Thursday, January 30, 2014


Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter for another {phfr} post today!  Auntie Leila's {phfr} post today was somewhat themed around the importance of recording the little things one accomplishes in a dreary month like January, and I love that idea.  As a fellow New Englander, I can attest that these below-freezing temps that have been dragging on and on are getting me down, and the bone-weariness of late January has certainly set in.  Each morning seems harder than the one before to get myself out of bed, and some days I'm just counting the hours until the next time I can go to sleep.

It doesn't help, no doubt, that to save on the absurdly expensive costs of our oil heat, Nathan wants to keep the heat no higher than 60 degrees, SIXTY DEGREES!  We negotiate on this matter, the sort of negotiation that involves me turning it up to 62 and him turning it back down, and so on and so forth.  And there may be some complaining involved, but only in my weaker moments.  For the most part, we press on.  Eagerly awaiting the coming of warmer days.

Have I been getting anything done lately?  Oh, but I have!  A few little things here and there.  See...?


Food can be pretty, right?  And is there anything prettier than fresh, juicy cranberries oozing out of baked goods?  I baked up a batch of these fresh cranberry chocolate chunk brown butter cookies over the weekend, and even though Christmas is past us now and you might be thinking that the time for using cranberries is over, you should make these; you won't regret it.  They were just slightly too sweet for my taste, but the soft texture is just wonderful, and the fresh cranberries are the perfect bursts of flavor in each bite.


A local consignment store has had not one but two 25 cent sales in the past two weeks, with bins and racks full of children's clothing marked down to just a quarter apiece.  I went twice, and in total got 36 pieces of clothing for a mere $9.00 altogether!  A few things that fit Nell now (including a lovely navy blue baby Gap coat and some fleece-lined pants!), a few things she'll grow into, and a few things for the new little lady when she arrives.  I had just finished sorting our bins of baby clothes in the basement, too, so I could actually remember what we could use more of in each baby size and what we really didn't need.  I got a few items for friends' babies, too!

The picture is just a few of the items fresh out of the wash.  Most of them are already stored away in their respective size bins for future use.


I just finished my biggest knitting project yet.  Don't be too impressed: it's only a scarf.  But considerably larger than the washcloths I've heretofore knitted, and unlike the baby blanket I started but haven't yet finished, this project has now actually been completed!  Small accomplishment perhaps, but an accomplishment nonetheless.

I was feeling rather pleased as I donned it this morning, expecting heaven to burst open and a messenger of God to deliver knitting accolades -- or at least that my husband, who had sat beside me sometimes as I knitted in the evenings, might say something nice -- but instead what I got was a snarky comment about how he really, truly, things the term 'infinity scarf' is the most ridiculous thing in the world.  Humph.


I may as well poke some fun at myself and admit that I only just got around to putting the final hem on the curtains in Nell's room.  The curtains I made with fabric I bought while she was still snugly inside of me, almost two years ago.  The curtains I began sewing before she was born.  The curtains I almost finished and then hung when she was a newborn, stitching away at my machine while she slept in the moby wrap.  Yes, those curtains.  Those curtains that pooled on the floor for the past year and then some.  I measured, marked, took them down, and hemmed them to be floor length at last!  Much better now, I think.  And as always happens with these sorts of projects, once I got started it took me all of one day's nap time to finish them, so of course, I should have done it ages ago.

Now I'd really like to get going on fixing up the second bedroom upstairs, even though it's unlikely that we'll need two separate kid bedrooms anytime soon.  We'll work on transitioning Nell to sleep upstairs by herself soon, but then I think the new baby will sleep in our room for a good while, unless she's a magical sleeping baby quite unlike her sister.  Still, there's no motivator like a baby coming, is there?  If a room is to be fixed up, perhaps now is the time to do it, necessary or not!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

my new favorite baked oatmeal

For several years now, my go-to baked oatmeal has been this recipe from Chocolate-Covered Katie (who doesn't love her delicious recipes?), using banana instead of applesauce and blending the wet ingredients to be really smooth in my blender before stirring into the dry ingredients and then baking.  I varied it somewhat and usually didn't use exact measurements, but her recipe was my starting point and I always loved the way it turned out.

Lately, though, I think I have a new favorite.  A little less healthy.  A little less banana-y (sometimes that's a good thing, no?).  A little more decadent.

But not altogether unhealthy, no, not at all!

Nell loves it, too.

And the real clincher?  Nathan, my picky-eating husband who hates oatmeal, went back for seconds the first time I made it!

I used a couple of different recipes for ideas, including this recipe, but I think mine is considerably healthier while still being utterly delicious.  Incidentally, I'm totally against artificial sweeteners of any kind, but I don't consider stevia to fall into the category of dangerous artificial sweeteners, and do use it from time to time.  It does have an aftertaste, but I can't notice it the least bit in this baked oatmeal. 

And finally, I keep meaning to make it with different add-ins, but so far each of the times I've made it I find myself going for the decadent version: chocolate chips and pecans.  One of these days I'll stop indulging my{pregnant}self and make it with blueberries, or apples, or dried apricots, or cranberries... let me know if you try it with different add-ins!

Decadent (or not) Baked Oatmeal

3 c. old-fashioned oats
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 packet of stevia (I have the packets of dry stevia from Trader Joe's; if you have liquid stevia probably about 1/4 tsp. is what you need)
1 T cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt (or just a scant 1 tsp.)
1 c. milk
2 eggs
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/4 c. coconut oil (just scoop out about 4 Tbsp if yours is in a solid state, and melt it with the butter)
1 tsp. vanilla

a handful of chocolate chips (I think the mini ones work the best for nicely distributed yet not overwhelmingly chocolatey-ness!)
a handful of chopped pecans

OR you could try fresh or dried fruit, which as I said above, I keep meaning to try but somehow I can't quit the chocolate / pecan version quite yet.

Combine your dry ingredients in a bowl.  Mix wet ingredients separately, beating your eggs lightly, and pour over dry ingredients.  Combine.  Stir in add-ins.  Pour into a lightly greased 9x13" baking pan and spread out evenly.  Bake for about 30 minutes at 350, or until edges are lightly browned.  Serve warm, preferably with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

Monday, January 20, 2014

26 weeks

Aaaand after a couple of catch-up posts, we're up-to-date now at 26 weeks!

This baby is lucky to have a pretty cute and pretty great big sister.

Dear little one, 
I feel you moving more and more all the time now, and I can feel the round firmness of what is either your bottom or your head up above my belly button and a little to the right now.  When I give you a nudge, you obligingly respond with more kicks and wiggles.  It's nice to be past the sickness part of this pregnancy and into the more enjoyable part of watching the little twitches and shudders and feeling you move.  My lower back and hips have been hurting lots for the past few weeks - another sure sign of your presence, but not one I particularly enjoy! 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

{playing catch-up}: 25 weeks

I started migrating into maternity pants around 22-23 weeks into this pregnancy, not because my regular jeans didn't fit at all anymore but just because, um, the right pair of maternity pants can be super comfortable and sort of like wearing pajamas.   But I also sort of had a mini-meltdown because I decided nothing looked good, nothing fit, I didn't have anything to wear, etc.  Nathan was bewildered and not altogether understanding about this turn of events, considering I was pregnant two years ago and seemed able to clothe myself at that time.

Thanks to a gift card from a student, an amazing deal at Gap (additional 50% off maternity clearance items), and some ambitious eBay selling I've been doing, I have some new maternity clothes this pregnancy!  I headed into Gap with my gift card in hand and my friend Cara as a shopping buddy, and ended up getting shirts for $2.00-$6.00 apiece, and two dresses, too (about $15 each)!   Anyone who has ever had to buy maternity clothes knows that they are usually really expensive, so these were some bargains.

Since I've been selling stuff on eBay recently, I knew I could buy extra things, sell them, and make enough to totally cover my own expenses of the new clothes.  Sure enough, I've already sold $80 worth of the extra Gap items I purchased, so... I will definitely come out ahead in this little venture.  I was even able to purchase some extra items to send to my sis-in-law, who is also expecting and actually shares my due date!

Since we're scrimping and pinching around here these days (what else is new?), this was a super fortunate turn of events, and between the Gap sale, a Craigslist purchase, and my sewing machine for alterations, I have a maternity wardrobe that doesn't make me cry every morning when it's time to get dressed, and yes, I'm exaggerating about the crying thing.  {Although pregnancy hormones + getting larger = the occasional meltdown, I admit.}

Anyway, now that I've written more than you ever wanted to hear about my maternity clothes...

From one week ago:

Nell likes to sit on her baby sister.  And sometimes in the early mornings when we're snuggling in bed, I feel the baby kick and show Nell how to pat my belly.  She immediately wants to take it up a notch to smacking my belly, which I'm guessing a) is totally normal toddler behavior and b) bodes for a totally normal and accident-fraught sibling relationship in our future.

{previously: 25 weeks with Nell}

Dear little one,
Your Daddy, who usually has little to no patience for such things, sat down beside me and felt you kick this week.  He totally grinned when that happened, and it made me happy, too.  My midwives say you are right on track in terms of growing, despite the fact that I spent the first part of this pregnancy frequently subsisting mostly on lemonade, triscuits, and Zofran tablets.

{playing catch-up}: 24 weeks

I documented my pregnancy with Nell with weekly photos and notes, starting at 20 weeks.  

We're every bit as excited about this baby, but a little later getting started with the whole blogging it thing.  

This is from two weeks ago:

{previously: 24 weeks with Nell}

Hi, Nell... want to sit on the belly?

Dear little one, 
Don't be offended if I don't document this pregnancy quite as thoroughly as I did for your older sister.  You made me sicker about five or six weeks longer than Nell did, so we can blame it on that.  We love you already.  Your big sister likes to point to my tummy and say, "ba-ba!" ("baby!").  Then again, she also points to her own tummy and says the same thing sometimes... so I have a feeling your arrival will be something of a shock to her no matter how much we talk about how you'll be joining our family soon.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter for another {phfr} post today!
round button chicken
~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
Every Thursday at Like Mother, Like Daughter


I cut, glued, and stitched together some felt and foldover elastic headbands for a sweet little girl turning one this past weekend.


Earlier this week, Nell was playing with her wooden stacking toy, and suddenly she put all the pieces back where they belong, lifted the toy back onto the shelf in her bedroom, and announced, "Ah duh!" ("All done!")


We've been going through baby items lately, anticipating the arrival of our second little girl due in late April.  Nell became quite enamored with her old baby swing, wanting to press the button to hear the music over and over again.  Next thing I knew she was asking me to help her climb in.  She's probably over the weight limit, but with it being so close to the floor I figured, why not?  So into the swing she went, where she swung quite happily for fifteen minutes while I folded clothes and tidied her room.  Now, why didn't she sit in it quite so peacefully when she was a newborn?!


Our dishwasher has been in rather awful condition ever since we bought this house 2.5 years ago, but these days it's so bad it's downright humorous, I suppose.  The racks are rusty and falling to pieces, and every now and again when I'm running a cycle, I hear a crash as another piece of the dishwasher gives way and a dish falls.  This dish was one of the lucky ones, and emerged from a recent dishwasher run holding on for dear life!

Monday, January 13, 2014


I uploaded pictures from the past month from my phone onto my computer this morning, and there was a discernible theme to the pictures of Nell: she is a girl on the move these days.

Go, Nell, go!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Goodbye, Twenty-Thirteen

2013 was... a mixed bag for us, I suppose you could say.

the good

I made my own sourdough starter and started making bread from starter instead of granulated yeast.  I'm still working to find the perfect recipe, but I've been enjoying the process (and Nathan has been enjoying eating the results!).

{To tell the truth, my starter died during my four months of hyperemesis, so I need to make a new one and get back into my bread-baking habits.}

I started making my own kefir!  Another habit I need to get back into now that I'm feeling better.  Fortunately, my kefir grains fared much better during my sick months than my now-deceased sourdough starter.

I started getting organized about menu planning, and Nathan and I started making family dinners a priority -- despite our very different dietary choices.

Nell and I went to Virginia and Maryland to visit two good friends, and we had a wonderful time.

Nell started saying "Mama," only the beginning of a language explosion that has made her really able to communicate pretty well -- as long as I'm there to translate.

Nell went from being a picky eater (or really, a non-eater) to being overall a pretty terrific eater.

Nell turned one, and we had a party, and she loved it.

I turned 30, and Nathan outdid himself planning a surprise party for me.

I started selling stuff we didn't want / need on eBay, and made over $500 just getting rid of our stuff.

My brother-in-law got engaged!

His fiancee and I did six weeks of Shaun T's "Insanity" workout series, and thought we might die.  {I stopped when the pregnancy fatigue and morning sickness kicked in.  I know; I'm such a wimp.}

We took a vacation to Erie to visit Nathan's family, spent time at the beach, enjoyed time with family, and ate good food.

Nell started walking, and practically overnight, crawling became a thing of the past.

We found out that Baby #2 would be joining our family, and got to enjoy a couple of weeks of happy excitement before the hyperemesis hit and I moved into survival mode for several months.

Then we found out that my brother and sister-in-law are also expecting a baby... with the same exact due date!  So fun.

We had our first ever yard sale, which was a great success, and helped us de-clutter our house and basement considerably.

We had a summer CSA share from a nearby farm, and I loved the fresh produce and recipes that the food inspired me to try... that is, until the late summer and early fall weeks, when I became too sick to even be near food.

My youngest brother got engaged!

I made Nell an M&M costume for Halloween, in between dry heaving sessions.  She was adorable, of course.

We traveled to California for Thanksgiving and got to spend time with my family, which was wonderful.

I had my 20-week scan, and Nathan wanted to find out the baby's gender this time around, so we did!  And it's another girl!  We adore her already.

Nathan planned a service of lessons and carols for the church where he works, the first they've ever had there, and put together a 50-piece orchestra to join the choir in what was, really, a tremendous success and a beautiful and meaningful experience for everyone involved.  {Not that I'm biased or anything.}

All mostly good things, right?

the not-so-good

Well, there was also the part where Nathan was unexpectedly "not re-hired" for a job he's had for the past six years, and couldn't get a straight answer or a real reason for the situation from anyone, and we were pretty discouraged about it.

On the bright side, he was offered a new part-time job teaching chorus and math at a private school, and we were so very grateful because a job is a job, and this has even turned out to be a job he enjoys.

On the not-so-bright side, the job is about an hour commute each way, and requires a lot of evening work grading papers etc. outside of his daytime work hours.  Combined with his other part-time job as a church musician, he worked pretty full days all fall, and then spent evenings immediately following dinner up in his office doing more work.  Until ten or eleven at night.  And there was a good amount of stress involved along with the crazy hours.  {Church work in particular seems to involve its share of stresses.}  And his work hours this year don't allow him to help with Nell during my work hours, which means more babysitter costs for us now.

There was also the not-so-good time when a student of mine's father kind of flipped out and got angry and aggressive with me over my policies and rates, and caused me a fair amount of professional and personal stress and sadness.

And then there was the not-so-good part of the year when family members we love dearly went through tremendous pain, which really put our little troubles in perspective, and we shared a small part of their grief.

the going forward

So, I guess if I have wishes and hopes for 2014, pretty high on the list would be for some sort of full-time job to come along for Nathan that was the perfect fit for our family.  After 7 years of marriage {we just celebrated our anniversary!} and piecing together multiple jobs between the two of us the whole while, we're grateful for what life has brought our way but so ready for something a little more... Normal.  Stable.  Mortgage-paying.  Maybe even something that involved benefits?  Vacation time?  Yeah, that.

As for myself, I want to start the book club I've been meaning to start, and thus force myself to actually read some books this year.  I want to sew more, garden more {I've been eyeing this book!}, learn to use my camera better, and maybe start soaking and sprouting my grains, even though I still find the whole controversy over grains kind of confusing.  I want us to explore more places in New England, to find more time to spend fixing up this old house of ours, and to cultivate friendships both old and new.  I want to clean out more of the stuff we don't need, and sell $1,000 worth on eBay.  I want to give birth to a healthy baby and somehow survive and even enjoy the early days of figuring out how to care for an infant and a toddler, even though sometimes I'm a little terrified about it.

And I really want to find contentment in 2014.  To stop looking around and thinking that everyone else is probably happier than I am.  To find contentment in my life, just as it is.

Happy New Year, everyone.