23 December 2008

And ma in her kerchief and I in my cap. . .

. . .had just settled down for a long winter's nap. (In my case a couple of weeks-long blogging nap)

We will be having Christmas Eve and Day with our little family of 4 this year. This is a first for us, and we are very excited. Meals have been planned, food has been bought, presents are wrapped and ready to be opened. We can't wait for Santa to come down our chimney, fill the stockings that are hung there and eat the cookies that will surely be waiting for him.

Merry Christmas to you.

**I have more soup recipes to share in the new year. Stay tuned.

19 December 2008

Soup of the day: part 3

Today's soup of the day recipe doesn't come from me. It comes from Pamela, who is the sister of Ellen, (the owner of Classichound, my great boss and the creator of the doggie bags). I featured Pamela's necklaces on a Monday Fun Find awhile back, and you can see more of her beautiful jewelry in her Etsy shop.

She posted this recipe on her blog the other day and my mouth was watering. This was the soup I was hoping for that fateful day at Fred Meyer. I haven't made it yet only because I keep forgetting to buy leeks. But it is on the menu.

18 December 2008

Soup of the Day: part 2

Thanks for all the positive response from the last recipe. Here is the second installment.

The credit for this recipe goes to none other than Rachel Ray. Like the cheesy chicken chowder, it's a quick-cooking soup, (30 minutes in fact :-)) so you don't have to start making it hours before you can serve it. (Also, the picture above doesn't really do it justice. It has been so overcast here I couldn't use natural light, so had to use the flash.)

Meatball and Macaroni Soup

3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
kosher salt and pepper
½ pound ground beef
½ pound ground pork
1 egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup bread crumbs
½ tsp. freshly grated or ground nutmeg
8 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 ½ cups macaroni (or use any kind you have left over, I used broken fettucine)
½ bag triple-washed fresh spinach, coarsely chopped

1) In a deep pot over medium heat, add carrots, celery, onions and bay leaves with a bit of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and cook veggies until soft, about 5 minutes.
2) While the veggies cook, combine the ground meats, egg, garlic, parmesan, bread crumbs, nutmeg, with 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper in a separate bowl.
3) Add broth and water to the pot of veggies, increasing heat to high and bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and start to roll meatball mixture into small balls, dropping them straight into the pot.
4) When you are done rolling the meatballs, add pasta to the soup and stir. Cover and simmer soup for 10 minutes.
5) When pasta is tender, stir in chopped spinach. When spinach is wilted, the soup is done and ready to serve.

My apologies to all you readers who don't eat beef or pork. You could probably substitute ground turkey in these meatballs. The nutmeg and parmesan in the meatballs flavor the broth while they're cooking and the spinach adds just a bit of texture. Even Jeff said while eating this soup, "this might be the first time I ever enjoyed cooked spinach". But if you absolutely hate spinach, you can skip it because it is difficult to fish it out later--it floats around the top of the soup, and therefore wants to be included in every bite.

Also, the recipe does make a lot of meatballs. When I was rolling, I kept thinking it would be way too many. But I found that when eating, you do kind of want some meat in every bite, so it turned out okay.

Yumm-o. (Dangit Rachel Ray and your weird phrases, but somehow I couldn't resist)

17 December 2008

Soup of the Day

As promised, here is the first recipe. I am always on the lookout for new soup recipes and here is one recently discovered from the Taste of Home cookbook I've had since forever.

I modified the recipe just a bit, but couldn't think of a better name, so don't judge the soup by its "cheesy" name.
Cheesy Chicken Chowder

1/2 cup diced onion
3/4 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
2 cups peeled, diced potatoes
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1-2 cups shredded chicken
1 cup frozen supersweet corn

1) Saute onions, carrots and celery in olive oil in a med-large pot for 10 mins until onions are translucent. Add potatoes, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover pot and simmer for 15 mins or until potatoes are tender.
2) When potatoes are almost tender, melt butter in medium saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in shredded cheese.
3) Add milk/cheese sauce, chicken and corn to the pot of veggies and mix well, Heat over medium heat until heated through.

I bought one of the yummy rotisserie chickens from Costco, cut all the meat off and then boiled the bones and skin that was left with 1/2 onion, some salt & pepper, a chx bouillon cube and a bay leaf for about 30 minutes. I strained out all the bones and onions and it made the perfect amount of delicious broth for the soup.

**To my family who are reading this--when I ate this soup it reminded me of the cheese soup mom used to make on Christmas eve(hers didn't have chicken, though and it could easily be left out). In fact, I thought to make it taste more like that soup, cooked cauliflower should be added the next time I make it.

16 December 2008

There is no substitute for homemade soup

Last week I officially hit the 17-week milestone in this pregnancy. For most pregnant ladies, that isn’t a big deal, but for me (in both of my previous pregnancies also) it is the lucky number when my sickness--for the most part—subsides, and my body allows me a couple of months of generally good eating and good sleeping until the third trimester when the heartburn and insomnia kick in.

So I’m trying to take advantage of it.

During those long weeks of constant nausea, occasionally I had an overwhelming desire to eat soup. It seemed like the only thing that would go down easily and be kind to my sad stomach. However, canned soup only did the job once or twice. I discovered that canned soup is kind of disgusting.

Oh how I wanted to just cook up a pot of some homemade chicken noodle, split pea, or bean soup, but most recipes have you start by sautéing an onion (otherwise it would be kind of flavorless) and the thought of handling, let alone SMELLING an onion sent me straight to the toilet.

So I went on a mission to find some non-canned soup that would taste like homemade. I was willing to pay big bucks, people. I searched delis, restaurants, and grocery store refrigerated sections. But many of the soups I encountered were a little too heavy on my still super-sensitive stomach, like tomato, southwest black bean, tortilla, and curried butternut squash.

Once I went to the soup bar at Fred Meyer’s deli. There was a chicken and wild rice soup that seemed bland and homemade and creamy and smelled pretty good bubbling away. I scooped myself a disposable cupful and paid the $3.00 they wanted. I took it to the car, had one bite and almost gagged. It was worse than canned.

What I finally discovered, after throwing away many more cups of random soup, is that there just aren’t any soups out there that even come close to homemade soup. Does that seem obvious? But see, I do think that some food items are better in restaurants than what you can make at home. Soup is not one of them.

Now that my body will allow me to again chop and sauté an onion, I’m busy making all the soups I’ve been missing so much. So if you, like me, are a soup lover, you’ll enjoy these next posts, where I’m going to share all the recipes of all the soups I love.

**A small disclaimer: my semi-sensitive stomach still won't allow me anything spicy, smoky, ethnic or tomato-based, so although I normally love soups like the ones mentioned above, the only recipes I'm making and sharing right now are creamy, chicken broth-based, and non-ethnic.

Eat up! And if you're in the soup mood, share your favorite recipes on your blog as well. The more the merrier.

15 December 2008

Sewing and Snowing

There is much holiday sewing to be done and here is the view from my serger today:

Whoever told us that it RARELY snows in Eugene has now officially been wrong 4 times in the 3 1/2 years we've lived here. The storm that has been the talk of the town all week finally dumped about 4 inches last night as we slept.

Luckily, Oregon school districts consider snow a reason to cancel school, so Jeff is home, and we get to enjoy a cozy, relaxing day in our warm house all together. There really are some great benefits of having a husband who is a teacher.

11 December 2008

Just Google it

Awhile back, I was introduced to Google Analytics and have been a bit obsessed ever since. And no, this screen shot of analytics above is not showing the stats of my blog (can you imagine having 16,635 visitors in one month?) I might say I wish for that, but I don't know if I really do. That's a lot of people reading my stuff.

My favorite section of the stats page is the keywords section, where you can see exactly what random blog visitors typed into Google search in order to arrive at a particular website. It is just a riot to see what sort of things bring up a link to limabeanhome.

A few funny examples:
On Oct 10th, someone typed "is it easy to sew a sleeping bean", linked to my blog, and then spent 12 minutes surfing around. I'm wondering what that person found, since I have no idea about sewing sleeping beans.

3 days later, on October 13th the search was "section passed out duck game" (what?) that person spent zero minutes surfing around, so obviously did NOT find what they were looking for.

There are all kinds of lima bean inquiries that bring people to limabeanhome. "the life of a lima bean", "what do lima beans feel like?", "what job does a stem have in a lima bean plant?", "songs and books about planting lima beans" (that one had to be a kindergarten teacher), but as you can see, these people are actually looking for information on real lima beans, of which I offer none.

Recently there was an inquiry for "sewing for young boys". That person spent a record 28 minutes on the blog--(I think they probably just left on the computer and went to the bathroom or something). Bizarre.

It is pretty entertaining to see the number of hits, the top referring sites, and other random information that Analytics provides. And, in Google fashion, of course it's all free. But anytime I want to have a good laugh, I just visit the keywords section to see the strange and hilarious searches performed daily when people "Google it".

10 December 2008

Baby on the brain

Do any of you read Soulemama regularly? I don't remember how I happened upon her blog, but she is a fabulous photographer and often makes me want to learn how to knit and crochet more than just straight lines around baby blankets.

Anyway, maybe it's because I have baby on the brain, (which is a condition that also makes me want to tivo A Baby Story on TLC and cry every time the moms give that last push), but the picture you will find on Soulemama's blog yesterday of her sweet new baby Harper might just be the cutest picture of a brand new baby I have ever seen. And he's even wearing some hand-knitted pants. What a lucky baby. Check him out.

07 December 2008

Monday Fun Find #15

Monday Fun Find is back! Did you miss me? This tiny little picture doesn't do this little item justice. It is called a fork easel and can be found in the fabulous Etsy shop of DinnerTimeChimes. Make sure you click on the picture to see how it works holding recipe cards, note cards or little photographs.

Even better, you can win one of these by entering this contest. Just make sure you enter before Dec. 11th. But if by chance you don't win, I daresay the darling little fork easel would make a great gift for any teacher, colleague, or someone like me who still uses recipe cards when I cook.

03 December 2008

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care. . .

No, these aren't the stockings hanging from my fireplace, (photo by Katie Jean --aren't they cute?) but thanks to my fabulous husband, our homemade felt stockings ARE hanging as I type.

This is the year I was seriously considering leaving the Christmas decorations in their boxes. Luckily Jeff recognized my Bah Humbugness (for me, you could also call it being pregnant) and took it upon himself to decorate the house all by himself. I've said it before, I'll say it again--I really don't deserve him.

24 November 2008

Food, glorious food

One of the main reasons this past few months has been so challenging is due to my perplexing, depressing loss of appetite and inability to consume most food that I LOVE. Pregnancy hormones mess with my appetite more than they're allowed to, I might say, and it makes the gestation period seem like years instead of months.

I love to eat. I mean, I love to eat. I love to cook and try new recipes. I loved reading this post by Ilene, where she talks about how she photographs the food she makes and hangs it in her kitchen. Ilene, your pictures made me drool and someday when I'm back to cooking again, I think I might follow your lead. (and since I can't get stupid blogger to upload any of the mouth-watering photos I found right now, go look at her delicious photos if you want to drool too)

So included on the WAY too long list of foods I have to avoid are all things spicy, acidic, garlicky, fried, chocolatey (is that a word?), and anything that has a potential burp behind it.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone this week--we're heading to the Oregon Coast with my family. Yippee! Eat more than you normally would in my honor (especially of anything that might be included on that list).

Oh, and consider yourself warned: I'm sure this won't be the last post about food. The next one will for sure include some really yummy pictures.

21 November 2008

I don't know how to come back

Well, when I said I'd be back soon, I didn't envision it would be a whole month. But like the title of this post says, now that I've been away so long (I mean, I guess it's long in the blogging world), I don't really know how to come back. I've thought several times about how to enter back into this world, and have composed a few posts in my head as I was drifting off to sleep only to find them completely forgotten in the morning.

The thing that has kept me away for this long just happens to be a small person growing inside of me that has been sucking the life, energy, appetite, and desire to do anything that I used to enjoy (oh, you know, like cooking, playing with my boys and my poor husband, sewing, generally enjoying life, exercising, and yes, blogging) out of me for what feels like an eternity but has really only been 3-ish months.

Don't get me wrong--I am ever thankful, grateful and excited for a new person to join our family and feel blessed to participate in the process. But I just wonder how pregnancy is very easy for some, relatively easy for others, and like a poison for a few. For me, pregnancy causes my body to go into revolt for many, many weeks.

Another reason I have put off writing this is because I have no desire to offend any readers who happen to find themselves in the difficult situation of even getting pregnant. I know that can be a very emotional and frustrating battle, and to hear a pregnant woman complain about feeling terrible when that is the only thing you want is very difficult and the last thing you want to read. I suppose we all have our own challenges in the conceiving, bearing and raising of our children.

21 October 2008

Good music and a short hiatus

Lately the only music I ever want to listen to is anything soothing, relaxing, or inspirational. You know the genre--George Winston, Enya, MoTab, classical (I love a good pianist playing Chopin) and I'll add Hilary Weeks because I love her. I seem to have been in this mood for days and weeks. Luckily, my inherited ipod came with a playlist called "relaxing" that was put together by Alisa for just these times of life. Thanks, Lis.

If you've noticed, I haven't been nurturing my blog very well these days. The posts have become fewer and far between. Well, I've decided to take a short sabbatical from blogging. I'll be back soon.

09 October 2008

Oh, how I dislike cold

Dear Rabbit,
Please save me a little bit of winter for when I wake up.
Love, Hedgehog.

"I've written it down so you won't forget," said Hedgehog. "Please save me a little bit of winter."
"But why?"said Rabbit.
"Because I want to know what winter
feels like," said Hedgehog.
"Winter is hard and white," said Rabbit. " Winter is cold."
"But what is cold?" said Hedgehog.

Oh how I wish I were Hedgehog and didn't know what cold felt like.

Now, in my town, I can't say that winter feels hard and white, but it is definitely cold. Today was the first day I turned on the heater and felt I couldn't get warm all day long. There is a chill in the air and unfortunately it is here to stay. Sniff. Sniff. I hate the cold. I even always hate getting out of the shower because the air outside of the shower is so. much. colder.

If I were an animal, I would definitely choose to be a hibernating animal. Think of it--sleep and warmth the whole winter long; then you wake up and spring has arrived.

In this cute story poor little non-hibernating Rabbit gets left in the cold to miss his friend Hedgehog while he sleeps away the winter. He's lonely and hungry and can't wait for spring to arrive. Rabbit wraps up a snowball in leaves and saves it for Hedgehog.

Hedgehog stared at the snowball.
It looked like winter.
Hedgehog sniffed the snowball
It smelled like winter.
Hedgehog grasped the snowball in his paws.
"Ouch,"he cried. "It
bit me."
"That," said Rabbit, "is what winter feels like."

I couldn't agree more.

**I know, this post is a bit premature--I should be writing it in the middle of February when the winter blues are in full force and it seems spring will never arrive. Don't worry, I'll repost it then to remind myself and you all how much I hate the cold.

05 October 2008

Monday Fun Find #14 & Reduce what you use: cloth napkins

This is a combo post, as I've been meaning to do another segment of "Reduce what you use" for some time now.

So, today, reduce what you use by switching from disposable to cloth napkins for everyday meals. About six months ago we ran out of our trusty package of Zee napkins and instead of buying another, I decided to pull out the various sets of cloth napkins we received as wedding gifts and actually use them.

What is the point of having sets of cloth napkins in your cupboards waiting for a "special occasion" all the while filling the landfill with disposable napkins after every meal? We decided that in our house, every meal can be that special occasion and we've been using the cloth substitutes ever since.

We've even realized that they don't need to be washed after every meal--they are good for several. I promise I wash them when they need it--but even that isn't a hassle at all. I mean, you're washing dish towels and dish rags, right? Just throw in your napkins!

My good friend Amy makes beautiful cloth napkins--many people stopped to admire her handiwork when we tried our luck at the Eugene Saturday Market earlier this year. I would prefer to showcase her napkins for the Monday Fun Find, but she hasn't quite set herself up on Etsy quite yet. (hint hint, Amy). (If you click on that link and the bad picture of us in that post, you can catch a glimpse of her napkins, or you can see them close-up here or here)

It's interesting--there actually aren't an overwhelming amount of cloth napkin makers on Etsy right now--just a few select sellers whose napkins are all very different from each other.

I will showcase one set I really liked here:

This is a set of 6 napkins made of tan medium-weight cotton and accented with a blue batik. They are made by Bren of goodkarma, a fellow member of teamecoetsy. She has a variety of unique, and well-crafted items in her shop, all made with great attention to detail.

Happy Monday!

30 September 2008

Comment Solicitors

Call this a rant, or whatever you will--maybe I'm in a whining mood because I don't feel very good--but I've decided lately that I don't like when there is a question posed at the end of a blog post. I'll be reading along, enjoying what the author has to say about saving a penny, budgeting, party-planning, you name it, and then at the end they ask something like, "What about you? What do you do to save a penny?"

I think I may be guilty of this myself--perhaps in my early days of blogging I was a little desperate for comments or something (I mean, comments are one of the great things about blogging), but after spending some time in the blogging world and collecting a pretty significant list of blogs that I read daily, I've decided that asking a question at the end of a post just bugs me. If people want to comment, they will comment--asking the question just makes people feel like they have to and makes the author seem too desperate.

If you like to ask questions at the end of your post--please still do it. Don't let my annoying rant stop you (like it would anyway). I try not to be negative on the blog, but I'm breaking my rule today.

What about you? Do you like to read a question at the end of a blog post?

25 September 2008

A great client

For the past few months I have been sewing bags and bags and bags for my best and favorite client, Ellen, of Classichound. Have you been to her website? She sells beautiful handmade collars and leashes for "fashion hounds and their people."

I'll admit (sorry Ellen!) that I have never been a huge dog lover. In fact, my husband will tell you that I'm still scared of all dogs even as an adult. That is not altogether true. Occasionally a dog makes me nervous, and somehow I passed my fear onto my boys, which makes me sad, but that is a topic for another day.

So, that said, learning more about what Ellen does through Classichound and Handmade4hounds (the Etsy street team she started to raise awareness and money for greyhound adoption) has made me appreciate dogs, dog lovers, and especially greyhounds for their beauty and unique body shape, more than ever before. (I still don't want to own a dog, but that is mostly because of an aversion to picking up their poop)

"Their unique body shape?," you ask? After cutting out and sewing on many greyhounds on these fabulous bags, designed by Ellen herself. . .(the grey ones are all sold out--sorry, but this one above, and several others can be found here)

. . .I have come to appreciate what a beautiful dog a greyhound really is.

I'm so glad that I met Ellen (thanks Tara!) and have been able to form such a comfortable, successful working relationship with her. Thanks to her and these bags, I have been able to expand my sewing skills--especially in applique!

She sends me boxes of beautiful Amy Butler, Michael Miller, and Alexander Henry fabrics, and I get to sew them. What more could a seamstress ask for?

23 September 2008

Monday Fun Find #13

Monday Fun Find is one day late this week. . .

Since Halloween is just around the corner, I thought I'd suggest an idea for any little girl who wants wants to be a princess AND for her mother who wants a costume that will have a second life as a warm, cozy nightgown after Halloween.

The one pictured here is for a Snow White costume/nightgown, but Melanie also makes them in yellow (Belle), pink (any princess), blue (Cinderella or Wendy), or white (angel, Sleeping Beauty).

The nightgowns are made of flannel-backed satin, a unique, soft and silky fabric and are beautifully sewn. She has a variety of sizes available. Check out her Etsy shop for a sizing chart.

Happy Monday!

22 September 2008

Sew, Mama, Sew

One blog I read daily is Sew, Mama, Sew! Kristin, the creator of the blog, owns an online shop selling beautiful fabric. The great blog authors are often posting neat tutorials, projects, and sewing tips, and they also have a fabulous forum where you can ask and answer all questions sewing-related.

Today, my storage basket liner tutorial is featured on the blog. Check it out here. I have wanted to do an online tutorial for a long time now. And now, here it is!

21 September 2008

Football musings

If you happen to love BYU Football like we do at our house, you might have fun reading these pre- and post-game recaps written by my sports-loving little sister, Doge. She is a non-paid intern at a sports betting site, which is where these articles make their debut (who's betting on BYU you ask? well, people who think they might bust the BCS I suppose). Since you have to pay for a membership on said sports betting site, we begged her to post them on her blog, and she obliged. She's a great writer. Once basketball season begins, she's also going to blog about the Jazz, and that should be fun to read. Stay tuned for a link.

And while we're on the subject of football, did anyone watch the Oregon Ducks lose another quarterback yesterday? As one sports announcer said, "The only thing worse than being a crash-test dummy these days is being an Oregon QB". Kind of a lame quote, but funny nonetheless. So, all you fans (and semi-interested non-fans), count with me: since the sad day that Dennis Dixon went down last season, there have been four others who followed him, making 5 quarterbacks out due to some sort of injury (mostly blown knees). The guy who stepped in yesterday in the middle of the 4th quarter was a true freshman who literally removed the red vest he was wearing in order to give up his redshirt year. You can imagine, since he was a redshirt player, that he had VERY little time practicing with the team under his belt, yet he came in and almost led them to a victory.

There must be a serious conspiracy going on at Autzen. Maybe the Ducks need to start recruiting some quarterbacks that don't have chicken legs. Most of their guys are pretty scrawny, and apparently their scrawny legs can't hold up to whatever the practice and playing fields are made of over at Autzen.

Okay, that's enough about that.

***If you clicked on that link for the game recaps and found that it was no longer there, just surf through her archives and look for the post on September 19th. For some reason she doesn't label her posts, but I think she should start (hint hint Doge). Also, her real name is Allison for those of you wondering what kind of weird name is Doge.

16 September 2008

My favorite sandwich

You could say it's a BLT, with the B replaced by a really good slice of C. Tillamook cheddar cheese that is. Oh, how I love Tillamook cheese. I also think that this classic CLT is only good in the middle of tomato season with a fresh grown tomato, open face on whole wheat bread (slightly toasted) with mayo, a piece of crisp lettuce and lots of salt and pepper. That's how I like it. Yum.

Don't get me wrong--I love a good BLT as well, but these are so much easier to throw together and your house (and hair) doesn't stink all day from cooking bacon.

The credit for these sandwiches has to go to my mom (or maybe my dad?), as we ate them a lot when we were growing up.
I LOVE them. I can eat one everyday for lunch, but again, only when I can go out and pick one of these first:

(These are two tomato plants that ended up sharing the same space)

13 September 2008

The Book Thief

First of all, thanks for Chelsea for recommending this book so highly, and thanks to my husband for buying it way before I ever knew I wanted to read it so that all I had to do was take it off the shelf in our bedroom. I'm not one who usually likes to buy books, preferring to check them out from the library, but I am now very glad that we own this one.

Found in the book, written by the narrator (who is death):

It’s a small story really, about, among other things:

  • A girl
  • Some words
  • An accordionist
  • Some fanatical Germans
  • A Jewish fist fighter
  • And quite a lot of thievery
For me, reading this book made me endlessly thankful to be alive, living in America, at a time when life is generally easy, pleasant, and there is much joy to be found every day. The characters, jew and non-jew alike, who lived in Germany during Hitler's reign, suffered greatly in many ways and their lives are brilliantly depicted through Zusak's unique writing style. Their ability to find joy while in the midst of such suffering and oppressive leadership was remarkable and inspiring.

On the ration cards of Nazi Germany, there was no listing for punishment, but everyone had to take their turn. For some it was death in a foreign country during the war. For others it was poverty and guilt when the war was over, when six million discoveries were made throughout Europe.

As I read this book, main characters Liesel, Rudy, Rosa, Hans, and Max were a significant part of my life. I thought about them even when I wasn't reading. I'll admit, as the story came to an end, I cried like I haven't in a long time. Even though they were fictional characters, they represented millions of people who lived during that terrible period in history.

In this story, words represent joy, life and freedom. And while reading, I found within myself a new appreciation for joy, life and freedom.

**In this post, I mentioned that the narrator of this book is death. This is a very important detail to remember as you begin the book, because otherwise the beginning can be very confusing. Another thanks to Chelsea for giving me that info.

10 September 2008

What's for dinner?

Remember this goal? (#2)

Having discovered another delicious way to use whole wheat flour, I thought I'd share it here.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

(makes enough dough for 2 pizzas)
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 packets (or 1 tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp.) yeast
3 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups white flour

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
drizzle of olive oil

1. Add yeast and sugar to warm water in bowl of mixer. Mix and let sit for a couple minutes until foamy.

2. Add salt, oil, and flour until you get a soft dough. Knead with dough hook, or by hand, for a few minutes until dough is soft and pliable.

3. Cover and let rise for 15-20 mins. Split the dough in half if you're only making one pizza. Freeze the other half for dinner another night.
4. Roll out and put on toppings. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 mins.

You can substitute any amount of wheat flour for white flour that you desire. We have tried many different ratios and like the one listed in the recipe the very best.

Now with a freezer full of shredded mozzarella cheese, pizza sauce, and pepperoni, pizza is our family's go-to meal about once-a-week. We're pretty boring--sticking to pepperoni most times, but occasionally we change it up with bbq sauce, grilled chicken, cilantro, and red onions. Yum.

It's very homemade looking--but pretty tasty.

**My sister recently tried making this dough and found that her wheat flour didn't have great flavor perhaps because it was too old or had gone a little rancid. If you live in a warm or humid climate, you may want to keep your whole wheat flour in the freezer. You might also substitute whole wheat pastry flour for a smoother dough.

08 September 2008

Monday Fun Find #12

I discovered these when I was browsing the Etsy Handmade Kids Challenge. If you want to see some amazing art, furniture, toys and accessories for kids and their rooms, check it out. You get to vote for your favorites AND you might win a $350 shopping spree on Etsy. (I want it!). Hurry, because the voting ends today, Sept 8th at 11:59pm EST.

Alphabet Magnet Set

Jen Skelley's original illustrations are found on these magnets.
F is for fox, J is for Jellyfish, and my favorite--H is for helicopter (because Owen used to call them "topter-topters").

These would make your fridge so much fun.

If the whole set seems to be a little out of the budget, you can also buy your favorite letters individually.

Happy Monday!

05 September 2008

Three tools you shouldn't can without

This has been a week of canning.

I really do love this time of year when the peaches, tomatoes, apples, and everything else are finally ripe and ready to be picked. I always get a little giddy when it's time to preserve the local produce to enjoy all year long.

Peaches, salsa and applesauce have been the staples for a few years now. I always want to try other things, but haven't ventured into canning green beans, making pickles or chutney quite yet.

So, if you love to can, here are my three favorite tools:

1. The Ideal Fruit Canner

My grandma gave me this before I moved to Oregon. She used it for many years before she decided she was ready to retire from canning. I can't believe how much easier this makes the whole process, because you don't have to boil a whole huge pot of water. Instead, you use 2 quarts of water which steams the bottles and preserves them. I've been searching the internet for the company that used to make these, but they no longer exist. I did find one here, and trust me, it would be worth paying the shipping from Hong Kong. These things are amazing.

2. The serrated peeler
I discovered this tool after reading Cook's Illustrated last year. If you've ever canned peaches or tomatoes and had to immerse each piece of fruit into boiling water for 2 minutes in order to make them easier to peel, you know what a HASSLE that really is. It's also such a mess. So this tool allows you to skip that step entirely and peel those fragile fruits without bruising them. I have the OXO brand, and if time is really money, it has proven to be worth way more the 7 bucks I paid for it.

3. Magnetic lid lifterThis one might be a no-brainer, but this tool really is helpful. When the lids are hot in the simmering water, you really just want to be able to grab one with this tool and lift it out. Again, an easy solution that makes the process much easier.

Happy canning!

This time of year wouldn't be the same without my canning buddy, Tara (if you move far, far away you will still have to come back for canning week). Oh, and Mindi, my former canning buddy who really taught me the whole process--I miss you more at this time of year than ever!

30 August 2008

Go Ducks

Right behind our house is a freeway. I know, aren't we lucky? We actually forget it's there most of the time except when we try to have friends over in the evening and we get hoarse trying to have a conversation over the rush hour traffic.

So I was out in the backyard the other day and looked across the freeway to this scene. It really sparked some excitement inside of me. Here's why:

Top flag: Olympic fever--literally. I'm surprised we didn't end up with fevers from all the sleep we missed trying to stay up and watch the primetime coverage. The Olympic games were a lot of fun and it's always sad when they're over. Whenever our boys see American flags flying around these days they say, "GO USA!"

Bottom flag: End of Olympics = End of Summer--which is mostly sad except that now football season begins and we have two great teams to cheer for this year. Tonight, we're going to our very first Duck game at Autzen Stadium. We've lived here for 3 years now and still have yet to step foot in that awesome facility. Go Ducks!

And even though there's no BYU flag flying: Go Cougars! (they most certainly take precedence over the Ducks, being the Alma Mater and the potential BCS-busting team)

26 August 2008

Hooray for Kindergarten

I am a big fan of the blog, Make and Takes. Many of the fun things we've done this summer have come from Marie's fun and creative posts.

James is starting kindergarten next week, and I wanted to do something special before his first day. Using two ideas from Make and Takes, (this one, and this one), we had a super fun day.

Grandma wanted so badly to be the one to take James on his "backpack date", but since she lives a couple of states away, she let me be her surrogate for the day.

James picked out a fun green backpack
(and dropped a couple on the floor in all the excitement)

We went to Taco Bell, James's favorite restaurant
(and, let's be honest--I love it too.)

James's order: 2 soft tacos
My order: triple layer nachos and a cheesy bean and rice burrito
(Weren't you just dying to know what we ate?)

This one needs no explanation

25 August 2008

Monday Fun Find #11

Today's Monday Fun Find is a unique pair of earrings, made by kimquinndotcom.
3 Jump Ring Earrings

KimQuinn calls them clean and simple. I think the simplicity is what makes them so fabulous.

Happy Monday!

23 August 2008

The wrap skirt reveal

Remember this Monday fun find? (I suppose you could just scroll down a bit and look at it as well because it wasn't that long ago, right?)
  • I visited Toni Coward's blog (she's the awesome Australian mom who is the mastermind behind this pattern) and immediately added it to my google reader. She posts about her life as a mother of two cute kids, her sewing projects and some great recipes. I was also impressed that in her sidebar, she proudly displays what she believes--it truly is a small world.
  • When I made a comment thanking her for the quick shipping and to let her know we share the same beliefs, she commented back with a couple of suggestions about how to make the skirt even more modest. She said she usually makes it a bit longer, and uses a bit more fabric than the pattern suggests. That information was very helpful, and I'm happy with the final result. Thanks Toni!
  • The fabric I used was a pretty heavy bottomweight twill with a bit of spandex. It was in the red tag clearance section, so I couldn't resist. I love the colors, but next time I'll try a fabric that is a bit more lightweight. (The bottom looks like it isn't even, but it's just the picture angle)
  • Speaking of lightweight fabric, I went to the Goodwill today to search their fabric, and hit the jackpot--4 yards of high quality black sateen for 2 bucks! It is brand new--someone bought it, never made the project that they bought it for, and gave it away. I'm thinking it will probably end up being another wrap skirt soon. In fact, I could make like 3 wrap skirts out of that. I just have to find a cute fabric for the ties and the bottom. What a deal! You can't beat 50 cents a yard for quality fabric. Seriously, if you sew--go to your local Goodwill and search their fabric. You might just find something awesome.
If you have some fabric you think would make a cute skirt--send it! Email me or make a comment and we can figure it out.

18 August 2008


Amber, Brittany, DaNae, & JeuneElle on their fun trip to New York

The old saying goes when you marry your spouse, you also marry his or her family, right? So perhaps you can imagine my initial apprehension upon finding out that Jeff had four, yes four, all older sisters.

Now, in my family there are also four girls, so the lucky girl to marry our one brother probably had the same apprehension. In fact, once, we sisters decided that it would make things much easier if we just chose our brother's wife for him, so as to avoid any potential discord in the family if we didn't like who he chose. (Lucky for us, he chose better than we ever could have and she makes our family so much better than it was before she was around).

Perhaps Jeff's sisters had the same pact--and perhaps they were much more nervous to meet me for fear of the potential disruption of their sister bonds, since Jeff, like my brother, also ended up choosing for himself. And again, lucky for me, I couldn't have asked for better sisters-in-law (including Jeff's brother's cute wife, who came along later)--they were immediately kind, welcoming, accepting and in the 7+ years that I've been their in-law, I have developed a love, respect, and individual relationship with each one of them. They are all strong, independent women (with very different personalities), great mothers, and examples to me of righteous living and service. Each of them deserves a post of their own, but today, since the gift at the bottom of this post is in celebration of her new baby girl, the rest of this one will be about JeuneElle.

JeuneElle, the oldest of the four, probably has no idea how she has inspired me as a seamstress. On my first Halloween as a Fuller, I got to see the amazing costumes she stayed up all night sewing for her boys, made without a pattern, as is her specialty, and I decided I wanted to be like her when I grew up. For James's 2-year-old birthday, she found out he loved Super Grover and whipped out a cape in an hour that, three years later, is still the favorite item in our dress-up box. Although she doesn't have a lot of time to sew in her busy life, the things she makes are unique and very well-crafted.

She has always been incredibly generous--in fact, we were the lucky recipients of much of her baby gear 5+ years ago. Since much of it is too used and grungy to give back, we have been trying to think of the perfect baby gift for the little girl joining their family soon.

When she requested a limabeanhome custom diaper bag, I was absolutely flattered and have been nervous about making it perfect ever since. Jeff helped me pick out some great fabric when we were in Portland, and here is the final product. I really hope she likes it and it suits her needs.

It will be in the mail very soon. Jnel and family--we're so excited for your baby to arrive, and wish we could be there to welcome her. For now, this bag will have to suffice. It is made with much love.

14 August 2008

Summer day

Today the boys and I walked to the park for lunch. The weather was breezy and warm and I enjoyed eating my salad full of fresh, farmer's market veggies with tomatoes and cucumbers from my garden. The walk home included squirrel watching, stopping to let fuzzy caterpillars cross the sidewalk, a 5-year old analysis about why skunks like their own stink, and best of all, fresh blackberries for dessert picked all along the trail.

All year long I wait for this time--when blackberries are free for the picking all around the city, vegetables are ready to be harvested for salads everyday, the sunshine is out all day long, and the nights are still long and warm.

I love summer. I love Oregon. I LOVE Oregon in the summer. Everyday of rain and gray during the year is worth it just to live here in the summer.

11 August 2008

Monday Fun Find #10

If you click on this Monday fun find and find that it has been sold, it's probably because I bought it.
The Versatile Wrap Sewing Pattern

I've wanted for a long time to purchase this pattern from makeitperfect , and featuring it here makes me want it even more. When I was a missionary in South Africa, I brought home a couple of wrap skirts in different styles--they are so comfortable and since being back in America, I have been searching for more, but to no avail. This one seems to be the perfect length and looks very easy to make.

Once I receive the pattern and make a skirt, I'll post pics and then you can all send me your favorite fabric to be made into your very own adorable wrap skirt.

**Just FYI--From today forward, Monday Fun Finds will be posted every other Monday.

10 August 2008

The Law Of The Jungle

The River of Doubt, a non-fiction account of Theodore Roosevelt's horrible and spectacular journey down the Amazon River, written by Candice Millard, is, for me, a departure from the books I normally read.

I was originally interested in this book at the recommendation of a friend for its historical significance. It was a challenging read, but finishing the book left me deeply satisfied as well as educated about life in the rainforest, Teddy Roosevelt's generous & adventurous personality, and his respectful style of parenting.

Perhaps because I find myself constantly immersed in the challenge of raising my own children, I am always looking for ways I can improve as a parent. Millard occasionally leaves the story of the river expedition to give some insight into the character's lives before the journey, particularly Roosevelt, as she describes his childhood, some of his experiences as the President of the United States, and a few family stories about the raising of his six children.

Roosevelt's son, Kermit, joined him on this challenging journey down the Amazon, and I enjoyed reading the author's portrayal of the relationship between father and son.

"According to Kermit, Roosevelt had always held his children 'responsible to the law of the jungle.' He never tolerated greed or sloth, especially during camping trips, when, even only a few miles from home, the children's courage, patience, and magnanimity could be tested to their limits. 'Not even the smallest child was allowed to show a disposition to grab, or select his pieces of chicken,' Kermit recalled. 'We were taught that that was an unpardonable offense out camping, and might cause the culprit to be left behind next time.'Roosevelt had witnesed this low threshold for discomfort in some of his closest friends, and he believed that it showed a shallowness of character that he was determined never to see in his own children.

Roosevelt was proud of his son on this expedition. . .not only did Kermit never fight for the best piece of meat, but the few times that the expedition had meat, he was often the man who had brought it into camp" (pp. 252-253)

The "Law of the Jungle" to which Kermit refers, is a poem written by Rudyard Kipling. Here is the opening stanza of the poem:

Now this is the law of the Jungle--as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdle the tree-trunk, the Law runneth forward and back--
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the pack.

I do not claim to be immune from displays of selfishness and greed, but, in my own challenge to overcome these character flaws, I hope to teach my children to work hard and think of others before themselves.

If it makes them better people, I believe I will also hold my children "responsible to the law of the jungle."

08 August 2008

And the winner is. . .

Thanks so much to everyone for entering the giveaway! The winner of the random drawing is sweetest petula.

I really appreciate all the nice comments everyone left, and look forward to more giveaways in the very near future.

31 July 2008

One Hundred Sales

Just a few days ago, I reached one hundred sales in my Etsy shop! This is an exciting and very fulfilling milestone, and I hope to have at least one hundred more in the coming months.

To celebrate, I’m giving away a mini-version of my Bring Your Own Bags—Starter Pack. (One reusable canvas shopping bag—medium, and two reusable produce bags).
To enter, just leave a comment on this post. I will be out of town and far away from a computer for a few days, so I will hold the drawing when I get back on Thursday, August 7th.

Happy Day!

Baby Veggie photo shoot

What could be cuter than baby vegetables? I know--I'm a big nerd. I just can't wait for them to grow up so I can eat them.

This is one of the the mystery vines--turns out it's a pumpkin!

30 July 2008

Reuse what you have: Super Foamers

Since I'm sure you don't all have the same blogs on your google reader as I have on mine, I thought I'd pass along a fun idea found on a blog that I read frequently. (Most ideas that circulate around blogland are recycled ideas anyway, which is half of the fun! It would be interesting to trace back an idea to its original source).

This is a super fun activity for kids, and perfect for summertime or bathtime.

Super Foamers
  • used water/juice bottles (any skinny bottle with a smallish opening will work)
  • bottle of bubbles
  • old washcloth or towel
  • rubberbands
1) Cut off the bottom of your bottle

2) Wrap a piece of washcloth or towel around the bottom and secure with a rubber band (I cut an old baby washcloth in half and folded each piece in half again--it was a great size)
3) Dip the washcloth in water first, then in a plate of bubbles

4) Blow! You will be amazed at the super foam that comes out the bottom.

My boys loved making Santa Claus beards with the bubbles. We plan to bring these back out during bathtime very soon.