Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dinner and a Movie + a Book (Holes)

I have several beloved children's chapter books and Holes, by Louis Sachar, is one of them.  This book never fails to blow me away by the incredible plot connections, characters and twists that the story gives the reader.  Everything about this book is just so well threaded together!  It was always one of my favorite books to teach and I couldn't wait to share it with both the children.

After Harris finished the book, he really wanted to watch the movie which, incredibly, I had never seen!  We had a dinner to go along with our family movie night which included homemade canned peaches (Sploosh) on pork tenderloin, a baked onion (from atop "God's thumb"), canned green beans (they only had canned food at "camp") and a cherry cake that we pretended looked like holes dug in a dry lake bed!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


I've never considered myself a big shoe person and, in fact, have the basics and that's about it, though Bryce would not agree as his idea of basic is different than mine!  However, when I was cleaning out my closet I realized anew that I am a definite clutch person.  I love them and use them whenever I get a chance.  While my clutches don't matter one whit in this world, sometimes it's nice just to look at something pretty!  Therefore, I thought it would be fun to catalogue my favorites...

It all started when Bryce got me this vintage beaded purse that is my absolute favorite.  I love the color of this purse as it goes with everything and looks beautiful!  Unfortunately, I cannot actually use it anymore as the beads are falling off and the clasp won't properly shut any longer.

Once, when I was on a girls weekend trip, I spotted this clutch with a frog on it in the hotel boutique.  When I came home I told Bryce about it, and he surprised me with it for Mother's Day that year.

This clutch was a recent consignment shop find.  Again, I love its color as it goes with everything and it's neat that it is hard sided.

Inevitably, I pull this ruffled clutch out every Christmas.  It's from Target (years ago) and is still going strong!

This beaded and sparkly clutch was also a consignment shop find.

This is probably my most used clutch.  It goes with everything and is perfect with jeans and boots or something dressier.  This was a gift from Bryce for Christmas one year.

And finally, a basic black clutch.  I don't think it could be more simple, but I like that for a black clutch.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Snow Day Pancakes

As I type this, the snow is steadily falling outside and we are on watch for a big storm that is headed our way.  This past Saturday morning, we woke up to several inches of snow and Grace immediately got busy preparing a "snow day surprise" for us.  She made gluten-free pancakes and arranged them into snowmen.  She even whipped up coconut cream to put on top.  It was truly a lovely breakfast and it got me to thinking how fast time is moving.  When I started this blog, 7 years ago, I was making the snow day surprises and now here I am enjoying them made for me.  I love that she is learning to celebrate big and small occasions!

Friday, January 23, 2015


One of my goals for the New Year was to clean something out everyday, which sounds lofty, but it doesn't have to be big- I consider my purse a job well done if that's all I get to!  I made this goal because I've been feeling a bit chaotic with stuff all around that's disorganized.  I find that a mess makes me feel on edge, grumpy and not at all put together.  I haven't managed something everyday, but I'm feeling pretty good about what I have gotten to.

My closet was one of the first things I tackled.  I find that it's so very easy to let my closet slowly turn into a mess.  My closet is not very large and I have to move clothes seasonally, but I hadn't even moved my summer clothes out and my winter clothes in.  Therefore, it was a messy mix of both winter and summer!  I'm sharing my closet not because it's so large and wonderful, but rather because I like the little touches that make me smile when I open up the doors!

Speaking of doors, the one feature that I do love about my closet is that the light comes on when I open the door!  It's wonderful, though I do have to be careful to close the door when done or else we are lighting up my closet for no reason!

We love the Elfa system from the Container Store and have used it in most of our closets.  I've had a closet with a California Closet system in it, but my personal preference is the Elfa system.  Plus, you can change it around if you need too!

I love my pink tea tin and my Harris made turtle to hold pins and such.

As much as I would love a walk in closet, I think my little one is pretty great!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Feeding Harris (Eosinophilic Esophagitis)

I thought that I would give an update on how the new dietary restrictions have gone for Harris and our family.  Back in early December, he had another scope to see if the new restrictions (we took him off dairy and gluten in addition to corn and all nuts) had helped to heal his esophagus and cut down on new irritation and inflammation.  I couldn't believe it when the Dr. called to say that his scope was completely clean.  Zero eosinophils!  We've never had a scope like that and, needless to say, we were thrilled.  Right after Christmas we added corn back into his diet and he will have another scope to see if he's had any reaction to this new addition.  Harris hasn't had corn in almost three years so he was thrilled to have his first bowl of popcorn!

Here's a few notes and thoughts on our journey so far...

*I was completely overwhelmed in the beginning with all of the diet restrictions.  Lunch and snacks particularly flummoxed me.  Taking it one meal at a time is what made it feel the most manageable.  I still sometimes get frustrated with all that he can't have, but our new normal is doable.

*Snacks are the hardest for me and dessert can feel impossible.  Without processed food it often feels like there is nothing to just grab and munch on.  Of course an apple, carrots or a banana are healthy and better options, but the reality is that that doesn't always hit the spot for a 10 year old... or a 42 year old.

*Adding popcorn as a snack has been a huge help and relief.

*Every meal I fix for all of us is gluten/dairy/nut free, but Grace is allowed dairy/gluten for breakfast, snacks, lunches or a drink at dinner.

*Time.  This way of cooking takes time.  From putting together a menu for the week to preparing the food.  Everything seems to take just a little longer to fix and it doesn't make quite as much as traditional recipes.  For instance, I might make dairy/gluten free cookies that I have to make a flour mix for before I even get started.  Then that recipe only makes a dozen cookies that Harris and Grace eat in approximately 5 seconds.

* Some things just are better left behind instead of trying to find replacements.  Gluten free pizza crust?  Yes!  Fake cheese?  No thank you.

*  We have found that we can go out to eat but that we do much better at "nicer" restaurants.  We avoid chains as we found early on that they have all sorts of crazy stuff in their food and often don't actually prepare it.  Our best bets have been when we go to restaurants where a chef is preparing the food from start to finish.  They can almost always make accommodations easily.  However, it adds up!  We really don't eat out much at all.

*I almost always call ahead before we do go out to eat, just to make sure that they can accommodate Harris.  I learned this early on after we went to a restaurant that had 20 million items on their menu but not one that Harris could have.  I believe there were tears from both of us that night!

* It's expensive to cook like this!  For Thanksgiving I bought ingredients to make gluten/dairy free pull apart bread and it cost $62 for all the ingredients.  $62!  I then had the ingredients to make more pull apart bread, but what if it had been terrible?   Or the recipe just didn't work?  I feel very fortunate that we are able to stretch our budget to accommodate our new diet, but I think it speaks to a bigger social/ecomomic issue.  What of those children who have dietary issues whose parents simply cannot afford to feed their family in a similar way?  The same goes for organic foods.  The more I've read the more I want to buy all organic, but there is no denying the cost increase.  It's troubling.

*I've found that for all the effort that goes in to feeding Harris, it's often not just him that enjoys the food.  For instance, Brendan, the children's cousin, loves the pull apart bread spoken about earlier.  He's even asked for leftovers, which makes me happy.  I find that sometimes we all love the "new" version except for Harris.  Of all of us, he's the least adventurous when it comes to food!

*I'm pretty sure that Harris has no idea how much effort, time and thought people around him have put in to making sure he is happily feed.  And I suppose that's how it should be, but there are times where I want to shake him, particularly after he doesn't eat something that was made just for him, and hammer it home just how much effort is being made on his behalf.

*I was worried about our Vermont vacation and food.  However, I called ahead to make sure that dinners would be fine and most lunch spots we found offered gluten free bread.  Hopefully, more and more places will be doing this!

*I also took Harris to a more holistic practitioner that did some tests that looked a little like crazy, witch doctor stuff (this coming from someone who has never veered from the medical mainstream).  She recommended some things to try, which we did faithfully.  Frankly, I figured why not explore all options.  We did these things during the time between his scopes.  It hasn't escaped me that this was the first clean scope he has ever had.  I don't suppose we will ever know if it was the food, the recommendations or a combination of both but it bears mentioning and is definitely food for thought.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Al Made Gifts

I've mentioned here before that my father-in-law, Al, works with wood in his spare time.  He made our bedroom furniture as a wedding gift, bathroom cabinets for our master bathroom (last house) and various kitchen tools such as cake plates, bread boxes and bread cutting boards.  In other words, Al made gifts are the best gifts!  Obviously, these are heirloom pieces for our family and I simply adore them.

For Christmas and my birthday, Al gave me two serving boards and a rolling pin.  They are beautiful and are made from the same pieces of walnut that our furniture is made from.  They are the perfect example of something that is useful and beautiful.  I love them and can't wait to use them.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Woodstock, Vermont

The day after Christmas, we set off for Woodstock, Vermont for a little winter vacation.  This charming town is exactly what you imagine a quaint New England town looking like.

The day after we arrived, Gretchen and family joined us!  We travel well together because everyone is comfortable either doing things together or going our separate ways.

We stayed at The Woodstock Inn and found it to be lovely.  We loved the giant fireplace right as you walk in the door and the children were thrilled with the newly opened game room.

It was quite cold, but it had, unfortunately, been raining prior to our arrival.  Therefore, we didn't go skiing as we had planned since neither Bryce nor I are keen to ski on ice!  We did, however, find lots of other things to do!  Exploring the town and shops was fun for all especially when hot chocolate was promised.

Can you imagine having this fabulous library to go to whenever you wanted a book?  It had the most amazing children's area I've ever seen.

We visited Billings Farm and Museum where we toured the dairy and the gorgeous old farmhouse.

We took a trip to Sugarbush Farm to pick up a gallon of maple syrup!  They also allow you to taste test the various grades of syrup.

On our last day, we took a snowy hike up Mt. Tom.

P.S.  We had an authentic farm to table dinner one evening at Cloudland Farm.  They only serve dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings but it's not to be missed.  Plus, they were extra accommodating about Harris' diet restrictions.

Friday, January 16, 2015

A Copper Kettle

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the comments, phone calls, and emails about my Mom.  I truly appreciate the kindness and thought behind each one!

Years ago, in our last house, I began collecting a few copper items here and there.  Copper pots, cookie cutters, bowls, etc. became a part of my collection.  They "went" with my kitchen perfectly since they were warm and homey.  Then we moved, and I let them fall out of favor.   These beauties were sort of relegated to backs of drawers and out of reach cabinets.   Perhaps this was due to my all white kitchen and nickel finishes on pulls, chandeliers and faucets and (incorrect) belief that copper didn't have a place in that esthetic.  Obviously, that was silly and I've realized copper can, and should, work along side any other kitchen appliance considering it's significant quality, durability and classic look in the kitchen.  Therefore, I've started pulling out my copper pieces more and more, and I recently acquired a gorgeous copper tea kettle.  You guys, I love her so much.  I adore the copper, brass and wood together, and I just think her gracious lines are so beautiful.  

I bought the kettle with the belief that I would have to have her retinned because the inside was filthy and it looked as if it was in really bad shape.  However, before I sent her off to get a new inside, I figured it wouldn't hurt to try to clean up a bit!  Two hours later, I had a brand new looking kettle.  The inside is in perfect shape!  I also found the makers mark which told me she was made in Paris.  Love that.  

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