Friday, March 4, 2016

Is it here? Could it be?

I was downloading pictures from my phone, and reminiscing about each picture.  No wonder it takes me so long to clean off my phone!  I sort of saw a pattern of the pictures I took in January.  It made me yearn for spring!  I know it's really not here.  I remember one year it snowed a foot of the most wonderful, sticky, snowball and snowman making snow.  We had such fun.  We built a HUGE snowman out by the road for all the neighbors to see.  And that was the day after my birthday, which is almost the end of March!  But, we have had a very mild winter.  A mild, muddy, mucky, murky, madid winter. And, the thought of spring; the green grass, the beautiful bulbs, the perfect temperatures, is like a drug.  It just makes me happy thinking about it.



Monday, August 24, 2015

My favorite Veggie-ful summer recipes

I L-O-V-E having a garden (except when it's time to plant, train plants, or harvest and it's 10pm which is when a lot of the garden "work" takes place).  I grew up with a garden... a very big garden.  And we worked in the garden to feed the ten kids my parents had.  Well, I mostly dug in the dirt and slapped mosquitoes on my Dad's back while HE worked in the garden.  But, I loved going to the garden and picking a ripe tomato or cucumber and eating it fresh, still warm from the sun.  Sorry Mom for those times that you counted on using something for dinner and finding out it was gone.  :(  Summer to me means gardening (and swimming)... having fresh stuff to eat, and enough to can, freeze, or share.  Little did I know that my husband, who grew up with no garden, would end up being the gardener!  And he's great!  He tries growing new things just for fun.  We've tried peanuts, soybeans, tomatillos, sweet corn...

We started our first year in this house with good, old, victory (row) gardening.  But, we soon found that it's hard to grow anything well in our clay.  So the next year we started square foot gardening in raised beds.  We will never look back.  It's been so great for us, and we can fit so much into our little space.  We grow sweet peppers, hot peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, pole and bush beans, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, beets, radishes, turnips, parsnips, carrots, onions, garlic, tomatillos, ground cherries, lettuces/greens, cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, asparagus, okra, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, horseradish, and some standard herbs.  So, all summer long I cook with whatever is ready in the garden.  I'm always looking for new ways to cook the same old veggies.  But, I thought I would share a few of my favorite recipes, or my way of using that wonderful garden.  A lot of these come from one of my favorite cookbooks, Simply in Season.
It separates the recipes by season and highlights on the side which seasonal ingredients are in use.  In the index in the back it lists the ingredients alphabetically, and then the recipes with page numbers under it.

I love it. It's a refreshing summer "soup" that's flexible enough to use what you have on hand.
Spanish Gazpacho

4 or 5 large tomatoes (about 4 cups)
2 large cucumbers (about 1 c)
1 big sweet pepper (1 c)
3 or 4 celery stalks (about 1 c)
1/2 c yellow or red onion
a few green onions or chives (optional)
2 C broth of your choice (veg or beef)
2 T sugar
1 T lemon or lime juice
1 t salt
2 t Worcestershire sauce
hot sauce to taste
a few ice cubes

Chop your veggies and put everything in the blender.  Blend slightly to the consistency or your choice.  Let sit about 30 minutes before serving.

This reminds me of my best friend.  The first time I had this was at one of her family parties... a graduation party or someone's wedding?  It was the most amazing food ever.  Her family has lebanese heritage so the food is always fan. tas. tic!  Tabouleh is another recipe that is forgiving.  You can make it with a variety of grains and a variety of herbs, but of course there is a "traditional" way.

1 c Uncooked grain (bulgar, quinoa, couscous).
1 c cooked chickpeas (optional)
2 large tomatoes
1 c fresh veggies (cucumbers, peppers, carrots, summer squash)
1/2 c fresh herbs; cilantro, parsley or mint
2 T lemon or lime juice
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Measure 1 c dry grain and prepare. For bulgar and quinoa add 2 c water, bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10-15 min until liquid is absorbed. For couscous, add 1 c water, bring to a boil, cover and let stand 5-10 min.
Chop veggies and herbs and mix together with grains and beans.  Mix together oil and lime juice, salt and pepper, and pour over salad.  Gently mix.

Stoplight Salad

stoplight salad: corn, black beans, quinoa, bell pepper, onion, cilantro, tomato...

2 c tomatoes
2 c sweet corn
2 peppers
2 c black beans
1/4 c cilantro, parsley or basil
3 T olive oil
3 T balsamic vinegar or lime juice
1 clove minced garlic

Chop your veggies and add beans and veggies together in a bowl. Mix olive oil, vinegar or lime juice and garlic together and pour over veggies.

I always add quinoa to it just to make it a little more filling.  You cal also serve it in tortillas.

Roasted Winter Vegetables
Yes, I realize it says "winter" but really, we make this all times of the year.  You can use whatever veggies you have!  In the summer I've put in zucchini or summer squash and eggplant. But really, we usually have turnips, parsnips, potatoes, carrots, beets and those things in summer too.

Rustle up this simple side using the season's best produce.
photo from

6-8 cups of your veggies, cubed (sweet potatoes, potatoes, onion, squash, pumpkin, zucchini, beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips, green beans, brussels sprouts or mushrooms... Sometimes I mince some garlic and throw that in.)
2 T oil
1 T dried OR 3 T fresh herbs (I use whatever I have at the time; parsley, oregano, thyme.  Or if you're a rosemary fan, that would be great too!)

Toss your veggies together with the oil and herbs.  Bake in a 9x13 greased pan or on baking pans (uncovered) at 425 F, stirring once or twice, for about 45 minutes or until tender.

Eggplant Curry serves 8

This is another one of those recipes that I feel like is so versatile.  We usually have a good amount of eggplant, and although Eggplant Parmesan is always a favorite, it gets tedious to make with all the breading.  And, I like to use my own pasta sauce rather than jarred, and I rarely feel like making it in addition to breading the eggplant.  So this is another favorite recipe in our house to use up some eggplant.  We also, usually, have an abundance of okra and peppers, and I can easily use those in this recipe too.  It doesn't really matter the type of pepper, as long as its not super hot.  I have put in banana, fool you jalepeno (flavor without the spice), bell, and sweet.

photo from

3 T oil
3 medium eggplant (If I don't feel like I have enough eggplant, I add peppers, okra, zucchini or whatever I feel I have in abundance. I just slice the okra into rounds, and cut the other veggies into quarter size pieces.)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, sliced
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 fresh green chili pepper, seeded and chopped
1 t turmeric
2 t garam marsala
salt to taste
1/2 c plain yogurt
2 t mango powder (I have never used this, although the original recipe calls for it. I usually finely chop up a mango, peach or plum. Mango powder is actually dried unripe mango used to give a citrusy flavor.  You could sub in some lime or lemon juice as well.)
1 onion, chopped

Cut a slit down the middle of each eggplant, lay them on a baking sheet and roast them in a 450 F oven until soft. I start with 20 minutes on my timer, check them and then add time accordingly.  Once roasted, scrape the flesh out of the peel and mash with a fork.  I usually take part of it and chop it with the skin on to give the dish some color.
Heat oil in a large skillet, turn heat to medium, and add the sliced onion. Cook until wilted.  
Add garlic and finely chopped onion and cook until wilted.  
Add turmeric, salt and yogurt and cook for about 3 minutes.
Add mashed eggplant, garam marsala powder, chili pepper and mango powder (or chopped up fruit or citrus juice). Cook 5-10 minutes, stirring often.
Add the last chopped onion and cook a minute or two more, stirring.

Serve over cooked quinoa, rice or flat bread.

Does anyone have any good recipes to use up cucumbers, because I have a lot of those!! :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Starting the day right

Lately Cecilija has been getting up super early... like 5:45.  That's too early for me when I get to bed around 11:30-12:30.  So when I have that early morning time with a little less chaos, I try to get a little time to just start slow.  This morning she went back to bed at 7am.  I knew when she got up that she wasn't really ready to be awake.  But she wouldn't go back to sleep either!  So, I got dressed and went downstairs with her.  We played for a while and pretty soon she was trying to crawl up on me and rubbing her face on me.  So, I put her back to bed, again.  I thought about all the things I should be doing.  I thought about the things I could be doing, like going back to sleep, blogging, actually reading a magazine.  So, I did a little of both.  I started some laundry and got the rest of the loads sorted.  Then I let the chickens out and took a short walk around part of the yard.  We haven't been able to spend much time actually doing anything in the yard this summer it seems.  It's so wet this year.  It's now July and we STILL have standing water in a lot of our yard, and the rest is just a muddy mess.  It's pretty gross.  When we are in the yard the kids are playing in the wading pool or the sandbox or we're in the garden.  This morning I checked our milkweed plants for any signs of butterfly larva (probably too late for that), watched the bumble bees on the butterfly weed, and took a little walk through the garden to see if there was anything the girls and I needed to get out and pick today.  I meandered back inside and put a bowl of oatmeal in the microwave, sat down to write this, and I heard the little footsteps on their way downstairs.  Boy those 39 minutes went fast. But it sure is nice to feel like I can take time to do those things instead of rushing to turn on my computer and get to work.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A little fall

It seems like we've had a long go at summer this year.  It probably feels that way because we didn't really have a normal summer.  It was cooler than normal, with mostly steady rainfall.  My grass never even turned brown, and that's unusual for a St. Louis summer.  So summer kind of gently slipped into fall.  The other day we had 82 degrees.  It was Oct 26, and it was in the 80's.  And now we're supposed to get down to the 20's at night.  So, while we had a little bit of fall, we packed in a few fall favorites.

Each year, we make a trip to the pumpkin patch.  Somewhere along the line, the pumpkin patch became a place for games, climbing, mazes, slides, small animals... and not so much about picking out a pumpkin.  We actually pay money to let our kids run around, on, and through straw bales, play on swings, slides, and tractor tires, take a wagon ride, watch goats climbing up and down ramps, and look at a few baby animals in some pens.  Then at the end, we quick go out to the patch and check out the pumpkins and in to check out the produce.  We usually get a pretty good view of the pumpkin patch from the wagon ride, and this year we noticed that the pumpkins didn't look that great.  One of the fields were giant pumpkins and are "more for decoration than carving" because of the tough skin.  And, the really good carving pumpkins weren't ripe yet because the field was planted late.  They double plant most of the their fields, and with the cooler, wet weather this year, whatever was in that field took longer to ripen than normal, so they didn't get their pumpkins in early enough to ripen for Halloween. Again, the cooler summer made for slow growing.  We went out and took some pictures with the big pumpkins anyway, and bought a white "spooky" pumpkin from the market there.  The kids had fun, and it was a beautiful afternoon.  


I think Tim had some fun too.

We've been having fires almost every weekend since the weather has been just cool enough in the evenings to be comfortable by the fire.  My kids love s'mores, or just plain marshmallows, but still need help roasting their marshmallows.  Otherwise they end up covered in ash or on fire.

We've done a little leaf blowing and the kids love jumping in the piles of leaves.  The other day we piled them up at the end of the slide and they slid down over and over and landed in the pile.  They've been playing in the leaves for days, but today Tim said he was going to mulch and compost them. :(  Good thing there are still some left on the trees!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cecilija Jo

Welcome home Cecilija!

Everyone knows the Simon and Garfunkel version of Cecilia.  I used to sing the refrain to it to Amelija, using her name instead.  I don't really want to sing the rest of it to her though. :)  Funny story for you.  As we were leaving the hospital, one of the people we met in the hall was a priest.  He asked us what the baby's name was, and when we told him, he started singing.  But, it wasn't the S&G version.  I'm pretty sure it was this one.
I really like that song.  It reminds me of nice, classic romance.  S&G's Cecilia reminds me of crazy, hippy 70's love, and that's just not me.

So our little baby is Cecilija Jo.  Once again, I was induced.  With the velamentous cord insertion, I was under close watch, and my doctor didn't want to risk anything.  It didn't attach near the cervix, so it wasn't nearly as serious as it could have been.  I actually didn't do any research on it until after I had Cecilija.  I took the doctor's word and trusted that she knew what was best for us.  I'm glad I didn't look up any information on it or I would have scared myself half to death.  Here's a quick little wiki page about it.

Anyway, she told me she didn't want me to go into labor on my own.  It was kind of frustrating... again.  I was hoping to go in to labor just for the simple reason that I haven't experienced much labor.  I was induced with all three kids.  I can't really complain though, because it was really easy for me.  I didn't have any problems with being induced.  I went quickly all three times.

We had a scheduling conflict with trying to get in to be induced.  Our regular appointment was on Tuesday, and the doctor wanted to induce on Wednesday or Thursday.  It was such a busy time for us.  The kids were starting school Aug 19, and we had a final registration day, two orientations, and soccer and gymnastics for both girls that week.  We also didn't have child care lined up.  We recommended the following Monday and our doctor didn't want to wait that long.  So, we decided on Friday, but our doctor couldn't get to the hospital until after 3pm.  So, she scheduled it for 10am so that she could come right after her last appointment.  On one hand it was kind of nice to schedule it.  I finished packing my bag on Thursday night, and I didn't need to worry about adding anything except my toothbrush and my pillow.  We made sure all our electronics were charged and packed.  Tim's Mom got up early Friday morning and drove down to watch the two girls.  We could take our time, eat some breakfast, talk to the kids about going to the hospital, and say goodbye to them before we left. I think it helped them to know when and where we were going, and we didn't just disappear in the middle of the night,

So we showed up at the hospital, checked into L&D, and one of the nurses said, "This isn't your first baby, is it?"  I don't know how she knew.  Maybe it was look of exhaustion on our faces, of having two others at home to take care of, trying to get things done, not sleeping.  Or maybe it was because we didn't pack the whole house and the kitchen sink.  We packed a change of clothes for each of us, our electronics, and my pillow.  That was about it.  Or maybe it was that we didn't have the nervous look on our faces of not knowing what to expect, and realizing we would be coming home with a baby, a responsibility.  Or they could see in our faces that checking into the hospital was almost like a vacation. :)

They started me on IV fluids, then pitocin and right around lunch time the hospital OB broke my water.  Right after that, Tim left to go find lunch.  The festival in town started that afternoon at 4pm, so he thought maybe some of the food trucks would be out.  Well, he didn't have luck with that, so he ended up at a restaurant.  And, three unanswered phone calls and an hour and a half later he finally showed up in my room again.  I had called him because I needed him!  Once my water was broken, my contractions got pretty intense, I wanted his support until I could get my epidural.  I ended up finally getting it about the time Tim came back.  Again this time the medicine was working a little lopsided.  It wasn't as bad.  I did have control of my legs, but one was definitely more dead weight.  Once I had the epidural, things went fast.  Again, I called the nurse in because I felt a lot of pressure and when she checked me she said, "yeah, I don't feel any cervix."  So, she asked me for a practice push.  Then she said I needed to stop.  They stopped the pitocin and waited for my doctor to show up.  Of course, the festival started at 4, and she got stuck in traffic.  So, she showed up about 4pm, started the pitocin back up, and I started pushing.  Each push is actually a series of three pushes, each on a 10 count.  I got through one and a half sets when, at 4:16, my beautiful Cecilija was born.  The doctor said the baby had lots of dark hair.  They said that for every one of my kids!  And when she said it was a girl, once again, I was in disbelief.  I was certain, like 99% sure this was going to be a boy.  It's a good thing she wasn't a boy.  That morning I was on my computer, with my pitocin IV, looking at boy names on the internet because we couldn't decide on one.

She came out looking great.  The only issue we had is that I had a stubborn placenta and it didn't want to come out.  While the doctor worked on that Cecilija got weighed and measured.  She weighed 6 lbs, 3.4 oz, was 21" inches long according to the hospital, but at her first well visit she was about 20 inches. I finally got to hold her and snuggle my tiny girl.  She had big feet and long fingers.  Her ankles were about the size of my thumbs.  But, she was strong.  She kicked and wiggled so much it was hard to change her diaper!  She was our beautiful baby girl.  We were so thankful to be healthy.  We loved our little baby the moment we laid eyes on her.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Baby #3 - pregnancy

I am running a little behind in life...

Oh man… I feel really behind.  Here I am, nine months pregnant, and I posted about this baby one time.  But, do you know what?  The third time around, there are other things that need doing, and blogging gets pushed to the wayside (just in case you hadn’t noticed.)  I’m pretty sure my two existing children appreciate that we play every day and I’m not spending ALL my time in front of my computer.  I already spend some time while they’re home on my computer doing actual work.  Just because I haven’t taken monthly belly pictures, or blogged about progress or what the internet says should be happening to me and baby every week, doesn’t mean we love this one any less.  We are a little busier this time around is all.

This pregnancy started a little rough.  We found out we were pregnant the night before we left for Christmas vacation.  I was busy singing with two groups and had a few days of performances that week, and Tim was out of the country.  He was home for a day before we left for Christmas.  I had been feeling tired and just overall icky.  So, I had two weeks of travel and Christmas festivities and family, and we couldn’t say anything to anyone yet.  We made it through that, and a couple of weeks after we got home,I found out I had a sub-chorionic hemorrhage.  I suddenly started bleeding and I assumed it was a miscarriage.  I went to the doctor that day and after a couple of ultrasounds determined it was a hemorrhage instead.  I was rechecked a couple of times whenever something unusual came up.  Everything was still ok, and it was a huge sigh of relief when I could see that little baby and hear the heartbeat.  At the twenty week ultrasound, the hemorrhage was gone, and this baby didn’t have choroid plexus cysts like the other two.  Yay!  However, the umbilical cord didn’t attach straight into the placenta.It went sideways through the membranes for a short distance before attaching to the placenta.  Luckily, it attached at the top instead of toward the bottom where it would be more of a concern.  But, that still meant extra monitoring.  So, I had an ultrasound for a recheck at 28, 32 and 36 weeks, and then for the last month, I had weekly ultrasounds and non-stress tests.

I also had more pain with this one than the others.  I started going to the chiropractor at about four months because I was having so much lower back pain.  I hadn’t been to the chiropractor since we lived in Michigan… so 5 years?  I was well overdue.  Once my back pain was under control, I continued to go because I had so much pelvic pain.  It was crazy!  I wasn’t nearly as … weak, sensitive, stretched, worn out...? with my other two pregnancies.  I would usually be ok for a few days, and by the third or fourth day I had trouble getting out of bed, and I was always in pain when I went from sitting for a while to standing.

This baby always seemed to have a dance party, sideways, exactly at the time I was getting into bed.  I had something poking out each of my sides the entire time I was trying to get to sleep.  But, there were no big rolls or grand movements.  It always felt like punching or kicking.

Everyone kept saying how small I looked, and that always makes me laugh.  Looking at pictures, I was anything but small.  My doctor was concerned about my low weight gain, so that was another reason to put me on the watch radar. I gained the least amount of weigh with this one, but I also started out weighing more than I did with the other two.  Despite all the risk factors, it ended up being a healthy pregnancy.

These photos were taken on Aug 2, so less than two weeks before baby!

Since I've been trying to write this for almost 2 months, I’m just going to post what I have, and hope to finish it later.


Well hello there!

Let me tell you how we landed here.

I love being able to have a medium to share snippets of our lives, and social media like facebook or instagram means you have to be a member, and not everyone is.  And, here I don't have to post something that all of my 500 "friends" will see.  I can email a little link to those that I want to share with, and they can come over here and check out what's going on.  That's why I love having a blog.

I don't plan to blog about anything in particular.  This isn't a crafty, homesteading, parenting, or photography specific blog, although, you're likely to see any of those things pop up here.  This is where we share what's going on in our lives.  It's a place for me to record or journal my thoughts and our happenings.  So, here we go!

We used to blog at, so if you're looking for something from before today, look there!