Sunday, April 29, 2012

Finis

We are officially finished with our spring performances! I am exhausted but very happy. We've loved dancing Coppelia, and I'll really miss the warmups and shows. On the other hand, my son is ready to have his parents and schedule back. Also, we've missed church 2 weeks in a row and that's about as long as I can go without developing a twitch. I really miss fellowship with the body of Christ, the church. There really is no substitute. I miss the preaching of the Gospel, the worship together as a congregation, the prayer, the fellowship, the tangible feeling of being loved as you walk through the doors...It can be the loving church we currently attend, or the teeny tiny hometown church near my aunt's house 2 hours away, or a new church we're visiting on vacation...any church that worships Jesus as Lord will always feel like coming 'home' to me. And I miss that. So, we'll be happy to be back next weekend :)

In random news, we can't find any of the critter's binkies, so this poor child may be weaned accidentally. I just hope he gets a good night's sleep. And by he I mean we.

I sewed a fun 2 hour skirt a few nights ago, and barely escaped with my finger intact. Late nights + sewing = accidents abound. I have a backlog of fun projects on the docket though, and I am really looking forward to working on my bee apron. And my chicken apron. To sell, of course...of course. Ok, I may be keeping one.
 ...Speaking of chickens, I cannot be more thrilled about that fact that hubs has given me legit permission to buy a few chickens when we purchase a house in a few years. Right now we lease a condo in a beautiful town and I have enough room for a small garden and some patio plants. I started a billion plants from seed under a modified grow lamp in my kitchen back in February, and my continual high rate of plant failure keeps me pretty busy, and my need to be in the dirt fulfilled. But. BUT. In my dreams, I really want a few acres...or even just 1 or 2, and I want chickens. Big chickens. Small chickens. Silly chickens. Egg laying chickens. MEAT chickens. I want chickens! And maybe a cow for dairy, but that's a whole other ball game. I didn't ever think my Babe would go for it, but he is genuinely all about getting a few chickens, and a few acres, and a few dogs (that was the compromise). All my Laura Ingalls dreams are coming true :) I'm not some off the grid granola head, but I really would love to be able to grow a good portion of our food. It's good for our bodies, it's good for our budget, it's good for the environment, and I like knowing where my food comes from. And there's just a good feeling you get when you plant a seed, with a little hope, and you water and wait and water and wait and water and wait and then - pop! The miracle of life! A seedling. Truthfully, I pray for my plants when a frost is coming. Don't judge me. The zucchini survived, didn't it? (it did.) So, even though we won't be looking to buy for two more years, I've already got the hen house basically mapped out :)

So, there is your smattering of rambling, two weeks overdue. Now that the performances are over, I'll be updating more regularly. I'll post soon on planning a weekly menu for your family, and budgeting (ha!), and sewing, and maybe even a reflection on dancing ballet again as an adult, if I'm feeling sentimental. And I am, since my kid weaned two weeks ago, and my hormones are as stable as our weather patterns right now. No joke, I cried actual tearballs during the bows at the end of the show today because 3 senior girls were graduating, going off to college and one won't be dancing anymore. Do I know these girls on an intimate friendship level?? Have we ever hung out, ever, or had more than a two sentence verbal exchange in our lives? DO I EVEN KNOW THEIR LAST NAMES?? Nope. Just your standard hormonal loon crying over complete strangers taking their last curtain call. No big deal.

Off to bed. God bless you.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Coppelia

This week was tech week, and tomorrow is our first of four Coppelia performances over the next two weekends. It's a very fun show, and you can find more performance info at www.balletnj.org, as well as purchase tickets. I'll be back to blogging when the shows are over!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Today's Happy Things

In order of appearance:

His mercies are new every morning!

My husband didn't need to leave till 9am.

Baby Praying Mantii (many mantises?) in my garden.

Errands with a happy baby.

Spending the afternoon in a friend's sunny, farmy backyard with our toddlers and a baby pool and water toys and warm dirt and green grass.

Bugs. I do love em when they're not arachnids or in my house.

My sweet baby's blessed temperament today. Nary a screech and while weaning no less!

We are weaning. Bittersweet but oh so ready.

Quiet time on my patio with the Lord. Reading the Word, hearing birds and bees and the smell of grass and sunshine and the peace of God...there is nothing on Earth like it.

Undercover Boss: Seeing people work with integrity and excellence when they don't know they're working with their CEO makes me really happy. Honestly, seeing integrity and a job well done anywhere makes me really really happy.

Banana chip ice cream. That makes twice this week.

Windows open...lullabies on the baby monitor...a quiet home and heart. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for everything. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Boy oh boy, are you in luck.

We went to Sam's today to lock down the bee print situation. For some lucky saint, an apron made from one of these fine materials awaits. Yes, those are chickens and roosters sitting in various buckets and teakettles. Try to control yourself.






This was me overjoyed at locating my bolt of bees.


These are actually going to turn out really well, I can't wait to get started on them. I ordered two yards of each, just in case I wanted a little extra to play with around here :)

Bzzz for now.




Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bee print REMIXXXX


Here's the thing. Tonight, I finished cutting out the pattern pieces for THIS sweet little number out my oft discussed BEE PRINT fabric.


Ok, that's not quite what the apron looks like, but if you're asking my husband, it's close enough.

Truth telling time: I have 3/4 of a yard left. Enough to make another apron. Presumably to sell. But I don't think I can do it. What's that you say?? Who needs TWO bee print aprons?

Ask these ladies.



There can never be enough bees. Or aprons. Or bee aprons. Side note, if I get stung this summer it'll be the for the first time since I was five, and we will all know what to blame.

So I think to answer both my need for bees and the public outcry for more bee printed aprons, I need to go back to Sam's, buy more bee fabric, and by then I'll be prepared to part with it, blessing the world with Hymenoptera goodness.


Sigh. You see what the demanding public puts me through?

Love,

The Bee Whisperer

New England Whatever Chowder

I've had some bought-in-bulk Haddock fillets from Wegman's waiting to be used in my freezer. It was a little chillier this morning, and I figured why not try a fish chowder? You really can make this with anything seafood, clams, fish, scallops, shrimp, although they may add more fishyness than a lighter fish would. This chowder is delicious and really easy to throw together. Easy to make, store, and clean up, it's a weeknight winner. Boom.

Haddock Chowder
BACON - we used 5 pieces
russet, red, or yukon potatoes - 4 large or a bunch of smalls, quartered and diced.
1 large onion - we used a sweet onion and it was extra yummy. Diced.
1/4 lb of Haddock or any kind of seafood, cut into small pieces.
frozen corn if desired
1/2 cup heavy cream
chicken broth, enough to cover the potatoes, 32oz should do it. (water is fine too)
SALT
pepper

Throw some bacon in your dutch oven or large pot on medium and let all the fat render out. Can you see the theme on this blog? Render. Fat. DELICIOUS. Make the bacon nice and crispy, then put it on the side. Exercise ALL your willpower to not eat the bacon while you're cooking.

In the bacon fat, sautee the onions and throw in some seasoning; we used Bell's Seasoning because I think it should be part of the structure of the onion itself. That's how well it goes with onions. They should call it Bell's onion enhancer. Anyway, cook the onions and seasoning and salt and pepper for a few minutes until they're soft and smelly and wonderful. Throw in the potatoes. Cover the onions and potatoes with just enough chicken broth (or water if you don't have it on hand), and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer about 15 minutes, or until taters are tender. Towards the end you can throw in as much or little frozen corn as you'd like.

Add your fish to the simmering broth, and cover for 5 minutes, or until the fish is no longer translucent. Turn the heat down till you no longer see bubbles, and add as much heavy cream (or milk) as you'd like, to taste. 1/2 cup is good. At this point, check the seasoning, and add more salt if you need it. Toss the chowder in some bowl, add the crumbly bacon on top and serve with crusty bread if you can. We used Trader Joe's ficelle bake at home rolls and it was just perfect with this. All in all a cheap and yummy meal! You'll have leftovers for a few days and chowders are ALWAYS better the day or two after :)

Enjoy!!




ps I hope you washed your hands first.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hydrangea Fever

First Apron for sale! 
This lilac-hued half apron features a Hydrangea print with a short and sweet scalloped hem. A cotton lace detailed side pocket will hold all your goodies, or at least hide your hand. Material is a cotton sateen with a slight give. Perfect for hostessing, cooking, cleaning, or making hubby blush because you look so sweet in it. 
Price is $23.00 plus shipping or, free delivery if you live in a 7 mile radius of 08053. Spread the word! Also viewable soon on my etsy shop, www.etsy.com/shop/blueletterchels.

 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Blue Ribbon Chili

Whoa Mama. Tonight, I had the best chili I have ever eaten in my whole life. Ever. I have been to two (or one? I don't remember) chili cookoffs - this is still better. It takes as long as you want it to, anywhere from 2-4 hours, so it's perfect to start at lunch and eat for dinner. I don't have anything else to say - make this and eat it and LOVE IT. It is SO good.

2lbs of ground beef - we used angus beef from Shoprite, maybe this is the difference? I don't know. Get a good cow and grind it up.
6 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1 cup chopped onion - one big one or two small ones
2/3 can of tomato sauce, eyeballed. It was a 28oz can, I poured in a little more than half :)
1/2 cup chicken broth or beef broth or water I'm sure it'll be just as good
1 bottle Corona - this is so key. It smelled so good. It tasted so good. I don't even like beer and I want to make it with 2 bottles next time. Maybe.
"3 Tablespoons Chili Powder" - we did not do this. I had 1 tablespoon and 1/2 packet of a Trader Joe's taco seasoning packet. It was perfect. I did find more Chili Powder later and I did shake a few dashes in. You should do this. 3 TBS of Chili Powder can kiss a lemon, because that TJ's taco seasoning made it.
2 tsp Italian seasoning - eyeballed. It may have been closer to a TBS. It was good.
1/2 tsp ground coriander - if you dont have it, NBD.
1 can black beans
1 can Cannellini beans 
Cornmeal

First, wash your hands please.

In a dutch oven or stockpot or cooking receptacle, brown your beef. If you set the heat a little lower than medium, more fat will render out, which is what you'll be cooking the other ingredients in, so this is a good thing. Brown it, render it, whatever, then remove the beef with a slotted spoon to a separate plate or bowl, keeping the beef fat in your stockpot. Remove all but 2 TBS, or enough to cover the bottom of your pan and then some.

Turn the stove up to med high and toss in your onions and garlic cloves. Let them sautee a few minutes until slightly translucent and largely good smelling.  

Return the beef you set aside to your pot and throw in the rest of your ingredients except the cornmeal. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cover. Walk away for an hour or two, but stir it every once in a while.

After an hour or so, sprinkle in a handful of cornmeal slowly. Stir it up. Walk away for another hour or two. Every once in a while, stir it and scrape up the goodies from the bottom of the pan.

When you're almost ready to eat, check on it - if it's thick, go for it. If you'd like to thicken it a little more, slowly stir in one more handful of cornmeal, and give it 15-20 minutes. Then take off the heat, serve into bowls, top with shredded cheese and tortilla chips on the side if you want. I am a chip fanatic with my chili and I am telling you, this chili didn't need a blessed thing.

Sit down. Thank the Lord for giving you this delicious nourishment. Eat it. Waddle away to do whatever you want to do, full and content.


The end.



 



Thursday, April 5, 2012

Selfish Seamstress

I am in love with my 3 yards of this spring/summer calico for aprons.





I really don't think I can use it for any pieces to sell. Reason one being I am selfish with my bee prints. Reason two being no body else wants to be covered in bees.


This will be the finished product. But with, you know, BEES. There should be 1/2 yard left over...MAYBE some lucky soul will get a half apron out of it.

Maybe.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Better

So, we are all better at the House of Babe, but I haven't been keeping up with any sort of schedule, meal or otherwise. No joke, this week's menu had "leftovers" in four different day slots :) I'm trying to finish out our freezer stash, which we started 8 or 9 weeks ago as an experiment, which by the way, I mark down as failed. Here is why:

We decided at the end of Jan/beginning of Feb to blow through approx a month of grocery budget in a day and stock our freezer with meat and pantry with sale items. Wegman's had the best prices on meat, so we went with them. The premise was if our freezer was stocked with meat, and our pantry stocked with dry goods, then supposedly we should only need to supplement with fresh produce, milk, eggs, and cheese every week, keeping our budget waaaay down. I don't know how, but every single week, with the exception of one week, we blew the budget. Without fail. We didn't buy anything different, fancy, foreign, just the normal stuff to fill out a week's worth of meals. So, buying in bulk did not save us money. It cost us normal money, and extra money, and I can't figure any reason for it except we like to eat and I am really bad with money.

So, it's back to the sale papers and weekly shopping. Here's another grocery conundrum, since I know you're on the edge of your seat; when working, I tried to keep our grocery budget at $50/week for our family of three. Since I was working nights, we only made dinner 3 or 4 nights a week, and Deej fended for himself the rest of the week. Baby was eating grilled cheese or oatmeal, so no budget busting there. Now that I don't work, and the toddler eats a lot more, we need more meals at home, and we can't do 21 meals plus snacks on $50 and still eat healthily. The conundrum is I'm not willing to compromise on health and food safety, so I buy my milk, eggs, baby snacks, and produce at Trader Joe's because everything in their store is non GMO. Call me silly, but I don't want animal DNA in my apples. I buy our meat and other staples at Shoprite, because their prices are good, I like their savings club, and it's clean and I grew up with it and will always think it's the best place on earth. No lie, when we used to go south for a conference every year, I called all the Food Lion's "Shoprite." If its a grocery store, it's a Shoprite. Anyway, the conundrum. It is exponentially cheaper to buy processed "foods" but it also is not always real food and I really think America's health problems are environmental and diet based. So, I don't want to compromise there either. I bake my own bread about 50% of the time, and make most of our meals from scratch. I think the long term health benefits of not eating a highly processed/non food diet out weigh the short term wallet squeeze...But we still need to be in the black at the end of the month. Choices, choices.

I love not working and being home with our critter, and I would not go back unless I was physically forced to, or Deej wanted me to.  Thankfully, Deej LOVES that I'm not working, and can feel a palpable difference in our home atmosphere, and the meals ready when he comes home from work don't hurt either. But I still want to contribute to the family income in some way. It just seems right. I'm going to try selling aprons on an Etsy, since vintage is back and they really are a great help with cleaning and cooking. Our grocery budget will also be a little looser June-September since we joined a local CSA, and I'm growing produce out front. All this to say...there's no super simple easy way to run a house. There's choices and consequences, checks and balances, faith steps and risks, successes and failures. I really do enjoy learning it as I go along though :) We are very blessed.

Time to put the peanut head to bed. What are you guys cooking this week?
xoxo
Chels