Friday, January 27, 2012


Sometimes life gets in the way. Lately I've been too busy living life to write about it. This is a crazy season for us.

Right before Christmas, Shaune got a call from a recruiter for a small tech company out of Chicago. He didn't think it was anything serious but he entertained their calls and enjoyed the conversation with them. And then they made an offer. So alas, last Friday was his last day as a civil employee of the State of Illinois (thank goodness!) and Monday he began as a contract employee with the technology company, working a contract here in Springfield. I'm excited for him. I'm also excited that I don't have to move. I'm finally almost unpacked from last time!

I'm back in the swing of leading Bible study. I missed it over the holiday break. I love having a small group of dear friends to study the Word with together. BSF mornings are my favorite.

Grace can stand. She's trying to walk. I'm afraid... she isn't even 9 months old yet. God bless the inventor of the pack-and-play because otherwise I'd lose her. In fact, I actually did the other day (but only for a minute!). I'd left her happily unfolding newly folded clothes while I used the restroom - usually clean clothes can entertain her for ever (or at least long enough) but this time they didn't catch her attention. She crawled away... quietly... crawled under our bed... quietly... and proceeded to get stuck. I emphasize quiet because she NEVER is. After a brief moment of panic I stepped in spilled water she'd knocked from the bedside table and saw her wedged under the bed, at which point she burst out giggling. She's only 8 months old. I'm in for it!

If that weren't enough, I've been spending a lot of time lately preparing to launch my business. After ages of thought I'm going to attempt to break into the cloth diaper market. I've got a great idea and Shaune's designed a cute logo. It'll be the chance to apply what I learned during my brief stint at busines school. But more on that later.

Of course, this is on top of all the normal things. Cooking every day, sewing, cleaning, planning our garden (it's going to be great this year!), cleaning again, unsticking cherios from the floor, trying to sleep here and there... I love being busy but some days I wonder if we've jumped into too much. I miss writing, though. I have tons of thoughts to get out and just no time to do it. I suppose that's just the nature of the season, though. Soon, friends! Know I'm still reading, even when writing is too hard to fit in.

Friday, January 13, 2012

12 in 2012

Last year I sewed a lot... but it was all for other people. Mostly Gracie :) And, why not?! She's little and cute... nothing had to be perfect... and if it didn't work, I hadn't invested too much time or money into anything because everything was little. She got dresses, a coat, cloth diapers; more things than she actually needed. I got a little carried away.

But for me? I never got around to sewing (except for a pair of PJ pants, but those hardly count).

So this year, I'm setting a challenge: I will sew 12 garments to cycle into my every day wardrobe during the year 2012. That is about one per month. I've got a couple bigger projects planned that may take longer than a month, so there will be some short ones mixed in, too. I'm excited by this challenge - I'm tired of my two pairs of ill-fitting "mom jeans" and a miscellaneous blend of other garments that don't fit well OR coordinate with anything else. In addition to my sewing projects, I'll be throwing out a lot of old things and making a couple of carefully chosen purchases so that hopefully by this time next year, dressing is both more fun and easier, with better results.

And, for almost the first time, I'm actually going to sew clothes out of the material they're supposed to be made from instead of quilter's cotton. Sigh. No wonder I don't like wearing the things I've made!

Here's my plan getting started:

And that's all I've got so far. Come summer I want to make some light weight every day dresses with full skirts so I can still get down on the floor with Grace. I like skirts and dresses, even rolling around on the floor: they tend to stay in place better than jeans, especially when I stand up again. I'm more comfy :)

I want to invite you to challenge yourself, too! What will you be sewing in 2012? I'd love to hear your plans for the year!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Black Bean Soup

Per request of one of my friends, I wanted to pass on my black bean soup recipe. This is our favorite winter-warm-up soup :) It fills the belly and is very “clean” according to my husband – it is his official anti-junk food meal, often requested after we’ve been away from home and eating out. Like all good soups, the ingredient quantities are very approximate and turn out differently every time, but it makes a consistently good dinner! It's cheap, too, and you can't beat that!

Black Bean Soup
About 1lb dried black beans, soaked and cooked or 3 cans black beans
2 onions, finely chopped
Olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 can tomato/pepper blend (ie Ro-tel)
4c chicken broth, veggie broth, or bean broth from cooking the beans
4c water
2c corn
Black Pepper
Cayenne Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes

Cook beans if using dried. If using bean broth, reserve 4c. Set aside.
Sweat onions in a generous drizzle of olive oil until soft. Mince or slice garlic and add to onions; cook until they just begin to take on color. Add broth, water, tomato blend, and cooked beans; bring to simmer.
Spice to taste:

  • Be careful with the salt, especially if you use packaged broth or bullion cubes

  • A couple cracks of black pepper go a long way

  • Be generous with the cumin – this is where most of the flavor comes from

  • Feel free to leave out the red pepper flakes, they’re spicy!

  • Cayenne pepper adds a great flavor, but it doesn’t take much. This is an undertone in the flavor.

Give everything at least 20min on the simmer to help the flavors blend together. Add corn and warm just before serving.
When we make this at home, we add in a little bit of whatever leftover cooked meat is around – usually shredded chicken – but its awesome vegetarian as well. Also, try blending some or all of the soup; it is nice pureed too. Serve with corn bread or cornmeal dumplings:

Cornmeal Dumplings
½ c all purpose flour
½ c cornmeal
½ c shredded cheddar cheese
1tsp baking powder
1 egg
2tbsp oil
2tbsp milk

Stir dry ingredients well. Combine wet ingredients then add to the dry. Stir to combine. The dough will be somewhat dry. Drop by heaping tablespoon (I use a melon baller) into simmering soup. Cover pot and cook for 10-12min.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Special Gift

Back when my now-husband and I were first planning our wedding, my mom was planning a quilt.

She took our favorite colors... a lovely pattern... beautiful fabrics... hours of work...

She enlisted the hand-quilters group from her church to do the quilting (and it is fantastic I must say!)...

And like all the best quilts, marked the occasion by embroidering our wedding date on a perfect label for the back. We were blessed to receive the finished quilt for Christmas this year. I'm honored to use it and remember the many hands who prayed for our marriage while they were working on it. Thank you!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Article: Blessed are the Un-Cool

I stumbled across this article today and it made me think. I just had to pass it along:

People sometimes assume that because I’m a progressive 30-year-old who enjoys Mumford and Sons and has no children, I must want a super-hip church—you know, the kind that’s called “Thrive” or “Be” and which boasts “an awesome worship experience,” a fair-trade coffee bar, its own iPhone app, and a pastor who looks like a Jonas Brother.
While none of these features are inherently wrong, (and can of course be used by good people to do good things), these days I find myself longing for a church with a cool factor of about 0. [Read the rest at Blessed are the Un-Cool]

We used to attend a "cool" church - big stage, big lights, big band. But there was also a big hole where Christ should be. It got to the point on our very last service there that the pastor never even touched a Bible, which is when we decided to cut ties and worship elsewhere. Now we're at a very "uncool" church, complete with the amateur music the article's autor desires.

Where do you attend? Would it be considered "cool"? I'd love some dialogue on this!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Grace's Snowflake Christmas Dress

I have waited what seems like forever to make a baby Christmas dress. Here's to a life-goal being completed!
I dreamed of a gown with so much fluff my sweet girl would be hard to hold. I wanted something that was a lovely blend of classic and modern; suitable for Christmas but beyond that into the rest of the winter - who wants to spend hours on a dress that will only be worn once?

I found Simplicity 2392, a reprint from the 1950s. So cute! And it was exactly what I was looking for :) I chose black satin for the top. The skirt is one layer of cream satin and one layer of sheer organza printed with glitter snowflakes. Can you see them?

Although I followed the back of the envelope in regards to sizing, the dress is huge (as you can probably tell). The only alteration I made was to lengthen the sleeves to be long - it is winter after all! As big as it is, I have high hopes this will fit NEXT Christmas as well. I know I can't put her in it on a regular Sunday because she'll destroy it in the nursery. Again, maybe when she's walking next year it will be more practical.

But practical or not, I most certainly had fun making it!