Saturday, February 28, 2009

An Ancient Gesture

Penelope and the Suitors by John William Waterhouse (1912).

I thought, as I wiped my eyes on the corner of my apron:
Penelope did this too.
And more than once: you can't keep weaving all day
And undoing it all through the night;
Your arms get tired, and the back of your neck gets tight;
And along towards morning, when you think it will never be light,
And your husband has been gone, and you don't know where, for years.
Suddenly you burst into tears;
There is simply nothing else to do.

And I thought, as I wiped my eyes on the corner of my apron:
This is an ancient gesture, authentic, antique,
In the very best tradition, classic, Greek;
Ulysses did this too.
But only as a gesture,—a gesture which implied
To the assembled throng that he was much too moved to speak.
He learned it from Penelope...
Penelope, who really cried.

-Edna St. Vincent Millay

*Side note: In Homer's Odyssey, Penelope is the faithful wife of Odysseus, who keeps her suitors at bay in his long absence. She devised tricks to delay her suitors, one of which is to pretend to be weaving a burial shroud for Odysseus's elderly father Laertes and claiming that she will choose a suitor when she has finished. Every night for three years, she undoes part of the shroud, until some unfaithful maidens discover her trickery and reveal it to the suitors.

Ancient gestures. Fascinating, don't you think?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Aloha Friday!- Would you rather?


Yippee- It's Aloha Friday!

My Aloha Friday question is:

Would you rather spend the day...

cooking with Paula Deen?
crafting with Martha Stewart?
chatting with Oprah?
shopping with Paris Hilton?(oh yeah, she's buying 'cause you're her bff for the day)

I love Martha.
I like Oprah.
And, I'd rather shop with my bff than with Paris.

But, cooking with Paula Deen... how fun would that be?? She seems like such a sweetheart, and so down-to-earth. I could see myself cracking up with laughter while cookin' up some of her delicious fried chicken and biscuits. Oh, how I would enjoying eating her food. Butta and all, y'all. Yumm. =)

Head on over to An Island Life for more Aloha Friday questions and to play.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bits and pieces...

of the last few days in the K house...

Yesterday was a day of shopping with some great finds! Nicholas & I hit up Target before lunch, and this caught my eye for his little toddler bed. It's so cute and the colors match his room perfectly.
When we came home, he immediately asked, "Where's my cars, Mom?"
Later that day after we put his new bedding on, he kept sitting down on his bed, patting the place next to him and saying, "Sit down next to me, Mom." He really likes his new bedding. Pretty cute.

After Haley came home from school, we headed out to the mall to get her some jeans. She didn't didn't find any jeans she liked, but she did find her dress for the 8th grade farewell dance!! It's a little black number and it's so cute! It looks like this , minus the bow and it has some rhinestone detail in the center and thinner straps. Now, we just need to find some shoes she likes.
I'm having a hard time grasping the idea that she'll be out of school in a few months and off to high school in the fall. Seriously, where did the time go?

Hubby is wrapping up quite a bit at academy. They certify at the gun range tomorrow. And, next week they get the dreaded whole bottle of pepper spray in your open eyes (required to keep them open) while a tactical officer tries to confiscate your weapon. He hears it's as bad as it sounds. Yikes. He's just hoping he doesn't have to get tasered now that the PD is able to have them. Oh fun, eh?

I'm very anxious for him to graduate already. It feels like life has been put on hold a bit.

And, I know I've already mentioned this, but I have a fever.
Spring fever, that is!!
Please mother nature, no more snow for us in Michigan. Send it down to Ohio or something. ;P

Well, I'm off to work.
Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Two Cent Tuesday: Inspiration

This week's Two Cent topic is Inspiration- What inspires you? How do you find inspiration? Stop by TuTu's Bliss to join in.

I'm always finding myself inspired. I'm constantly looking for inspiration beacons just beckoning me to enrich my life. For newer and richer experience.

The purpose of life is to live it,
to taste experience to the utmost,
to reach out eagerly and without fear
for newer and richer experience.
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Ideas inspire me. People inspire me.

A few of my more recent inspirations...

{I've had gardening on the brain so I'm throwing this in.}
Last year our local historic mill had Victory Gardens to show the kids who visit the mill for school field trips. I was inspired by those beautiful raised beds of brown soil with neatly planted rows of vegetables. Once upon a time, they were planted with love and care all over the United States by patriotic people to help their war rations go farther. I knew when I seen them, I must have my own victory garden. We'll start work on ours this spring. I'

Moms who work outside of the home inspire me. When I'm feeling bogged down by running from sun-up to sun-down on my work days, I remind myself that there are moms out there that do it 5+ days a week. Truly inspiring.

People who stand up for those who do not have a voice inspire me. The ASPCA, PETA, and the HSUS, for example. The people who watch the most horrific things happen to animals in order to one day give them a voice. I've often wondered how many animals they have saved from the deepest depths of suffering. They continually inspire me to do more.

The bazillion crafty people of blogland inspire me. Daily. My home feels so good because of all the ideas that I've seen and have been able to implement in my way. So many crafts my kids & I have enjoyed because someone had a fun idea & wanted to share. Many happy memories made by great ideas that I felt inspired to do with my family.

I can tell ya, crafters+blogs=great places for inspiration.

Thrifty Decor Chick
Just a Girl
Flipflops and Applesauce
Skip to my Lou

Happy Tuesday! Go get your inspiration on! =)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

EWD- Italian Sausage Toss

Happy Saturday!

3rd installment of Easy Weeknight Dinners. =)


Italian Sausage Toss

3-4 Italian sausage links ground Italian sausage - I use the ground
1 med. onion- chopped
1 green bell pepper- diced
1 small can mushrooms- drained
1 can diced tomatoes- drained
1 (16 ounce) package penne pasta
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese for topping

1- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add penne pasta, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.

2- Place the Italian sausage links/ground sausage in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook, turning occasionally until firm and cooked through.

3- In a separate larger skillet, combine the green bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, and Italian dressing. Cook and stir until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Slice the Italian sausages into rounds, and stir into the vegetables. Continue to cook and stir for another 5 minutes.

4- Toss in the cooked pasta. Add more dressing if desired.

5- Sprinkle liberally with Parmesan cheese.

My picture does not do this dish justice. It's extremely scrumptious. Promise.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Aloha Friday! Spring


Yay- It's Aloha Friday!

My Aloha Friday question is:

Are you dreaming of Spring yet??


I'm dreaming of Spring and dreaming of giant Alliums (Better known as ornamental onions). They are big (6" diameter flower) and gorgeous! I was sad to learn they are a fall planting bulb, {sniff, sniff} but I'm going to throw caution to the wind and plant them in the Spring anyway.
'Cause I'm just impatient like that.

Hopefully, soon I'll be searching online for a nursery to order my beautiful onion bulbs from.

That is, if winter would ever go away!!

Head on over to An Island Life for more Aloha Friday questions and to play.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Places I love

An assignment from Operation Nice this week, that I'm just now getting to...

Places I love.

My list:

in my bed with the sunshine filling my room
antique shops
bucca di beppo restaurant- filled with old italian decor and music
the historic mill by our home that we picnic with the kids
any place in florida- it reminds me of spending my childhood summers at my grandparents home there
tim horton's- I love the smell inside and their english toffee cappuccinos
northern michigan- camping on the lake. love it
my backyard on a summer night- sitting outside with hubby
a local coffee bar- twice a month visits spent with one of my dearest friends talking for hours
jamestown, virginia
my kitchen when I'm canning/making jam
my home- when its clean

It's nice sometimes to reflect on the places that make me feel happy.

There's just so many places to love. What are some places you love?

Have a happy Thursday blog friends!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Chillin'

Nicholas chillin' with his LeapPad after a hard day's play.

If you participate in WW, don't forget to add your blog @ 5 Minutes for Mom!

Happy WW!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Two Cent Tuesday: Parenting

This week's Two Cent topic is Parenting. Stop by TuTu's Bliss to partake in the fun!

I'm no parenting expert. I'm not.even.close as I'm trying to fight my way out alive of this 'stage' (my mother-in-law told me it's best to think of your kids as growing in and out of 'stages'. Stages they will always outgrow).

This 'stage' that my first born is in, is better known as the teen years. I also refer to this stage as 'Help, the body snatchers have stolen my sweet daughter and replaced her with this crazy child that I don't know.'

Speaking of crazy. {grin}

The absolute best ever advice that has helped me as I try to ride out this stormy stage?

Teens are CRAZY!

No, for real.

They really are.

Two ground-breaking studies have shown that the prefontal cortex of the brain (the part that controls emotion, impulse and rational decision making) haven't matured yet in teens!

It doesn't really start to mature until the teen years.

And... one study also found that the brain continues to grow through the teen years, with a substantial growth in the part of the brain nerves that are critical in good decision making.

Oh ma gosh.

It's scientifically proven they can't make rational, good decisions and control their emotions??

Wow, huh? Ground-breaking, indeed.

My two cents: Teens are crazy. We, the parents of teens are not. Remembering that is how you'll stay sane. When they are 13 acting like they are 5, it's best to remember the whole 'prefontal cortex not matured yet' thing and proceed with caution. You can also beg the bodysnatchers to please return your darling child, like I do. ;P

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Weekend W's

Woo-hoo: Found a preschool for Nicholas in the fall! {I almost can't believe he'll be 3 in September. Where did the time go?}

Whine: Already did my whine for the week in my 'just thoughts' post. ;D

Wisdom: Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
- Helen Keller

Weakness: Fresh, warm bread with butter. Mmmmm....

Want: A farm with acres and acres of land to take in stray/unwanted animals and give them lots of love.

Web: Earth Hour - We did this last year when my nephew was over. It was so much fun to draw and talk by candlelight for an hour.

Wish: My teenage daughter would quit using the lines 'but everyone else can' or 'but everyone else does' or 'but everyone else's mom let's them'. Sweetie, those lines didn't work for me and they're not going to work for you either! Who knew I'd hear some of the same stuff I said to my parents...

Happy Monday!

EWD- Baked Pastina!

Easy Weeknight Dinners, 2nd Edition.

Love simple, yet delicious Italian dishes?? Yeah, me too. =)

Here's a great recipe that I love, from one of my cooking mentors, Giada...


Baked Pastina
Recipe courtesy of Giada DeLaurentis

1 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup cubed chicken breast
1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish

1-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2-Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.

3-Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more.

4-Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

5- Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter.

6-Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Soooooooooo delicious! We never have any leftovers of this!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sonnet XLIII: How Do I Love Thee?

On this Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share a well-known and cherished love poem by Mrs. Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She wrote this for Robert (I have an 1883 copy of some his poetry selections- he was an amazing poet, too), and upon his insistence, they were published. In 1861, she died in his arms.

I never get tired of reading this...

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

♥ Happy Valentine's Day! ♥

Friday, February 13, 2009

just thoughts...

... on this Friday.

Usually, on Fridays I like to participate in Aloha Friday. Today, however, I'm going to just use my blog to clear some thoughts. Gloomy ones. So if you'd rather not hear 'em, please stop reading now.

I'm a pretty private person. I'm debating posting this even as I type it. And, I think these types of posts may go against the 'good blog' rules.

I just feel so apprehensive about the future with the state of our economy.

Frankly, it's scary.

For me.
For my parents.
For my children.

Talked to my Mom today. My parents are thinking of moving out of state, (my Dad has a possible job opportunity in Wisconsin) the opposite of where I'd like to move (south).

My best gal pal has already moved. Because of Michigan's economy.

My other best gal is giving it another year here then they are looking to move out-of-state.

We only have weeks (6 or so) before hubby is a certified Police Officer. But, he has commitments here for at least a few years. (I'm thinking--the exact commitments are still up in the air at this point.) My job can relocate to many other states. Actually, almost all of them. I feel so blessed for us to both have careers that are nor directly tied to the automotive industry. Unfortunately, most people that live
here, do- like my parents.

Hope? Where's that? It's not here.

I feel this impending sense of doom- we haven't bottomed out yet in Michigan. The state is looking at a projected 1B+ deficit.
What does that mean for my children, for their future? What does that mean for my future? Hubby's?

Education cuts? Higher state taxes? Higher property taxes on a home I currently pay a mortgage for every month that isn't worth what I owe.

Home values have tanked, no one is buying.

How do I move if I wanted to???

It's frustrating trying to decide what's the best path to take for our family.

And, no one knows what to do. We are all trying to find our way.

Honestly, I want to run as far from this state as possible. But-- what's the other states like? I know they face much of the same problems. High unemployment, tanking home values, deficits.

I've been keeping my devotional close. I need words of comfort near me. I don't
mind hard work and cutting back. But when I don't feel any hope. That's a problem.
Know what I mean?

Sorry for the doom and gloom post today. If you read this far- bless your heart.
Maybe by getting it out and sending these thoughts out there (where ever there is) my heart won't feel as heavy as we face decisions.

Today, my thoughts and prayers go out to the
friends and family of loved ones lost on Flight 3407.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Me & my girl


Me & my girl, Haley- Summer 2008

If you participate in WW, don't forget to add your blog @ 5 Minutes for Mom!

Happy WW!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Song From The Suds


Queen of my tub, I merrily sing,
While the white foam raises high,
And sturdily wash, and rinse, and wring,
And fasten the clothes to dry;
Then out in the free fresh air they swing,
Under the sunny sky.

I wish we could wash from our hearts and our souls
The stains of the week away,
And let water and air by their magic make
Ourselves as pure as they;
Then on the earth there would be indeed
A glorious washing day!

Along the path of a useful life
Will heart's-ease ever bloom;
The busy mind has no time to think
Of sorrow, or care, or gloom;
And anxious thoughts may be swept away
As we busily wield a broom.

I am glad a task to me is given
To labor at day by day;
For it brings me health, and strength, and hope,
And I cheerfully learn to say—
"Head, you may think; heart, you may feel;
But hand, you shall work always!"

-Louisa May Alcott

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Alphabet Meme


Rules: For each letter of the alphabet list something about yourself.

Alphabet Meme Time:

A- Arts & Crafts type of gal
B- Black & white photography-> love it
C- Compassionate
D- Drinks lots of cappuccinos
E- Eats too much
F- French Country -> my design style
G- God? Believer
H- Hates public speaking
I- Impatient
J- Jane Austen-> favorite author
K- Keeps tons of sentimental momentos
L- Laughs much
M- Mommy
N- Night Owl
O- Optimistic
P- Procrastinator
Q- Quiet
R- Reads a lot
S- Silly
T- Toile lover
U- Understanding
V- Very loyal
W- Worry-wart
X- X?
Y- Yearns for an Italian vacation
Z- Ziti -> bakes it

TAG- you're it!! =)

EWD= Easy Weeknight Dinners

I'm all about easy & delicious dinners on weeknights, how about you?

This is a recent find that I discovered at the frugal living board that I frequent. Everyone here in this house loved it and the next day at work everyone wanted to steal my lunch.

I bring you...


Yeah, I know, it's a bit yellow-y. But, it's pretty tasty, I tell you.
And, easy. Did I mention that too??

Here's just how easy...

Chicken Paella

Two packages- yellow rice mix {Vigo brand or the like}
2-3 cups of cooked chicken {chopped or shredded}
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper

1- Follow the directions in the back of the package of yellow rice.
2- When adding the rice to the water, add the onion and bell peppers, too.
3- Mix in the cooked chicken near the end of the cooking time to warm up the chicken.
4- Plate, serve with crusty bread and enjoy!

See the bits of chicken in there? Mmmmm...

There are some days I'm all about, semi-homemade-style meals, and this one fits the bill. =)


Friday, February 6, 2009

Aloha Friday! One word


Hip, hip hooray! It's Aloha Friday!

My Aloha Friday question is:

What is one word that best describes you today?

Me? Today? Right now? Content.

All is right in my world today. For now anyway- the day is still young. =)

Head on over to An Island Life for more Aloha Friday questions and to play.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Zen Shorts

It's not often that Nicholas will sit for more than a few minutes to read a book. We usually keep them short and simple, reading 2-3 small stories at bedtime.

The other night however, I took the opportunity to read him a longer story while he was in the mood to just listen. I couldn't tell you who enjoyed Zen Shorts more, him or I.

It's an adorable story about a large panda who tells his three neighbor children Zen stories. I've always found Zen and Taoist tales highly entertaining and enlightening.

I though I'd share a few of my favorites...

The Nature of Things

Two monks were washing their bowls in the river when they noticed a scorpion that was drowning. One monk immediately scooped it up and set it upon the bank. In the process he was stung. He went back to washing his bowl and again the scorpion fell in. The monk saved the scorpion and was again stung. The other monk asked him, "Friend, why do you continue to save the scorpion when you know it's nature is to sting?"
"Because," the monk replied, "to save it is my nature."


Two people are lost in the desert. They are dying from hunger and thirst.
Finally, they come to a high wall. On the other side they can hear the sound
of a waterfall and birds singing. Above, they can see the branches of a lush
tree extending over the top of the wall. Its fruit look delicious.
One of them manages to climb over the wall and disappears down the other side.
The other, instead, returns to the desert to help other lost travelers
find their way to the oasis.

The Stone Cutter

There was once a stone cutter who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life. One day he passed a wealthy merchant's house. Through the open gateway, he saw many fine possessions and important visitors. "How powerful that merchant must be!" thought the stone cutter. He became very envious and wished that he could be like the merchant. To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever imagined, but envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. Soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. "How powerful that official is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a high official!"

Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around. It was a hot summer day, so the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. "How powerful the sun is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the sun!"

Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and laborers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. "How powerful that storm cloud is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a cloud!"

Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. "How powerful it is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the wind!"

Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, feared and hated by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it - a huge, towering rock. "How powerful that rock is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a rock!"

Then he became the rock, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the hard surface, and felt himself being changed. "What could be more powerful than I, the rock?" he thought.

He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stone cutter.


Semi Wordless Wednesday!

How cute are little stuffed birds?

I knew when I seen this pattern over at Lollichops that I had to make a few! You can download her Wendy the Bird pattern here if you'd like to make one of these dahlings, too.


I'm not very good at stitching things by hand (as you can see by the picture-lol), but they're for my two-year old niece and I don't think she'll mind all the imperfections or the flowered buttons I used for the eyes. =)

If you participate in WW, don't forget to add your blog @ 5 Minutes for Mom!

Happy WW!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Two Cent Tuesday: Homemade Laundry Soap

I've recently been intrigued by the idea of making homemade laundry soap. There's just something very cool in sustainability, right?

So this weekend I had at it. All found in the laundry aisle of my local Kroger grocery store. And, all for under 10 bucks. Woo-hoo, me likey.


1/2 bar soap {Fels Naptha or Ivory- I used Ivory}
2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda

Grind in food processor until a very fine powder.
Laundry soap.
Use 1-3 T per load.

My two cents: Homemade laundry soap seems to work very well. I did all of our weekend laundry with it and everything appears clean with no odors- Yippee!

I've read there are two things that turn some people off from the homemade stuff:

A) Lack of scent. Your clothes have zero scent when using the homemade powder. (Unless you use a laundry sheet in the dryer and that scents your clothes.)

B) Zero suds. Having made my own handmade soap for a time, I understand that suds are not the cleaning agent. That's why you see SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) in most soaps/shampoos. It just makes the stuff sud/foam/lather. The cold process soap gals know to use coconut oil to achieve a fantastic lather, too.

That being said, most people have to have that lather & suds to feel like it's 'cleaning'.

Not me.
I'm not scared away.
Bring on the homemade powder stuff- I'm game.

That's my two cents for the week.

Happy Tuesday blog friends! =)


Sunday, February 1, 2009

I'm happy to report...

...that although I'm still saddened that this fabulous magazine is hitting the dust- Click here to read the devastating news. {sniff, sniff}

I've found another amazing magazine to help me through what I'm sure will be mega Country Home withdrawals...

Food Network has a magazine?

Oh yeah, and it's full of fabulosity!!
Can I get a woot, woot?!

Happy Sunday!