On a Hill Far Away...

I love Easter. I love everything about this coming holiday (even the big bunny and the colored eggs), but most of all, I love the Christian meaning of Easter…

For me (and my family) Easter Sunday has always been synonymous with church services and thankful, grateful worship. Easter church services always seem so cheery to me (as they should). It is after all, a celebration! Some of the best hymns are dusted off and happily sung on Easter. My favorite songs are old standards like “He Arose”, “The Old Rugged Cross” & “He Lives”. I love old hymns anyway, but hearing these sung (and joining in, of course) always gives me a little thrill.

During the late 70's/early 80's (I was in grade school), my family lived on a little farm, and we attended a tiny country church. The church was frequented by several farm families who lived nearby. The building itself was very small – just one large room actually. The majority of that room was used for the main service and also for adult Sunday School. There was an upright piano and a simple pulpit toward the front. There were several rows of wooden pews and then some tables were at the back. The tables were used for children’s Sunday School classes (unless the weather was lovely – and then we’d sometimes go to the picnic tables outside). A tidy little outhouse was in the backyard between the church and a well kept cemetery. I know that it probably does not sound like much, but it was a wonderful place to learn and love and grow.

Even though the church was small, and often informal… everyone dressed up for Easter Sunday. I remember some years getting shiny new Mary Janes and a little white hat and a frilly dress. I was a tomboy generally, but Easter was one time my dear Mom could usually convince me to look “girly”.

My Dad was the song leader during most of our years at that church, and he would lead us in singing those old songs whether or not we had a piano player present for the service. It was there, in that simple one-room country church, that my love of old hymns was born. It’s that love of the old time songs that makes me now insist on going to the early morning “traditional service” at our current (big city) church. I just prefer singing songs found in hymnals. Yes, we tend to be the only folks under 60 that go to that service, but I don’t care. It’s worth it to hear (and sing) the songs I love. They bring to mind memories of a long ago place and time that I hope never to forget.

That old one-room church still stands in its quiet grove of trees on a hilly country road, but no regular services are held there now as far as I know. The families of my childhood have grown up and moved away, or have found new church homes to call their own. I believe there is still the occasional “Homecoming” service and maybe it’s used for weddings or funerals, but otherwise, it’s quiet.

Except in my mind… where I still see that little building pulsing with life, children and parents happily crowding onto hard wood pews, greeting each other warmly, and when the time comes - bellowing out in their sometimes off-key voices….

“He lives, He lives,
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life's narrow way.
He lives, He lives,
Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.”

I wish for you a very happy Easter filled with all the things you hold dear! God bless.

Pictures: bing images (unfortunately I don't have a photo of the actual church I attended as a child - but this one is close)


Pure Joy

Look at this face....

This is Willie after he discovered he could operate the "Jack in the Box" at Grandpa H's all by himself this weekend!

It's funny... but Dan and I tend to feel this kind of joy on a daily basis these days. Just watching our little Wills grow into the fabulous individual he is fast becoming - is pure joy!

We are so blessed!


Tart Berry Pie

If you'll remember from this post, I've been thinking about pie a lot lately. Craving it really.

This past weekend the perfect pie-making opportunity occurred - a trip to see my parents. My Dad is quite the pie connoseur, so I knew that the effort would not be a waste on him. An added benefit is that Dan and I are truly trying to watch what we eat and therefore didn't need a yummy homemade pie sitting around tempting us.

After I had written about pie on this blog, I'd received many different suggestions for new recipes. One in particular seemed intriguing... Bumbleberry Pie. Mmmm, doesn't that sound mouth wateringly wonderful?

Well, I sure thought it would be tasty... but I hated buying all those ingredients. As much as I love pie, I also love baking on the cheap. I decided to make my own multi-berry pie. I wanted limited sugar because I like tart fruit pie. I wanted a yummy buttery crust. So I thought about it for a bit and decided on the following:

I used the "All Butter Pie Crust" from PIE. It's not the easiest pastry to roll and work with, but tastes heavenly (not at all healthy mind you, but it has an amazing butter flavor).

Carefully fold together:
  • 1 large can of blueberry pie filling
  • 2 cups rinsed whole blackberries
  • 1 T raspberry jam
  • 1 T blackberry jam

1. Set the above berry mixture aside.

2. Thinly slice fresh strawberries (need about 2 cups of slices)

3. Roll bottom crust and lay in bottom of deep pie dish.

4. Place a layer of the strawberry slices across the pastry in the pie dish

5. Pour berry mixture over strawberry slice layer

6. Top with a second layer of the sliced strawberries and top with top pie crust. seal & crimp.

7. Bake as directed on pie filling can.


The "W" on the top of my pie was for Willie of course. This was his first taste of pie. He liked it (as we all did) by the way.

my only complaint was that the filling was runny, and when a slice was removed from the pie plate, it fell flat a bit (see below). Next time (and yes, there will be a next time - this was a yummy pie) I'll thicken the filling.


A New Purse!

Recently I decided it was time for a new purse, but I was conflicted. No matter how many shops I visited… I just couldn’t find anything that was right for me.

I was ready to give up when a friend suggested I check out Etsy. I hadn’t ever looked at purses there before and was amazed at the selection. – especially the hand made ones. I loved the idea of having a one-of-a-kind bag, but don’t consider myself skilled enough to make it myself. Etsy offered the perfect solution. If you haven’t been there for a look, take some time to browse. You won’t be sorry.

I looked and I looked. I tagged more than twenty as “favorites” but could not decide which to choose. I loved the floral fabric on one, the bold jewel tones on another, the roominess of a third and so on. There wasn’t just one that met all of the criteria on my wish list.

I was on the verge of giving up, when I heard that a co-worker makes purses in her spare time. I sought her out, and told her what I was looking for. She said she’d love to help.

I sketched out a rough drawing showing her what I was hoping for.

We went shopping at a local craft store and found this upholstery fabric (half price, thank you very much) which I just love! The colors are probably more suited to fall than spring, but I don’t care. It is almost exactly what I was envisioning.

So, she took the fabric, and my little drawing and worked on it for a couple of weeks in her spare time, and this is the end result:

It’s enormous (which is perfect for me – I tend to tote around a lot of odds and ends). It had a nice long shoulder strap and pockets inside. It has a snap closure which is exactly what I wanted for easy access to all my goodies.

I really couldn’t be happier, and already I’ve had several total strangers (and many friends) comment on it. Hurrah! The perfect purse made just for me, and it’s even one of a kind. Doesn’t get much better than that!

Dan, of course, can't understand why I needed ANOTHER purse.... and maybe "need" wasn't the right word, but I did want one, and I'm very happy this is the one I ended up with!


Apron Strings

I love aprons. I love the feeling of nostalgia that comes over me when I put one on. I love how an apron is both functional and pretty at the same time. I feel like I’m carrying on a family tradition when I tie the sash. My Mom wears aprons. My Grandmothers both did. I’m sure their Moms did before them. I think that it serves as a nice connection to those ladies both past and present.

I have several aprons to choose from. Many of them I have had for years. Others are newer. My favorites are the bib type and I like pockets. Last Christmas I made a little apron for Will. As I was finishing it up, I decided I’d like to make one for myself too…. Because, after all one can never have too many aprons, right?

As I often do, when starting a new project, I decided to use only fabric and supplies that I had on hand. I wanted something bold and fun. I dug through my fabric chest and came up with two prints that I liked, and which were similar in color scheme. The red was one that I’d bought for a project that never panned out. The yellow was the fabric I used to re-upholster my kitchen chairs a few years ago. I had plenty of both, so I got to work. I didn’t have a pattern handy, so I just made my own by tracing around one of the aprons I have that I’ve always liked wearing.

I started out just applying the pockets by hand, fully intending to finish it off with my machine. After a bit I decided to just do the whole thing by hand as my machine has some tension issues at the moment, and I have not yet taken the time to make necessary adjustments. Also, I really love doing hand work. I find it to be relaxing and fun. The drawback of course, is that it took much longer than if I’d whipped it up with the machine. This wasn’t a huge issue though, as a new apron clearly wasn’t a dire need.

So, I took my time and made design decisions as I went along. I wanted a cell phone pocket on the bib (yes I know, THAT isn’t something my Grandmother would have wanted – but times, they are a’changing). A plain pocket seemed boring to me, so I brought out my jar of buttons and found a bunch of red ones, situating them to form a big “C”. My husband asked, “Do aprons usually have unnecessary buttons on them?” I replied that since this one was to be a fun apron for yours truly, it didn't matter what other aprons usually have. I quite enjoyed the idea of having a decorative button monogram front and center.

I didn not take any pictures during the process of putting this all together, but here are some of the finished product. It is bold, but I like it. Wearing it makes me enjoy my kitchen tasks even more than usual, and I’m very pleased with the end result.

full view:

There is just something about an apron. Something old fashioned and comforting. Wearing my apron sooths me. It brings to mind the feeling of being hugged by my Mom in her kitchen...surrounded by the fragrance of baking biscuits and frying bacon. It is a reminder of home, of family, of long standing traditions... It may also be terribly silly, but when something as simple as an apron can conjure up such wonderful images, is it any surprise that I love wearing it so much?

and here Will and I are modeling our new aprons. Oh what fun we're going to have in the kitchen! There are so many memories ahead, just waiting to be made.


Sweet Potato Corn Chowder

My office is a pretty fun place to work. (Note that though I say “my office”, what I’m really saying is “the office in which my cubicle is located”). We have a laid back atmosphere and a fairly casual dress code. There is always something going on and everyone has a pretty fun time. One of the things I look forward to every week during the colder months is “Soup Day” which is every Friday during winter. Each week co-workers take turns bringing in big pots of soup to share with everyone who signed up. All “members” can then enjoy that week’s soup choices for a yummy cold weather lunch.

Last week it was my turn to bring soup, and I brought the below recipe (from Midwest Living magazine). It was pretty yummy with a subtle spiciness that was broken up a bit by the occasional tidbit of sweet potato.


Sweet-Potato Corn Chowder

12 ounces sausage (andouille, kielbasa or smoked pork sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into slices)
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 Tablespoon minced garlic (6 cloves)
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon Cajun or Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon Chipotle Seasoning
6 cups chicken broth
1 16 oz bag of frozen sweet corn
2 cups sweet-potato (peeled and cut into small pieces)
12 ounces pre-cooked skinless, boneless chicken breast – cut into ¾ inch pieces
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon black pepper

1. In a 6-quart Dutch oven, brown sausage over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion, celery and garlic. Cook and stir for 5 minutes. Stir in flour, cumin, chili powder, Cajun and Chipotle seasonings. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Stir in chicken broth. Bring to a boil.
2. Add the frozen corn, peeled and cubed sweet-potato and the chicken pieces. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer the chowder, covered, about 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender. Stir in the whipping cream and pepper. Heat through

Makes 8 – 10 main dish servings

Photo: Bing Images


SAHM For The Day

We had a wonderful Saturday, filled with the Easter Bunny and friends visiting. It was followed by a less than wonderful Saturday night though. Willie woke up after just a couple hours, and couldn’t get back to sleep. He had an earache, and as I’ve told you before, Will is a Momma’s boy when he’s feeling yucky… so Saturday night was hard on us both.

On Sunday we took him to the local walk-in clinic. They quickly confirmed what we had suspected – Will has an ear infection. They gave us a prescription and we were quickly on our way. Will slept better on Sunday night, but woke Monday morning still achy and grouchy and feverish.

I called my office to say I’d be staying home (Daycare won’t take a baby that has a fever - and luckily, my employer can manage just fine without me for one day).

All Willie really wanted to do throughout the morning was snuggle. I had no problem with that plan of action. We curled up on the sofa and watched Sponge Bob. By mid-afternoon, the antibiotics were kicking in, and he was starting to feel better. This meant that he was done cuddling, and wanted to get up and play. While he stacked blocks and pushed around his cars; I was able to get some housework done…not a lot, mind you – but some.

It was nice. I felt very domestic and wifely. Not quite June Cleaver, but close. I vacuumed, dusted and made beds. I scrubbed the kitchen floor and sorted laundry. I would have made a cake, but we’re on a diet.

When Dan came home, the house was clean, and Willie and I happily greeted him at the door. We had a nice supper, and then while Dan gave Will his bath, and tucked him in – I snuck off for my first crochet class! (I’ll tell you more about that soon.)

I had a really nice time being a “Stay at Home Mom”, even if it was only for that one day. I don’t know if the future holds a permanent SAHM job for me, but if it does (someday) become an option… I do think I’d be okay with that.

Feeling Better

We were out of commission with a sick little baby for the last two days! I promise to post something tonight! Hope you are all doing well. :)


Willie & the Easter Bunny

Though there is snow outside once again, we were lucky to have the option of visiting our local Botanical Garden for some Easter activities this morning. Will just loves running around there and soaking up the warmth and the green that we still aren't seeing in the real world right now. Pretty much the first thing we did when we got there was get in line for the Easter Bunny.
Willie was SO excited! We literally had to hold him back until it was his turn. Some of the other children were a bit shy or scared, but not our Willie. When we were (finally) in front of the line, he ran right up... sat beside the big Bunny and patted him on the knee. It was pretty cute. The Bunny's assistant gave him a Lollipop and we were on our way.
There was a Coi pond, a waterfall and lots of winding paths to explore. Little Will was in his element indeed!
After wandering through the place for a while, we went to a little petting zoo that they were also sponsoring. Will was able to pet little ducklings, chicks and bunnies. He loved them and was very gentle. He was especially taken with this sweet little bunny rabbit.

I am so proud of my little guy!


Keeping the Faith

Lately I’ve been a bit preoccupied – even worried - about some things over which I have no control… some things that are a lot bigger than me…. Sometimes I feel helpless and confused. I get anxious about the future. I shouldn't. I do know better. There are days when I have to remind myself that God is in control. He knows what the future holds. He will get us through whatever may come our way.

I need to let go of all the worry; take a deep breath and forget all the “What if?” scenarios I sometimes (okay – often) fret over. I should stop fearing the unknown. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
It's difficult to let go though, isn't it? So hard to trust that things will work out as they should.
But they will.
If we trust and put our faith in Him.

Because if He can do THIS….

and THIS...

and THIS...

And especially THIS…

He can do ANYTHING!

After all, He's got the "Whole World in His Hands"... I just have to remember to let go of my little chunk of it. He'll take care of the rest.

Photos: Bing Images

{this moment}

Inspired by SouleMama to share one moment.... via 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…”


Happy St Patrick's Day

May there always be work for your hands to do,
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine warm on your windowpane,
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you,
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.
-Irish Blessing

Wishing you all a bit of the Luck of the Irish today.


Sometimes its the Little Things...

The last few nights have been restless, but sweet.

Willie and I are just now recovering from a pretty terrible head cold. We have sneezed, coughed and moaned our way through these last few days. We have slept a little more, and eaten a little less. We drink lots of fluids. We get through each day (he at the babysitter, me at the office) and are both very happy when we get home for an evening with the Man of the House.

Will usually sleeps from 7pm till 4:30am – yes, he really does get up that early most days and I get up with him because he seems to think of the early morning as Mommy time. Mommy time has been extended this week…. Because when he’s congested, he struggles to breathe easily laying down. He wakes up in the night - frustrated and tired, wanting me to comfort him. This week he and I are both feeling pretty awful, but I wouldn’t give up these nights for anything. Those moments in the dark and quiet hours of late night and early morning… when we sway gently in the big rocking chair - my little prince snuggled in my arms with his blankie clutched tight – those are the most precious moments to me. For those moments, he is not the little firecracker who jumps off tables and colors on the wall. He isn’t the independent toddler who wants to do everything by himself. He isn’t ornery or mischievous. He’s just a little baby who loves his Mommy.

And oh how much his Mommy loves him back!

Dan has not caught the cold we have (thank goodness). He has, on several occasions, attempted to take over the “night shift” so that I can get some rest – to no avail. Will just cries harder… yelling for Mom-Mom to come to him. Mom-Mom can’t refuse of course, cold or no cold. I feel bad for Dan sometimes because I think he feels that he misses out, but the truth is that Will shares his time with us. He may need me when he feels sick or sad, but Daddy is his buddy. They wrestle and play catch. They look at baseball cards and watch cartoons. They read books and play in the dirt. When it’s fun and play that Willie wants, I’m usually the one standing on the sidelines.

It all balances out nicely, I think.

After work last night, my wonderful husband said that it was my night, and that he wanted to really take care of me since I’ve felt so yucky. (how sweet is he?) He offered to take me to dinner wherever I might want to go. I’m a fairly simple gal, and though my options were wide open – I wanted something pretty low-key. Something soothing and tasty. More than anything I wanted a cherry slush from Sonic. (If you aren’t familiar with Sonic, it’s a drive-in burger place that serves great drinks.) I thought Will might also enjoy a slush, though he’d never had one before. It just seemed to me that the cold sweetness of a slush would feel heavenly on a raw throat…

So, off to Sonic we went. While sitting in the drive-thru waiting for our order, the nice Sonic employee leaned through the window and gave Will an orange balloon on a long string.

I don’t think Will had ever had a helium filled balloon before.

After a few curious tugs and bounces, his eyes lit up and his face transformed. All at once, he was amazed and transfixed and totally and utterly happy. This simple orange balloon brought him pure joy.

Even though Will hadn’t been feeling so great this week… playing with that balloon lifted him right out of the funk that his cold had pushed him into. He squealed. He sang. He giggled and chattered as he bounced it off the roof and windows of the car. He grinned at us, and we grinned back. In that moment, Dan and I were also 19 months old and enjoying our first ever balloon on a string.

It was a truly perfect moment. One that Dan and I will remember always.

I’m often reminded that it’s the simple things in life that often bring us the most joy. It’s the late night snuggles with our children. It’s the kind gesture made by a loving spouse. It’s the cherry slushes that taste just as good as expected. It’s the orange balloon in the drive-thru that makes the baby’s day.


Bathroom Facelift

This is not our bathroom (thank goodness!).

I added this picture after deciding there was no easy way to take a photo of the bathroom (before or after) that I'll be telling you about here. As I've mentioned before, we have a small house. The bathroom that is closest to all the bedrooms (and the only one with a tub) is no exception. I'd even go so far as to say it's tiny - not as tiny as an outhouse...but kind of close. :)

Small indeed, but perfectly well equipped with all of the things a soul could need in a bathroom. The only issue I've really ever had with the room was the floor. It was an unfortunate "natural slate" tile. Sounds lovely, doesn't it? Not so fast! This "natural slate" was supposed to look like it came right out of the ground - and was full of cracks and crevices and nooks and crannies to achieve that look. Not ideal for a bathroom floor. In my opinion, not ideal for anything other than a hike through the woods. No matter how often I scrubbed, I never really felt it was clean enough.

We've lived in our house for almost three years, and I have been hoping for a new floor in that bathroom since day one. We tend to be pretty frugal though, and since nothing was actually wrong with the bathroom floor (the uneven nature of the tile was part of it's design - not truly defective in any way) ... it was not what one would call "top priority" to replace it.

That was, until recently.

Early in the week, I noticed the toilet tank was leaking a bit. I mentioned it to hubby, who is super handy with such things. He took out the toilet to investigate, and fixed the problem fairly quickly. Upon completion he mentioned that some of the tiles had broken as he was working, and we'd have to replace the flooring.

He sighed... and I cheered (mostly on the inside).

We made a little trip to our local hardware store to review available flooring options.

The cost to have new flooring installed by "professionals" was ludicrous to us considering the fact that we were going to need such a tiny area covered. We decided to buy those "peel and stick" vinyl tiles and do it on our own (and by "on our own" I actually mean that Dan would do it of course). I said that while we were at it, I'd really love to repaint as well. My sweetie of a husband said that was fine but I could do the paining. Seemed more than fair to me!

So pretty much every night this week Dan was in there either pulling up old tiles, prepping the resulting surface for new tiles, or carefully measuring and laying the new flooring. He finished the tiles on Friday (hurrah!) and I finished painting today. The walls are a soft tan and they go well with the new tiles which are a mottled brown color variation. My existing moss green accents went back in and the overall effect is calm and serene - which is just how I like it.
The best part of the whole little make-over, is that now the floor is perfectly flat, and smooth. It is going to be super easy to keep clean.

So, a big Thank You to my wonderful husband for doing the hard work and leaving me with a lovely "new" bathroom! Oh, and an added bonus.... we got quite a bargain on the tile, found very affordable paint, and got the whole project done well within budget. Yay!
Now that this bathroom project is done, we can start concentrating on the outdoors. We have a lot to do to recover from the harsh winter. There will be leaves to bag, trees & shrubs to inspect, mulch to arrange and containers to fill with garden plants.
Maybe when all of THAT is done, I can take some time to enjoy a nice long bubble bath in my "new" bathroom!


{this moment}

Inspired by SouleMama to share one moment.... via 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…”


a la mode


I’m thinking about pie… fresh from the oven, home-baked yummy, flaky crusted pie. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Last night I even dreamed of pie – thanks to some late night browsing through Barbara Swell’s fun little book The Lost Art of Pie Making Made Easy and also the more serious PIE by Ken Haedrich. And then just before turning in for the night, I snuck over to eBay and found a sweet little vintage pie crimper that I just had to have – though honestly it may end up being as useful to me as the old pie bird I bought years ago, but which never brought me much success.
...but I digress. It's all about the actual fresh from the oven pie for me today. Cookbooks and funky pastry tools will not satisfy for long. Visions of Lemon Meringue and Dutch Apples dance through my head. And they are not alone.

There is also Cherry Lattice topped pie, Pumpkin, Strawberry-Rhubarb, Key Lime, Chocolate cream, and Gooseberry… or warm apple pie with a scoop of soft vanilla ice cream on top…. Is there anything better?
(The answer, in case you are struggling here - is "no").
Even the mere thought of (let's face it - ANY) home-made pie makes my mouth water at this point.
This pie obsession is not new, though it comes and thankfully - goes. This long-standing love of pie started in early childhood with the first bite of the flaky crusted delight that is my Mom’s Blueberry Pie (my absolute favorite). My Grandma H was a whiz at making Lemon Meringue pie, and my Grandma B can whip up an amazing Chocolate or Coconut cream…
With pie making a family tradition of sorts, I did eventually learn the art myself (I even won a blue ribbon at the county fair with the tasty Apple Raisin pie I entered while in “Girls” 4-H). I like making pie almost as much as I like eating it. That will certainly come in handy, because since I've been through this before, I know the cure to what ails me. It's fairly simple, and diet or no diet - nothing else will do. I must have a sample of something like this:

or THIS...

or even this...

and until I do get to savor some lovely home baked pie, I'll only be half here. Only half listening to what you tell me. Only half reading your clever blog entry. Only half concentrating. Only half NOT obsessing about flaky crusts and fresh fruit fillings.
But since I am trying to be careful with what I eat... this splurge on Pie must be worth the sacrifice (i.e. the extra bonus hours required on the Wii Fit to burn off pie calories)... so now my mission is to find the PERFECT pie recipe that will cure what ails me, and won't leave me with any regrets. Right now I'm leaning toward a meringue-free lemon double crusted number from Barbara's book.
But I'm open to ideas (and adore trying new recipes), so if you know of that one pie recipe that is better than all the rest... and you don't mind sharing - send it my way.

Photos: Bing Images


Our Little Cook

When I was a little girl, my Mom gave me many little sets of dishes - bake sets, tea sets, a little Tupperware cake set, picnic dishes etc. She would let me "bake" little tiny cakes and muffins for my Dad, and we had a lot of fun in the kitchen together. Those are really precious and happy memories for me.

I want Will to learn at a young age just how much fun cooking & baking can be. Both Dan and I love to cook, so I think it will come naturally when he's old enough. Right now, he's a bit too small, but I've still been on the lookout for good children's kitchen bargains. Recently I found an old (but very good condition) copy of the Better Homes and Gardens Junior Cookbook for when Will is older. (Just $1 at a Thrift store - Hurrah!) This weekend he found it (he's getting very good at "finding" things, regardless of where I hide them).
My folks and little brother were up for a visit on Saturday, and out of nowhere he started "showing" them his new book (which until then I didn't know he even knew about). So we went along and let him look it over.

By the way, the toy Army hat is his current favorite thing to wear. It's silly, but oh so cute.
Here he is telling us all about it....

And finding something that looks yummy....

And something else he'd like to try...

Decision made - he wants French Toast!

Now I know what we'll be having for breakfast this week, at least once... After all, how can I say no to that cute little boy?xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Oh, and here's a pic of Willie and I in the kitchen with our aprons on! I made his with my machine around Christmas. Mine, I did by hand and just finished a couple weeks ago. I'll eventually blog about that fun project, but for now... a sneak peek:


Stories from Clara's Kitchen

Have you met Clara Cannucciari yet? She's the spunky 94-year-old chef who has become a Cooking sensation thanks to her Web series "Depression Cooking With Clara" and her book on the same topic, "Clara's Kitchen".

Clara is not your typical celebrity chef, her videos and book are quite unique. Each recipe is introduced by a short story from her own life. Most of the stories center around the painfully lean Depression years. Clara tells the stories in a way that is straight-forward and endearing. Clearly her family struggled a lot (example: they once had pasta and lard for a meal!), but she doesn't seem to regret those hard years much. She does get a tad emotional at times as she relays the stories in her videos, but who wouldn't? Though life was often hard, she has taken those experiences and learned lessons from them. This book and these videos are a wonderful way for her to share those lessons with us.
The recipes are pretty basic, as you can imagine supplies were very limited. Most have only a hand full of ingredients. Spices are mostly salt and pepper. Almost everything calls for olive oil, and hardly any include meat. Simple recipes, yes - but when put into context I think they are amazing in their complexity. How difficult it must have been to plan meals for your family with an all but empty pantry? Meals that would nourish, and satisfy?
"What are we going to eat tonight? Pasta with garlic. What are we going to eat tonight? Pasta with peas. What are we gonna eat? Pasta with beans. That's all we ate was pasta and a small vegetable," Clara says in one of her You Tube videos as she watches over a steaming pan of frying onions.

I had not heard of Clara prior to seeing her book featured on Amazon via one of those "based on your recent purchases, you might like" messages. I got it in the mail just yesterday (a late birthday gift for myself) and read it this afternoon. It's a short little book, but a very fun read - especially if you enjoy reading cookbooks and/or memoirs of the Great Depression. I happen to love both, so it was perfect for me.

As soon as I finished reading Clara's book, I went to the computer to see her in action on YouTube. What a fun lady!

See a collection of her YouTube videos here.

I'm personally fascinated by the concept of living frugally. I know I'm not alone these days. Though (thank God) we are not in a depression, we are facing a time when we may best be served to take note of money saving methods perfected by our Grandmothers. In fact, Clara mentions that she's written this book (and starred in the videos) to share her experiences with folks who want to live a simpler, more frugal life.
I won't ever make"pasta with lard", but I do think I'll try Clara's recipes for Biscotti, "Eggs and Peppers Sandwiches" and "Pasta with Peas". They each sound like comfort food to me, and I do love my comfort food - even more so when it can be made on the cheap!
I'll close today with a tidbit from the closing page of "Clara's Kitchen":
"I also hope that learning how we survived the Great Depression will help you survive your own tough times. What will get you through is just what got us through - family and friends, and finding joy wherever you can." - Clara Cannucciari


An Old-Fashioned Evening

Last night after Willie was sound asleep, our workouts complete, the scattered toys and puzzles put away… Dan and I settled down for a quiet evening. He was on his laptop (scouring eBay for old baseball cards, I assume), and I was working on my quilt repair project.

The house was quiet. The quiet is nice (and rare when you share your home with a tiny tornado who doesn’t yet understand the concept of an “inside voice”). Yes, the quiet was nice, but I found myself wishing their was some noise. Maybe music? We don’t listen to music all that often. We should. We both love many different types of music. I asked Dan if he’d mind if I turned on the radio. He suggested we just find something he could stream from his laptop since the variety of music available on the internet is so vast. He found one of the internet radio websites that he likes, and started reading off categories: hard rock, country, dance party, classical, jazz, blues, alternative… the list went on and on.

I wondered aloud if they had any old time radio programs?” When I was a child (maybe 11 or 12) we didn’t have a tv for a while. During that time, we listened to the radio, records or tapes a lot. My folks had a collection of Old Time Radio on cassette that we played often. We enjoyed hearing the old recordings of classics from the 30s, 40s & 50s. There was Fibber McGee & Molly, Amos & Andy, Dragnet, The Shadow etc. Listening to those old shows (complete with original advertising) was something we did often during those years.

It was certainly a simple and old fashioned form of entertainment, but it was something that we did together as a family and that we all appreciated.

After a bit of searching, Dan found an episode of “The Adventures of Superman”, which we then listened to. This particular adventure was sponsored by Kellogg’s Pep, and like most of the programming from that era, was part of a series. It was fun, a little bit suspenseful, and definitely reflected the era in which it was first aired.

Someday I'd like to share this kind of programming with Willie. I hope he'll enjoy it as much as I do. I hope that as his childhood progresses, we can find the time to do "Simple Things" like this together. Whether it's listening to an old radio program, reading books, playing board games, going to the local museum... xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

My parents always made a point of doing those things with us.. things that were rarely extravagant or expensive, but which we really enjoyed. Those are the things I remember best, the memories I cherish the most. Those are kinds of activities I most look forward to sharing with Willie.
We have a road trip planned for this summer to visit my Grandmother. I think I'll try to find some old radio shows on CD for the trip. That might be just the introduction our little guy needs, not to mention how fun it would be for me!
It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Christy on her way to Amazon to buy some Old Time Radio CDs... xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Photos: Bing Images

{this moment} My Little Cowboy Eating his Lunch...

Inspired by SouleMama to share one moment.... via 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…”


Oh the Fun that was Had!

Yesterday was my birthday. And for something a little different, I took the day off from my desk job to have a “Me Day” filled with fun things that I rarely do, but do enjoy. Dan wished me a happy day before leaving for work, and when the usual time came… I trucked little Wills off to his babysitter. (The babysitter by the way, surprised me with a lovely birthday card AND a gift certificate for a pedicure! How sweet is that?)

Once Willie was settled, I headed out. My gas tank was full and birthday money was burning a hole in my pocket… Though (like most Moms) I don't typically spend a lot of money on frivolous things for myself, I was determined that at least some of my birthday money would go toward fun "Christy" items.
First stop: Wal Mart. While there, I stocked up on canning jars for later in the year(quarts and half pints), also some lids for the jars I already had. Then I made my way to the garden center where I got some gigantic bags of garden soil (for the new containers my dear Dad is bringing me this coming weekend).
As I was leaving that part of the store, my eye was caught by a display of cute little wind chimes. One had a ceramic chicken at the top, and looked like it would be a wonderful addition to my back yard. (The pic below isn't perfect as the chicken blends into the tree trunk a bit, but you get the idea.)

I stopped in the craft section too and picked up a few quilting supplies. I paid, and loaded my purchases into the trunk of the car. I was on the road again in no time, and it wasn’t even 9am! Hurrah! Still a whole lot of birthday left! Once home, I put my new things away, threw in a load of laundry and vacuumed. (Even a “Me Day” includes some housework after all!).

Next up: I headed out again, this time to an area of town that is a bit touristy, but lots of fun as it is filled with antique stores, gift boutiques, bakeries, restaurants and an assortment of odd shops. We actually go there often, but typically there are several stores we never visit. Either Dan isn’t a bit interested (shops full of lace or soaps or chenille - far too girly for his tastes), or I fear Will might break more items than I can afford to replace. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

At any rate, on this particular “Me Day”, I went into every store that looked interesting to me (and was kind enough to be open). I purchased some lovely handkerchiefs - yes their are eight. I just love fun hankies...

...at a sweet little thrift store, I found a huge stack of books (cook books, a gardening book, a quilting book, and several children's books) and some little wooden puzzles for Willie. At a small antique store, I came across a new "had to have it" necklace (which features a sweet little vintage cowboy image that reminds me of my little guy). It's about an inch and a half long - the picture makes it look larger than it is.

I bought some children's gardening supplies for Will's Easter basket, and a wooden shelf for my bathroom. It didn't take long for my arms to grow heavy with all the items I'd found. Needing a bit of a break, I followed up the shopping with a big calorie-ridden cupcake. (I know, I know - not diet friendly, but my birthday does only come around once a year!)

At last it was time to go home. So I loaded the car with my new found treasures and picked up Will from the sitter’s. We got home just moments before Dan did and a happy little reunion ensued (Willie gets so excited when Daddy comes home). We decided to go out a bit (in honor of the day). I was in the mood for Mexican food, so Dan treated us to a lovely dinner at a local eatery. Will tasted salsa for the first time, and LOVED it. We all had a wonderful meal.

Back home, we tucked our little man into his crib, and settled down for a quiet evening on the sofa. Me with my quilt project, and Dan with the remote control.

I can’t remember a happier birthday. From start to finish, this one was just perfect! And technically, it's not yet over - my folks and little brother are coming on Saturday to visit and celebrate with us. What fun!

A few closing pictures from my big day…

These are some of the gifts from Dan (the Pyrex bowl is a replacement for a much loved one that I shattered). The art journal and colored pencils will be used often, and I can’t wait to dig into that quilt pattern book! The cute little revolving cube has pictures of Will on every side – it will be such fun on my desk at work.

and here are some of my many birthday cards:

I am so incredibly lucky to have such loving and thoughtful family & friends. I am thankful for each of them. They are all so very special and appreciated.


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