Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Simply Lovely, no. 20




She said to me, "I didn't know that moths could be so beautiful,"
after this little discovery at church on a Sunday morning.
I love how children see wonder and beauty in nature…even simple things become lovely.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

July 4th through the years...


This weekend, as we celebrated our nation's birth and our freedom, I looked back at older pictures that documented the day. 

I love the way an annual celebration is recorded with a few snapshots…it's so special to look back and see growth and change and what remains the same. 

I noticed gaps in our July 4th photographs…years we moved on July 4 (last year), years where we just didn't pull out the camera, and Hadleigh's first celebration which I know we took but is missing in our digital archives. Hmmm. It's fun to see all the different cities and states where we've celebrated our country.

2005 Wichita Falls, TX (and pregnant with Nathanael)

2007 Wichita Falls, TX (and pregnant with Madeleine)

 2008 family reunion in Missouri

2009 Asheville, NC

 2010 Enid, OK

 2011 Enid, OK

2012 Asheville, NC

2014 our current backyard :)

I hope you had a wonderful Independence Day!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Independence Day Sponge Balls


In preparation for a dinner party we're hosting for friends for Independence Day tomorrow, the kids and I put together an old favorite summer project from several years ago.

If you're looking for a last minute 4th of July amusement to keep the kids (or adults) cool and having fun, this is the project for you! All you need are sponges, scissors, and dental floss. (You will want 2-3 sponges and 15 inches of floss per sponge ball.)

I was excited to find packages of red, white, and blue sponges at our local Dollar General. (I bought all they had!)


1. Cut each sponge lengthwise in half. Then cut each half lengthwise again, so that you have four equal pieces, as pictured above.


2. Divide your sponge pieces so that you have a variety of colors (if you wish) in each ball. I'd recommend anywhere from 6 to 12 pieces each. (Several years ago, we used 12 each. This year 6-7, as we needed to make more balls for the number of guests we will have.)


3. Cut a length of dental floss, about 15 inches long.  Take the sponges and grasp them tightly at the base, so that the midpoint of the sponges is just above your hand. Wrap the floss tightly around the center of the sponges 2 to 3 times, then tie securely.


4. You will then need to twist and "fluff" the sponge ball. Pictured above is what they look like after being tied (left) and after being fluffed (right). Gently pull the ends of each sponge towards each other and twist until the shape is rounded and full.


5. Repeat until you have completed all your sponge balls. Cut excess dental floss, about 1.5 inches from the knot. Soak balls in a bucket of water or kiddie pool and watch the fun begin!

Monday, June 30, 2014

June in pictures



Afternoon tea with the girls and Mom at the Inn on Biltmore Estate 
while in Asheville


Celebrating Mom's birthday with a hike to Pearson's Falls and Caramel Cream Cake


Splashing. Swimming lessons in Asheville & our traditional trip 
to Table Rock falls with cousins


Visiting the farm on Biltmore Estate and falling in love with newborn goats


Really good food.


A fire scare with our refrigerator (which turned out to be fine) & Sonic shakes


 Watching the life cycles of caterpillars


Trip to Charlotte for the Inkwell Family Conference & a few trips to Dean & Deluca while there


 Another VBS week=time for me to cut baby clothing into quilt squares &
watching two nests of eggs in Asheville hatch, 
thanks to grandmothers, Instagram updates, and email!

What have you been up to this past month?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

My Summer Fun List!


In addition to the fun things in store for us as a family this summer, I also have a list of my own summer pursuits. I am really enjoying these laid-back days…watching the kiddos play and get creative with their time…and finding longer stretches of time to indulge my own creative ideas!


Here's what's on my list for this summer:


  • reading. Lots of reading. I'll be back next week with a post about what books are on my summer shelf!
  • quilting! A good friend this past year has completed two quilts using her children's baby clothes. I am in the midst of cutting lots and lots of six-inch squares…and pretty soon, I'm going to be using that gorgeous pincushion above while stitching them all together. (Pincushion was made  by my sweet friend, Jen Kershner. She is full of inspiration!) I've never quilted before…and most of my sewing projects have included only simple straight lines, so I'll keep you posted. But I am SO excited about this project.
  • writing. I'm hoping to start a steady writing routine. I used to write all the time in my pre-mothering days. I feel that desire beginning again. 
  • art. There are a few things that I've put off trying. Watercolor. Letterpress. Calligraphy. In the last year or so, I've taken some classes and acquired supplies. I generally get discouraged from trying because of the preparation involved and mess that accompanies these…but I think it's time to put them to use!
What are you hoping to begin or begin again this summer? I'd love to hear all about it! And now, I'm off to cut more fabric while my kiddos are at VBS! Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Eat your cauliflower. And broccoli.

For the last eight months, we've been enjoying being a part of Local Organic Moms. They deliver fresh (mostly local) organic fruits and vegetables (as well as some other items that we haven't ordered yet, like meats, eggs, cooking oils, etc.) in the Georgia area.



My favorite thing about ordering through LOM (besides the adorable crates the food comes in) is trying out new-to-me vegetables. Rutabaga? Check. Chard? My new favorite. Kale, bok choy, mustard greens. All new things we're trying as a family (and mostly loving!)

A few weeks ago, cauliflower was one of our choices and despite knowing Brent's disdain for the veggie, I decided to order some and try out a Pinterest recipe or two with it. They say it makes a great substitute for mashed potatoes, you know. (Still haven't tried that yet.)

I came upon a roasted cauliflower recipe that was an instant winner. As in, we couldn't stop eating it, Brent included. I've since adjusted the recipe to what I generally have on hand, and we have been adding cauliflower into our veggie rotation regularly. Sometimes we throw broccoli into this recipe too, since the kids still like it a little more than its
white look-alike. :)


Roasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, trimmed at base
1 head broccoli
1 small yellow onion, sliced thinly and broken into rings
4-6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c parmesan cheese, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a sheet of parchment on a rimmed baking sheet.

2. Using a large knife, slice cauliflower and broccoli in 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices, slicing from top down. Some pieces will break apart, some will stay in a "slice". Use all of it.

3. In a large mixing bowl, toss veggies and onions with olive oil. Place on prepared baking sheet. Add garlic and thyme to baking sheet.

4. Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes, stirring halfway through and as needed, until the vegetables begin to brown nicely. Sprinkle cheese over vegetables and return to the oven for 5-7 minutes.

5. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A new favorite!


About a month or so ago, I realized that I had never served quiche to our children! I grew up with quiche occasionally for dinner…and I had made them when we were newlyweds, but I was surprised when one of our kiddos asked me what a quiche was!


I found a recipe that I love…and tweaked it a bit (along with a sweet friend's piecrust recipe) to make it my own. I hope that you'll enjoy it just as much as our family! One thing I love about quiche for dinner is that it makes for delicious breakfast leftovers!

Ham and Onion Quiche

1 pie crust (recipe follows) Also delicious with store-bought pie crust.
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch green onion, thinly sliced
1 Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
6-8 oz. ham, diced
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced thinly (I use what I have on hand: crimini, shiitake, baby bellas all work well)
2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 eggs
1/8 tsp nutmeg
3 oz Gruyere, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Prepare pie crust according to directions below in a deep pie dish. Bake piecrust for 12 minutes, covered with foil; then bake for 5 minutes uncovered. Allow to cool completely.

3. In a saute pan, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add all the onions to the pan, stirring occasionally until they begin to caramelize, about 8-10 minutes. Add in the ham, mushrooms, thyme and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 8-10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Removed from heat and allow to cool slightly.

4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk cream, eggs, 1/4 tsp salt, and nutmeg until combined. Stir in just over half of the grated gruyere.

5. Pour onion mixture onto the pie crust. Pour egg mixture over the onions and top with remaining cheese. Place the pie dish on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown and set, about 40-50 minutes. (Start checking on the quiche around 35 minutes…but mine always takes longer to be cooked in the center.) Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly, about 5-10 minutes, before serving.

Pecan Piecrust

1 c flour
1 c shredded cheese (sharp cheddar or gruyere, depending on quiche)
3/4 c chopped pecans
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/3 c oil

1. Mix flour, cheese, pecans, salt, and paprika together in a medium bowl. Add oil and stir well.

2. Press against bottom and sides of pie plate. Bake at 350 degree for 12 minutes. Cool completely.


Friday, June 06, 2014

Summer Fun List 2014



The last few years, the kiddos and I have started our summer by going out to breakfast or lunch the last day of school and writing a summer fun list.

Here's our list for this summer so far:


  • make homemade ice cream
  • swim
  • Vacation Bible School
  • hold a swinging contest
  • swimming lessons
  • hold "Little One"…our nephew/cousin who is due to be born in July!
  • buy a cold treat from the ice cream truck
  • draw a chalk mural on the driveway
  • Big Summer Road Trip
  • plant a garden
  • play in the sprinkler
  • tea party 
  • water balloons
  • visit the Aquarium in Atlanta
  • build a Lego sports arena
  • go to the park
  • build our neighborhood out of Legos
  • meet Daddy for lunch
  • make bird feeders
  • go to the library
  • play with cousins
  • pick peaches
  • Star Wars origami
  • have a "Viking Minute" dinner
  • pick blueberries
  • go on a picnic
  • go bowling
  • attend a baseball game
  • bake
  • make a playhouse
  • have a football game with friends
  • go golfing
So far, we have planted a garden, gone to the library, and we're halfway through VBS this week!

What is on your Summer Fun List this year?


Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Hello again…and hello Summer!



After weeks of FEELING like summer was already here…hot Georgia weather, dwindling school motivation, mini vacations, etc…the calendar finally says June, and our summer has officially begun!

While summer seems to be the time when the internet pace slows…it seems to me to be the perfect time to return after an unexpected, unannounced, but much needed break from blogging.

Usually our winter/springs have been very slow-paced, but this year, in this season of life, we have had much on our plate. Though I didn't intend to be silent here for four months, it has allowed time for other things to be accomplished…our homeschool routine has improved greatly, we've made big strides in our journey of adoption, and I'm finally feeling settled into our life in Georgia.

So I hope you'll join me here again in this space…and I hope your summer is off to a fun start!


 

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