Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Last time we recorded I learned
that as I play it's all about feel
and not about sound.

Of course it's not going to sound the same
when I have on giant earphones
that play the other tracks.

This knowledge came in handy one evening last week
when Benjamin carried me off to the basement
to record a flute riff for his piece.

[composer at work]

wedding photography

As some of you may recall, last Saturday I had the opportunity of photographing a wedding. I got paid for it, so I guess I can even say that I did it professionally. I'm still feeling a little surprised and puzzled as to how I got here; I just like taking pictures, and I didn't exactly plan on becoming a professional. I am, however, quite delighted with where I find myself and plan on learning and improving and becoming a really good photographer.

I am pleased to say that the bride was also delighted. Here are just a few of my favorite photos.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Little Man's quilt is done!

I cut, ironed, trimmed, and sewed.
I stippled.
I made perfect corners.
(And a few imperfect ones too,
but I'm not showing you a close up of those.)
And I made my own Little Man very happy.
Don't be fooled by his expression in the picture;
it was taken after a long, emotional day.
He loves it.

Yesterday when he called his Auntie Rachel on the phone, he told her excitedly about his blue and orange quilt and exclaimed, "I'll go get it so you can see it!" He then handed my the phone to me and ran out of the room to get it.

I decided to make it into a twin sized quilt and not a toddler bed sized quilt. After all, he'll only be in the little bed for a short time, and I'm hoping the quilt outlasts the toddler bed stage. Right now, though, it's the perfect size for his little bed when it's folded in half. I love seeing him enjoy it.

Guest post

I'm excited that The Nifty Thrifty Homemaker is featuring my article about menu planning today. Check out her blog, read my post, and enjoy her thrifty tips and good deals.

Recipe Reviews

In spite of all the craziness last week, I enjoying being able to try a couple of new recipes. Here are my impressions.
One day Little Man and I, knowing Benjamin's love for apple desserts, made these Apple Muffins as a surprise for him. The only thing I changed about this easy recipe was that I added 1/4 cup of flour to compensate for our high altitude. We're definitely making them again! They're moist and flavorful, and even after the crispy tops got a little soggy in a Ziplock bag, we devoured them.

The second recipe we tried was Chicken Paprikash. I did adapt this recipe a little as I went along. For example, I used boneless skinless chicken breast instead of cutting up a whole chicken. I also was too lazy to look up what an "Italian frying pepper" is and just used the red bell pepper in my fridge. Oh, and I skipped the parsley for the dumplings.

The consensus? While it's definitely not "American" tasting, Chicken Paprikash is a rich, flavorful dish that we'll be making again. The recipe is a little involved, but the deliciousness of the tender chicken and dense dumplings smothered in sauce more than makes up for it. Menu

We are still battling this pesky cold here at my house. It seems like as soon as I think I'm starting to get well, I take a turn for the worse. Oh well, wellness will return to us someday. I've been very thankful for Benjamin's help with making meals these days. I couldn't ask for a better husband (for more reasons than that he's an amazing cook). : )

Here's what's going on in my kitchen this week:

T-leftovers (we have a lot in the fridge)
W-Pasta with red sauce and salad
Th-Chili and (hopefully) homemade rolls with carrot and celery sticks
F-Garlic-ginger chicken strips with rice noodles and satay sauce

Menu-ing tip: Check you sale paper (or sale papers if you actually live somewhere with a lot of grocery stores), and sock up items you use frequently when they are on a good sale. Then when you're making your menu plan, check your pantry and plan around what you already have.

What are you cooking this week?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Playing with my new camera

I've been having a lot of fun playing with my new camera. I like it oh, so much, and have been taking photos like crazy. I still have to take time to read the manual and learn how to use all the special setting and features, but I'm well on my way to getting to know it like a friend.

I am pleased with how it responds to low-light situations.
I love how crisply it captures those fleeting moments of boyish cuteness.
I am impressed by how well it focuses on close-up details.
I appreciate how the photo quality is so good that I can crop impressively.
And I very much like being able to capture movement.
I'm sure you'll be hearing more about this new camera.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I did it! I overcame my fear of free motion quilting and actually stipped (is that a word?) Little Man's quilt last week. It pretty much took me all day (counting all breaks I had to take for caring for little guys and my sore, aching arms), but I was thrilled by the results. I found Larissa's free motion quilting tips very helpful. This tutorial was really good too and has a lot of good photos.

I skipped the practice step of working with simple sandwiches of fabric and batting because I was afraid that if it didn't go well I would give up. Instead, I dove right in and learned on Little Man's quilt (because once I had it started, I wasn't going to be able to chicken out and stop). My first attempts were ugly.
And along the way there was some unattractive pulling on the back (By the way, does anyone know what caused it? It isn't really looping, it's just that the bottom thread is pulling the top thread through more than it should in some places.)
By the end, though, this is what the top looked like, and the overall effect is wonderful. I'm so happy that I conquered my intimidation and tried something new.
I'll definitely be doing more free motion quilting in the future!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


for this to get here! Thankfully I won't be in suspense too long since it should be here today. (I'm very thankful for overnight shipping!)
I was already planning on camera shopping, but when my camera died two days ago and we considered the fact that I have a wedding to photograph on Saturday, we decided to put camera shopping on the fast track. I knew I wanted a Canon DSLR, but that's about all I knew. After doing some research and looking at the prices of good cameras I decided on the Canon Rebel XS.

Even as I mourn the loss of my faithful PowerShot S3IS, I'm eagerly anticipating getting to know this new camera. I'm hoping that it will be, as many reviewers claimed, the prefect transition camera from point and shoot to SLR and am looking forward to beautiful photos in my future.

Monday, March 22, 2010


I'm almost done with Little Man's orange and blue truck quilt! The above photo is the only one I've taken of the process; I've been so intent on working on that I neglected to take photos along the way. Let me tell you, all the painstaking trimming of those little pieces paid off in beautiful corners--the most consistent and best corners I've every made.

I got the quilt top all sewn together and the backing pieced in record time, and then I stalled because I didn't have batting. While I was waiting for an opportunity to buy batting, I got out my box of flannel scraps for baby quilts and surveyed them (I have a couple of friends who are having babies soon who will need quilts). Before I knew it, the pieces were sorted into stacks for quilts, and my rotary cutter was going a mile a minute. The next thing I knew, I had squares for no fewer than eleven baby quilts cut out. I used [almost] all the scraps up, though!

Tonight I'm planning on pinning the backing, batting, and quilt top for Little Man's quilt together. I'm hoping to quilt it tomorrow using free motion quilting. It's my first time doing that. (nervous...) I'll try to update as my progress progresses.

Monday Menu

[saturday morning brunch]

Last week the boys caught an awful cold. Little Man is (I think) on the brink of getting well, Brother is in the middle of it, and I'm coming down with it. The humidifier has been going 24/7, and Benjamin and I have been splitting nursing duties. Nevertheless, meal making (and menu planning) must go on. Here's what I have planned for this week:

M-Sweet and Sour Chicken (because I didn't get to it last week)
T-This week I'm in charge of dessert for small group. I was planning on making these. I might have to see if someone else will cover for me, though. We'll see how I'm feeling.
W-Chicken Paprikash (a new recipe) and a veggie
Th-Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches
F-French dip sandwiches and salad

Menu-ing tip: Plan on being flexible. Sometimes a meal doesn't work for the original evening planned, and it needs to be skipped altogether or rescheduled. Whether your sweetie spontaneously takes you out to eat, some friends invite you over for the evening, or the children are sick, it's much less stressful to rearrange your plan if you're prepared ahead of time to hold it loosely.

What are you making this week?


Little Man is two-and-a-half.

He's been enjoying:

jumping (lots and lots of jumping)
climbing in boxes
helping cook and looking at my cookbooks
painting, coloring, and writing "letters"
supervising the progress on his quilt
going on walks (not in the stroller because he's the big brother now)
sliding down the slides at the park
wearing "big boy underwear"
playing peek-a-boo with Brother
talking in sentences and narrating what everyone is doing
asking 1,001 question every day
sleeping in his toddler bed
reading bed time stories to Brother

This is him playing the guitar as my mom played the piano.
Or "strumming with the piano sounds" as he said.

And here he is helping me design quilts.

I'm thankful for my "big boy." We have a lot of fun.

seven months

Last Monday was Brother's seven month birthday. Recently, as I watched him sleep, it hit me that he is looking less like a baby and more like a boy. He's growing so fast. Every once in a while I feel sadness that time is going by so quickly, but the sadness is quickly overshadowed by the excitement of seeing him develop and grow, gaining new skills and developing his personality.

Brother now boasts two little teeth and likes to use them--for enhancing his sweet smile, as well as for biting. Biting spoons and baby food is fine, biting me is not.

Speaking of baby food, he is enjoying trying new foods. He now eats pureed squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, avocado, apples, and pears and loves them all. His newest food is strawberries which he tried and liked yesterday. In addition, he is perfecting his pincher grasp and is becoming proficient at getting cheerios into his mouth.

Brother gave up on his promising start at crawling and settled for army crawling. He is determined and fast and keeps me on my toes! He's also learning to sit up by himself, though he prefers the mobility of the army crawl to the view from sitting. It's fun to see him exploring the house.

Perhaps the biggest milestone this month has been changing Brother's and Little Man's sleeping accommodations. They are now sharing a room. Little Man is in a toddler bed, and Brother sleeps in the pack-n-play. It has taken some adjustment for us all, but we're making it and are doing better than ever at sleeping.

I'm looking forward to enjoying warmer weather soon and introducing Brother to fun things to do outside.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Last weekend I had the opportunity take a series of photos for some of our friends of their darling nine month old daughter.
She was so cute as she posed and interacted with us, totally unselfconscious and unaware of the camera
She wore an Indian outfit from her grandma complete with baby jewelery. When her proud grandma saw the photos she commented that she looks like an Indian princess.
I enjoyed the photoshoot and think that I was able to get some good photos. My friend painted this flower pot for me as a thank you. Isn't it beautiful! I just love the fuzzy looking panda bears.
I enjoy photography so much. And even though I really have no training, I find myself taking family photos and baby portraits for friends. I'm even scheduled to photograph a friend's sister's wedding in a couple of weeks. How did this happen? I'm pleased and excited but can't help but wonder what I've gotten myself into.

I know one thing, though, I'm saving for a professional camera and am going to find a good book on photography and put it on my Amazon wishlist!

to the park we will go

The last few days have been sunny and beautiful. The weather has even been warm enough that most of the snow has melted, and we've been going around in sweatshirts instead of heavy coats! It's too nice to stay inside. Yesterday we made our second trip to the park this year.
Little Man spent most of his time running around carrying gravel and flinging it into the air with the stick he found. He was also fascinated by watching big boys practice stunts at the neighboring skate park.

Brother tried the park swing for the first time and loved it. He grinned and giggled the whole time and was generally adorable.

Benjamin kept us company, longed for a good pair of skates, and split chasing-small-boy duty with me. He also took us out for pizza afterward, which was a delightful way of satisfying the appetites we worked up at the park.

Monday Menu

M-Broccoli Cheddar Soup (a new recipe for me) and French bread. This was the first time I'd made it, and wow, YUM! It was so good. I even followed the recipe like it was written instead of changing it up like I usually do with one exception. I didn't pulse it in the blender; I simply chopped my carrots and broccoli into small pieces. (Sorry, Summer, but your allusion to it being like baby food made the blending impossible.) : )

T-I'm in charge of the side for small group this week and am making a large salad (for 12 adults and 5 children).

W-A corned beef hash type thing wrapped in cabbage leaves and baked. I am combining a couple of different recipe ideas and will be winging my own version of corned beef and cabbage, thus the vague description.

Th-Sweet and Sour Chicken (I figure we'll need something lighter after our St. Patrick's day meal.)

F-home made pizza (This might get rearranged, though, since I forgot to get ingredients for it at the store today.)

Menu-ing tip:

Make your own chicken broth!
Pick any leftover meat off the chicken bones and throw the carcase into a pot. (Sorry if any of my readers are vegetarian... I'm second guessing including that photo; it looks kinda yucky.)

Add some vegetables. Anything that's around your house will work. I've used all sorts of combinations of celery, onions, garlic cloves, and even carrots, tomatoes, or cabbage.

Fill the pot with water.

Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for a long time. (I usually cook it for a couple of hours.) When it's done simmering, cool the broth for a while and then strain it.

Use the broth for Broccoli Cheddar soup, Sweet and Sour Chicken, Chicken Soup, etc. (Don't forget to add salt like I often do.)

If you have some left over, freeze it to thaw and use later.

What are you making this week?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Am I a paparazzi parent?

It was Monday morning,
and I was getting the boys ready
for going on our usual Monday errand run.

Little Man picked up Brother's hat
and put it on for him.

Then he looked at me with a winsome smile and asked,
"Shall we take a picture?"

[Guess where he'd heard that before?]

I, of course,
happily complied.

Spring Snow

Last night and this morning we had a delightful spring snowstorm. The air was warm (at least for having snow) and the large and fluffy flakes drifted slowly down. It was beautiful.

Little Man thoroughly enjoyed going out to "help" his grandma shovel snow and came in nearly covered from head-to-toe from toppling (his word). I did the proper mom thing and made hot chocolate to help him warm up when he came in.

In spite of the four or five inches we got, the sun is shining now, and the streets are already almost dry. It's beautiful too.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday Menu

Here's what I'm planning on cooking this week.

M-Well, we were going to have home made rolls and minestrone soup, but that didn't happen. Instead we had oven toasted bagel sandwiches and fruit.
T-Small Group; this week I don't have any food responsibilities!
W-Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, and salad
Th-Chicken pot pie
F-Chicken noodle soup (maybe I'll get those rolls made for Friday's dinner)

Menu-ing tip: Sometimes I like to plan a series of meals that include elements from the previous days' meals. This makes dinner prep simpler and makes it easier to use leftovers in a creative and appealing way. For example, this week I'm going to roast extra chicken on Wednesday. I'll use some of the left over chicken in Thursday's pot pie, and then on Friday I'll use the chicken bones to make broth and throw the last bits of left over chicken into the soup.

What are you cooking this week?

Coming soon...

is a quilt for Little Man! I am going to make him a special quilt to help the transition to a toddler bed. Well, at least that's my excuse for taking on a new project. : ) I am planning it to be somewhere between baby quilt and twin bed quilt sized and would like for the finished result to look something like this without the applique.

Little Man loves the color orange, so I went through my boxes of fabric and pulled out all the oranges that I thought would be boyish enough. I'm combining them with some blues (also from my stash) for a vibrant, boyish effect.
I couldn't resist getting some new fabric too, so I ordered some of this adorable print designed by Michael Miller. (Incidentally, the Etsy shop I ordered it from has amazing customer service. I would certainly recommend them!)
Little Man chose it from the three or four prints that I had bookmarked. When he saw it, he lit up and exclaimed: "Trucks! Signs! I need trucks and signs!" I can't wait until the fabric gets here and I can get started. In the meantime, Little Man is carrying around the orange and blue fabrics and talking happily about "my twilt!" and I am planning on working on the Elizabeth handbag (designed by me) to post in my Etsy shop.