Thursday, January 26, 2012

project 52: A self-portrait

So, I'm taking Darcy's year-long photo challenge -- just one shot per week based on her themes. Better late than never, right? (I see a theme of my own forming.)

project 52 p52 weekly photo challenge

This week's theme was self-portrait. I didn't think too hard about this one. Or prep myself for it. I was also inspired by this post by photographer Erika Ray, who wrote,

"People remind us all the time that our kids grow up so quickly. Guess what? So do their parents. Stop. Take a picture of yourself. Do it now. Don't clean up. Use whatever camera you have. Don't worry about smiling or looking put together. Do it with your kids/pets/ or solo. Just photograph you."

(Erika was inspired by Tiffany's challenge at freeplaylife, whose link to Erika I found on Facebook. Then I stumbled on Darcy's challenge, and realized the theme was the same!)

Point is, I finally broke my camera out on Wednesday after letting it sit dormant for too many recent days. I shot dinner as I made it, I shot my 5-year-old practicing viola, and I shot myself with no makeup while giving myself a backache painting an upper cabinet.

(I didn't get a great shot of the baby bump, but it's there if you look closely.)

Here you go:


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The imperfectionist's guide to beef bourgignon

Sometimes, it's just worth winging it.

First, make sure your stew meat is thawed. Or, at least, mostly thawed. Pull your bacon, carrots and onions out of the fridge. Realize you can't find your mom's copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Hope you'll remember the recipe well enough.

Heat up your pot and slice your bacon. While the bacon is sizzling, send a kid next door to borrow a roll of paper towels, because you're out of those, too. Blot the moisture off your mostly-thawed beef.

Realize you're out of beef stock, and you let hubby take the car today. Figure you'll make do, even though it's kind of a critical ingredient.

Spoon the crispy bacon into a bowl. Brown the meat in the bacon grease in small batches, so as not to overcrowd and "boil" the beef. (Be grateful you remember this line from "Julie & Julia.")

Turn over the small pieces first so they don't get overcooked. (You've got this down!) Try not to burn yourself over the popping grease.

Chop a few carrots and slice a couple onions while the beef is browning.

Remove the browned beef into the bowl with the bacon as each batch is done. Then toss the carrot and onion slices into the pot with a little bit of oil, and stir. Salt and pepper. Realize you don't have thyme. Worry about that later.

Heat up the oven to 425 while the veggies soften. Sprinkle a couple tablespoons of flour, some salt and pepper over the beef, and mix gently.

Dump the meat into the pot over the veggies, and look around for dish towels that aren't wet, since you still have no idea where you packed your potholders.

Move the uncovered pot into the hot oven to brown -- know you have exactly 10 minutes to find an alternative to beef stock and a bottle opener for the wine.

Run like mad next door to your parents' house where half your kitchen supplies are stored, find bottle opener but no beef broth. Run across the street (in your pajamas and apron), and ask your neighbor if she's got any stock or bouillon cubes. Rejoice when she hands you beef bouillon powder (it'll do!) and run home like mad before the beef is overcooked.

Pull the pot out of the oven. Turn the heat down to 300 degrees.

Pour a tall glass (because your only measuring cup is in the dishwasher) full of water, spoon in a random amount of bouillon powder (because the jar doesn't have directions), mix and dump into the pot.

Remember you haven't added any herbs. Dump the last part of a bottle of Herbs de Provence into the pot. Open the bottle of cab you borrowed stole from your parents' house along with the opener, and cover the meat with it.

Stir, and bring to a simmer. Cover, and put in the oven.

Whew. Dinner will be ready at 5:30. (Now you have three hours to paint the kitchen cabinets.)

Note: All's well that ends well. Or, dinner made a bit frantically can still be quite delicious!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

And now, the news I've been waiting to share...

I've been keeping a little secret from you, dear reader, perhaps for too long.

It distracted me a bit from blogging through the month of December, so I really owe you the explanation. It will only get more and more difficult to hide, even in this blogging world where secrets can more easily be kept. (If you know me in person, or on Facebook, or if we've emailed recently, then you already know.)

Remember this post from October? You were all so empathetic, so sweet -- and so many of you could, it grieved me to learn, relate from your own experience.

And so, as we cried together then, I know you will rejoice with me when I tell you that... we are expecting again!

We waited a bit longer than we ever have before sharing our good news. Losing one does seem to make it more difficult the next time. I'm currently 14 weeks along, due at the end of July.

The nausea has (mostly) subsided, and I am anticipating baby's first kicks very soon. I've heard the little heartbeat twice, and we are praying that everything continues normally and covered by God's grace!

We know we are already so very, very blessed. And we covet your prayers, nonetheless.

Back in the kitchen!

The last few weeks have seen much accomplished in the new kitchen. Scott spent what seemed like every waking minute of his Christmas "break" working in there. Trimming the new walls with woodwork, installing the butcher block countertops, sanding, oiling, sanding, oiling, sanding... with a little help from his boys.

Last weekend a back-ordered part for the range hood arrived, and our dear friend Richie (who also gave us the cabinets) came over to help Scott install it. This week he installed the sink, and then the plumber came to hook up the sink, dishwasher and oven range!  Woohoo!!  We have an officially functional kitchen!!

Despite most of my cooking tools being still hidden away in boxes, I managed to gather what I needed to make a first simple dinner at home... minestrone soup.

This afternoon the boys hulled pecans from my parents' tree, and I tried a new recipe -- Pecan Pie Muffins.  Oh. My. Goodness.

Middlest wanted to make more before the first batch was eaten... which didn't take long, believe me!

It feels SO good to be back in our kitchen again. We still have plenty left to do, and no time this weekend to do any of it. But I know we'll get there.

I feel so blessed just to have a sink!

What simple things are you appreciating this week?

Friday, January 20, 2012

this moment {I have a kitchen sink!!}

{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.

To join in, visit Soulemama.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Resolutions, simplified.

My resolutions for 2012:

To use and do what I've learned and know.

To make the most of what I've been given.

To live every day with a grateful heart.

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