Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sweet Heat

Apples weren't the only thing that caught my eye at the orchard on Monday. On the counter, conveniently located by the store register, and sealed in these snack-sized bags for $1, were a basketful of red hots. Loads of red hots. Seeing them made me a little nostalgic. My mother used to have a mason jar full of them on our kitchen counter. Every once in a while she would make baked apples with a handful of red hots tossed into the mix. They turned the apple flesh a vibrant red and made them smell and taste of spice. My friend, Elizabeth, adds them to her homemade applesauce, and let me tell you - one bite makes you feel like you should go out and stew a pot for yourself to keep on hand for whatever ails you: chicken noodle soup's fruity cousin.

You know where this is going. One of those little bags found its way home with me. Other projects have kept me from kicking off an apple/red hot-fest in my kitchen. But, my fingers keep finding their way to that zip-lock bag. I sneak the candy a piece or two at a time, enjoying the hot zing on my tongue before the top coat melts and I'm left with a small smooth drop. Each time I open the bag, it's as if I'm ushering in the best of fall: the joys of color, heat, and spice. Now if I could just get around to cooking the apples to go with them. Hmm...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Handing It Down, Loving Her Up

Because sometimes, even though she has her own, the only apron she wants to wear is yours.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hello Fall

This morning we drove on a quiet curving road through still-green trees. But the small corduroy jacket in the seat beside me to keep out the chill of 30 mile per hour winds told a different story. We arrived at Anderson Orchard to find it alive with school children, eager to tumble out of their bus and stretch their legs and minds amidst the trees. Audrey, and two of her friends, were equally eager to stretch, run under the trees, and play among the fruit. Audrey turned out to be quite the proficient apple picker, quickly filling our small bag. (Although, her picking style looks a little more like, ahem, wrestling with the tree than gently plucking the fruit from it).

In fact, she seemed to like apple harvesting so much, I decided to opt for buying a smaller bag than I had planned, thinking a second trip to the orchard might be just what we need. You just gotta love seconds.

Friday, September 25, 2009

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 38

We have reached the age of exuberance. I cannot keep up. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. You name it. I never know what's coming next. Will it be a new exclamation of discovery? Running off to try to scale something she shouldn't, with me (attempting) to be hot on her trail? Or a sweet gesture at the perfect moment to take me by surprise?

Here are just a few of the moments that have kept me clamoring to keep up this week:

We spent part of our Monday afternoon in a superstore shopping for items for our at-home emergency/first aid kits as well as grabbing some other items. As we entered the store, Audrey began yelling, "Go Colts!" (Yes, she's been schooled on how to cheer for Monday night football). I reminded her that we don't yell inside, only outside. Since I was shopping for things that I don't usually buy, or know where to find, it was a long trip. Over an hour. Maybe two. I had already forgotten about our "no yelling inside" conversation. Audrey had not. We had barely cleared the front door when she began cheering, "Go Colts! Go Colts!"

We spent our Tuesday afternoon at the Children's Museum. Audrey asked me to sit next to her in a train and drive. "Where are we going?" I asked.

"To the doctor," she said.
"What are we going to do at the doctor's office?" I asked.
"Brush our teeth."

Thursday night we met my family for dinner. It was drizzling as we got out of the car. Audrey was wearing her raincoat. Jason, who did not have on a coat, pulled her hood over her head to keep her dry. Realizing he was without a hood, Audrey said, "I'll share." She leaned into him and held the front of her hood over his forehead, completely concealing herself inside and covering part of his face. They walked this way, through the parking lot, onto the sidewalk, and into the restaurant.

And finally, Jason's favorite story of the week, another little quip from our Tuesday adventure:

Driving home from the Children's Museum, I hear Audrey fart in her car seat. "Mommy, I burped in my bum!"

Seriously, how can I begin to assume what's going to happen (or be said) next? All I can do is attempt to rest up and prepare myself to be amazed again next week. Wishing each of you a restful weekend.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Twist on a Rainy Day

Several months ago I ran across this recipe for pretzels based off the Auntie Anne's pretzel recipe, adapted for a bread machine. Before you could say "salt or brown sugar and cinnamon," I had printed off the recipe and stashed it in my "must make" pile. Where it sat. For months. Then we checked out a book by Eric Carle titled Walter the Baker that happened to be a fictitious tale about the invention of the pretzel. I thought about the pretzel recipe waiting to be attempted. But still, it sat. Then, I saw a friend's Facebook post about making pretzels. Again, I thought about the recipe. Again, it sat.

Today was a rainy day. Bingo. We pulled out the bread machine, the recipe, and Walter the Baker. While we waited for the bread to set so we could shape it, we read the story. Then we got down to the business of being Walter. I got a bit flour-covered. Audrey got a bit, ahem, drenched in the pretzel bath of water and baking soda. I failed miserably at pretzel-shaping. Audrey decided that pretzel shaping was overrated and focused her efforts on pounding the dough, shaking the sticky globs from her fingers onto the flour, and splashing what remained on the counter around the pretzel bath. I slid the "pretzels" into the oven, not really sure what would come out. They weren't pretty, but if that bothers you, close your eyes. It's worth it. That Walter, and the people at Auntie Anne's, were on to something. A perfect answer to a rainy day. No bread machine? No problem. This recipe, the one my friend made, uses an electric mixer. I hear they're yummy.

**In case you're wondering just where pretzels really came from (you know, besides Walter and an unfortunate incident involving his cat) they were first eaten during Lent. The shape of the pretzel was meant to symbolize a position of prayer (at that time, when in prayer, the arms were folded across the chest with a hand placed on each shoulder). "Pretzel" is derived from the Latin word bracchium, which means "arm".

~This little tidbit came from the back page of Carle's book. I seem to learn something each time I read one of his books to Audrey. I just love that about him.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Taking the Plunge

We have a bit of a project on the horizon, as we begin the necessary steps to finish some of the basement this weekend (and in the following weeks), with the help of professionals. I'll wing it a bit with a sewing machine or paint, but I know when to call a plumber. So I'm signing off quickly tonight and heading down the stairs to clear away some old boxes in order to give a couple rooms new purpose. Here we go - ready to take the plunge.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Halloween Dress

So this is a bit premature. I wasn't going to post about this until Halloween, but this little costume has been such a part of our days lately, that I've begun to feel a little remiss in not mentioning it. Sorry for the early holiday intrusion.

She calls it her Halloween Dress. It's the costume I've been working on five minutes at a time, here and there. Each time she has caught me with the orange felt she has asked, "Are you working on my costume?" After I answered yes, she would smile and say, "Thanks for making me a costume, mommy." Can we just freeze that moment? Seriously.

I finished it over the weekend, and it's been a part of her wardrobe ever since: she stayed in her "dress" while she cooked for the stuffed animals in the playroom yesterday afternoon and then grabbed the "hat" for a visit out to the garden last night. Of course, she will probably grow completely bored of it by Halloween night. But, who can refuse a toddler's request to wear her Halloween Dress?

And, for those of you still trying to figure it out - it's a carrot. Yes, I know, what little girl doesn't dream of cruising the neighborhood on Halloween as a carrot while her friends are dressed in tutus as fairies and princesses? But I had a small mound of left-over orange felt given to me by my mother, who used it for a pumpkin costume for my little sister some twenty-odd years ago. Naturally, I did the thing any frugalista mama with free orange felt does. I turned my daughter into a carrot. While I still can. And, while she'll still thank me for it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Walk With Heart

This weekend we laced up our tennis shoes to participate in the 2009 Indianapolis Start! Heart Walk as a family. The event supports the American Heart Association, with a goal of saving lives that would be cut short by heart disease or stroke. (This is Audrey post-walk, performing a celebratory walk-completion dance - I wish the picture showed her wiggling - armed with her Heart Walk bag and half-eaten banana).

The Heart Walk is a low-key charity event that the three of us can do together. And, it gets us downtown.

So after a little morning exercise/fund-raising, we lazed around the canal,

taking in the sites,

each in our own way.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 37

As we tiptoe toward three (okay, I'm tiptoeing, Audrey's sprinting in cleats) I have a feeling that this coming year will be one of embracing and seeking out her own roles in this family/world and staking her claim to her own perfectly-Audrey identity. What gives me this inkling? Let's just say she's become very adept at telling us what she wants and expressing her version of a situation as she sees it. Here are a few of her observations and declarations from this week:

On Sunday she screamed, "You're a good man, Daddy!" after he asked if she would like to go to the park.

My parents came by on Monday to help me with a project. While I painted a bedroom with my father, my mom took Audrey on a walk. When they returned, Audrey found the bedroom door had been shut and locked (I was standing behind it on a ladder, paintbrush in hand). Realizing that she couldn't open the door, she began knocking and yelled, "It's me!" We tried to explain that she couldn't come in because of the ladder, but she just keep insisting, "It's me! It's me!"

The two of us were making pizza dough on Wednesday afternoon. We were about to add olive oil to the dough mixture when I couldn't get the cap off of the brand new bottle. Audrey watched for a minute before saying, "Maybe Daddy can help you when he gets home."

Thursday, Audrey pointed out a fresh boo-boo to me and then put her bartering skills to the test by asking, "Can I get a Pop Tart for my boo-boo?"

On Friday she put a new twist on Jason's nightly inquiry, "Are you my pancake?" when she asked, "Is Emmy my banana?" (Emmy is our dog).

Saturday, Jason caught her reading Dr. Seuss' Oh, The Places You Will Go to herself. She was turned to the page that reads, "Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best." But Audrey's version went like this, "If you can fly, you'll be the best."

Daily our little girl strives to leave her mark: wanting to do more and more on her own, asking us to push her higher, and telling us who she is and what she will be. And, just as sure as we are that those footprints and handprints decorating every once-clean surface of the house will just get bigger (much too quickly), we're also sure, if given a little time, this one will find a way to fly - Audrey-style.

**I can't believe I forgot this story from last week when I posted this Saturday. On Tuesday, Audrey and I were walking Emmy. We passed some construction, and a couple dumpsters. Midway through the walk Audrey told me she was going to run away to a dumpster and get dirty. I laughed and told her that that sounded pretty accurate to me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Yellow Love

Touching and taking in the gifts of late summer one petal at a time...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Punky Brewster Moment, Anyone?

This is why I should put the clothes away directly after folding them...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

In Transit

Today we dropped by the post office to send off a special package. My cousin's wife gave birth to twins last week: a boy and girl. The twins are nine weeks early, but are proving to be little fighters and are doing well. We have been thinking of them often - this week and for months before their arrival.

I have been working on these hats all summer, knitting a row here or there as I have found time - on hot days when the sturdy wool was in odd contrast to the growing heat around us. This wool has joined me in the spots that have marked our summer: the passenger seat en route to the beach; poolside; the playground bench; the hammock. These hats have already seen good times, and I hope that some of the summer energy goes with them and the love that went into them in quiet, reflective stitches.

While the births of these babes was a wee bit early, something felt right today about sending those hats out of our hands and into their world, just as we prepare for the cooler weather to come. And we hope that they will keep those sweet little heads a little bit warmer and everyone a little cozier this winter after they get home from their extended hospital stay.

Of course, it wasn't that easy to get them out the door this afternoon. The third, larger hat is for their big brother, who is a whopping 15-months-old. Audrey took one look at his hat and decided it needed a thorough fitting, complete with a chase around the house as I tried to take pictures. I couldn't help but oblige. There is just something about that girl in blue hats. Looks like I'll be pulling out the knitting needles again.

These three hats were made using Claire Montgomerie's Cotton Hat pattern in Easy Baby Knits. I used Moda Dea's Silk n' Wool Blend yarn in Aquatic, Plum, and some gray color (lost the label) and Lion Brand's Fisherman's Wool in Nature's Brown. For those of you about to bang your head against the wall at the mentioning, again, of this book (or for you already in the process), I have good news. This summer I picked up a new book and have a new project from it to show you. Soon.

Monday, September 14, 2009


This weekend we headed outside and ushered in fall by planting some mums. Then we potted up some basil and brought summer back in.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 36

As I sat down to write this (well, last, it being Sunday) week's review, I realized I didn't write anything down this week. I could list the reasons for my lack of notes (Audrey's first day of school, the first meeting of my mom's group of which I'm now on the planning committee, yada, yada, yada) but to put it simply - I got distracted. Unfortunately, I have the memory of a guppy. (I blame it on the 3 concussions I racked up by the time I turned eight. I was a little, ahem, rough and tumble - we could just as easily call it clumsy). What I do remember from the past week is Audrey looking into the side of the stainless steel mixing bowl and saying, "Look at the mirror of Audrey. Look at my mouth. Look at my tongue."

So, I'm going to take my cue from that and take a moment to look into that mirror of Audrey and see what I can see, right now, before two-and-a-half too quickly becomes three:

Looks can be deceiving. This tiny package that swims in the sheets of her queen-sized bed, petite even for toddler standards, houses the secrets of the ants. The first time you see her lift something twice her size, it takes you back a moment. Somewhere around the dozenth time she puts you in a choke-hold while "hugging you" or causes you to stumble forward as she pulls you in the direction of a desired object, you begin to think just how much stronger than me is she going to be when she's five?

She has a face that makes strangers smile and a laugh that begs to be reciprocated. As she goes about her day, she hums to music that is not there. And as I watch her dance or sing, regardless of who is watching, I can't help but think that the world might be a more carefree place if everyone just had a copy of her soundtrack.

Already a case in contradictions, we find her fiercely independent one moment while asking to drive the car and still so strongly in need of our presence as she asks (knowing the answer will be no) if we can sleep in her room for just a little while. A little girl wanting comfort when she scraps a knee and then turning the tables by asking, "Are you my pancake?" "Are you my Kristin?" "Are you okay, honey?"

She is never in a hurry or too busy to stop and notice her surroundings. But her steps are deliberate, and when she walks I find myself wondering how someone so young seems so sure of where she is going. And, if it were not for the recent creeping in of the dark - her one lingering fear - I would think that all of this would stay just as it is. But three is coming, and with it a new reflection in that mixing bowl mirror. So I will bask in this image while I can and take comfort in the fact that her expression of spontaneous enthusiasm is the same today as in her 5-month-old photo. Because, sometimes, you have to hold on to what you can - even if only a simple reflection.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

We Are Siamese

I pulled these onions out of the garden this week (with a lot of help from a spade - wow, they were comfortable in that earth). Two onions were growing from one root system, snug together like two compatriots in a trench. I turned them over to get a picture of the roots, but before I could snap the shot, two little hands reached up and pulled them apart. Some things are just too unusual (or purple) not to explore.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

School Days

You know those light bulb moments? The ones where something that has been lying dormant in the recesses of your mind suddenly pops to the forefront and reminds you that an event (usually a big one) is just around the corner (and you probably should have been preparing for it before now). I had one a week and a half ago. It went a little something like this:

My Dad was assembling shelves in our spare bedroom, which also serves as my craft workspace/storage area. New shelves (like visits from friends) seemed like one of the few happy reasons to clean in which rather than grumbling about the task at hand, I would whistle. If I knew how. In an attempt to organize, I began clumping like-items together and ran across a stack of magazines - ones I had kept for inspiration for future projects. On top of the stack was a Pottery Barn Kids magazine. The back-to-school issue. CLICK! Bright lights! Audrey starts school in a week and a half. Kids who go to school have backpacks. Audrey doesn't have a backpack. Audrey needs a backpack. Have you seen the backpacks available? Small children walk to the school bus towing backpacks that make them look as if they have plans to hike the Appalachian Trail for a week. Chiropractors watch from their offices realizing there's a whole new client demographic they've missed until now. Backpack. Where can I get a preschooler-sized backpack? Look at the cute ones in the Pottery Barn magazine. I don't feel like driving to a store. You know, I am surrounded by fabric.

And that's how it began. A random train of backpack thoughts - that I kept to myself, mind you, since there's no reason to have one's perfectly sane father wondering just where his once-bright daughter's sanity has gone. But that moment I began laying out fabric and finagling together an Audrey-sized backpack. A fabric remnant, some felt scraps, a couple trips to the fabric store (guess there was some shopping involved after all) for the strap supplies, stolen moments of time here and there to put it all together, and we ended up with a bag just the right size. Well, at least until she decides to hike the Appalachian trail.

And as for school, it seems to be a good fit, too. Audrey loved her first day (she goes once a week for four hours). This time it was an abbreviated day: two hours to help the kids adjust to their new surroundings. Next week it's the full four hours, complete with lunch. She's going to need a lunch box. Hmm...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Long Weekend

:: A country setting

:: small hands in big

:: something to celebrate

:: time to sit

:: and one more joy of childhood - finding your new favorite toy is something old just laying in the yard.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 35

Last week there was much talk of milestones in our house. As we get closer to our little girl taking some big steps forward, we witness her declaring her independence in new and sometimes funny ways. Here's a glimpse into last week:

On Sunday, Audrey was very excited to attend the birthday party of her friend, Thad. Now at the age where she realizes that birthdays are a day-long celebration of the person born that day, she's decided that she can't wait for hers. On the drive home we explained she was born in November. In a sing-song voice she said, "November, November. Can you say birthday party? Will you sing to me?"

This week Audrey starts preschool one day a week. We've only talked about school briefly and I'm not sure if Audrey really understands what school is. But she has decided it's something to be excited about. On Monday she galloped around the kitchen singing, "Next week I go to school!"

As we talk about going to school, we've also been talking about the importance of big girls sitting on the potty to go to the bathroom every time they need to go. Always ready with the encouragement, Audrey has taken to clapping for me this week after I go potty, followed by an enthusiastic, "I know you could do it!"

Jason and I have been struggling with sinus issues this week. (Luckily, Audrey seems unaffected, other than her disappointment when we're not up to playing at normal speed). Monday night Jason came home with a sinus headache, which caused him to sprawl out on the floor a few steps into the doorway in hopes of getting a few minutes rest. Of course, Audrey took this as an open invitation to tackle him, during which I explained Daddy didn't feel well and was taking a break. On Tuesday, I looked over to find Audrey lying in the same spot. When I asked her what she was doing she said, "I don't feel good like Daddy. I'm taking a break."

Thursday night we were able to go to an open house at Audrey's school and meet her teachers. When we asked if Audrey was excited to meet her teachers (while walking up to the school) she asked, "Do they live here?"

Friday morning I asked Audrey to pray with me. She said, "No. I'm doing my own," followed by a slew of words in a language I (nor any human) has ever heard. Who knew she could speak in tongues?

As we begin Audrey's foray into school and inch closer (let's please just inch forward) toward that big third birthday, we can only imagine the explanations, dreams, and challenges of her growing independence to come. It makes us happy for three-day weekends with more time to just relax as a family. And busy ourselves just taking it all in.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The View from our Front Door

And I thought it was rough sharing a bathroom with two sisters!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mission Organization

One of my goals this year is to become more organized. I keep telling myself that were this to happen, I would become that efficient-everything-is-right-at-her-fingertips-lady who arrives places looking refreshed rather than the fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants while hoping that somehow I'll have all the supplies in my car to pull off a Macgyver-esque save (Swiss army knife, shoelace, and a flashlight battery anyone?) when I realize I've forgotten the item I must have once I get to my destination. Five minutes late. Again.

Yes. Denial runs deep. We're not even going to talk about how it is already September and I haven't moved forward on this goal one iota. Until last weekend.

My parents came over on Saturday, bringing with them tools, food, and a whole lot of gumption. While my Mom watched Audrey and spent the day feeding everyone, my Dad built some selves in this odd little nook in our guest bedroom closet (as seen in the first picture). As I helped - by which I mean I sat outside the closet keeping my Father company and finishing a knitting project. Meanwhile, Jason worked on landscaping and using up the last of our eight yards of mulch that has taken up the driveway all summer long.

It was like a vacation day with a sprinkling of fairy dust - where you sit around doing a fun project, and yet somehow all the things that need to get done that day do, without you lifting a finger. Seriously. A day for the record books.

My Dad measured, sawed, leveled, and installed some wooden brackets then topped them with shelves, and finished them off with a nice trim detail. Now they need a coat of paint and to be stocked with two closets-worth of odds and ends I've been meaning to sort through.

You know, so I can start leaving the Swiss army knife at home.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hello September

The sun is still shining, but a chill lingers in the breeze. Each time we head out to the garden to collect that afternoon's bounty, I am reminded to hold on to the here and now. These just might be the last vibrant colors of summer (and oh, how I love the purple). As much as I'm looking forward to the fall, I'm letting myself linger on the colors and tastes of summer for as long as they last.

We grabbed the above vegetables from our garden, and after admiring them on the counter for a little while, it was into the saucepan for a Ratatouille of Sorts Meets Jambalaya - Kristin-Style.

Ratatouille Meets Jambalaya:

Olive Oil
1/3 Tbsp. butter
Half red onion, diced
One medium zucchini, diced
One red pepper, diced
One green pepper, diced
Two large tomatoes
One clove garlic
One smoked sausage, halved and sliced (we used turkey sausage)
1 c. arborio rice
3 c. chicken stock
Dried thyme
Salt and pepper

Heat a glub of oil olive (probably a Tbsp.) and a sliver of butter in the saucepan while chopping the veggies (except tomatoes, further instruction below).

Brown the onion. Add the garlic followed by the green pepper and red pepper. After those softened a bit, add zucchini. Blanch the tomatoes in some boiling water for just a minute until the sides start to split. Dunk tomatoes it into a bowl of ice water. After that, the skins should easily peel away. Dice and add to the saucepan.

Add the sausage, arborio rice, and one cup of chicken stock. When the chicken stock is absorbed, add another cup. When this cup of chicken stock is absorbed, add the third cup and season with a few shakes of dried thyme, salt, and pepper. After the third cup of chicken stock is absorbed, dish into bowls and head off to the table to enjoy a little summer. (Serves 4).

We hope you're enjoying the tastes and colors of your season's table, whatever they may be.