Saturday, May 31, 2008

using up the stash...curry curry curry

just when I thought I had sorted and unearthed ALL of my stashed fabric, I found a huge bag stuffed full of more. It contained this cute little hula girl fabric I bought 2 or 3 years ago. I did not feel up to sketching my own pattern this time, so I used a simplicity project runway pattern. I have some vintage red buttons that will go on the back, and probably some fat, red rickrack that was also in the bag.


We love curry here at our house, and my husband picked up this great tin of curry powder when he was in Japan awhile back. I have an old standby curried chicken recipe that I love, but it's a little too much for the kiddos. And really time consuming. So last night was the shortcut version, it was great! It started out as a Real Simple Magazine cheater's recipe, but I kind of tweaked it for more of a Cambodian/Thai style curry.

Rotisserie chicken (pick the meat off and set it aside)
2 tablespoons of coconut milk
3/4 cup of heavy cream
1 small size container of plain yogurt (about a half cup)
fresh lemongrass
fresh cilantro
mild yellow curry powder (for a NOT kid friendly version, use a teaspoon of Thai curry paste)
small yellow or white onion
white rice

chop the onion and saute in a tiny bit of olive oil over medium high heat. cook until slightly golden. Add the curry powder, coconut milk, heavy cream, and yogurt, reduce heat, and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in fresh chopped or grated lemon grass (one or two tablespoons), fresh chopped cilantro (about a half cup) and toss together until cilantro has slightly wilted. Serve over white rice. Season to taste with kosher salt.

a bit of honesty...

sorry about the lack of pictures, more to come soon!

On to the honesty. Sometimes we go through a series of rough patches in life, and we feel alone. Nobody ever wants to talk about their rough patches, esp if it's something that makes us feel like a failure, so we all just silently cope and feel alone. But truth be told, we all go through hard times in some capacity or another, so guess what? I'm going to TALK about it. I'm going to share what we are going through.

We are losing our house. It's going to be foreclosed on and we'll have to move this winter. It was a long road that brought us to this point, and we didn't give it up without a fight. My husband and I bought this house about 5 years ago. At that time we had three boys, and both worked full time at high paying jobs. Months after we moved in, I became pregnant with our twins, Mya and Stella. I was off work and in and out of the hospital (as well as getting IV's at home) for my entire pregnancy. It ended with an ambulance ride to the hospital and our twins were born 14 weeks early. They fought to live for 6 months, Stella won the battle and came home...Mya did not. She died at 6 months and 4 days of age. During their hospitalization I had to quit my job, and my husband was laid off from his. Finances were a struggle. We were also struck by a city bus that ran a red light, and our only vehicle was totaled. Thankfully no one was severely injured, but the payout on the vehicle was much less than we owed, and the city's insurance only gave us $250.

My husband quit school and got a job as a bartender to make ends meet. Recently he was employed as a manager at a bar and restaurant, we needed a job with insurance, but he's taken a pay cut. We also had another baby (the last one), little Ty. We have been struggling to get my husband back in school, but just can't find the time or money to do it. So, that's where we are today. 3 months behind on our house payment, and in the early stages of foreclosure. I know our story is not written yet, and I have beautiful hope that things will turn around, but it breaks my heart all the same. We are putting our faith in my photography business and our own perseverence, as well as God, and we hope and pray that good will come of this. If someone else reads this and is struggling, just know you're not alone, you're not a failure, and there are people who will listen to your story.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

we took the leap...homeschooling the tweebs

My 2 middle guys, Jay and Max, are the Irish twins of the bunch, and so, wound up in the same grade. Max was very ready for kindergarten, but Jay needed some extra help to come along. We have had several struggles with him at the public schools throughout the year, and decided to talk about homeschooling the two of them. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like the right choice. I finally made up my mind when the boys came home after a field trip to a local farm. Their eyes lit up when they told me about riding the pony, and going on a hayride with bunnies. I was thrilled that they had such a wonderful time experiencing those firsts, but my heart broke when I realized I couldn't share it with them. I feel as though I am missing so much.

They are still such little people in the making, and at the end of the school day, I am missing nearly 8 hours of their lives. To me, that is just completely unacceptable. I want to experience the thrill of learning WITH them, I want to watch them plant a garden, paint a picture, ride a horse, read a book, bake brownies, the list goes on! My oldest will still continue in the public schools, he is in many advanced classes (didn't get that from me!!) and very involved in activities, so he prefers to continue on in the school system, but we have decided that elementary school will be replaced with homeschooling for the 4 youngest. I'm very at peace with the decision and can't wait to begin sharing our adventures!

and Visty, yes we ARE all just copycats, lol, you were on to something all along!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

my mermaid's 4th birthday!

birthdays are always a special occassion, but for our daughter Stella, they are even more so. She and her twin sister Mya started out as preemies, born 14 weeks early. They were extremely ill, even more so than most babies that early, and were given very little hope of survival. After 6 months of fighting, Mya passed away. Stella made it home after a long rode, and is in perfect health today, with zero long term complications, other than being small for her age.

Her party was at the hotel daddy works at, and of course she asked for an under water theme. She is obsessed with mermaids, and in particular, the Disney movie Aquamarine. She insisted on a pink cake (strawberry), with aqua frosting, covered in orange starfish. Pretty specific, eh?? My hand was in serious pain, and cramped like crazy after piping on all those starfish, but watching her gaze in satisfaction at her cake was well worth it! I think more practice is in order before I try a cake more elaborate than this, but it was fun all the same!

I just had to give her something mama made for her birthday, but in all honesty, after the Dutch costume insanity, I was a bit worn out, so I opted for a totally simple dress stitched up from some Amy Butler fabric that I love (of course, in aqua). I had so much going on this week, that I had only 45 minutes or so to whip it up on the day of her birthday, so the gathers aren't as perfect as I'd like, time maybe to get a ruffler??








Friday, May 23, 2008

beaters and rickrack

I seriously think one of my best childhood memories is of watching bowlside in the kitchen as my mom baked (she was a cake decorator), and my anticipation of being handed the ultimate reward for my patience...a batter covered beater. Heaven on Earth. I perfected the art of wriggling my tounge and fingers just so, so that every last tiny speck of batter made it's way into my mouth. So, as I made my favorite brownies this week, I remembered the glory of licking beaters as I watched my two youngest stare in awe as I mixed. I handed them over, and Stella and Ty looked at me as though I had surely made some mistake, and would momentarily come to my senses and yank them out of their grasp. When it finally sunk in that they could actually LICK them, they went to town. Ty quickly dubbed it his "chocolate sucker". I honestly think they toted them around the kitchen for over 30 minutes.


On to the rickrack. I have some old fabric I am trying to use up, so decided to stitch up a few play dresses for Stella. The first attempt started out as a pattern, but I went off on some crazy tangent, and wound up with a far different dress. Yeah, my improvising skills are a bit rusty, but Stella was giddy all the same.




Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sewing purgatory is over...til next Spring.

For those of you who don't know, I live in a Dutch town in Michigan and we have a huge Tulip Festival every year. Complete with carnivals, parades, klompen dancers, and my favorite part, Dutch costumes. I have a love/hate realtionship with the costumes. There is nothing more adorable than watching my little clan run around in wooden shoes, placket pants, aprons, and twirly skirts, but alas, where there are costumes, there is much sewing. Nevermind that my kids seem to be growing at warp speed, and I can NEVER seem to get more than a year or two out of each costume. Tulip Time for me, means elephant ears, funnel cakes, cotton candy, and endless nights hunched over my machine stitching on backwards sleeves, and gathering aprons. Sigh...but the end result is well worth 6 trips to the chiropractor and a full bottle of Advil!!! :)



apparently this is what happens to a dehydrated 10 yearold who walks 2 miles in wooden shoes. trust me folks, it's not a pretty sight!

my oldest's good friend and her own mommy-made costume

yeah, can you beleive after all my hard work, the two middle children peeled off the costumes and donned sweatshirts?!?!?

However, the unlucky baby does not posess the dexterity or freedom of choice that his brothers do, and therefore was doomed to wear his costume endlessly

the Dutch marching band

Friday, May 16, 2008

And back again!

After a looooong break and some home remodeling projects, I am back to blogging. Never to leave again! Or so I hope...

Our oven conked out on me a few months ago, and we only recently replaced it. Something strange took over my body. I donned one of my beloved vintage aprons, and went on a 3 day baking marathon! I swear I now have bread-kneading biceps that would rival that of Bruce Banner gone green. Pictured below, this is what happens when a carb deprived bread junkie gets a new oven...




The honey buttermilk recipe below is my personal fave (I found it on the web and tweaked it), but I also did some
banana-oat bread which the kids devoured. I couldn't stop at just bread, I had to hit up the first day of Farmer's Market to snag some INCREDIBLE local raw honey. I need to run today. Far.

Honey Buttermilk Wheat Bread

1 1/2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon salt
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour mixed with 3 cups whole wheat flour

In a small mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
Combine buttermilk, butter, honey and the yeast mixture in a large mixing bowl. Add salt and two cups of the flour. Whisk well to combine. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well with a wooden spoon after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 6 minutes.
Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and put in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees F).
Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and form into loaves. Place the loaves into two lightly greased 9x5 inch loaf pans. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.
Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 30 minutes or until the tops are golden and the bottoms of the loaves sound hollow when tapped.