Saturday, June 28, 2014


I've been daydreaming about this soup since T's godmother made it for us during Lent.  Every time I'd head to the store with the intention of purchasing the ingredients, I'd be discouraged by the price tag.  This past weekend I decided that we needed something a little special to get us out of our (actually my) food rut, so I splurged on scallops and shrimp.  Wegman's had some large bags of each at decent prices, so we have plenty for another batch.  Yum.  After following Giada's recipe with minimal tinkering, I decided that the following is an even better version.

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 large bulbs of fennel, sliced
4 shallots, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups white wine
3 cans of clams with juice
1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound of uncooked scallops

Sauté fennel, shallots, and onion in olive oil for 5-10 minutes.  Add crushed garlic, tomato paste, and red pepper and sauté for an additional 2 minutes.  Add tomatoes, wine, juice of canned clams, water (I added a cup at a time until it looked right to me), and salt to taste.  Bring to boil and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for a half hour.  Add clams and scallops.  Cook for one minute further before adding shrimp.  Turn off heat, and serve when shrimp and scallops are thoroughly cooked, being careful not to overcook the shrimp.

A couple of notes:

I went easy on the red pepper flakes so my most sensitive children could enjoy the soup.  My husband and I add extra to taste.

Z requested that I use an immersion blender to disguise all of the veggies.  I didn't, but if I had, I would have done it before I added the clams.

We didn't add fish(totally forgot), but that's also a possibility during fasting periods that allow fish.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

{a little wordy}

I got a new chain for my favorite cross the other day; the old chain had survived a couple of grabby babies before G yanked it from my neck last summer.  When I wear a necklace, I tend to leave it around my neck always, fiddling with the chain or the cross whenever I'm nervous.  After the long absence of its comfortable weight, the chain feels good--like I've slipped on an old shoe.

Today I was thinking about other things I've let sit inactive for a long period of time. (Like a certain blog?)  The world is so crowded with things to do!  Aside from the daily care of my babies (large and small), home, and relationships, there are books to read! Projects to sew! Sweaters to knit!  Lessons to prepare! I've had quite a bit of difficulty lately narrowing my focus to just one thing, mostly because I want to do everything simultaneously and. right. now.

I did manage to gather all of my powers of concentration to make a quilt for Z's first decade.  It wasn't quite finished in time for her birthday, but I sewed last hand stitch this afternoon.  She wanted it on her bed right away, but I think there are still a few threads to snip here and there.  Z helped make many of the fabric decisions, and most significantly the fabric for the backing.  It's challenging to give up the control of making to an almost ten-year-old.  She and I differ widely in our preferences. The backing fabric is from JoAnn, and definitely not one I was drawn to among all of the choices.  An older woman, far more experienced in quilting than I, saw us deliberating over all of the fabrics and took charge.  She examined our quilt sample and began to pull bolt after bolt from the shelves, explaining each choice.  While I was beginning to get nervous about the mess we were making, Z zeroed in on one particular fabric and proclaimed it "the one."  The woman was ecstatic about it and went on about how it would bring the quilt together.  I wasn't so sure, but decided to defer to Z, the quilt recipient.  She chose well, and the back does indeed look all the wonderful ways that woman said it would.

I've also recently gotten my first Soul Gardeningand have read and re-read it.  It's taken me four children to settle comfortably into the vocation of motherhood.  Notice I didn't say "excel at" or "love every day of."  But I no longer feel like I need to be raising children and doing something worthwhile on the side.  Raising children is the something worthwhile.  Period.

B, never the sports fanatic, is following the World Cup and referring to the Greek team as "we."  As in, still sweaty from his run, "Let me have the computer so I can see how we're doing!"  We tied with Japan, which is not good news.  And I suppose he's now Dr. B--officially.  He defended his dissertation in November, but walked at graduation mid-May.  Every time I see the photo of our family (taken by my mother-in-law) it puts a smile on my face.  It's so typical!  B is saying something to M and T, who are paying more attention to G.  Z has a 20 lb. book in her arms, and is the only one looking at the camera.  I'm...?  No idea.

The photo of Super G was taken by a friend at our playground.  I say "our," but it's just the one that our kids request every time we get together.  A few days after this photo, he had a cape mishap and had to get stitches in his lip.  Weirdly, it's in the same exact place that M had to get stitches a few years ago.  The photo was also taken a few days before his first haircut, so between the lip and short hair, he looks so different.  His words have absolutely exploded.  Every day brings a few new ones, and today he learned the Greek for "myself"-- as in "I'll do it all by myself, thank you."  I hardly know him!

Some of these photos are a bit of an Instagram rehash.  Sorry about that.  There just don't seem to be enough hands or moments to whip out the camera.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Finished Friday

It's been quiet in this space for far too long.

Part of that was the fullness of Christmas preparations followed by the dullness of January and February, which truly expanded my parenting skills set.  How to keep these busy boys of mine occupied?  Indoors?  For days at a time when the weather is too, too terrible to play outside?  Truly a Herculean feat.  The weather has been giving us glimmers of an imminent spring, which has allowed more outside time in the past two weeks.  Today, despite the cold and breeze, we took a walk around our beloved little lake, the path having been cleared of snow by the sunshine and weekend thaw.  Oh, to be out of doors again!

The other, and admittedly larger, part of why this space has remained quiet for the past three months is that I've needed some time for introspection.  You see, I have needed to confront several ugly aspects of my personality, and subdue them (with the help of God and the Saints, of course).  Whether out of exhaustion, or laziness, or blindness, or all three, I allowed things like thoughtlessness and a quick temper to overtake the good and fragile bits of myself, the bits that take much more cultivation to grow and flourish.
I'm not saying the ugly are gone for good.  No, the sinful chunks of me are too deeply rooted to be banished so easily.  But the ugliness has been acknowledged, and I am on the lookout for it, which is half the battle.  And rather than go into greater detail, I'll leave it at that, knowing that at one time or another, other thoughtful and self-aware people have had to go through the same process.

The sweater above has been finished for quite some time, but never made it to the blog.  It's T's, and he wears it regularly because I choose it for him.  (Z knit him a scarf last week, which he wears daily because she made it.  Sweet boy!)  I used this pattern, chose the bone buttons here, and the yarn is my go-to workhorse yarn.

I hope to visit this space more regularly, but who knows what life will bring?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Finished Friday

My college roommate--our rooming together interrupted only by junior year abroad--just had her first baby, a girl.  Despite the fact that we don't talk often these days and I've never met her husband (T was a newborn around the time of her out-of-state wedding reception), I felt very strongly about knitting some nice things for this new girl.  There's a bit of love and prayer in every stitch.  I also wanted to gush in the card I sent, because I can't imagine a better mother than she'll make.  In fact, I'm pretty sure her husband will make a fabulous father, despite the fact that we've never met.  After all, she chose him, and that's all I really need to know.  Quality attracts quality, I say.  Anyway, I choked when it came time to send the package, and the third and final version of the card said the same boring congratulatory message that most baby cards do.  

First up are these two pairs of socks, both variations of this pattern.  I had high hopes of knitting a few more pairs to add to the box, but life intervened.  The multicolor is from a bit of Colinette Jitterbug, and is in a Monet palette.  The second pair is from a small ball of a discontinued yarn that I've been saving for something special.  

The pièce de résistance is a short-sleeved cardigan from a pattern called lila{c}loud.  It was a fairly easy knit...except I read the chart incorrectly and the final product is a little lacier.  Doh!  I used a new-to-me yarn, soft and drapey and machine washable.

In the background is that green cardigan.  I got a little concerned about how colorfast the dye was before I packed up everything and gave the sweater a bath. Thank heavens I did!  The blue leaked all over the sink, and in the end I decided not to saddle a new mother with a hand wash only, may-dye-everything-blue sweater.  I'll save that for her next baby.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Month 11: Priorities

This month I've been forced to think a bit about my priorities.  Staring at a glowing screen, whether to check email or write a blog or read a blog, has intentionally been relegated to the bottom of my list.  Some people are fabulous at staying connected to friends while parenting multiple children.  I just don't happen to be one of them, no matter how fervently I wish for it.  In fact, I don't even seem to be able to converse on the phone with people regularly.  If you never receive phone calls from me, it has no bearing on my personal feelings toward you.  I'm hoping that it's just a part of this season of my life.  I'm also hoping that I don't completely forget how to interact with adults--I have already forgotten so much.

Which brings me to this photo, taken this morning. Rather than fight the tide of T's desire to be in the picture (the foot), or wrangle the camera strap (bottom left), or remember to remove G's pacifier, I just let it be.  My priorities were to snap a quick picture for posterity and get back to the nitty-gritty of the morning: bathing grubby children, working on grammar, scrounging up something other than Halloween candy for lunch.

Without the distractions that the screen brings, we've found our rhythm for now.  B has begun the cycle of job applications; some, if accepted, will bring us closer to family; others will move us even further.  We pray that God's blessings will be upon all of these forms, and His wisdom upon those making the decisions that will change our lives.

Z and M have really been applying themselves to their lessons, making our afternoon jaunts to playgrounds, hiking trails, museums, and other "fun" things possible.  Since we don't know what the next year will bring, I'm trying to spend as much time at our favorite spots (and with our favorite people) as possible.

T is excited about learning how to spell his name (his nickname makes it easy) and how to count.  He's at a developmentally exciting stage right now, and more excited than defiant about so many things.  (Big sigh from Mama that we're moving past defiance.)

G.  Oh, G!  He's off and running.  It really only took him a couple of weeks to find his land legs, and he's incredibly quick.  His only complaint is that I don't let him walk as much as he'd like.  I just can't keep up!  My favorite bits of this month are noticing all of G's personality quirks that are making appearances.  He has a great sense of humor, despite his reluctance to smile.  He's always aware of those around him, even when he has his head buried in my shoulder or, more recently, the legs of my trousers.  He doesn't like to be in the center of attention--perhaps a blessing as the youngest of four.  I am thrilled to be closing out and nostalgic about his first year in a few weeks. 
He's not a baby anymore!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Yarn Along

Joining here...

I finished the body of T's sweater last night.  Activity has really cut into knitting time, and I have a super secret project in the car, which is fairly close to being finished.  And Greenwitch is also in the car, and also almost finished.  Hmmm...that's a lot of almosts.

Let me add another one to the pile.  I almost like this book.  I really want to like it, and a friend does, so I'm trying to give it a chance.  I picked it up solely based on the cover--I really like Carson Ellis' work.  Z began it a few months back and stopped after the first chapter.  "The parents make the daughter do too much," she said.  I suppose she can relate.  What are you knitting?  Reading?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Month 10: Freefall

What was it about September and G's tenth month?  It felt like we were home for all of three minutes, and in that time we managed to pull everything out of our closets and strew it in all the wrong places.  My "to do" lists have been growing, and there's not been any visible progress on the items at the top.  Or so it seems.   It truly feels nice to be busy, but I'd rather be busy at home than driving, filling time between activities, and planning for meals eaten while we're gone.

I'm ready for a wee break, which has been scheduled for right about now.  It appears I know myself well enough to plan in May, when I am most excited about homeschool, for some at-home, not-doing-homeschool days in October.

B...has been away for twelve hours every weekday in the last month.  I can't complain--he comes home in the evening, and he and I have a few minutes to spend together before he falls asleep on the couch.  This is just a new schedule for us, and will take just a little getting used to.  I marvel at God's wisdom, keeping B close to home last year, when we were all in need of rest.

I...have a Christmas craft list that's longer than my arm.  I am thrilled to be working on most of these projects, and glad that I'm under the delusion they'll all be finished in time to be under the tree. a natural at golf?  Who knew!  Golf is certainly not on my radar, and wasn't until a homeschooling friend suggested this free golf program.  Z loves it. Loves it.

M...has been cooperating with T very well this month.  They still have their moments, but the more I praise him, the kinder he is.  Hmmm....

T...moved into a big boy bed--well, a toddler bed it the only kind that fits into our space.  He doesn't seem to mind, and can be found curled up in it whenever he wants to feel cozy.

G...has an insatiable curiosity and desire to move.  He reminds me of a cat I once had.  G's curiosity can get him into trouble, and lead to all kinds of forehead bruises.  He's walking three and four steps at a time, but needs to refine his technique.  His favorite thing to do is lunge at whatever he'd like to get to, fall face down on the floor, roll over, and repeat.

Check out those blue-green eyes!  I think they're here to stay.  What do you think?