Tuesday, September 29, 2009


"Organize Now! A Week-By-Week Guide to Simplify Your Space and Your Life" by Jennifer Ford Berry is one of those books that, once I stumbled across it, I couldn't resist buying. I am guilty of judging a book by it's cover... and this one is so cute. It also had me with the words "week-by-week guide". I'm a sucker for anything that promises a week-by-week plan. Love the idea of someone else planning all my time and guiding me through the week.

I'm not too far in, but yesterday it prompted an exercise to help prioritize your time and it's just so simple that it's quite possibly brilliant. For this week's goal, I'm to make a list of my top ten priorities. Simple, right? But once I numbered a piece of paper from 1 to 10 and began the exercise, it was a little more difficult than I expected. I scribbled out the first few rather quickly...

1) baking/cooking healthy, whole food meals for my family
2) involve my boys in creative & stimulating projects
3) create wonderful memories for my family
4) nurture my creative outlets

And then I drew a blank. Wow, ten is a lot! After a lot of thinking I came up with the rest:

5) organization & clutter control
6) gardening (creating a comfortable outdoor space for the family to enjoy)
7) sew my own wardrobe
8) a healthy & fit lifestyle - lead by example for my children
9) fix up this old house
10) dedicate time to a book idea

I've never had a problem identifying what it is I enjoy doing with my time. But most of the time I find myself always feeling guilty for doing this and not that. Yesterday, I took the boys to the park and filled a bag with some crochet projects to do. On most occasions, I would find myself sitting at the park feeling guilty because I wasn't at home. Maybe because I left the breakfast dishes in the sink or I knew I should be on the computer working. But yesterday it occurred to me that I was knocking off two whole priorities by going to the park: creating memories for my family AND nurturing my creative outlet. No guilt! Done, that was all it took. This simple little exercise was nothing short of enlightening for me. Try it yourself. Especially if you're quite often riddled with guilt like I am!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

pumpkin to start the weekend

While looking for a can of soup the other day I found a can of pumpkin puree and haven't been able to get it out of my mind. Technically, it's Fall. But with Santa Anas followed by heat and humidity, the last thing I crave is pumpkin pie. In fact, I never could understand why Starbuck's introduces their seasonal pumpkin spice latte before the end of our hot weather. I know it's cooler in most parts of the country and Starbuck's rolls these things out franchise-wide, but we live in an age computers and technology for Pete's sake! Surely they could probably adequately handle introducing seasonal products when it's appropriate to specific geographic regions. But, I diverge... point is, I was starting to vaguely crave something resembling pumpkin pie. So this morning, using the fog as my inspiration and excuse for baking, I made some pumpkin muffins before the sun could have a chance to make the kitchen miserable.

The recipe is adapted from the "Deceptively Delicious" recipe for Applesauce Muffins (I substituted pumpkin for squash/carrot puree and added salt & vanilla) :

2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
pinch of salt

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats (I used steel cut oats because I used all my old-fashioned oats for the topping - worked perfectly)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup nonfat milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg

1 - Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prep a 12-cup muffin tin with baking spray or paper liners.
2 - Make the topping: Stir together the oats, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Cut butter into small pieces and use fingers to work the butter into the oats mixture until it has a coarse consistency.
3 - Make the batter: Combine the dry ingredients and stir to mix. In a separate bowl, mix the applesauce, milk, pumpkin, sugars, oil, vanilla and egg with a whisk. Add the dry ingredients, and stir until just moistened.
4 - Pour batter into prepared muffin pan and sprinkle with the topping. Bake until topping is lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the muffins - about 18 to 20 minutes.

pumpkin muffins

Friday, September 25, 2009

end of summer

Summer is over, right? Around here, the weather hasn't quite figured that out yet. I'm waiting for anything even closely resembling Fall.

The end of Summer was particularly significant in this house because it marked the start of Kindergarten. Now that we're several weeks into the rhythm of waking up early, rushing off to school and finishing homework before going to bed at a decent hour, I'm thinking that the undeclared break I took from blog posts should come to an end. I don't know if ANYONE out there even notices (friends and husband excluded)... but this little blog is also a scrapbook for me. It helps me feel like I've accomplished something when I have a photo and a story to post. So I'll try to get back on the blogging wagon. I think it will be good for me - get me out of my funk.

Last weekend I planned a big birthday feast for the husband. We started with a breakfast of Migas (Chilaquiles) followed by a lunch of Currywurst. The Chilaquiles was in memory of the incredible breakfast we had on a trip up to Washington state a few years ago at a long-since-gone cafe in White Salmon. For years I've tried to recreate this scrambled egg with bacon, tomatoes, peppers and tortillas concoction. When I was browsing through The Gourmet Cookbook, I came across the recipe! (the recipe on Epicurious.com looks pretty close to the Gourmet recipe) It was right there on my shelf all this time. Go figure. The Currywurst was on the day's menu because I do believe it is quite possibly the husband's favorite meal. I was happy to stumble across this recipe on Saveur.com. I've tried several recipes for curry sauce and I believe this one actually tasted pretty close to the Currywurst stands we've been to in Germany. And for the piece de la resistance, for dinner I prepared Beef Wellington, grilled shrimp and homemade spinach pasta with heirloom tomatoes. I didn't quite get enough prep done in the days leading up to the birthday dinner - so I looked like I was in an episode of Top Chef with the clock ticking, things bubbling over and me dashing back and forth from stovetop to cutting board. In my haste to get dinner served, pictures of the final product didn't get taken. So use your imagination. But this photo of the cake is much more telling without the chocolate glaze. This was a recipe for a layer cake from a German cookbook we have. This was a very time-consuming cake - but worth it. For each layer, a few tablespoons of batter were spread in the pan and then cooked for a couple minutes until the top was golden. Then another layer of batter was added and cooked before adding the next layer, and so on. Pretty.

So that's what's been cooking in the kitchen. Aside from that, I've been busy clocking hours for paycheck work. When I haven't been doing that, I've been crocheting. I crocheted my very first pair of socks and am working on another. One of my bad habits is to go out and buy tons of supplies when I start a new project. So now I've got a huge bag of yarn waiting to be crocheted up into socks, amigurumi critters and toys for Christmas. Speaking of Christmas...

I've decided to start early. I always hate to find myself on Christmas Eve with tons of ideas left untouched. So I'm starting on those handmade gifts, decorations and a baking plan. Going to make this the best Christmas yet! Last year was SO much fun with the boys - I'm really looking forward to another magical holiday season. Now if only the weather would cooperate.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

what are YOU lookin' at?!?

At Kindergarten orientation, parents were asked to fill out a questionare with responses from the Kindergartners-to-be. In answer to the question, "What do you want to learn in Kindergarten?" our little rebel replied, "I want to learn how to spell 'I hate Kindergarten'." Despite that, though, he's been having a pretty good time with school. That is to say, all except for picture day...
This photo SCREAMS, "I HATE Kindergarten!"
Love it.
WAY more interesting than if he'd actually been smiling. For the most part, he's a very happy child! You'd just never know it from this photo!