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Category Archives: Summer

What I Learned This Summer

I’ve enjoyed linking up with Emily for her monthly “What I’ve Learned” posts throughout the year. I’ve had this one sitting in my drafts for a while, adding a little as time went along because I haven’t seen a post up all summer. Well, turns out she decided to do an end-of-summer round up. Good thinking, lady. Here’s my summer’s worth:

  • My girls enjoying things that I once enjoyed as a young girl brings me even greater joy than the joy it brought me in my youth.

Evelyn and carrots

Toys, clothes, little tchotckes that brought me much joy — slowly, I pull these out for my children and witness a similar love. Evelyn, especially, has a sentimental heart just like here mama and takes great pleasure in knowing that something she is wearing or playing with once belonged to her mama when she was little.

  • A little water can make a big difference for growing a garden.

We’ve been in a terrible drought here the past couple of years. Last year, everyone was asked to kill their lawn for the summer, to reconfigure their landscaping to a more “drought-tolerant” scape. So it shouldn’t have come as any surprise to me that it would be difficult to grow a single thing in that parched soil.

I was close to throwing in the towel when it came to gardening because of this. As much as I suspected the lack of water was a huge culprit in the piddly garden I was producing, I still was feeling like it was my lack of green thumb.

But about a month into our plantings, and we had so many sprouts this year. I was a bit giddy with excitement.

We’ve had several rainfalls throughout the months of April and May and they greatly contributed to the health of the garden. I could tell as I was ripping out weeds, witnessing all the earthworms ranging around, that the soil was a million times healthier. And I was hopeful.

It seems I had reason to be.

Rapunzel tomato plant

munching strawberries

  • Tomatillos cannot cross-pollinate with other tomatoes. They need some of their own kind. {Same goes for squash varieties.}

On that same garden vein, we planted one tomatillo plant and waited. And waited. And waited. Watching tons of flowers pop out, but no tomatillos husks appear. I asked about this at our local nursery and, sure enough, was informed that we needed at least two to produce the little buggers.

It was a little late in the planting season when I realized this, so I had trouble locating others. I eventually found a few tiny seedlings that will likely be too late to help my first, but maybe we’ll get something from them later.

Surprisingly, the other day, a couple husks showed up on my plant! Maybe one of the neighbors has some too. Thank you, kind neighbor, for the good deed you have done unknowingly.

  • Short, but sweet, podcasts are my jam. 

Perhaps it’s because my occasion to listen is always in short spurts, but I’m really a fan of quick podcasts — ones that are 10 minutes or less. This one to inspire writers is one of my favorites right now.

  • Even a three-year old is capable of finding enjoyment in needlecraft.

Evey stitching

Evelyn has been begging me for months to teach her how to knit. I really want to but I’m afraid 1) she’ll find it too difficult and just get frustrated & 2) I feel completely incapable of such a feat. Someone suggested to me trying out finger knitting, which I will have to read up on. But, in the meantime, we found a little embroidery kit at the craft store that she is absolutely enjoying. I mean, she’s not doing the stitches the way that is shown on the box, but I figure, at this point, what is important is getting the hang of threading the needle in and out of the correct side each time. {Easier said than done, even for a seasoned crafter!} I’m so impressed by her desire and drive in working it out.

And last, but not least…

  • I am so happy we chose to live a quieter summer this year.

skipping rocks

All extra-curriculars were cancelled, spontaneous trips to the cabin occurred, many, many books were borrowed, purchased, read, countless hours were spent splashing in the water outside, and we spent a lot more time just being. {Plus, there were about a hundred hiccups/disappoints that needed dealing with and it always helps to have a tad more freedom to give those things the attention their due.}

 

What did you learn this summer??

Gathering My Thoughts ~ Height of the Summer

homegrown sunflowers

Outside my window: Heat. For one more day temperatures hovering around 100, and then we’re dropping down into the 80s for a little while. Looking forward to the reprieve.

relaxing with daddy in hammock

Listening To: The hum of the air conditioner and the squeaking ceiling fan above my head.

Clothing Myself In: Still in pjs at 2 in the afternoon. When we aren’t going out, I’m terrible about getting myself dressed.

relaxing at the cabin

Talking With My Children About These Books: A few favorites this week from the library:
How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow by Wendell Minor — It may seem early for this, but the pumpkins in our garden are ripe so it’s a topic of conversation right now. I hope none of our pumpkins are as big as the ones suggested in this book, though! 😉

Bear in the Air by Susan Meyers — A super sweet story about a cute little bear that gets bumped out of his owner’s stroller and goes on quite the adventure. My children are especially taken with the illustrations.

My Garden by Kevin Henkes — Great for the imagination. If only our garden would grow

In My Own Reading: Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt and Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss. Can you tell my mind is gravitating towards school days? I’m gaining great inspiration from these about a little “curriculum” to follow with Evelyn this year. Both are wonderful resources for reading to your children, too, even if you aren’t doing home education.

Also, anxiously awaiting The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera recommended highly by Christy. The Fountains of Carrots Facebook group will be discussing soon on their page so jump on in if this is up your alley!

socks and flip flops

ladybug backpack

Thinking and Thinking: About the Fall. Gardening, schooling, birthdays, cooler weather. It is just around the bend.

Pondering: These words of Pope Francis during World Youth Day last week, applicable to any age:

God expects something from you. God wants something from you. God hopes in you. God comes to break down all our fences. He comes to open the doors of our lives, our dreams, our ways of seeing things. God comes to break open everything that keeps you closed in. He is encouraging you to dream. He wants to make you see that, with you, the world can be different. For the fact is, unless you offer the best of yourselves, the world will never be different.

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: We’ve been rather lax with a schedule of any kind this summer, but I’m kind of looking forward to falling into a bit of one as we move into the autumn months. I need a bit more regularity to my days and I think they girls would benefit with a tad more routine. It’s been good, though, to relax some, though.

riding cars at state fair

sierra wildflowers

Creating By Hand: I finished a scarf and hat set for my brother who is headed off to Michigan in a few weeks for law school. Can’t have him freezing to death! This is my second Barley Hat and loved the formation of the Purl Ridge Scarf. Perfect for a double wrap and fittingly masculine. {But modeled here by Evelyn.} Oh, and can I tell you how in love I am with Malabrigo yarns?? <3

purl ridge scarf

barley hat and purl ridge scarf model

barley hat

barley hat and purl ridge scarf model

Learning Lessons In: Home education. Nervous, but excited, about the prospect. Reading all the books I can, praying about the direction the Lord wants us to take with this, and trying not to be the perfectionist I have a tendency towards.

Encouraging Learning In: All. The. Things. Evelyn has hit the “why?” stage and I’m trying to be patient with the onslaught. The latest: What is electricity? Why do we need those black lines to carry it? Why does it zap us? etc. I wish my brother, who is an electrical engineer, was a little closer right now. 😉

walking in tandem at the beach

Crafting in the Kitchen: With tomatoes coming out of our ears and frequent trips to the farmers’ market for all sorts of seasonal finds, ratatouille was an easy choice last night. {Although it barely touched the plethora of tomatoes covering almost all the surface of my counter.} My recipe was from the Laurel’s Kitchen Cookbook {what? you didn’t know I wrote a cookbook?? ;)} I substituted a red onion for a regular as that is what I had on hand, as well as tossing in fresh basil in lieu of the dry. I used white eggplant from my mother-in-law’s garden which I might just prefer to the traditional purple. Surprisingly, it turned browned when cooked, too!

To Be Fit and Happy: I’m not, and something’s gotta change. I did a 20 minute Pilates video with my girls this morning which was a good kickstart. I will be attempting to follow the exercises in Core Performance Essentials as soon as it makes its way to my house via the mail. I’ve got some serious work to do on my core which has never been this out of tune. It’s been difficult for me to know where to begin on this whole endeavor of reconstructing it, so I’m feeling sort of thrown for a loop, discouraged. Just need to commit and make it happen.

Lucie Little Tikes car

Evey running

Loving the Moments: My girls playing together. Watching their joy in interacting together makes all the difficulties of two toddlers just melt away…almost. 🙂

sisters in Hanna Andersson

sisters in the pool

sisters "scrubbing"

Living the Liturgy: Looking ahead to feast days this month….. We’ve got Lucie’s baptismal day on August 6th (Feast of the Transfiguration), St. Lawrence on August 10th (my patron), Assumption on August 15th (Holy Day of obligation), St. Rose of Lima on August 23rd (patron to both myself and Evelyn), and a few others in between. I’d like to get back into living a bit more liturgically and I think this month will be the one to ease back in.

Planning for the Week Ahead: Halfway through this one, so looking toward the weekend full of home projects and a pool/birthday party. Definitely can’t wait.

 

Linking up with this week’s Yarn Along over at Ginny’s. 

Floral Identification

flower identification

flower identification

flower identification

flower identification

flower identification

The girls and I have been fortunate to spend some time in the mountains the past couple days, in the cooler air and away from the smoke. This morning, we went on a long walk and spent the time finding as many wildflower varieties as we could. We came back with quite the array.

The remainder of the morning we spent with the flower identification book attempting to figure out each flower. {And I had some fun photographing with my camera!} Here were our findings.

Flower #1 : Yarrow – achillea millefolium

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #2 : Couldn’t get this one — it appears to have small seed pots on the stem.

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #3 : Sierra Daisy – erigeron algidus

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #4 : Checker Mallow – sidalcea oregana

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #6 : Sierra Gentian – gentianoposis holopetala

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #7 : Sierra Stickseed – hackelia nervosa

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #9 : Sticky Cinquefoil – potentilla glandulosa

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #10 : Spur Lupine – lupinus arbustus

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #11: Sierra Penstemon – penstemon heterodoxus var. heterodoxus

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #12 : Parish’s Yampah – perideridia parishii

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #13 : Mountain Dandelion – agoseris retrorsa 

flower identification

flower identification

Can you tell we’re in the Sierra Nevadas? 😉

 

Linking up with {pretty, funny, happy, real} over at Like Mother, Like Daughter.

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.

Things I Learned in September

sliding

  • Time outside is good for all of us. 

We’ve had some nasty days this summer due to smoke from fires. This has kept us inside more than we’ve liked. It becomes quite apparent just how great being outdoors is for us, when we’ve been cooped up too long inside.

watching-pope-francis

  • The visit from our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to the United States felt like welcoming our grandfather into our home. 

I had such an immense feeling of excitement and peace with Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. Although I was too far to attend any of the events with him, every time I sat and listened to his words, saw him greet the crowds, watched him give his blessings, it felt like he was more physically present than he was in actuality to me. It truly felt like the visit of a wise grandfather come to visit his family and impart his wisdom and blessings.

painting

  • We must encounter people where they are at, not where we want them to be.

This gem from Pope Francis really has given me great food for thought. It is so easy to approach people with our own agenda instead of meeting them where they are at. Just listening, just supporting them in the place we find them.

under-the-bridge

  • In order to really develop a skill, it is important to give it specific attention. 

I had the best of intentions to work on my photography this year. In the Spring, I purchased a subscription to Clickin’ Moms but I’ve been on the site about three times since. {Usually, when I invest money in something that is sufficient motivation, but I have just been too. busy. to actually click through.}

Write 31 Days starts tomorrow. It is held annually every October. Bloggers across all genres write and support each other in the endeavor for the full 31 days. I’ve decided to join this year — but — my focus will be on my photography. I will post a photo every day this month with the intention of developing my skills. My writing will be a caption for that photo. Please lend your support! 🙂

all-things-pumpkin

  • Changing seasons are a great piece of God’s plan for this world. 

There are so many wonderful things to enjoy in each season, but I find–the good and the bad–starts to wear thin just as we are approaching the change to the next. I’m about done with the heat and I’m very happy to eat all things pumpkin and apple this coming month.

  • Saint Josemaria Escriva is a great patron of our family, but is an excellent patron of every family. 

Read more reasons why at Someday Saints, where I’m guest posting today. 🙂

 

What about you? What did you learn this month? 

Linking up with Emily Freeman over at Chatting at the Sky for her monthly discussion of things we learned this month.

Gathering My Thoughts ~ Extra Time with Daddy

we-be-rollin

Outside my window: We were so blessed last week with daytime temperatures in the 70s and 80s. Today, summer comes back with a vengeance, soaring into the 100s by Thursday. Ugh. Is the splash pad still open?

Listening To: The ever-classic Ray Charles–Lucie’s choice. She very emphatically said no to the quieter hymns I started to play. Girl likes jazzy music.

Clothing Myself In: Workout clothes. I dressed in these out of my pjs when we went to the store earlier this morning with the intention that it would remind me to get my workout out done when I got home. It’s mid- afternoon and it still hasn’t happened.

Evey-and-her-easel

Talking With My Children About These Books: We are on letter “M” this week in our lessons. Our selection for the week is: First Pictures of Mary by Maite Roche, Madeline by Ludwig Behelmans, The Mitten by Jan Brett, The Town Mouse and the County Mouse by Helen Ward, and Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. This is the first week that our selection is entirely composed of books I’ve read before — all great ones too! We may add on some others before the week is out.

I can’t speak highly enough of Maite Roche’s books. {The first one listed.} They are published through Ignatius Press. We currently have the Easter one and My First Prayers for the Family, but hope to add her others over time. She is a French writer so they are all translated from the original language.

cousins-reading

 

evey-and-logan

In My Own Reading: I’m looking forward this week to starting Emily Freeman’s latest book, Simply Tuesday. I read A Million Little Ways about a year ago, and absolutely loved it. She has such a beautiful way of assisting her reader find depth and meaning to their life, even those who perform the simplest and most mundane of tasks.

Thinking and Thinking: With the way the polls are leaning currently, the upcoming presidential election has me feeling quite uneasy. What our country thinks is acceptable {even if they are not satisfied with the current governance} is scary to me. Even if they are not satisfied with the current governance–or the last few presidents’ terms–we can’t just elect somebody because they sway the opposite direction and oppose what we don’t like. We have to choose what is right and good.  A college professor of mine wrote a great little post titled ‘When Scoundrels are Honored‘ that reflects a bit on this.

practicing-g

Practicing the letter “G” {we’re working on it ;)}

glitter-paint

 

Glitter paints during “G” week

Pondering: “What is the goal of Catholic education in the midst of the flurry of screens and devices that bring the modern world to our fingertips? It is to keep the human person at the center of our enterprise. The world of information may be only a swipe away, but we should know better than to think it is the most important world. That honor goes to a world made of flesh and spirit, of encounter and conversation. That world must guide our schools, and everything else must follow from it.” from ‘Catholic Education in the Digital Age’

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: This transition back and forth between summer and fall means a transition of schedules so we’re fluctuation between the two and suffering a bit of exhaustion from it. Looking forward to the full switch into cooler weather, warmer foods, a little more time relaxing indoors.

knitting-and-reading

Creating By Hand: I’m on my second of three sweaters using the fabulous In Threes Cardigan pattern. The current one is for Lucie. After finishing the first for my sweet niece {soon to be here next month!}, I took the girls to the knitting shop to pick out colors for ones of their own. Lucie fell asleep on the way, so Evelyn took over the duty of choosing colors. She picked a beautiful blue with flecks of green and purple for Lucie and a radiant red for herself. I’m about 3/4 done with Lucie’s, then I’ll get to work on Evey’s and hopefully be done before the cool weather hits. {Linking up with Ginny’s #yarnalong — be sure to check out more inspiring projects there!}

Learning Lessons In: Finding ways to make time for what is truly important and fulfilling for me and my family. I’ve read Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home but had forgotten about her idea of the Power Hour. Anne writes here about how she uses that hour weekly to dive deeper into things that enrich herself. I’ve been trying for several months now to delve deeper into my photography, but have been unsuccessful so far. I’m going to set an hour each week, starting this week, to make this happen. It is important to me so I need to make it actually so.

riding-the-car-waves

Encouraging Learning In: Not standing on furniture. My little daredevil is turning up the heat, standing on chairs, tables…rolling cars! She doesn’t seem to understand the consequences even when she tumbles, so I’m hoping something influences her in a positive way!

Crafting in the Kitchen: We’re enjoying the tomatoes from the market as my plants have been growing horribly this year. We really enjoy this stuffed chicken using tomatoes and feta that I shared last week. Thursday I will share a favorite pancake recipe that will get you inspired and excited for the autumn. We’ve made it twice already in the past week.

tomatoes-in-the-trunk

To Be Fit and Happy: I was doing well in this department but have been slacking off over the past week. I need to find an activity that I can interchange with the Barre3 classes. I’m hoping to go running once or twice a week once the evening temperatures have dropped a bit.

Loving the Moments: We enjoyed a three-day weekend with Steve home. It is such a joy for me to witness the moments he is able to spend bonding with the girls. They love their daddy so much. Both run, shouting with glee, to greet him when he walks in the door every evening from work. Many times, Lucie prefers his company to mine. They snuggle on the couch and sometimes watch funny animal scenes on his iPad. Evey always gets him to build the best forts and they read together inside. Such wonderful moments to witness. <3

sliding-with-daddy

blowing-bubbles

Living the Liturgy: Today is the feast of the Nativity of Mary. We will be enjoying vanilla ice cream {pure — in honor the Virgin Mary} to celebrate.

Planning for the Week Ahead: As mentioned earlier, it is going to be super hot this week so we’ll be spending the majority of time inside {unless we can find a good splash pad that’s still open}. We’ll send a meal to a friend who just had a baby late last week. We’ll probably make milkshakes and eat popsicles. And I’m hoping to get a bit of writing in. I’ve been a little “dry” these past few weeks….hoping for inspiration!

happy-birthday-to-mary

Taken after I wrote the post…Happy Birthday to Mary, she sang! 🙂 

Feta and Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breasts ~ {Eat Seasonal}

feta-tomato-stuffed-chicken-breasts

Our tomato plants have not had the best year. I don’t know if it is the drought, the soil they are in, or what but they have grown so slow and hardly produced a single tomato. The weather is already changing to autumn so we’ll be lucky to see the green ones turn red, as they like hot weather for maturing.

Despite our dearth of tomatoes, we’re still making seasonal recipes at home. I got my tomatoes from a can, but you can easily replace with fresh ones instead if you’re garden has been more cooperative this year. {And please tell me all about it so I can live vicariously through you!}

 

Feta and Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breasts

3 large chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
1 can of diced tomatoes, 14 oz. -or- 2 c. of fresh diced tomatoes
1/2 t. oregano
1/2 t. basil
1/8 t. garlic powder
3/4 c. crumbled feta

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Slice chicken breasts lengthwise so there is a horizontal slit down the middle of the breast. Place them in a baking dish.

Mix tomatoes with the seasonings. Spoon some into the slit you’ve made in each chicken breast. If you have more leftover, drizzle it on top, especially the juices. Crumble the feta inside and on top as well.

Cook for 45 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink inside.

Easily doubled!! {or tripled}

Moments ~ {Vol. 11}

girls-digging-in-dirt

Dirt, dirt, and lots of dirt. Most mornings are spent outside digging. Pre-lunch time is spent bathing.

little-diggers

Digging with spoons because we’re fancy like that.

evey-scootering

Evey’s becoming a scootering pro.

evey-finger-painting

Never one to paint her body before, Lucie’s encouragement pushed Evey outside her comfort zone.
evey-finger-painting

First finger painting for both girls.
lucie-finger-painting

Doesn’t mind getting messy one bit.

lucie-finger-painting

Who says paint is for paper?

dancing-with-daddy

Daddy-daughter dance to “Let it Go”.

frozen-with-daddy

Saturday morning Frozen viewing with Daddy.

sunday-morning-with-daddy

Sunday morning snuggles with Daddy. Sweetest.
Evey's-cow-drawing

Evey’s cow. 🙂

Evey's-cow-drawing

He got more legs and accessories than he bargained for.

dinner-under-the-lights

End-of-summer party at my parents’ complete with appropriate ambience lighting.

dinner-under-the-lights

Magical.

orange-sunflower

Our first sunflower of the season!

tomato-braised-chicken-and-red-wine

Enjoying a wonderful red from a friend’s family winery in Oregon alongside a delicious Sunday dinner.

anchor-steam-porter-tasting

#muffbrews continues. We’ve been on a porter and stout kick lately.

kitchen-flowers

Beautiful flowers from a #bissisterhood friend. Makes my kitchen so pretty.

post-water-snack

Snacktime post-splash pad fun. They enjoyed themselves. Really.

star-cookie-treat

Grocery day treat. Bribery or reward? You decide. 

free-ice-cream

Free ice cream at the library? Yes, please. {Although, every time we go to the library now she wants to know where the ice cream van is.}

evey-purple-popsicle

Matchy-matchy.

lucie-ice-cream-cone

She knew right what to do with that cone.
sticker-feet

Creative sticker sticking. {She likes to place them over her eyes too. Whatever floats your boat, Ev.}

Gathering My Thoughts : Reading, Recipes, and Relaxation

swinging-with-daddy

Outside my window: Heat, heat, and more heat. This week is a scorcher. We’ve had some fairly mild weather this summer, minus a series of a few days here and there. I’m grateful. And I’m ready for the Fall. The only good thing about this heat is that it might make my tomatoes turn red. Here’s to hoping.

Listening To: My husband and daughter make pizza for dinner. She asks so many questions about everything. I’m glad he’s fielding them for now as my brain hurts a little from the continual bombardment throughout the day. 🙂

Clothing Myself In: My favorite blue skirt {similar to this one} and tank top {this one but it’s sold out!}. Light and breezy to stay cool in this heat.

books-for-b-week

Talking With My Children About These Books: We are starting on the 26 Letters to Heaven curriculum {loosely} this week. Evey has been showing a strong interest in learning letters so I decided to seek out a easygoing curriculum that would allow me to introduce them better to her. I’m planning to do another post in the next week or so about books I’m using for education with her and my reasons for doing so.

We’re not doing the letters in order. “B” is the letter of the week. Our books for the week are: Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, Angelina Ballerina by Katherine Holabird, Berlioz the Bear by Jan Brett, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter, Seven Hungry Babies by Candace Fleming, Beach by Elisha Cooper, Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff.

Have any others we should add??

In My Own Reading: Over the past week or so I’ve binge-read two novels: The Orphan Train and The Girl On the Train. The fact that they both have to do with trains didn’t occur to me until I picked up the second to read it. As with a lot of my pleasure reading these days, both of these came recommended by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy. The first was also recommended strongly by my mother, hence, it ended up as my choice in the category of “a book recommended by your mother” in the Reading Challenge. It was fantastic. It follows the story of a young, orphaned Irish girl when she is shipped to the Midwest to be adopted and tells of the life she found when she got there. It is interwoven with the story of a contemporary orphan. Highly recommended now by me too! 5 out of 5 stars.

The Girl on the Train is a high-speed thriller {you see what I did there?} which I sped through in a matter of 24 hours. I was a bit hesitant to read this when I saw it listed as a thriller as I am not too fond of blood and guts and crazy psychological yuckiness, but it was pretty easy to stomach and the plot pulled me right along to the end. 4 out of 5 stars.

Thinking and Thinking: About the Autumn and all the wonderful flavors of the season that will soon be coming. {Despite the fact we still haven’t harvested any of our tomatoes yet this year. They’re on the slow boat.}

I’m also very excited about all the crafts and such I’ve been planning to do with Evelyn. Her imagination is really taking off and she loves creating and crafting {I’ve got a kindred spirit. ;)} so we’re going to go at as many as we can stand! 🙂

candlelight-family-dinner

Pondering: 

“It is God himself who teaches us the importance of dedicating time to contemplating and enjoying the fruits of our labours, not only in our employment or profession, but through every action by which we as men and women cooperate in God’s creative work, even in times of difficulty. In the workplace too, we celebrate – a birthday, a marriage, a new baby, a farewell or a welcome. True moments of celebration make us pause from our work, because they remind us that we are made in the image and likeness of God, who is not a slave to work, but the Lord of work! And so we must never be slaves to work but rather its master!

Moments of rest, especially on Sunday, are sacred because in them we find God. The Sunday Eucharist brings to our celebrations every grace of Jesus Christ: his presence, his love and his sacrifice; his forming us into a community, and his way of being with us. Everything is transfigured by his grace: work, family, the joys and trials of each day, even our sufferings and death. May we always recognize the family as the privileged place to understand, guide and sustain the gifts which arise from our celebrations, especially the Sunday Eucharist.”

~Pope Francis, General Audience, August 12, 2015

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: Since we’re in the space between summer and Fall, we’re sticking to our summer routine here for a little while longer still since the sun is up a bit earlier. It also stays hot here often into the early days of October. Early mornings are spent outside in the {semi}fresh air, afternoons indoors in air conditioning crafting, watching a show or two, prepping for dinner, etc. I’ve enjoyed the rhythms of our days this summer, hoping to find a similar one that works this Fall.

knitting-pink-sweater

Creating By Hand: Knitting tends to be a seasonal craft for me. So, since the cooler weather will be upon us soon, I’ve busted out my stash. There are a few babies making an appearance within the next couple months so a few items for them are first up on my list.

I found a fabulous little cap-sleeve sweater I’m creating. I’m about halfway done now. If it continues as well as it has so far, I will probably make both of the girls ones for the cooler months. {Joining up with Ginny’s Yarn Along this week. Join us if you like to knit or crochet too!}

Learning Lessons In: Balance. Time is precious. I want to use it wisely. Figuring out priorities and making sure I’m giving of myself in the places where God most wants me to be.

Encouraging Learning In: Sweeping. Evelyn insisted on a dustpan and broom to take home with her when we were shopping at Ikea last week, so she’ll be in charge of that chore…once she learns it is more than just brushing things around the room. 😉

sunday-dinner-with-wine

Crafting in the Kitchen: I’ve begun posting weekly recipes focused around what is in season on Thursdays here on the blog.

A few recipes to use up the last of that summer produce include: Breakfast Peach Crisp, Salmon Bread Salad, Blueberry Banana Bread Muffins, and Tortellini Salad with Avocado and Broccoli.

To Be Fit and Happy: I was having a really hard time fitting exercise into my days, really just getting motivated to get it done. But I revived an exercise accountability group on Facebook that I had with a few friends, and it’s helped me get my backside in gear a little more frequently. I’ve been doing the Barre3 workouts 3 times a week. I’m hoping to up that to 4 or 5 within the next week or so. I think part of the problem was I was trying to do too much to begin {I’m really out of shape} and starting out slow, not doing back-to-back days, has helped me immensely in wanting to do it, rather than forcing myself.

drawing-a-cow

Loving the Moments: To go along with our “schooling” I purchased Evelyn a new easel. She loves the whiteboard. Literally spends an hour or more every day doodling there. She draws a lot on paper too, but an interesting thing happened when she began drawing vertically: she’s drawing realistic figures! She made me a cow the other day and began adding accessories and such to it, naming each thing. It was quite discernible. This is the first I’ve seen her do this. I love to witness these milestones! 🙂

Living the Liturgy: This coming Sunday is the Feast of St. Rose who is a patron of both Evelyn and myself {her middle name, my Confirmation saint}. We’ll celebrate by going to Mass and enjoying Root Beer floats for dinner that evening. If you couldn’t guess, our letter next week will be “R”. I need to think of a good “R” food to serve for dinner….

painting-her-legs

Planning for the Week Ahead: We’re about halfway through {I started writing this on Tuesday but the time gets away from me}. We have dance tomorrow, I’ll enjoy our monthly dinner together with my mom in the evening, then winding down to the weekend, Steve and I are looking forward to a much-anticipated date a local winery where we’ll be savoring a tasting-and-pairing menu alongside a tour.

 

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Blueberry Banana Bread Muffins ~ {Eat Seasonal}

blueberry-banana-bread-muffins

We try to up our breakfast game on the weekend. That usually involves a breakfast meat, eggs of some variety, and a sweet breakfast treat. I don’t have much time to get something in the oven before the hungry wolves enter the kitchen, so I try to keep my baking time to a minimum — half hour or less is ideal.

These guys fit the bill and they are easy enough you just might feel inspired to create them for a special treat during the week too.

Blueberry Banana Bread Muffins

3 ripened bananas
juice of a lemon
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1 c. blueberries {fresh or frozen}

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a muffin tin with muffin cups.

Smash the ripened bananas in a large bowl. Squeeze in lemon juice and pour in melted butter. Mix well. Add in brown sugar.

Mix together flours, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a separate bowl. Pour into banana mixture and begin mixing until just starting to incorporate. Add in blueberries. The flour will prevent them from breaking as you continue to mix. Mix slowly until well-incorporated. Mixture will be more firm than watery {but if its really dry, add a few tablespoons of water}.

Bake for 20 minutes, until inserted toothpick comes out clean. 

Makes one dozen.

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