Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sweet Miss Maille...

Alea and Maille are back from their family vacation -- WooHoo! -- which means Alexander has been re-united with some of his favorite girls. I snapped a couple pictures while babysitting earlier this week; these are my favorite ones capturing little Maille's sweetness.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Impromptu Stair Repair

On a complete whim, or (IMO wink! wink!) as an attempt to justify a study break, Blake decided to dis-assemble our basement stairs. The ugly/stained carpeting had bugged him for years and I think he'd simply had enough. So, out the stairs came & for a couple of days, we navigated from our office/laundry room/playroom/familyroom in the basement to the rest of our house via a six-foot ladder. Since we have 3 stairways from our master bedroom attic to the basement, I usually pick up a decent amount of momentum upon my descent. Let's just say I turned the corner and almost tripped over the ladder on SEVERAL occasions when forgetting about the impromptu home repair project.

Anways, the new oak/stained stairs are now in place and look incredible (thanks, sweetie!). Here are some shots of the boys hard at work. In case you are wondering, Alexander wears gloves about 80% of the time. They're his farming/mowing/digging/working/planting/playing gloves. The bigger, the brighter, the better! :)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Springtime Blooms...

Although quite 'horticulturally challenged' personally, I SO very much appreciate the gift others have in designing/tending their yards & flower gardens. My husband's prime stress relief activity is 'puttering' about in our yard. Thanks to last weekend's sunshine-y weather, our yard experienced a burst of color & texture with his latest plantings. Here's a snapshot of a few of the current blooms.
This lilac bloom is ESPECIALLY thrilling. This lilac bush (or, more accurately TREE) was as tall as our 2-story high house when we moved in almost 8-years ago. We trimmed it back -- significantly -- and anxiously anticipated the appearance of the violet-colored blooms and heady frangrance. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. This is our first bloom in 8-years!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Freezer Friendly Recipes

I am in a freezer-friendly meals funk. I LOVE to prepare meals for friends/family or just have a last-minute-dinner-option stashed away in the freezer. But I'm totally running low on ideas. My usual recipes when sharing with others: lasagna (with take&bake bread, veggies or salad fixings), chicken enchiladas (with salsa & chips, frozen farm-fresh corn, applesauce), baked oatmeal (with bacon, yogurt & fresh fruit).

Now, my SIL (Jolynn) recently made some scrumptious meatballs. The recipe is from the Taste of Heaven cookbook available here, by Kristy Luginbuhl. Not only can you easily make multiple batches, I 'heart' the fact that this allows for customization based on family size (small family gets a few, large family gets A LOT!). Here's the recipe.

1lb. ground beef
3/4 cup oatmeal
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
1 tsp. salt

1-1/4 cup brown sugar
1 can tomato soup
1/3 cup vinegar
2 tsp. mustard

Mix together meatballs and form into balls; place in a 9x13 pan. Combin sauce and pour over meatballs. Bake at 350-degrees for 1 hour. SERVES 6-8.

So, here is where I request a little 'blog participation' from ya'll. If you have a go-to freezer friendly recipe, I would love for you to share in the Comments. Thanks!

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Tomorrow is Mother's Day. Created to be a holiday of celebration. A day to express thankfulness & to honor the women who have inspired us, loved us, prayed for us. But for me, it's more. It's different. And (perhaps suprisingly)difficult.

It's not that I find it hard to give thanks for the gift of motherhood. I am thrilled for the opportunity to be Alexander's momma.

It's not that I find it impossible to express my appreciation for my mom, MIL (and others) -- although I sometimes struggle with the obligation/expectations which holidays bring; I'm more of a random acts of kindness person.

I guess, perhaps it's this. My heart HURTS. Tears are just below the surface. I cannot escape reflecting on 'the flip side' of Mother's Day. Empty arms. Miscarriages. Stillbirths. Death. Heartache. Estrangement. Divorce.

I hear the echo of shattered dreams. Maybe next year at this time we'll have a baby to love. The results indicate you'll never be able to conceive a child. I'm sorry; the cancer cannot be stopped. Your adoption application has been denied.

We live in SUCH a broken world. One in which birthmothers are 'forced' to surrender their much-loved child to anothers care because of poverty. Foster children are returned to homes only to find themselves abused again (and again). Diseases invade seemingly healthy bodies. Accidents steal lives (prematurely). Our world is BROKEN and unfix-able.
EXCEPT thru Jesus Christ. Thru brokenness, HE SHINES. May He shine thru YOU. And thru ME, too.

LYRICS: In Brokennes by Steve Green. "When life becomes a shattered dream; that's slipping thru my trembling hands; I need to know that You are near; To know you see each falling tear; When there is no one else who understands.When I can't find the words to speak; You hear the pain in each heartbeat; Before I even call to You; In my deepest hour of need; That's when you come and pour Your mercy on me. Your beauty shines; Your love surrounds; Where cries of brokenness are found, bring hope alive; Help me believe and trust You one more time; In brokenness You shine; In brokennes You shine."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Baked Spinach&Pea Risotto

What do you think of when you hear the word 'risotto'?

Me? Tricky. Stirring. Complicated. More Stirring. Hard-to-master. Lots of stirring. Only chef extraordinaires should attempt.

Wrong-O. Not anymore! I made this recipe (Real Simply, April 2011 issue) and it is...InCreDible! (and easy! and delicious!)

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 shallot, chopped (substituted yellow onion)
kosher/coarse salt & black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine (used Vermouth)
3 cups low-sodium vegetable/chicken broth
1 cup Arborio rice (do NOT substitute!)
1 cup frozen peas
4 ounces (about 2 cups) fresh spinach, roughly chopped (used closer to 3 cups)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (1oz), plus more for serving

Heat oven to 425-degrees. Heat the butter in a medium dutch oven or ovenproof pot over medium high heat. Add the shallot, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper and cook, stirring often, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring until almost evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the broth and rice and bring to a boil.

Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until the rice is tender and creamy, 20 to 25 minutes.

Add the peas, spinach, Parmesan, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper to the pot and stir to combine. If the risotto is too thick, stir in up to 1/4 cup hot water. Sprinkle with additional Parmesane before serving. Serves 4.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mulching Day!

My guys LOVE to be outside. After the rainy, dreary, gloomy days which have at times seemed endless, it was awesome to have a day filled with sunshine & warm temperatures.

We got a truckload of mulch delivered Friday afternoon & the boys went to work. Blake told me that the X-man said several times throughout the afternoon as they were working in the yard, "It's just us boys, right dad?" He's definitely learned 'the art of hammock-ing' from his momma :)