Around here lately

P1060320 P1060321

Homemade wreath from yard trimmings =)

We decided not to do a Christmas tree this year, but we have trees on the porch!



“Hey Adele, why don’t you put Eleanor in between you and Everett?”


Bad idea!



As soon as we saw this, we lowered her crib mattress. And it’s a good thing we did because the last couple of times I’ve gotten her from her nap she’s been STANDING UP! That’s right, she’s just seven months old and she has five teeth and pulls to stand. Crazy!


I’m defining “lately” a bit loosely here – this next one is from Thanksgiving.

P1060265  IMG_2122

Just a little post-bath baby nudity.


IMG_2044 P1060305   IMG_2057  IMG_2051 IMG_2084

IMG_2092 IMG_2087 IMG_2113

By the way, I love this wagon! It takes up about a tenth of the space (compared to the double stroller) in the trunk and I can even fit THREE in.

IMG_2101 IMG_2031

European Starling in my Nature Journal

P1060343 P1060345

I made a “map” of my watercolor palette, which I think really helps to know what colors to mix because it shows you the mid-tones and washes of each color, which is vastly different from how they appear dried in the palette.


I finally found something for opaque white details on top of watercolor – white gel pen!


My top “nature journal help” books of 2014. Obviously, you need a field guide. And I have really loved learning modern calligraphy, but the real stand-out for me is the Laws Guide to Drawing Birds. I think this is a MUST for any Charlotte Mason nature journal-er. It’s just an awesome book!

Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All


How did Jesus celebrate? He gave Himself relationally – time, space, presence

Let’s buy fewer GIFTS (that the recipient doesn’t need and won’t even remember after a few months) and, instead, give our TIME. Let’s talk, eat, sled, bake, bike, read, play, create, craft, and ice skate TOGETHER!

Or, we can MAKE gifts ourselves.

Then, give away the money we would have spent to help people who will remember it for the rest of their lives (people in poverty).

If you don’t know where to go to help people in poverty, I can recommend World Vision. We started buying livestock and things like that a few years ago. I’d love to be like Ann Voskamp’s family who only gives gifts from charities like World Vision – i.e. no gifts exchanged among family members, just gifts given “to Jesus” i.e. to the poor, in Jesus’ name.

Happy 6th Birthday, Adele!


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 =)




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.


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.


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.



And, now for the pizza pictures . . .


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.




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!



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



You can follow our pizza oven adventures right HERE.

Sauerkraut, mmmmmm!


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!!!