Projects! Projects everywhere!

Clearly I haven’t been blogging recently, so what have I been up to?  Looooving summer, that’s what!

First of all, we’ve found it next to impossible to keep up with the kitchen cleaning for the last year.  It’s truly disgusting.  Part of the problem is that I have so many dishes(I love dishes far too much) that there is really no urgency to wash them every day.  Things stack and the sink is good sized and hey, why wash a spoon and bowl when there is another couple dozen clean in the cabinet.  But this was the state of the kitchen way too often.

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Should mention that we haven’t used a dishwasher for over a year. Ours broke and we’re too picky to replace it. Would it help? I don’t know. The way the old one was working things had to be 90%clean before they went in, and they came out 70% clean. Stupid. So we hand wash it all.

Oh. My. Word.  Everything on the counter is dirty.  I have to say, I wash at least a sinkful of dishes every day, but if that sinkful is pots and pans, or the silverware, it really doesn’t make much dent in the worst of the cluttery stuff.  I should have opened the cupboards to show that I still have probably that much again still clean.  I just have tons of great dishes, but if I have to do an hour of cleanup just to expose the counters enough to cook?  Insane.  Especially when I find myself using(and then washing) a bunch of dishes I’m apathetic about because some part of me “saves” dishes for special occasions.  So I got rid of a box of stuff that wasn’t used/was too much/didn’t love.  Then, after three two hour washing sessions over three days I got everything clean and away and declared that things were changing.   Continue reading

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Dark Fudge Brownie Recipe

Brownies are one of those things that most people have their favorite version of, fluffy, gooey, cakey, frosted, nuts, no nuts, crunchy(fates forfend!), etc, etc, etc.  Before this week I had an idea of what I liked, dark and dense, but no recipe that got me what I wanted, which led to online searches and trying a different recipe every time I wanted brownies.  Finally though!  Finally I have my ideal brownie recipe!  There’s a lot of words for all the ways I could describe a great brownie, but this picture really says more for me.

drooling yet?

That, my friends, is my ideal brownie.  So much chocolate.  No dryness.  That pretty shiny crackle layer on top.  An almost truffle-like density.  Milk’s new best friend.  If a brownie were ever to be divine, it would be this one.  It would win the brownidential elections.  It will one day build it’s own rocket to the moon.  It will pave the way to world peace.  It will…  Oh, recipe?  Very well. Continue reading

Granola Recipe

One thing I always like to have in my pantry is a good sized box of homemade granola.  It’s yummy, healthy and totally easy to keep a big batch on hand.  The babies and I were up earlier than usual one morning so we all whipped out a batch together.

Granola helpers!

Granola helpers!

My recipe is based on this one, with, as always, a few tweaks.  Start with your dry ingredients.

your choice of dry fruit, nuts or seeds

Your choice of dry fruit, nuts or seeds

mixed into your cereals(oats and puffed rice for me)

mixed into your cereals. Mostly oats, but I like to add up to half puffed, unsweetened rice cereal to make a lighter granola.

taste for quality

Taste for quality.  Ascher thought this was the best thing ever and was in a hurry to pick all the dry fruit out before I changed my mind about letting him stir.  I didn’t.  :)

and give it a good stir.

Give it a good stir.

Heat your oil and honey together.

Heat your oil and honey together.  I absolutely recommend coconut oil.  So yummy!  I was using the last of my honey, so pardon the sugary jar.   

spread onto greased cookie sheets

Mix the oil and honey into your dry ingredients and spread onto greased cookie sheets

and bake until golden.

Bake until golden and dig in right away.

serve with milk

Serve with milk…

to a discerning test audience

to a discerning test audience.

Yum!

Yum!  He loves this!

Keep in a airtight jar or bin.  The glass jar here is just for show, I totally use the empty ice cream bucket in the background for my storage.  :)

Keep in a airtight jar or bin. The glass jar here is just for show, I totally use the empty ice cream bucket in the background for my storage. :)

Basic You-Tweak Granola Recipe –

  • Medium Batch – I routinely make twice this much.  It keeps really well, but is yummiest fresh.
  • 6 cups dry oats – replace a couple cups with some puffed rice or corn flakes for variety
  • 3 cups goodies – any combo of your favorite fruits, nuts and seeds.  Try a tropical blend(coconut, pineapple and mango) or a simple classic(walnuts, raisins and cinnamon) or a nut blend or a cranberry almond mix.  Whatever you like, be creative!
  • 1/2 cup oil – coconut is best!
  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
  • Optional, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, maple flavoring, to taste

Preheat oven to 325.  Grease two cookie sheets.  Mix all your dry ingredients together.  Microwave your honey and oil together for about 90 seconds to liquefy and mix it into your dry ingredients.  Spread onto cookie sheets and bake for 13 – 18 minutes.  Store in an airtight container.

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I have a guest post(oh my, how official I sound, haha) over on Erika’s blog.  Go have a look if you’d like to check out some of my favorite versions of fairy tales!

Sweet Talk

At some point growing up we were introduced to the tradition of making graham cracker houses for Christmas, usually in the two or three weeks just before.  I don’t know when that was, exactly, but I have fond memories of the heaps of candy and frosting that were constructed every year by us, our best friends, and eventually many of the kids in our church(still a running tradition for the church kid’s craft day!).    Our house’s construction materials determined what kinds of candy we’d have available for eating in the next week or so, so the trick was to artfully load up the house and yard with as much favorite candy as possible.  All that to say, on my less creative years my house ended up plastered in m&ms and chocolate bears and wreaths and red hots and caramel, veritable mountains of sugar and gluttony.  I do remember skipping the house altogether one year and, after a failed attempt at a greenhouse, doing a stream of blue m&ms with a graham cracker bridge for the gummy bears and a fence of mini candy canes and chocolate rocks.  Ok, actually I cheated.  All I remembered was the stream and bridge, I found a picture, look!  Circa 2005(I was 17), when we still had real pictures!  (thus the digital photo of my scrapbook page, haha.)

Man, I wish I still had that sweater!

Man, I wish I still had that sweater!

In fond memory of all that, this morning after breakfast Ascher and I decorated graham cracker houses.   I constructed the house for him and put down squiggles of frosting for him to stick candy onto.  Gummy bears never made it past his hands,(yum!) but he was quite willing to use other things for decor.  A couple times he even pointed out to me where he wanted frosting for something particular.  He repeatedly pulled things off to restick them elsewhere and generally had a grand time.  We both had fun and neither of us ate too much candy.  I was really excited to share one of my favorite childhood holiday memories and begin the tradition with my babies.  Photos!

When you give sprinkles to toddlers...

When you give sprinkles to toddlers…

Pumpkin on My Mind(or Life, Parenthetically)

I lovelovelove how productivity has this tendency to snowball!  Over the course of the day(in and around keeping babies happy and fed and napped, of course!) I sewed a new cloth pumpkin, straightened the living room, washed, folded, and put away several loads of laundry, baked a loaf of bread, broke down and roasted a pumpkin, then made pumpkin soup(YUM!) and puree for the freezer, had a lovely visit with a sister(Ben and I have 11!) who helped with pumpkin peeling and snuggled Wilona while I kept cooking(Thank you Beth, for the help!).  Then I took Ascher for a bedtime run.  I have since been enjoying chocolate milk, roasting pumpkin seeds, and perusing many beautiful pumpkin recipes on Pinterest.

Pretty much my house smells incredible and looks reasonably tidy and I feel motivated and happy and the babies are happy and fat and I’m totally on a pre-holiday buzz(Black Friday ads are coming out!).  It was a good day for feeding my storehouse of “yes I can” moments for rallying on those days when life with littles is harder to manage.

Shameless bragging, I suppose, but there it is, I was just a domestic goddess today.  ;)  Check back tomorrow to see me in my pjs all day doing nothing but feeding people, haha.  :)

Pumpkins4

Day 20 of 31- Dance of the Zebra Dot Princess

Wow, almost three weeks into this experiment!  I think I’m seeing lots of good things from this, but I do need to get serious about keeping the computer shut again.  Slacked off in the last few days!  If I’m really tired I’m really tempted to excuse the computer time, but my babies don’t need me any less when I’m tired than not, and I have an even harder time when I’m tired with moving my eyes and hands and attention away from the computer to engage with my little needy people, which isn’t good for anyone’s moods or energy levels.  It seems like it should be easier to just zone out, but that’s not how my job description works, how about that.  :)  So that’s one thing I’ve been thinking about.

I’ve also been feeling very inspired to get fit, (Ben’s race was so much fun yesterday!), so I’m hoping this week to work in exercise a few more times and really start moving more regularly.  Haven’t decided which ones yet, but a really want to do a few races next year and maybe one before this year ends.  I’m trying to decide if I’m brave enough to set myself a goal of a race longer than a 5K.  I think if I leave it till closer to the time I’ll just stick with 5ks, so it might take signing up waaay ahead of time and just challenging myself to go further via terror of the impending, haha.  Hoping that with time and practice Wilona will get more patient with the stroller.  Also thinking of weightlifting and in-home exercise videos.

She’s trying to be a thumb-sucker!

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Had to have more of this hazelnut caramel toffee cream… I mean coffee… deliciousness this morning.

I bought this sweet little dress for her in March and she only just now fits it, so it needed a bit of layering to work for the present weather.  So she was a zebra dot princess for our visiting today.  Utterly adorable, oh my.

That’s about what’s going on.  Bedtime now, the new week loometh!

Day 17 of 31 – Yummy Bites

This afternoon Ben dropped me and the babies off at the store to do a big grocery shop while he went to get a (free)haircut.  It was the first time I’ve had both of them out and about by myself for….anything, I guess. Advantage of only having one car.  I wore Wilona and Ascher sat in the cart and everything went beautifully.  When we got home Ascher played outside a little bit and got a nice fresh white carrot from the garden to munch on.

For wearing Wilona – – – I have tried to bring Wilona to the store in the sling before, but she is not as big a fan of the maya wrap sling(made by my mil) as Ascher was.  I think that she is not as flexible as he is, so it’s more tight and uncomfy for her.  Today I tried my moby wrap(made by my mom) and she was super happy the whole time, eventually falling asleep.  The moby lets her be upright and straight bodied, which she likes.  The few times I tried Ascher in the moby he just ended up all slumped and wadded up the bottom of it because he was a squishy marshmallow baby.  The sling was a better fit for him and I didn’t use the moby much.  The sling works for Wilona for short times(she fell asleep in it while I made dinner) but I can see that the moby will be getting much more use with her.

She sat happily in her seat a few extra minutes while I put away the fridge items.

She sat happily in her seat a few extra minutes while I put away the fridge items.

Look at those yummy, yummy arm rolls!

Look at those yummy, yummy arm rolls!

Above yumminess is a modification of this recipe, a favorite of Ben’s family for lots of years.  I added a few shakes of oregano, basil, marjoram and garlic powder, and some dry chopped onions.  The once it was in the pan I sprinkled it with chopped tomatoes and some Italian salami.  It turned out really yummy!

Other things…

I ran tonight.  Not far, not fast.  Only two 1/4 mile bits, but it’s still farther than I’ve run for 10 months, so it’s something.  :)  I got weirdly excited this evening thinking about races for 2014, so I’m all inspired to get on the ball and do this!

Ben and I brought order to our disaster pantry.  It is lovely and gorgeous and clean now!

Ascher said “ah uv oo” tonight when I said “I love you” to him.  And did it again a few minutes later.  :)

It was definitely a lovely day.

*contented sigh*

MindfulMamaHas