Friday, July 16, 2010

A Glimpse of Real Life

Happy Friday, friends!!  I was just giggling at Mamalooma's blog Kids&Crafts&Food&Love and one of her lines immediately brought to mind a post I'd just read by Amanda Soule at Soule Mama.  These two together said exactly what I've thought myself so many times lately.  So in the spirit of a semi-lazy Friday post, I'm going to let them both tell you what's been on my mind lately too.  Have a wonderful weekend and check out their original posts when you get a sec!!  Hugs ~J. 

Mamalooma says, "I tell you this (admittedly much too long) story so you know that even though I’m posting all these things I’m doing, most days I’m still just trying to brush my teeth or pee alone. Sometimes when I read crafty or fun mama blogs I feel like, “How can she possibly be doing all this creative s**t and be making all these things from scratch?” Yes, I’ve had good luck this far either incorporating the kids into my preservation efforts (not the boiling water stuff though) or doing the harder stuff with ample backup from Dan.

I am reminded of something Sharon Astyk wrote once. I will paraphrase as I got the book from the library. It was something like, “People see the things I do and wonder how I canned 30 quarts of tomatoes and harvested all our corn in one afternoon, but they don’t see how many times I told the kids to leave me alone and how my husband had to do a disgusting diaper change in the field with some corn husks.”

It’s a balance, and it’s healthy–nay, necessary–to see the humor in all this. As the saying goes, courage is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. It’s all part of the fun.

Soulemama says, "The adults around here have had a bit of a trying week. Nothing earth-shattering and everyone is healthy, so of course that's what really matters. But it's been just enough of a roller coaster to make our heads spin and our stomachs turn (and I really do hope there is happy news to share about all of this soon). I mention it, not to be vague or invoke mystery, but because it's too much of our life right now not to. Just like the pile of dishes, and the unphotographed piles of laundry. Of course, our home and our lives are full of that, just like I know yours are too. 

We all have so much 'life' happening all around us all of the time, don't we? Some good, some hard, some truly awful. It's in the context of that - a life of good and bad and up and down - that I write this tiny little blog post each and every day. And you know, these past few weeks, as has been the case before at times like this, it's been a little more challenging to find something 'nice' to say each day. is precisely at weeks like these that I end up feeling so grateful for the way in which I've chosen to write here. To use this space as a way to see and seek the simple joys in our lives, and in my days. Because, of course, when you set about looking for it, that's what you find.

At the end of another long day here this week, a day full of frustrating phone calls, and tiresome paperwork, I found myself exhausted, deflated and sad as I sat down to look at the day's photos. And there...there I found these four photographs. Just these. They tell, to me, a most wonderful story of the day I had just had. They remind me that amidst the yuck, there was a whole lot of lovely too. Simple stay-at-home family pleasures and magical moments of connection and love and fun.

So, I edited my photos, plopped them into this here blog post, took a deep breath and found myself heading off to bed, smiling with the memory of Harper, Adelaide and Ezra running back and forth from the washtub to me, giggling all the while, and dumping cold water on Mama's toes. Which, really, is just about one of the greatest feelings, I've decided, in all of the world.
I was reminded that All is Well.

Thank you, blog."

No, Thank YOU Mamalooma and Soule Mama!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fork In The Road - a GREAT place to be

And under the heading of "sharing the things I love..."   Today's post is a plug for some friends who have followed their dream (yessss) and started a small business centered around their love (and mine) - FOOD!!  The bright orange Fork In The Road truck can be found daily all over the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area serving up their delicious eats over the lunch hour at local businesses and in the streets (literally!)  They also cruise the region, supplying delish dishes at fairs, festivals, and sporting events.  Check them out, and where they're serving next, on their facebook page or via Twitter (forkNroadtruck.)

If you've never eaten at a lunch truck, but always though it would be a fun, funky experience, you have a good reason to hunt them down!  An even better reason is this...Summer Salad with red bell pepper, red onion, cashews, and sweet poppy seed vinaigrette - add chicken if you choose.
Congratulations to Kari and Amy on the launch of this fantastically yummy new venture!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it {or how my heart swells with Joy for $25}

Friday and Saturday yielded such outstanding, inspiring, exciting finds that simply had to pop in to share them with you!  

First, apologies for the crummy photography.  Our Nikon D40 took a tumble out of the back of the car a month ago and has yet to be repaired (or replaced? *Gasp*)  That leaves me with the little point and shoot camera which even in macro mode, doesn't produce very detailed pics.  This long apology is necessary because the photos just don't do this stuff justice I tell you, it's so great and I'm so inspired to begin transforming, creating, and incorporating it into our home and our life!!

Details of the finds: 
*One garage sale with 5 boxes of fabric found in a mother-in-law's attic, each scrap was $.25.  This sale was a block over from my house and I met a really cool mom of 3, so we're certain to meet again at the neighborhood playground that's also a block away.  Such a bonus! 
*One estate sale happened upon by accident on our way home from Farmer's Market yesterday morn.  As it was the final day of the sale, everything was 50% off!!

First the fabric:  This piece is 53x35 and begging to be stretched on a wooden frame and hung on the wall.  It's from Finland circa 1972 (and totally my colors - love that bright citrus!)

Here are the rest of my scavenged scraps----(can you see the little green critter at the base of the apple?!  Wish I had my good camera - ugh!)  What ideas spring to mind when you see this stack?

The estate sale gave me some new projects and a bit of whimsy for our expanding garden.  I dug the chair out of a corner in the basement, there was no price on it, and the worker's response was that he'd check on the price but couldn't imagine it would be worth much.  The result - I paid $3 and felt that it was indeed worth A LOT.  The white plant stand only needs to be cleaned up and filled with pots of flowers.  Next year I think I'll use it to grow herbs.  The side table/magazine rack will stay in its weathered state, but I will probably replace the glass top with something a bit more preschooler-friendly.  Either a fabric covered board, a brightly painted top, or maybe a rustic tiled surface?  Maybe this is my hubby's chance to try a mosaic?  What do you think? 

Finally, the textile pieces from the estate sale.  A couple of fun dresses that look to be a perfect fit for my friend Jen and her daughter (wish I could've gotten a better picture of each so you could see the rhinestone studs on the pink dress and the texture of the fabric on the red/white one), a soft linen pillow case embroidered with yellow flowers (my color!) a softly worn white mid-weight blanket for O's bed (reminds me of grandma's,) and a great quilt which was hiding under a cheesy pink satin bed set (only $3 folks!!)

Time to sign off the computer, close down its screen, and head outside!  Talk with you soon, friends!  Hope your weekend has been wonderful.  ~Joy

Monday, July 5, 2010

Peach Crisp: Nature's Candy

Hi, friends!  The last day of our long weekend is upon us.  It started strong with a trip to the flower mart (50% off, so time to fill in the landscape a bit) then to swimming lessons with O.  Now it's raining, boo, so I decided to bake a peach crisp even though it's nearly 80 degrees and muggy outside.  When I was a kid we had a giant house fan in the window at the landing of the stairs, but no air.  Somehow my mom still cooked, canned, and baked all through the summer and we all survived!  I guess that's why baking on a hot day still causes me to pause.  Thank heavens for the luxury of central air!  But I digress...Back to the crisp...

Here it is, cooling on the counter as I type.  The peaches were already "nature's candy" (my hubby's phrase) before they were coated in cinnamon, honey, and crunchy goodness.  I can't wait to taste the finished result, so this will be short.  He, he, he.

I'm more of a cook and less of a baker, too much precision needed for the later, but crisps are easy.  I use my Grandma Adell's recipe - good old flour, oats, brown sugar, and butter.  Today I substituted white whole wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour and cut back on the butter, using a little half and half to create the consistency I'm used to.  Also, I used honey to sweeten the filling instead of sugar since it has a lower glycemic index.  Nope, no diabetes here - my 3 year old needs absolutely no sugar in his diet to be a wacky ball of energy, so anything with less refined sugar is a bonus.  The whole wheat flour helps a little too and you can usually sub 1/2 of the amount called for without sacrificing the taste of a recipe.

On a side note, the little coffee station behind my strategically placed crisp is a new vignette.  I gathered up my morning supplies on vintage tray I thrifted from an estate sale a couple of weeks ago.  It's all on the counter everyday anyway and looks a little more tidy this way.  I love it.  My inspirational friend Jen does this and I always think it's such a good idea, so thanks Jen!

Okay, off to taste the crisp!  By the way, I made that Cilantro Lime Coleslaw from the Food Network Magazine I blogged about last week and it was perfectly refreshing.  What seasonal recipes have you been enjoying with the awesome summer produce?  Do tell!  ~J.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Good morning!  After a horribly excruciating day of online continuing education yesterday (and no, I'm NOT exaggerating, it was terrible) I'm very happy to do something on the computer I enjoy - blogging - with coffee, of course.

There isn't much originality in this post; I'm not the first, and certainly won't be the last, to paint a piece of tired furniture.  However, this project is such a satisfying reminder of exactly how wonderful a cast-off item can be after a little TLC. 

I found this little number at a thrift store for $2.95.  It was badly beaten up and the top was full of dark rings, marks, and almost deplete of finish (it had been well worn.)  The lines of the piece were adorable though, so home it came.  Also, it's made by Bassett furniture, is solid wood, and even has dovetail joints on the drawers - not your typical MDF or plywood special.  It had some "bones" to it.  I was pretty pumped! 

After it sat in our lower level for 6 weeks, I finally made time to take it out in the yard during nap time and give it the attention it deserved.  I wish I would've taken a photo before I sanded down the top and removed the drawer and hardware, but I guess I was too eager to get going and lost my "blogging head." 

I applied a couple coats of blocking primer to conceal the dark rings and a couple coats of semi-gloss white paint, then brightened up the original hardware with some Brasso, and beautiful new end table!!

Now that I look at it, I may have the hardware on upside down, but I like it better that way!  It is so much more interesting than the matchy-matchy, mega furniture store coffee table/end table set we had (which is at a consignment store as we speak.)  Most importantly, I smile every time I walk in the room and see it!  My goal is to trade everything in the house that's just "there" for something that makes me smile - a piece I really love!  My quest continues with this weekend's new batch of garage sales, yard sales and maybe even a flea market or two.  What's the latest quest in your life?  Or, what have you brought back to life in your home or yard recently?  I'd love to see some makeover pictures if you're inclined to share. 

Happy Thursday - big holiday weekend upon us in the USA!  Hoping to catch some fireworks and sending you all my best.  ~J.