Sometimes It’s Nice…

It’s a well-documented fact that I am, for the most part, a morning person. I was up extra early this morning (one of the perils of falling asleep around 8:30, I suppose) and I’m really enjoying the dim light, the quiet sound of rain outside, and my cup of tea without the noise of the TV or anyone calling for me. 🙂

Things are good. Life is good. Time is just rolling along, as I expected it would. The last couple weeks have been busy, busy and here we are, less than a week away from baby girl’s arrival! I figured I’d make this a random sort of entry, hitting on all the things going on. I hope I don’t miss anything!

Shed Dormer Construction
The dormer/upstairs reno is moving along nicely and on schedule! There are updated photos here. Everything is framed in, and yesterday was the framing inspection which was fine. Today I believe the electrician is coming to work on some things and insulation will be put in. If my timeline is correct, Monday will be the insulation inspection and then they will sheetrock everything and finish up. The only inspection left will be for Certificate of Occupancy! We’ve chosen the stain color for the house (similar to our old stain, but a bit more brown) and we have a general idea of carpet colors (a shade of grey for the kids’ rooms and the hallway, and blue for our bedroom). As for paint colors… we’re going with a shade of brown for our room, a very (very) light purple for the baby’s room, and once we get paint chips we’ll work with the boys to help them decide. I’m just so thrilled with this project. The upstairs already looks a million times better! Yes, it’s a lot of money, but in our opinion it’s well worth it. Let’s face it: with three little kids there’s no way we’re going to be jetting off to Europe or looking into Caribbean cruises anytime in the near future. As a “homebody” I would so much rather make our house extra comfy and cozy! This was without a doubt the right thing for us.

Tomorrow I hit the 39 week mark! Yesterday was my last scheduled OB appointment, and I was in and out as usual. I’ve gained 23 lbs. with this pregnancy, which I know is just fine, but… let’s just hope it all comes off quick! I’ve been so lucky that my only real “problem” has been some back pain of late. My C-section is scheduled for next Wednesday. My OB believes that there are only two C-sections that day, so I’ll need to head to the hospital for either 6 or 7 a.m. and they’ll operate at either 8 or 9 a.m., depending on who is first. My parents are coming down on Tuesday night to get the boys ready in the morning and get Jake on the bus and then take Noah to the hospital after the baby is born. Then he’s going on a “vacation” at their house until Saturday. (Thank you, once again!) Drew’s mom and aunt will be coming up in the afternoon to get Jake off the bus and take him to meet his little sister! One or both of them is also going to be available in case I need Drew to spend the night at the hospital. That one we’ll play by ear. Everything is lined up, and I’m really not concerned about going into labor early. She still feels pretty high up and I’ve been taking it easy the last few days.

I’ve not done much in the way of crafting lately. My attention span is so short, and my stuff is boxed up for the most part. I did cast on for the Sarena shrug, which I’ll bring as my  “hospital knitting” since it’s easy and mindless. I’ve also been whipping up little crochet flowers to use up scraps of dishcloth yarn. So easy and cute, see?

crochet tawashi flowers

I’m looking forward to getting back to sewing once our house is back in order! But for now, all those projects have been set aside. It won’t be much longer, though.

The boys are great! Noah cracks me up on a daily basis. He’s really into Hot Wheels Trick Tracks at the moment. He sets up the loop and the curve and various dino launchers and sees which cars work best. Totally cute. He’s also obsessed with the ABC Song, which I find funny since he refused to count or say his alphabet until very recently. He knew it, but he wouldn’t perform. My independant little guy 🙂

Jake is good, too. School ends here at the end of June, but they are already winding things down a bit, probably because the kids’ are getting antsy. His class is doing a little play, “The Carrot Seed” in a couple weeks, and there’s Field Day and lots of other stuff. He’s still majorly into arts and crafts as well as writing stories and making books. The other day he decided to make a list of all the different fish he could think of:

Jake's list of fish

Well, I finally hear the boys stirring, and this is certainly long enough! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day

Several months ago I heard about this book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Basically, it showed you how to make artisan-quality bread with minimal effort. The “five minutes a day” part is a little misleading, but nevertheless the method is quick and easy. My experiences with bread baking have been restricted to my bread machine because I’ve been intimidated by all the kneading and rising and punching that real bread baking requires. As I mixed up a batch of the artisan bread dough yesterday, I thought that the process was way too easy and there was no possible way this was going to work.

Here is the dough right after I made it. Notice how wet it is:

Dough, ready to rise

I covered the bowl (you don’t want a tight-fitting lid, just something that covers it) and let it rise. Oh, and rise it did! It spooged over the sides a bit. Clearly I need to use a bigger bowl next time. Here is the same dough, two hours later:

Looks like I need to use a bigger bowl next time

At this point, it was time to stick the bowl in the fridge. The book recommends refrigerating the dough overnight or at the very least for three hours after you make the dough initially. This is because refrigerated dough is easier to handle. Naturally, I could not wait that long! After about one hour in the fridge, I lopped off my grapefruit-sized chunk and formed it into a ball, being sure to slash the top as directed in the recipe. Since I don’t own a pizza peel, I decided to use my wood cutting board and that worked fine:

My first boule

It didn’t really rise as much as I expected it to and right about now was when I started to think that there was no way this was going to work. Imagine my surprise when I peeked in the oven and saw it looking, well, like I figured baking bread should look!


And the final result…

Fresh out of the oven

I could not believe how well this bread came out. The crust was nice and chewy. The inside was soft and “bready” (for lack of a technical term). It was perfect with our dinner — onion soup and an arugula salad with pears and walnuts with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.


Chewy crust, soft inside Arugula and pear salad with walnuts and slice of homemade bread

I have enough dough in my fridge for three more loaves. The dough lasts between 10 and 14 days and I’m going to try my best to make it stretch! I promised my dad a loaf when he and my mom come down next Tuesday and I don’t think I will want to make a new batch of dough between now and my C-section. I love this method of bread baking and hope to continue it. Normally we try to not eat too much in the way of carbs (though I’ve gone way overboard during my pregnancy — that’s got to stop soon). But the way I see it, if I’m going to enjoy some bread, I would much rather be the one making it so I know exactly what goes into it. The book also has whole-wheat and rye breads, both of which I’d like to try at some point.

I waited for this book for nearly two months (I borrowed it from the library and there was a huge wait list), but I have to say that it was worth it. This is one I might consider buying for all of the extra bread recipes. Good stuff.

CSA 2009: Share #1

CSA 2009 - Share #1

I’ve been waiting for this day since the depths of mid-winter, when our calendar for bi-weekly shareholders arrived from Sisters Hill Farm. Yes, today was our first pick-up of the season! As I’ve mentioned before, this year we are opting for a bi-weekly share. It was a little bit cheaper and the produce load should not be so heavy on us this year. Last summer got a bit overwhelming!

Our first share included:

  • 2 heads of lettuce
  • 3/4 lb. arugula
  • 1 head bok choi
  • 1/4 lb. mixed Asian greens (I went heavy on the red mustard, which is quite spicy and really delicious)
  • 8 radishes

The arugula, in particular, is amazing. It has a divine nutty/spicy flavor and I couldn’t help but pick a few leaves out of the bag and munch on them while driving home! Not a bad way to start the season, don’t you think? 🙂

Beautiful Spring


We’ve enjoyed some really great weather between yesterday and today! It’s just gorgeous out and I really feel blessed that we have not had to worry about a drop of rain during the construction of the dormer and getting the roof up. Flowers are finally blooming, birds are chirping… this is without a doubt my favorite time of year! Yesterday I bought a hanging pot of purple petunias to hang on the shepherd’s hook by our front stairs. I still would like to plant flowers in my whiskey barrel, but nothing was grabbing me yesterday. Most of my bushes are doing well, though my azaleas have not performed well this year. There’s only a few flowers on one of the bushes. I’ll have to figure out why. I have some ground cover in the same planting bed and I’m wondering if maybe it’s choking them?

My rose bushes all have buds (and are in dire need of having old stems pruned off) and I have a seed mix that I hope to plant tomorrow for a small cut flower garden — just some zinnia and bachelor’s buttons, along with a package of random mixed seeds. I’m not going to have time to really attend to a fussy garden this year, so I figured that I’d throw the seeds down and see what comes up. Maybe I’ll get lucky!

How are all of your gardens doing?

Dormer Construction – Week 1

It’s completely unreal to think that a week ago the back of our house looked like this:

Day 1 - Getting the house powerwashed

And late yesterday afternoon it looked like this:

Day 8 - Cutting Out The Roof

My menu plan already went out the window this week, as we decided to grab dinner out since we had to return a movie (and I was really tired and did not feel like cooking). We got home around 7 and the guys were still here finishing up! They finished taking the rest of the roof off. After they left I went upstairs and took some photos of how it all looks opened up. They’re in my Flickr set. So weird, but very cool. They were here around 7:30 this morning, ready to start building out the dormer itself. Today that enormous hole will all be closed in and if I have it right, then they’ll be finishing up the inside.

If anyone in the Hudson Valley needs contractor/builder recommendations, please contact me because these guys are just amazing. They work incredibly hard, are super nice, and I’ve been so impressed by how well they clean up the work site every night. Oh, and did I mention that they worked on the weekend? They did – something a lot of builders don’t do. I feel like I should be baking them cookies every day to show my appreciation! We’ll probably give them a nice bottle of wine each when the project is done. I know this is their job, but we feel they really are exceptional.

Because I’m so thrilled with how things are coming along, the mess and inconvenience of sleeping in the living room isn’t really bothering me. The boys camped out on the aerobed in the den last night (they’ve been sleeping in our bed upstairs, but obviously could not last night with half the roof missing and a frost warning in effect!). They got to use their sleeping bags and thought it was really fun, LOL! Good thing because they’ll probably be sleeping down here for the next couple nights 🙂 It’s all about attitude. If you make it an adventure, it’s less of a hassle, you know?

So that’s where we are on the shed dormer front. Exciting stuff!

Week’s Eats


Well it’s been quite a while since I participated in Menu Plan Monday. I’ve been winging it lately, and sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. This is just a general guide. With lots going on, both socially and with the construction work on the house, some nights it might be easier/less stressful to just run out or get a pizza or something. It’s certainly a “play it by ear” kind of week! But anyway:

Sunday: Sausage parm sandwiches – Drew made a big pot of delicious sauce, but in the process we discovered that the Sclafani tomatoes just aren’t as good (in our opinion) as the Tuttorosso. The Sclafani are more acidic or something. The sauce was still delicious, but… we both admit that it’s so much better with our preferred brand.

Monday: Chicken scarpariello – I’m reworking the version I made last year. Last week Dara tried a new version and between her post, and my mother-in-law mentioning a chicken scarp slice of pizza she had the other day, it’s been on my mind. I’m using bulk sausage (a mix of hot and sweet), a different brand of hot vinegar peppers (and perhaps fewer of them), and this time including potatoes in the dish to hopefully soak up extra heat. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday: Soup and sandwiches or leftovers – I’ll be driving down to Westchester to drop Noah off at his grandma’s, so no major cooking for me. I want to make it quick and easy

Wednesday: Grilled steak, grilled vinegar potatoes (recipe from the new issue of Martha Stewart living), chop salad – I’m lucky to have a “me day” on Wednesday (until 3:30 when Jake gets home from school), so I’m planning on one of my favorites for dinner 🙂 I’m also getting a haircut, believe it or not. I made the appointment and everything! The last time I had a trim was in August, so I figure that I am due.

Thursday: Go out (?) We’ll be attending the K-2 concert at Jake’s school in the afternoon, so maybe afterward we’ll go to Texas Roadhouse. Maybe.

Friday:  Burgers, potato salad, black bean salad

Saturday: Let me think about this one…

For more menu planning ideas, visit Organizing Junkie.

Flea Market Find

This afternoon we decided to head over to the giant flea market over at the fairgrounds. They have two of these flea markets a year — one in the spring and one in the fall. This is the type of flea market that sells pretty much everything, not just antiques. If you’re looking for socks or knock-off purses, you’ll find it. If you’re looking for Tastefully Simple stuff or something that claims to be the best fat burner you’ll find it. If you’re looking for Pyrex or old furniture, you’ll find it. Of course, something like this is hit or miss and I was a little disappointed today. I found a few items I really liked, but the prices were (in my opnion) too high.

I did give Jake 50 cents to buy a choose-your-own adventure Goosebumps book and I lucked out at one booth and found this sweet baby dress for $3:

flea market dress - front

flea market dress - back

I love the eyelet!
flea market dress

But I think the embroidered flowers are what really make it special.
flea market dress

There’s one small stain on the back, but I am pretty sure I can get it out. The woman at this booth had beautiful stuff and it was presented well (which always makes a difference to me). The tag on it says it’s from a three piece denim set, but honestly it’s just so much prettier on its own! I actually haven’t bought much in the way of girl’s clothing (I’ve had no need to because I already have so much that has been gifted), so it’s fun to find something that I really love enough to purchase!

One Local Summer 2009


Many of you might remember my Tuesday CSA (community supported agriculture) photos and posts from last summer. I loved participating in a program that allowed me to feed my family high-quality, organic produce that was grown at Sisters Hill Farm, less than 8 miles from my home. So we are participating again this year, and I am really looking forward to our first farm share, the Tuesday after Memorial Day. We also are lucky to live  within short drives of some great Hudson Valley Wineries, as well as very close to small farms and farm stands that sell their own eggs and chickens, cheeses, jams, breads, and jerkies.

There are many benefits to eating local foods, so I was really excited to read about the One Local Summer Challenge. From Farm to Philly:

We’re pleased to announce that for the second year, Farm to Philly will host the One Local Summer challenge (June 1, 2009 through August 30, 2009)! The registration period is open now – the last day to register will be May 30, 2009. The rules are simple: cook up one meal each week during the challenge using locally grown ingredients (exceptions: oil, salt and pepper, and spices). Post about your meal on the blog, or email it to your regional coordinator – we’ll detail your meal here every Tuesday!

I will count myself as an unofficial participant this summer because of the birth of Baby Girl on June 3rd. I hate to be incomplete when I sign up for these kinds of things and I know I’ll miss the first week or two. But once I’m up and around after my C-section, I plan to take part in this. After all, it takes very little in the way of employee screening to get to know your local farmers. Just talk to them about the stuff they’re growing! And you know that they are dedicated to providing you with nutritious food. I just thought I’d pass this info on in case anyone else is interested (I’m looking at you, Dara!)

Keeping It Real

keeping it real

This, generally, is what my house looks like at the moment. The photo is of our dining room, but our living room is also full of stuff and the upstairs? Well, the front dormers are crammed with boxes and totes. Luckily our house is a decent distance off the road, otherwise passers-by would likely think we’re one of those crazy families that save and stash every little thing. At least the kitchen and den are in reasonable shape, so not every inch of space has been turned into what I am called “controlled clutter.” I’m trying to see it as a blessing in that I have quite a few less rooms to clean during my final weeks of pregnancy! Still, I can feel myself tense up at the thought of things not being in their place. Must. Get. Over. It. It’s going to be this way for a good month!

Monday the contractors started powerwashing our house. Powerwashing and restaining were on our “to do” list for this year regardless of the addition, but this way at least the wood will be somewhat close, even though the new wood will likely have a different look. Our siding is mahogany (which apparantly was at a good price when this house was built and that’s why quite a few new homes in our area have it), and the stain is just a clear coat, so naturally the older wood will be a little more weathered. But as for the powerwashing — what a huge difference it has made! I took a photo of the side of the house after they stopped on Monday. It’s clear what areas have been cleaned:

Getting the house powerwashed

Demolition is starting today as well — yikes! They’re cutting a hole in the back of the house so they can pass materials through, and then (if I remember correctly) they’re putting up the wall that will divide Jake’s room from what will be Noah’s room. I’m a little nervous about giant holes in the house, LOL! Let’s just hope for no huge downpours over the next couple weeks. I have a public Flickr photo set for all of the construction-related photos for anyone who is interested. I assure you that I will be taking zillions of photos of this project!

In other news, I have come to grips with the fact that I’m just not going to finish everything on my baby “to-do” list and I’m not going to get my freezer as stocked as I had wanted. And really that’s fine. Drew’s going to be home and is always such a great help to me. Plus, his aunt (who is retired) has offered to help out as well. We’ll be in good shape! Today I think I will finish packing my hospital bag. I am bringing my own comfy PJs this time (something I didn’t do either of the last two times). I remember after the first day I felt really slummy in the hospital gown. I’ve also got two possible coming home outfits picked — one in case the weather is cool and one in case it’s hot. In this area, you never know what early June will be like! I also have the requisite books, small knitting projects, and stuff to keep me occupied while I’m bored out of my mind, LOL! I have to get together my make-up, skin care products, and various toiletries. At least the hospital is close to home (all of 10 or 15 minutes away), so if I need something, someone can easily bring it to me.

Time is just flying by!!!