Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Nearly Wordless Wednesday and New Years Eve Musings

It is New Years Eve. It feels weird. I am at turns melancholy and excited. 2014 was largely in the shadow of the tragic events of the end of 2013. Grief doesn't end with the funeral, I learned I can not allot a certain time and place to grieve and be done with it I had to let the feelings come and go as they willed, and still do. Yet there was plenty of joy in 2014, I got to watch the Bumper grow, make friends and learn new skills ( I am most proud of her reading the letters in her name, she is most proud of walking the balance beam at her school, climbing trees and jumping from swings).

I am looking forward to making my New Years Goals, and challeging myself in the coming year. I make goals rather than resolutions. In my mind resolutions are easily made, easily broken, and easily forgotten. Goals on the other hand give me something to strive for and work toward accomplishing. If I did not accomplish some of them I can revise and try again next year! When I do accomplish one I cross it off the list and make another to put in its place.  I have cherished the still quiet moments of this past year, and small things have given me happiness and joy. My faith was tested, stretched, and I hope grew. May this continue in the New Year.

Let' s Ring in the New!


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hooky Happiness and Knitty Goodness

Well the Christmas crochet frenzy is behind me. I made a hat and scarf for Nana, a scarf for my sister and hat for the Bumper. I gifted Nana with yarn in the colors of the hat and scarf she wants me to make next, because there just was not enough time in the days before Christmas to get it all done. So now I am looking forward to new projects. I am so excited because there are several things I want to to try and make this year.
Hat and Scarf to Go
Think of all the wee little hats!

First up will be Nana's gift. Hopefully it will be done in time for the annual February cold snap. Next will be the baby hats I am working on for a hospital in need of hats for newborns -- a stash buster and I get to give something back -- win win! Here is the address if anyone else is interested:
Attn: Rachel F
 5007 Opal Drive
Cheyenne, WY
82009 USA

Cozy Blanket here I come!

The Bumper is still asking for mittens and I am looking for an easy knit pattern. Then I will create something just for me and I am so excited. I did not get my act together in time to do the Crochet Along with Lucy at Attic 24  
 but I still want to work up the blanket and am looking forward to it. 
And the sock is still here

Last but not least is the sock that never ends. I have not forgotten about the sock, but I can crochet faster than I can knit. I am still a beginner when it comes to knitting, however; I have a goal I am working towards and it is something I have wanted to knit ever since I was ten years old. Can anybody guess what it might be? It is not socks, but they are a good and challenging starting place.

p.s. It is not a hat, I have a gauge story about hats that put me off knitting for a good many years.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Meatless Monday and Christmas Catch Up

Candles to welcome the Light of the World

The Christmas holiday is still going strong over here. In my family we celebrate the twelve days of Christmas. We will take down our decorations after the feast of the Epiphany, in the meantime we are still singing carols and rejoicing in the birth of the Savior even as the rest of the world has moved on.
The Bumper has thoroughly enjoyed herself. She was much more aware of what was going on than in past years. Nana and I definitely caught her excitement and I was willing to stay up late and fill her stocking. The look on her face Christmas morning was well worth the extra effort. The best part for me was when she snuggled down in her bed that night and said: "Mom I love our family. I am glad God gave me our family." We then had a still quiet moment as the Bumper asked God to take care of her Daddy, who she wished could be with us but understands that he is with God.
Happy Birthday Baby Jesus

On the other hand my sister and her husband were not able to join us for Christmas this year because they were laid up with the flu and were bedridden the entire week. Well they say misery loves company, and I caught a sympathy cold that had me out for the count Christmas night and all the day after. The Bumper now has what I had and is being very quiet today.  I am on the mend but am dragging a little bit.

Now here is the thing, I like m y cuppa in the morning (whether green tea or coffee or lemon water depends on my mood), and I especially like pumpkin spice latte. Yeah I know I am late on the pumpkin bandwagon, but as far as I am concerned pumpkin can be eaten all winter long. What I don't like are coffee house prices and fussy recipes. Don't get me wrong, I have found some wonderful vegan recipes, but frankly I don't have that kind of time.  So I give you Busy Mom's Pumpkin spice latte:

 8-16oz Hot brewed coffee
2-3Tbs non-dairy creamer of choice
1tsp pumpkin pie spice

Add the creamer and sprinkle spice on top and voila:  Pumpkin Spice latte (vegan).  The way I figure I all really wanted is the spice taste, if I am trying to add nutrition to my coffee I need to rethink my breakfast choices!

Happy Drinking,

Finished the Bumper's hat with not a moment to spare!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas.
Glad tidings of great joy.
Today is born our Savior Jesus Christ the Lord/


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Randomly on Thursday

1. Feeling a little aggravated and stressed today. I wanted to be all in the Christmas spirit and start cleaning and decorating but it has not worked out that way. Nana decided to be a lady who lunches with her friends, which of course she has every right to, and the Bumper decided to overturn the living room chaise lounge to use as a tumbling platform and then dump all of her toys out onto the floor so she could find her favorite stuffed kangaroo, perfectly understandable, but she refused to pick up afterwards.

2. Started the Bumper's hat yesterday. It is a pretty easy and fun crochet pattern, but the author stated it could be worked up in an hour. The author probably does not have a small child who thinks it is the height of hilarity to unravel balls of yarn. The result being I have to work on such things after the Bumper is asleep.

3. We have company coming tomorrow. A friend I have not seen in fourteen years, it will be fun catching up. She has three kids and the third is not yet sleeping through the night , while I only have the Bumper I still feel her pain.

4. This Saturday the Bumper starts dance practice for the Fiesta. I think I am more excited than she is. I can't help myself the little kids always look so cute in their costumes.

5. I love Christmas carols.

6. I wanted to post yesterday, but I was still too upset about the news of  yet another Taliban school shooting. This time 148 people lost their lives. Most of them were children, just trying to get the kind of basic education we here in the States take for granted. I feel angry and helpless. All I can do is pray. I pray for the victims, their families, and the shooters and their families. Only God can change the hearts of such wicked misguided people. It is especially hard as we heard toward the celebration of the Birth of He who came to reconcile God and Man.

7. I am currently trying to decide if it will be worth it to make butter tarts and if it is possible it make a vegetarian version of French Canadian Meat Pie?

8. Famous last words: Next year I will be more organized.

9. The Bumper has been busy conducting water experiments in the bathroom. It is the least destructive thing she has chosen to do today.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Drummer Girls, Cookies and Decking the Halls

Cookies by Bumper
There are only nine days left until Christmas and except for the Bumper's Advent Calendar from school and the few other decorations she has made, the house is alarmingly barren.  I am not really worried though, because our family has a habit of waiting for the very last minute to put up the nativity, the stockings and the tree. Last year we were a bit more organized and the Bumper was able to move the baby Jesus and the wise men closer and closer to Mary and Joseph each Sunday in Advent, this year she will probably be putting Him in on Christmas Eve. Last year I did everything in a haze of grief and forced cheer. This year, while I am not as "merry" as I normally get during the holidays, I am a lot more calm and having a lot more fun with the Bumper. We made sugar cookies together for the first time this past week, she used the cookie cutters all by herself and she decorated them too! I have been reading the nativity story from her Children's Bible and she is full of questions. Yesterday we sat and drew candy canes together and she has been asking to start decorating the house.

Happy Birthday Bumper!
We have just been so busy. On the 6th we celebrated the Bumper's fourth birthday. There were fifteen kids at the party plus two sets of grand parents, and her aunt and uncle  and cousins from Baltimore. The Bumper thoroughly enjoyed herself. She especially liked the pinata in the shape of a cupcake. Last week the Bumper had her school play and we had a Christmas party to go to. I discovered my Bumper is quite the party girl. She enjoyed playing with the other children at the Christmas party it was hard to convince her to leave! We also went through the Bumper's toys and she picked out the ones she wanted to give away, along with the shoes and pajamas she has outgrown.

We will probably put up the tree in the next day or so, or maybe not, but one thing is for sure-- we will be enjoying our friends and family to the fullest this season.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Meatless Monday -- It's All About Soup

Winter is upon us here in the Northern Hemisphere. Where I am on the Mid-Atlantic coast of the United States that means the weather has decided to go from too cold to play outdoors to just warm enough for chilly rain and no snow. Miserable weather. Huddle indoors, staring glumly at the pellet stove because it is not quite cold enough to justify turning it on during the day, glaring out the back window because it is raining weather. Soup making weather. I know most people don't associate soup with Christmas, and quite frankly neither do I, but sometimes a warm you from the inside out soup is what is needed to chase away the winter blahs and get me motivated.

 A squash soup from Weight Watchers did the trick. It was warm, it was soothing, had just the right amount of sweetness spice to be satisfying after one too many Christmas treats. the only problem with this soup was the fussiness involved in making it.  There were a lot of steps and when there is a little one under foot, I much prefer a soup you just throw together and let simmer. Final verdict -- really good and will make it again but will be reserved for special occasions. I served the soup with slow cooked greens (a mix of Collards, Kale, and Turnip, seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper, and left to simmer in vegetable broth).

Happy Eating,

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Randomly on a Thursday

1. Bought pinata. Not enough time to make it and treat bags too. What does one put in treat bags for four year olds?

2. Spent the better part of yesterday shopping for the Bumper's birthday party.  She is worth braving department stores during the holiday season. I ran into three people I knew so the trip took longer than expected. Living in a small town this sort of thing is expected, but I don't know that many people.

3. The requests for Christmas are in; The Bumper wants a purple crochet hat with a pink flower (She was very specific), Nana wants a crochet blue hat with a black band and a scarf to match (She was also very specific). My sister and her husband are getting a new stove from us so they are set.

4. I ran out of yarn for my sister's scarf, when I went back to the store to buy more they were out of that brand and dye lot. I thought I bought enough, but I miscalculated when I doubled the length. Her scarf will just have to be ten rows instead of thirteen.

5. Instead of a live Advent wreath I used construction paper to make one and put it on the wall to help us count down to Christmas. The Bumper loves it.

6. Need to make banana bread for the Bumper's class tomorrow. Last year they really liked it. This year new kids, new tastes-- we'll see.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It is Raining and I am Party Planning

 The picture is from September 2013, but the view today is exactly the same: cold and wet!
The Christmas rush is upon us and I am feeling stressed. Today is also the 1yr anniversary of my husband's funeral. It is raining just as it did on this day last year. I am trying not to dwell on it, but it is very hard. The Bumper's birthday is Saturday and we have a party to prepare for. Part of the stress I am feeling is unwittingly caused by the Bumper. She is old enough to tell me what she wants this year and in a word: Everything. Pretty much every toy she sees in the toy store she wants. This is a completely new experience for me. She has never asked, pointed out, or dragged me to what she wants before. Before now, I have been able to get by with telling her toys are only for birthday and Christmas. Well now her birthday and Christmas are finally here and she has a year's worth of pent up wants!

I have never planned a kids party before. I feel way out of my depth. I am not crafty and I am not very organized. We received an invitation to another little boy's party on the same day a month ago. His parents are hosting a party complete with a magician! That makes me want to stick my head under the covers. I wanted a small at home party with family, but circumstances being what they are that is not possible. So we are having an event rather than the small party I had hoped for. I wonder how I am going to convey my values of simplicity , warmth,  and family, when I don't seem to be able to live them? I certainly don't want to get caught up in trying to out do another parent!

Even though the venue is not what I wanted, I know the Bumper will have fun with her friends. Her Godmother is making the cake and her favorite babysitter has agreed to come even though he is sixteen. He has volunteered, or rather his mother volunteered him, to perform some card tricks for the kids. I over heard him telling the Bumper what he plans to wear ( a top hat and his band uniform), so I think he is secretly pleased to be doing this even though he pretends there are better things for him to do.

The Bumper and I are going to try an make a pinata for her birthday party-- I think I am going to need some extra prayers for patience!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

My heart is aching today. It has been a year since the Bumper's dad died. This past year has both flown by and passed agonizingly slowly. Last year on this date I was in shock. I was numb that day and for many days thereafter. I was fortunate that I took the chance to make amends and make peace. There are many others who never get to do so.

I still have nightmares, and sleepless nights. There are still times when I close my eyes and I see him as he lay in his hosptial bed. Sometimes I am tormented by the what ifs and if onlys. Every so often a song, a smell, or a place will bring back memories that shake me to the core and nearly bring me to my knees. I am told this will get better with time, but right now I still hurt.

What makes this even harder is the Bumper. I tried as much as I could to shield her from all that happened last November, but she remembers more than I gave her credit for. She asks about him now, she doesn't understand why she can not go visit him with God nor why Goad does not send her daddy back to her. I have no answers to those questions, save only to say I don't know, but God does and we must trust Him even when we do not understand or are angry and in pain. We (the Bumper and I) lit candles for him at church on his birthday, our wedding anniversary, Father's day, and All Souls day. She likes to tell her classmates her daddy is in the clouds with God. I do not dissuade her.

Everyday it gets a little easier. I have our daughter to raise, to enjoy and to spend time with. I am unable to answer all of her questions just yet, but she seems content with my honest responses. As she gets older we will continue to have this conversation, and her questions will get harder, and she will not always like my answers, but we have each other and in the meantime we will keep living the life God has given us the best we can-- as a family.

Today I am sad and that is okay. I will not always be this sad and the holidays won't always be this painful. The Bumper and I have much to look forward to. There are many firsts to explore and many new discoveries to be made, but the past and the future will both have to wait, because I right now I have a sick Bumper to tend to for that too is part of life and the joy I have at seeing her well eclipses all else.


The fuzzy pilgrims have landed
I went to the Bumper's Thanksgiving play yesterday. This is only my second year of having a child old enough to participate, so I am still very excited to see her perform in things. The three and four year olds put it on, the four years olds  dressed as the Pilgrims, and the three year olds dressed as Native Americans. They sang songs around the fire together, thanked God together, and sat down to their Thanksgiving feast together. The whole thing was so cute I could hardly sit still, this mother's heart melted when the Bumper shouted out "Hi Mom!" Setting of a chorus that took the teachers a good five minutes to settle down.
Wonky but nice
My heart also melted when I realized I was witnessing the true spirit of Thanksgiving. These little ones did not care that the costumes they wore were stereotypical and historically inaccurate,they did not care that the feast they reenacted probably never took place, nor did they did not care that they were eating cold cuts, corn muffins, and crackers instead of perfectly browned turkey, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings. The kids were happy and excited to be with their friends and family, they were hungry so the snack was good and they were grateful to have something to eat.
A moment I will treasure forever was when the Bumper looked over at her paternal grandmother and upon seeing she had nothing to eat offered her a grape.
This for me is the heart of the holiday: to give thanks to God for what we have, take joy in our friends and family, be mindful of those among us who are in need and to be willing to share.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday

After a day spent playing outside with the Bumper it is nice to curl up with some soft warm crochet.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Meatless Monday - Comfort food

Tasted better than it looks
When the weather looks dreary and feels worse I want good old fashioned comfort food. The kind that sticks to my ribs and makes me feel warm from the inside out. I think today's meal did just that.

I made the Glazed Lentil Walnut Apple Loaf Revisited from Oh She Glows, paired with steamed broccoli and jacket potatoes.  All I can say is I will definately be making this again, even if it did take me all day to make. I am sure it doesn't really take all day, but I was also trying my hand at apple butter and that had to be montiored constantly.

I followed the recipe as written except I used pecan instead of walnuts because Nana is allergic to walnuts and I used a cup of oat flour because I was unable to find the bread crumbs. It was a big hit! The Bumper nibbled at it before it was baked and had a whole slice afterwards. Nana asked me to make it a regular part of the menu!

The apple butter turned out yummy as well. I don't have any pictures because apple butter isn't really very photogenic. Lovely to eat-- not so much to look at. I think the taste was well worth the effort, but next time if I only have six apples I'll stop at homemade chunky apple sauce-- equally tasty and not as much of a hassle to make. On the plus side the house smelled wonderfully of cinnamon all day long and cheered us all up. Sometimes just the act of cooking a good simple meal is comfort enough.
Nana's hat and scarf


Friday, November 14, 2014

I've Not Gone Away

I've not gone away or decided to stop blogging, or anything like that. I have been busying writing on my novel, crocheting-- did finish Nan's scarf but no decent photos yet--, still struggling with the sock of doom as I have now decided to call it, and doing various other things to keep my mind off of the time of year.

I am alternately really productive or I am sad and listless, becoming overwhelmed with memories both good and bad from this time last year.

I am attempting to organize myself -- an ongoing process-- and I hope to resume menu planning next week. The Bumper, Nana, and I all eat better when I plan,it has just taken me awhile to realize that. I guess I feel like a bad mom because I can't just stand in front of the pantry come suppertime and work out something nutritious, vegan( but convertible to omnivore for the Bumper and Nana), and yummy for all on the spur of the moment. I know that is silly, but it is how I feel nonetheless.

The first frost is scheduled for tonight so Nan's garden is officially done for the year. In the meantime the Bumper and I have been taking advantage of the warm weather to go to the park everyday.

I am going to attempt to make apple butter this weekend. Wish me luck!

Have a good weekend


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Randomly on Thursday

1. This past week the trees around here have started to really show their colors, even on grey days the golden yellows and fiery reds cheer me up.

2. I think I am aiding and abetting the secret fruit fly plot for world domination. The little beggars are everywhere!

3. The orders have been placed and for the first time ever I will be hand knitting / crocheting gifts for my family this Christmas. Of course if all else fails gift certificates also work.

4. We are headed out of town for Thanksgiving, and I am glad. I am having a hard enough time keeping myself together without the added stress of cooking for a large number of people. This time of year is bringing back some especially painful memories for me and most days I have a hard time not crying or screaming.

5. The Bumper has decided she wants to build rocket ships, fortunately for me she is content with crayons and large boxes.

6.  I am still working on the sock, but Nana's scarf is done and I will post pictures tomorrow.

7. Both baby hats were well received by the Moms and I am glad. I like making things and it is a double bonus when those things are useful and give pleasure to someone else.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Moment of Silence Please

Nearly two weeks ago the shootings in Ottawa, ON and Seattle WA took place and dominated the headlines, but because November mid-term elections were coming up, the tragic got turned into the political and then forgotten.  Since All Saints day and All Souls day was this weekend I want to draw attention to the lives lost and the families shattered. Every life is important and everyone was someone's child once. Bethany over at The Apple Cider Mill said it better than I, so I am going to redirect you to her wonderful post:


Monday, November 3, 2014

Meatless Monday- Serendipity Version

Sometimes I cook by the book and other times I just  throw things together and hope they turn out.
The first time I use a recipe I follow the directions to the letter, after that (if it is a repeat recipe) I play with it to my hearts content. When I throw things together I just hope for the best. This past weekend I was delighted on both accounts.

My just wing it dish was baked Barbecue Tofu. I just thought to myself: I wonder what would happen if I put barbecue sauce on tofu and baked it in the oven? I did and it was good.  So good in fact that the only pictures I have are fresh out of the oven because I couldn't stop nibbling long enough to stage a photo. As an aside the Bumper likes tofu, but only if it is uncooked, while prepping this recipe she kept taking little pieces from the block and eating them, but once it was baked she would have  nothing to do with it.

Here is what I did:

One container of extra firm tofu
Pat dry and cut lengthwise in triangles
Coat shallow baking tray with olive oil. (I used a spray)
Brush tofu triangles with about 1/4 cup of Barbecue sauce of choice.
Bake at 350F for 30min
 Let cool and enjoy!

My follow- the- recipe- then- mess- with it dish was this vegan coffee cake from Vegan Mother Hubbard :

 I made these changes:
Dry Ingredients:
I used 1/2 cup of brown sugar
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Wet Ingredients:
I added 2tsp vanilla

I used 1 cup of rolled oats instead of flour
and I only used 1/2 cup of white sugar.

The Bumper liked this version so much she ate four pieces in an afternoon!

Happy Eating,


Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Focus - Books

This is what is on my reading list this week:

1. Vegan Express by Nava Atlas. A sort of you-can-make-it-in thirty-minutes-or-less for the veggie crowd.
2. Better Homes and Gardens October 2014- lots of neat decorating ideas for Autumn
3. National Geographic November 2014- armchair traveling at its best.
4.  I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai - Her story is a good read for those of us who take the right for an education for granted.
5. The Bible- a special focus on Matthew 5:1-12

What are you reading this week?
Have a great weekend
I will be trying to finish Nana's scarf this weekend.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

It's Begining To Look A Lot Like Autumn

It starting creeping in little by little: a few apples here, a pumpkin or two there, and finally this week a scavenger hunt at the Bumper's school yielded a bag full of pine-cones, acorns, and brightly colored leaves. The days have been cool and damp and the nights appropriately chilly. Now is the time when I start making soups, stews, and fresh bread. I love this time of year since I am a comfort food cook.

A couple of days ago the Bumper and I took a trip to our local farmers market. The Bumper took an unexpected nap that day,so we made it there just as the doors were closing. I took the chance to pick up some wonderfully homemade pecan bars, but now I want to figure out  how to veganize them without losing any of the flavors.
The progress on projects is slow but steady. I actually got to the chance to write on the novel during the Bumper's nap, I was so happy I didn't quite know what to do. Nana is eagerly waiting for her scarf to be finished. In the next day or so it should be done. The sock? Well, that is a different story; I switched to smaller DPN's which makes for faster knitting, but is a little harder on the eyes. I am still enjoying the knitting, but I mist admit to being impatient with getting it done. I want my socks finished now! I have consoled myself with the promise of working up Attic 24's granny stripe ( blanket this winter as a reward while I work on the novel.  Maybe a stripe for every chapter I finish?
I think I am a glutton for punishment.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Busy week. I'll be back soon. The pumpkin patch trip was a no go today because of the rain. So I do not have the cute pictures I wanted, but I decided to share these:

Friday, October 17, 2014

Randomly on a Friday

1. I tried to give up caffeine, I really did, and for a while I was a lemon water and cayenne pepper devotee. Then the Bumper got sick, and I got sick and Nana got sick, and there were one too many all nighters, and well all I can say is if you tried to take my coffee from me this week  you probably came back with a nub instead of a hand.

2. The weather has been deliciously warm and breezy, perfect for planting the bulbs for next Spring.

3. The scarf for Nana is coming along nicely and I finished a second baby hat.

4. This bouquet of Autumn blooms is gracing my kitchen table thanks to the Bumper who wanted to make it pretty.

5. Yesterday I spent the day introducing the Bumper to the wonder that is watercolor (washable) painting.

Have a good weeeknd,