Pillows, cushions, whatever you like to call them

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I'm kind of a Favorites freak, favoriting things left and right when I come across things I love online. It makes it really easy to find a good gift for someone when their birthday or Christmas is coming up, and it's even better when it's time to buy something for me. :) Here is a collection of pillows that I am loving lately. My couch would be full of these if things like budgets didn't exist. Oh well, I kind of love putting these kinds of posts together!

No. 1 Leah Singh scarpa / No. 2 Pikku mums / No. 3 Fine Little Day lines / No. 4 Pink dot Uzbek ikat / No. 5 Donna Wilson house / No. 6 Areaware fox / No. 7 Colts in goldenrod / No. 8 Fine Little Day splash / No. 9 Anthropologie sailendra / No. 10 Anthropologie fusion / No. 11 Leah Singh scarpa / No. 12 Pikku tulip


Enjoying some fall weather

Olivia has been enjoying cheesing it up for the camera lately, as you can see below.  Ha ha! So much attitude is coming out of her these days, and some of the things she says...she's getting cuter by the day. And when she starts telling a story, especially about something or someone in preschool, she won't leave out a detail.

I took these at the park a few weeks back, when I was still feeling like someone had taken over my body. Looking back at these reminds me of that queasy feeling that was ready to come out any minute if I wasn't careful. I'm feeling somewhat better now and hoping for even better days soon.

I actually didn't mean to dress Olivia in animal print on animal print, but she was cold when we arrived, so we put the jacket on. It's okay--let's just say it enhances that personality of hers.


Land of Nod gets me every time

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The day after Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday shopping season, and I say, let the craziness begin! Though I'm not going shopping tomorrow (or tonight, with all those stores opening at 8pm), I'm definitely in the mood for some good online shopping! I've been on the lookout for gift ideas for weeks now, and I thought I'd put together a few gift idea posts.

I have a weakness for kids' things, and every time I get a new Land of Nod catalog, I am always falling in love with this or that--without fail--every single time. Their bedding selection is always right on, both for boys and girls, and their toy and art selection is my favorite out there. I'll discover a new artist online, and soon enough, Land of Nod is now carrying their print. I'm going to save my pennies for that Jenny Lind bookshelf for Mila's room (which will soon be Mila and Olivia's room) so we can free up the dresser for other things. Those turned spindle legs had me at hello...

That art table is so hip, I wouldn't mind using it as a coffee table. :) And gold polka dot sheets...yes, please.

Have a good one

These photos are from Sunday, when our church did the Thanksgiving harvest display and the kids recited their little poems. They were the cutest; I'm so proud of them. Our church is notoriously hard to get a good picture in--it's dark and gloomy, more so on stage than in the sanctuary, and then the sun tends to come in through the stained glass windows in spots, which is why Mila and Olivia are so washed out in the first photo. At least I got these shots. Hope your day is going wonderfully! I'm off to bake my pies and get ready for dinner.


Inspired by Joy: Grammy's chocolate cookies

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

So yesterday was a horrible, horrible day--I felt so sick all day long. I've had my fair share of bad heartburn episodes in my lifetime, but this was baaad, and no matter what I did or what I ate, it wouldn't ease up at all. I also had nausea all day and just that feeling of an upset stomach (tasting my food in my mouth every few minutes--ugh). At one point I was sitting by the toilet desperately trying to force some watermelon down my throat, and thinking with each bite that it all was about to come up anyway. I told B when he got home and he was grossed out by that. :) I felt horrible partly because I didn't want to eat because of the stomach issues--I couldn't even look at food--so I got too hungry and felt more nauseous because of it.

Oh, I'm just glad that it's over and today I feel so much better. It kind of drives me crazy that I can't predict how I will feel each day. It seems that when I don't get enough sleep I tend to feel worse the next day, but not always. Yesterday I just felt off overall, and I was definitely thrown for a loop by it all. I was really hoping I would be done with the nausea by now, but it's still around to keep me company!

I wanted to try these cookies I saw on Oh Joy! that are an adaptation of a Martha Stewart recipe. I made the dough yesterday afternoon, but didn't get around to the baking part until midnight. Which doesn't exactly make for great pictures, so I'm a day late with this. Oh well. I'm not sure which recipe is better since I haven't made the original, but these were good. They reminded me of brownies, however, and were on the greasy side, so I think I would rather have brownies if I'm craving chocolate. However, I took Joy's cue and made a sandwich out of them. I used coconut ice cream, drizzled some chocolate syrup on top, and sprinkled with pecans. Yum! I'm keeping this recipe around just in case I ever want to make ice cream sandwiches again!

I'll try to squeeze in one more dessert tomorrow since I went shopping today instead of baking (oops). We have plans to decorate the house with lights tomorrow, and I will be getting all our Christmas things out, and I'm taking full advantage of B being home all day by making him replace our mailbox. Some kid decided to try out our ramp this summer and forgot there's a mailbox at the end of it and crashed right into it with his head. Now the lid is hanging by a thread, and the mail lady came to the door the other day to tell me it's a safety hazard. Well, I hightailed it to Lowe's today for a new mailbox! Thanks for the kick in the pants, mail lady! We're also having dinner at my parents' and B's parents' house, so I will be cooking up some dishes for those, then it will be off to stuff our faces! I have yet to ever make my own turkey because I'm so spoiled by our parents every holiday. Hey, I'm just taking advantage of the blessings I am given!


Things I'm wishing for: baby edition

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

No. 1 / No. 2 / No. 3 / No. 4 / No. 5 / No. 6 / No. 7 / No. 8 / No. 9 / No. 10 / No. 11 / No. 12

I've been dreaming about buying baby things, but the fact that I don't know if I'm having a boy or a girl is good for keeping my spending in check. I bought a sweet garland of birdies with little bells on the beaks at Word Market the other day that I plan on hanging in the baby's room. It's my first baby purchase, and I can't wait to hang it. I would love to be able to buy some of these items for the nursery, especially that dashing high chair and the alphabet wall hanging that's been hanging out in my Etsy favorites.

The problem is all four of our bedrooms are full right now, so the plan is to move Olivia and Mila into one room so the baby can have its own space. That means there will be lots of changes in this household in the next several months. The girls will have to adjust to sharing a room, which we've never had to do in our household yet, and there will be lots of redecorating and furniture moving in addition to getting the baby's room ready. I have six months to get it all done in, and I plan on painting each of the kid's rooms in the process. I'm going to need all the energy I can get, but it will be good to keep myself busy and keep my mind off the wiating. The waiting is always hard for me.



On Sunday I made these delicious rugelachs for our Thanksgiving potluck at church, and they were a success. I figured they'd be good, just from reading that they've been in the family for at least four generations. Whenever I see that, I'm sold. :) I wanted to link to the recipe here if any of you saw my Instagram post on them and wanted to give them a try.

I don't have any pictures of the finished product because I actually sliced them up at church, but they looked exactly like the picture on gourmet.com. I also used strawberry jam instead of raspberry or apricot. I know, I'm a rebel, what can I say?


Jeweled biscotti

The baking urge has hit me hard recently, and so I cooked up a plan to bake something every day this week leading up to Thanksgiving. On the day of, it will be plain old pumpkin pie, so I doubt I will have to post that one. :)

I've been making these biscotti for years, and my husband specifically asks for them every year, so this recipe is a keeper in my book! He's not a huge dessert person, but he loves nuts, and I think that's what gets him. Candied cherries and pineapple are only in stores around the holidays, but since they're candied, they actually store well if you want to stock up and make these all year round. (My cherries and pineapple are from last year.)

1 cup almonds
1 cup pistachios
1/3 cup candied cherries
1/3 cup candied pineapple
1/3 cup dry apricots
1/3 cup dry papaya
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
3 1/4 cups flour
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease two baking sheets.

Bake almonds and pistachios 8-10 minutes on an ungreased baking sheet, let them cool, and chop into small pieces. Chop cherries, pineapple, apricots, and papaya and add to the nuts.

Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla on high speed. Add eggs and beat. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl and add to butter mixture. Stir in nuts and fruit by hand.

Divide dough into thirds, rolling each piece into a 12x3-inch roll, or whatever size you prefer. You can make these as wide as you want (giving you long biscotti), just make sure they are always an inch or less in height so the inside bakes evenly with the outside.

Bake 25-30 minutes until firm on a greased baking sheet. They are not supposed to be fully cooked at this point, so don't overdo it! When cool, cut each roll into 3/4-inch-thick pieces with a serrated knife. Be gentle. :)  Lay them out on two greased baking sheets and bake an additional 15-20 minutes until golden. They may seem too soft at this point, but they get harder as they cool.

Note: This recipe is always found online with 1 1/2 tsp. corn syrup mixed in with the eggs. I always hated putting it in when baking these in prior years (because we all know it's bad for you), and finally I just omitted it this year. And...they taste perfectly fine without it and the dough comes together just fine as well. Now I don't know why I didn't try it earlier. It's your choice if you want to put it back in.

These would make perfect holiday gifts for friends and neighbors, with all the festive colors the fruit gives them. I'm thinking of doing a cookie sampler for the neighbors this year, and these will definitely be in there.


Sweet cheeks

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I took some photos of my sweet niece a few weeks ago, and she's a beautiful baby, so I got plenty of good ones. Just look at those big brown doe eyes, not to mention the cheeks! These are some of my favorites.


Playing by the river

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I forgot all about these pictures and found them on my desktop recently. We spent some time by the river one day last month when I was feeling kind of blue, and it did it's job--I felt better afterwards. Isn't it funny how nature does that.

Too bad now it's coat and scarf weather, and soon the kids will add hats and gloves to their must-put-on list when we leave the house.


Around the house

I walked around the house the other day and just snapped whatever caught my eye. I love catching glimpses of the kids' toys in their rooms when they're at school--it reminds me I have three beautiful kiddos and gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. I also love that all of them are really into sleeping with buddies at night, which I never did. For Olivia it's Dolly and Monkey, for Ben it's Domo and his moustache pillow, and for Mila it's Dolly (not pictured) and a little cat, plus whatever else she decides on. She always has the most, like she doesn't want to leave anyone out.

By the way, don't you love their unique naming skills? Dolly, Monkey, and Kitty. Duh.


Family time

Friday, November 9, 2012

The day after Mila's crazy little birthday party, we had a family party so everyone could wish Mila a happy birthday (aka the grandmas and grandpas). So I wasn't off the hook yet, but I got a glorious night of sleep and I felt goood the next morning! I got to cooking and baking, and didn't stop until everyone arrived for dinner in the evening. And I have to say, I pulled this one off pretty well! It was the opposite of the day before.

We had chicken piccata, sausages, smashed potatoes, parsley rice, caesar salad, Ukrainian potato salad, and a delicious cannellini bean and leek soup. I frosted some cupcakes, threw together a dump cake (so good), and brought out all the dessert the kids didn't eat the night before, and we had ourselves a party.

We're blessed to have both my and B's parents living in town, as well as B's brother and three of my four siblings, plus cousins and such, so it's always nice when we all get together. It was a good evening of food, conversation, some gift-giving, and more candles, of course. And I wasn't exhausted like the day before, which made all the difference! 

Our big girl is now six years old, and my, how it's flown! I still remember that screaming baby that taught me all over again what it meant to have a baby in the house (just in time, cause I had almost forgotten :) ). She was colicky for four long months, and wouldn't stop screaming for any of it! She was born with two clubfeet and a fierce set of lungs for all the screaming she would be doing. She went through months of castings to fix her little feet, then a surgery, and a leg brace that she wore 24 hours a day for several months, then every single night for four years.

I'll never forget having to put that brace on her legs every night at bedtime for those long years, and talking her into it, and explaining why Ben and Olivia don't have to wear one. She learned to sit with it on, then crawl, as it held her feet together like a snowboard. I remember thinking how these little children can adapt to anything when I saw her learning to roll over with it on, and how good she got at dealing with it. We found out about Mila's clubfoot during an ultrasound when I was pregnant with her, and my world changed from that day on. I was overcome with sadness, the deepest sadness I have felt, and I couldn't shake it no matter how good a day I was having. It was always there in the back of my mind. It took my heart so long to heal from the sadness I felt every day for her, knowing I was powerless to help her, but I know now that time heals all wounds, and I'm glad I never blamed God for any of it or got bitter about it.

I couldn't thank God enough that her feet looked so good at the end of it all, that He provided such good doctors for her, and that He helped her get through it, as well as gave B and I the wisdom and determination to go through with all the treatment to the end. That girl is a miracle, and I'm excited to see this new year of her life unfold. She's still our little drama queen, no matter what!

I'm wiping my tears, reliving those days in my mind, and it doesn't help that I'm hormonal as it is! :) Today was a long one--I cleaned the house all. day. long, did laundry, changed sheets, bought some winter things for the kids, had two play dates at our house, got our sprinklers blown out, and left all my money at Costco to top off the night. Now I'm on the couch, exhausted, but a good kind of exhausted, because I know it's from a productive day. I'm thinking tomorrow will be much slower and relaxing, however. Have a great weekend!


Swans, mushrooms, birds and deer

I found the most amazing artist online recently. When I saw her work, I think my eyes widened. Her name is Tamar Mogendorff and she creates all these beautiful animals by hand, with amazing details. They are so whimsical and pretty, but the messy, handmade look gives them a cool factor as well. I just love that her mushrooms and pearls have eyes.

Swans and mushrooms and birds and deer--I couldn't have picked better subjects myself. Take a look at her shop here.

Mila turned 6 and I almost had a panic attack

Monday, November 5, 2012

I had some grand plans for Mila's 6th birthday party last month, and instead I got what I would call a hot mess. I don't know how else to put it. I was feeling worse than I had felt through the whole pregnancy the week before the party, and the two nights right before, I had insomnia and had to sleep it off during the daytime. Every project got pushed back, until I basically got nothing done ahead of time, and I overextended myself completely in the end.

As if that wasn't bad enough, on the day of the party, I had to take Mila to her last soccer game, and sit through it calmly like I didn't have a fire I had to put out at home, plus enjoy a cupcake with the rest of the team after the game while their trophies got handed out. Oh, it was bad. B also gave me a nice surprise that day by going to the church construction site last minute (our congregation is building a new church, and doing lots of the work ourselves) because they needed his expert door-painting skills, so he was out of the picture. And my friend who said she'd come early to help out before and during the party never showed. I wish I was kidding.

It could have been a complete disaster, where I call everyone up and cancel the whole thing, so at least I managed to throw something together and avoid that scenario. Though I did almost have a panic attack half an hour before the party. I threw Mila's hair in a ponytail, threw a couple dresses on the girls, and we were as ready as we would ever be.

We decorated cupcakes (with lumpy frosting because I was in a hurry), made pipe cleaner rings (which almost every kid needed help with, though they turned out pretty cool), watched Puss in Boots (Mila's request), had hotdogs, salad, and mini pizzas for dinner, broke the pinata, and opened gifts. With lots of trampoline breaks in between because the kids just couldn't stay away. Oh, and only one kid ended up having a piece of cake. I think between the cupcakes and the punch and the candy they kept stealing out of my candy bowl in the living room, they were all sugared out.

There were these adorable little heart pillow favors I made out of vintage fabric that were supposed to be on every plate, but I ran out of time to do the hand sewing to close them up.  That was pretty dissapointing, especially because I was so close to getting them done. You can see a glimpse of a couple of the finished ones in one of the pictures above. I ended up handing them out to the girls the next week, and they were happy, so...it wasn't all bad.

It looked like all the girls had a really good time, and didn't even realize anything was wrong. And Mila, of course, was the happiest. The things that suffered the most were really the decorations and my hair and makeup. Yeah. I'm soooo glad birthday season is over at our house until next year. And this baby will be the first one to get the season going!