Thursday, January 27, 2011

Favorite Things{a series}: the birthday edition

I may not love my birthday in the month of January, but I quickly get over it when the birthday loot starts showing up.  I love gift cards(well, gift cards from my favorite stores), I love Becca because she asks for a gift list, and I love my sisters because they never remember to mail my gift on time, so I end up celebrating for two weeks instead of one day.

I've been stalking sunburst mirrors for almost 6months.  This one is on it's way to my house as I type!  Thank you Kit!

 Thank you Becca for my new favorite cookbook.  When I grow up I want to be The Pioneer Woman.  I'll be channeling my inner cowgirl this weekend in the kitchen.  If you love PW you will adore this book.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Eat More Cake!

It's my birthday today!  If you know me, you know I totally struggle with putting the "!" at the end of that sentence.  But this year I have vowed to enjoy my birthday and I am happy to say...mission accomplished.

I want to share with you my very favorite cake recipe, introduced to me by my very favorite Becca several years ago.  It is my go to birthday cake recipe.  The recipe makes enough for 3 round 9 inch cakes, one big cake mold of some goofy character, or like a zillion cupcakes.  It is always moist, always crowd pleasing, and always easy-just one bowl. I use this frosting recipe.

{happy birthday to me!}

One Bowl Chocolate Cake
recipe from Martha Stewart Baby

Unsalted butter, for pans

1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for pans

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 cups sugar

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter round or square cake pans, and line bottoms with parchment; butter parchment, and dust with cocoa.

2.Into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, stir in eggs, 1 1/2 cups warm water, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla until smooth, about 3 minutes.

3.Divide batter among prepared pans. Bake, rotating once, until tester inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes for 8-inch layers, depending on amount of batter.

4.Let cakes cool in pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely, right side up on rack.

Sneek Peek: the boy's room

There has been lots of hard work going on in this household.  Can you believe it's almost February!? I'm personally relieved to be done with dreaded(birthday month)January, but that means my mental deadline for rooms to be done is that much closer.  This past week I painted three rooms(my excuse for very little blogging)! The wainscoting has been installed(by our trusty handyman Pat), and it's waiting for a fresh coat of white paint. 

I am in love! It's ok, I know I'm a dork.  I have just always wanted wainscoting in my house. This is a dream come true :)


I really wish I had a before pic with the wallpaper still on, it would make the during picture that much sweeter.  

I'm off to paint something else on my list. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The cliff hanger

Don't you love miracles!? Oh I adore the really big ones.  Cancer cured, babies fighting all the odds, long lost reunions. Nature, there's one of my favorites that always leaves me in awe of how God works. He is a great and mighty God. We can look around, watch the news, read the books that recount His amazing acts and praise Him, but it's the little miracles that make me feel closest to Him.

I mentioned he was preforming miracles in my life.  My sweet Becca is waiting for the big reveal(the cliff hanger-makes me smile), but it's not big, it's very small and to many not a miracle at all.

I have met people. I know, sounds silly, but if you have ever moved you understand what I'm talking about.  I've met people...people that I want to know better.  God has put me in front of, around and in the middle of passionate people.

 The miracle is really that He helped me get so low, to get me to listen, to help me be present, to take notice of, all that He was going to put in my path. 

Had I not been so desperately sad and talking to Him constantly, I may have missed Him saying"GO!", or "THAT'S THE ONE!", WRITE THAT EMAIL NOW SARAH!", "WALK IN, SMILE AND KNOW THAT I LOVE YOU!" God and me in the there's a gift.

Don't get me wrong, he has done this countless times right, in your life and in mine.  I think of my beloved playgroup in Cincinnati, boy was that group of women important to me.  They were exactly what I needed, but I didn't have the awareness of God's gift, and in that I'm not sure I was able to fully appreciate that time together.  I look back and see the plan, that is good, yet being able to see it as it unfolds leaves me in awe.

So there are people, women, who have been kind and generous and inspiring.    Women who have surprised me and made me feel at home.  Women who have got me thinking and wondering about myself.  And best of all, women who have me thanking God for His little miracles.

"I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, January 20, 2011

moving forward

Last year at this time I was getting ready to turn 36, my little Sloan was only 8 months old, and we were putting our house on the market.  Another year older, another baby growing up too fast, another move.  I remember what it was like to be excited about a new adventure all the while heartbroken about leaving what I felt was everything I had ever wanted.  Grandparents a couple miles away,  a best friend a phone call away from a girls night out, a neighborhood I couldn't have picked more wonderful if I had tried.  I had left Des Moines several times in my life, only to return again a little wiser, a little more appreciative of it, a little more needy of all it had to offer.  I wasn't going to come back after this move, of that I was sure, and I had a lot of conversations with God on why. 

I think I asked Him a hundred times why.  Why aren't we going to have the support of my family? Why aren't my kids going to grow up going to their Grandparents for Sunday night dinner?   Why am I going to have to do this all over again, and over again , and over again, when some people never have to leave the street they grew up on.  Why?  Why? Why? I was angry, I was pitiful and most of all I was scared.

Scared that I didn't have the strength both mentally and physically. Scared that my children wouldn't have enough people in their lives and most of all scared that it would tear my marriage apart.

God answered my why. Without apology(because he's God), and without a doubt. Every time I asked He answered "Because you can." The confidence I heard in him, well, even if I didn't see it in myself, made straighten up and stop crying.  He gave me my answer.  He wasn't giving me anything more than He knew I could handle.  If God knew I could do it, I was going to. 

I spent the summer wrapped up in the seven(are there seven, I can't even remember) stages of grief.  I don't know, it was just the healthiest thing I could do for myself, just mourn. I stopped being angry, my husband became my rock, and my children just followed our lead.

When I stopped asking why, I could finally hear God reassuring me that he would, with all that He could, provide for me the home I was looking for.  But, and he said this loud and clear, I was going to have to work, be in constant communication with him, and stop looking back if I wanted to move forward.

 He would not move us here just to watch us suffer, and with that I must be faithful.  Honestly I was a little intrigued with what He would do.  I was praying for the winning lottery ticket numbers, but what He is doing has been an even bigger miracle in this particular girl's life, although I am still going to pray for those numbers, just in case he has that in store as well.

I'm ending my story here, it's way past me bed time.  I'll be back to tell you the rest, at least the rest of the story that I know...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Holding on by a very thin thread

It's the third snow day of the week.  I am almost crazy.  I'm not kidding.  Yesterday I had to put myself to bed at 8:00pm because I could no longer function as a sane person.  I'm not sure what I am going to do if they cancel school tomorrow.  You might want on check in on me. Again, not kidding.

In an attempt to self coach myself through the day I have been able to come up with two bright spots to these snow days.  The first is that my kids will be in school all of May, the weather is better then, and Sloan and I will be enjoying a walk in the park without them.  the second bright spot is they have both gotten sick, double ear infection for Holden and pick eye for Asher.  Multi-tasking days off feels good.

To stay sane I have been cooking some PW recipes.  Chicken Tortilla Soup, Quesadillas de Camarones and Pistachio Cake.  It's possible I went overboard for just one meal, but I'm not thinking clearly people. All of it was yummy. 

We spent time outside despite every one's illnesses.  The doctor said it was ok which made me kinda want to kill him.

I have been organizing areas I had no intention on touching until March.  I would have rather been painting, but the paint store with three boys would certainly be the straw that broke this camels back(notice I didn't say anything about not wanting to drive on bad roads...that's because we are on our third snow day due to snow that fell four days more snow day and I'm writing a letter to the Superintendent...I'm grouchy...)

This makes me feel better

Monday, January 10, 2011

House Goals and Monday nonsense

I have read several blogs this past week where people have listed their house goals for the year.  I enjoy seeing every one's list and realizing that, like me, they struggle to get a room done.  There were lots of goals about finishing touches.  In this house we set quarterly goals.  We dream of the day that the house is on the back burner of our to-do-list, but for now we are in a time crunch to finish up our painting before spring comes and we are distracted by all the landscaping that needs to be done. So here are our goals for January, February and March.
We have a pretty good start on the master bedroom.  Here is a sneak peak at what my husband was busy doing this weekend. I have just a few more things to get... 
  • Find a side table for Todd's side of the bed
  • buy white sheets
  • find artwork for above side table
  • create shadow box for silver baby cups display
When we moved into this house I thought for sure I would keep the vintage wallpaper in the boy's room.  Have you ever loved something, loved it, loved it, loved it....hate it, have to take it down like yesterday!  It hit me on Thursday.  I rented the steamer on Friday, and four hours later the buffalo were gone.  I still have a lot a prep work left to do.  This weekend there should be paint on the walls.  We are up in the air about wainscoting.  We can't decide if we have the energy to do it right now or wait until the fall. 
  • paint walls
  • wainscoting?
  •  buy two book shelves
  •  find/buy antique dresser
  • buy storage unit for closet 
  • personalize an area for each boy
Little Sloan's room was painted this summer and then I walked away from it never to return, until now. 

The boy could use something on the walls don't you think?
  • Make/find/shop house for something on the walls
  • paint table and chair for a cozy play corner 

My most treasured space needs some TLC
  • paint walls
  • rug for couch area
  • paint coffee table
  • round rug for table area
  • ottoman for chair in corner
  • lamp for chair in corner
  • some sort of window coverings???
  • pillow and throw for fabric couch
  • install tin ceiling
And my forever project.  One appliance down and three more to go.  There is not enough room on this blog to list what is needed.  Needless to say, it will be the turtle of the home improvement race, but we are moving forward.  That's a good thing.

On to my Monday nonsense. 
Asher used to call nonsense nonesense when he was little.  He also used to say "Look Dad none hands!" when he was peeing.  That made a different sort of mess in the bathroom then the one pictured above ;) 

Does anyone else have a bathroom that looks like this 30 seconds after they clean it.  What the heck is up with all the paste people?  I yell around all the time about the paste! Makes no's nonesense! 
One last thing.  Happy Birthday to Toddy who turned 37 on Saturday!   We love you oh so much.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

At the time I took this picture Holden wasn't doing an impression of me, but it's the face I have seen in the mirror several times this week as I pass by.  A face like this on a seven year old is super silly, on a 36 year old mom it's cause for concern. We enjoyed Christmas, we are back from Des Moines, school has finally started again.  I'm taking a deep breath.  I'll be back next week with posts...I think...