Happy 6th Birthday, Adele!

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We’ve been discussing James 1:2, “Brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials . . .” And this is Adele’s “joy face” — which she has to show me if she has a bad attitude about something. Works EVERY time!

I like parties to be simple. Especially birthday parties. Generally, I find that children’s birthday parties (especially on pinterest!) are not at all simple — stressful for the parents and they seem to encourage selfishness in the children. So we typically just have a family dinner with maybe one friend. But, since we are relatively new to the neighborhood and hadn’t gotten to know a few of the neighborhood kids’ parents yet, we turned Adele’s birthday party into an excuse to get to know some of her friends’ parents and siblings. We invited the three families of the kids that all play together on our street. I made simple invitations with watercolor paint and dip pen calligraphy (which was no big deal since I only had to do three). We decided to do lunch, so that Kent could cook the pizzas while the sun was still out (and lunch worked out better for our guests, too). I specified “no gifts, please” on the invitations (but, everyone brought gifts anyway).

We didn’t have a theme, organized games, or party favors. The kids had a blast coloring and running around. Everybody had a chance to talk and get to know each other better.

With all three leaves in the table (and just about every chair in the whole house at the table), the birthday tablecloth wasn’t quite long enough =)

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I don’t think Eleanor was put down once during the whole party. Everybody was commenting on how easy and happy she was. She even took a nap in sweet Grace’s arms!P1060246

My buddy N chillin’ with Everett.

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I am so grateful to be living in this house, in this neighborhood. I am so grateful that Adele has so many friends to play with right outside our door.

For drinks, we served hot mulled cider (one gallon was more than enough since we used small punch cups), fizzy water, and plain water.

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Kent made the Butter Sponge Cake from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child (three layers) on Thursday night, then we put the cakes into the freezer. On Friday night before dinner, Mom did the crumb coat with Julia’s buttercream frosting recipe for the outside and a homemade strawberry frosting for the filling (all per Adele’s request). Before bed, I took the cake out and did the second coat of frosting. On Saturday morning after breakfast, I did the lettering and added the sprinkles.

 

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And, now for the pizza pictures . . .

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Kent made six pizzas for the party. He is constantly optimizing his oven skills =) Right now, it takes him two minutes and twenty seconds to bake one pizza (rotating it halfway through). He assembles the pizzas on the wood peels and removes them from the oven with the metal peels.

 

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Kent has two doors for the oven (you can see them on the ground to the left of the oven in the picture below).  The smaller black one is the firing door (used while cooking pizza), which allows the air to flow and keeps the fire going. The larger silver one covers the opening completely — he uses it for baking bread and other things once the coals have been removed.  P1060236

Note the coils on the handle. They are magic, people! You really can touch the coils with your bare hands but you have to be super careful not to brush your skin against any part of the door other than the coils because that thing is WICKED HOT!

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This was the  most unique pizza of the day – onion, bacon, and egg – and it was delicious!

 

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You can follow our pizza oven adventures right HERE.

Sauerkraut, mmmmmm!

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I am popping in today to post the recipe from the little booklet that came with my Harsch crock, since I can never remember how much salt to add.

Never fill more than 4/5ths of the way up (the carbonic acid and the weighing stones need some space).

approx 5 – 8 kg of cabbage for the 10 L pot – I have the 5 L pot, so that means 2.5 – 4 kg cabbage (usually two big ones or three small ones fit nicely).

approx 5 – 8 g (max 15 g) salt per 1 kg of cabbage

If you need to add liquid (so that the stones are covered by 3 – 4 cm of liquid), use filtered and salted water that has been boiled and cooled (15g of salt for 1 L water).

FYI, my 5L crock makes about four quart jars of finished sauerkraut. Kent prefers the green cabbage over purple and he’s not a fan of caraway seeds, so plain green cabbage is what I usually make – and it’s delicious. Everett LOVES kraut juice when he can get it! I try to serve something fermented with EVERY meal. And, we found some real lactofermented kimchi at the commissary of all places. YUM!!!

 

Our house

**I am reposting this page because I’ve updated almost every room and I want to have a page on the blog with all the links in one place.

I really want our home to be a haven from the world, a place dedicated to the Lord where we can recharge and also serve others in hospitality. As a homekeeper/keeper-at-home/homemaker/whatever-you-call-it, I think that involves three main realms of responsibility (not including responsibilities as a wife and a mother): household cleaning/organization, decorating, and atmosphere.

HOUSEHOLD CLEANING & ORGANIZATION

For the household cleaning/organization, I turn to Auntie Leila at Like Mother, Like Daughter. She has an excellent SERIES ON CLEANING. And she shares a bit on her cleaning philosophy here: We are not about perfection. We are about competence. AND We are about trying to have a minimum of order so that we can pursue the wonder — order in the home, order in our days — wonder in our time together as family and friends and with God.

DECORATING

For the decorating, I turn to Darlene at Fieldstone Hill Design blog. This is just a lovely house, so there really isn’t much that I could do to mess it up decorating-wise. But, if I don’t have a plan, I could spend good money on things that don’t look good together, don’t work in the room, etc. . . . Since nobody likes to waste money, Darlene suggests thinking about your personal design style and writing down a list of words – in order to help you buy only things that you really really love. So when you hold out for the things that you LOVE and DON’T buy things that you just like, even though they were on sale, etc., it saves you money and your house isn’t filled with stuff that you feel so-so about. That really resonated with me. So, now I’m trying to be really intentional about what I bring into the house and getting rid of as much stuff as I can if I don’t REALLY love it. And, I am trying to be patient until I find just the right thing.

Nicole’s Personal Design Style Words

Elegant

glamorous, sophisticated. For example: turned wooden furniture legs on casters, Carrera marble (I want this for my dream kitchen counters – I even love marble when it is stained and not perfect – it is still lovely to me), crystal chandeliers, and un-lacquered brass fixtures — but only in applications that won’t get ruined by an active family

Rustic

farmhouse, utilitarian, hard-working, enduring, durable, easy-care (wipeable), rugged matte-finish metals, raw/distressed wood — for furniture items that get USED and abused – like the dining room table, flooring, and seating.

Bright

airy, breathes, flows (more of a feeling than any particular color or fabric)

Orderly

serene, uncluttered, organized, clear surfaces (i.e. no decor items on tables, etc. so you can actually use them without having to clear it off first)

Inspiring/Natural

unique, wood (grey, white, medium/natural, weathered, limewash), lots of natural elements, interesting textures

Classic & Timeless

This is a slippery slope for me because while I really do love classics, I do NOT want my house to look like old people live here! I am attracted to a lot of old things, but I need to remember to mix in some modern things to keep it from feeling frumpy and boring (see next). I love carved wood, but I really prefer Louie XVI with straight lines to the easier-to-find-on-craigslist Queen Anne or Louie XV curvy styles.

with Unexpected Touches of Whimsy

So, while I want to furnish my home in mostly solid, neutral colors (gray, beige, linen, leather, wood, etc.), I also want to add pattern/bold color/pattern in TEMPORARY applications and SMALL doses (Darlene calls them punch colors) like fresh flowers, accessories, pillows, etc.. NO patterns or colors on major pieces of furniture (unless it is easy and inexpensive to change when I get tired of it).

ATMOSPHERE & ATTITUDE

Finally, my job is to set the right atmosphere in the home (i.e. have a good attitude). And nothing can spoil my attitude like a spirit of discontentment (which is the same as ungratitude, i.e. the opposite of eucharisteo). So, I remind myself that this world is not my home – my real home is a palace in heaven. My job is to be a good steward of God’s possessions (including this house) while I am here on earth. And I am trying really hard to hold this home (and all my other blessings) with a loose hand because God owes me NOTHING. So, I will live gratefully in this house as long as we live here, and I will live gratefully wherever I live next. I’d rather have a shack built upon the Rock than a palace built on the sand.

 

So, without further ado, here is our new house!

 

main level/downstairs:

Entryway, Laundry Room & changing station

Keeping Room/Homeschool Room (beginning/plans, progress, more progress, and DONE)

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Dining Room

Living Room/Family Room/Fireplace Room (in progress, basically done)

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Kitchen

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upstairs:

Everett’s room and kids bathroom and a beginning of Adele’s room

Adele’s room (art update, rug, and DONE)

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laundry chute room (Eleanor’s nursery)

Master bedroom and bath

 

basement:

guest suite/sewing room

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outside:

our permaculture-ish suburban backyard with earth oven (progress shots and DONE)

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Finished Schooling Room

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This room gets a lot of use! In addition to the large desk area which I use for painting, calligraphy, etc., as well as a little south-facing greenhouse, all our craft supplies housed in the armoire, and of course our school books in our faux built-in bookcase, its large open area is great for free play. Right now, Adele has made a house with two large cardboard boxes, but at other times she can be found in here playing with our large exercise ball or an elaborate Citiblock structure.

You can see where we started with this room (along with my plans and ideas) HERE and some progress HERE.

Living Room Update – October 2014

I finally figured out what to do above the mantle – that’s right, enormous chalkboard! This is the huge piece of MDF that Kent bought for me for my DIY aquaboard project. I didn’t like how the painting was turning out and I really didn’t want to commit to a single piece of art. And, this room is pretty neutral and monochromatic, so all the paintings I liked had lots of color, which I didn’t really want in here. So, I bought some chalkboard paint and . . . big, black chalkboard + bible verses that I can change on a whim = an inexpensive win, win!

I am still displaying the eucharisteo banner because, well, I still need the reminder. I added a some pom-poms for a little (quick, easy, and free!) pep.P1060153P1060152 P1060150

Here’s a shot of the north wall with the French doors that lead to the non-deck. And, you can see the brown ottomans flanking the fireplace – we use them for toy storage, but they double as extra seating (moved forward in front of the fireplace) when we have a crowd over.

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I’d still like to move the Queen Anne chair and ottoman up to our bedroom and get a neutral chair in here that doesn’t need to be covered in a sheet.

Something like this:

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But I’m waiting for the green light from the hubster. =)

You can see where we started with this room HERE.

Finally, the Basement!

Are you tired of reading about my house yet?

Our basement is earth-banked on the west side and level with the outside on the east side. This is a pretty clever use of a very skinny sloping lot, as you get the temperature benefits of being underground as well as the natural light from windows on the east and walk-out French doors to the patio. The basement is really spacious and has more natural light than most basements. And, because it has a full bath, it doubles as our guest room.

As far as sewing goes, this is where the magic happens. I am in the middle of several projects right now (Eleanor’s hexagon quilt and cushion covers for Adele’s window seat), so my sewing area is kind of messy, but honestly this is way cleaner than usual. That blue and purple quilt was made by my grandmother – I’m just quilting it for her (almost done!). That quilt is on a rolling cupboard that came (free!) with the sewing table (from craigslist) and it holds all my thread, sewing notions, elastics, etc. . . .

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And like magic – the bed is made!

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You can see the beginning of Eleanor’s quilt on the design board (leaning against the wall int he pic above), but I am going to add in some muslin and white fabrics to lighten it up a bit. I’m going for a low-volume quilt – mostly whites, beiges, and linens with some muted purples and pinks.

About the design board – I think you should make one! It’s a hollow-core door (easy to find on craigslist or very inexpensive new at a big box store), covered in a layer of batting then a layer of muslin (flannel would be even better) and stapled around on the back side. And, when I need to press a lot of large items, I lay it over the day bed, and like magic, it’s also a pressing board at a perfect standing height.

The armoire you see on the left down there holds my quilting cottons, vintage feedsack fabrics from my grandmother, cotton velveteens and corduroys, patterns, interfacings, button collection, etc. . . .

This picture (below) shows the west side of the room and I’m so glad we had room for the Victorian couch down here. It doesn’t work for our current living room (too long) and it needs to be reupholstered (but all those tufts are so intimidating!) and refinished to show its true beauty. So, here it sits, fully functional for a basement, awaits its makeover.

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