Thursday, January 30, 2014


The gnome cookie jar, illuminated by the rays of the sun while awaiting
my offering of baked goodness.

I saw some cookies on Pinterest the other day, and if you follow me on there you probably saw them, too: Earl Grey Tea Cookies.

I'm not sure why, but I have been wanting to eat ALL THE COOKIES lately, so being that we had (pretty much) all of the ingredients on hand, I decided to make these bad boys. Ok, ok, they are tea cookies. Maybe "bad boys" is not the term I'm looking for. Anyway, we didn't have Earl Grey tea, so I just broke open a few cheap regular tea bags. I'm telling you, I wanted cookies badly. I had to make do with what we had and what we had was not fancy. 

~Hey wait a minute or four, speaking of bad boys, have you seen this?

Ok back to the post.~

So anyway, these are the result and they are pretty delicious. They sort of remind me of shortbread, but with a different flavor. A flavor of...tea...and oranges. 

Enlarged to show texture

That's a demitasse set - these are leetle cookies. That means you can eat a bunch.
Tiny little pucks of shortbready orange and tea deliciousness. Aww yeah. What cookies have you made recently?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Orange Peel Cleaner - I Did It!

Dear Becky,

Here is proof that I followed your advice and instructions, and I am anxiously awaiting getting to use my orange cleaner. =) We only have regular oranges, but here is mine:



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Work In Progress: the forever blanket

About a year and a half ago, I started making granny squares and fell in love with a cool little trick that made a granny square with a big fat polka dot in the middle.  "Make a blanket for the couch," I thought to myself; "I'll never get sick of yellow & grey," I thought.

"How long could it *POSSIBLY* take?!"

I took this picture today when I found the bag containing this half-assembled hot mess.  I'm 5 squares short and even shorter on the patience required to stitch all of these squares together, obviously.

I've decided to just go ahead and finish the darn thing up already.  I'll make the remaining squares tonight and start the incredibly boring task of stitching it all up tomorrow.  I need the motivation to complete it because I just found a really cute idea for matching pixel art blankets to make for my nephews this year (but that's another work in progress post for another day).

What are YOU working on?

Smörgåstårta the II

Have you heard the good word of smörgåstårta? In a few short weeks we are having our annual smörgåstårta feast, so I thought I would spread the sandwich cake love to this little corner of the internet. 

What is a smörgåstårta?

This, my friends: Smörgåstårta Love Pinterest Board by me. It is a big sandwich of goodness, which is made into a cake, decorated, and eaten accordingly (aka without abandon). 

Here are some of the cakes that were made for last year's party. We had a seriously amazing time making and eating them. I will admit that I was skeptical at first, not of course at how they looked (because they are gorgeous), but of how they were going to taste. I had questions like: "Is it going to be a big soggy mess?" Nope. It's delicious. I highly recommend.

Husband, very impressed with his cucumber rose making abilities.

Dreamy smörgåstårta

More smörgåstårta


Thursday, January 16, 2014

52 weeks, week 2

So this is technically week 3 of the new year.  What can I say? I'm perpetually behind. 

Also I realized I only took one photo of all my kids. It's not a great photo but it captures a super awesome moment, and that's what matters.

This baby of mine is getting older by the moment. He wants to do everything his big brothers do, and he's pretty lucky to have awesome brothers who want to include him in everything. 

The other night these 3 sons of mine played with a cloth tape measure and a stuffed animal for hours. Something about dropping it over the banister brought out the cutest baby laughter ever, the screaming giggles! 

It was a moment I want to remember forever. I love my boys!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Home Improvements are Fun

...And I don't mean that sarcastically! I love old houses. I think they have a lot of character and a great feel. We purchased our first home two years ago; a sweet bungalow built in 1917. No, not everything was perfect, but we saw the kitchen, high ceilings, and cat door to the basement, and knew that it was right for our family. Also there was a pot rack hanging above the bar where the big stove was in the kitchen. I think that was the kicker for Husband.

Just off of the kitchen is a sweet little dining nook. It had...potential. As you can see from this picture taken shortly after we moved in (notice the boxes), Husband is quite excited to be cooking breakfast on our new stove. But what I'm actually trying to show you is the dining nook behind him. That wallpaper! Wow. It's're sitting in a garden...

Well it wasn't quite our style. 
Happy Husband

Miss G practicing cello in "the garden"
We could only do so much at once, so a few other repairs came first. Meanwhile I even tried to cover it with maps and such. It wasn't much of a map room.

One weekend Husband was out of town and the kids and I decided to go for it. It was time to tear down all of the wallpaper. Yikes. Well we did it. 
Little helpers
I found that a wet sponge and plastic scraper worked better than anything else we tried, and it actually went fairly smoothly!

The end result is pretty nice, I think. 
Getting ready to eat bo ssam on my birthday
We would eventually like to put in a wooden built-in booth, but this will do just fine until then!

Do you do your own home improvements? I think they can be really fun! 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

52 weeks, post 1

Good morning! It has warmed up to -6 (-18 wind chill) so today I feel like celebrating!!! 

In all honesty it has little to do with the weather (cause it still feels bombassdiggity cold to me) baby boy is 1 entire year old today!!! Well at 10:40 am he will be, I'm trying to keep him a baby as long as possible. 

Birthdays are always bittersweet for me when they involve my kids. My oldest turned the big double digits 2 weeks ago and now my baby is no longer months does a year go so quickly?

I'm watching him right now playing with toys, dancing while sitting, babbling on about dadada and brudders, and I realize walking is right around the corner. The reality is this is probably the last time I will have a child who is in the baby stage, and from here the time just disappears into thin air. 

But it remains a day to celebrate despite the twinges of sadness I feel. This year has brought so much with it, major surgery when he was 6 months, oh I'm so glad to be past that! We are all stronger for it, more grateful for each other, and closer too. This little boy has made our family perfect :) He is happy and healthy and just the biggest joy!!!

Okay now on to the subject of this post....So last year a couple of the blogs I like to follow did 52 weeks in photos and I decided I'm going to do it this year! It's a photo of your children each week for the 52 weeks of the year. 

I meant to get this post up last night since today is officially the start of the 2nd week of the year (already?!?), but the big boys had their first hockey practice last night and well I was tired ( but I'm officially a hockey mom.....sweet!!). 

So these count as week one because they were taken yesterday ;)

And just for fun, here is a photo of my 3 boys from this week last year!

Sigh, the memories.

If you'd like to join along in the 52 weeks of photos leave a comment with your blog link, I'd love to see your photos!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Clementine Cleaner DIY (with many, MANY pictures)

I've seen plenty of recipes for orange cleaner on the internet for awhile now.  
We've been a clementine family ever since Sullivan was 3 or 4 and could peel it himself so I decided to try my luck with clementine cleaner awhile back.  Citrus is citrus, right?  

Much to my surprise, not only is this stuff amazing on it's own or diluted in a spray bottle with your normal cleaner...
but it completely OWNS those pesky upc stickers on the bottoms of my candle jars.
Even diluted, I spray this on the stickers, wait 30 seconds and they all just peel right off in one piece.  it's crazy good, you guys.  CRAZY. GOOD.

Here's what you need:

Clementines, vinegar & a jar.
seriously, that's it.

I used apple cider vinegar for awhile but I started with white vinegar originally.  
The only difference I've noticed is color and smell but not in the quality of the cleaner.

Step 1:
Peel your clementines.  Put peels in jar, put fruit in mouth.

Cuties is KILLING IT with this sticker.  too cute.

Step 2:
Pour vinegar over the peels, almost to the top of the peels.

Ok you caught me, there are 2 different vinegars being poured here.  I finished off my apple cider vinegar about halfway up.  I could have gone out to the store for more but today is the coldest day in Chicago in a very long time, so... no.  I finished off with some rice vinegar I had on hand.  slightly less acidic than most vinegars but it still does the trick.

Step 3:
Set your jar aside.  

Somewhere it's out of the way but still close enough that you can drop more peels in there as you go and add more vinegar.  That's its home for the next 2 weeks.  You might want to hire a metal guard chicken as well, but it's your call.

When your beautiful, bright orange peels look grey and soggy, it's harvest time!

Here I just use a glass measuring cup and hope for the best but feel free to make this process as easy or complicated as you like it to be. 

potato masher? hey, if that's what you're into...

Put the lid back on tightly, make the jar pretty if you like...
but there you go. 

Natural concentrated cleaner and sticky cleanup solution
A purpose for everyday kitchen scraps

Sunday, January 5, 2014

"Brrr, It's Cold Out There"

- Miss G's famous line from her school play.

But seriously, it's around 12 degrees outside right now and only getting colder. The snow and wind have been blowing and howling all night and today and it's sounded like we're in Antarctica or something. The wind chill might even hit -27 degrees tonight!! 

Basically, we are staying in today. And tonight. And tomorrow, because our district canceled school for tomorrow at 10 a.m. this morning and Husband's work has also been canceled! 

So what are we doing today? We are:

  • Drinking coffee & tea (grown ups)
  • Reading "The Hobbit" (me)
  • Reading "Fellowship of the Ring" (Husband)
  • Playing Minecraft (kids)
  • Making bread
  • Making rice "meatballs"
  • Huddling together on our bed by the heater (kitties)
  • Playing "the story game", where we get funny story prompts from the Knoala app then take turns making up silly stories
  • Looking up facts about outer space and talking about them
  • Journaling (me)
  • Eating pho (amazing Vietnamese soup) and fresh rolls
  • Going through our clothing (and other stuff) and creating a big pile to give homage to Eryn's PurgeItTuesday! 
  • Chatting with my fellow blogtresses, Eryn and Becky ;)

I can also say that popcorn will definitely be involved this evening, as well as a board game and/or episode of "David, the Gnome". 

Ok, maybe snow isn't so bad after all. (Did I just say that??)

I hope everyone is staying warm!

Fresh roll (and photo),  by Miss G

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013, A Very Good Year

What a year, huh? I don't know about you, but this year seemed to really fly by for our family. We keep saying "time flies when you're having fun", but holy crap.

Well anyway...HAPPY NEW YEAR!! I think this is going to be a great one, too. Last night I spent some time taking Becky's advice in her blog post, "Retreat", and doing a bit of introspection. I journaled about the past year and listed some things that I would like to do and changes I would like to make for this new year. This shiny, brand new year. =)

We have a family resolution to be mostly vegetarian in 2014, which I am really excited about. Last night I listed about eight things for personal resolutions, but I sort of always have an ongoing list. Have you heard of "101 Things in 1001 Days" lists? I've kept one for years, since the girls were really tiny. I am a list lover, I must admit.  

I hope everyone had a great holiday. We were in New Orleans for the last week and had a great time with Oma (Miss S and Miss G's grandma). I've included a few pictures of our trip (ok, the first picture is from the sweet swap party; these are the Christmas trees Miss G and I made). 

Holiday trees for the sweet swap

Carrot, trying to steal my water!

Carousel at Audubon Zoo 

My carousel ride

Gettin' all fancy at the Royal Sonesta

In the "snow" at Miracle on Fulton Street

In the exact spot where we were married 

Celebration in the Oaks in City huge outdoor holiday party ever!

Vegetarian pho at Lily's Cafe (omg)

Eating some delicious, delicious oysters

Our surrey adventure in City Park

Happy New Year, from our family to you and yours! ^_^

Happy New Year!!

We had some snow fall overnight and awoke to sparkly, soft, snowfall this morning too. 

We are spending our New Years Day cozied up inside watching the snow accumulate. Later we will venture outside to shovel and play. Followed by hot cocoa and writing some goals for this new year. 

I hope your day is filled with warmth and love (and a little snow too)!