Sunday, March 28, 2010

Project Monday: Laundry and Chocolate?

Here is an easy project, followed by an even easier Passover recipe for your busy week:

Remember our giveaway for this month? It includes lavender-filler dryer sachets that are so easy to make. Step 1: cut your fabric into into 41/2 by 41/2 inch squares. I used two different, coordinating fat quarters that I couldn't resist for about $2.50 each, but the beauty of this project is that it's a great way to use scraps.

Step 2: Put right sides together and sew three sides, allowing for a 1/4 inch seam.
Step 3: Turn the little pocket you made right-side out and use a chop stick or other implement to poke out the corners (to make them nice and square).
Step 4: Fold in each side of the opening and iron flat. You can add a pin on each side if it helps keep the fold.
Step 5: Fill the pocket about 3/4 full with lavender.
Step 6: Machine sew the opening closed (see below). You're done!

If you want to give the sachets as a gift, you can make two or three and tie them together. Make sure to add a little tag explaining that you add one sachet to the dryer for the last 15 minutes of the cycle. I think these are especially nice added to towels, sheets, and baby clothes. You could even use gently used baby blankets to make sets as gifts.

My mom left today and I already miss her--she is always doing something! If she isn't helping me with a sewing, gardening, or home-improvement project, she's in the kitchen (You can find her baking blog here). I love this picture of her making deviled eggs with Ari (Yes, that's me next to her looking like her teenage son! My crew cut and flat chest make an interesting look right now:)

Before she left, she gave me the idea for an easy Passover dessert. My husband is Jewish and we're excited to have friends over for a special dinner. Even if you don't celebrate Passover (so you wouldn't normally buy Matzoh) go out and get yourself a box--this recipe is worth it! I think Marcy Goldman gets credit for this simple treat, but I found a version on Smitten Kitchen as well. Here are the basics. You'll need:
About 6 sheets of unsalted matzohs
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pats
1 cup brown sugar*
generous pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
*I used a kind of brown sugar called "Whey Low" because it has a low glycemic index and I'm watching my sugar because of my cancer. It worked great, but costs $14/ a bag! Yes, I used regular chocolate chips--I'm not that disciplined!

Step 1: Heat your oven to 375 and line a rimmed baking dish with foil covered with parchment paper or a Silpat.

Step 2: Line the baking sheet with matzohs.

Step 3: Melt butter and brown sugar over medium heat until it bubbles slightly. Turn off heat and add salt and vanilla. Pour it over the matzohs. Try not to pour it right into your mouth:

Step 4: Put the pan in oven and then turn it down to 350 degrees. Watch it for the next 15 minutes. If you see it burning, take it out and turn your oven down to 325. Can you see that delicious brown sugar butter bubbling into an amazing, toffee-like substance?!
Step 5: After 15 minutes, take the pan out and sprinkle the chocolate chips all over the top. The recipe calls for 8 oz., but I admit that I just threw the whole 12 oz. bag on. Let the chips sit there and get hot for about 5 minutes before spreading them with an off-set spatula. Lick the spatula before you put it in the sink. Afterall, you just worked hard for 15 minutes.

Step 6: Sprinkle an additional topping on if you want. I added slivered almonds to half. Let the pan cool completely and then break the "matzoh candy" into pieces. I let the pan cool on the counter. It's now in the fridge, waiting for me to come and get it. Yum! Happy Passover!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Free-for-all-Friday: Quilting

Before I show you what I'm working on, I just wanted to thank everyone who has posted to this blog or sent me an email regarding an essay I have in the current issue of Brain, Child. Your thoughts mean so much to me.
If you have never read this magazine, you can read some essays full text online. You'll find the print magazine 4 times a year at places like Whole Foods, co-ops, and bookstores. Or, you can stay tuned for our giveaway in May--we'll be including a copy with some other goodies!

I can hardly believe that March is almost over. One of my biggest problems around here is the number of unfinished projects I have. We don't have a lot of space, so my projects sometimes get piled up on any open surface. In keeping with our "Spring Cleaning" theme, I bought some inexpensive baskets (see below) to contain the bits and pieces of similar projects. This was my first I need to actually tackle these projects.

With my mom visiting, it was the perfect week to work on the quilt I was inspired to make for my son, Ari thanks to the gorgeous blog, i have to say. There are some wonderful tutorials on this site, but my favorite so far has been the "Quilt Along the Road to Spring" project. Has anyone participated in this weekly quilt-a-long? I am a very beginner sewer/quilter, so the way the project is broken down into weekly steps with very clear directions and pictures appeals to me.

Step One, choosing the fabrics, was so much fun:

I have to admit, I'm not really "quilting along" since I bought the fabrics during week one with good intentions, but then set them aside for over a month. But that's OK! You can start and finish this quilt at your own pace. Since my mom, master of all crafts, is here to back me up, I pulled out the ironing board and got to work. I have now cut out all of my squares and rectangles and I feel so proud of this accomplishment. I am not great with measuring, but there are only two sizes that need to be cut out, so I really got into the rhythm.

Next week, on my own, I will start sewing these pieces into strips. I promise to post the
finished quilt, I just hope Ari isn't a teenager by the time I'm done!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Project Monday: Sneak Peaks

Sneak peak #1.

We have been knee deep around here taking the Spring Cleaning theme seriously.

Cabinets have come down, shelving has gone up and organization is becoming contagious. 

I love it!! It has only taken me three years to figure out how to make this kitchen space work for us, but I think I finally got it right. Soon that, um... lovely microwave will be coming down as well as the cabinet it is connected to and a hood will be going up. Things in the kitchen are running so smoothly. It's amazes me how things that seem so minor can be life altering. Spring cleaning rocks!

Sneak peak #2.

The kids and I have also been working hard on a gift just for you, lucky give away winner! I won't show the finished products, but here are just a few pics to entice those of you who have yet  to comment :)

So that is it! Just those two little peeps into what's been going on over here. What's happening with you? Any spring cleaning?  

Friday, March 19, 2010

Free-for all Friday: Successes and Failures

So, I'll begin with the failures. I didn't get the 5 generations picture :(  I know, I know, no one is more upset than me. My Grandmother (uncooperative generation #2) was sick the entire visit. Nothing horrible, but she looked like heck and barely came out of her room. I will be going back in Sept. and hope to get one then. I'm on a mission!
I also, did not get the birthday crown made. I forgot half the felt at home in the road trip melee. Oh well, I can't do everything!
This is getting depressing, on to successes! I did get some pictures...

 fun in the California sun!

arm wrestling the Auntie (and almost winning!) humbling...

dancing Princesses,

their court jester :)

obnoxious teenage nieces!

note to self: no matter how many times you scream,"wait! let me focus!", the 100 year old won't listen :)

reflective walk alone

California Sunshine

Oh, California!

The long drive to Cali was the best one yet. The baby handled it like a trooper. Seeing family and friends was lovely and a good time was had by all. My sister taught me to crochet (I think it's the 3rd or 4th time, hopefully this time it will stick)!

I gave my GG everyone's birthday wishes. Thank you all, so much :) On the morning of her birthday I walked into her room. The first thing she said when she saw me was, "I made it!"

Now that's success!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Project Monday: Garden Journal

I am a beginner gardener with two raised beds in the backyard. I am learning a lot from all of the amazing mamas out there who are growing food with their families.

Last summer, my husband (who noted recently that I never put pictures of him on the blog), added two more beds for me. I wish you could hear the soundtrack he's dancing to in this picture!
I have basically used the "throw the seeds and see what happens" method the last two summers. We've had a lot of great tomatoes, lettuce, Swiss chard and a variety of herbs. This summer, it's time to plan a little more thoughtfully and take note throughout the growing season. So, I need a journal.

I am not the kind of person who will journal every day, I'm more of a collector, note taker. So, I am using a discarded binder I found in our home office filled with page protectors and photo pages. I am also adding pages I've downloaded from a variety of sites. One of the most useful sites I found is Homestead Garden. You can download a variety of pages for keeping track of plant information, garden chores, and a "future reference" page for noting what worked and didn't. Of course, you can make these pages easily yourself, but if these work, time saved! I've also tucked a map to local garden centers in the front pocket of the journal.

This project will help me clean up and organize this year's garden, but it has also helped me clean up my house. I went through stacks of magazines that I haven't wanted to let go of, tore out any vegetable or flower garden that inspired me and put the pictures in page protectors. I also gathered up all of my seed packets and put them in photo pages so I can still reference the growing information.

At the end of the season, I plan on going to our local printer to have them bind this year's journal for me. The, I can use the binder again next year. As beginners, Kandyce and I would love to hear and advice you have. please point us to your blog if you have a gardening post we should read.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Free-for-all-Friday: A Story of Seasons...

Two years ago, my mom came to visit us in the late Spring to help me prepare
for our first baby and to put in our front garden:

In the middle of summer, my husband picked this flower for me to focus on
while I labored for 4 days, mostly in a pool in our kitchen...

We ended up with a C-section, but look how peaceful all that time at home made us:

Eight months later, in the Spring again, I had weaned Ari and learned to carry him on my back so that I could have a bilateral mastectomy. I chose to start the breast reconstruction
process at the same time:

Later, in the summer, my mom was back for a mother/daughter road trip and Ari was ready to get out into the garden himself at my aunt and uncle's house in beautiful Virginia:

It's been two years since that first Spring working in the garden with my mom.
Because my cancer spread to my liver, I have never finished the breast reconstruction
and I've been walking around with really strange foreign objects in my body.
I don't feel like I'm healing as well as I could.

So, next week, exactly the same week as the original mastectomy, I'm having the surgery to take the chest expanders out and not put in implants. Hooray! This decision wouldn't be right for everyone, but we are so excited that doctors have finally declared me healthy enough for surgery.

My mom is coming to take care of all of us again and, of course, we'll be planning this year's garden because every year, life comes back all around us (Come back on Monday to see how to make an easy garden journal):

Monday, March 8, 2010

March Giveaway!

It's time for another giveaway! To go along with our "Spring Cleaning" theme, Kandyce and I will be putting together a fun little bag of goodies to freshen your home and lift your spirits. The picture above shows just two of the items the winner will find in her handmade bag: Lavender-baking soda carpet freshener and three Lavender pillows to add to the dryer. Kandyce and her talented crew of artists will also be making hand-painted clothespins to brighten up any clothes line and, since we had so much fun putting together a playlist last month, we'll be including a CD to sing at the top of our lungs to while we clean.

In the meantime, it's easy to make your own carpet freshener. I used a recycled container and filled it with baking soda and dried lavender, then gave it a little shake. That's it! Sprinkle it on carpets or furniture and you'll love how the room smells. If your vacuum has a bag, the lavender will freshen it up too. I've been wondering if grated, dried citrus peel would work too? Anyone have other ideas?

As you can see, it's all hands on deck at my house. My son loves to vacuum! I finally got him this carpet sweeper from the lovely Montessori catalogue, Small Hands. He loves that he can be independent and I love that the carpet sweeper actually works!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Free-for all Friday: Bake-athon!!





waiting (again)


all of this x3. And I wish (oh, how I wish) the next word was eating,

but these 6 loaves in homemade freezer paper bags are coming with us on a road trip to

My Great Grandmother*

(isn't she cute!) is turning 100 on Sunday (!!!) and the 10 of us are packing up and heading out to be there for the special day. Eating will have to wait. This is the first time I have done major baking of the kind and I LOVE IT!!! I'm so glad I got over my bread making phobia. It has been wonderfully gratifying and a lovely thing for KT and I to share together. I think we're going to have to do this a lot more often.

I plan to take some wool felt with me and to make my GG (that's what we all call her) a birthday crown on the long drive. I get car sick reading in the car, so I'm hoping that sewing in the car won't have the same effect. We'll see. I think it may be best to wait till we're out of the Rockies to try. I'll let you know how it goes.

Kelly will be posting next week about our Spring Cleaning giveaway plans. They are big! Let me just say that they are equal to if not better than the last one and also involve music! So be sure to comment to any of this month's posts to be entered :)

Have a great weekend!

*We have 5 generations of women, alive and well, in my family! I'll try to get a picture of all of us on the trip :

Monday, March 1, 2010

March's Theme - Spring Cleaning!

The winner of our February Giveaway is: Beth Miller! Beth, send Kelly an email at so she can mail you your relaxing bath salts and CD. Congratulations.

Though the spring has yet to appear, she is just around the corner. This month will not end without her official arrival and I, for one, can't wait. There are little signs everywhere...

So, rather naturally, as we come out of our winter hibernation and our energies return, we begin to clean. Open the windows, let in the fresh air. We are ready for the sun!

You may or may not relate to this, but the end of this month completely caught me by surprise. I've been so focused on celebrating the birth of this beautiful 9 year old boy...

that I thought I had three more days to hibernate! So this post will be short and sweet and there will be more on Spring Cleaning later and the winner of last months giveaway later on today. Mean while, I'm going to have some tea :)

p.s. check out Nicole's awesome-as-always giveaway at Garden Mama!