Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hazelnut Pancakes

Before Christmas I purchased a bag of almond flour and a bag of hazelnut flour for a variety of German Christmas cookies.  In spite of having baked many (too many) batches of Christmas cookies, I still have a partial bag of hazelnut flour sitting on my pantry shelf.  This is a unique pancake recipe I have developed to use up the remainder.  The result is fluffy and moist and both Sylvan and Ivory are guaranteed to ask for seconds.


Hazelnut Pancakes

1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup hazelnut flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon oil
1 egg
1 1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

  • combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir until mixed well
  • add the wet ingredients and stir until well blended
  • ladle onto a skillet or griddle that has been oiled and warmed over medium heat
  • turn when the craters formed in the batter stay open
  • after a minute or two remove from heat and pour on another pancake!
These are best served hot with butter and maple syrup! 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Creating the Pretense of A Leisurely Morning

I love mornings.
I love my first cup of coffee.
I love breathing the dark aroma and sipping the smoothness of cream as I sit and pretend that we have absolutely nothing to do for the rest of the day.  I breath in and pretend that everything is calm and peaceful while in reality the kids are running across the house from kitchen through dining room and into the living room. The pretense of a leisurely moment is furthered by the fact that I am not actively cooking breakfast.
We cook breakfast every day, but I have discovered the joys of baked breakfast.
We often eat Puff Pancakes, but recently I added baked oatmeal into the rotation of family breakfast.  Just like the Puff Pancakes, the baked oatmeal is a baked dish that allows me to just sit and sip and breath for twenty minutes.

Baked Oatmeal

1 cup oatmeal 
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons coconut flakes
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup walnut pieces 
1/2 cup berries (I use frozen blueberries) 

  • combine all of the dry ingredients
in a small sauce pan melt:

3 Tablespoons Butter

add:

1 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • pour the liquid over the dry materials and place in the fridge overnight

  • bake the next morning at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 leisurely minutes and enjoy your cup of coffee!
  • serve with a bit of half and half (optional) poured over the top
Here is the final result along with my second cup of coffee:


By the way that gorgeous plate was made by Perry Haas.  More of his wood fired ceramics can be viewed (and purchased) HERE! 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Still In Progress - Studio Sneak Peek

After many, many more hours of work and a treacherous fall that put me flat on my back with this thing on top of me the clay component of my sculpture is finally built.  





It is slowly drying, covered in plastic and hopefully no cracks develop.  This sculpture will be my first attempt to combine the many hand crafts I enjoy.  I hope to incorporate fibers -  sewed, knitted and crocheted - in the final piece.  (I like this form so much it will be hard to make myself take that next step.)  

Friday, January 25, 2013

I Thankful

Sylvan is sitting at the dinner table.  His fork in his fist, the prongs sticking strait up.  "I thankful," he is not quite shouting. "I thankful. I thankful. I thankful."
"Well, I am thankful... ", Ivory begins.
"NO NO NO NO NO NO. I thankful", Sylvan shouts across the table at her. "I thankful."
"Hold on Ivory.  I think Sylvan is trying to tell us what he is thankful for."
Usually Ivory decides what Sylvan is thankful for.  It is most often the food we are eating or something exciting we did that day while Sylvan stands on his chair at the dinner table turning in circles singing: "Thankful, thankful, thankful."  I usually am poised at the edge of my seat, waiting for the moment that his thankful dance takes him over the edge of his chair.  (Thankfully, that has not happened yet.)  But today it seems he wants to speak for himself.
I thankful is followed by a string of sounds, very serious sounds, and I take his hand and look at him intently trying to figure out what he is trying to tell us.  I had been gone all day and they had spent the day with Adam.  I furrow my brow, I think, I got it: "Skating! You are thankful your dad took you skating."
He squeezes my hand. "I thankful skating."

Sylvan gleefully pushing a five gallon bucket across Rattlesnake pond!
I look to the other end of the table.  "I'm thankful I get to paint Sylvan's birthday bunny head tomorrow."


I look across the table at Adam.
I can't remember if I said my thankfuls or if Adam said his.
I wrestle my hand free from Sylvan's grasp, so we can both use our hands to pick of the burritos sitting on the plates in front of us.

I am thankful.  I am thankful for the food in front of me. I am thankful for the man sitting across the table from me.  I am thankful for the blue faced (he got into the sparkle fabric paint a few days ago), snot nosed, talkative little  jokester to my right.  I am thankful for the always costumed, constant ballerina to my left.  I am thankful for the moments like these that make my breath catch and leave me speechless.

I thankful.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pumpkin Bread with Crystallized Ginger and Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips


6 Tablespoons melted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups pumpkin (cooked and pureed) (I actually used an acorn squash.)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cloves (optional)
  • preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit 
  • combine melted butter, sugar, eggs, pumpkin and sour cream in a bowl and blend well
  • add the whole wheat flour, white flour, baking powder blend well
  • add the semi-sweet chocolate chips, crystallized ginger and vanilla mix in well
  • pour the batter into a greased bread pan (9" x 5")
  • bake 1 hour and 10 minutes up to 1 hour and 20 minutes.  If the top of your bread gets to brown you can set an aluminum foil tent over the bread pan. 
  • cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan and allow to cool completely (about 3 hours).  
I added the cinnamon and cloves as optional ingredients.  The next time I make this bread, which will hopefully be soon, I am going to include these.  Do let the loaf cool all the way. The flavor of the ginger is more pronounced after it cools. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

DIY - Valentines Day Cards

The past few days have been a little difficult for Ivory and I.  We have been butting heads over everything: putting on clothes, picking up toys, going outside, going inside....    So, I thought a few moments of quality one on one mom and daughter time might be just what she was needing. 
During nap time (Sylvan's) we pulled out the colored paper, glue and scissors.   We cut the cards, flowers, hearts and leaves and glued these together.  By the time I finally went upstairs to wake my little man up we had twelve cards lined up on the table. (I did not expect her attention span to last through quite that many cards.)


What you need:

colored paper
scissors (one for mom and one for the kiddo)
glue
pen



What you do:

  • cut each card to size.  I measured our envelopes and decided to make the folded size of the card 3.5" x 6" with the crease at the top. 
  • cut a six petaled flower for the back ground (or a 5 petaled flower)
  • cut six hearts (or 5)


  • cut the hearts.  To cut the hearts fold a long piece of paper in half as pictured above and draw a column of half hearts on it.  Put on X on each heart.  This is the side that will get glued to the flower. 
  • glue a folded heart onto the back ground flower with the points all pointing to the center.
  • write Happy Valentine's Day! in place of the stem
  • glue on a leaf or two!


This project definitely required teamwork, but aside from using the big paper cutter to cut the cards Ivory did some of everything and still thought it was "a fun project" through the end.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Shadows

A friend and I went on a walk today.
A friend and I and our children, four in total.
The snow glowed white overlaid with dark shadows.  We stepped from light to dark through the high contrast of a sunny winter day.


Ivory is reading books on the sofa, Sylvan paging through his own stack of books on the dining room floor.  Just a few minutes ago both were red faced, with bands of tears streaking their cheeks.  Today we have journeyed through smiles and tears, happy and sad, light and dark as many times as we stepped through the shadows underneath the undulating trees.


Dinner is baking in the oven.
Colored pencils are being spread across the floor as coloring pages are filled in with rainbows.  I take a deep breath and enjoy the sunshine. I am trying to push the thoughts of just how many more shadows I will have to walk through before bed time out of my mind.


Sunny winter days are starkly beautiful because, and not in spite of, the shadows.

"Look Mama! I found a bird nest!"






Wednesday, January 16, 2013

DIY Button Flowers: Winter Bouquet

Sylvan asleep, the dishes washed, dinner started and I sit down to sew a few buttons onto a cute cardigan Ivory was handed down from a friend.  She impatient, waiting for a friend to arrive and share dinner with us, utters those three words that parents dread: " I am bored." I pour a rainbow of buttons into a cake pan: "Can you find five buttons that are the same and match your red and grey and black sweater?".  Much too soon she gathers a little cluster of grey buttons and stacks of large, medium and small buttons are marching across the table.  Mom: "I am bored."  I stare at the table for a moment, set down the needle and thread, put aside my hopes of quickly fixing this silly cardigan and instead dig through my craft supplies to find that roll of floral wire I know is hiding somewhere in one of my drawers. Success.
For an hour she is concentrating, silently stringing her stacks of buttons onto the wires - small, medium and large.  She hands the threaded buttons to me and I twist wire strands together.


Sylvan joins us.  He sort buttons from pan to jar into bag into pan and jar.  Lines of buttons run from dining room to living room and back again.  He totes them around in a bright pink purse.
Ivory threads and I twist and soon there is a bright winter bouquet in the center of the table waiting for Adam to come home from work and our dinner guest to arrive.
I move the cardigan, the thread, needle and five little gray buttons aside and instead crawl around on the floor with Sylvan and Ivory gathering up the evidence of an afternoon well spent and then turn on the stove to cook dinner.
Ivory gathers the wire stems into her hands: "Wedding flowers, just what I needed."


 The flowers are bright and fun and cheery and maybe they were what we all needed on a white and cold winter day.

How to make your own Winter Bouquet:


What you need:
an assortment of buttons, all colors and sizes
floral wire
diagonal pliers (dikes) 

What you do:
  • Cut pieces of wire twice the length of the final flower stem (I did this). Ours were about twelve inches. 
  • Fold the wire in half (I had Ivory do this). 
  • Stack buttons (large, medium and then small)  on the table (Ivory did this).
  • Thread the buttons onto the folded wire.  You do this by putting both ends through two separate button holes at the same time and sliding the button into position at the fold in the wire. Do the small button first, then the medium and finally the largest button.  (Ivory did this part too.  If the buttons had four holes sometimes she would thread through two next to each other rather than on the diagonal and the result was three buttons slightly off center from each other - The result of which is much more fun and whimsical than the centered stacking I would have done.)
  • Twist the two strands of wire together below the buttons to make a single stem (I did this).  Take care not to twist too much under the buttons, the floral wire will break if it is twisted too tight. 
  • Repeat the whole process again and again until your kid tires of the activity or the desired number of flours is reached.  
  • HAVE FUN!!  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Family Work Schedule

Our world is winter white and cold.

The high today is 13 degrees Fahrenheit.

I am somewhere between washing the dishes, folding 4 loads of clean laundry, sorting all the things that have collected on the bathroom shelves back into their spots and sledding. Sylvan is napping.  Ivory has, not one or two, but four puzzles spread out on the dining room floor.  Two and a half puzzles are completed.  Adam is trouble shooting the waste oil furnace in the shop.  It shut down yesterday for no apparent reason.
I spent Saturday and Sunday cleaning.  Moving furniture and mopping everything from wall to wall. (When I say mopping picture this: crawling on hands and knees scrubbing the floor with a rag.  I don't actually own a mop.) Adam sealed up house envelope gaps here and there that were pointed out to us during our Energy Audit last week. We winterized a few windows (in our unheated back room - our washer froze.  That was a first.)
In the past few weeks we have been marking project after project off of our mental to do lists.  Our kitchen now has a fabulous hand built flour bin to hold my hundred pounds of flour.  The kids play area is now flanked their name banners (and yes, in spite of my constant cleaning, it is a mess again).


I finished kitting Adam a wool hat (again) and there is a stack of freshly washed fabric waiting to be sewed into curtains for our upstairs bedrooms.
Much of this is the result of my resolution to be more organized.
Adam and I are trying something new.
I sat down a few weeks ago to calculate how many hours Adam needs to work to meet our monthly budget and we created a family work schedule. Adam's winter work hours are always a bit iffy and rather than working a bunch of short half days we came up with this: three full work days for Adam, Thursday is my day at the studio and Friday is his day in the shop.  Weekends we both wrap up projects we started and we start all over again. (A little flexibility is allowed of course.  For example, Adam is taking today to try and fix the heater and is going to work Friday.)

Thursday morning I nursed Sylvan and slid out of bed.  Adam, Sylvan and Ivory were all still fast asleep as I left the house.


I mixed glazes that have been on my to do list for months. Wedged an entire bag of clay and started throwing, what I hope will be, sturdy beer mugs.  Hours later I stepped out side and the world was blanketed.


I came home to Ivory and Adam putting the finishing details on a snow man while Sylvan napped.


I flipped open my meal plan and started chopping dinner ingredients.  On the menu that night: Onion and Mushroom Quiche.

A few months ago I found Lesson Plan Book at Goodwill for $.50.  I use it to plan three weeks of meals (and shopping lists) at a time. Why three weeks?  I have no idea.  That is when my brain stops working and Sylvan's insistence on helping me becomes overwhelming. 

I did spend Saturday and Sunday cleaning, but I also spent my evenings across the bridge finishing up the mugs I started last Thursday.  Saturday I pulled handle after handle until 13 handles lined my ware board.  Sunday night I attached handles to mugs, carved feet and just after midnight I slid them onto a shelf to dry until I come back this Thursday.

In a few moments I will fill the kitchen sink to wash dishes.  I hope we can manage a quick sled ride around the block before it gets dark.
Our world is winter white and cold.
It is 13 degrees out side, but that will not slow us down.

P.S.  Just in case anyone was wondering - On the menu tonight: Cauliflower Primavera with Whole Wheat Spaghetti.


Monday, January 7, 2013

A Short History of Shared Meals

When I think about the day in 2003 on which I met my husband, I think guacamole.
There are many moments in our lives that I remember by the meals we shared.
The last meal he cooked for me before I drove to New York for my summer internship in 2006 was Veal Marsala. 
The meal that was waiting, sitting on the table, when I returned was a Spaghetti Squash picked up at the Farmer's market that morning.
Even rockiest days of our marriage (so far), I will always fondly remember with side by side concocted candied orange peals and chocolate fudge. 
The morning after Ivory was born, we pulled apart monkey bread while we stared across the tiny hospital room at that sleeping bundle. 
The day after we came home from the hospital with we walked all over Stillwater, Oklahoma in 90 degree weather.  When we walked out of the door that morning we were full of new parent adrenaline and the fact that I had had virtually no sleep the night before seemed to matter little.  We proudly walked through our respective graduate departments showing off our little red faced, dark haired, still wrinkled baby to anyone who cared to see her.  Hours later I suddenly realized I was really, and I mean REALLY, hungry.  I could sense the immanent crash and we were at least a mile away from home.  We wheeled the pram off campus and parked it in one of our favorite little restaurants: the Crepe Myrtle.  For years Adam and I had met here for lunch.  We shared beer battered catfish, fries, burgers, drunken bananas and my favorite (non-desert item) a butter head lettuce salad with candied pecans, mandarin oranges and a to-die-for dressing.  We ate a late lunch and started the trek home.  We didn't make it home.  The new parent adrenaline dwindled and my oh-so-very-tired reality sunk in.  I called my mom and Adam, Ivory and I sat on a curb in the shade and waited for my mom to come and give us a ride home.  
Since then we moved, and not to long after the restaurant closed.
Sylvan came into our lives (and you think I would have learned my lesson after my walk with Ivory - but no - we carried him through the neighborhood the morning he was born only hours old, tucked inside Adam's coat, to show to whoever wanted to (or not to) see him).
We hardly ever step foot into restaurants anymore.  Having a wiggly almost two year old makes the idea less than enjoyably and in reality it also isn't financially feasible.   Adam or I or both of us cook breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the week, every week of the month and every month of the year.  I have a vague recollection of the dinner Adam and I shared on our first wedding anniversary (Ivory was just over a month old), but I have no idea what meal we shared for our second, or third, forth or fifth for that matter.  
Every now and then I pull out one of the few remaining ceramic dishes that I made for us when we got married - a big yellow and blue "pasta serving dish" and make the salad that has such fond memories for me.   I shred a whole head of butter lettuce, top it with thinly sliced onions, mozzarella cheese, caramelized walnuts, mandarin oranges drizzled with Annie's Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette (while Adam usually sears the venison steaks). 


No, the salad is not exactly like the one I savored years ago sitting in a booth at the Crepe Myrtle, but it is my best imitation, and it has become it's own wonderful thing.
While Adam and Ivory and Sylvan and I sit down together for dinner every night, there are some nights on which the meal is enjoyed (all be it momentarily) in complete silence.  The kind of silence in which contentment is almost tangible - a rare moment of complete peace around the dinner table.  Each time I eat this salad it is something more - a blond young man sitting across the restaurant table waiting for me, a wrinkled little baby, a four year old constant ballerina and an almost two year old who readily says: "Thank you", "Thankful", and "I love you."

In an effort to bring almost tangible contentment from my dinner table to yours here is my interpretation of the Crepe Myrtle Salad.

Butter Head Salad with Mandarin Oranges and Caramelized Walnuts


1 head of butter head lettuce washed and torn into bite sized pieces

topped with

1 can of mandarin oranges (drained)
1 hand full of thinly sliced onions (red preferably, but I use whatever I happen to have in the house)
1 hand full of mozzarella cheese cut into small cubes
1 cup of caramelized walnuts (okay, you could use less, but why?  They are delicious)

drizzle over it all

Annie's Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Enjoy!!!! (silence is optional)


How I caramelize my Walnuts:

I am sure that there probably is a correct way to caramelize walnuts, but this is what I do: I put a few tablespoons of butter in my 12" skillet, add an equal amount of honey (or sugar).  Once it is melted together I add a cup of walnuts and stir until the honey mixture is thick, brown and adhering to the nuts.  I often add a few more drops of honey at the very end..  for extra honey flavor.  Remove from heat and let cool before adding to the salad.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

DIY - Small Drawstring Bag

This afternoon, during nap time, I put together a small draw string bag complete with a super plush lining (which was a pain to work with).  The lining is perfect for muffling the clinks of it's content and maybe just fancy enough to be a bag of jewels in Ivory's princess filled world.  In it's aftermath however, I will be sweeping up purple fuzzies for days to come. 


"Why", you might ask, "are you spending that sacred nap time sewing a silly little draw string bag?"  It wasn't just nap time, but double nap time.  That is right, both of the children are asleep. Well, because the kids got this for Christmas:


A super awesome, positively amazing marble run crafted by my husband in his shop behind the house.  (Yes, I have better pictures of this.. but, just look at Sylvan's super excited face, and that is why I chose this one over all the others.) So now we have a marble problem.  There are somewhere - underneath furniture, in corners, in the sofa, under flowerpots and in this bowl - a hundred of them.  So, I dug through my stash of fabric and pulled out these:


A soft fuzzy remnant piece of a blanket, and a few nice cotton prints and a drawstring cord.  I ended up nixing the cord and using a scrap piece of fabric left over from our curtains instead. 

Materials:

The bag I made is roughly 5" x 7".  
In order to make a bag this size you need:

2 pieces exterior fabric (swirls) - 6" x 8"
2 pieces lining fabric (purple plush) - 6" x 8"
4 pieces to hold the drawstring (brown) - 2" x 4"
2 draw string pieces (purple) - 2" x 19"

Ruler
Scissors
Thread
Sewing Machine

 So, take the lining and exterior fabric face the right side of the fabric together and sew along the short side.  All seam allowances are 1/2".


Open these up, and put them right together right side of the exterior fabric and the right side of the lining fabric facing each other.  Leave an opening at the bottom of the lining fabric (between the red pins) and sew the pieces together.  Turn right side out. Top stitch the opening in the lining shut.  


Tuck the exterior fabric into the lining (backwards of what the final drawstring will be).  Line up the side seams with the bottom of the back.  Sew the corners perpendicular to the side seam making a little triangle (from the white pin head to the second pin head). This gives the bag a flat bottom when you turn in right side out.


Take the 2" x 4" pieces.  Pair them up, right sides together, sew using 1/2 inch seam allowance, leaving an opening (between the pins).  Turn right side out and top stitch as shown below.


Attach these tabs sewing ONLY THE LONG sides.  This gives you a loop in which the drawstring sits. My bag was a little small, so it was pretty tricky to sew these pieces on.  It would be much easier on a larger bag. 


Now to make the drawstrings.  Take the 2" wide strips.  Fold each one in half and iron a crease down the center.  Open up and iron both edges into the middle, and then iron it shut again.  So the final width should be 1/2".  Top stitch on all edges. 


Pull the drawstrings through the laps so that they overlap through the loops and are sewed shut with a zigzag stitch at opposite sides. 


Since the drawstrings are two separate loops the bag cinches shut when they are pulled and there it is again:

Total Time Involved: from start to finish 1.5 hours.
Project Specific Cost: $0 - Sure, I could try and figure a per yard cost, but I won't.  All, but the drawstring fabric, were given to me.  The drawstring fabric is left over from our dining room curtains as was the thread. So, on this little project, I did not spend anything other than time.






Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Beginning of Year List!

I make lists: to do lists, shopping lists, pro and con lists, why I love Adam list (I made it a few months after we met), I even have a what I will do and not do with my children list that I made the summer after my junior year of high school (and I know exactly where it is).  Maybe this is part of the reason I have always looked forward to making a list of New Years's Resolutions.
I love the feeling of starting over, doing better, of the last year being past and a new one just beginning.  When I was younger my New Years's Resolutions were simpler:

     I will make straight A's.

     I will apply and be awarded enough scholarships to pay for the next school year.

     I will do my crunches every morning.

     and on and on..

I knew I could attain these.  It was all so much easier when I operated in world that consisted of - well - mainly me.  The only resolution I never managed to fullfill was to keep a diary - I have summer diaries, a study abroad diary, but not one that lasts - It occurred to me the other day that I have been writing this blog for over a year now and that that is the closest I have ever come to keeping a continuous record of my life.  Exciting!

The past few New Years came and went with out putting any of my goals on paper. Sure, I thought about it often, but it just is not quite as fullfilling as jotting them all down.  Part of the difficulty is that there no longer are concrete benchmarks to gauge "success" by. There are no report cards, no scholarships, no mornings by my self.  Every day is completely uncharted territory - a whole new adventure to itself.

This morning however, I am sipping my cup of coffee, relishing a few quiet moments and jotting down a few dreams and goals for the upcoming year.  (The quiet morning did not last long - in the mean time I have cooked breakfast, taken Sylvan to the potty and am frantically typing this up before I help Ivory make her bed and wash the dishes.)

1. Be more organized - what a broad and lofty goal - but this includes having less clutter, planning and carrying out activities with the kids, continuing my meal planning, and trying to be on time.

2. Feel better about me!  It is really hard to keep track of the mom in the stay-at-home-mom.  There are the kids, the dogs, the chickens, the house, the cooking, the laundry, the constant cleaning... oh yeah, and me - so - I resolve to pluck my eyebrows (that should be simple, right?) before I feel like I have to hide in my house and they make me grouchy.  I want to feel better in my body.  I have weighed the same since I was in high school, so that isn't really the issue. My appearance has never been about how I look, but about how I feel in my own skin.
and those crunches I mentioned - ones I have been doing since I was in high school - well they disappeared when I was pregnant with Sylvan and have just never managed to work their way back into my routine again.  The thing is - I need them.  My lower back has been reminding me for months that I need them.  So I will try to have them be a part of my morning again and the rest of the day will thank me. I will (try to) go to yoga twice a week.  I will drink more water (how can that be so hard?) and get outside more.

3. Commit more time to ceramics and The Clay Studio - start a business with Adam.

4. Document and build more sculpture and apply for a show by the end of the year..  scary. but I would like to at least get rejected once this year.

5. Work toward long term financial independence (sounds like an insane and possibly impossible goal for a family who has an annual income below $10,000) but we can do it.  I am reading Your Money and Your Life by Dominguez and Robin right now.  I am in the process of inventorying all our possessions and have started to track every penny, that is right - EVERY PENNY, that comes into and out of our life.  I even counted the change in the money jar ($12.13).  I am going to finally start the children bank accounts, not buy anything unless we really need it and if we really need something try to find it used or figure out a way to make it ourselves.

6. Garden - MORE! I want to plant Jerusalem Artichokes this year.  I have a pound and a half waiting in the bottom of our fridge.  More tomatoes, more winter squash, more onions, more garlic...  less containers (they sucked last year - some nutrient imbalance) and more kids digging in the dirt next to me.

7. Make a 5 year plan for home remodels. Have I mentioned Adam started to cut larch siding for our house?  It is beautiful (and local, sustainable and affordable).

8. Get outside. I know I mentioned it in the feel better about myself section, but we really do need to get out more - with the dogs, with the kids, alone and as a family.  Can there ever be too much?
Today I am instituting Walk in the Woods Wednesday for the kids and I.  Anyone want to join me?

9. Less screen time.  I heard on On The Media last weekend that the average American watchen 5.5 hours of cable a day.  We don't even have cable or a television and that number seems entirely implausible to me.  The only thing we have is internet, but I do feel like I don't use my internet time efficiently.  So, I resolve to keep the computer off more, in fact I want to schedule black out days through out the week, and hopefully that way I will also reduce the amount of time I am asked: "Mama, can I watch a movie?" and the amount of times I have to say: "No.  Please don't ask me again."  I say that so, so, so many times during a week.

10. I met Adam almost 10 years ago.  It will be exactly 10 years on August 12th.  Why I remember the date is a whole other story that I might share some day...   Sure, we will continue to have some of the same fights - over those damn dogs for example - but, I can live with those.  I feel fortunate to have married someone I can laugh with, have fun with, cuddle up next to and look forward to tomorrow with.  (oh and we did make some really nice looking, adorable, awesome babies - score!) I hope this year will be the best year of many best years to come.

on that note... I better get to my daily to do list: make beds, do dishes, run a few errands and try out our first of this year's Walk in the Woods Wednesday!