January 29, 2014

pasta and roasted broccoli with almonds, parmesan, and chives

This recipe came from one of those nights I was feeling uninspired by what I had planned, so I decided to wing it. I had to use up broccoli, wanted to use the shallots and chives, needed the pasta for bulk, added the almonds for crunch, and the parmesan was for pure tastiness.

The star here is the roasted broccoli with shallots. I am a firm believer that if you don't like a vegetable, you simply have not prepared it correctly. This is my favorite way to prepare broccoli, so if you think you don't like broccoli, you may find yourself a convert after this meal.

Pasta and roasted broccoli with almonds, parmesan, and chives
only makes about 5 servings if you are in my family of big eaters and broccoli lovers

a couple heads of broccoli (about 7 cups when all chopped up)
1 bulb of shallots, peeled and sliced length wise
olive oil
7 handfuls dried pasta (most ridiculous measurement award)
1 bunch of chives, chopped
grated parmesan for serving
slivered almonds for serving
balsamic vinegar for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop up broccoli heads and dump them onto a baking sheet. Add shallots and drizzle with 3 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Mix with your hands, evenly coating broccoli with olive oil. Spread out in single layer on the baking sheet and roast 15-20 minutes, or until soft when stems are poked with a fork, but not mushy.

While the broccoli is roasting, cook the pasta according to directions, adding a touch of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt into the water. Reserve a bit of water before draining.

Toss the roasted broccoli together with the pasta, adding reserved liquid if necessary. Drizzle with more olive oil and mix in chives. Add salt and pepper to taste

Scoop into bowls and top with a good amount of parmesan and a sprinkling of slivered almonds. Serve with balsamic on the side for those who wish to add some. (We all wished in our family.)


layers for the ladies' dessert

Last Thursday I was able to meet up with a few lovely ladies at Papa Haydn's for dessert. 

It was so refreshing to get chat and laugh with other moms who know what I am going through. At the end of the evening I thanked them for inviting me and declared with a smile "It was so nice to have some time away from the kids so we could all get together and talk about our kids!" They laughed, and agreed.

It was also an excuse to dress up, just a little. Here's what I wore:

dress: Gap (thrifted)
belt: old, no idea
jean shirt: H&M
jacket: Levi Co (hand-me-down from mom)
vest: J. Crew (bought on super-duper sale)
boots: Etienne Aigner (thrifted)

I had in mind to take a bunch of awesome pictures while I was kid-less and in Sellwood, but I became way too busy conversing and eating. Here is the only (terrible) picture I took of what I ate which, sadly, was not Boccone Dolce because they marred it with bananas, but, happily, was every bit as delicious: Creme Brulee.

Do you get dressed up when you go out with your girlfriends?

Thanks so much for reading!

PS stop by around dinner time for a simple and delicious throw-together dinner recipe

January 27, 2014

cupid's arrow: a slightly boho valentine craft

This year, when it came time to make James' annual hand print Valentine craft, I decided to do something a little different. What I wasn't expecting was something that turned out more, er, tribal.

Here's how it happened:

We started with a long stick to form the base for the arrow because sticks are cool-looking and free, just walk outside (I do love a good craft that includes supplies from the great outdoors). Then I took double-sided tape and taped on a bunch of feathers. I was highly tempted to collect these outdoors (you may remember we have a duck pond behind our house), but the hand-sanitizer-carrying mother in me told me not to, so I bought a bag from the craft store.  I probably could have gotten away with using regular tape to secure the feathers, but the double-sided stuff helped the twine that I wrapped around the tape stay put.

I then traced James' hands on brown paper that was folded over, so that when I cut it out and unfolded it, there were the two hand prints, forming the "arrow head". Then I traced and cut out a copy of the arrow head.

James painted both with different colors, and even added some glitter to one side. I secured them on the end of the stick using tape. 

Here he is with his cupid's arrow, looking very tribal with no shirt:

I may have him do another Valentine's craft this week, perhaps a bit more traditional, I'll keep you posted... (ha! posted! no pun intended)...

Happy 18 days 'til Valentine's day!

January 25, 2014

ordinary joys : friendship

We are so, so fortunate in the friends we have made during our time in Vancouver. I am confident we will have them for life. Maybe not such an ordinary joy... bordering on extraordinary.

I hosted a little impromptu play date this week. Three moms. Seven kids age four and under. A wild time. I am so grateful for the friendships of these lovely women. Watching our children grow up together is such a joy.

We wish you a joy-filled weekend!

January 23, 2014

eleanor's girlie nursery

Like all the rooms in our house, Eleanor's room is constantly evolving and is still not complete. But I want to remember it just the way it is now, so I took some quick pictures last week and decided to share if you would like to see...

Although it's not a teeny nursery, Eleanor has the smallest bedroom in the house (she is the littlest person, after all). She still needs book shelves (the girl loves to read), curtains, and a window seat cushion, but, to me, more stuff just makes the room feel crowded.  

It is painted a really pretty shade of robins egg/ Tiffany blue, although these pictures don't do justice to the color. The close-up picture of the rocking chair probably best displays the true color.

Above her crib is art my mother-in-law made out of felt (so creative).

My mom made Eleanor's quilt with my old baby clothing that she kept, which is so special and way more useful than if she had handed me a box of 80's baby clothes and expected me to actually dress my child in them. (Yes, that patch does say "Thank heaven for little boys" and yes, my mom did dress me in it. Awesome.)

I found the lamb stitching at a garage sale. The grand-daughter of the stitcher was selling her grandmother's handiwork for a dollar a piece. But don't worry, I talked her up to three.

Above Eleanor's rocking chair are two box shelves that I also scored at a garage sale and painted. The shelf on the left holds a pair of Elle's shoes, a headband, and her newborn foot prints. The right shelf holds a special bunny mug from a very sweet friend (Eleanor will be drinking coffee out of it soon if she is anything like her mother), her newborn booties (a miracle we have them since at least one came off every time we left the house), and a tea set that is special to Lane's family but I am a bad daughter-in-law because I don't remember why.

On top of her changing table sits a yawning picture of her at seven days old (taken by Kaela Salaz). Above the changing table are an owl shelf and hooks from Ikea which hold her Burts Baby Bee products, headbands ("pretties"), hats, etc. I won the branch and bloom photos from a silent auction benefiting IJM.

This tapestry is also very special. It was brought back from Colombia just for Eleanor by my dad and my Colombian step-mom. They framed it and gave it to Elle for Christmas.

... and the window sill, full of toys, animals, and her over-flowing shoe basket.

It isn't perfect, and I have a few projects I am working on to add to the room, but I do love that it is bright, cozy, and girlie.

And, oh man, do I love the little girl that occupies it.

Thanks for taking a peek into my home,

January 21, 2014

rice with thyme, parmesan, and lemon

I know that we are technically in the heart of comfort food season, but there is something in me that always craves fresh herbs and bright citrus around this time of year.

It was with these cravings that I quickly threw this lunch together.

I heated leftover rice (pasta would work great as well), drizzled it with olive oil, sprinkled it with salt, pepper, fresh thyme, and grated parmesan, and then squeezed a quartered lemon over it.

This lunch would be great to make in a large quantity and then reheat or pack to work throughout the week.

It tastes a little bit like Spring.

Happy lunch time,

January 18, 2014

ordinary joys: sunshine

Sunshine in January in Oregon- ordinary or extraordinary?
I'm not quite sure, but either way, getting outside and feeling the sun on my face was bliss.

Though we live in a decrepid 50's apartment building, have an unwelcome pet mouse and a ceiling leak, we have the most incredible view of downtown Vancouver, the mountains and the water from our living room window. On sunny evenings the pink light reflects on the buildings and it is so beautiful.  

What brought you joy this week?

January 17, 2014

eight ways to save money in 2014

Anyone who has known me for long will probably be surprised by this post. Although my family is fairly frugal, I have never been the wisest person when it comes to money. But the silly (stupid?) combination of moving to one of the most expensive North American cities, grad school, and having a baby have forced me to embrace a healthier financial lifestyle. Plus, my husband's apparently insatiable appetite for education means we are probably looking at another 4-7 years of the grad school lifestyle. Here are some concepts that have helped us a ton:

1. Track your spending (duh ). How can you know how much you can spend if you don't know how much you have? We use mint.com to track our spending and set budgets. It's pretty much the best and simplest thing I have found. We are terrible at tracking ourselves and this is almost a no-brainier technique.

2. Embrace homemade. Thanks to Pinterest and the resurgence of DIY lately, this is pretty simple and in fashion. If you can cook, a homemade meal is almost always going to save you money. Bake your birthday cakes. Sew your curtains. Make your own peanut butter, almond milk, salad dressing, bed frame, liquid soap... Whatever you find inspiration in! Homemade and hand-made things are often higher quality and more memorable than store-bought.

3. Keep your home company-ready (whatever that means for you). That way you can have a friend over for tea instead of going out, or entertain visiting family instead of spending money at a nice restaurant. 

4. Live in the smallest space you can realistically function in. Smaller= less rent or morgage to pay. Smaller= less space to fill up with stuff. I'm frequently saved from making an extraneous purchase when I realize it will just add to the clutter in my home.

5. Decide what's worth a pretty penny to you, and spend your dough there. For me, it's travel. For Nate, it's tech. We would rather wear second hand clothes and have these things as part of our lifestyle.

6. Buy in bulk, but only if you won't consume it faster. When we first moved to Vancouver, land of expensive meat and dairy, we started making trips to Costco in Washington state to 'save money'. We soon found that having that much food on hand just meant we ate it more often than we normally would. Now we shop sales here, and eat less meat and dairy (except for this month). Our exception? Household items. I would bet you're not going to clean house more often because you have plenty of cleaning supplies stashed away. And if you do, I say more power to you.

7. Sometimes you have to spend to save. If you realize after tracking your spending that you give a third of your income to Starbucks, it's time to buy an espresso machine and become your own barista. Another place this is quite true is items around the house- if you could possibly foresee having a need for an item for the rest of your life, spend a bit more now for something high quality that you love. Ikea dishes just break and then you have to spend more later.

8. Know thyself. If you're apt to overspend occasion when you see that thing you must have, or your favorite band comes to town, or you just want a fancy meal out on occasion, then factor that in. Frugal isn't always fun, so leaving room for occasional irresponsibility is actually really responsible.

What would you add to this list?

Xo Katie

January 16, 2014

ten tips for stay-at-home-moms on the days they are doing just that

A few weeks ago my husband was out of town, my car would not start, my son had a cold, and the weather was nasty. In other words: we could not go anywhere, see anyone, or stay outside for long periods of time.

I was fully living up to my title of Stay at Home Mom.

I usually try to make sure the kids and I don't travel anywhere three days per week. We still walk over to the park, or go for a walk through the woods, or sometimes have friends over for play dates, but I feel like it is so important to keep the kids at home and spend quality time with them here. Also, it saves money (that I would be spending on gas, coffee, activities), and I feel like I can get a lot more chores done around the house when I am home all day.

I try to really savor the time at home because I know it won’t be forever that I will have my kiddos here with me. However, it isn’t always easy to keep kids entertained and get chores done. Cabin fever can set in quickly.

Here are ten things that I find make my days at home with my kids smoother and more enjoyable:

 1. Wake up early and drink something warm. If I can get up before my kids, I am a completely different person than if I wake up to the baby crying or James jumping on me. If I have caffeine in my blood system, a plan for breakfast, and a few Bible verses read, the day seems full of possibilities rather than full of stress when the kids get up.

 2. Make your bed. You won’t be as tempted to get back in.

3. Cozy up your home. In the mornings I open the curtains, turn on lamps, put on some soft music, light some candles... I try to make it an inviting place that my family will want to wake up to.

4. Cook a good breakfast and sit down with your kids to eat it. This is certainly not always easy, but I find it very important. If the dog hasn't been fed and my coffee isn't ready and the kids are running around like crazy, I usually give them some fruit or dry cheerios to snack on until I can get myself ready to sit down with them. I really enjoy the time around the table where we talk about the day ahead and have our little Bible study time.

5. Set a time for work and a time for play. If I try to get things done around the house and play with my kids at the same time, I end up frustrated because I cannot actually do both at once. I have learned to tell James "I am going to load the dishwasher, then pick up the kitchen a bit. After that, I would love to play cars with you." I try to offer ideas for him to do while he waits for me, or I tell him ways he can help me. It doesn't always work, but I think it is important for him to learn patience.

 6. Have some activities in mind. My day runs much smoother if I have a plan for things James can do. I usually pull a couple rotational toys down from his closet in the morning, and I will plan an art or cooking project for he and I to do together during Eleanor's nap time.

7. Get out! Now! I mean outdoors, of course. Don’t let weather stop you. Lather on the sunscreen and strap sunhats on the kiddos. Bundle them until they can’t put their arms down. Strap the baby in the front pack and put the toddler on his bike. Just get out. Every day.

8. Clean up after yourself. Ugh. I actually kind of hate this one, but I am a calmer less frantic person when I do it. It amazes me that my house actually seems to be kept more orderly when I am home rather than running in and out.

9. Give your kids some space. It took me awhile to learn this one, but man, am I glad I did. If my kids are entertaining themselves with their toys, using their imaginations and playing well by themselves, I don’t need to feel guilty for not interacting with them one hundred percent of the time.

 10. Make your kids laugh. Have a tickle fest. Make silly faces. Slip on a banana peel. What ever you have to do to get them to giggle and put them in a good mood. You will feel better also, laughter is contagious, especially when it's coming from a kid.

There are other things that I can think of that would be helpful, like "Get dressed out of the outfit you slept in by noon" or "Go to bed at a decent time", but it just didn't seem right to suggest anything that I am incapable of.... however, I would love to hear what helps you to get through the at-home days! Please leave suggestions in the comments below...


January 14, 2014

diy map frame

 My mom has always had a sweet tradition of giving great gifts on Valentine's Day. I would also like to be the type of person who does this.

Additionally, I would like my gifts to be meaningful and homemade. Not sure if this dream will ever be fulfilled in this lifetime, but it has gotten me thinking about all kinds of personal, inexpensive gifts to make.

One such gift is this map frame. Simply take a map (preferably of a special place you have been with your loved one), and cut it to fit the frame. Then modge-podge it in place. I also used tape to secure it on the back.

Place a picture of your travels in the frame, and done.

Happy one month until Valentine's Day!

January 11, 2014

january ten on ten :: ashley

Read about ten on ten here

Wake up. Light a candle. Be thankful for a new day:

Enjoying her eggs and toast:

James' birthday present to Daddy:

Secret agent James:

The view of the pond from our back deck. Beautiful and uplifting, even on the grayest days:

Psalm 100: 1+2:

Basement bowling:

This day, one year ago:

Thai take-out:

Happy birthday, to my amazing husband:

Did you join in ten on ten? Leave your website in the comments so we can see your photos!

Here's to capturing the ordinary (and extraordinary) joys in life,

PS I took a similar birthday photo this year of my three favorite people on Lane's birthday. I think I will do this each year: