July 26, 2011

lazy days

A few weeks ago I talked a little about our summer mornings.  We have been in full summer mode for quite some time around here.  We pushed through that wall we had hit, and have managed to settle into a routine.  It's a bit of a lazy routine, but it works for now.  And while the rest of the country has been experiencing a heat wave, it's been rather mild here, unusually so I would say and I rather like it that way.

I didn't want to go weeks and weeks without posting here, and then pop-in one day and try to explain where I've been.  So I'm giving you advanced warning that blogging will probably be a bit on the lighter side for the next few weeks.  Truth is I need a bit of a blog vacation, just a little one.  I do plan on posting, just not as much as usual (my goal for the summer has been three times per week and I have met this goal aside from the week I was feeling ill).  Basically, with the school year coming soon I need to finalize our plans, order a few more books, and get organized for the year.  Now is the time... some things that I have been putting off just need to get done.  And while I've been enjoying these lazy days with the boys, I need to start making some changes in my own routines and habits so that I can slowly change the overall routine and add schooling into our days.

Before I leave for today I want to share a couple of layouts with you.  One aspect of these lazy days we've been enjoying is that I have been able to scrapbook inside, quietly, while the boys play outside.  This layout documents a bit of that play and is one of my favorite layouts from this summer:

I made this many weeks ago now, but I still love it.  The Toy Box collection from Crate Paper has to be one of the best boy-themed lines to come out in a while, at least I think so.  Another one of my favorite boy-themed collections is Rocket Age from October Afternoon.  This one will be especially useful since Gabe is obsessed with all things space and flight.  When we were in Seattle we visited the Museum of Flight.  He fell in love with rockets and has talked about nothing else since.  So a few weeks back we took a trip to the San Diego Air & Space Museum.  It is much smaller than the Museum of Flight, but Gabe loved it just as much.  They have  a special exhibit at the moment all about space and we got to see the Apollo 9 Command Module "Gumdrop" which is on loan from the Smithsonian:

Even though the museum is small, it is jam-packed and we didn't get to see everything in detail.  I foresee us making more trips there in the future.

How is your summer coming along?  Are you looking forward to the school year?  I always love to hear from my friends and readers, so take a moment to say hi?  Until next time, God bless. =)

July 21, 2011

on the agenda for today

A few weeks ago I saw a recipe for blueberry pie on my friend Christina's blog and just a few days later I made one:

I almost never have that kind of turn around time between inspiration and execution.  I don't know what got into me!  I have also never made blueberry pie before, and it's been a long time since I made crust from scratch so I thought this would be a good test of my baking skills.  Mine didn't turn out quite as lovely as the photo in the original recipe, but it was unbelievably delicious.  (I didn't crimp my edges enough and so they lost their shape as the pie baked.  Also, I made the stars around the pie too large and too low and so the juices spilled out, as you can see). 

The recipe for the pie crust is amazing too.  I typically make my crust in the food processor, but this recipe uses a stand mixer.  Instead of letting the dough rest and then rolling it out, you can roll it out immediately and then after the pie is assembled you chill the pie before baking.  To me the finished baked crust was the perfect mix between flaky and chewy.  I find that really flaky pie crust tends to be dry, but no one wants a completely chewy pie crust either.  I think the perfect crust is a mix of both and this one hit the mark for me. 

I'll just say again that I was very pleased with the results.  Which was a little strange because I don't really love blueberries.  They are probably my least favorite berry.  And the boys who would eat blueberries endlessly if I let them?  They didn't like this pie at all.  Weird.  Anyhow, I've been commanded by someone to make this pie again.  That person even did the legwork of buying the most necessary ingredient:

So, that's what I'll be doing today. =)

July 20, 2011

if you're looking for me...

I'm blogging at Write.Click.Scrapbook. today.  Talking about my favorite embellishment, buttons.  Stop to find out how you can make this card:
and see what else I've shared.

July 18, 2011

still stretching...

We are three-quarters of the way through the

over at the Ella blog.  The sketch today is number 8 in the series which means there are only four more to go!  It certainly has been a fun series for me so far.  This week I used the sketch to make a layout using some of my favorite photos from this past spring:

Journaling reads:  On one of the first warm days of spring, we decided to go on a picnic. Once at the park we enjoyed a simple lunch of PB & Js and apple slices. After we ate, we played in the park.  It was a happy and beautiful day. March 9, 2011

Joining me in the challenge this week is Ella Friend, Keshet Starr.  Keshet is a twenty-four year old law student living with her (very patient and scrapbook-supportive) husband, Steven in the New York area.  She began scrapbooking at the age sixteen, after her business professor father consulted for a scrapbook company and received free product.  Her father has since commented that it was his worst consulting job ever, considering that the amount of money he paid into the industry far exceeded his retainer!  Keshet’s scrapbooking style has morphed throughout the years, and she currently enjoys learning every new technique she can afford to dabble in, largely sponsored by finds on ebay.  She occasionally has nightmares about something dreadful happening to her scrapbook supplies, which are stored in a beautiful room that her husband painted aqua for her.  Keshet has only recently discovered the online scrapbook world, and now spends far too much of her studying time exploring it.

When she is not scrapbooking, Keshet enjoys reading (novels, nonfiction, anything!), baking, hosting big Shabbat dinners, spending time with friends, eating chocolate and visiting her hometown of Ohio.  She hopes to travel to Israel, Italy and Hawaii in the near future, and finally go on her honeymoon, though there’s no telling when this is actually going to happen!  Read more about Keshet at her blog, Over the Rainbow.

I know that we are at the height of summer and everyone is very busy, but I hope you'll take a moment to visit The Daily Trumpet to see sketch #8

Have a great week!

July 13, 2011

our strawberry picking adventure in photos... and a few words

You'll have to forgive my lack of blogging this week.  I've been feeling a bit under the weather and I just haven't had the inclination to post much of anything.  But, participating in {pretty, happy, funny, real} is easy enough (when I remember to do it!) and so I thought I'd share a few photos from our recent strawberry picking adventure.  In no particular order:

Gabe is so very choosy about which berries are worthy of picking.  
Here he is showing-off one of his excellent choices.  

While at the farm, we split up and daddy took Nathan duties.  
When we met back up his bucket was full and he was so proud and happy to carry this bucket all by himself.

The only photo I could manage to get of the two of them together.  
Gabe is not even looking into the camera. *sigh*

On the way home... berry picking is hard work, he even felt the need to remove his sandals!  So cute though, to see his sweaty little head. =)

Hello to any of you who have visited via Like Mother, Like Daughter, thank you for stopping by!

round button chicken

July 8, 2011

Empty Cupboard Recipe: Lazy Pulled Pork

Erin, of bearing blog, is starting a round-up of empty cupboard recipes.  The idea being that we all share meal ideas and recipes for those days when we haven't had a chance to make it to the grocery store.  What do you make when you're cooking from the pantry (or freezer)?  I absolutely love this idea and have often thought of posting these types of recipes here, so this is the perfect opportunity to do just that and to get some great ideas from others while I'm at it.

Here are the rules as outlined by Erin:
  1. Write a post about what you managed to throw together when you hadn't yet gotten a chance to go grocery shopping.  
  2. You have to post the whole meal, not just one recipe.  (This is especially important if no actual recipes were harmed during the preparation of the meal.
  3. It's okay if one or more of the components was packaged/prepared/processed, out of season, non-organic, or raspberry Jell-o (TM).  I'm interested in the whole picture of thinking out of the box to create a pleasant dining experience for your family.
On a typical week I go grocery shopping on Tuesdays.  Monday is my catch-up day from the weekend and I usually spend it cleaning and planning for the week ahead.  This week since Monday was a holiday that shifted my catch-up day to Tuesday.  In addition to that special circumstance, this past Tuesday we took my car into the mechanic and so I did not have a car for the day, meaning I couldn't have gone grocery shopping even if I had wanted to.  So, what to make for dinner?  The night before I decided that we should have pulled pork sandwiches and so I pulled out a pork roast from the freezer and left it in the refrigerator to defrost overnight.  I didn't have most of the ingredients that I use for my usual recipe so the next day I cooked the roast very plainly and simply in the slow-cooker with some chicken stock.

{This is where my Crock Pot lives while in use, this little corner of our kitchen.}

Most pulled pork recipes call for using pork shoulder but I use sirloin tip roast.  I buy a four pack at Costco and it costs $1.99/lb (I must tell any new readers that I live in Southern California and this is a good price for a roast of any cut!)  It may not have as much flavor as pork shoulder, but it is much leaner and therefore healthier while still providing a good source of protein.  It cooks nicely too and becomes very tender when cooked long and slow.  Generally I cook the pork in a sauce of some kind, take the meat out, shred it, and then add the sauce back.  This week I simply added barbecue sauce to the meat after I finished shredding it (well, half of it).

When I am shopping I look for packs that are around 8lbs total, so approximately 2lbs per roast.  We typically only eat about one-third of a roast per meal and so for about $4 we get enough meat for three mealtimes.  This week we used the leftovers to have pork tostadas (and we'll have them again this weekend).

I also had some cabbage leftover from the week before.  Cabbage seems to be one of those never-ending vegetables in my house.  I can never seem to use it up!  Which meant that coleslaw was on the menu too.  Perfect with the pulled pork.

The last addition was a side of tator tots.  What can I say about this except that we all love tator tots.  Maybe we shouldn't, but we don't eat them that often and I try not to get too hung-up on these things.

{Still frozen... in case you are wondering!}

So there you have it:  pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, tator tots and the remainder of the last batch of pickles.  Gabe had everything on the menu except we switched out the coleslaw for carrot sticks, and Nathan had a peanut butter sandwich instead of the pulled pork.  He is still not a big meat eater and we don't push it.

I want to say hello to anyone who is visiting from Erin's blog.  Thanks for stopping by!  Have a blessed weekend. =)

July 6, 2011

sort of addicted

A few weeks ago I came across a post on The Pioneer Woman for a recipe for perfect iced coffee.  I honestly have no idea how I got there because I am not a regular reader of her site.  I think I found my way there via Pinterest, following a photography link and then was completely distracted by a lovely picture of coffee in the sidebar.  I made a batch that very weekend and fell in love with coffee all over again. 

I should say that this is not really a recipe so much as an outline of a technique.  It's a cold brew method and it produces a finished beverage with the most amazing velvety smooth coffee flavor that almost tastes as if you've added chocolate to your drink.  She also linked to an article from Imbibe magazine which goes into the details of hot vs. cold brew methods when it comes to making iced coffee (for someone who likes to understand the why of something, this was an interesting read).  The two methods produce slightly different final products each with their own unique flavors.  I learned that the cold brew method produces coffee with a much lower level of acidity too, 67% less.  We drink a coffee that is already low-acid, so that has never been an issue for me, but fascinating nonetheless and it makes sense given what I already knew about brewing hot coffee.

The only problem with finding this recipe is that for a couple of weeks I was drinking a little too much coffee.  I love coffee, but I also like to sleep at night, and it was keeping me up (I already have a hard time shutting off my brain at night).  So, I'm switching to decaf.  I'll have my regular hot coffee in the morning (fully caffeinated please!), and then a glass of iced coffee in the afternoon.  Sure, it won't give me that sometimes-much-needed afternoon pick-me-up, but at least I'll be able to sleep at night.  In fact, I have my first batch of decaf brewing as I type.  Tomorrow I'll be able to get back to my habit.

And I can hardly wait. =)

July 4, 2011

the first Monday of July means...

Happy 4th of July!  I hope you are enjoying your holiday weekend as much as we are.  Today we have a super-secret-surprise adventure planned for the boys.  Gabe in particular is going to get a big kick out of where we are headed today!

Before we head off, it is the first Monday of the month and so that means there is a new sketch in the

I wanted to share my layout from sketch number seven:

I finally documented our family's pickle love.  Just this weekend we went to Costco and I picked up another two pound bag of cucumbers.  We'll have a fresh batch of these soon. =)

Joining me this week is Ella Friend, Valerie Mangan.  Valerie is an incredibly talented card maker, and so to keep things a bit interesting in our challenge I asked her to make a card from the sketch instead of a layout.  Here is a little sneak peek:

Valerie says, "I’m a working wife & mom to two young children living in coastal New Jersey. I started scrapbooking (technically) when I was in my teens but became serious about the hobby when my daughter was born in 2003. I didn’t start making cards until 2008, when I was arm-twisted  talked into joining in on a card swap with some local crafters. Now I can’t imagine not making cards. The smaller canvas is ideal for trying out new techniques, design and product.  I’m always on the look-out for inspiration but my go-to source is my day job, where I work as an interior designer. I find trends in color, pattern and material are constantly crossing over into my papercrafts. When I’m not working on a paper project, I love to visit the city (New York), bake, take pictures and read about art and design."

Valerie blogs at paper & cookies where she shares her beautiful layouts and cards as well as her other creative pursuits.

Visit The Daily Trumpet to see the sketch for this week.  I really do love seeing what everyone comes up with using the sketches.  I usually come away quite inspired and so I hope you will play along!

July 1, 2011

it's a new month

The beginning of the month always means one thing

there's a new gallery at Write.Click.Scrapbook.  This month we tackled the subject of weddings.  Here is my contribution:

We have a few hundred wedding photos, I don't remember the exact number, and these three are my favorite.  They were taken after our ceremony and just before the reception.  I haven't added any journaling to my page yet, but I probably will soon.  Sometimes we get a gallery topic that challenges me a little more than usual, like the month we did Young Me Now Me.  Initially, I didn't have any journaling on the page I made for that month either.  I needed a little bit of time to think about the story behind the photos and what stood out to me most.  I did eventually add in some journaling later.  I will probably do the same with this layout.  Do go visit the gallery.  There are so many different ideas and interpretations on this month's theme, I know you'll find something to inspire you.

I'll be back on Monday with another sketch for the Stretch Your Sketches Challenge Series.  Until then, have a blessed weekend!


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