'Muff'in Dome

Our Spring/Summer Garden 2016

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

The garden is growing in leaps and strides {as is this little cutie}. California finally received some rainfall this year and I’m noticing a HUGE difference in how well the plants are doing. The plethora of bugs–good and bad–gave an indication of this when I was ripping out weeds. Now, some thriving plants!

I have eight tomato plants–a few heirlooms, a tomatillo, some smaller varieties like pears and cherries, a San Marzano for tomato sauce.

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

This is a Rapunzel. It will have a cherry tomatoes that are bunched in double clusters, resembling ‘long hair’ I suppose. Evey is very excited about this one. She picked it out herself. It got a special red cage for that is her favorite color.

spring garden 2016

strawberry picking

The strawberries we’ve been struggling with this year because of all the rain. There is a lot of rot and molding underneath the leaves that is ruining all the strawberries that sprout down there. I’m quite sad about this as I was anticipating making jars and jars of jam.

spring garden 2016

Please notice the random radish that someone pulled and tossed next to the sunflower. {It did get eaten.} Both of these are volunteers from last year’s seeds that spilled onto the ground. Some of the sunflowers I’m letting stay, but others are in odd spots that make navigating the garden difficult. We keep finding radishes in the strangest places and they have no trouble growing in less than ideal conditions.

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

The green beans are taking off but I’m having to do some major coaxing to convince them to go up the netting instead of across the rest of the vegetables in the bed.

spring garden 2016

A plethora of chard is growing. We have green and rainbow. I haven’t done much cooking with chard in the past so please send your favorite recipes my way!

spring garden 2016

Lots o’ lettuce. The Romaine is giving off dozens of leaves daily. It is kind of hogging the lettuce space. Pictured here are spinach and butter leaf, I believe. They managed to escape the shade of the Romaine.

spring garden 2016

My marigolds are doing fantastic in this spot. I’ve never had much luck with them flowering, despite dead-heading the old ones. Perhaps this soil is just right for their picky taste. A grouping of nasturtiums to right. Still waiting on the flowers.

spring garden 2016

A few potted things outside the main garden. I have rosemary and thyme in and I’m hoping to add basil, chives, and cilantro to the mix.

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

A few rows of corn! I’m not sure how this going to go as their pollination process is better served with a few more rows {I found this out just the other day, so a little late to the game}, but we can always help the process along by hand.

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

The peppers are on the hill. They were seriously attacked by the earwigs so aren’t the prettiest looking of plants. I do hope they recover as Steve makes some amazing hot sauces with fresh ones.

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

Funny story about these cornflower/bachelor’s buttons: I didn’t know that’s what they were the first time they appeared in the bed a couple years ago. They were hiding amongst a bunch of weeds and I was so terrible about pulling those out that these managed to flower without being yanked. Even after they flowered, I thought they were just a weed flower. Turns out, not. And I’m happy to have them grace our garden this year unscathed. Minus the little girls who love to bring me bouquets of them frequently.

spring garden 2016

There is beauty even in the midst of decay.

This rambling rose has only produced maybe five tops in the three years we’ve been here. There are dozen this year! I’m still learning how to tame it and help it along but I hope that it continues to throw out buds abundantly for years to come.

 

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter‘s {Pretty, Funny, Happy, Real} this week.

Gathering My Thoughts ~ Busy, But Happy

chasing bubbles

Outside my window: Sunshine, yet coolness. We had a wonderful spring rain yesterday and the air is fresh and light.

Listening To: Quiet while the girls rest.

strawberry picking

Clothing Myself In: Half pjs, half active wear — which the only activity I’ve done in it so far today has been dishes and general cleaning. And perhaps a few laps around the backyard with the girls.

Talking With My Children About These Books: We finished our last chapter of A Bear Called Paddington this morning. Breakfast included English muffins slathered in butter and marmalade in his honor. The girls have been inquiring about marmalade as it is Paddington’s food of choice, so we dropped some in our cart during our weekly shopping trip. They are both big fans. I wasn’t much when I was little, but I love it now too.

I’m thinking of Mr. Popper’s Penguins for our next read-aloud. What are some of your favorites to do with young children?

paddington marmalade

In My Own Reading: Provence, 1970 — I purchased this on a whim as I needed an extra book to fill my cart on a buy two, get one free sale through B&N. It is written by the grand-nephew of M.F.K. Fisher who seems to have inherited his grand-aunt’s talent for writing, detailing the winter of 1970 and how it shifted the American way of cooking and eating due to this group of food writers that includes M.F.K., Julia Childs, James Beard, etc. Probably more of interest to the foodie set and those interested in the evolution of the food scene in America, otherwise, you might find yourself bored with so many details of the relations between these writers.

Thinking and Thinking: About making a Summer Bucket List with the girls. We have plenty of things planned {which I will add}, but it is fun to have a few spontaneous options so when we find ourselves with downtime on a Tuesday morning, we have ideas of fun to be had! What should we add?

painting each other

Pondering: “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ~Sylvia Plath   {Thanks to Verily.}

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: Although we don’t have a strict schedule, and I don’t believe in one with very young children, we do have a happy rhythm to most our days which I really love. One of the most essential parts of our day is nap/quiet time. They need it, I need it.

painting in the sun

Creating By Hand: I have some teeny, tiny socks I’m working on {The needles are so tiny!!}–my first pair of socks ever–for my littlest nephew born this past Monday evening. At some point this week, I also hope to stitch up his blanket. Warmer weather has me switching into stitching project-mode rather than knitting. I just don’t feel like it much when it is so warm.

Learning Lessons In: Being easy on myself. I’ve had a heavy dose of ‘guilt’ in just about every facet of life lately, most of it completely unwarranted. It makes me less than my best when I’m thinking about all my errors {or what I perceive to be such}. And it truly has not been helpful in regards my attitude/outlook on life. Trying to turn that around. My husband helps me immensely.

sock knitting

Encouraging Learning In: We have a new Chick Fil A being built in our town. I pointed this out to Evelyn the other day. She’s ecstatic…but was a tad confused why we couldn’t go there yet. Currently, it is only framed. When I began to explain that it still needed to be built, a light bulb went off in her head. “Buildings are BUILT BY PEOPLE! They’re not just there.” So now every other question is: Who built this? When was it built? It cracks me up. :)

Crafting in the Kitchen: Inspired by Britt‘s Instagram post last week, we pulled out the Joy of Cooking to make our own oatmeal cookies, sans raisins, this morning. They are a definite hit.

tea time

To Be Fit and Happy: I have a rowing machine sitting in my garage that is just begging me for a good workout. We finally got a bunch of things cleared out this weekend that mean I can actually access it. Now, I just need to build up my motivation….. I’ve been inactive for too long.

Loving the Moments: Lucie’s spontaneous hugs and kisses with an ‘I wuv you’ tucked into my ear. The point at which they begin to offer affection and endearments without promptings just makes you melt into a puddle…and offer whatever treats their little hearts desire!

Living the Liturgy: The feast of the Sacred Heart is coming up this next Friday. It is one of my favorites. I’m thinking of what to do to commemorate the feast with the family.

organized simplicity lists

Planning for the Week Ahead: We have a long weekend on the horizon. We’re planning on house projects that have been put off too long. I’ve been working, piece-by-piece, on decluttering our storage office room that has become out of control. Major progress was made yesterday, so painting, new bookcases, furniture rearrangement, etc. will be possible on Saturday.

Springtime Snow at Serene Lakes

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

We’ve been going, going, going around here lately, so when we found ourselves with an empty weekend, we seized the opportunity and ran up to the cabin for a quiet weekend on the lake. This time of year is more of an off-season so it was quite ‘serene’ save a few year-round locals.

We took a long walk around the lake with the girls who impressed us with their endurance, making it at least three-quarters of the way {about 2 miles} around before asking for assistance.

The snow was still abundant so Evelyn was happy to begin her notorious snowball fights with us. Lucie especially enjoyed finding streams of snow melt to throw rocks and pinecones into. There was ample opportunity so lots of stop-and-go as we went along.

We found many groupings of daffodils just beginning to bloom, which was rather funny to us as they bloomed in our area about mid-February. But, there, they are just now having the opportunity to peek through the ground as the snow melts away.

Large sections of the lake have melted, which Evey was rather disappointed about as she wanted to ‘skate’ across again. I’m rather looking forward to the summer season, to taking boats and paddle boards out, splashing on the shore with the girls. It’ll be here soon enough.

Southwest Junior Rowing Championships 2016

It was the oddest of junior rowing champs. This weekend is notorious for being 100 degrees with a blazing sun beating down. This year, rather, we were toting umbrellas and adding extra layers for warmth.

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

Our main focus was my brother, Raphael’s, race. He was with Capital Crew’s JV Men’s 8, in the first wave.

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

They were speeding down the course in 3rd most of the way. You can see how close everyone is here.

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

The intensity of that drive!

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

Hardly a moment for recovery.

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

Those last 250 meters or so another boat made the final push past. They were nearly seat to seat crossing the finish line. It was a hardly a second between them that meant a 4th place finish for Captial’s boat. Top 3 went to finals. Gah! So close.

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

cheering in the rain

Raphael’s cheering squad braving the rain. :)

Moments ~ {Vol. 13}

Where do I begin?!?

popscicle face

How could you say ‘no’ to popsicles at 10 in the morning to this cute, little face?

yum, popscicle

pencil tucked behind ear

Very intrigued by her ear’s ability to be a pencil holder.

morning tea toddler

Another tea lover in the family.

lovin' daddy

Snuggles with Daddy. My heart. <3

egg cracking

Her new favorite activity: making a special breakfast {aka scrambling eggs}.

making eggs

cooking eggs

She’s a pro.

bowling in neon lights

It may not have gotten there fast, but it knocked all the pins down!

bowling in neon lights

Not clear whether the ramp is for the balls to go down the lane or a jungle gym for climbing.

bowling in neon lights

bowling in neon lights

Push!

Sunday best

Another dress from my childhood {made by my mama} that she adores.

singing with Elsa bear

A rare moment to hold sister’s Elsa Bear.

dancing sisters

Dancing in the living room in their favorite, softest! pants {by Whole Parenting Goods}.

princess shoes fashion

The princess must wear her slippers.

waiting for their turn on the train

Friends waiting on the platform {made by Evey} for the train

riding the train

Taking turns on the train

riding the train

Love this girl’s creativity!

chasing chickens

Chasing chickens!
petting chickens

Hanging out with Gram on Mother’s Day, meeting Uncle Eric and Aunt Lindy’s newest residents.

Caleb in a tree

I guess I can’t take credit for this one (I think it was my sis-in-law) but I suppose I have to admit I’m related. 😉

family photo gone bad

Again, related.

strange siblings

The baby of the family no longer…?

DSC_0560

My brothers and I. {How did I become the shortest of the bunch?!}

family photo with parents

With our parents.family photo -- Everybody!And everybody!

Together for the occasion of my brother, Jonathan’s, shipping out with the Navy at the end of the month and his engagement to his fiancée, Krista {they are 4th and 5th from the right}. So much to celebrate!

Baby Shower Gift ~ {Yarn Along}

In two other posts–here and here–I shared my progress on this baby blanket I was making for a friend’s baby shower. I thought you might like to see it finished!

monarch blanket + jamberry

We were asked to bring a book to the shower instead of a card to add to the baby’s library. I brought along, Jamberry, an absolute favorite of my girls. It is one we read at least once a week. It has inspired them to call every jam ‘jamberry’.

detail monarch blanket

detail monarch blanket

The detail on this blanket is just exquisite. I love the ‘butterflies’ that are woven in throughout the blanket. Again, the pattern comes from this book.

monarch blanket + turtle

This little turtle was a Christmas gift for Lucie that I made. She liked sitting atop the precious blanket.

Leslie's shower - monarch blanket

Photo by Leslie’s sis-in-law, Morgan

Here’s my lovely friend, Leslie, at her shower with the blanket. Her sweet Maleah Jane will be here in June!

 

Join others at Ginny’s for the weekly Yarn Along!

Encountering Truth ~ {A Book Review}

Encountering Truth book

A book of sermons isn’t typically high on someone’s to-read list. Mostly, because the majority of preachers are rarely consistently captivating and soul-stirring.

But Pope Francis? I dare you to find one from this current collection, Encountering Truth, that doesn’t have at least one nugget of inspiration. This man knows how to carry the Word of God to His people.

The book begins with an introduction, equally fascinating, by a fellow Jesuit, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, the director of La Civiltà Cattolica, a journal with close ties to the Vatican. He speaks of what it means to be a preacher, particularly a Jesuit one, and how Pope Francis embodies this to a ‘T’.

He says:

He who preaches therefore sows and nourishes with affection, creating an adequate communicative and affective environment so that the Lord may dialogue with his people.

The preacher is effective insofar as he better fosters an opening of communication between the Lord and His people. Pope Francis is stellar at this, particularly in the intimate setting these sermons were given in.

The sermons contained in this book were given at St. Martha’s, a private chapel at the Vatican, during the daily Masses held there from about the time Pope Francis began his pontificate until about a year later. Those in attendance included the gardeners, seamstresses, cooks — those who carried out the daily duties of life in the Vatican — as well as those from outside specially invited to these private Masses. Always a small crowd, no larger than 50, who came early in the morning to pray and offer the day to God alongside Pope Francis.

Pope Francis always speaks with great candor in relating the Gospels to the every day, to the human condition — and often with great humor! His metaphors even had me laughing out loud at certain points. Some of these you will remember as quoted in the media shortly after he gave them, but they are worth reading again and reabsorbing these all-important messages that cut right to the heart.

One of my favorite Gospel readings is the passage from Mark 9 about our calling to be “the salt of the earth.” Pope Francis had a wonderful reflection on it here. I will share a few lines that struck a chord.

This salt is not meant to be preserved, because if salt is kept in a shaker it doesn’t do anything, it’s no good.

Salt makes sense when it is used to flavor things. I also think that when salt is kept in a shaker the humidity ruins its strength and it’s not good. We must ask the Lord that we not become Christians with insipid salt, with salt closed up in the shaker. But salt has another characteristic: when salt is used well, you don’t get the taste of the salt, the flavor of the salt . . . You don’t taste it! You taste the flavor of each dish.  Salt helps the flavor of that dish to be better, to be better preserved but also more flavorful. This is Christian originality!

As much as I had always been inspired by this Gospel passage–to share the message of the Good News with others–that whole aspect of the originality that salt brings out in each dish–in each person–really was a beautiful thought. God calls each of us, in our own way, to be the ‘salt of the earth.’ Important to remember.

This collection is rather lengthy and there is so much wisdom to meditate on in each 1-2 page sermon, that it is definitely one of those to keep on the nightstand and have a daily perusal through for prayer time.

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.

This post contains affiliate links. 

Victoria Highlights

Victoria, BC parliament building spring

Finally, the last of our Northwest trip!

The few days we spent in Victoria, BC were absolutely glorious. Despite it being mid-February, it already looked and felt like springtime.

spring blossoms in Victoria, BC

One afternoon, we slipped into the Parliament buildings for a self-guided tour while Lucie took her nap. Pristine hallways and beautiful architecture abounded.

Victoria, BC parliament building

Victoria, BC parliament building

Victoria, BC parliament building

Victoria, BC parliament building

Our budding photographer was clicking away too!

photographer in parliament Victoria, BC

Victoria, BC parliament building

Victoria, BC parliament building

Loved this classic lock that sealed the chambers when not in session!

Victoria, BC parliament building

Victoria, BC parliament building

The building was beautifully lit at night which made for a gorgeous backdrop as we walked along the waterway.

Victoria at night

DSC00691

Victoria at night

Victoria at night

Victoria at night

Double decker buses are being decommissioned in London, so Victoria snatched one up for sightseeing tours.

double decker bus

Our usual requisite bookstore browsing happened at Munro’s Books. There was at least one daily stop.

Munro's bookstore, Victoria, BC

The girls enjoyed peeking out the window at the harbor from our hotel window. We stayed at the Inn at Laurel Point.

girls playing in hotel

resting with my girls

Our final day in town, we had a few hours to kill before our ferry returned to Seattle. The girls enjoyed a romp on the lawn behind the hotel.

Victoria, BC play

Victoria, BC play

Victoria, BC play

Victoria, BC play

Victoria, BC play

Victoria, BC play

The ferry from Seattle to Victoria, and vice versa, were an excellent way to travel back and forth between Canada and the United States. By land and sea, all that is required is a Passport Card, so the girls travelled with those. It takes about 3 hours each way. Meals and snacks are served onboard, and the motion inside the cabin is very minimum, even with heavy wake. Nobody had a problem with seasickness!

 

riding on the ferry to Victoria

panorama from the ferry

ferry ride to Victoria

We were sad to leave Victoria but are planning on a return visit someday!

ferry back to Seattle from Victoria

plane landing on water

Victoria, BC ~ Great Eats!

Canadian flag flying

The second half of our trip to the Northeast found us in Victoria, British Columbia. Despite it being the middle of February, we had much sun and gorgeous weather for walking around town.

This post will cover our food stops {for there were many!} and in another post I’ll talk about other highlights of the trip.

Red Fish, Blue Fish menu

Friends of ours who had spent their honeymoon in town told us about this little hidden gem called Red Fish, Blue Fish…that was well enough hidden that we missed it our first time walking past! It is located on a dock below street level with a bank of seats that look out over the harbor. Maybe THE best fish and chips I’ve ever had — definitely top of the list!

fish and chips / Red Fish, Blue Fish

eating at Red Fish, Blue Fish

Victoria, BC harbor

Many little water taxis going to-and-fro!

water taxi, Victoria, BC

Murchie’s was another glorious find. We stopped by at least once a day for a sip of tea and treat. Evey and I also chose pretty cups in their gift shop to bring home as souvenirs.

eating at Murchie's

Breakfast was a hit with Stephen.

breakfast at Murchie's

And it’s never too early for tiramisu!

breakfast at Murchie's

Trying to take photos with her toy car…like mother, like daughter.

tea at Murchie's

Stephen saw an advertisement for this when we were waiting for the ferry in Seattle and insisted we search out Bartholomew’s where these bad boys are served.

drink at Bartholomew's

We were due for tea in the afternoon so we enjoyed the ploughman’s platter to stock up on extra protein before the carb overload.

ploughman's lunch at Bartholomew's

eating at Bartholomew's

Tea time at the Empress Hotel. It was such a delightful treat. Despite the hotel being under construction and the usual dining place unavailable, we enjoyed our time sitting in the rotunda sipping their legacy blend and savoring our tea time treats.

tea at the Empress

A refreshing start.

tea at the Empress

TEA rex joined us for the occasion.

tea at the Empress

The Princess Tea for the girls.

tea at the Empress

tea at the Empress

The full afternoon tea complete with a bit of bubbly.

tea at the Empress

And a special order of cheeses, bread, and honey from the chef’s garden.

tea at the Empress

tea at the Empress

tea at the Empress

tea at the Empress

Be sure to blow on your tea before you take a sip to cool it off!

tea at the Empress

The chocolate everything was her favorite. :)

tea at the Empress

Our final morning in the city found us at Jam Cafe. A local hotspot–not in the touristy part of town–this place was packed before it opened. {Notice the line around the block still there as we were leaving.}

Jam Cafe, Victoria, BC

It was worth the hour wait for these pulled pork pancakes.

pulled pork pancakes at Jam Cafe, Victoria, BC

Hoping to go back some day for a re-run of all these fantastic places, as well as stopping by some we had to pass up this trip!

Books to Read During The Year of Mercy

year-of-mercy-booklist

Divine Mercy in My Soul by Maria Faustina Kowalska — I suppose if you read nothing else, this would be the one to read through. This diary of St. Faustina in which she records her intimate conversation with Jesus is the jumping block for devotion to Divine Mercy. Admittedly, I’ve never made it from cover-to-cover, but have picked it up at various times in my life to find absolute jewels contained within. Her candor, her devotion to Our Lord, her simplicity, all will lead you to desire a deeper love for this devotion.

Divine Mercy for Moms by Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet — Excellent for moms with little time on their hands, this easy-to-read work by two close, long-time friends relates a few anecdotes of how the devotion has played a lasting role in their lives, as well as concrete ways to live out mercy in our own lives. When the Year of Mercy commenced, I had thought of writing a few posts with ideas of how to live out the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy at home–these ladies beat me to the punch. Such a great collection of ideas, in addition to prayers and devotions in the appendix. Visit their website for more!

You Did It to Me : A Practical Guide to Mercy in Action by Michael Gaitley — In a similar vein, Fr. Gaitley gives excellent, practical advice on living out the Works in Mercy in one’s home, parish, and community. Diving more deeply into these Works of Mercy is a fabulous way to enter more fully into the Year of Mercy.

33 Days of Merciful of Love : A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Consecration to Divine Mercy by Michael Gaitley — A great act in this Year of Mercy is to make a consecration to Divine Mercy. Pulling from the writings of St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Faustina, Fr. Gaitley takes the reader of this book through a 33 day retreat, culminating in consecration to Divine Mercy.

The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis — Sermons taken from the first year of his pontificate, it is easy to see how from the very beginning, Pope Francis has been calling each one of us to cultivate a heart of mercy.  Broken into short chapters that can be read individually, we’ve read these out loud as a family, and really gleaned much from his heartfelt words.

Just Mercy : A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson — This and the one following are secular books, not ones you would likely expect on this list, but both have touched me deeply on the subject of mercy this year. {I know God leads us to certain reads at the time He most wants us to hear that particular story.} The author is an attorney who fights for those imprisoned, especially those unjustly so either due to innocence or to extreme duration of incarceration for the crime committed, and those on death row. In one of the final chapters of the book, he gives an excellent plea for us to consider what it means to be merciful, on a very natural level.

Just a few quotes that really struck me to entice you to read this incredible book:

“We have a choice. We can embrace our humanness, which means embracing our broken natures and the compassion that remains our best hope for healing. Or we can deny our brokenness, forswear compassion, and, as a result, deny our own humanity.”

“In fact, there is a strength, a power even, in understanding brokenness, because embracing our brokenness creates a need and desire for mercy, and perhaps a corresponding need to show mercy.”

“Mercy is most empowering, liberating, and transformative when it is directed at the undeserving. The people who haven’t earned it, who haven’t even sought it, are the most meaningful recipients of our compassion.”

Rising Strong by Brené Brown — This book {which I wrote a bit more about here} has some excellent tools for finding a place in one’s heart for mercy and forgiveness. Bitterness that lodges in one’s heart caused by a hurt, inflicted by another, or even oneself, precludes mercy. Tools to work past, instead of holding onto, hurt help us to come to a place of mercy.

What others would you recommend reading during this Year of Mercy? 

 

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