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Year in Review – 2016

My blogging has been sporadic and sparse this year. Much happening with my family and not a whole lot of time to sit down and type out words, even though I have many bouncing around in my head to share.

So, although, I had planned on this being a ’12 in 12 photos’ post, it has turned into more. A quick recap of the year in photos and a few words.

Here’s to 2016. You were good to us.


Carmel beach - Jan 2016

Carmel Mission - Jan 2016

wall of water - Jan 2016

jelly fish - Jan 2016

walk for life - Jan 2016

ferry building SF - Jan 2016

We took our annual trip to Carmel and Monterey to visit the Aquarium for Homeschool Days. End of the month had us traveling down to San Francisco for the Walk for Life and a quick weekend getaway in the city.



Valentine kisses - Feb 2016

top of the Space Needle - Feb 2016


tea in Victoria - Feb 2016

tiny photographer Victoria - Feb 2016

Princess Evey - Feb 2016

We attended a Valentine’s party at a friend’s house where she had a great photo prop wall set up — Lucie was hamming it up! We went to Seattle {part one and part two} and Victoria, BC as a family, where Steve was quietly taking the Washington State Bar Exam {he passed!}. We loved the Pacific Northwest and hope to travel there again soon. The girls’ cousin, Rosie, celebrated her birthday with a tea party towards the end of the month, and the girls loved dressing up for the occasion.



exploring water - March 2016

Blessed is She retreat - March 2016

Candy Land - March 2016

Easter - March 2016

petting baby chicks - May 2016

The Fountains - March 2016

Post rain walks were a huge hit this month for watching leaves and sticks float down the runoff. I went to a Blessed is She retreat in Phoenix — my first time away from the girls for a weekend — and had wonderful, much-needed quiet time with the Lord and good friends. Evey learned her first board game, Candyland, on my childhood game board. Easter was a beautiful day with family {and chickens!}. And there was twinning at the Fountains.



bouquets to art - April 2016

tea at the palm court SF - April 2016

garden helper - April 2016

morning popsicles - April 2016

first time bowling - April 2016

swearing into the Bar - May 2016

I went with a mom and friend to the Bouquets to Art exhibit at the De Young Museum in San Francisco, followed by high tea at the Palace Hotel. My little helpers got us going on our garden. It was hot enough to eat popsicles for morning snack by the end of the month. The girls had a blast during their first bowling trip. And the greatest highlight of the month was watching Steve get sworn into the Washington Bar at my parents’ house by a good friend of my mother.




capital crew - May 2016

pencil behind ear - May 2016

family photo - May 2016

eating strawberries from the patch - May 2016

riding with lettuce - May 2016

Evey's tomato plant - May 2016

dancing for great grandma - May 2016

May snow play - May 2016

I watched my brother, Raphael, in the Southwest Junior Rowing Championships at Lake Natoma. Morning cutie with a pencil in her ear. A gathering at my parents’ house had everyone in attendance. More gardening {lots of strawberries and lettuce!}.  Evelyn enjoyed working with her tomato plant housed in it’s own special red cage. We celebrated Great-Grandma, AM’s “39th” birthday again. It was still cold enough for some snow to be on the ground at the cabin!



water play - June 2016

holding a ladybug - June 2016

running together - June 2016

hula hooping - June 2016

Golden Gate Bridge SF - June 2016

playing xylophone - June 2016

hiding in a tree SF - June 2016

at the beach in Santa Cruz - June 2016

Santa Cruz beach - June 2016

chillin in the sand chair - June 2016

daddy's day - June 2016

carrots and chard from our garden - June 2016

corn tassels - June 2016

strawberries from the garden - June 2016

birthday girl - June 2016

Water play began this month and we spent a large part of the summer splashing in that little pool. A trip to the cabin involved a little hike where Lucie found her favorite–a ladybug–and Evey enjoyed running with Jed. I took the girls to Children’s Discovery Museum in Sausalito and we had a blast exploring all day. Father’s Day weekend found us in Santa Cruz, spending ample time at the beach and checking out the “little red lighthouse” {a great discovery due to this book}. Wonderful summer produce from our garden! And a little someone celebrated her second birthday at the end of the month.



examining flowers - July 2016

all american - July 2016

parade time - July 2016

pretend photos - July 2016

sitting on the dock - July 2016

hammock time with daddy - July 2016

swinging fun - July 2016

Serene Lakes parade - July 2016

first fish! - July 2016

blowing seeds to the wind - July 2016

flower child - July 2016

camping hike - July 2016

Evey photog - July 2016

first ferris wheel ride - July 2016

A busy, wonderful month full of much exploration! We spent a week at the cabin to celebrate the 4th of July — lots of fun with family! Then, we hopped over to the coast to spend the following weekend at Gerstle Cove State Park to camp with our dear friends, Evelyn’s godparents. And finally closed off the month with a trip to the California State Fair where Evelyn got to go on her first ferris wheel ride {worth the hour+ standing in the blazing sun!}.



blowing bubbles - Aug 2016

fishing together - Aug 2016

our sunflowers - Aug 2016

SLO beach - Aug 2016

catching seeds - Aug 2016

hanging with my girls - Aug 2016

Winding down the summer with one more trip to the cabin for bubble blowing and fishing. We grew some beautiful multi-colored sunflowers in our garden which often graced my kitchen window. I ran away to SLO with my sis-in-laws for a weekend away complete with a requisite trip to the beach. Evelyn loved pulling the seeds from the cornflower seed pods to store away for next year. Hamming it up as we say goodbye to summer!



playing in the yard - Sept 2016

BIS retreat - Sept 2016

knit hat - Sept 2016

cheers in Sac! - Sept 2016

camping dirt play - Sept 2016

large painting - Sept 2016

play dough play - Sept 2016

writing her name - Sept 2016

going up the slide - Sept 2016

Dwindling summer evenings at the Labor Day BBQ. I went on retreat with my Blessed is She writer team in Minnesota/Wisconsin for a weekend–so wonderful to meet many bright faces I had only interacted with online before. Knit up this lovely hat for myself with Ginny’s yarn and my first pattern from Making Magazine.  Happy Hour during an overnight in Sacramento. Off to our last camping trip of the summer at the Calaveras Big Trees with Gram and Pumpkin where Lucie got as dirty as she possible could. Many great activities from our Homegrown Preschooler curriculum this autumn, including BIG painting, homemade play dough, and writing our name! We took Daddy with us to explore Fairy Tale Town on a rare day off.



Seattle date - Oct 2016

Multnomah Falls - Oct 2016

rain play - Oct 2016

playing in the rain - Oct 2016

first fair isle - Oct 2016

circus - Oct 2016

pumpkin patch - Oct 2016

explode the code - Oct 2016

Apple Hill - Oct 2016

apple picking - Oct 2016

Halloween - Oct 2016

Steve and I got away for a long weekend to Portland, a place neither of us had been before. {Our first weekend away since having the girls!} Much needed rain for California didn’t stop us from going outside–a different kind of water play from the summer, but so fun! I finished my first Fair Isle hat–a sweet little cap for Evelyn–with my favorite new yarn from Quince & Co. that I picked up in Portland. Evey’s wish came true and we went to the circus after I won tickets to a show! A pumpkin patch, of course! Evelyn completed her first school workbook. Fall just wouldn’t be fall without a trip Apple Hill, enjoying the colors of the season, as well as apple picking {and eating} in our nearby orchard. And rounded out the month with Halloween and a reappearance of Anna and Elsa.



hiking with uncles - Nov 2016

Veterans day parade - Nov 2016

backyard bonfire - Nov 2016

train museum - Nov 2016

turning 4! - Nov 2016

cousins holding cousins - Nov 2016

crazy faces - Nov 2016

digging out - Nov 2016

building a snowman - Nov 2016

cracking eggs - Nov 2016

building together - Nov 2016

knitting - Nov 2016

thanksgiving tree - Nov 2016

Thanksgiving - Nov 2016

A final trip of the season with uncles to Apple Hill. Joining in the local Veterans’ Day parade. A backyard bonfire to roast hot dogs and marshmallows. A trip to the train museum in Sacramento to celebrate Evelyn turning 4. Lucie enjoyed holding her newest cousin, Zachary. Headed up to the cabin for the first big snowfall of the season. Steve did an excellent job digging us out. And we made a fantastic snowman. Our resident egg cracker. A moment of working together that doesn’t happen too often. Lots of Christmas gift knitting. Our family thanksgiving tree. And Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house.



Advent candles - Dec 2016

counting gingerbread buttons - Dec 2016

Advent calendar - Dec 2016

Christmas crackers - Dec 2016

mama quiet time - Dec 2016

SF store windows at Christmas - Dec 2016

decorating Christmas cookies - Dec 2016

cutting out gingerbread - Dec 2016

decorating cookies - Dec 2016

fallen Christmas tree - Dec 2016

fancy dinner - Dec 2016

Nutcracker - Dec 2016

first quilt

snuggling with Gram - Dec 2016

sledding with Pumpkin - Dec 2016

Evey skiing - Dec 2016

Christmas chaos - Dec 2016

dad's new hat - Dec 2016

Christmas morning donuts - Dec 2016

Christmas breakfast - Dec 2016

doll house play - Dec 2016

Christmas girls - Dec 2016

Christmas napping - Dec 2016

Lot’s of great things this month! We dove into Advent with gusto, but fell off a bit when I got sick. The girls enjoyed the Advent calendars and a look at celebrations from places around the world, while I got to dive in deeply with BiS’s Advent journal. We took a trip to San Francisco to take a peek at the magical displays in the storefront windows. Many cookies were made and decorated. Our tree fell over {but we repositioned the bottom to stay in the stand better and had no further accidents}. On the eve of Christmas Eve we went out for a fancy dinner at one of our favorite restaurants and to the Nutcracker at the Sacramento Ballet. I completed my first quilt, a gift for my brother, Dominic. We had a Christmas weekend at the cabin, complete with lots of snow fun! And a Christmas celebration at my parents’ that involved deep sea diving in wrapping paper by the young ones. My dad sporting his newly knit hat! Christmas morning was quiet and wonderful. And Lucie snuck in plenty of naps during the holidays!


Wishing one and all a Happy New Year 2017!

Thanks for taking this look back with me!

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.

Here’s to Summer!

Summer hit with a vengeance the past few days.

Temperatures soaring near 100. The impossible dream of cooling off the house at night with the windows open. The roar of heat that blasts you as you open the car door to get inside. The need to drink gallons of water to replace all the water you’re losing from sweating.

But we’ve had an odd phenomenon the past week or so too. Humidity. Thunderstorms. Rain. How grateful we are. Every drop counts.

California is in it’s fourth consecutive year of severe drought. The ponds are non-existent, the lakes have turned into ponds, in some spots the rivers are just a trickle. It is a little hairy-scary.

We were planning on a large-scale garden this year, but as I watched the scant rain fall from the sky over the past few months, I began paring down my ambitious plans. It takes a lot to feed those thirsty veggies, especially when the earth is already parched.


We had a grand time visiting the few splash pads last year that were not shut off due to the drought. Thank the Lord they keep the recirculating ones running because life would be rather unbearable if we couldn’t get some break from the scorching temps. No sprinklers on the lawn as we’re not even supposed to water it, but just let it go brown. {Not too hard for ours considering the pine needles on top do a superb job of blocking half the sunlight.} We’ll be getting crafty with water play. Perhaps getting a soak down when the few plants we have need to be watered. Or taking out the kiddie pool for a splish-splash afternoon.


My in-laws, who are close by, also have a wonderful pool the girls and I can sneak away to during the day or grab daddy to tag along in the evenings.


This summer will probably look like:

early morning trike riding

trike riding

sidewalk chalk painting

chalk painting alphabet

stick wielding

stick wielding

watermelon munching


bubble popping


bonfire watching


river sitting


beach digging


sunset gazing


fountain watching


whipped cream smashing


library visiting


pie making


afternoon napping


smoothie drinking


ice cream eating


and let’s not forget: gin-and-tonic sipping {for mommy and daddy, of course!}


Caring for Oneself


I get the impression that moms are feeling a bit burnt out right now. Perhaps its the school year coming to a close and the prospect of the summer in front of them. Perhaps its arriving at the mid-point of the year and looking at all they’ve accomplished {or haven’t}.

Or nothing remotely related.

I’m feeling it. The overwhelm has been washing over me much too frequently these past few weeks. I’d like to blame it all on the hormones, but I think that is giving more credit than is due to those finicky things.

What it often comes down to, and what the conversation has been about on the Net this past week or so, is self-care.

Do you take enough time for it? What does finding time for self-care mean to you? I’ve been pondering these questions, trying to find solutions to the wave of overwhelm inundating my life lately.


exercising with a baby

The means of self-care is personal to each. As Jenny touched on here, an introvert’s version of self-care is going to look different from an extrovert’s version.

What works for other more extroverted moms, like my little sister and some of my best friends, doesn’t actually revitalize me. And just as I need to be sensitive to the fact that my sister dearest could literally interact with another human being endlessly, for all 24 hour in a day, and nearly die of happiness for it, I also need to acknowledge that I need a good 1-2 hours of silence every night after bedtime just to feel like I’m no longer suffocating.

Summer is a great time for renewing this endeavor. With freedom from some of the normal daily tasks, there is more of an opportunity to set aside time in the day for oneself. Elizabeth delves into that more deeply here.

Sometimes, I have to be reminded that not every need must be filled by me. The bone-tired feeling? That soul-crushing fatigue? Usually they are the symptoms of self-reliance. They mean I’ve tried to save the world instead of trusting that God can accomplish His will in my life and the lives of the people I love. I take on every need as my personal mission, and I neglect to seek God’s wisdom and direction in filling the needs around me. I am certain His plan is more prudent than the full-throttle assault that is my default.


We need to lower our standards when they are too high to achieve any margin in our lives for rest for ourselves. Colleen writes about that here.

I think it’s OK to do any of the following if I’m feeling so overburdened by life, I’m are not quite sure how to get out of bed: 

  • put the television on for the kids so I can drink a cup of coffee or run on the treadmill in peace,
  • let the house get messy so I can read a book or engage in another pleasant activity, 
  • or scrap all the housework and put the kids in the car so I can go visit with a friend!

There are some days where it is just impossible. Sometimes we need to “fake it to make it” as Nell hints at here.

I’m not at my best. I look in the mirror and see the little kisses under my eyes called cosleepernumber3 and guiltily gave up sugar again as I was abusing it//turning to it for an afternoon pick up instead of a healthy snack//my clothing doesn’t fit like I’d like it to. But I can’t wait around for life to suddenly hand me a week of full-nights sleep, a personal trainer, and a chef. Instead, I’m determined to feel my best that I can be right now. 

There are ways to find time for ourselves. It is necessary for our well being and, dare I say, the well being of those in our charge. A burnt out mama makes for a burnt out family for a mother is truly the heart of the home.

As mothers, it’s easy to play the martyr sometimes. We tell ourselves that our children need us. We must be everything to everyone. But this is just not sustainable. We are not God. We must not play Him. {And, hey, even He rested on the seventh day.}

There are other wonderful people in our children’s lives and we must give them the opportunity to love on them as well. An engaging activity that distracts the kids while you compose yourself with a warm cup of tea and a chapter or two of a good novel is a good alternative too.

knitting and tea

Sometimes we need to step away so that we can be a better caregiver and nurturer when we are on duty  for them.

I’m working to take all of this to heart myself. I like to care for others — but I’m not good at being the one taken care of. Really, though, isn’t this selfish? How are others to practice charity if another does not accept their charity when it is given?

I maintained the unhealthy thought for a while that I could just keep pressing forward no matter how I was feeling. Always. If I was tired, I just needed to suck it up. Someone else’s need surpassed my need to rest. If I felt touched out, too bad, that little person needed to be held by me. If I was hungry, I could wait…and wait…and wait. Until I was so hungry, I was bursting at the smallest thing.

My patience for anything and everything just starts to go right out the window when I fail to take time for myself. I am learning this.

And I am learning how to make it happen.

Is making time for self-care difficult for you? How can you make it better happen in your life? I’d like to continue this conversation so I’ll be writing a follow up post soon about how we can. 

Moments ~ {Vol. 8}

outdoor play

Lots of time outside during these beautiful Spring days. Evelyn draws, Lucie observes.


We have a single rosebush on our backyard fence. It is very stingy with the roses. It produced twice as much this year and this is half of them.

static hair on the slide

Her hair is the perfect length for the static look after coming down the twirly slide at the park. 😉


Summer-like weather one day had us out searching for the biggest ice cream treat. Success.

picnic lunch

Picnic weather!


Need to work on that “talking with our mouth full of food” thing…. 😉

whipped cream!

My daughter possibly loves strawberries more than I do. Is that even possible?!?!

inspecting her hands

“What is this strange stuff on my hands??”


Fantastic thrift store find. She’s all about stamps right now.

winnie the pooh puzzle

And puzzles. She sits for hours most days working on them.

new york puzzle

Her taxi one we picked up in New York. So proud!

watching the rowers

My youngest brother participated in the Southwest Regional Rowing Championships this past weekend. We enjoyed watching and wading in the warm water.

beach babe

Those rocks were great for sifting through her fingers. Over and over and over….

bean bag love

She had never encountered a bean bag chair before but we happened upon this one at the used kids’ clothing store in town. She carried it over to me and said, “There’s something in here, mom,” very concerned look on her face. I had to explain that it was like a big pillow and it was filled with things to make it soft for sitting on. Next thing I know, I come around the corner and find her like this. She understood. 🙂
fun with friends

We celebrated a good friend’s birthday this week with a gathering of wonderful faces that we love to see.



happy birthday matt

His wife made a delicious ice cream cake with funfetti cake and butterfinger ice cream per his request. It was a great combo!


blowing out the candles

Happy birthday, Matt!

Holiday Baking with Little Hands

Come the holidays, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I love to cook and bake but holiday treats are especially fun for me. If you have little ones, you know how difficult it can be to find time for regular household duties, let alone anything extra. It can feel quite daunting trying to watch them and get things done. But don’t let the lack of free time deter you from whipping up some fantastic holiday goodies in the kitchen — get those little ones involved!

mixing spoon fun

Evelyn has been working in the kitchen with me since she could sit up, so probably around 6 months. Now, I often have both girls in the kitchen with me as I spin my culinary magic. It is necessary to work with their abilities. Obviously, you won’t have an 18 month old cutting up carrots, but there is almost always something they can do to be involved. And if there isn’t, hand them some bowls and measuring cups, and let them pretend! {If you’re brave, you could always add in a cup of rice or flour to play with.}

stacking cups

Something like this? 😉

I have two sets of melamine mis en place/measuring bowls in which Evelyn measures out ingredients or simply plays with, attempting to figure out the correct order to in which to nest them. {Learning tool!!!}


When I am baking cookies, muffins, pancakes {anything you measure out ingredients into a single bowl and mix up}, I measure out the ingredients into the cups or spoons, while Evelyn pours them into the bowl. When she was younger, I would assist her by guiding her hand over to the bowl and pouring with her {otherwise we probably would have ended up with it all over the counter, floor or herself}. As she’s become more adept and careful, I let her pour alone after putting it into the measuring device. Eventually, I’ll teach her how to put it into the cup or spoon herself. It’s all done in steps. As I see her mastering one skill, we move to the next.


She uses a big wooden spoon or whisk to stir up after each addition. This has to be taught too or it will likely be flung all over the kitchen. We go over the rules : the spoon stays in the bowl, we make our turns carefully, no putting the spoon into our mouths. As with measuring, I go in steps with her. First, guiding her hand as she made the turns when she was very little. She’s now at the point where she can do it alone and stay in the bowl, but I still remind her to do it gently and slowly. {And we definitely send some ingredients flying sometimes accidentally! But even I do that. ;)} Sometimes it helps to take it a few turns yourself first so that flour and such has some time to settle into the wet. Otherwise, it can be like turning on the mixer after adding flour! {You mean you didn’t want to cover the cupboard in “snow” for the holidays??} We take turns {“Mama’s turn” — five stirs — “Evey’s turn” — five stirs} so that it actually gets mixed well.

cookie dough

When making cookies, Evey likes to scoop up spoonfuls for the cookie sheet. Tablespoons work well for this. Or if you have a cookie scoop, all the better. Roll out cookies or pie crusts are also a huge hit. She adores “rolling out” the dough with the rolling pin. I have a French rolling pin {the one that tapers at the end without handles}. These are the best for all hands, young and old. You can hold it at any point to apply the pressure you need. And littles are able to grasp it further into the middle as the length is rather a far stretch with short arms. At this point, she rarely makes a dent in the rolling out process {although plenty of dents} but she likes to help. Again, we just take turns. 🙂 If making cookies, I place the cutters on the spot we will cut and she presses it down. Right now, it is difficult for her to aim the cutter well without marring the dough in other places. But we’ll get there. Little steps, always.

rolling dough

Snickerdoodles are a family favorite around here. After making up your sugar cookie dough, they, then, need to be shaped into a ball and rolled in a sugar and cinnamon mixture — a perfect task for small hands. Also, these candy cane cookies required some shaping — rolling into snake-like formation and then twisted together by holding the two bases and spinning. Maybe difficult for a toddler but test it out — sometimes you’ll be surprised at what they are capable of!

pie making

apple crumble

Apple pies are Evelyn’s favorite right now. She likes to watch me peel and slice the apples while sampling the fruit. As I mentioned, she helps me roll out the dough. In addition to adding and stirring the apples and spices, she is able to help place the fruit into the prepared pie crust. If we are doing a crumble topping, she likes to pinch bits of it onto the top of the apples.

E cooking

The stool she is standing on in this photo is the Bekvam step stool from Ikea. It is a fantastic piece of equipment for working with toddlers in the kitchen. It places her at a perfect height for working at the counter. I’ve also heard these learning towers are great with little ones at the counter. {They were just a little out of our price range.}

Another important thing is to establish a safe zone away from the oven. At the edge of our kitchen is a carpeted area. Evelyn is required to be standing on the carpet when the oven door opens. She’s so good about it now that if I even mention the oven, she’ll go running over to it to get out of the way.


I will not pretend that this makes things more efficient. It doesn’t. It slows you down. But at the very least you won’t have to attempt to keep an eye on them in the other room while you’re trying to get things done in the kitchen. Sometimes, it might even be enjoyable. My daughter finds such great delight in pouring cupfuls of ingredients into the mixing bowl, I find it hard to deny her the pleasure and it brightens my day to see her so excited. Sweet memories are made of this…..

Focusing In

photo 1(6)

Loving these prompts from In the Heart of My Home, Elizabeth Foss’ blog. I need a little help organizing my thoughts here this morning. It’s been a doozy of a week.


Outside My Window ~ Sunshine. In the 90s again today. Where is autumn? Cleaner air than yesterday but still smoke-ridden. It hurts my baby’s eyes. 🙁 Another fire was started very near here a few days ago. One of Steve’s commuting companions lost his house in the fire. Very sad.

Listening To ~ Good ol’ bluegrass. Enjoying a compilation of hits. Turned it on to distract Evelyn from something she shouldn’t be doing, but we all don’t mind the distraction.

Clothing Myself In ~ Pajamas still. Getting dressed doesn’t usually happen here until the afternoon unless we are going somewhere, mostly because I like to spend the morning hours doing chores.

Reading My Children These Books ~ We’re still big on trains here. We’ve been enjoying The Last Train and The Little Train the past few weeks. Also, enjoying books of the season on apples and pumpkins, especially Pumpkin Jack, Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Pumpkin Day, Pumpkin Night, The Apple Pie Tree, and Apples. And this fantastic interactive book — Press Here. We like to take full advantage of all our library has to offer.

Reading On My Own ~ I just started Boys in the Boat and I’m really enjoying it. Daniel James Brown is a great storyteller who hooks you on these interweaving lives of the crewsmen and their coaches during the World War II era. Definitely a good read for history buffs. And it’s making me recount my days in the sculls.


Pondering ~ What we have going on these next few months. I think fall and winter are always the busiest for us. Starting in November, we have Evey’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, three birthdays in January, four birthdays in February, and our anniversary in early February. Lots to plan for!

Quotable ~ When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on. ~Thomas Jefferson It’s been feeling like that often around here lately.

Cultivating Rhythm ~ Trying to regain some semblance of a daily rhythm after having it upended while we were trying to escape the smoke from the fire. Also, we’re living with one car right now which means an early wake up most mornings so we can take Steve to the train station if we want to have a vehicle during the day. So regular naps and early bedtimes are important here right now to ensure enough sleep.

E baking

Creating By Hand ~ I’ve started my Christmas gifts early this year in the hopes I’ll actually have something to show for it come December. I can’t say much about it right now, except that I’m really enjoying getting into learning different knitting techniques and my stitches are getting better by the day. My tension is definitely improving.

Learning Lessons In ~ What I can handle and what I can’t. I’ve always had a tendency to overextend myself, but I’m learning what I’m capable of each day and to say ‘no’ to the things I really don’t want to be involved in.

Encouraging Lessons In ~ Responsible independence. Evey has been wondering off when we’re at the park without saying a word, giving this mama a heart attack. Trying to figure out how to teach her communication about what she wants and where she is going.

playing houseAbout 5 seconds before I turned around to check on Lucie in the stroller, and about 20 seconds before she was halfway across the plaza without a word.

Begging Prayers For ~ Those suffering from the nearby fire. For students in the midst of mid-terms.

Keeping House ~ Attempting to do a major cleaning after a much-neglected house the past month or so. Got the floors vacuumed yesterday and already it feels much better.

Crafting In the Kitchen ~ Enjoying some autumnal meals despite the fact it still feels like summer. {We’ll just crank the AC and pretend.} Made this chicken pot pie dish in the crock pot last night and enjoyed some baked pumpkin spice donuts last weekend for our Saturday brunch.


Keeping Fit ~ Not keeping fit…yet. Picked up some 3 lbs. dumbbells at Target earlier in the week. I’m joining some friends starting Monday for a daily exercise routine for which we are going to keep all accountable. Hopefully. 😉

Giving Thanks ~ For my amazing husband, who has been working so hard, at both school and work, yet always making us his priority. He is such a great and loving father. I love watching him with our girls. <3

Steve and the girls

Loving the Moments ~ We wait for daddy to arrive on the train most evenings at the station. It elates Evelyn’s heart to no end to see the train pull up, her daddy step off, to brush her fingers against the train, to say ‘good night’ to the choo-choo.

Living the Liturgy ~ I’m following the devotions from Blessed is She daily. I’m really loving being to able to read the daily Mass readings along with a short meditation on them. Check it out if you haven’t yet! It’s especially great for those longing to go to Mass more often. Helps you keep up a little with the Church’s seasons.

Planning for the Week Ahead ~ Next week will be one of more major cleaning, thinking/planning Evelyn’s birthday party next month, and planning for next weekend’s adventures with family — looking forward to visiting with Uncle Steve and Aunt Cheryl driving out from Texas. 🙂  Also, getting our yard cleaned up for the winter. I think it might be too late for our fall garden.

Of water heaters and to-do lists.


This day has flown by at a rapid clip. Stephen and I made a to-do list yesterday afternoon as we were beginning to feel overwhelmed in the face of what the next 24 hours held.

Saturday evening I went in to give Evelyn a bath and found that the faucet would not produce warm water. Walked out into the garage to find it flooded and the water heater making a strange sound, like tea kettle would if you had allowed all the water to boil out of the pot. Steve quickly shut off the water main to stop the leak.

E bath{This was taken on a different day. I didn’t torture her with a cold water bath.}

Facing the prospect of a weekend sans water, we called around to see if we could get some help that night. Seems not many plumbers like to work on weekend nights. I can’t say I blame them.

We finally found someone to come assess the situation and possibly replace the water heater at 9 the next morning. Around 8:30, Steve found a message saying that the manager informed the workman who was to come to our house that they no longer serviced our area. Guess he didn’t get the memo.

Back to the drawing board on a Sunday morning.

We looked more local and a nice man by the name of Dave was able to stop by to look at it. Turns out our suspicions were correct: the bottom had rusted out. Thankfully, he was able to shut off the water flow into the heater so we could at least have cold water in the house. (However, we decided to forgo the penance and showered at Steve’s parents, but it was certainly nice to be able to flush toilets!) He scheduled a return for the following morning with a decent water heater (apparently, Home Depot doesn’t sell the good ones so we had to wait for the service center to open on Monday) to fix us up with hot water.

We are now the proud owners of a new 40 gallon water heater that, I swear, ups the water pressure on all our taps. That’s a definite perk.

We also had him install a gas line for the gas dryer that has been sitting in our garage since we moved in, 1+ year ago. We’re hoping that takes our utility bill down a notch.

resting with daddy

Other highlights of our to-do list included: clean leaves out of the gutters, mow the lawn, wash dishes, attend a concert (not all these things are chores!), finish up a magazine article Steve was writing, write thank you notes for gifts given to Lucie ages ago, fix car battery (that has been a rather involved process), move couches (postponed), and write up items on craigslist. (….and many more!) All of which was done in between diaper changes, feeding babies, napping them, cleaning up spit up and keeping the girls entertained. That’s a to-do list in and of itself.

This Year’s Garden

Between pregnancy and taking care of a newborn for me and full-time work and part-time grad school for Steve, it is a wonder we got anything out of our garden this year. After my brother and his friend put up a wonderful fence around our side yard and two beautiful planter boxes, we hustled to get a few things into the ground before Lucie made her appearance. Our haste made for a slap-dash tilling and planting without much regard for the suitability of the soil. The side yard was previously some nasty grass. We tossed some fertilized dirt over top, Steve’s dad came over to rototill and we raked it into rows before planting. The planter boxes had a little more attention, being filled only with good soil and the insertion of soaker hoses to aid in the watering process {much-appreciated as I painstakingly tried to do a lot of it with my big belly before it was finished…no easy task}.


One entire box we devoted to strawberries which we hope to keep going year after year. {Supposedly, they get better each year at producing.}

my berries

The next was half-filled with peppers — cayenne, ancho, jalapeno and serrano. They’ve done fairly well, although a few peppers ended up with some brown spots at first. Steve has used them to make some FINE! hot sauce. The first, he made using grilled peppers and it turned out being a chipotle hot sauce. SO yummy! {I haven’t tried the second yet. I get nervous because he likes his sauces HOT! ;)}


ancho jalapeno


The other half of the box, we attempted to grow radishes, carrots and leeks from seed. We got a good crop from the radishes {which we reseeded a few times}. The carrots sprouted…and then disappeared one. by. one. It was odd. I think it was either an insect eating them underground or the crazy scrub jays we have sqwaking around our yard. We never saw the leeks. 🙁


We started many little tomato seeds back in the early Spring. Many came up initially, but we didn’t do a sufficient job moving them into larger containers as they grew. As a result, we ended up with only ONE that could be transplanted. It was a Roma and it hasn’t done that well. Plus, I think it got some sort of mildew on its leaves. We grabbed some plants from a nearby nursery — an heirloom variety, Early Girls, pears and about half a dozen cherry tomato plants. {Needless to say, we have cherry tomatoes coming out our ears.}

tomato plant


Evey's tomato!


Alongside the tomatoes, we grew some some bell peppers that came up from seed. They looked sad when we first put them in the ground, but after Steve gave them a magical potion of coffee grounds, they perked right up and grew twice their size practically overnight. {I just made some stuffed bell peppers with eight of them the other night and it was SO gratifying!}


dinner prep

stuffed bell peppers

The last thing that went in our garden were a few rows of corn and a few of sunflowers. They never saw the light of day. Again, I think those nasty scrub jays are the culprits in the case of the missing plants.

We had a squash plant and two pumpkins that came up on the hillside, but the squash produced only a few teeny, tiny vegetables and the pumpkins stopped growing after a few weeks. Something wasn’t quite right with the soil, I’m guessing.

We sprinkled in some cheery and bright marigolds to help out the tomatoes, which Evey loved to help water.


She also had her own little flower, which she dutifully watered every morning.

Evey's flowers{It looked a lot better earlier in the summer when it was in full bloom!}

Evey's flowers 2

I threw some seed in the flower bed of a flower that attracts butterflies {and lots of bees!} that I can’t remember the name of at the moment. They did well in helping our garden get pollinated!

orange flower



The garden is a bit of an embarrassment at this point with the number of weeds we’ve allowed to get out of hand. {I’ve been pretty good about taking care of the strawberry bed, though. Surprised? ;)}

the garden


Our youngest gardener.


youngest gardener

The Peach Tree That Was (And Still Is!)

I woke up one morning a few weeks ago to find our 8 foot-something peach tree had crashed to the ground. Just the day before, I had been pinching their flesh, hoping for a ripe one soon. It seemed my hopes had literally been dashed to the ground.

fallen peach tree

We were leaving on a vacation the next day, so decided to leave it lying there for clean up when we got back. Although it was blazing hot while we were gone (on the verge of 110 degrees and above), the broken tree still maintained its green leaves and fuzzy orbs upon our return.

We left it alone.

Now, almost a month later, they’re actually ripening! I picked a boatload this morning (around 30!) and there are still more to be had (if I can keep them away from the blue jay population in our yard).

I made some peach jam with ones from the farmers’ market a few weeks ago. I’m eager to mix up some more and, this time, can it for later, to ward off those wintry peach cravings. Someone’s also been requesting a peach pie. 😉

Endless possibilities!!

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