Friday Quicktakes for Sept. 21 & 28

I could not come up with enough last week so here are a few ones I wrote last week and some new:

1. A few weeks ago I was really excited about a water-birth for the current child in utero. Then I learned that the hospital has a policy of breaking the water before allowing the water-birth and that led to a train of thought that made me realize that I would rather do a land birth. There were too many factors that could prevent the water-birth from being allowed and I decided I do not need the stress of not knowing what I was going to do. The hospital otherwise has great natural birth policies and a really low rate of c-section. My favorite part of my last two deliveries was that my water did not break until pushing time. 3 weeks until full term, 6 weeks until due date, ? weeks until the baby is here.

2. I am no longer dreading the newborn phase. It helps that about a billion of my 550 facebook friends have been having newborns in August and September and posting pictures of them. I am getting eager to meet this little one, and am running out of clothes that fit. 

3. We successfully canned 12 jars of applesauce from a bushel of the apples we got on our picking excursion. Win.

4. How to make vanilla extract: Put vanilla beans in vodka for several months. It smells amazing. I am not in the habit of taking swigs of vanilla and I am pregnant so I am not sure how the raw flavor compares to that of store bought or Mexican vanilla.

5. A big stresser taken care of this week is the purchase of our “new” used minivan. Thoughts on driving it: I can see around corners better, over other cars better. Today was warm enough to use the moon roof and it was fun to do that. And I could roll down the driver side window! Our poor Chevy Lumina has been without that feature for about four years now. Three words: power sliding doors. I feel like I am driving in luxury. My parents never bought a car with “bells and whistles,” so it is all so new to me. Also, whoever owned it before us took great care to keep it looking nice. I hope we do as well.

6. Our Lumina is still in our possession. We are contemplating, when we buy a house, living further out of the city (as opposed to walking distance of campus) with at least a 1/2 acre of yard. That might fit better with the home school lifestyle of a large family. I might discuss that another time, but I also want to talk with friends who live further out of whatever town they live near and how they like the lifestyle. (Also, M has decided he wants to live on a lake and own a boat. This idea makes me fear for my children’s safety and if this happens we will get a very secure fence…)

7. Meet Blue Hubbard squash:

My husband fears it is actually an alien life form biding its time to capture us and do who knows what. This also involves it growing tentacles. My plans for it involve making pie. It is supposed to be delicious and according to the farmer at the market it is the main ingredient in the store bought canned pumpkin. I will definitely update on what happens to this squash.

Pre-nesting Frenzy

I have been absent from my blogging goals because of what I am going to call pre-nesting since I have 6.5 weeks until the due date.

I have been in a cooking and cleaning and planning frenzy and my brain is not able to focus on much else. So not very interesting for a usually exciting and fun-filled blog.

I just wanted to explain my absence. Now I have to get back to my freezer dinners.

We are hoping to buy a van on Thursday. My first vehicle purchase ever. My first loan taken as a married person. I am about to have my third child. I think that is a pretty good amount of time from birth to wait for this major step in life.

Alright, bye now.

How Many People Does it Take to Reupholster Six Chairs?

This week I finally got to a project I have been intending to do since I bought chairs on craigslist to go with the table that our good friends in Buffalo donated to our cause as it was waiting in their basement for someone to take. The chairs did not match the table and had a dirty off-white worn out fabric on it. I am pleased to present the final product:

It is a nice faux black leather over foam and chair batting. I used this tutorial as the guide. I am not going to tell you how to reupholster chairs. I am just going to say that it took a my wonderful sister, my dear husband, a seven month pregnant woman, and a staple gun to get the six chairs reupholstered in four evenings of casual labor (meaning we worked as long as we felt like it and not strenuous work).

Here is the final look with the table:

The woods do not match, but I think the two-toned look works. Maybe when we refinish the table eventually we will do it to match the chairs. For now, many thanks to my husband and sister for their help in this project! Now I can start nesting in terms of baby gear…

Meatless Meals: Quinoa Tostados With Avocado Sauce

 In anticipation of Lent and because yesterday was Friday, here is the meal I made for dinner last night. And by last night I mean, I prepped the avocado sauce and the quinoa in the morning when the kids were playing, a chopped veggies during nap, and spent about 15 minutes finalizing it before dinner was served. I love when I get my act together and make dinner early (which is a rarity). Quinoa is supposed to be one of those “super foods.” It is a grain full of protein and takes 15 minutes of cooking and 10 minutes of soaking. You can add it to lots of different foods.

Here is the link to the recipe since there is no need to type it out if it is already explained so clearly:

I used sour cream instead of cashew cream, and basil instead of cilantro. We decided it would make a really good summer dish when all these vegetables can be found fresh and local. It was like fresh salsa. Even G. ate all of hers, and she loved the giant “cracker” bottom.

I plan on trying out some of the other quinoa recipes on the site since I have a box mostly full in my pantry.

P.S. Let me know if you want me to type up one of my other meatless recipes from last Lent.

French Onion Soup

In high school my best friend and I loved to go to St. Louis Bread Company (Panera Bread outside of St. Louis). She always got french onion soup and I always had the chicken noodle (my favorite soup as a child). My reasons for not trying french onion soup were the onions and the swiss cheese.

However, it is very difficult to not try foods I never liked as a child with my husband who will eat anything and wants me to try everything. So, I never avoid onions anymore and have learned to really enjoy them. Then I ventured had my first reuben sandwich and loved it. It had swiss cheese on it. I ventured to put swiss cheese in my lentil soup and loved it. I still do not prefer swiss alone, but when combined with super salty foods it is delicious!

So, a couple weeks ago at Bread Co. I tried their french onion soup…it was amazing. Then I decided to make my own…and here is what I did:

First, you saute onions in butter with thyme for about 15 minutes until then just start to get golden:

Then you cook them for a ridiculous amount of time on low covered until the onions are a rich brown color. Once they are brown add cognac or sherry and saute on high until the alcohol cooks off. Add stock and salt and pepper to taste; cook 20 more minutes or so.

Shred swiss and put in each bowl. Slice some french bread and add to the bowl.

Put finished soup on cheese and bread and enjoy.

YUM!!!!!!!! We had this with homemade reubens. I have to make this dinner again soon… 🙂


And now for some spätzle! I made this to serve with German Meatballs. The recipe was in The Joy of Cooking, which is just about the best cookbook that any homemaker could have for learning to cook new things. Here’s what G. and I did during L.’s nap one morning last week:

We made the dough:
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tspn baking powder
3/4 tspn salt
pinch of nutmeg

mixed with:
2 large eggs
and 1/2 c. water or milk

Beaten until batter was “fairly elastic.”

G. loved to try to mix it. Here is some of the dough:

Then I pressed it through a steamer into boil chicken broth. They make presses or lids and scrapers for this sort of thing, but I don’t have one. The steamer worked well:

Then cooked it until it floated:Finally, used a ladle sized slotted spoon to put it in a bowl:Don’t forget; the toddler must try the finished result while the rest of the cooking it happening since it took about 6 batches to cook all the dough:

My Dream Kitchen

While talking to some other mom’s about cooking a few weeks ago, I admitted that if I would love to have someone watch my kids for me so that I could focus on cooking dinner every night. I really like to cook, and I like to cook nice meals and I want to learn to cook even better meals. I have also been day dreaming about what I would love in a kitchen. Maybe one day I will actually have counter space. I think a dream kitchen is not too much to ask for, especially if we have as many kids as we talk about having.

The Elements:

1) Children old enough to wash the dishes.
2) Children old enough to watch the younger ones while I cook.
3) Lots of counter space and an island to work on.
4) A six burner gas stove. I have only used gas at my mother-in-laws, but I know it is superior when it comes to cooking good food and want to learn how to use one.
5) Two ovens. I have seen kitchens with this feature and I love it. I guess having a toaster oven is kind of like this, but two full size would be wonderful!
6) A warmer drawer; my sister has one and it is so convenient! (I am taking a lot of things from my sister’s kitchen.)
7) A large two basin sink.
8) A large dishwasher.
9) Ample cupboard space.
10) A walk-in pantry.
11) A deep freeze.

Cooking appliances and accessories:
1) Kitchen-aid pasta flattener attachment.
2) Food processor that is easy to clean.
3) So glad to finally have a double boiler!
4) Round biscuit cutter; I am not sure why I do not have one of these yet.

I am sure there is more, and I don’t think this is too much to ask. 🙂