Monday, April 29, 2013


As promised, I played around with making shakshuka over the weekend.  It is an Israeli dish with a rustic farmhouse flavor.  I pretty much made it verbatim from here.  It was so good.  So good.  It was kind of like chili, but without the stewed flavor.  It was fresher.  Brian said it reminded him of a Korean dish, probably because of the eggs.  We ate it up, and it was gooood.  And it took no time at all!

1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes
3 jalapeƱos, chopped and seeded
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
1 T paprika
2 t. cumin
6 eggs
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup feta for garnish
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley for garnish
serves 4 to 6

 Chop your vegetables and crush the tomatoes by hand.  Yes, you will have messy hands.  Kind of ax murder hands.  Fun!
 Saute the onions and peppers in the olive oil until slightly browned.  Use a stock pot, or dutch oven.  Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.  Pour your crushed tomatoes (with juice) and water into your pot, and simmer your mixture for 15 minutes on medium.  Stir occasionally.
 Gently add eggs to the surface of your mixture, distributing evenly.  Be careful not to break the yolks.  Cover and continue to cook an additional 5 minutes.  I cooked mine for another 12 minutes instead, because we like slightly firmer yolks.  I also used only 4 eggs, since I knew I'd only eat one, and Brian could have the rest.  This was a bit too spicy for the kiddos.

Garnish with the feta and parsley.  And dang, that feta and parsley helped MAKE the dish.  But then cheese just does it for me every time.
I know this may sound like a strange dish to some people, but it really is delicious!  I broke my egg up into pieces in my bowl, and mixed it in.  We dipped flat bread into the shakshuka and it was heaven.  Thanks to my friend, Jo, who introduced me to this!  I love trying new dishes.  And this one was a big winner.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

the 10.8

1.  It's officially time to put in the garden this weekend, so I'm pretty happy to look forward to that.  I've been doing a little plotting in my head, and plan on putting it on paper before I go purchase all the plants.  Rowan wants to plant tomatoes, and Fletcher wants to plant sweet peppers.  Done and done!

2.  Brian's new job has allowed him to be home most nights for dinner and bedtime.  Which is good and bad.  We're loving having him for extra time, but we're having an adjustment period to the bedtime routine.  Here Brian is "calming" them down for bed.

3.  Rowan is turning out to be a fairly girly girl.  She still like cars, trains and trucks like her big brother, but she's in love with the Disney princesses, and is insisting on a princess party for her birthday next month.  Hold me.

4.  I should have known what a girly girl she was going to be when she got into my makeup and carefully applied mascara.
She actually got some of it onto her lashes.  Without a mirror.  Watch out, Tammy Faye!

5.  I am having fun looking forward to and planning on some summer trips for us.  The anticipation is almost more fun than the trips!

6.  It made my week to find my beach tote diy on Brit + Co a few days ago!  You can see my original post here.

7.  Ever since my friend talked about making shakshuka, I can't get it off my mind.  I'll be experimenting with it tomorrow, and maybe have a recipe post for it soon!!  It sounds delicious.

8.  Rowan has had her first art show!  Her painting, entitled "elephant" is currently hanging in the community center.  Yes, I'm pretty proud.

9.  I'm pretty excited to read this.  I wish I had more time to read.

10.  I'm getting into a good working groove on project make something.  Finally getting names knocked off pretty quickly, and I've really stretched past my comfort zone to create things that other people like.  It's been fun and so fulfilling.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

hey spring

As I am about to push publish on this post, there is a little snow coming down outside.  It's not freezing temps, so it is definitely not sticking, but SNOW.  In April.  Such a strange Spring.  We've had 80 degree days and 30 degree days all in the same week.  Seems like a lot of the country is in the grip of strange Spring weather.  It actually doesn't bother me, because although it's lightly snowing now, it will be 55 degrees today.  And 75 this weekend.  I like variety.  Keeps me on my toes!  Speaking of toes, I have flip flops AND boots by the door, ready for anything.
I hope Spring is exactly what you want it to be, wherever you are.

Monday, April 22, 2013

diy painted plant pots

This little project was inspired by some gold-leafed pots I saw on Pinterest.  I was really not into the time that it would have taken to gold leaf the plant pots, so I decided that a spray paint short cut was in order!  Anything to save time and money, in my book.  Well, almost anything.  Don't get me started on cheap coffee.

I gathered the following, most of what I already had on hand!
1. plant pots of your choosing
2. indoor/outdoor metallic gold spray paint (or any color you're loving right now)
3. painter's tape
4. accent paint colors of your choosing

First I taped up my pots in all sorts of patterns or really non-patterns, if I'm being honest.  I used painter's tape to ensure crisp lines.
Then I took these taped up pots outside to spray paint.  I used indoor/outdoor spray paint so that I can place these pots outside in the Summer.  If you're new to spray painting, be sure to keep your spraying arm moving so that you don't get paint drips.  Drips are no good.
I let them dry for a few hours, untaped them, and almost done!  I decided to add a stripe of color to one of the pots for contrast, but I love the plain gold pots, too.
And that is it, my friends!  A cheap and quick way to add a little Spring to your home.

Friday, April 19, 2013

on listening to our children

We've all heard that little quote about listening to our children:

"Listen earnestly to anything [your children] want to tell you, no matter what. If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won't tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff." - Catherine M. Wallace

Well.  I'm not at a point in my motherhood that I can test that theory, but I can attest to the importance of PAYING ATTENTION right now when my children speak.  Here is a truth for you:  It is very easy for me to zone out while Fletcher chats on and on about trains and cars, and things that go in general.  Because that is his favorite topic of conversation.  But not mine.  So I do zone out.  A lot.  But when I choose to tune in, actually listen, and engage in the conversation, a kind of magic happens.
He lights up.   He leans into me, and listens back.  He shares gems with me that I have come to refer to as "Fletcherisms."  He basks in the glow of my undivided attention, simply because it can be a rare commodity.  And it makes me feel wonderful, and kind of horrible all at once.  Because why can't I do it more for him?
Our focus can scatter so much these days.  We're tuned into so much around us, it can be difficult to focus on what is right in front of us.  Rowan loves to help me cook and will chatter away while we make lunch.  But my mind can wander and I end up answering her in a series of "Uh-huhs" "Ohhh" and "You don't say" while I focus on what I'm making.  She may not notice now, but she will.  We all know when someone isn't focused in on what we say.  And while children don't always understand that yet, they figure it out quickly.
It can be maddening to drive the children to school with a chorus of "Why this, why that, why, why, why" going on in the backseat.  Sometimes I turn on NPR and tell the littles that "Mama needs to listen to news, so let's all be quiet."  Yes, I know.  Mother of the year.  But any mother to small children will attest to this constant need for the children to be heard.  And that's exactly what it is.  It is a NEED.  Almost as important as food or shelter, my children NEED my attention.  My conversation.  My answers to their never-ending questions.  

So I know I need to do better.  I need to tune in more.  I need to put down whatever I'm working on and engage in their little worlds.  Because if there is a day coming when they stop wanting to share every detail of their day with me, it will be heartbreaking.  And I will wish I had just heard them when they were willing to share with me.  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

maple sugaring

When we visited Brian's family last month, I was surprised to find the operation set up on his brother and parent's property to collect maple sap.  His brother, Chris, had collected sap before and made up some maple syrup, but on a very small scale.  This year they had a few dozen trees tapped, and a huge cauldron of sap boiling down into the sugary stuff.

There are a lot of maple trees in Northern Indiana, so I grew up going to the Maple Sugar Festival and learning all about tapping trees and boiling down sap.  But it never occurred to me to actually diy maple syrup!  Chris told me the trees he had tapped give about 50 gallons of sap a day.  They have a large amount of maples on their property, so he's starting to consider bottling and selling the syrup.  It takes a lot of labor and hours and hours boiling down the sap into syrup.  But the end result is so delicious.
I think I'm craving pancakes for breakfast!

Monday, April 15, 2013

this guy

It is Brian's birthday today!  A tax day baby.  But Brian is the opposite of tax day.  He's fun and adventurous and doesn't require a filing dead line.  Lucky me!

He is spending today at work, and although we may see him for a bit tonight, we celebrated with him last night to be sure that we could really enjoy it.  Brian had spent yesterday with Fletcher paddling down a river in a canoe: a fun exhausting day.  We decided to keep it low-key since he and Fletcher were feeling a bit tired.  Cake and presents!
So you may have noticed the mustachioed cake.  It was born from a sprinkle mishap, so it is not an inside joke or something meaningful like that.  It was just me trying to save the cake!  Brian laughed and thought it was funny, so it worked out ok.

Brian laughs and thinks a lot of things are funny.  He reminds me not to take life too seriously, and his most oft used quote is "Fuck them if they can't take a joke."  (Sorry for the f-bomb, but I don't want to misquote!)  He makes our home a joyful place for us all, and keeps us all on our toes for sudden spur of the moment adventures.

I love you, Brian!  Thank you for the happy life you've helped us build.  Happy Birthday, love.

Friday, April 12, 2013

past in picture: October 1982

Looking at the pictures I put up the other day of the beach made me so nostalgic for my childhood spent near the beach.  I found this picture of me looking very Rowan-esque.  And wearing a little red sweater and bell bottoms!  My memories of the beach are less of swimming in that big, cold lake, and more of hiking the bluffs and dunes and picking up special stones and lake glass to weigh down my pockets.  Just like my little family and I did on Spring Break.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

take me to the beach

Ok, back to Spring Break.  I've written about the beaches I grew up around in Northwest Indiana, and I still can't get enough of them.  I think that a piece of Lake Michigan resides in my soul because it is home to me.  I feel so relieved and renewed when I'm at the beach, that it must be true.  Fletcher has always enjoyed going to the beach, even as a little babe.  But Rowan is only now sharing her brother's enthusiasm for the sand and shore.  I think it will be a fun summer.  Now excuse me while I bomb you with beach photos.
{some photos by Brian
It was only a slightly chilly day, but the sun felt warm on our faces and soaked into the sand.  We found skipping rocks and tried to skip them as far as Papa could make them go.  He's a skipping expert.  Rowan got her toes too close to the gentle lapping shore and had cold wet feet for a while.  She soldiered on.  I found a few crinoid fossils that seem to just jump out to me after years of my life spent searching for them among the pebbles.  And we all left with big smiles, pink cheeks and sand between our toes.  I can't wait to spend days back here this summer when we come to visit my parents.  It will be hard to not stay the entire summer.