Friday, September 24, 2010

giveaway winners

The problem with this giveaway is that I loved all of your comments and want every single one of you to win. Sadly, I can't send camera straps or clutches to all of you, so I used the not-very-technologically-advanced method of writing all of your names on scraps of paper (pink and green paper!), put them in a favorite mug, and got Benjamin to draw the winners' names for me. And here they are! (drumroll?)

Lisa who blogs at stitching under oaks won the peachy-pink and brown clutch. I love Lisa's blog. She shares all sorts of cool crafty things and makes me wish that I could actually really knit. Plus she shares excellent thought-provoking serious posts as well as glimpses into her sweet family. I think that when my children are the same ages as hers are now, I'd like to be about where she is. Lisa is one of my most faithful commenters, and I always love reading her responses to the stuff I say.

Shaina won the camera strap. She runs a website called Sioux Falls Frugal Mom, which, contrary to what I first thought, is also applicable to people outside of the Sioux Falls area. She also blogs (not frequently enough, my opinion, though I know she has plenty to juggle) at While I'm Waiting. Shaina is one of those people who is a great friend even though we've never met in person. We're hoping that our families will be able to meet at Yellowstone next summer, though. (I can't wait!)

The third surprise prize is an autumn-colored flower pin. (Remember how I said I was having a hard time that not everyone was able to win? Well, I just had to add a third one.) It goes to my local friend Gayle who blogs at The Schuller Family. I have had such a good time getting to know Gayle; her amazing level of energy and enthusiasm never fails to inspire me, and every time we get together I leave encouraged.

Thank you all for participating. I'll get the gifts to the winners as soon as possible.

not what I had planned

on Wednesday our washing machine broke
flooding 2/3-3/4 of our basement

and so we have spent
quite a lot of time since then
getting the basement dry
rescuing things and
cleaning up

yet I'm thankful

thankful, very thankful
that it was clean water
(not sewage)

thankful that our area rug
soaked up much water
that would have done more damage
if it had been unchecked

thankful that all of Benjamin's musical instruments
were out of harm's way

thankful that my wedding dress dried out

thankful that Benjamin
dropped his evening's activities
to run home and help me

thankful that dinner wasn't
too badly overcooked

thankful that we'll be able
to use my parents' washing machine
that would otherwise have sat in storage
while they are transitioning

On a much happier note:

Benjamin installed
the last of the cabinets
last night!

I'm so excited to be
finding new homes
for my kitchen things today

unpacking, organizing,
making it mine

(more on that soon)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Soup

When my parents' neighbors gave us a generous number of carrots, potatoes, and parsnips from their large and beautiful garden, I knew instantly what I would make with them: roasted vegetable soup. It's the perfect autumn dish: warm and flavorful and satisfying.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash or scrub and slice:
3 carrots
2 leeks
1 parsnip
2 potatoes

Toss sliced vegetables with:
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Spread on a cookie sheet.

Sprinkle with:
salt and pepper to taste

Bake for 20-30 minutes
until the vegetables are soft
and have golden edges.

Combine in a pot:
(in your preferred proportions)
to make 3-4 cups of broth
(depending on how brothy you like your soups).

Add roasted vegetables to broth and bring to a boil.
Sample and adjust seasonings as desired.

Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese
and serve with crackers or fresh bread.

This time I sliced and roasted about quadruple the amount of vegetables and froze the surplus for use in future soups. I hope it works as well as I think it will because this soup is one of my favorites!

P.S. If you haven't entered my two-year blogiversary giveaway yet, please do!

three years old

There is a song that begins: "Do you remember the twenty-first night of September..." It never fails to make me smile because I do indeed remember the twenty-first night of September. I held my tiny Little Man three years plus a day ago (the twenty-first of September) for the very first time.

Since we already had a cheesecake and present opening celebration with his grandparents and may have another cake for him with his friends from our home group in a couple of weeks, we didn't do anything big on his actual birthday yesterday. We did, however, celebrate by spending almost an hour at the park, enjoying the perfect autumn weather, eating apple pancakes for lunch, and macaroni and cheese and carrots for dinner (his choices).

Right now Little Man...

loves running, jumping, and climbing
likes throwing balls very hard
enjoys shouting at the top of his lungs
is learning to reserve most of the above activities for outside

loves reading, learning, and exploring
likes cooking in the kitchen with Mom
enjoys painting, sculpting, and drawing beautiful works of art
is almost obsessed with puzzles
is fascinated by building and tools

loves wresting with Dad and getting horsie rides from Grandpa
likes playing games with Grandma
enjoys showing brother the ropes, keeping tabs on what he's doing,
and making him laugh

loves talking on the phone to grandparents, aunts, and uncles
likes telling about things he remembers
enjoys singing and singing and singing some more

is learning to love the truth
to like doing right
to want to do what he's supposed to do
to obey right away
to be such a good big-boy helper

I'm so proud of Little Man's growth. I'm pleased with his verbal skills, his problem solving skills, his increasing physical strength and coordination, and his sweet charm, but most of all I'm thankful for his growth in strength of will to do right. May God give us wisdom to guide and teach him as the years continue to roll by, and may my Little Man grow to be a strong man who loves God and His righteousness, justice, and truth!

Happy Birthday, Bud! I love you so much.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Two Year Blogiversary Giveaway

Next Friday will be the two-year anniversary of when I began blogging. It has been a marvelous experience. I have been able to document day-to-day happenings and special occasions, record projects, and write out thoughts. Best of all, though, I have made some great friends! Some of you I knew already, and I'm touched that you care to read my writings, get to know me better, and leave kind comments. Some of you I met in the bloggy world; your fabulous blogs and responses on my blog grew into friendships which met needs at a very lonely time in my life. And some of you might even be readers who don't comment (yet). I appreciate the time you spend reading and would love for you to leave a comment or two so that we can "meet."

In celebration of the friendships I have developed here in the last two years, I am giving away a couple of recent projects.

The first is a camera strap designed to fit snugly on a two-and-a-quarter inch wide camera strap. The inside (the side which will be against the neck) is made of oh, so soft cotton velvet.

While the outside (the side everyone can see and admire) is decorated by a shirred ruffle in a cheery, though not overwhelming blue and white print (one of my favorites).

Included with the camera strap is a blue ruffle-flower pin accented with a vintage button.

The second item that I'm giving away is a small peachy-pink and brown clutch (or makeup bag, or whatever you want it to be).

Included with the bag is a peachy-pink ruffle-flower accented with yet another vintage button.

To enter this giveaway, just leave me a comment telling me which prize you'd most like to win (and hopefully I'll randomly draw one of each preference). : ) If you'd like you can also tell me what aspect of friendship you most appreciate. I'll be drawing the winners sometime next Friday evening.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

cupcake heaven

(modified slightly
by substituting
Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
for the plain cocoa

and by putting the batter into lined muffin cups
and baking for only 20 minutes)

combined with


delicious and lovely cupcakes.

You should try it.

M-grilled shrimp, rice, salad
T-macaroni and cheese and carrots (for Little Man's actual birthday dinner)
Th-grilled chicken, crispy smashed potatoes, butternut squash
F-minestrone soup and fresh bread

What are you making this week?

p.s. That is my new countertop in the photo above. Isn't it beautiful?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

family photos

This afternoon I enjoyed the opportunity to take a series of family photos for some of our friends. The day was a little on the chilly side but was still beautiful, and the park where they chose to have their photos taken was the perfect backdrop for their lovely family.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

more engagement photos

Here is a sampling of the second set of engagement photos I took for my artist friend and her fiancé yesterday evening. She had so many ideas for outfits and locations that we couldn't fit all of the photos into one session. This session was supposed to be of all black and white photos, but I just couldn't resist some color photos and a few with special effects. Once again, the time I spent with this lovely couple was fun and delightful. The fact that we were able to get some fabulous shots was just icing on the cake.

These first three photos were taken in the classroom where they met during a college class.

No, this isn't really how he proposed, but it sure makes a cute picture!

At the Zoo

There are lions and roaring tigers,
And enormous camels and things,

There are biffalo-buffalo-bisons,
and a great big bear with wings.

There's a sort of a tiny potamus,
and a tiny nosserus too -
But I gave buns to the elephant
when I went down to the Zoo!

There are badgers and bidgers and bodgers,
and a Super-in-tendent's House,

There are masses of goats, and a Polar,
and different kinds of mouse,

And I think there's a sort of a something
which is called a wallaboo -
But I gave buns to the elephant
when I went down to the Zoo!

If you try to talk to the bison,
he never quite understands;

You can't shake hands with a mingo -
he doesn't like shaking hands.

And lions and roaring tigers
hate saying, "How do you do?" -
But I give buns to the elephant
when I go down to the Zoo!

(The above poem is by A. A. Milne, one of my literary heroes. I added divisions to fit the number of pictures I had, and the lines don't necessarily pertain to the photos except that it's a poem about going to the zoo, and the photos were taken on a trip to the zoo. To read straight through the poem, go here.)

Last weekend we made the two-hour drive to the nearest zoo. We couldn't have asked for more perfect weather or better behaved children. We had fun introducing the boys to some wonderful animals which they have never seen before except in pictures. Little Man and Brother seemed to enjoy the experience as a whole, but Little Man said that his favorites were the monkeys, and judging by Brother's response, his favorite animals were the ring-tailed lemurs.