Saturday, June 26, 2010

some saturday organization…

so, if you’ve been to my house or have seen pictures of my dining room, you know about the “art wall”. basically, we have a big, blank wall that spans the kitchen and dining room and we decided to use it to display the kids’ (read: layla’s) art. it was getting pretty full and i was dreading the process of pulling it all down and/or taking down old stuff and putting newer stuff up, and then trying to figure out what to do w/ the old stuff, etc. etc.

we got a BIG shelf for free a couple of months ago and i wanted to use it to gather and organize all of my homeschooling supplies in one place – out of micah’s reach. it’s been sitting in the garage, collecting random crap (i think that’s related to the theory of chaos) because there wasn’t any place in the house where it would fit, that didn’t already have furniture there and i hadn’t figured out what to do w/ it yet.

BUT, i knew i HAD to do something about the school stuff. our current system (or lack thereof) was NOT working. micah would get into stuff, spread it all over the floor; i had things in boxes out in the garage (out of sight, out of mind) and not getting used. i had things left over from when i quit teaching that i wanted to use, but weren’t accessible easily… the whole thing was just one big, disorganized mess. the story of my life!

anyway, i decided to bring the shelf into the dining room. we do most school work in here anyway. so i stripped all the things off the wall… any guesses which of the 3 piles is layla’s?002

so now that all that is down, the wall looks like this:001  and then, finally:004

do you think i’m starting to look like a homeschooler?

i pulled stuff onto that shelf from every room in the house… okay, well not the bathrooms. i pulled stuff out of my preschool boxes, finally pulled some encyclopedia-type books that have been in a box for years, put all the art supplies in a location that might actually encourage me to USE them, scoured shane’s pit bedroom to find this, that, and the other thing that didn’t belong in there… holy cow! i have sections for each different subject. and i think the best thing is that i managed to locate 19 pencils WITH erasers!

i’m sure there’s more stuff that needs to go on there, so fortunately there’s still more space! and i just remembered i have a globe that will look great on top! ;)

and now i need a replacement art wall…

Thursday, June 24, 2010

sourdough – installment 2!

well, i guess i did it right! today was day 4 since i made my starter. it had bubbled, grown, shrunk, and bubbled some more and was starting to smell more like wine than yeast. my experienced sourdough-making friend angie assured me that this meant that it had ‘soured’ and i could now use it. so i did. i decided to use my bread machine to do the mixing and kneading for me, but i wanted to bake it in the oven. i used the recipe for sourdough in my bread machine instruction book, and then used the baking instructions in a cookbook i have. at any rate, we have success!!!004 i was afraid they were a little too done, but actually, the bread and even the crust is still soft, even though it looks kind of dark.006 we dove right in and holy yumness! i think it could be a little more ‘sour’, so i’m going to leave my replenished starter out a day or two before i ‘put it to sleep’ in the fridge. but as it was, it was wonderful. i tried to take a picture of shane enjoying it, because his piece was bigger, but he decided to be camera shy. layla, however, is NEVER camera shy. 007 i offered micah some bread, but he had other plans…008 009 like getting into the fridge and helping himself to a cucumber. ::sigh::

in completely unrelated news… i managed to pull the proverbial rabbit out of my hat tonight, and came up w/ a FABULOUS stir fry! 005that sort of thing is always quite an accomplishment for me, considering i had no idea what we were having for dinner and was trying to avoid going to the store. i served it over brown rice and it was SO yummy!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

my vacuum cleaner sucks!

no pun intended…

i’ve had this vacuum cleaner for almost 6 years. i’ve been ready to be done with it for about 5.

i have the dirt devil ‘jaguar’ bagless vacuum. we only paid about $75 for it at target, which, in vacuumcleanerland, is not very much. still, it’s $75. i tried to find a picture of it on the dirt devil website, but apparently, they no longer sell it, which is probably a good thing. so i had to take my own picture, which is probably better anyway. 002

if you think it looks a bit ‘off’, that’s not just the perspective of the picture. it is a bit off. about a year after getting this vacuum, the latch that keeps it standing upright broke. so, any time you want to NOT be holding onto it (as in, any time it’s not in use) it has to lean against something or it will fall over. ANNOYING! but livable. and then, more recently, THIS happened: 003 that’s a picture of the bottom of it,from the back. note the missing wheel. yup. a wheel broke off. so now, when using the vacuum, if you want the sucking part of it to actually touch the floor, you have to continually crank the vacuum to the right with your hand while pushing it back and forth. FUN! it’s not the lightest or most maneuverable vacuum either.

you might recall, a few years back, i wrote a post about my roomba and how much i loved it. well, that was before sophie moved back in and her hair killed it.

what i really want is the dyson animal.

check out this product review video i found. it’s pretty funny and if you grew up in the 80’s in the US, you’ll appreciate the musical selections and ‘other’ sound effects. i wish someone would send ME a dyson to try out!

at any rate, i covet. i know, i know, ‘thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s vacuum cleaner’ and all that. but really, how can you not?

so anyway, if anyone happens to have a spare $550 laying around, float those suckers my way!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

banana bread recipe

thought i’d share my banana bread recipe on here. i made 4 loaves yesterday ( =1 full recipe) and remembered to take a picture. i love this recipe because it’s super easy to make, and it’s healthy, so i don’t mind the kids having a slice or two for breakfast or a snack throughout the day. micah actually had it for dinner last night, after he woke up from this accidental nap: 002 he had been impatiently waiting to be able to eat some during the whole time it was baking and had a full-out, fall on the floor, hysterical fit when i wouldn’t slice them up the second the loaves were out of the oven. then he fell asleep.

i got this recipe from my dad and i have no idea where he got it, so i can’t give appropriate credit where it is due.

anyway, here’s the recipe (with my inevitable variations noted):

  • 6 VERY ripe, mashed bananas
  • 2 cups sugar (or less if you desire)
  • 1 cup oil (or applesauce)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt (or plain + a little vanilla extract and honey)
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups flour (i do either half white and half whole wheat OR, 1 white and 3 whole wheat)

i beat the bananas in a large bowl with a handmixer first and then add the rest of the wet ingredients, then the dry. mix well. if you have 4 loaf pans, you’re lucky. use them all. i only have 2, so i divide the batter roughly in half and bake them in shifts. grease the pans with oil and bake at 350-360* for 40 –45 minutes. i know that’s vague, but i’ve found that getting them done w/out being too brown on the edges varies from oven to oven. basically, when a toothpick comes out clean, they’re done and if the tops are getting too brown, put some foil over them. cool on a rack. you can also add things like raisins, nuts or chocolate chips, if you so desire.004 of course, if you only want to make 2 loaves, you can easily half the recipe, or if you happen to only have 3 bananas! ;)

i like to make the full recipe when i can because we go through it so fast. i wrap 2 in plastic wrap and foil and then freeze them. i don’t bother freezing the third because a loaf only lasts about a day around here. i made these yesterday afternoon and we’ve already killed one loaf and cut into the second.

note about the bananas: i used to find it difficult to get 6 excessively ripe bananas at the same time, which is how i wound up halving the recipe in the first place. then i started freezing my bananas as soon as they started turning brown. i would peel them and put them in a freezer bag. then i got lazy and started just tossing them in the freezer, peel and all. this actually works out much better! they’re kind of hard (and unpleasant) to peel when they’re frozen, but i discovered that if you run them under a little warm water, the peel comes off quite easily – especially if you go from the bottom up, and it helps thaw them a little too. this way they’re not all frozen together in a big glob, which takes forever to thaw. i am able to start beating them as soon as they are all peeled and in the bowl.

as an interesting side note, i don’t actually know from personal experience if this banana bread is good or not, since i don’t care for banana bread and never eat it. i assume, however, that it is good because it disappears fast! ;)

happy baking!

Monday, June 21, 2010

books

so i have, what i’ve coined as, “book ADD”. basically, i love books. i love to read. i love the king county library system and their fabulous website. i love clicking the “place hold” button. i generally have upwards of 35 books checked out, a hold list a mile long, and a running ‘tab’ of fines for overdue books. but here’s the problem. i generally have so many books and i want to read them all, that i never wind up reading any of them. i’ll bring home a book, read a chapter or two, and then the next book on my list will come in. repeat. eventually, i will have read 2 chapters of a dozen or so books, they will be due to go back, and i’ll never get around to finishing them. ugh!

well, i’m officially attempting to ‘kick that habit’. at my husband’s repeated suggestion, i’m learning to make use of the ‘freeze’ button on the library’s website. this enables you to keep your hold on the book, but not receive it until you want it. it just moves other people’s holds ahead of yours. this is great for me, because the reason i place so many holds is because i hear about a book i want to read, check if the library has it, and immediately place the hold – basically so i don’t forget that i want to read it.

so anyway, i finished a book the other day. really! it’s quite an accomplishment for me. :-P and i was so inspired by this event, that i immediately grabbed almost every other library book out of my house and returned them! hahaha! illogical, i know. but most of them were just ‘i might be interested in this sort of thing someday’ sorts of books. so now my (hopefully realistic) goal is to 1) read only 1 book at a time, and 2) to finish it! to that end, i’ve set up a bookshelf here on my blog, which will feature the books i’ve finished, the book i’m currently reading, and the next one ‘on the docket’. my bible will be a permanent fixture on the shelf, as that’s ongoing. hopefully i can avoid a book ADD relapse!

so what is it i like to read? lots! i generally prefer non-fiction – somehow i have trouble justifying reading fiction when there are so many pertinent and important non-fiction books out there that i just have to read. (please note: making fun of self here.) my interests vary to some degree, and to some degree stay the same. occasionally something will fly in from left field and that’s okay too. sometimes it’s one of those, “i’ve never read that before and i probably should, just so i can say i’ve done it” situations. other times, it will be a book referenced in another book i’m reading. sometimes i’ll see something on tv or someone else will mention something and i’ll have to find out everything i can about that particular subject. sometimes i read knitting books, sometimes cookbooks. as an example, the stack of books i just returned covered the following subjects: beekeeping, bread baking, spinning, soap making, pioneer living, homeschooling, gardening, reading instruction, feminism, religion, housekeeping… need i go on? sometimes i will read books on topics that i want to ‘do’ or ‘be’, other times they’re topics i’m interested in because i’m curious how these things affect other things. sometimes i read books that don’t appeal to me at all, but i want to know about whatever is in them because i’m just plain curious. so don’t freak out if you find ‘the communist manifesto’ or something like that on my list. it doesn’t mean i am or want to be a communist! ;)

what can i say? i’m a curious person. i love books. the end.

STRIKE!

shane’s drama class had their performances this weekend. the class of 21 k-6th graders has been rehearsing for 2 hours every wednesday, all year. this year’s play was a musical production called STRIKE!, a play written by one of the mothers of kids in the class. it’s similar in subject matter to the disney movie, ‘newsies’. 025 he’s the one on the far left, having his shoes shined in the opening scene.028 later on, same character, an employee of the journal, informing the newsies of the price-hike. 030  and later on, a newspaper photographer accompanying the reporter (his friend, deanna) to report on the strike. sorry the picture is so dark. it was a dark scene and flashes weren’t allowed. besides, he’s wearing a navy suit, so he’s hard to see anyway.

his on stage parts were small because this year, he (and deanna) were also the stage managers, a job he was very excited about and apparently did very well!

proud mama! ;)

sourdough! installment 1

dave and i both LOVE sourdough bread. the kids probably don’t think they do, but the do, and even if they don’t, who cares! so since i’ve been recently talking about and dabbling in making my own bread, sourdough has been something on the list of wanting to try. i’ve never done it before, and i think i was always a little intimidated by the ‘extra’ part of the process.

but after doing a little reading, i decided that it didn’t sound THAT complicated and this morning i bit the bullet. my very first sourdough starter is currently fermenting on the kitchen counter.032 see all those bubbles? that’s a good thing. it means it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing. SO, in about 5 days, it should quit bubbling, and smell ‘sour’, at which point i can use some of it to make some bread… and hopefully follow up with a successful installment 2 post!

it all sounds kind of gross, since we generally think of avoiding things that have fermented or gone sour, especially when thinking of food… but really, this is all just a part of how FOOD gets from that which grows out of the ground to that which is on your plate or in your glass. beer anyone?

at any rate, i’m really looking forward to it and can’t wait to keep ‘feeding’ my starter and try out other sourdough recipes.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

bread and produce and such.

i brought my bread machine out of retirement today. it is currently concocting some italian herb bread to go with our soup tonight. i hope. it always amazes me how that little paddle in the bottom of the mixer can actually do everything it does. anyway, i’m hoping it will be yummy… especially since i had to play w/ the recipe a little bit. (of course.) it calls for 3 and a half cups of bread flour, which i don’t have. so i used 2 cups of AP flour and a cup and a half of whole wheat (because i’ve officially turned into my mother and can’t make anything with just white flour…) it also called for 1/4 cup of parmesan, which i’m out of (yeah, i didn’t actually PLAN to make this bread… the idea just sort of occurred to me as i was wandering the aisles at qfc this afternoon). so anyway, i hope it’s good.

i should really use the breadmaker more often. i don’t know why i don’t. we got it as a wedding gift from my aunt marilynne and uncle loren - yep, the one that just died – so i’m thinking of him as my bread is baking ;) and we used it a lot back then. made sandwich bread and everything. then after we moved back to WA, i don’t think it’s been used once.

anyway, i went to the yakima fruit market today and i can’t say i was overly impressed. the prices are good, but they didn’t seem to have any more organic or local produce than a typical grocery store w/ a good organic section. sooo… i’m kind of back at square one here. i visited the issaquah farmer’s market on saturday and got some great organic salad greens for a great price from a lady there, but that was all i wound up with. i wanted to get some strawberries, but i just can’t bring myself to pay $4 a pint. especially when my own strawberry plants have lots of berries on them and some are starting to ripen up already. so i decided to be patient instead. for some reason, shopping at a farmer’s market is very confusing to me. part of the problem is money. i have a specifically set budget for groceries, and i have a pretty good grasp of how far that money goes at the grocery store when i’m buying everything i want for the week. when i start getting this here and that there, i get really confused about it and numbers just start swirling around in my head… i’m not really a math person.  the other trouble i have is with having to reverse my thinking. since i’m not exactly the best or most adventurous cook, i have to be very specific in my planning. i’m not good at opening a cupboard or the fridge, seeing what i’ve got, and then somehow coming up with dinner from that. when i plan our meals, i pick out what we want to eat first, and then make my shopping list accordingly. when you go to the farmer’s market, you see what they’ve got that is in season and looks good. i always wind up looking at stuff that looks really yummy, but then i don’t know what i would do with it if i bought it. or i could buy whatever they’ve got that looks good, and have a bunch of random stuff that doesn’t really go together in any logical way to make a week’s worth of meals, but i blew a wad of cash and now i don’t have much left with which to buy the stuff that does turn into meals. you see?  aaagggghhh!!!! it drives me nuts that this is the only way i know how to shop and cook. i feel so non-creative and inadequate.

but it’s all a learning process, right? i suppose my family won’t starve… they might not be very happy with me for a while.

i’m also considering the organic farm box delivery from full circle farms. it’s $40 a week to have it delivered to a drop-off location that’s just a block or two from my house, or i could pay $5 more to get it delivered to my door. of course, that leads into the reverse planning thing as well, so i’m not entirely sure. anyway. i’m over-thinking things again, as usual. and i need to go get my soup started.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

media purge.

i can really only blame my lack of posts on not having any interesting thoughts or happenings going on, but i will also attribute it to my trying to stay away from the computer as much as possible and remember what i SHOULD be doing instead.

i admit that i have a slight facebook addiction. believe it or not, i threaten to delete my account almost weekly. i have a number of reasons for this… generally i do it when i get myself into trouble by making a comment about (what turns into) a controversial topic and wind up offending someone that the comment was never even aimed at… but then i think about the ease of connection i have between family and friends and i decide to stick with it. but the thing that has been bugging me about it lately is that i spend too much time worrying about something as stupid as my facebook account. it’s not that i sit here, all day, on facebook. holy cow that would be boring! i would need to have like 4 million friends in order to have anything new to read, and i’m not really a game player. no, it’s how i feel this constant need to check my email. i ‘need’ to see if anyone has commented on anything i’ve commented on or stuff like that. and then of course, i need to go back and re-comment on stuff, at which time i find new stuff to comment on, etc. etc. etc…  it is SO stupid. so anyway, i’ve gone into a voluntary facebook ‘detox’ in hopes that i can break myself from the stupid magnetic pull of this computer. this is why i REFUSE to have an iphone or the like. it’s bad enough that i can’t get away from this box sitting in the middle of my house. i shudder at the thought of having one that followed me around everywhere.

in a couple of months, our direcTV contract is up and it is NOT being renewed. i am SO excited to be done with this. of course, i’m sure my husband and children will completely disagree. i don’t really watch much tv. there are only a couple shows i ever watch, and i could easily live without those. mostly i use the tv for the kids. yes, i admit it. if i need to get something done or have a little bit of time (hopefully) without interruption, i turn on a show for them. i also find myself using it to diffuse situations where someone is tired and hysterical or kids that are getting in each other’s faces repeatedly and need a mandatory break from each other, especially if the weather is bad AND in that hell-like hour between 5 and 6pm. i’m not proud of that. i know that there are better ways to handle situations like this, but it’s just too easy. too convenient. and then there are the times i KNOW they’ve been watching too much because they can’t come up with anything else to do with themselves, or they get all belligerent or hysterical if i make them turn it off. i’m also pretty particular about what they watch. although i’m sure i’ll miss phineas and ferb when the cable is gone, disney channel drives me nuts. although i appreciate the lack of ‘commercials’ that you get w/ a lot of kids’ programs for stuff like toys, candy, and crap cereal, what we get is previews for shows that i don’t allow my kids to watch and music videos from their latest teenage vixens. ugh! anyway, i’ll be glad when this isn’t an issue anymore… although i will miss my dvr. yeah, yeah, jekyll and hyde, here.

anyway. i realize the irony of the fact that i’m sitting her at this computer, typing about how much i don’t like it. i should probably also admit that my children are currently watching a cartoon. :-/  i don’t hate the computer. i don’t hate tv. i don’t even hate iphones… i just hate the negative side of these things. the time-suck aspect and the ‘busy’ aspect. i feel the need to be ‘busy’ with other things. things i need to do, as well as those things that i enjoy doing. it drives me nuts when i set out with the intention to sit down for a half hour and read a book or work on a knitting project, but i just decide to ‘check my email’ first. UGH! before i know it, that half hour is gone and what have i accomplished? NOTHING! there’s 30 minutes of my life GONE.

so anyway, i’d say i’ve wasted enough time here for today, time to unplug myself from here for now.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

blah.

i haven’t posted much lately because i haven’t had anything to post that wasn’t depressing. but, i figured i should put up something.

well, the biggest thing right now is that my dear uncle loren passed away last friday. we knew it was getting to be near the end, but not quite that close. thankfully, my husband planned a trip for the kids and i to go down and visit. i have trouble with that sort of planning thing… i’ll say, ‘yeah, i should do that’ but then have trouble actually pulling the trigger. well, he did it all for me, and basically said, you’re leaving tomorrow and you’re staying with barb. we left on thursday morning, got to their house in vancouver in the afternoon, had a little visit, which was SO nice, and then went on to barb’s. as it turned out, he died the next day. i don’t think anyone expected it to happen that fast, but it’s really a blessing. i think everyone’s prayer was that if the Lord was going to take him, that it happen fast, and he not have to live in pain for a long time. goodness i will miss him, but knowing he is in heaven and cancer-free is a wonderful thing to think about. at any rate, his service is this coming friday, so we’re all going down again. i’m really looking forward to spending time with family again, and sharing memories.

of course, all this might have a monkey wrench thrown in (or a spanner, eh kate?) if my kids and their germs won’t cooperate. 2 of 3 are down right now. shane’s got some sort of bad sore throat/headache/looks like it’s moving toward a cold sort of thing, and micah’s got an ear infection. again. he was in to the dr. a couple weeks ago because he woke up w/ his eye glued shut and it turned out to be, not only conjunctivitis, but also both ears infected. we went in yesterday for a re-check, now that he’s finished his meds, and he’s got another infection in the right ear. lame. doc said it could be an entirely new infection. either way, it needs to go away. he’s very grumpy right now, and hasn’t been sleeping well – guess we know why, now – and i’d really love to have happy micah back.

so far layla’s okay, but i’m holding my breath at this point!

we have some pseudo-house guests right now. i say pseudo, because they’ve got their motor-home parked in our driveway. but we still see plenty of them and the kids are having fun (mostly) playing together. layla calls noah her ‘special friend’. it’s pretty cute.

what else? anything?

i’ve got a couple of new knitting projects going right now. one is a lace shawl that might be proving more complicated than i have the patience to deal with… at least while trying to be social. at this point it seems to be a ‘lock yourself in a room alone’ kind of project. i currently have about 4 rows that i have to take out, so it’s on hold because i’d rather knit than un-knit. so i’ve got some bamboo sock(s) going as well. i’m really enjoying this project. hopefully i’ll have pictures to post of something soon!

oh, and the weather SUCKS! it’s been nothing but gloom and rain for weeks now and nothing too promising in the foreseeable future. like in the 55*-65* range. blech! i’m really ready for it to be summer.

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