May 28, 2012

Hello friends!  I know I've been really absent around here, but there has been lots of life happening at my house.  Things have been busy, and I know most of you can relate.  I've been babysitting extra (I watch a friend's son a few afternoons a week for extra cash), and Mr. Carlee has been doing lots of grading and working on research.  I know I haven't talked much about what he does, but he's a graduate student in Political Science, and he actually just received two master's degrees earlier this week (on the way to getting a PhD).  Go Mr. Carlee!

Kid 2 also decided that it was time to start using the potty, and I was happy to help him master it.  I made a previous (and very unsucessful) attempt last fall, but this time he was ready and it went well.  Is there anything cuter than a two year old in a pair of underwear?  

And now for true confession time.  I haven't really felt like I can quite catch up on life since my baby was born.  And that was over five months ago.  There are lots of things that I was hoping to have under control by now, but I'm not quite there.  For example, I've worked out exactly once since she was born.  I'm just too tired.  I know that exercise will actually give you energy, but since she rarely goes longer than 3 hours between feeding (and I'm the food source), I'm just not up to it.  My laundry is also still in piles (dishes too).

Oh, and this is an un-staged picture of my living space.  Can you spot the baby?  I know I've mentioned before that I live in a small apartment, and here you have the living room/playroom/dining room/entry way/office.  Just in case you feel like everyone online has a much fancier life than you do, I'm pretty sure I don't.  The bottom edge of the picture just barely doesn't include my small dining table, and the room extends just enough to the left to fit an armchair.  This was a little crazy, but not completely unheard of.  Actually it doesn't look that much different right now if I'm being honest.

But, in exciting life news, we are moving to a bigger apartment in a month!  We will be doubling our public living space, and the third bedroom in going to become a dedicated playroom.  I'm so excited about it!  I'll be sure and share the space and some of the projects we have planned for it after we move in July.   

I've actually been sewing a little too.  Mostly soother (pacifier straps), and quilt blocks.  Yes, you heard right, quilt blocks.  I recently finished a twin sized sampler quilt (top) and I'm excited to share it.  I just need to photograph it. 

And just in case you think I'm complaining about any or all of this (if you are still reading that is), let it be know that life is good.  It's full, and I can't quite manage to squeeze in everything I want to do,  and I sometimes feel a little steam-rolled at the end of the day, but it's so good too.

Greek Red Lentil Soup

May 11, 2012

Hello again friends!  I'm just popping in again to share a favourite recipe with everyone.  I love to eat soup, but sometimes I have a hard time selling it on the whole family.  My husband is a pretty good sport, but he doesn't love smooth soups, and sometimes the little people will only eat a few spoonfuls.  But not so with this super delicious Greek Red Lentil Soup.  Mr. Carlee loves it, and says that unlike other soups where he get's bored of eating it after one bowl, he can keep eating and eating this kind.  And the best news is that the ultra-picky two-year old will eat it.  And ask for seconds. 

I was introduced to this recipe by my younger sister Kim, when she made it for our family a few years ago during our Christmas vacation.  It's from a fabulous cookbook, Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook.  I know we are kind of leaving the cookbook era, but this is one cookbook that I love and use all the time.  If I'm ever looking for something tasty to eat, I flip through this one and choose something.  It's kind of hippy/girl food, with lots of vegetarian and vegan options.  Just my kind of food. 

Since this recipe is published in a cookbook that I love and want to support, I'm not going to type up the recipe here.  But, I found it typed up on a few different websites.  Here is a version that is easy to read. 

This soup is so good with a hot loaf of my easy to make whole wheat bread.  And although soup is nice to eat in the winter, I love it just as much on a rainy spring day (or any day for that matter).  Oh, and other good news, is that it's healthy and really inexpensive to make.   Red lentils are so cheap you can splurge on the fresh herbs (especially the rosemary) without feeling guilty.     

Books to Read: Middlemarch

May 10, 2012

Emily is a genius right?  She's so great at playing with her kids and coming up with fun activities for them.  I probably shouldn't admit this is a public forum, but I'm not always great at playing with my kids.  Sometimes I get so caught up in taking care of my children (and keeping our home running) that I don't take the time to sit down and play with them.  My four-year old especially craves and asks for this.  Recently he's been asking me why I spend so much time on the computer.  As a result of him calling me out like that, I've been trying hard to spend less time online and more time on the floor building lego spaceships (he's a four-year old boy remember).  This is part of the reason it might seem like I've dropped off the face of the earth, but I'm sure you understand.

I don't know about you, but when I was a little kid, I was a capital "R" Reader.  I didn't have many friends at school (again with the public confessions, but it was a really small school and I had some rough kids my age), and so I filled my afternoons reading.  I read less in junior high and high school (I finally made some good friends), but I was often found reading a book late into the night.  During college, I read so much for my classes that I got out of the habit of reading for myself.

For the last two years I've been part of a really amazing book group.  My group is made up mostly of ladies from my church family, but also a few others from the neighbourhood.  I feel pretty lucky to be part of this group for a number of reasons.  First, it motivates me to read a really great book every month.  For me the hardest part is deciding what book to read, so it's nice that I don't have to worry about this part.  We don't have a hard and fast rule about what we are reading, but it's mostly consisted of classic or newer award-winning books.  The other great thing about my group is that the other ladies are all really bright.  Several have doctorates, a few more master's degrees, and all are women that I admire.  Our discussions are always intellectually rewarding, and since some days I fill all my time building lego spaceships, potty training, and keeping house, I crave this opportunity for my brain to get some practice.   

One of the books we read recently was Middlemarch, by George Eliot.  This book wasn't on my radar before hand, but I'm so glad I read it.  It's not a fast read, my edition was 924 pages, but it's the kind of book that you savour as you go along.  The story is interesting, but it's not exactly a page-turning plot.  Her language is beautiful and so insightful.  George is a man's name of course, but was written by a women publishing under a man's name like many other's did when she was writing in 1871 and 1872. 

My very favourite quote from the book is the last paragraph:
But the effort of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.
Reading this has really made me reflect on why I do what I do.  I think most of you know, but I stay home with my three kids.  As a teenager and college student, I didn't always anticipate that I would make this choice.  I felt like I was bright and had much to offer the world, and I didn't want to waste it on something so ordinary as taking care of kids.  But after my first son was born, I knew that I wanted to stop getting a regular paycheque, and spend my time taking care of him and his future siblings.  What I love so much about the Middlemarch quote is that I think it really captures the positive value of smart people caring for others (and particularly their children).  I don't think you need to be a stay-at-home parent to do this, but I completely agree that some of the people that do the most good are those performing quiet "unhistoric" acts.    

Are you part of a book group?  If not, you should start one.  Need help knowing what to read?  Here are a few books we've read that I highly recommend:
  • Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
  • Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner
  • The Brother's Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky 
  • David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
Do you have any recommendations of books to add to our queue?

Decorating Laminated Pictures

May 3, 2012

Our family has been laughing and laughing at this super simple, super silly activity.

Original pictures by the lovely Laura.

Take a picture. 
Laminate it. 
Decorate with dry-erase or washable markers. 
Laugh and laugh. 

At first, I just printed and laminated pictures of my children, but Kid 1 liked this activity so much, that I added pictures of me and Mr. Emily to our collection.  I think that there's something about being allowed to draw all over a picture that is so fun.  I'm allowing the forbidden!

If you want to make your own laminated pictures to decorate, look for pictures that have simple backgrounds that are light in colour.  I hope that you have as fun much with this as we are having!

My Family Recipe Book

May 1, 2012

A few years ago, Mr. Emily decided to make a Family Recipe Book.  He spent hours going through cook books and my messy recipe file folder, typing up our family's favourite recipes.  I thought that this was a COMPLETE waste of time.  We already had them all written down!  I knew exactly which place to go to to get what I wanted.  I was quite annoyed at the fact that he was wasting time typing up recipes, and that he was forcing me to choose which ones I wanted to have included.

Well, fast-forward a few years - I love our Family Recipe Book!  Other than the Internet for new ideas, it is the only place I go to when searching for a recipe.  I might as well get rid of the rest of my cook books, for all that I use them.  I love having all of my recipes in one place, and another added bonus of having them all typed up, is that they are ready to email to friends, and are saved online, so can be accessed from anywhere.  Thank-you, Mr. Emily!  It actually wasn't a waste of time!

Every other year, the recipe book gets an overhaul.  Recipes that aren't used are deleted, and new favourites typed up and added in.  Between editions, I hand write my favourite new recipes in the margins and on back-sides of the pages.  I also love being able to write notes to myself about specific recipes: how to modify them, what I've tried, and warnings or tips. 

So, what about you?  How do you organize your favourite recipes?  Do you do it online?  Do you have a folder, a recipe book collection, or just one favourite book?  I'd love to hear what you do!

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