Ranch.  It wasn't exactly chaperoning, because this is pre-school and the parents almost outnumbered the kids.  But it was fun to be able to do something special with my niece (and my sister).

hen and eggs, being a chain link fence.
feeding the sheep.

Oil Ranch is part amusement park, part petting zoo/dude ranch.  It seems to be a popular spot for elementary school aged children and apparently corporate events?  They have tons of animals (donkeys, geese, chickens, bunnies, cows, donkeys, etc), offer pony rides, train rides, hay rides, and several other interactive children's activities.  It was not a hot day by Houston standards, but the sun was strong, and we really appreciated their picnic pavilions (where we ate our packed lunches)!

pony ride, anyone?
Alanna on a big horse

I really enjoyed watching Alanna be active and interact with other children.  She'll be starting kindergarten in the fall, and I am sure that she will do well in relationships with her teachers and classmates.

my niece and I at Oil Ranch - courtesy of Michelle Herrera

The day was fun, but tiring.  Did I really forget, after all my summers working with children in camps and the year I spent nannying, that children are a lot of work?  My niece was not high maintenance, and I did not even provide much direct care for her, but even trailing around after one child (with my sister) at Oil Ranch was exhausting.  I also got pretty sun burnt, so I must not be used to equatorial conditions anymore.  Or perhaps my whirlwind, less than 5 day trip to Texas had an impact on my energy level?  I didn't sleep in the same bed twice for the five days leading up to our field trip.  Yeah, let's go with that.

Alanna, milking a cow.  for real.

In any case, I already appreciate the memories from this day and hope I get to do something similar with my nephew David in the next few years!

Monday, April 15, 2013

faces from home

Coming home from a vacation is always difficult, but I smartly scheduled a midnight flight on a Sunday evening after a whirlwind trip-- and then an early morning Monday appointment.  Yikes.

While I'm getting my head on straight and jumping back into regular life, I'm going to look through these photos to bring a smile to my face.  Michelle won't like her photo, but we didn't get one together!  And I somehow missed photographing my dad altogether on this trip.  Guess I'll have to visit again soon!

my niece Alanna and I at Oil Ranch
my younger sister Erin and I
finally a good photo of me and my Mama!
my older sister Michelle
my sweet nephew David!

Friday, April 12, 2013

{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, April 11, 2013

last week's apple butterscotch walnut muffins

I made these muffins last week.  Most of them went in the freezer to be eaten in the future.  But, we did try one and they are delicious.  After I show you some photos, you will want to taste them.


First, the basic recipe comes from  I found the recipe and the blog via Pinterest.

you can see an apple chunk, butterscotch chips and a hint of a toasted walnut piece.

Aimee gives a basic oatmeal muffin recipe and then a list of stir-ins.  So really, if you have this recipe, you could make endless combinations of muffins and you may not need another muffin recipe!  She also gives many tips regarding muffin making, so you should head over to her blog for the recipe.

we didn't bother to peel the apples.  more nutrition that way.

The strangest thing about the recipe is that you soak oats in buttermilk for an hour before you begin.  But the muffins had great flavor and crumb, and I actually had buttermilk in my refrigerator that needed to be used up. Since we always have oats around in bulk (mostly for granola), we will probably be making these muffins again in the future.

although muffin liners are recommended, I didn't use any.  I just sprayed our pan well.

Our add-ins were 1/2c butterscotch chips, 1 large gala apple (diced), and 1/4c toasted walnuts.  We can't wait to eat these out of our freezer in the next few weeks!

our reheat plan: to pop a frozen muffin in the toaster oven until heated through.  delicious!