Saturday, September 27, 2014

In the kitchen: a beginning

When I was a little girl, my favorite books to read were the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I must have read that series at least a dozen times, if not more.  Something about the wholeness found within Laura's story. The community, the family togetherness, the living off the land. Not to mention the cooking, the sewing, and the living found within it. Everything about it - that story spoke to me. Hmmm... what's my point? Weeeeeeell, recently I stumbled upon a blog that seems to embody everything that I loved about that series. Are you familiar with Amanda Soule's blog soulemama? It is an amazing read! Amazing read. I stumbled upon her blog when I checked out her second book handmade home from my local library. Her words speak to the heart concerning family, connecting, and togetherness. I recently bought her first book The Creative Family  and have enjoyed it thoroughly. I've been reading while I breast feed... which is a lot. I've actually been able to  read it twice in two days!

Well, her blog has inspired a new section within my blog. In the kitchen. Cause my love of feeding my husband and entertaining family, brethren, and friends is such a large part of me. Because when I feed my loved ones good food it fills my cup.

In the kitchen -

:: I've finally succumbed to using my crock pot and have found that I love it! I am playing with my roasts recipes and love the use of fresh herbs from the garden.

:: I had a successful experience with baking whole wheat sandwich bread! After doing the math - it is actually so much cheaper to make your own!

:: I have had to experiment a lot with dairy less cooking since I suspect Liam to have an allergy. Having to put the bricks of butter in my fridge into the freezer to use for a later date is worth it to see Liam's rashes clearing up! Made blueberry muffins and whole wheat bread entirely without dairy!

:: After seven weeks, I was finally able to put a hot breakfast on the table for Ross before he left for work. I just had to learn to get up after Liam's 5:00 a.m. feeding to do it. Totally worth it to send him with a full tummy and ready to work all day.

:: Filled the cookie jar for Ross to enjoy. Can't help smiling every time he comes home and eats from it.

:: Harvested the first of the dill and scallions and made ranch dressing to share with family.

:: Made refrigerator beets again from the beets I bought at the farmer's market. Was blessed to share it with family.

Was just so blessed to be able to finally start cooking and baking again for us. Seven weeks after Liam's birth and I am starting to find my rhythm with taking care of him, taking care of us. It was an amazing week. An amazing week in the kitchen.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Over the weekend

I couldn't resist! Another picture of Liam! 

The baby announcements have been sent to loved ones... another project checked off the to do list. Ahhh how wonderful the sound of that pen scratching something off my ever growing list is! Did you notice that pile of fun fabric prints up there? I have my heart set on sewing Liam an eye-spy quilt. Oh this beautiful beautiful boy - his eyes are drawn to bright colors and I am wanting to give it to him! Not as a quilt for sleeping, he has a favorite soft blue blanket that he sleeps with, but for lying on while playing and dreaming. Yes, a brightly colored quilt full of sea creatures and fun animals is just what my sweet baby needs. Now if only I can figure out how to craft around his sleeping schedule. It's hard right now! When he sleeps I want to sleep too!

Most of the crafting minutes that I can steal away has been going towards making a mini paper scrapbook album for my hubby. Tomorrow is our two year anniversary and I oh so wanted to make him something handmade, even if it is a small token. With being pregnant, a lot of crafting for my family got put on the back burner as I struggled to finish long ago promised bigger projects for people. Currently I am enjoying reclaiming the precious few minutes I have during the day to craft for my beloved husband and baby boy. Since I haven't done so in a while, a small paper album was a perfect way to start waking up the creative process that has been dormant for such a long time. I am so looking forward to crafting more for these two wonderful men in my life.

Did you notice the picture of the chicken up there? I just had to share - I harvested thyme from the garden to use in my cooking! What a wonderful feeling - to be able to harvest from the garden to use for the dinner table. I must admit that I am extremely encouraged and am looking forward to continuing this garden experience! I made garlic thyme chicken with roasted potatoes for some family that came over for dinner one night and it was very yummy! The marinate was simple. Olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic salt, garlic, and fresh thyme. I let the chicken marinate in a plastic bag in the fridge for several hours and then baked it for an hour at 400 degrees for about an hour. It was yummy! If I had a lemon I would have used that to also flavor it. Next time perhaps.

Well, it is getting late. 8:46 pm to be exact. I, who use to be a night owl have now succumb to sleeping at this early hour of 8:45 because that is when my son goes down... and I know that in a few short hours he will be waking me up with his cries. Oh how motherhood can change the face of your life!  Good night all!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Gardening Journal: Clearing a space

 Was that as stressful for you as it was for me? Goodness! I hated going out in our back yard because of that sight! The previous owner was a gardener. We actually had a really nice herb garden in the backyard. Of course... since my husband and I were not gardeners, it got over run by the bushes and the grass and the weeds. This is what my garden space looked like a week ago.

Now, after a lot of work on mom, dad, Ross, and my part, a small space is finally cleared away. This is the new space for the herb garden section. We trimmed back the thyme, sage, and lavender to a more manageable size. We also planted rosemary and thai basil. It is nice to think about all the things that I will cook once the herbs can be harvested.

 Here we planted beans. The first row is American beans, the next are long Chinese beans... and then we finished with a third row of sweet peas. My dad is also going to show me how to make a trellis using the old bamboo. I'm so happy to be learning from him!
This is one of the views of the garden space that has been cleared. It is an exciting time! =)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

My heart is so full

Today we dropped mom and dad off at the airport so they could fly home. This past month we have been so blessed to have had my family visiting to help us with Liam. To help while I heal - while Ross gets use to being the primary provider on such limited sleep - and to get to know this wonderful and sweet baby. 

I have never been so humbled as I was this past month while the family was here. Being the youngest in the family, I was always a bit babied.  I was a bit spoiled to be honest. When I sit to reflect back on my childhood, the way that my family serves others stands out so vividly. In my own life I have been able to experience such richness in being served. When I was in school Dad would wake me up with a cup of creamy tea. When I was sick Mom would stay up with me all night - making me ginger tea and rubbing my back, and then before heading into work a full work day - she would pile the kitchen counter high with foods and drinks that would be alright for me to consume. My sister would stay up late with me and work on homework or read so that I wasn't all by myself whenever I had to pull an all nighter because I procrastinated on a paper. So many memories stand out of how rich my life has been because of the examples of service that my family had provided. 

When I moved away and attended University in Hawaii in order to complete my Masters - I felt closest to my family when I followed in their example by serving those around me. Cooking for my classmates. Helping to clean up after church services. Massaging my flight attendant roommate's head when she came home from a trip. And then when I got married and moved to the Big Island - cooking special meals for my husband. Writing him notes for his lunch box. Making handmade presents for children being born in the church and in his family. I have been learning that most times - it is so much better to serve than to be served. 

After I gave birth to Liam, I wasn't in any position to serve others. I was so sore and couldn't cook. Sleep deprived and on edge with changing hormone levels. Sometimes I would want to just cry at the helplessness of it all.  But my family was here - taking on the brunt of all the cooking, and cleaning, and shopping. Having my sister here in the beginning when everything was so new and raw was such a life line. She would listen when I would cry about how I didn't understand how hard it would be to breastfeed a child that didn't want to latch. And then she would gently give me advice and show me how - and be present for each feeding so that I didn't have to face failure after failure by myself. She stayed with me until Liam would latch and then talk to me to keep my mind off of how much it hurt. She would always have the teapot hot in the morning so that when I stumbled into the kitchen after Liam would want to eat every one or two hour feedings throughout the night, I didn't have to wait long to get a cup of creamy tea to sooth the weariness away. And she kept my cookie box constantly filled with sweet treats. Lemon bars, chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon rolls. 

My sister and niece left and then a week later my parents arrived. With my mom and dad - it's like the pressure of having to do everything by myself lifts. They have breakfast on the table before I even have a chance to think about what I will cook. They do the laundry before I can even notice a pile. They let Ross and I sleep while they take care of Liam because Liam was fussy all night and wouldn't stop crying. There is evidence of their service all throughout the house. The freezer is stocked with proteins that they bought and made for us so that we wouldn't have to drive the hour long trip into Kona for groceries. The cookie box is once again full before they left for the airport. Liam's diaper supply is stocked for months. And leftovers are piled in the fridge so that we wouldn't have to worry about dinners for the next few days. Not only did they serve - but they also taught. They taught me that I had been washing my towels wrong. They taught me about gardening. They taught me about cooking - even going so far as to bring their own ingredients from San Diego. So much. They have done so much. I feel as if I have rested and fed and am at my fullest potential to take on this new role as mother while still being the type of wife that I want and expect of myself. 

With the house being quiet except for the sleeping noises of my napping baby and a husband at rest, I type out my thoughts as I remember and am filled. Filled with peace. Filled with love. And filled with encouragement. My heart is so full. So very very full. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

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. ~ Inspired by SouleMama

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Crafting With Loved Ones

Have you seen the book handmade home by Amanda Soule? I found this treasure at my public library a few months ago and it has become one of my favorite reads! I was so inspired by the author's words of crafting with loved ones that I longed to be able to share this with my sister and niece when they arrived for their three week visit. Before they had even arrived, I was inspired to do some crafting at the house with them. 

When trying to decide on what craft to start on first - I knew I wanted to start small. I didn't want them to tackle large projects that would only discourage them. So I thought a small embroidery project would be perfect. In Amanda's book there is a project on how to sew bookmarks out of embroidered artwork and scraps.  I only know a few stitches, but I taught them how to back stitch. They had so much fun with it! My niece finished a piece that we made into a bookmark. She was able to take it home with her. My sister was working on several pieces to be incorporated into a table runner. Sadly, the table runner wasn't finished. She started off by using really small pieces of scraps. I watched her working at it. I didn't want to squash her creative process - but at the same time I wished that I had encouraged her to use bigger pieces of scraps. Nevertheless it was a good lesson for both of us. The completion of the project will have to wait for a later date. 

My sister was really wanting to make placemats. She was actually quite determined. So she dug around in my scrap bin and pulled out scraps to work with. Aren't her patchwork placemats adorable? I'm in love with them. She worked on them for several days... laboring over which pieces to use and how to combine colors. I love her end products! 

The only placemat that we were able to finish before she returned to San Diego was the one she designated for herself. Her favorite color is green so a lot of the green scraps found a home in this wonderful project! The little appliqu├ęd patch with her embroidered name was inspired due to the fact that there was a rip in one of the scraps that she hadn't noticed was there. So we mended the rip and added the patch. I love it and the story behind it. 

I am working on the binding for the rest of them. Hopefully I can send them home with mom and dad for my sister to enjoy in her home. There is nothing like a handmade touch to make your home even more special. I am so happy to be able to extend that feeling to my sister's home in San Diego. 

Crafting with loved ones has become something very special to me. Not only does it give you a quality product to share and remember them with - it gives you quality time spent with them. And to me, that is such a wonderful thing. I am so blessed to be a crafter.