Happy Changes

Do you remember this advent calendar I made last Christmas to sell in my Etsy shop?

Well, I've been tinkering in the craft room and came up with a sister version that I've named "French Christmas House." (I don't know why, but it reminds me of a French house).

What do you think of it? I need some feedback before I make alot of these to sell at Christmastime.

And, good news: Lucy is feeling better! Thanks to some antibiotic eye drops and time, she has managed to mostly pull out of the pink eye phase.

And what better way to cheer yourself up than some homemade, home-ground, buttermilk whole wheat bread? I decided to start trying making our bread instead of buying it and it's actually working out pretty well. I had to find a recipe that made good sandwiches (I make Travis' lunch every day), and this one is the best so far. I make about two loaves a week. And what could be better than a hot slice of homemade bread with butter and homemade strawberry jam on it? It's pretty hard to beat.
An interesting note: it took us a long time to get to the point where Travis lets me make the bread for his sandwiches. All the homemade bread I've made up to this point was "fine for toast, but not for sandwiches." So I dug around the Internet and made several different recipes for him to try and we landed on this one. "It's the best so far," he says. I'll take it. It has some bread flour in it, but is mostly whole wheat flour. I don't know why, but I kind of consider it an honor that he eats my bread on his two sandwiches every day.


Poor Finn. He has had bump after bonk lately and it's starting to show. And speaking of bumps and bonks, I feel like I'm a little "banged up" too. The other night Travis brought up maybe staying here for an additional year (for what's like a dental residency), and it knocked the wind out of my sails. Here I was thinking we were halfway done with his schooling and being in the poor house and renting. Ha! Little do I know. And I think I've been feeling sorry for myself ever since. (It doesn't help that all three of my kids have some sort of sickness and Travis has been studying his brains out/gone alot lately). I know I need an attitude adjustment. Nothing I can buy or eat will help what I've got. I just need to buck up, accept things as they are and not as I think they should be. But it's so hard. Raising little kids is hard. Getting up at all hours of the night is hard. I know I have alot to be grateful for. I just feel a little stuck lately. This too shall pass, I know. My mind knows and my attitude doesn't yet.


Human Glue

The body is an amazing thing. Overnight it can create human glue to clamp an eye shut and then secrete more of the stuff throughout the day.

So what do you do when your daughter has pink eye (and you can't take her to the gym)?

You pack the baby on your back, put the kids in the double jogger and you go on a long walk around Shaker Lakes (with a stop to feed the ducks leftover sandwich crusts).


Volcanic Farms Pies Have Nothing on This One
I hate to say it, considering how easy the filling was to make (just flour, sugar and blackberries), but I don't even like pie and this was good. I wish I could serve up a slice a la mode for each of you readers. And, I can't take all the credit. If it weren't for Marc's 5 for $5 deal on the berries, this pie never would have made it into my oven in the first place.


Even Smaller Beginnings
Every year our anniversary comes during my favorite season without alot of ado, but this year, our FIFTH year, it seems like a big deal. Five years. That's longer than I went to college (okay, it really took me 6 years if you include my dual enrollment in community college and high school). And five years and three kids? That exhausts me just typing that. And when I married him, Travis was studying to become an electrical engineer. Little did I know that this hard-working, guitar-rocking young man would lead his family out to the "far side of the world" to Cleveland for four years. It has all been a process of faith. Faith when I accepted his proposal (wait, he never really proposed, but he did initiate marriage plans) that he would be the one for me for the rest of this life and eternity. Faith that he would provide for our growing family. Faith that he would be a loving Dad to our unborn children, and then faith that he would lead our little growing family as children came. And everyday I place greater faith in him. And he has never let me down in these huge matters. He is the Smashing Pumpkins to my Debussy, the calm to my compulsive storm, the patient to my out-of-whack-ness, the stable to my indecisiveness and the quiet to my incessant worry and talking. (He is also the handyman to my constant nesting instinct). After five years, I've learned to depend on him more, to understand him better and to know when to just let an issue drop. Here's to an infinite number of anniversaries to come!


Holding Tight
This drawing represents the single thing Travis has to do before finals week: study. Therefore, I have taken on a double portion of the parenting around here. And, I'm already sick of it. And, what do I do to bide my time? I bake. I've got four mini loaves of "The World's Best Banana Bread" baking in the oven (I kind of went against my internal mooring to never make anything that makes a claim for itself). And, I have a loaf of buttermilk whole wheat bread rising too. (I had some buttermilk and bananas that needed to be used pronto).
Some more questions I have for you readers:
1. What does a gal do if she's renting but still has an itch to "work on" her house?
2. Where is the best place to get a comfortable, durable t-shirt to sleep in?
3. Nuts or no-nuts in your banana bread?
4. Do bake sales do well at yard sales (with some cute kids to staff it)?


Are there foods that you enjoy so much, each bite is a sheer pleasure? It seems like eating with kids sometimes robs me of the full enjoyment eating can be; but last night I truly enjoyed my meal, grabby hands, spills, "more water please" and all. That's the beauty of falafels. For me, they are comfort food. The last one I had was in Boise last Summer at the Pita Pit and it was pretty good. (Nothing rivals the ones I ate in Israel ten Summers ago). And I actually found the recipe from the head chef at the Jerusalem Center. Go here for the recipes.
There are so many reasons to love falafels. First, they are relatively compact and easy to eat (it's all in the pita pocket). Second, they involve bread, which is one of my favorite foods to eat and make. Third, I love cumin. And, finally, the flavor is unbeatable. The tartness of the yogurt sauce blends so well with the chickpea/onion taste of the falafel.
So if you're new to falafels, give these a try. The alternative to making your own from scratch is to buy the boxed mix at the store (just add water) and the pitas from the bakery. You can't go wrong that route either.
What's been your experience with falafels?


Make and Sell

Today I'm making granola for Amy, the lucky giveaway winner.

I also had to make some for myself, because how could I not?

If you want to make some too, the recipe is here.

And yesterday I posted this bassinet on Craigslist.

I've used it with Lucy and Miles and now it's time to find it a new home. Let me know if you're interested (locals).


A Stitch in Time
Remember last Spring when I tried to sew these quilt squares together? (They are all from the 20's, hand cut). Well, once again, leave it to the Amish. I took them a box of fabric pieces and they gave me this a year later...

...a queen-sized double wedding ring quilt. Isn't it beautiful? There are 8,000 pieces in it, hours and hours of time in this quilt topper. She had to cut each piece down because the pieces I gave her were cut out wrong.

And, guess how much she wanted for her time?
That's right. Practically slave labor! I can't believe how well it turned out and that the top is actually finished. Those Amish, I tell you!


Feeding the Giant

We've been spooning lots of pureed food into Miles mouth lately. He's slowly getting the hang of it. He's gone from trying to nurse from the spoon to letting me shovel the stuff into his mouth. Isn't that how we all learn? Small incremental improvements day after day. And lots of falls and mishaps along the way.
Have a nice weekend. And don't forget to go here to enter my granola giveaway!


Do you find yourself stumped what to make for dinner when 3 o'clock rolls around? Do you get stuck in the same old grilled cheese sandwich rut time and time again? Does the thought of another can of chicken soup-themed main dish make you want to gag? Then, nutritious+delicious is the go-to blog for you.
I've teamed up with some friends and family to bring you healthy and appetizing recipes. And these aren't just any recipes. They have to fit strict criteria. Each recipe is tried-and-true, meaning it's held up to the cook's expectations for taste, prep time, and nutritional value. And while we're still in our infancy stage, the goal is for nutritious+delicious to be a large collection of trusted recipes that both taste good and are good for you.

So hop on over here to enter for a chance to win a fresh batch of delicious, healthy homemade granola shipped right to your door.
Happy Thursday!


On The Brain
It's been an interesting past couple of days for me, coming down with a hit-and-miss case of the flu (meaning it comes and goes when it pleases). One minute I'm fine, then last night, out of the blue, I wake up mid-sleep, feel like I'm going to faint, then just before I see the light at the end of the tunnel, I expel all the contents of my stomach. It was awful, yes, but I did feel much better afterwards. I'm feeling pretty good today, slightly tired and not a huge appetite (and, no, I'm not pregnant, and don't plan to be anytime soon).
So, that probably explains all the weird thoughts I've been having. Like, for example, how on earth do they turn corn syrup into whipped topping? And, I just had an impulse upon looking down at my untrimmed fingernails that if I didn't clip them now something drastic is going to happen. And, then I was making up some soup (the pour-it-in-the-pot-kind that I get in trouble from Travis for making because I don't follow a recipe) and I decided, what-the-heck, and threw in some fresh mushrooms. Looking at the soup, they do look kind of weird mixed in there with the other, more conventionally-soup-ish ingredients. Oh well. Chalk it up to being a half-crazed, half-ill mother of three who just needs a good shopping trip to Anthro and some new lounge pants.
Come back tomorrow for some exciting news!


Grandma's Attic Reunion

Back in the good ol' college days, back when living with roommates meant also co-habitating with their decorations, I lived in an apartment coined, "The G.A." My friend next door, Alyssa, called it that because my roommates liked to decorate with curio cabinets filled with plastic doll collections and doilies on the arms of the couches. There were countless potted plants that at one point I had to, shall we say, "tastefully edit down" in favor of a clear view out my living room windows.

We had alot of good memories in the days of the G.A. and it was fun to be reunited again last weekend with my salsa aficionado friend Alyssa, plus Sam, Mia and Eli, who were still glimmers in her eye when I knew her.
I was particularly amazed at how long her kids can play independently. These Duplos were the main attraction.

And this little Eli was the cutest little guest we've had here. I wanted to kiss his buttery soft skin everytime I saw him.

We were so glad that the Barlows came to visit us en route to their home in Connecticut. Let the G.A. rest in peace and the Chicken Coop flourish with more reunions in the future!


Easter Festivities
We had a fun and memorable Easter yesterday, which included lots of good food, little cuties hunting for Easter eggs and thoughts of the Savior and His role in our lives. I'm so glad that Spring is on it's way (hopefully...it's still cold here in Cleveland) and that there is Hope and a Way!


Almost One of Each: Ages 6, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0

Stay tuned for the full story of why there were six kids ages six and under at the Chicken Coop last night. Just imagine all the fun we had!



I have been reading this book lately, because I saw it on the counter at Amelia's when I was there earlier this year (you know you've got to read it if 1) the cover has such a great picture of lettuce on it and 2) your health-conscious friend is reading it).
At any rate, I cannot put it down. I stay up late reading, when I should be getting some shut-eye to prepare for the night-time feedings of baby Miles.
I think having kids and having to feed those kids all day has made me really search for what we should be eating. Last night as I read that a baby born in 2001 has a 1 in 3 chance of developing diabetes in his/her lifetime, it was all I could do to keep myself in bed and not go downstairs and make some whole wheat bread. I don't know why, but I just wanted to make something nourishing and not overly processed for my kids.
Anyways, I love learning about nutrition and I hope that what I'm learning can translate into what I do. (And I know you shouldn't believe everything you read either).
I do know one thing: ever since I cut off Lucy from fruit snacks, she's been stealing the other kids' at the gym. So, what do I do: give her what she wants or let her steal what she wants?
Ethical dilemma. I'm stumped.


From the 80's to Now


So I think I am almost done with this dining room table project (phew!). It has been an all-consuming thing, as dining room table projects are because the dining room table is the nucleus of our house activity in many ways (laundry piles, dinners, art projects, etc., etc., etc.).



{Done. Except I need to put some sort of anti-shine treatment on it.}
So, overall, I think the top color is a little too white and the whole thing is too shiny, but I think it looks better than it did. Who knows? Maybe I'll go back and just paint the entire top brown like the base. I've got a guy at Sherwin Williams looking into special ordering a flat polyurethane, which will help with the shine. Until then, I'm just going to use the table and be grateful this project is over (mostly, hopefully).


What Does It Take to Run 13.1 Miles?
Thanks to Hollie for the encouragement and the idea, I signed up and ran a half marathon this past weekend. It was windy, I got there seconds before the race started and I had to fidget around with Travis' MP3 player while running (which gave me some neck cramping and maybe a near stinger), but it was a great run. I have run this distance many times, but I haven't actually raced this distance since having kids. Leave it to some upbeat music, some packets of GU, and a little training and you get a great run.
To get through the long races, I like to make a game out of passing people. If possible, I use the running strategy my Dad taught me, which is: finish faster than you started. So my first mile was about 8:35 pace. When I get to about mile 7 or 8 I realized I had alot left in me, so I kicked it up a notch. Towards mile 10, I was feeling it in my knees and hips (I had only been training on a treadmill), but with the help of an awesome "Disturbia" remix, I managed to keep plugging away. Only one guy passed me and I tried to catch him, but he was clipping along faster than I was willing to go. So the last quarter mile I gave it my all, passing this guy about my age wearing an all black sweatsuit. I ended up finishing 3rd in my age group and I was shocked. My overall time was 1 hour, 44 minutes, plus a few seconds that I couldn't even be bothered with at the moment.
I thought about alot of things while I was running. How good it felt to not be pregnant and running. How good it felt to not be pushing a heavy jogging stroller. How funny a man's shirt was that said, "Run like a God." In a way, running makes you feel like a god. A god because you conquer the weakness of your body and you endure in strength. And those endorphins probably help too.
At any rate, it felt good to finish something I started merely hours before (unlike child-rearing where the results come years, maybe lifetimes later). I love the feeling after a run where the sweat is dripping off of you and your body aches and you know you've tried your best. Then you eat bagels and bananas and life goes on just as it had before.


Pixie Dust, Fairy Glitter and Gerber's Rice Cereal

We got some happy mail today in the form of a package from Grandma Scrimsher. Inside (among other things): some fairy hair glitter.

I had to pry it out of Lucy's hands before I put her down in her crib for her nap today. She loves it. She has a little in her hair and then the most, well, yes, you can see: on her cheeks.

Then yesterday Finn concocted this giant tower around Miles. If you look closely, you can see a little wide-eyed baby under the laundry basket.

And, solids! Miles got his first experience with solid foods this week. He still has no idea what the stuff is and why anyone would prefer it to breast milk, but he gets better and better each day taking it in. Today he just splurted it back out at me, spraying his periphery with little white dots. I had forgotten how messy it can be feeding solids to a 5-month-old!


Trip Down Memory Lane

I used to go to Shep Studio in college when I wanted to spend alot of money to get a great cut and color. (I still want to name one of our kids Shep because I love the name!) I was so happy to see another blogger post about him. It was like a trip back to my Provo days, 7 years ago.
{Images via Stephmodo}