Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas is near...




:: Christmas is Near ::


Our home has been a flurry of activites. We have been making, doing, and crafting treats for everyone we will be seeing during the holidays. Over the past few years we have really embraced the idea of making homemade gifts for loved ones. I know I always love receiving something homemade and I think others do too. There is still much to be done before we travel but it is so much fun. Christmas is near and our hearts sing with so much joy for the season. 


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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Yarn Along

 


:: Yarn Along ::



Yarnalong_gsheller_gray
Joining Ginny of Small Things


 


 



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I've been kind of slacking on the knitting this past week because baking has taken over our small house. But I have made some progress. Sadly, I finished the baby heirloom sweater and after all that work, I just don't like the way it looks. I have been rather frustrated about it so I put it away for now and maybe I'll feel better about it in a few weeks. I am almost finished the Milo Sweater for my oldest gal. She wants to put in on so badly but I want to add some embellishments to it first. I have loved knitting this sweater and can't wait to start another. I decided to start work on a sweater from the pattern In Threes: A baby cardigan. Super easy and a quick knit. It won't be finished for my baby in time for Christmas but it will make a nice Epiphany gift. It's not pictured above but I am also almost finished my infinity cowl. Just in time for our trip up north. 


I am also finishing a great book, The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. I must recommend this book! I wasn't sure if I would like it because it seemd a little sad from the book flap but it is amazing! A haunting winter read. I think I will start re-reading the Little House on the Praire series next or maybe The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I know that is a weird choice but this time of year always reminds me reading that book in 12th grade for my literature class. I am sure what is was about that story but it really helped form my love of the classics. As far as knitting goes, I think I will work on some more cowls and neck wraps. I am building a stock for the future. We will moving here in the next year or so and I am putting little wishes of a location with a cold winter into each knit item. Upstate New York sounds nice...don't you think? We have lived there once with the Navy and I wouldn't mind that again. 


 


I just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Blessings to you and yours! 



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Awaiting Christmas

 


:: Awaiting Christmas ::


After the events of last week, our hearts are left extra tender these days and my thoughts have gone out to those families who grieve. Despite a touch of sadness, our home is anxiously awaiting the arrival of Christmas. I hear little voices singing Christmas songs and little hands playing with our Nativity. Our oldest is finally beginning to understand the meaning of Christmas and she has soo many questions. We have been baking many cookies and other treats to share with family and friends.  The cards arrive in the mail each day and we hang them above our new electric stove. (We live in the south and don't need the heat but it is sure nice to look at and sit by) We'll just have to pretend until we move somewhere colder.


 A few things lie before me and I can just sit back and breathe. ahhh...


 


(Well, I won't lie and say that the sewing is done but I love sewing so it isn't really a chore) 


 



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Saturday, December 15, 2012

In His Loving Arms

 


:: In His Loving Arms ::


 



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Instead of writing this weekend, this space will be quiet in remembance and honor of those who lost their lives in Connecticut yesterday. May they rest in Jesus' loving arms. I will be spending the weekend with my family and praying because that is all we can do now. 



Friday, December 14, 2012

This Moment

 


:: This Moment ::


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.


 


Joining up with Amanda of Soulemama


 


 


 



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Monday, December 10, 2012

Weekends

 


:: Weekends::






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Our Weekend...


* Friday Night Vigil Mass of the Immaculate Conception of Mary


* Army v. Navy football game and party ( James is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, so you can guess who we root for) 


* making paper garland to hang on our windows


* Sunday Morning Mass & Breakfast out 


* Christmas dress shopping 


*Afternoons of sewing and working on some super secret projects


* Our Advent wreath and altar is finally done


* Day One of the our gingerbread house project 


* Lots of cuddle time with our two lovely ladies


 


 


How was your weekend? 



Saturday, December 08, 2012

What We've Been Learning this Week...

 


:: What We've Been Learning tihs Week ::


 


After recovering from Thanksgiving and taking some time off to get ready for the Christmas season we are getting back on track with our learning and playing. It is afterall very important business for two little ones. This week we did a bunch of activties revolving around the letter "I i". We also mixed in some Christmas things. 


 



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We learned some new "i" words and we made an igloo and insect. And...even made homemade ice cream. 


 



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We made a nature mobile to reflect the changing seasons. 


 



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Snowmen 


 



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Christmas Sensory Box 



Friday, December 07, 2012

This Moment

 


:: This Moment ::


 


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


 


Joining Amanda of Soulemama


 


 



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Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Yarn Along

 


:: Yarn Along ::


Joining Ginny of Small Things



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Oh, how I wish  I had something exciting to report about my knitting progress. But alas, no such luck. It has been a week where other things and people have needed my attention and time. I have had friends going through rough patches in their lives who needed a shoulder to cry on and babies to nuture.  AND... I am a terribly slow knitter. I know I will get these things done in time for Christmas but it will just take a while. I have been trying to knit one dishcloth per week for myself. It is a nice little project and a quick knit. I am using really happy colors to brighten my kitchen cleaning time. ( I love to cook but hate to clean up the mess). I am really on the last leg of the Milo Sweater and the Heirloom Baby Sweater is sitting and waiting for me to brave the final section. I decided to knit myself a seed stitch cowl since we are traveling up north. I wanted something warm to wear. Hopefully, next week I'll have something exciting to report!


On a completely scatter brained note, do you ever feel like knitting heals problems in your life or that of others? I kind of feel like if I take all my burdens and those I hear from others and put them into my needles I can just knit it away. 


I am reading Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan. I love it! I love the plot and setting. Mr. McEwan does not disappoint. I am still looking through my Holistic Herbal Book. Very Interesting. 


 


What are you knitting and reading? 



Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Advent

 


:: Advent ::


What is that expression? "Better go to Plan B" Oh yes, that is how our advent has started out. Our best laid plans went the way of the wind in a matter of one weekend.  Sunday was the start of Advent and I had grand plans to build and decorate our advent wreath with the girls and start our countdown tree for Christmas. However, the tree we had to hang our stars for our advent calendar turned out to be a dud. Then, the candles and wreath holder I ordered to build our natural wreath with never arrived. It may not arrive until Dec. 17th. So much for that. 


I was a tad annoyed and that is no way to start Advent. Thankfully, my gracious and kind husband made a run to the local hardware store for supplies. Emma and I painted a lovely tree and added hooks to hang our stars. It looks pretty nice especially since a three year old did it! As for our wreath, well, it is still a work in progress. I plan to have it ready for the start of the second week of Advent. Better late then never. We did start reading a book entitled Advent Storybook: 24 Stories to Share Before Christmas.  It is a great book and I am so happy we found it. Each night before sleep, James reads one story to the girls. I think we have a new tradition. I also purchased a supplement book, We Light the Candles: Devotions Related to Family Use of the Advent Wreath  to aid in our advent wreath  candle lighting each night. 


Even though my best laid plans have gone somewhat awry, we found a better way to celebrate. 


 



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Our Advent Calender



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Our basket of Advent and Christmas books 



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Our Advent candle...we will have that wreath soon! 


 



Sunday, December 02, 2012

Sunday Soup

:: Sunday Soup ::

I am starting a little something new on Sundays, I will be featuring a soup from our dinner table. We have made it a tradition in our home to have a simple supper on Sundays of soup and bread. 



Potato and Leek Soup with Crispy Shallots

( from Ina Garten's cookbook: Back to Basics) 


Ingredients




  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks



  • 4 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned of all sand (4 leeks)

  • 1/4 cup good olive oil

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 cups baby arugula, lightly packed

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, plus extra for serving

  • 6 to 7 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

  • 8 ounces creme fraiche

  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish

  • Crispy Shallots, recipe follows, optional




Directions




Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.




Combine the potatoes and leeks on a sheet pan in a single layer. Add the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss to coat the vegetables evenly. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, turning them with a spatula a few times during cooking, until very tender. Add the arugula and toss to combine. Roast for 4 to 5 more minutes, until the arugula is wilted. Remove the pan from the oven and place over 2 burners. Stir in the wine and 1 cup of the chicken stock and cook over low heat, scraping up any crispy roasted bits sticking to the pan.


In batches, transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor fitted with the steel blade, adding the pan liquid and about 5 cups of the chicken stock to make a puree. Pour the puree into a large pot or Dutch oven. Continue to puree the vegetables in batches until they're all done and combined in the large pot. Add enough of the remaining 1 to 2 cups of stock to make a thick soup. Add the cream, creme fraiche, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and check the seasonings.




When ready to serve, reheat the soup gently and whisk in 2 tablespoons white wine and 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Serve hot with an extra grating of Parmesan and crispy shallots, if using





 





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Crispy Shallots:




  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil or vegetable oil

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 5 to 6 shallots, peeled and sliced into thin rings



Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it reaches 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer.


Reduce the heat to low, add the shallots, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until they are a rich golden brown. The temperature should stay below 260 degrees F. Stir the shallots occasionally to make sure they brown evenly. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon, drain well, and spread out to cool on paper towels. Once they have dried and crisped, they can be stored at room temperature, covered, for several days.


Yield: about 1/2 cup







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Friday, November 30, 2012

This Moment

 


:: This Moment :: 


 


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


 


Joining Amanda of Soulemama


 


 



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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Around our house...




:: Around our House ::


 


 


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We have finished our first Advent project. A couple weeks ago I began thinking about how we would count down to Christmas. Most years we buy something but this year I wanted to save money and make something that we would cherish through the years. We have a small faux alpine tree with white lights so I decided that we would use that tree along with numbered Christmas stars to countdown. We bought the stars, painted, and numbered them. It was a lot of fun and the girls got to help. They really turned out nicely and I am just thrilled at how they look. We will be making Jesse Tree ornaments this weekend to tie in our beliefs with holiday preparations. We want to keep the focus on the birth of Jesus and the celebration of the blessed nativity. 


 


We also made our first batch of holiday cookies. Lemon Coconut Biscotti. ( It will be going to work with James tomorrow) This recipe was shared with me by my friend, Terri. She has graciously shared her biscotti making secrets with me. I have made them several times and they always turn out beautifully. It is a nice treat with an afternoon tea or morning coffee. Enjoy! 


 


Lemon Coconut Biscotti 


1 cup Sugar 


1/2 cup butter, softened


3 eggs ( let sit to room temperature)


1/4 tsp. lemon oil or lemon extract 


grated peel of one lemon


3 cups Flour 


2 1/2 tsp. baking powder 


1/4 tsp. salt


1 cup of shredded coconut flakes


Coarse or sprinkling sugar 


1 egg white beaten with 1 tsp. of water 


1/2 cup of slivered almonds


 


Preheat oven to 350.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper 


Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in bowl and whisk together making sure all the ingredients are well blended. Set aside for the moment. 


Combine butter and sugar in mixing bowl and cream until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time letting each egg incorporate into the batter. Add lemon oil or extract and using microplane zest lemon right over bowl. 


Start adding dry ingredients slowly. ( Spoonful by spoonful so as to not overwhelm your creamed mixture. Stir in coconut flakes and almonds by hand. Put dough in refrigator for 15-20 minutes to firm up the dough. After dough as chilled, divide into two and shape into logs and place on parchment sheet. Shape the log into 11 inch and 2 inch wide. Brush the tops with beaten egg whites and sprinkle coarse sugar. 


 


Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Let cool on pan for a few minutes then transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Then cut the biscotti log on a diagonal, about 1/2 inch slices. Place the cut slices back on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes on one side then flip and bake for another 10 minutes. 


Transfer to cooling rack and enjoy! 


 


Once you have the basic recipe down, you can play around with different types of biscotti. Another favorite of mine is cranberry with white chocolate chips and cranberry walnut orange. 


 



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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Yarn Along

 


:: Yarn Along ::


 



Yarnalong_gsheller_gray
Joining Ginny of Small Things


 



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With the holidays right around the corner, I am spending a lot of time on the needles. The girls sweaters are coming along nicely and I think they will be done before long. I have begun work on two scarves, one for me and one for James. I decided that every little girl needs an elf hat and these are quick little knits. I just have to decide on yarn. I am still reading The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. It is an interesting read but I have to say I am not sure where the story is going exactly. My husband and I have decided to start reading the Hobbit together after the holidays. I know we won't get to see the movie until it comes out on DVD so we have plenty of time. I am also doing some Advent reading and herbal remedies reading. I am looking forward to Advent. I have decided to start a year long project in Jaunary, I am going to start knitting a beekeepers' quilt. I picked the pattern from the Tiny Owl Knits.  


 


What are you knitting? 


 



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

 


:: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ::


 



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It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in our home. The girls and I decorated today and we finished the tree tonight. I have always wanted to wait but once the holiday season starts, I can't help myself. I really love my house filled with warm Christmas colors and lights. We are still putting together our Advent table and I am looking forward to spending time as a family celebrating the season. I have a calendar filled with fun daily activities so we don't get bogged down or overwhelmed by the holidays. Here's to a good Christmas season!