February 26, 2011

on my mind

technically, there shouldn't be anything on my mind at 4 a.m. But with the way this night has been, I'm just barely starting to let myself feel tired enough to go to bed.

I've been listening to the wet slushy sounds of cars driving by on the road all night.
Just another batch of drizzling rain, I thought.
Then I happened to catch a glimpse of the backyard light coming through the windows.
Somebody forgot to turn off the light outside, I thought.
I felt around for the switch, tried to flip it down, and realized the light was already off. I finally looked outside. Real snow. Didn't think I'd see it again this winter, judging by how little snow we've had. But here it is, all glowing and almost magical, rushing to the ground, just to become part of the slush in the morning. But that's in the morning. For now it's sitting perfectly piled up on tree branches and cars, making everything glow quietly in the street lights...
4 a.m.

February 16, 2011

this afternoon

:: multi-tasking ::

I'm guessing this qualifies for yarn along :) Working on surprise baby jacket and enjoying EZ's Knitting Workshop. My collection of her books is slowly growing. And my admiration for her work is rapidly increasing.

:: trying to resist making some more of this goodness ::

onions, zucchini, basil and parmesan with eggs

February 15, 2011

Hits and misses

:: after multiple attempts at baking gluten-free bread, we finally have a hit. even though it didn't rise as much as I expected, it turned out plenty wonderful. The bad news? One loaf was barely enough for 5 sandwiches. Never thought a day would come when I have to buy bakeware in doubles. And then triple most recipes (if I want a bit of leftovers for the next day). Ah, the joy of having a large family... ::

:: nothing escapes this girl's eye, she'll vacuum up every little speck and crumb off the kitchen floor. so if she's so intent at picking up random things and putting them in her mouth, she might as well do it with something digestible. and as a bonus, kids can pretend that they have a puppy that they've been begging for ::

:: hello kitty bandaids make everything better, both imaginary cuts, and really deep cracks in skin ::

:: a love note from Anya is always a hit. yes, the note says 'I love you', Anya told me so ::

:: no huge overpriced bouquets, or fancy jewelry, or dinner at an overcrowded noisy restaurant, but a lovely rose in a ladybug pot for Valentine's Day, carefully picked out by Elijah, Anya and Mark. A bull's eye hit (while it lasts... sadly, my brown thumb and house plants don't mix) ::

:: a most definite miss x 2. I miss my old boots that can't be cleaned after I spilled some shampoo on them (what? you didn't know that you can wash your hair in the kitchen sink on the way out the door?), and the new pair (which is nothing like the above mentioned boots, aside from being the same brand) is the least flattering pair of footwear I've tried on in a long time. Granted, my size 10 feet are not easy to hide, but having a pair of boots that makes them look even bigger? No, thank you. And I also can't bring myself to wear black boots or shoes. Too bad though, the deal on this pair was pretty amazing ::

February 14, 2011

Perfect date

In spite of the lack of a lengthy and ambitious list of New Year's goals (I know, what a mouthful of "of's"), we do have a new 'thing' that Mark and I have been trying to stick to this year - having more one-on-one time with our children. We decided to take turns and go out on a 'date' with one of the 3 older kids (Ivy's getting plenty of attention by default), letting them take turns each week as well. This week it was Anya's and mine turns to go out. After hearing all about Elijah's fun time at the Church History Museum last week, we decided Anya would enjoy it too. We finally figured that Saturday would be the best day to go, and boy, did it we get that right...

The weather was perfect. In fact a bit too perfect for this time of year, but I won't complain. In addition, Katrina and her little ones joined us at the museum, which made our outing even more perfect for 2 reasons - I got to socialize with a real grown up (not just pretend ones, who get 'married' in our house every day), and I spared myself of a whole lot of 'butt kicking' that often comes as a result of not bringing your camera... or worse yet, bringing one, only to have the battery die after a few shots, which is exactly what happened. Luckily, Katrina and I have a lot in common, photography and Nikon cameras being two of those things (also, a slight addiction to 60% cocoa chocolate chips, out of all things). So I managed to end up with plenty of shots to overload this post, in spite of the fact that we kept swapping the battery between the two cameras.

Anya had heaps of fun at the museum, with the ship being her favorite, judging by how many times she went back there to lick the germs off the the plastic windows. It was such a joy to just watch her being *her*, without any influence from her siblings. She's pretty much a different child when no one steals her toys, pulls on her hair, or calls her 'Cinderella' instead of 'Buttercup'. Watching her fluttering around and enjoying the freedom that comes with me supervising only one child was priceless.

We ended up spending some time outside at the Temple Square, mostly sitting by the fountain or doing laps around it, letting Anya crawl or walk on the ledge (again, this is a one-child luxury). I remembered that last time Mark and I were at the Temple Square with one child was back when Maya was 2 months away from her second birthday and I was 2 months away from giving birth to Elijah. So yes, it's been a while.

I almost didn't want to show up at our rendezvous point where Mark was supposed to pick me and Anya up. I was secretly hoping that Anya would step out of her character and throw a tantrum when I told her it was time to go. But instead, she cheerfully took my hand and with her usual happy voice said "Let's go fast, mama!".

p.s. couldn't resist adding some of the photos that Katrina took, she captured Anya's spirit so beautifully...

February 9, 2011

Just another week

Not much happening here, just your average middle of the winter (wait, last quarter of the winter) week. No exciting ups, no devastating downs. Even the passing of Mark's grandpa feels oddly peaceful. Maybe because we've been praying for him the night before to finally make that transition so he could be relieved of pain and sickness his body had been afflicted with for quite some time. Maybe it's the visit that we paid to Mark's now widowed grandmother, who chatted with us in a reassuring kind of way, trying to think of all the people her husband was shaking hands with on that beautiful Sunday morning.

I wish I could write a lengthy post about Mark's grandfather and what a good man he was. But I'm afraid my knowledge of him, or rather that fraction of what I know about him, won't do him justice. So without attempting to write something I don't feel I'm qualified to write about, I'll do what (I think) I do best, share a photo. It was taken this past June, when Ivy was just a mere week or two old. Grandpa Keith was feeling very sick at that time, with cancer spread throughout his body. We didn't think he would make it through June, so Mark and I decided to visit him to make sure he would get a chance to see his new great-granddaughter at least once.

and here's Ivy on Sunday morning, stopping at grandma's house after visiting her great-grandma.

edited: just as I hoped, Lisa (my sister-in-law, or just 'sister') wrote a beautiful post about grandpa Keith here. She did it. Told the story the way I couldn't...


As I already said, we had a good week. Not 'perfect' good, but more of a 'normal life' good. Perfection is just so out of reach these days, if I keep waiting for a perfect week to happen, I might set myself for a year full of disappointment. So instead, 'good' is my new 'perfect'.

I experimented yet again with red lentil soup which turned out GOOD (ok, nearly perfect). Such a quick and flexible recipe. I won't even write it in traditional recipe style, just share quick directions. You'll just have to mix and match :)

For the 4 people in our family that will eat this soup (Ivy included!), I use 3 cups of red lentils. Wash and rinse them well, several times, until water runs clear. Start with sauteing 1/2 an onion with some minced garlic and/or ginger in EV olive oil. Then add some turmeric (1-2 t) and any of the following spices - coriander, cumin or cinnamon. Peel 3-4 small yams, sweet potatoes or carrots, cube and add to onion and spice mixture. Add the washed lentils, 1 can of coconut milk and 5-7 cups of water and let it all cook together until lentils and vegetables are tender. Some sauteed onions added to individual bowls of soup are a fantastic touch for this dish :)

It doesn't happen very often that all 3 older kids can play together without fighting for more than 10 minutes (which is why I started this post in the morning, and I'm still working on it at 4 p.m.). But when it does happen, you can be sure they came up with something different. Yesterday they all came upstairs dressed in... well, dresses. I was secretly thrilled to see that Elijah hasn't succumbed to gender stereotypes yet.


I know my post wouldn't be complete without a knitting-related blurb.

:: the skeins are being wound ::

:: future projects are waiting to be cast on ::

:: new projects are being started ::

:: and old projects are moving along nicely ::

life is good.

February 3, 2011

Buckwheat crepes

Ever since we went on a gluten-free diet at the beginning of this year, I've been trying to figure out how recreate some of our favorite things to eat, but with gluten-free flours. Getting used to the variety of those flours and starches, and knowing what they contribute to each recipe is still a work in progress. I'm still working on finding our favorite bread recipe (something more similar to artisan style bread), but there are a couple of things that I think I've nailed down quite well, and it makes me so happy to know that I can bring some of our kids' (also known as bread addicts) all-time favorites back to the table.

This week I set on a mission to make gluten-free crepes. I was expecting at least half a dozen of semi-successful attempts before I'd come up with a satisfying recipe. Imagine my surprise when I mixed everything together, made the first crepe and all of the sudden found myself in a crepe heaven. They turned out PERFECT. Same smooth and soft texture, same crispiness around the edges, same silence at the table, which means kids are happily devouring their meal and don't want to waste a second on chatting or goofing at the table. Oh, and I finally got to use our home-ground (in VitaMix) buckwheat flour. My only mistake that night? I should've tripled that batch.

Perfect Buckwheat Crepes

makes about 12 10-inch crepes

1 cup buckwheat flour (finely ground, I don't know what store bought flour feels like, ours was very fine)
1 cup white rice flour (again, very fine. we bought ours at Asian market and it feels a lot like starch, but says 'flour' on the package)
1 T tapioca starch

2 eggs
4 T neutral flavored oil
2.5 c milk
1-2 T maple syrup

coconut oil or butter for frying
10" cast iron pan works best

Mix dry ingredients. Wisc together wet ingredients and slowly incorporate them into the flour mix (stand- or hand-mixer works best, even though I prefer to mix by hand most of the time). Let the batter rest for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat up your skillet on medium heat. Once it's hot, add about 1 tsp of oil, spread it around. Pour about 1/3 cup of batter in the pan and quickly spread it around by tilting the pan from side to side. Cook until the edges begin to look crispy (like in the photo above). Flip it over and cook for another 10-15 seconds, depending on how hot your stove is (ours is electric and I'm still not used to it). Make sure to add more butter for each new crepe. (no, real butter/coconut oil does not make you fat)

Serve warm. We love to eat crepes with sour cream, jam, honey or syrup.

Enjoy! And let me know how this recipe worked out for you :)

February 2, 2011

to sum it up...

What? February already? Did we skip January this year? Because I don't remember having one. At least it didn't feel like January to me. It only really snowed here once. ONCE. Hello, this is Utah, where's our snow? For the first time in the last few years I feel like celebrating winter season, and the only sure sign of winter we've been steadily experiencing is inversion. Oh well, we still have February left. Although I think I know now where all our snow went. Sorry, NorthEast...

So we didn't really get to do much outside in January(inversion, remember?), but we've been having pretty good time inside, enjoying our new house, feeling closer to each other (4 kids in 2 bedroom house --> plenty of closeness) and finding ways to channel our energy into something creative or productive.

:: drawing more than ever. i think we'll need to move to a bigger house just to have more room for storing all the artwork ::

:: growing faster than ever ::

:: building cool stuff ::

:: playing with papa's mountain climber that he made back when he was 10 years old ::

:: and even taking almost extinct these days naps ::

:: reading, lots and lots of reading ::

:: gluten-free cooking, which we're still learning about ::

:: and of course knitting. it never ends ::

working on my first Shalom