Saturday, February 27, 2010

February 27: I love

a simple Lenten meal. I love cooking, and am prone to try to have something new and delicious and time-consuming on the table when Ben gets home. But in getting swept away by my interest in food, I often forget how simple a meal can be-- how simply the majority of the world eats on a daily basis. Last night we had Ramen noodles for dinner, and it was entirely adequate and good. Every member of the family had some, it filled our tummies, and there was none left over. I am thankful to have a season in which I remember the abundance that can be present in scarcity.

Friday, February 26, 2010

February 26: I love

finding a place where we can burn off some of our pent up winter energy. Our local community center hosts an "open gym" every Friday, and it is amazing: trikes, balls, all our friends from the neighborhood, and lots of kids. A bit crazy, but pure physical fun.
And I caved and joined a gym, too. I'm not crazy about it (who would run inside when you can run in fresh cold air), but I have been loving having half an hour to run off some energy inside while the kids are well taken care of (while our snowy sidewalks are thawing), and am very excited about the yoga class.

How have you been burning your pent up energy?

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

February 25: I love

our neighborhood coffee shop. Here in our town, local coffee shops are not a dime a dozen... in fact, as far as I know, this one is it. I love that it has funky art, that it has kids toys in the back (and no one yells at you if your kid happens to wander back into the kitchen... often). I love that Sammy the owner is always complaining about something, that he lights up when our little family schlepps in. I love the sweet older man who plays his guitar there for children. It really has this wonderful neighborhood feel, and it's always a joy to drop in, or when the weather warms up a bit, walk down. Even though we haven't been able to go to one yet, I love that it has folk and bluegrass concerts in the evenings (note to self: find a babysitter. Go to one of these.) And, of course, I love the coffee itself.

Don't forget to check out what everyone else is loving through my love button. I believe Kerry is hosting a little giveaway.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

February 23: I love

silhouettes. They're so lovely and elegant and classy. When I saw these silhouettes, I knew that I wanted to do something similar for our family-- make a silhouette of each person so that we can remember how they are at this moment. And with a few clicks around on the Internet (what would I do without you?), I discovered that it's quite easy to do using Photoshop (or in our case, our linux equivalent... yeah, I am married to a computer guy). So here's our first silhouette, me. I made mine on the computer, printed it, and then cut it out of black construction paper. Hopefully I'll upgrade to some fancier black paper next time I go to the paper store. I think I might add some pearls around my neck. Ben is coming soon, and those two sweet girls of mine as soon as I remember to take a profile picture of them when they're awake.

Now I need to find some funky vintage frames at the thrift store like this or this or this.

And for the record, my silhouette is definitely not going to be hanging over the mantle permanently! I just haven't figured out where, and the babies are napping so I can't nail any holes in the wall at this moment so I subbed it in for existing artwork (a silhouette of birds, actually). Perhaps in the hallway?

Monday, February 22, 2010

February 22: I love

learning things from the internet. So here is my attempt at giving a little back to the web that has given me so much... a pierogis tutorial.

Most of you have probably had pierogis before. What you may not know is that you can be quite flexible with the filling. "Milk Bars," which are wonderful Polish restaurants that serve lots of quick vegetarian fare will have pierogis filled with potatoes, cheese, fruit, mushrooms. Polish cooking is big on winging it... it's not uncommmon for a recipe to just say something like, "add flour," assuming that the cook knows what consistency to look for. I'll give you a bit more than that, but the key is to improvise, especially with the filling.

Start with:
some sort of filling and some dough. The recipe for the dough is:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 egg
2 T sour cream
1/2 cup lukewarm water.
Mix ingredients and knead. Cover in a bowl for around 30 minutes (enough time to make your filling).

Next, make your filling. Our favorite is some sauteed mushrooms, onions, and minced chicken with a spoonfull of sour cream and salt. Other common fillings are mashed potatoes with onions, farmers cheese, or fruit.

Now roll out your dough until it's a nice big sheet and as thin as you can get it:

Cut your dough into a circle. You can either do this with a glass or one of
these nifty pierogi molds.
Take your circle, fill it with a teaspoon of your filling, brush the edge with a bit of whisked egg yolk and then fold over (the mold has a hinge that will do that for you). Press thoroughly around the edge.

See? There it is! Almost done.

We had some extra dough, so we also made some filled with blueberries (just plain old frozen blueberries... no sugar necessary). Delicious!

Next, fry them in a little bit of oil (just a tablespoon or so), and sprinkle with some coarse salt. We will often serve them with a little sour cream on the side and some vegetables. The fruit pierogi are delicious sprinkled with a little sugar.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

February 20: I love

going out for a one-on-one date with my 2-year old. She kept repeating "Just the two of us" throughout the trip to Trader Joe's... in the car... purchasing food... in the checkout line. Looking up smiling and saying, "Just the two of us, mom." I was happy, too. It's not everyday that I get to put sunglasses on a stuffed pony purse in the checkout line to roaring laughter.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

February 20: I love

having Mr. Collins all to myself. What can I say, I'm selfish. And after a morning of coffee, browsing through lovely shops, trying on clothes for an audience, and stealing kisses, my heart is quite full.

Friday, February 19, 2010

February 19: I love

the rhythm and regularity of the liturgical seasons: Advent, Lent, that enigmatic "ordinary time." I wish I could say I observe them all with regularity. I don't. But it is a huge gift for them to be available, year after year, like trusty old friends, granting the opportunity for growth, reflection, renewal. I've had a love-hate relationship with Lent and still question "giving something up" (I'm doing it this year, reservations and all), the self-doubt that Lent seems to usher in. But my spirit has been leaning into the bareness, the scarcity of Lent, and so I'm letting it lead me in, unsure of where I will end up.

Above: some pretzels that Ben cooked up while I was out for a walk with Zosia and our dog Selma last night. One of the many reasons I love that man... his ability to let the creative spirit move (have I told the story of when child Ben sewed a full set of overalls for his bear while his mom and dad were at a teacher conference? Remind me to tell that sometime). Did you know that pretzels were originally a lenten food, and the three loops stood for the three members of the trinity? And, according to our trusty friend wikipedia, pretzels were believed to bring "luck, prosperity, and spiritual wholeness." Now I won't feel guilty about having had seconds.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

February 18: I love

being attached to my two little girls. As in, lugging a 25 pound 10-month old on my back all morning while I do chores. Lily and I have a standing date around 10 each morning in her carrier (usually strapped to my back) while I tidy the house, start some dishes, vacuum, start some laundry. As long as she's in the backpack I can't put her down, so I think I've been a more productive housewife than usual. Yesterday Zosia and I even made some banana muffins (heart shaped, too... wish I had snapped a picture before they got eaten up) while Lily was hanging out in the pack.

Lily spent many a day as a newborn being carried around. For a little while there I thought that she had outgrown it for good. But it seems as if being attached-- including getting into our bed, nursing through the day, and being carried around-- is here to stay for the time being. Will I be lugging her around through her teen years? Someone please tell me no. But in the mean time I'm enjoying all of this closeness and praying that my back holds up.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

February 16: I love

another wonderful online sewing tutorial that yielded... a twirly skirt! True to the name, this skirt has been in (nearly) perpetual motion since completion. It was very quick to sew, and very "finished" looking. I'm loving the red fabric with white polka-dots, too... very 1950s-esque.

I'm looking for another sewing project! Any recommendations?

Monday, February 15, 2010

February 15: I love

my first set of china! Purchased for 25 bucks from the thrift store this morning... but still, I feel cultured and lady-like... I'm short a couple of big plates, but I'm hoping that since they're white, I'll be able to find some similar enough to pass. Should I have a debutante tea party?

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

February 14: I love

Sunday mornings. Having an excuse to put on a nice pair of shoes. Spending time in a community of support where our faith is deepened and our ability to extend ourselves in love is expanded. Eating a delicious hot breakfast in the church hall afterwards (doesn't food always taste better when someone else makes it?). And now, the sound of Ben turning the pages of the Sunday paper from his favorite seat in the house. And it's official: I have been asked to be someone's Valentine. How lucky.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

February 13: I love

a romantic dinner at home, waited on by two very small and cute girls. Last year Ben and I miraculously got away overnight-- our first (and only) solo overnight trip between the births of Zosia and Lily... I was something like seven months pregnant with Lily, but it didn't keep us from having a lovely little trip. This year, we set our sights on something a little more do-able when you have a 10-month old nursing infant on your hands, but our hiking/brunch date got snowed out two weekends in a row. Tonight, we settled for a little Valentines day celebration at home, which proved lovely: a fire, some wine, some homemade pierogies, which I taught Zosia how to make. And a box of chocolates. There may or may not be one missing from the top right hand corner.... strange.

Wishing you a wonderful Valentine's day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

February 12: I love

the journey of the creative spirit. We have recently started allowing Zosia to use our point and shoot on a somewhat limited basis... and I have started looking forward to reviewing the pictures she's taken at the end of the day. It almost reminds me of those little cameras that they strap on cats for a day-- and the amazing adventures these cameras document. Here are a few shots from a day in the life of a two year old.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

February 10: I love

Indoors: the result of a baking/cooking flurry that resulted in three days of precooked meals. Sometimes weather changes impact me like that. These are strawberry shortcake thumbprints.. yum.

And outdoors: it's still snowing... although not with the magnitude I had imagined. The wind makes everything look a hazy white. We have power, food, and lots of crafting supplies, and for that I am deeply grateful.

How are you weathering the storm? Don't forget to check out the month of love by clicking the love button!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

February 9: I love

Some of you may remember when I said I was going to sew a dress. It seemed laughably impossible and I didn't think I was going to be able to do it. After one weekend afternoon working with my sister I felt discouraged: one beginner's mistake after another made the idea of making a dress seem ridiculous. I couldn't even figure out how to cut the fabric, for goodness sake. The tension was off on my machine, and it just wasn't happening.

I decided to take a step back, take a break, and try again in a few weeks. Luckily, in that time I managed to score a supposedly "easy" pattern from the thrift store, decided to make my first dress using a bedsheet and not actual valuable fabric, and figured out how to fix the tension. So when I took my second attempt at the project it was actually stress free... especially since I forced myself to think of it as merely a "practice dress".

So here's my very first dress. My practice dress. It looks sort of retro, don't you think? Like something you would wear while waiting tables at a diner. I'm happy to report that it was only a two-naptime project (a "naptime unit", in our household, being around an hour and a half to two hours on a good day). But I haven't sewn in a zipper yet, so I guess it's not technically "done" quite yet.

So, for today: I love the dress, I love that it has pockets, I love that I learned all sorts of things like how to sew "darts" while making it, I love that I can easily make another dress just like it in another fabric sometime, and I love that for that next time I have lots of little things I will do differently. And I think most of all I love learning something new and having something concrete to show for it.

Now if it would only warm up enough so I could actually wear the dress (who said I can't wear it just because it's a practice dress :-)... and with that, I'm back to stockpiling the house for the next storm that is barreling our way as we speak. Stay warm, everyone!

Monday, February 8, 2010

February 8: I love

the way that natural light transforms from season to season. This bright white layer of snow has transformed everything: shadows, the quality of light streaming in the window, the color of skin and sky outside. It feels like I'm seeing the world through newly tinted glasses-- or more like I'm seeing the world without any glasses at all for the first time in months. I was struck by the long dark zebra stripes across my backyard this morning-- white snow and black shadows of those poplar trees that tower over us. I must say that I am humbled and awed by the beauty and variety of creation-- constantly something to delight in.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

February 7: I love

staying warm and cozy inside when all you can see from your front door is a huge pile of white. I love the picture of Lily, because apparently when Ben handed her the headband she, without hesitation, put it on her neck like this and left it there. As if this is exactly what should be done with a headband (I can picture her thinking, "See, mom and dad! I can do it just like my sister!")
And we are holding up just fine in this snow-- thanks to the company of some wonderful neighbors, a lot of hot chocolate, and a pile of firewood that my dad miraculously delivered right before the storm. Thank you all for your concern!

Friday, February 5, 2010

February 5: I love

Sledding. Which is perfect, because we have a couple feet of snow piling up as I write. Here are a couple of shots from some sledding on Wednesday:

Our little peanut, brave as they come, doing a little restorative yoga after going down this:

The very biggest hill in the area. Doesn't look too big, but you literally go airbound... and our Zosia was the smallest one by a couple heads.

And, despite my usual reservations about going quickly down anything that resembles a hill, I went sledding too (not on the big hill, mind you). And I laughed so hard that my belly hurt. I am also learning to love new things.

Don't forget to click on my love button to see all the love that is in the air. And I have finally gotten around the updating my inspiration list... still a work in progress, but a more accurate representation of where I spend my own blog browsing time these days. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

February 4: I love

dinged up shabby furniture. I love the way it warms up a space, and don't mind if the children run into it. Remember when I said I was planning on buying an old dresser and then refinishing it? A couple of months back I did find the dresser for fifty bucks on craigslist... quit distressed, not only when we purchased it, but after a rough and tumble trip back to our house. Now I just need to refinish it. Even though I have grown fond of the antique green color, I think it needs something just a tad toned down: a fresh coat of silver sage paint, the same color as my kitchen walls.

Click on my snazzy love button to the right to track more love in this month of love.