stay close

This beautiful print is by DazeyChic at Mela Studios - isn't it great?

It is titled "Stay Close", and that is my message today. Please stay close to me.
I am moving blogs, as anticipated. And here is my brand new blog!


different names for the same thing

With ice cream for dinner, it could not be an ordinary day. Actually, it was a bit extraordinary.
I set up a sewing nook.

I finished the apron I've been half-heartedly working on for a week. Well, in truth it's not quite finished. I plan on sewing in a little lace on the pocket. It is not a pretty apron - the stitching is laughable and the colors are garish - but I like it, and it's the first sewing project I have ever done.

Then I made this pincushion. I followed this tutorial, which was a little hard for me because I am such a beginner. For instance, I could not for the life of me figure out how to get those patchwork pieces together correctly. I did figure it out in the end, but I'm sure there was an easier way to do it - I just don't have the know-how.
The great thing about this pattern, though, is that button! Those two buttons! They cinch together everything and add a cuteness factor that distracts from the poor stitching and uneven lines. Thank goodness for those buttons.

And here's what I try to do every day, enjoy one of my favorite aspects of motherhood - holding a sleeping baby.


i like it all that way

(Natalie, these are the flowers I was talking about - the ones that came from my attempts last summer.)

Just a short bit - as one of you may know, I'm working on a new! blog!
Not just because of this header, though it's true I don't like it. I have been posting here for a long time and I just crave something fresh. I've changed a lot in the time I've been writing here, and I'm ready for a new start.
A problem I'm coming across is creating a new blog name. Many I have thought of are already taken, and it just kills me when I think of a name, find that it's taken, but the blog that is hogging the name has no posts! Or maybe one post, from years ago. Isn't there a limit on these things? Don't they (the blogging gods) seek and destroy blogs that have been neglected? I wish they did, because then those good blog names would have a chance to be fully realized.
Any good ideas out there needing to be put to use?
I'm stuck on deciding where I want to go with the name, too. Do I stick to something sweet sounding, implying that this is a blog about baking? Well, it isn't, exactly. Or should I try something broader, more encompassing of my life? Oh, the many questions of blog life.
Good morning, and Happy Easter to you this weekend.


with arms outstretched

As you can see, the camera has surfaced!

My mom sent us an Easter basket full of chocolate and a couple books for Finn. She made this Easter basket for me when I was a toddler. Not to be too specific, but that means the basket is 20-something years old - wow. It was pretty cool to open up a box and see that basket. It's been my basket for as many Easters as I can remember.

(Toes in repose - nap time)

The girl who made the chili - Jessica - what a catch! The chili was delicious, and the cornbread turned out more like cake - fluffy and sweet - but no one complained. Jessica brought over a laundry basket full of tshirts she's modifying, and we crafted for a few hours. Homemade comfort food, beer, crafts - what more could a girl want? Our menfolk talked about graphic novels and the dog ran around happily searching for accidental crumbs.

Thursday we'll be driving to Georgia and spending the weekend with Scott's family. Scott and I are looking forward to twelve hours of together time in a car on the highway. We love (badly) singing old, I'm-embarrassed-I-know-all-the-words songs and stopping at scary gas stations in rural areas. The best part is that we'll be driving from 2pm to 2am, so hopefully it won't mess up the baby's sleep too much.

Because I found the camera, I had to take a million pictures of my sweet boy. Here's one of my favorites.

Oh, and as a note to myself, here's the pincushion I plan on making.


wired for light

The baby's teething. Needless to say, I did not enjoy much sleep last night.

In other news, I've got my eye on this little number, which I hope to find time to make in the near future. This week is forecasted for some cold weather, and those cookies would certainly keep me warm and toasty inside.

Tonight our good friend Jessica is coming over and bringing her homemade chili. Need I say more? Alright, I will. This friend happens to be an incredible cook, who once made kolache from scratch, simply because she was craving them. They were the most delicious pastry ever to pass my lips, and that's certainly saying a lot. She is also the favorite guest at any dinner party, potluck, or simple gathering, because she always brings something to eat, and whatever it is, it will be the most delicious version of that food you have ever had, ever. Even if she just brings a homemade veggie platter with hummus. Clearly I am excited about her bringing chili tonight, and instead of just toasting some bread for garlic toast, I just don't think it could play the supporting role to any dish made by Jessica. I'll make skillet cornbread instead, with this recipe I happened upon. Much thanks to Cookworm for the recipe and the inspiration.

The camera is lost still missing. Drat.


i am under no disguise

I am invigorated. Today the wind is whipping, the sun is shining, and I found this fabulous guide of places to eat in Atlanta. I feel indebted to the Amateur Gourmet for highlighting some of Atlanta's best gems, and for imparting some knowledge I wasn't aware of - Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock cooked (and lived) together when Watershed opened. Who knew?
Okay, so the spinach seedlings have come up.
They migrated from their rows, probably due to my enthusiastic watering, but at least they're coming up. I woke up one day to an overcast sky and transplanted the seedlings back to their neat rows. Most of them seem to be surviving. And then there are the potatoes that Luke planted. They are gorgeous.
I apologize for the lack of pictures. Our camera seems to be lost in limbo right now. Which means that we can't find it so I can't show you everything that's new around here.
Evelyn sent us some music - Neko Case's new album "Middle Cyclone" and "Alpinisms" by School of Seven Bells. Seriously good stuff. She always knows what I will like, even though we haven't seen one another in years. She just knows my heart, I suppose.

In baby news - Finn can roll over from his back to his belly. It's so adorable the way he just flips over, easy as pie. He's trying new foods, most of which he seems to hate, some to the point of gagging. The faces he makes convince me that the pureed banana (or avocado, or carrot, or applesauce, etc) is actually terrible, and I try it, but it tastes good to me. I guess if the only thing you've ever had is milk, how could you be expected to suddenly like all these different flavors? He'll get the hang of it, I'm sure. He does better if I allow him to feed himself, though he usually gags himself with his spoon. I know I'll never remember these days of trying new foods, when a few years down the line he'll be asking for pizza every night.

In baking news - I made some cookies but they were quickly devoured. I made pancakes for breakfast, but the same thing happened. Natalie brought me a loaf of day old bread, so I'm planning bread pudding. It's a favorite around here. If I can ever find the camera I'll show you what's going on.
Again - so sorry about the lack of photos.


you are my sanity

The Farmers' Market is open again! Saturday was the first day - I arrived with a cranky baby and hungry husband, both of whom stayed in the car while I braved the chilly, windy grey weather for the first Farmer's Market of the year.
Here's a picture of my loot.

Pussy Willow (that I'm hoping will sprout roots so I can plant it), a half pound of oyster mushrooms, two bags of tender spinach, and a dozen beautiful, brown, fresh eggs. All organic and local. Can't get any better than that!

The oyster mushrooms are my favorite.

I've never touched, smelled, or tasted such fresh and delicious mushrooms. I've never had mushrooms from Missouri. My step-dad is a mycologist (he studies mushrooms), so I've had some mushrooms that he has foraged in Iowa and Nebraska, but these mushrooms are from Missouri. They have such a nice weight in my hand. They feel soft, smooth and bouncy.

The spinach is nice, too. I got two bags so I could take one to my friend who's currently in labor. Being in labor generally prevents one from attending the Farmers' Market, so I picked up some eggs and spinach for her. I'm splitting the bag of mushrooms with her, too.
I chopped up some spinach, stemmed and sliced some oyster mushrooms, and sauteed them in some olive oil and sea salt. I served them alongside scrambled eggs, and that's what we had for dinner last night. It will probably be my lunch today, too. Sauteing the mushrooms and spinach really brings out the sweetness of the spinach and the salty, earthiness of the mushrooms.

And of course, since it was Saturday, I was making the requisite biscuits and sausage gravy.
I took some pictures of the biscuits but they all turned out blurry. Trust me when I say they were the best batch yet.

Oh the simple joys of fresh flowers, fresh food, and family time.


and love will steer the stars

Gosh, where have I been?
I think that new header is getting me down. It's just not what I want, but I spent so much darned time on it that I hate to just rip it down. I might, anyhow.
I completely rearranged our bedroom. It looks and feels a thousand times better.
Also, we went camping.

Finn's first camping trip at age 5.5 months. He fared well. He seemed to enjoy staring at the flames. The campfire is always my favorite part about camping, too.
Speaking of Finn, he just keeps growing. He will not be a baby forever, so I try to soak up these days, when he is small and snuggly warm. I just adore watching him sleep, or even better, napping alongside his sweet, chubby self.

Look at those creamy, luscious thighs!

In other news, God has been blessing us tremendously (as usual) and it looks like we're going to make it, financially, even though Scott's hours have been cut back and we have to pay for his tuition. And my tuition, for the fall. I'm going back to school this fall, with mixed feelings. I don't feel like going to school any more, this year off has been so nice, but at the same time, I only have one year left. I'm praying it will pass quickly and that I'll maintain a good GPA. I'm thinking about (someday) getting a master's degree in library science.

That is the next-to-last slice of the Orange Poppyseed cake I baked a few nights ago. The recipe is from The Silver Palate Cookbook, and is one of the only recipes that didn't intimidate me too much to try it. Then again, not much can ever stand between me and a freshly baked sweet treat. It's what I live for, among other things.

What can I say? It's good to be back.


spring and by summer fall

I suppose this is a new post, but it's more like an amendment to the last one.
Twice now (or has it been three times?) I've made buttermilk biscuits from scratch. Scott is desperately in love with biscuits and sausage gravy, so I make it on Saturday mornings. He says it's the best day of his week.

Once you get the hang of it, they come together pretty quickly. They still don't have the height or flakiness I prefer, but they are very good. Especially later in the day, when they're cold, split open with some local rhubarb strawberry jam.

I'll be making a batch on Friday because our camping plans have turned solid, and I want to make biscuits and gravy for breakfast on Saturday. So I'll take along the biscuits, and make the gravy right there, over the fire. Along with some mocha pot coffee, our good friends, a baby and a dog - what more could we want?


faded from the winter

Natalie and I have begun the garden.
On Monday we relocated the compost, cleared the mulch off of one bed, and broke up and aerated the soil in that bed. I found a tiny sprout, you can see it here.
The weather is supposed to be suddenly beautiful tomorrow, and continue that way throughout the weekend. We are planning a tentative friday night camping trip, and I'm hoping it turns into a concrete plan.

The only news around here is this amazing bouncy seat. As you can see, it's hard to get a picture that's not blurred by bouncing.

It hangs from a doorway and entertains the baby long enough for me to make dinner or get a shower and dry my hair. What a blessing. Finn just bounces and squeals.

I'm gearing up for a new project. There's a scarf my mom gave me - she knit it, but it turned out an awkward width, so I'm going to reclaim the yarn and use it for something else. I have a scarf in mind to try out. This Thursday is our first meeting of The Club, in which a few women gather and knit and sew at my place. We obviously need a new name, but for now it's pretty comical to use such an ominous title for our gathering.
Hopefully by then I'll have some batteries in the camera so I can document our fun.


we can take the long way home

Rainy day.

We awoke early, but soon returned to bed for a morning nap. The storm kept the room dark and muted, save the stray bolts of lightning and the rumbling thunder. Nothing I've experienced rivals the sweetness of sleeping next to a baby.
Soon enough we got up and walked the dog and did the dishes.
All day long I dreamt about the butterscotch morsels stashed in the pantry, and in the afternoon I made oatmeal butterscotch cookies. They are as delicious as I imagined they might be.

Here's Finn on his play mat. Bright-eyed as usual.

The past two evenings I spent hunched over a computer, crazily googling and searching sites for help. I regressed more than progressed, but in the end I came out with that nice new header you see up there. I still can't get it to be clickable, but I'm going to give google a break today and maybe work on it again later. Many, many thanks to Denise, who besides inspiring me regularly with her handiwork and enchanting tales of her family, also happens to be a web designer. She gave me some great advice, and more than that, she inspired me to just keep going. I really needed her kind words, and she gave them freely, much to my appreciation.
Also, a huge thanks to Luke, who let me borrow his computer and use his Photoshop program. It saved and redeemed the mess I had made from html chopping.
Because of those two aforementioned computer screen-riddled evenings, tonight I am hell bent on getting to bed early. But not before a shower - with candlelight. Ah, the small luxuries.
Tomorrow the temperature will drop again and we will return to winter, shortly, before the buds on the trees notice the longer days and spring leaps upon us. Then we will revel in the newness, the smell of soil, the rain.


put me in your suitcase

Spring is almost in the air. Today the temperature was in the 40s, and I felt hopeful. While walking downtown I spotted a couple tiny flowers poking through the mulch and I realized that winter is almost over, and I actually smiled at the thought.
When walking Rufus around the neighborhood, with the baby asleep on my chest, I thought out loud about the garden this year, and my excitement grew. I recited to myself the things I want to grow: tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, spinach, lavender, strawberries. Maybe broccoli, maybe potatoes.
We arrived home, I let Rufus off his leash and brought Finn's bouncy chair outside. I sat Finn down, wrapped up in a blanket, and I started measuring the front flower beds. They are the beds we've grown tomatoes and basil in for two years. Last year Sean (he used to live upstairs) and I gardened, the year before Sean and his friend Phil tended the garden. This year I will be without Sean, but I won't be alone. I have Gen, Mimi, Natalie and Luke who are all interested in helping garden. A real community garden! I hope that they all want to help weed occasionally and help water, but I plan on taking full responsibility (more or less) for the garden, since it's in my front yard. They will surely help me reap the harvest.
I took "before" pictures of our beds. Dormant, sleeping, readying for the spring.

I kicked around the mulch (dry leaves from late fall) and found a ton of pill bugs in the soil. It kind of grossed me out because of the sheer number of them, in general insects do not bother me, so I researched online whether they are a problem for gardeners. It seems that they like strawberries and tender plant shoots the best. I found some good advice on controlling them.

In this last month before planting, I relish the thought of planning. Choosing and ordering seeds, drawing out a plan. Figuring out when to plant what. Learning about organic pest control, watering, sun and shade. Contemplating moving the compost into a container so that we'll have those extra square feet to plant food. Oh, and as always, trying to get the invasive spearmint out of the beds and into a pot instead. I don't know who planted that ridiculous plant, but it will not die.
These are the only things I pulled out today - a tiny dandelion shoot and it's root, and these sprigs of spearmint, so help me.

Not entirely true - I pulled out the spearmint roots, too. As many as I could grab.
After coming back inside, I noticed how different I felt - refreshed, downright cheerful. And all I did was dig around a little in the mulch and pull up some roots. Just getting out there, smelling the dirt helped clear my mind. I am praying for success with our little garden this summer, and for growing relationships along with spinach, lavender and strawberries.


catching the butterfly

I never posted my new year's resolutions, probably because I have never been a fan of resolutions. This year, though, there are a few things on my mind that I would like to accomplish.

1. Learn to can/preserve.
My mom is a pro at this, and she has happily asked if she could teach me! Did you get that? I didn't ask her, she asked me! So I definitely have a way to learn this skill, and I look forward to the end of summer when those tomatoes are coming in heavy and ripening quickly.
2. Garden.
This would be assumed from #1, that to learn to can I need something to can. I will be planning, planting, and tending to my own garden this year. Last year I had help from Sean, but he's moved, so it's all on me now. Here are some links that I want to bookmark for myself, on slugs, beetles, fertilizer.
3. Make a quilt.
This quilt. This is something I've always wanted to do, but had no idea how I would even begin to learn the art. From the outside, it seems so hard to comprehend, let alone actually make it come together and look (and feel) beautiful. That link makes it look achievable.
4. Knit something other than a scarf.
This could mean a shawl, a cowl, a hat, socks, etc. Just something a bit harder and more advanced than a long, skinny rectangle.

This is it so far. I'll add to this list if my resolutions change.


all good things

Good things have been happening.
Last night we ate butternut squash alongside a cilantro omelet sprinkled with feta cheese. Scott and I finally had some quality time - we talked and drank beer, just us, together. We needed it badly. Ever have a week when you and your significant other are like ships passing in the night? You may see one another, but it feels like no real communication is taking place. That's the sort of week we had been having. Or maybe we had two of those weeks. That communication is so important.
Another good thing - homemade granola. I have made granola before. Twice, actually, and it wasn't bad, but it wasn't exactly what I wanted. This time I tried a new recipe by the Amateur Gourmet. I love it.
This is what it looks like right out of the oven - cooling, before you mix in the dried fruit.

The honey helps the clumping and the brown sugar (I used dark brown instead of light brown) really gave it a beautiful color. The almonds were perfectly roasted, and I am in love with dried cherries, so the fruit suggestions were right up my alley. Hazelnuts I'm unsure about, and next time I think I'll use walnuts and/or pecans instead. Also, the saltiness was a conundrum. Hand to mouth, the granola was perfectly salted. It tastes a bit salty, and I like it! Eaten with plain yogurt, the salt tastes funny and out of place. I used 3/4ths a teaspoon instead of the full teaspoon in the recipe, and I think next time I'll cut it down even more to just 1/2 a teaspoon. I am truly impressed with this recipe, however, and I'm sure it will become my stand by.

And then this - Natalie let me borrow "3191: A Year of Mornings" and it is incredible. It's very inspiring for me, it encourages me to take a closer look at the world around me, and to notice the quiet, joyful every day pieces of my life. In this picture my two dear friends, Mimi and Genevieve are sitting with Finn, flipping through the borrowed book.

Speaking of good things, Mimi and Gen are two of the best things about my life. They are so generous, and kind, and thoughtful. They help me find my sanity and my sense of adventure. They are also good friends with Finn, as you can see above. They eat the food I make, which is the highest compliment my cooking/baking could receive. I am so grateful for their friendship, and for their willingness to share so much of their lives with me.
(Natalie, Gen loves knitting. We should form a little group.)
There are so many good things in life, particularly God, friends, food, books, the outdoors, music - and the best thing is sharing the good things with the ones we love.
I'd like to share this smile with you:


such a winter's day

These photos are from yesterday's morning walk along one of our standard routes. We walked to Rock Hill park and enjoyed the morning.
The creek, lined by naked trees.

A spot of moss.

The baby fell asleep on my shoulder, as per usual.

Rufus took a dip despite the 20 degree temperature. He had to crunch through a layer of ice, but that didn't stop him!

We found a leaf covered in frost.

And a pretty little nest.

We ventured up to the field.

And spotted these beautiful pods.

The best for last - someone threw their tv out. It looked like it wanted to hitch a ride.

Walking in the mornings is sometimes a chore I dread. Carrying Finn strapped on me is a heavy task - pun intended. He's at least 16 pounds, and growing. Trying to control the dog when he spots frolicking squirrels can be trying. And I constantly have to clear my anxiety/frustration when dealing with the distracted dog. But once we get our rhythm going, and the fresh air starts seeping into my sleep (or lack of, for that matter) -addled brain, and the baby naps or coos, then the walk is just wonderful. It calms my mind, and gives me time to talk to God, and to let Him show me the smallest and most important joys in life - like that tiny nest.


yours and mine

February is going quickly.
Finn is growing even more quickly.

Valentine's day was no large affair, Scott and I are not influenced by television so media rarely pressures us into buying flowers, chocolate, etc. for one another. But we do love chocolate. Scott gave me a tin of assorted Ghiradelli chocolates, as well as a metal spatula. Well, he certainly knows the way to my heart! Kitchen utensils! I actually said, "How did you know!?". He said I had mentioned wanting one before and he remembered. How clever.
I gave him a bar of chocolate that was 85% - super dark - and fair trade and organic. Scott would eat 100% pure cocoa if it didn't taste bad. He loves dark, dark chocolate. I made him a little card from construction paper and some things I had clipped from magazines.
He worked in the afternoon, and I played with the baby. I also had a snack of dark chocolate and bread - a very favorite snack of mine.

In the evening, after ordering pizza - not having to cook was certainly a gift! - we had friends over for dessert.
Jessica K. made carrot cake.

I made strawberry rhubarb cobbler. And we all gorged ourselves on both, with ice cream, of course. We played cards and talked of playing Monopoly or Scrabble, but our conversation buoyed us through the evening until we were all tired and ready to sleep.

I have spoken with Natalie again, yesterday, after our friends' baby shower, and I find that the more I speak with her, the more I adore her. I find in my gut a hope, a yearning, for a new friendship with her. I envision many more conversations highlighting our shared interests, and hope to enjoy the seasons with her as a friend.
I'm trying to enjoy this winter light, because though short, it grows longer by the day, and soon it will be spring, then summer, and I will find myself disbelieving that the air was ever so chilled, or the light so clean and spare.