Friday, March 23, 2012


The painting is finished and I'm pleased as punch about the whole thing. Don't you just want to come and stay with us? :)
All that's left to tackle is trim around the floor and window, a new door, and some fun art for the walls. We're on our way!

*Seabrook bedroom trivia: The white pillow cases with blue flowers are the very ones we put on our wedding registry. 14 years old and still in one piece! :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sea Air on the first day of Spring

Seabrook is one of favorite places in Washington, and since we aren't able to visit as often as I'd like (every month, maybe?), I'm turning one of the spare rooms into The Seabrook Bedroom. It sounds fancy, doesn't it? :)

I've adored the brilliant blue that's been on the walls for the last 8 years, but it's not quite right for a Seabrook bedroom, so off I went on a hunt for the perfect beachy, bright, happy, breezy color. Usually this would take 45 different paint samples and lots of stomping around in frustration, but this time I hit it the jackpot on the first try. There's hope for me yet!

A third coat tomorrow should be just right, and then I'll tell Jan Michael we're abandoning the master bedroom for beachier places :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

How to have the loveliest weekend in 7 easy steps

1. Have a picnic in the park surrounded by leg warmer-wearing trees

2. Visit a barnyard and talk to the sheep, get licked by the cow, laugh at the chickens and intrude upon the 300-lb pig's lunch time

3. Watch silly youtube videos of good natured pranks until the hills are alive with the sound of laughter

4. Plan summer backpacking trips

5. Run and speed walk at the high school track to combat an entire lemon cheesecake, one raw carrot cake, and a lasagna

6. Wear cozy pajamas and watch a bunch of adventurers high-tail it through the wilds of Venezeula

7. Decide to do it all over again in 6 days

Friday, March 16, 2012


First of all, it's not raining and the sun made an appearance this afternoon, at least for a little while. Sunshine is wonderful any time, all of the time, but it was especially nice today since March seems to be operating under the 'in like a lion' notion - a roaring, angry, enormous lion. Come on, spring! I'm rooting for you!

Please ignore the blurry daffodils and just bask in the sun streaming through the window :)

Tomorrow morning Derek and Sara arrive for the weekend, and that means today, I bake! Do you know what I've decided? I love to bake because of this: our family is full of people with really specific, useful skills - Jan Michael is a computer genius, Derek takes be-still-my-heart pictures, my sis is the best hair stylist on the planet, the list goes on - and it's so handy to be able to call on their expertise. I, however, am a college drop-out who (happily!) cleans toilets and scoops cat poop for a living, so I don't always feel like I can return the favor to my amazing, talented family. But, I can bake, and I can bake with love, and when I do, it allows me to show, at least in a small measure, how much I appreciate each of them.

When I asked Derek for dessert requests, he voted for lemon cheesecake, and the recipe I used is totally worth sharing. I found it on a super fun blog called Perry's Plate - the link is under our 'More & more fun' list on the right; do pop over and take a peek! - and it's one of my favorite cheesecake recipes yet. It's simple and pretty and delicious (perfectly lemony!); there aren't any fancy-pants ingredients that demand driving halfway across the county, and the crust doesn't stick to the bottom of pan, requiring a chisel to scrape it out. I baked it a couple of weeks ago for our friend Kevin, who isn't a big fan of cheesecake to begin with, and he said he was converted :)

For lemon curd:
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For crust:
1 1/3 cups finely ground graham cracker or gingersnap crumbs (5 oz)
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For filling:
3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon (packed) finely grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Make lemon curd:
Whisk together zest, juice, sugar, and eggs in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Add butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubbles appear on surface, about 6 minutes.

Force lemon curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a wide shallow dish, scraping bottom of sieve, then cover surface with wax paper. Cool completely, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Make and bake crust:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Invert bottom of springform pan (to make it easier to slide cake off bottom), then lock on side. Stir together crust ingredients in a bowl, then press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of springform pan. Place springform pan in a shallow baking pan and bake 10 minutes, then cool crust completely in springform pan on a rack.

Make filling and bake cheesecake:
Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

Beat together cream cheese and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add eggs 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Beat in sour cream, vanilla, lemon zest, and juice until combined.

Pour cream cheese filling into crust and bake cheesecake until set 1 1/2 inches from edge but center trembles when pan is gently shaken, about 45 minutes. (Center of cake will appear very loose but will continue to set as it cools.) Transfer springform pan to a rack and immediately run a knife around top edge of cake to loosen. Cool completely, about 2 hours, then chill, uncovered, at least 4 hours. Remove side of springform pan and top with lemon curd before serving.

*A quick note: The first time I baked this, I made the dumb, dumb mistake of making the lemon curd in an aluminum pan. Some kind of chemical reaction took place - something between the aluminum and the acid in the lemon juice, maybe - and it ended up tasting like a lovely pudding made of blood. I had to pitch it, of course, and send Jan Michael to Trader Joe's for a jar (which worked just fine) but the moral of the story is don't be like me!
*Quick note #2: I just realized that while I did find the recipe on Perry's Place (have you visited yet?!), Grace from A Southern Grace is the one who gets credit for the lemon love.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Outside my window... It was light at 7:00 tonight! Yippee for daylight savings! How I love these longer and longer days.

I am thankful for...
- phone calls that keep our family close
- help and love from God
- joy
- a cozy house while the rain falls and the wind blows
- my husband the excellent dishwasher emptier
- antibiotics (and the means to buy them) which give a big, fat karate chop to staph infections

I am learning...about different things that apply to my heart. Too many to list here :)

From the kitchen...Today I tried a new recipe, one for pineapple ginger smoothies. I was all excited about it, but after a bunch of chopping and grating and blending, ...yuck. Not even using a fun straw to sip it helped. I was going to make myself drink it anyway, because who wants to waste a bunch of fruit and expensive-as-all-get out ginger? Then, guess what we discovered? Jan Michael likes pineapple ginger smoothies! He, who refuses my tasty spinach and strawberry concoctions - what a weirdo! :) - proclaimed it delicious. Disaster averted!

I am wearing...exercise clothes, the same things I wore when I exercised yesterday. Even the socks. Gross, I know.

I am creating...a list of what exactly needs doing in our bedroom, bathroom, and one of the spare bedrooms. This includes paint, lots and lots of clean, beautiful, fresh paint. By the end of this month, at least one of those rooms will be painted, or else.

I am reading...a silly murder mystery. It's the kind of story in which the murder isn't even important, and you can figure out whodunnit without any trouble (if you even remember that a crime was committed in the first place). Stuff and nonsense, really.

I am hoping...for a little bit of sun the next few days, but I may have to practice patience instead.

Around the house...The garage sale pile is growing and growing. I have spring fever, I think.

I am hearing...the clickety clack of the keyboard.

One of my favorite things...from Costco is the Oil of Olay body wash. The smell, oh the smell!

A few plans for the rest of the week:
- Work, work and work again (this is a good thing!)
- A phone date with our little brother, whom we will see in person for the first time in ages in just three weeks!! I can't wait.
- A walking date with my friend T (which is one reason I hope and hope for sun)
- A running date at the track, in which I try desperately to improve my 1-mile speed, and Jan Michael zips around like nobody's business
- Bible study
- Friday night teriyaki and sushi
- A Saturday slumber party with Derek and Sara - hooray!!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

I concede defeat.

I have been beaten by the March photo challenge. Taking pictures of bedside tables and what's happening at 5:00 are too much for for luckluster (lately, at least!) little me. The ebb and flow of creativity is a interesting thing, isn't it?

Now, just look at who came to visit earlier today with four of her brothers and sisters:
The 5 of them + wearing flip flops to the library this afternoon because the sun was shining like crazy + a speedy 3-mile run tonight fueled by my husband, Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch and a beautiful, almost full moon = a lovely day.

Sunday, March 04, 2012


In keeping with my (cheating) practice of using old pictures, this was our bedside along the glorious Upper Missouri almost two years ago:
My old friend the camping/hiking/outdoor bug has been doing a slow burn in my little heart for awhile now, and Montana memories do not help :)

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Free-as-bird Saturday

Do you know what I like about a Saturday that's completely free of plans and arrangements, even very fun plans and arrangments? I like the things that get accomplished.

For instance:
- Jan Michael plays early morning basketball.
- A vast amount of laundry is washed, dried, folded and put away.
- My underwear drawer is re-organized.
- We take a nap.
- I intrench myself more firmly in the world of Pinterest.
- We take a lovely late afternoon walk, slow and meandering, with the wind blowing and the sun shining.
- I do a hefty amount of jumping around in the garage to compensate for the bag of microwave popcorn and the six white chocolate macadamia nut cookies I ate the night before. Here is proof:
Fact: Tuck jumps are hard.

Something else I appreciate about a free Saturday is that I reserve the right to ignore certain things, like unearthing the kitchen counters from two feet of dirty dishes.

Now, about the photo challenge: Yesterday the topic was fruit, but all I could come up with was a really terrible picture of dried kiwis at the grocery store. Not dazzling at all. So, I'm cheating and using a picture from a few years ago, which to me is quite dazzling, what with the haze and the deer and the apples and everything:

Today's assignment is 'your neighborhood' but the fact of the matter is that our little neighborhood is nothing to write home about these days (too much winter & not enough spring, I think), and I'm sort of turning up my nose at not-so-pretty pictures lately. This means I'm going to cheat again, but this time it's really flagrant because for one thing, neither of us took the picture in the first place and secondly, this is nowhere near our house. It is, however, a neighborhood, and it's a neighborhood that Derek and Sara used to live by, and it makes me remember how much fun we had that night, the four of us with our bikes and our basketball, riding the teeter-totter and turning cartwheels in the grass as the sun set.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Marching in, an addendum

I've decided to sack the '30 Day Photo Challenge: Gratitude' project from Tuesday's post because the very first picture is supposed to capture my favorite food. Favorite food?! Does this mean I must pick one that I like above all others? I could not, would not pick just one, not in a million years. So, I'll work on this list instead:
'Up' is much more reasonable than 'Favorite food,' don't you think?

This morning was rainy and gray, but this afternoon the sun chased the gray away, and there were lots of billowy white clouds. This is what I saw when I looked up:

Also, when we flew home from California on the first day of February (one month ago already?! Yikes!), this is what we saw when we ourselves were up:

And one more thing: This has nothing to do with today's photo challenge, but it makes me happy, and maybe it will make you happy, too :) If not for my uncanny ability to wither any flower or plant with just a glance at 20 paces, I would skip right back down to our little grocery store and haul a truckload home in a heartbeat.

Happy March 1st to you! :)