Saturday, September 29, 2012

31 Days of .....


Last year the author of Pancakes and French Fries joined the 31 Days series and did what she calls "The William Morris Project." It inspired me to simplify my own living space and since she's doing it again starting October 1 (and because my house still needs a lot of simplifying) I've decided to do 31 Days of the same idea, whether you want to call it "The William Morris Project" or simply "31 Days of Cleaning and Organizing". I think William Morris sounds a bit more intriguing though, so we'll go with that. I even made a button (see sidebar)!

The difference this time around is that I now have two children instead of one, which means smaller windows of time to get projects accomplished. And when I say small windows of time, I mean...about an hour during the day. That is all. Of course, there's always the evening. But by the time the kids are both in bed, the last thing I want to do is empty out the junk drawer in the kitchen and put it back together again. So I'm going to keep most of my projects fairly small, simple, and capable of being completed within an hour or less. Naturally, there are one or two projects (like the closet that looks like its out of Hoarders) that will take a bit longer than that and so I'll have to schedule those for the weekend when Tim can watch the kids while I chip away at our disorganization. There are also a couple of projects from last year's list that I never ended up tackling and will do so this time around.

So far, here is my list of what I want to accomplish in the next 31 Days (as forewarned, this list is so not glamorous):
  •  Organize kitchen cupboards and drawers
  •  Donate/sell unwanted kitchen appliances
  • Sort and purge toy bins
  • Sort and donate books
  • Organize sock drawers
  • Sort coat rack
  • Pair down shopping bags
  • Choose Scripture for display around house
  • Hang Scripture pictures
  • Recycle endless supply of cardboard boxes
  • Sort/donate/purge at least three boxes from basement
  • Deliver donations to thrift store
  • Organize desk
  • Clean cutlery drawer
  •  Tackle junk drawers (kitchen, dining room)
  • Clean beside/on top of fridge
  • Art for reading nook
  • Organize bathroom cabinet
  • Organize closets
  • Tackle spare room closet
  • Throw out iris plants (I'll explain later...)
While this isn't 31 individual projects, many of them can be stretched over the course of a few days. Plus, I'm sure I'll think of some more things to do as I go along. Let me know if you plan to follow along or even do a bit of organizing yourself in the spirit of William Morris!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

The other day I remembered my sister had given me a giant zucchini. It had been sitting in my fridge for a while and it was just time. So I pulled down my Happy Herbivore cookbook in hopes of receiving some direction on what to do with this monstrous vegetable and, true to form, I was not disappointed.

(I'm posting the recipe, almost verbatim, from the Happy Herbivore's website, including the image.)

Moist and chocolatey, these muffins are healthy, almost completely fat-free, and have a veggie slipped in (but completely undetectable once baked) for those of you with kids who hate eating vegetables - like my two year old. I doubled the batch, because her recipe only makes 12, which for the effort - and how good they are - you'll want more. Also, that giant zucchini left me no choice.


1¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
1¼ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 whole banana, mashed
½ cup raw sugar (optional, and I used maple syrup instead)
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup non dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup shredded zucchini 
1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips (Trader Joe's brand is the best) 
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease muffin pan and set aside. If using paper liners, lightly spray inside of liners with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together. In another bowl, cream mashed banana with applesauce and sugar - or maple syrup - (use extra 1/2 cup for a very sweet, dessert-like muffin). Add in  non dairy milk, vanilla, zucchini and chocolate chips. Stir until evenly combined. Add flour mix to wet mix in 3-4 batches and stir until just combined. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan and bake 18-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


Yesterday was a day where I struggled to feel a sense of purpose. I accomplished things, but they felt small and insignificant. Like doing the dishes, or sweeping dirt off the floor for the thousandth time. I fed Jack lunch. I made a pot of soup. I made our bed. I fed Moses and put him down for a nap. I ran an errand. I got dressed and put on some makeup. I wiped noses and changed diapers. I read some books and played. I cleaned my fridge (I mean...took everything out and washed it). Not exactly something I do everyday. But despite having gotten some everyday tasks accomplished, I still feel like it's all working towards nothing of consequence. Sure, my kids have been taken care of. But I also got really impatient with Jack about not eating his bananas, and pouring water all over his paints, and spilling coffee on the floor, and crying before nap time. I have a tendency to lose my cool with him which translates to a lot of yelling. Which I as well as anyone else knows, can be pretty damaging to his internal world. So despite my caring for his physical needs, I feel like I didn't do a great job of providing for his emotional needs and once again conveyed the message that it's ok to take your anger out on someone when you don't like what's going on around you.

I want to teach my boys compassion and kindness. Not anger and harshness. And yet, I'm definitely doing more of the latter with my bad attitude. Why does it make me so mad that he won't eat his bananas? Why do I get so irritated when he insists on doing things a certain way? When he cries about something as routine as a nap? His little childlike ways often grate my nerves. And so it's easy to assess my day on the negative interactions alone, since I feel they outweigh any good interactions. Or rather, I fear for Jack, the bad outweighs the good in his little heart. That I just keep damaging him with my words and actions. Even though, for instance, I went into his room after letting him cry for a few minutes to settle him for his nap, gently stroking his head, speaking softly to him, rubbing his back, I feel like it doesn't make up for being insensitive to his feelings and the fact that he'd rather stay up and play than go to bed.

In the words of another mother - "I never knew how much anger was inside me until I had kids." I feel like this defines my mothering experience at the moment. And I desperately want that to change. And so I've made improvements and I've been praying for God to soften my heart, and in small ways that blazing fire of anger inside me has calmed a little bit. Is a little more under control. But it is still there, and it still burns my children more than I'd care to admit.

I miss feeling for Jack what I feel for Moses - compassion and tenderness. For some reason, when they're babies, it's easier to forgive so much. They ask so little of me - just to be fed, changed, and cuddled. They're little bundles of cute, chubby love. But when they're two - they demand so much. The need, the dependency upon me for what feels like more than I'm able to give is exhausting and draining.  When Jack discovered his autonomous nature, it was as if we went to war, and ever since we've been trying to bend the other's will to our own. And so I find myself in hostile territories at times; one moment we'll be having a perfectly pleasant conversation or time of play and the next he'll be coloring on something he shouldn't or hitting Moses on the head (or me) for the hundredth time, and now the pleasantries are over. I know this is all typical, that he's acting exactly as a two year old might. But for some reason, my 28 year old self does not do well in handling naughtiness or irrational behavior, and so I find myself struggling to be understanding (while still firm, of course) instead of irritated.

The thing is... I also desperately love my boys. There is a deep ache for them as well as a deep compassion for them that flows from an entirely different place than where the anger comes from. It seems that the evening is when I have the most clarity, especially when it comes to my relationship with Jack. We are both doing our best to exert our will over the other person's, so we frequently butt heads throughout the day. But at night, when he's laying in bed and we're whispering to each other, it's my chance for confession and repentance. To tell him once more that I'm sorry for the way I spoke to him earlier. To remind him that despite what I might say or do, he's special, smart and important. To try and heal the emotional wounds I may have caused with a thousand I love you's. Last night as I laid my head next to his and looked into his soft little eyes and whispered "Jack" and he whispered back "What Mommy?" something inside me broke and all of my guilt and shame over the ways I've been too hard on him or too unforgiving or too irritated or too impatient came flooding out in sobs and "I'm so sorry's." Naturally, he had no idea what to do with himself except lay quietly and wait till I collected myself and stopped crying. And when I did, I invited him to cuddle me in my bed because the need to hold him close to was so strong and I knew it would heal us both a little bit. And as I pressed my head to his chest, he wrapped his arm around my neck as if to comfort me in my sorrow over my sin and the lost innocence of our relationship which I so desperately want back.

I'm thankful I serve a God of redemption who desires reconciliation and good to come out of any broken relationship. And I know that through all of this, the light that shines in the darkness of my heart is Him exposing my anger for what it is: a refusal to lay down my life for another. He is carving my heart to be more like his, and the more parts he shaves off the more painful it is but the further He gets in completing the good work which he has started in me.

I've made progress. I'm making changes to better serve my children. And God is working on the parts of me that only He can change. All I know is I want to be filled with the JOY of mothering and I want to rejoice over my children and be filled with compassion and love for them in a new way!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Moses Eats.

Moses loves food. He also has two teeth now, which means he's broadening his palette and sampling from the world of crunchy foods. Today's selection is the Heinen's brand Golden Rounds Crackers. He ate three in a row, without me needing to break them into little pieces. Just took em' whole, like a man. Judging by all his happy munching and lip-smacking, I'd say these crackers were a winner.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Loving the Little Years

I came across this picture today and it struck me how little Jack seems here, even though it was only taken about six months ago. We were at the Nature Center and he's looking at the turtles. The picture of innocence and sweetness. And yet, I'm sure at the time I did not feel he was so sweet nor so innocent. It made me realize how often I find myself hurrying him out of the little years. How quick I am to proclaim that I'll appreciate our relationship (and him) so much more once he's reached a future, more mature stage. How often I resent the stage we're in now; how guilty I am of resenting the things he cannot help about himself because he's a child and children are not adults. Children are not adults. It sounds so rudimentary and yet I have a hard time treating him as such and tend to expect him to behave like a twenty year old instead of a two year old.

It's shameful to me how often I find myself so irritated with him that I can't wait until Tim comes home so I can take a break from him. So I can get away from him. So I can go and breathe easy and think to myself "It'll all be so much better when he's older and in school." Seriously? That's how I want to feel toward my beautiful, miracle of a child? I mean, don't get me wrong there are times when I know I'm not being unfair in saying that I feel "beat up" by my kids at the end of the day.  Parenting is intense. In-tense. But it's also an excellent opportunity for me to humble myself, get down on my knees, and beg God to give me the strength to parent in a way that glorifies Him. I can't remember the last time I did this. Again, shame on me.

Jack is only ever going to be little once. He won't always see me as the center of his universe. He won't always want to be held in my arms or read books or dance or simply be absolutely everywhere I am. One day he'll stop requesting that I come into his room before bed to sing worship songs and lay my head on his pillow until he falls asleep. He won't always call me "Mommy." One day he'll choose to spend time with others over me. One day he'll seek comfort in the arms of a woman other than me. Some day he'll stop allowing me to kiss his cheeks whenever I want, and won't be quite so generous in kissing mine whenever I ask. One day he won't be little anymore. And I know, I just know in my soul, that if I don't start loving these little years, I'm going to weep over ever wishing them away.

Oh Lord, change my heart and let me love these precious, precious little years.
Let me soak up everyday with my children as if its my last.
Give me a tender heart towards them.
Bring peace to my home and blessings upon the life of my family. 
Help me to cherish these little years Lord, and keep me from wishing them away!

Autumn Mantle

I love the way my friend Ellie puts together a home.  She has an eye for arranging spaces in a way I just wouldn't think of.  She also has an uncanny ability to find amazing clothes/homewares/accessories/you name it at thrift stores. So a few weeks ago, when I was feeling the itch to change some things up, I commissioned her to re-design our mantle for the fall season. I knew that if I had any hope of finding things at the Salvation Army (not to mention on half-off Wednesday) I would also need her to come along as my secret weapon. And for around $10, this is the magic she created:

1) The picture is an old hand sketched flower arrangement with "October" written below it, so it fit with the season ($4 at Salvation Army). The white candle is a delicious apple spice scent that I bought at Marshall's with a gift card. Fall candle scents are definitely the best, no? The other candle holder was 25 cents at Salvation Army.

2) The owl was another find at Marshall's that I got with the same gift card. It was originally black, so I spray painted it. Unfortunately, the spray paint caused an unwanted "crackle" effect but it wasn't terrible so I put it out anyways. The other two items (candle holder, "This House Believes" embroidered picture were bought on our babymoon in Gettysburg).

3) Picture of the boys in a frame I found in the basement. Always love that.

4) The vase was another 25 cent purchase at Salvation Army. The books are our own. The little stone owl was a gift.

5) The wreath was $3 at Salvation Army. The turkey tea light holder was 50 cents.

I'm in love with the arrangement and also look forward to changing it in subsequent seasons.
Thank you to Ellie for lending your talents and time!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

Autumn is just around the corner. It's by far my favorite season: vibrant colors, crisp weather, sweaters, hay rides, apple picking, bonfires. Everything about fall is magnificent. And these cupcakes (from the Happy Herbivore Cookbook) are the perfect fall treat. They're best eaten over a cup of coffee and a game of cards with friends.

1 c vanilla non-dairy milk (I use Almond Breeze)
3 chai teabags
1/4 c applesauce
1/2 c raw sugar (I think I'll try subbing honey next time!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp cardamom (I didn't have any, so I used nutmeg instead)
Vanilla Icing (see below)
  1. Gently warm non-dairy milk on the stove, careful not to scald it. If you don't have vanilla flavored milk on hand, simply add a few drops of vanilla extract for the same effect. Once it's at a near boil, turn off heat, add teabags, and steep for 4-6 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a muffin tin or spray paper liners with cooking spray, then set aside.
  3. Once milk is cool, remove tea bags and mix with applesauce, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt and spices together.
  5. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture in 3 to 4 batches, stirring until combined.
  6. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 15 to 25 minutes. 
  7. Remove cupcakes from oven and transfer to a wire cooling rack. Once completely cool, add icing and sprinkle with cinnamon.
For Vanilla Icing
1 c confectioners' sugar
1 tbsp non-dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Stir ingredients together to combine.
  2. Add more sugar to thicken the icing or more non-dairy milk to thin it out. Ideally, you want the consistency to be a paste-like glaze. 
  3. Slather icing onto cupcakes. Sprinkle with cinnamon.


Last weekend we traveled to Indianapolis to stay with Tim's sister and brother-in-law. We've never been to their house and a visit was long overdue. It was a five and a half hour drive, as long as it takes us to get to my sister's house in Canada. Thankfully the drive there was not nearly as painful as the drive back, but more on that later.

Katie and Dustin live just outside of the city, near a town called Zionsville which is clean, picturesque and home to about 20 mega-churches - literally. Here is the one Tim decided to check out while were there. It's called "Eagle Church" which is just strange to me. Anyways, this is a picture of their building. Yes, that is the church. They own the whole thing. And trust me, it's huge.


Considering the humble beginnings of the early church and their desire to live and worship in simple intimacy, I feel like Church in the Biblical sense is no longer mirrored in what North Americans experience as "church" today. But that's a whole 'nother post for a whole 'nother time.

Anyways, Friday night, Katie and Dustin treated us to an amazing dinner at a fancy restaurant. Moses wasn't wearing pants (just a onesie) but no one seemed to care. In fact, a number of women stopped to tell him how handsome he was. You go Moses, you go.

I feel like Indy is one of the most under rated cities in America. It has everything and is surrounded by lots of beautiful neighborhoods. There are carriage rides, TONS of restaurants, an incredible Children's Museum (rated best in the country, I think), a massive football stadium, a canal with gondolas, cool hotels, is home to the Indy 500...the list goes on. And yet, you never really hear about it. Or at least, I hadn't. Anyways, it's a great city. We did a quick tour of it but spent most of our time at The Children's Museum.


Considering Jack woke up at 5:30 a.m. (!) that morning (Saturday), we had braced ourselves for meltdown city in the face of so much over-stimulation.  But God looked upon us with mercy and Jack was actually a total dream the whole time and even lasted through lunch without causing a scene. PTL. By the way, for as amazing as it was I didn't take many pictures while we were there. We bought a new pocket camera about a month ago because our other one died and it's just not awesome at taking pictures in low lighting. And I hate using flash.'s some of the better ones:

All together, the weekend was a total hit and we loved every minute of it. Except for the part where both the boys scream cried (scream cried) for the last half hour of the drive. It was mental torture. I kid you not, I was brought to tears but also laughed a little too because I felt so hysterical and out of my mind all at the same time. Needless to say, we were thankful to arrive home and collect our sanity.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...