Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Guest Posting Today!

I was over at Ruth's blog, Joy in Momming, writing a guest post today!
Please go check it out, and the rest of Ruth's lovely blog over HERE!

See you soon!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Play Time

As I sit here typing this, my daughter is across the room from me, playing with various pillows and blankets. She has been re-positioning them for the better part of the last 10 minutes. Making herself a little nest basically, on her own volition. We look at each other every couple of minutes and blink and scrunch up our noses at one another (Victoria's newest sign of happiness is what I call the rabbit nose).
This is a very normal event in our household.
I was reading my good friend Ruth's blog and her post on play and found myself nodding and smiling along as I read. She is one of the most amazing moms that I know, and we have very similar takes on parenting. Like her, I find it is extremely important to let children explore the world around them on their own, to let them enjoy the freedom of coming up with their own play, and letting their imagination go wild.

I know that I sometimes surprise other parents when I let my daughter play by herself on the floor instead of constantly giving her games, interacting with her and basically being a "helicopter parent".
Seeing that Victoria is so young (she is 10 months old), I'm sure many parents would claim that she doesn't have the use for imaginative play or the need for that kind of private play yet.
But here I am watching her make herself a nest, bring her stuffed dog over to it and starting to play peekaboo with it... all the time checking in with me, but perfectly content to do all these things on her own without my guidance, and I know that she is learning to become a secure and happy child who can play and learn on her own.
It is easy in our world of parenting classes, books, and never ending scrutiny about how we raise our children, to want to spend every single moment with them, teaching them new things, making sure they are entertained, and being the absolute best parent society expects us to be. However it is often that we end up overwhelming our children, especially our babies, with the latest flash cards, best baby toys and classes; we give them so much interaction that they don't have the chance to simply explore the world on their own terms.

Don't get me wrong, I have the same issues as any parents. I do want to take Victoria to swim lessons, music classes, and I am already thinking ahead about when she will be able to take dance classes.
But I try to reign myself in and instead give her opportunities to simply play. I will throw on one of Victoria's favorite CDs and will give her pots and pans to bang on instead of dragging her out to a structured play session where she might not have as much chance to explore the different sounds the big bowls make compared to the frying pans. I take her swimming with bigger girls and hold her and let her kick in the water, getting comfortable with mommy close by.
But while I might still consider taking classes with her at some point, I will never stop giving her moments where she can play on her own and explore the world without mommy directing her play.

Give your children those environments where they can just roam and explore everything within their reach without having you constantly interrupting them. Yes they might end up chewing on the dog's leash, but really, is that such a bad thing?
Being able to play without being told what to do is good for their soul, their ability to control their body and their emotions as well. And, let's face it, you need that alone time as well; to resource yourself so that you can truly be the best parent that you can be!

Beneath the Rowan Tree

Friday, January 27, 2012

{This Moment}

{this moment}- A Friday ritual. A single photo -no words- capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember.
If you are inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see
{inspired by Amanda Soule of SouleMama} 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Going to the Conservatory

Yesterday, we were lucky enough to go to the Chicago Garfield Park Conservatory and to participate in one of their amazing programs.
We met a beautiful little Chinchilla that was amazingly well behaved and let all the little children there pet him, it was awfully cute and soft. Victoria was kept from grabbing it by the handful and softly pet him a few times. She was definitely excited to meet another kind of animal.
The little critter in question

We also played around in the children's area, and Victoria had a great time on the soft blocks. She is very much into climbing everything right now, so she was very happy to have all those obstacles to conquer.
Queen of the world!

We also had some quiet time, listening to the absolutely great volunteers give us a quick review of the plants and the Conservatory itself. Victoria would have preferred going crawling, but she put up a good effort at staying in place with the older kids.
Can we go now, Mommy?

The Conservatory is one of my favorite places to go to during the winter. The kids can let off some steam in their great child friendly room, and it is warm and green which makes for a lovely time when you are trying to escape from the snow or the rain.
With their new Wild Wednesday program, where they introduce a new animal each month, on the last Wednesday of the month we will be there even more often than usual!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Viennese Milk Bread

I fell on this recipe by chance while looking up how to make corn bread, and decided that I had to try it. I thought it might end up being a dud, but I enjoyed this bread immensely, so much so that I had to make another two loaves the next day... and am already thinking about making it again. It is great for breakfast or mid-day snack (quatre heure as we call it in France).

Viennese Milk Bread
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup chocolate chips of your preference (or raisins, brought to a boil in water, drained and cooled)
Egg wash: 1 egg well beaten with a pinch of salt

1. Heat the milk until it feel just lukewarm (110 degrees).Whisk in the years and allow to stand while assembling the remaining ingredients.
2. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the work bowl of a mixer.
3. Whisk the melted butter into the yeast mixture and add to the work bowl.
4. Mix on low speed with a dough hook until the dough forms a ball.
5. After the dough makes a ball, add the chocolate chips or raisins to the dough.
6. Place the dough in a buttered bowl, turn it over so that the top is buttered and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow the dough the rise at room temperature until doubled about 1 hour.
7. Deflate dough, return it to the bowl, cover again and allow it to rise a second time until doubled about 1 hour.
8. Deflate the dough and divide it into 2 pieces. Round each pieces, cover with a towel and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Run a rolling pin over the center of each piece to ellongate it into an oval, then roll over the ends to point them slightly. Arrange each loaf on a prepared pan. Cover and allow the loaves to rise at room temperature until they are doubled, about 1 hour.
9. While the loaves are rising, set a rack at the middle level of the over and preheat to 350 degrees.
10. Paint the loaves with the egg wash, slash the length of each loaf to within an inch of the ends with a sharp knife.
11. Bake the loaves for about 40 minutes, until well colored and baked through.
Let cool if you have the patience!

Using this recipe I found that I added a bit more milk each time to make the whole dough stick well together. I ended up probably adding 1 to 2 Tablespoons of milk. On the other hand if you find that the dough is not forming into a ball, add up to 2 Tablespoons of flour to the mixture. Also I don't usually go for the mixer while making bread, I find it a lot more satisfying to get the dough ready by hand especially since there is no risk of it being too spongy or soft and sticking to my hands. Whichever way you prefer, the recipe is basically the same. Just make sure to mix the dry ingredients together before adding the yeast mix to them.

I am also thinking that adding marzipan in the middle of the loaf instead of chocolate chips (or maybe in addition to...) would make for an extremely delicious (and decadent) treat and I might just have to try it next time around!

This was the second batch I made and still, I almost did not have enough time to take a picture before it was devoured!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Snowed in... Rained out

This week-end was an interesting one, it started with being "snowed in" on Friday with a snowfall of five or six inches. Granted we could have easily gone somewhere had we really wanted to, but it was best to snuggle up on the couch with hot chocolate and wait for it to end. We were then lucky enough to spend some time outside in all that beautiful fresh snow Saturday, but yesterday we had a thunderstorm and the rain melted away pretty much all of the snow! There is a sad patch here and there on the grass along the street, but nothing the kids can enjoy and play with.

What an odd winter we've had... Up until January we had a bit of cold weather, but highs in the 50s and now, even though the temperature has finally dropped we still haven't had snow that sticks. I think it is supposed to get cold again these next few days, so we might be getting new snow soon. I actually quite like what's been happening, since the snow keeps on melting after a few days, we haven't had the dreaded "black snow" and sludge so far. Let's just hope the rest of this winter treats us as kindly as the first months have.

I wanted to share a few pictures from this week-end, next post I will share the scrumptious Viennese Milk Bread recipe I made during the week-end. It was delicious!

Nights right after a snow storm are my favorite!

These photos were taken without flash, it was bright as day around 10pm.

Our Lucy, best dog in the world, enjoying the fresh snow. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Also... Linking to Blogloving, my favorite way to catch up on all the blogs I read!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

This Moment

{this moment}- A Friday ritual. A single photo -no words- capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember.
If you are inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see
{inspired by Amanda Soule of SouleMama} 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stitches galore

I have started working on my new project and it's promising to be a long one.
I plan on embroidering the whole bottom of a tunic for a friend of mine, and after drawing the design on the fabric I have now started working the stitches in. This is my first try at such an involved project, so I'm leaving it pretty "airy" and just planning on strong line work to do its job and make it look good.
Cross your fingers with me! Here are a few pictures of the beginning of the process. I know it's probably hard to get an idea of what I'm going for, but I want to have a reminder of the progress as I go...

Can you guys tell what I'm making yet? 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pool Time!

Winter has finally made it's presence known here. We had a great run with 50 degree weather up till a few weeks ago, and it made us all think that winter was never going to be here.
Well, snow is on the ground, sleet and ice are starting to make themselves known, and the temperatures have dropped down a tremendous amount in the last two weeks! Winter at last. We have loved watching the snow fall and making paths in the fresh fall, but we can't spend as much time as usual outside anymore.

So of course a little bit of cabin fever has been setting in... just a touch, as I know it's only going to get worse in the next few weeks, and with that in mind I decided to take Victoria on her first pool outing! And we loved it so much we plan on making this a regular thing. Who would have thought Victoria was going to learn how to swim while the ground was covered in snow?

Here are a few pictures that I wanted to share, she was truly in heaven, and did not want to come out, she also ended up taking the best nap ever on our way home which is a definite plus in my book!

She would not look up for the pictures, she was so fascinated by splashing !

Ah! Finally got her attention (my friend was kindly taking these pictures) 
She took to kicking so fast, and she loved wriggling her little body in the water... So sweet!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Making Whoopie Pie Cookies

This week was a blur as I started work again and of course all my progress at making new things went to the back burner.
Instead I spent time making thumb print and whoopie pie cookies with amazing girls, reading them books, as well as playing and enjoying the new fallen snow with them.
Hopefully I'll have something new to show you guys soon. I've been doing some new smocking but have to finish up sewing the dress itself though.

Hope your weekend was amazing, and you are all doing great. I will check back in soon!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Recycling Sweaters that you've felted (by accident) in the wash!

I was doing laundry last week and somehow missed separating my wool sweater from the baby clothes. The results, as most of you know were not anything that I could wear anymore. It might have fit an eight year old... I thought about making a coat for Victoria out of it, but the color was a drab brown that I could not see her in. 
The offending... or maybe offended sweater in question :)
However I could definitely see a cute hat made out of it.
Here's the result! (There will be more now that I saw how easy and cute these are!)

Almost done, I was still stitching the blanket stitch on the edge.
 My roommate was kind enough to play model for me, isn't she adorable?! Oh and ok I lied when I said it was my wool sweater earlier... it really was hers... Thank goodness she is absolutely awesome and smiled about the whole thing!

I call it my elf hat!

Side view with the flowers made out of felt. Nat, for whom this was for likes muted colors, my next one will be a lot more colorful I think!

I loved re-purposing this sweater. A few years back, it would have just gone out with the trash, but now that I strive to recycle everything in my life, I was able to come up with something fun and cute to make with it.
And it made me feel great that I was able to come up with the design in two seconds flat as well. Of course it's not exactly the hardest project, but the more I work with 3-D designs the happier I am with the results.

Thank you for checking this out!
Linking to Craftastic Monday at Sew Can Do !

Friday, January 6, 2012

This Moment

{this moment}- A Friday ritual. A single photo -no words- capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember.
If you are inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see
{inspired by Amanda Soule of SouleMama}

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New projects....

With the new year come new projects... I am reeling to start on my new line of products that got interrupted while I was making Victoria her handmade Christmas. I am finally feeling about 90% better, so tomorrow I will be hunkering down, as much as the little one allows, and starting again on them.

Then there is a cute little knitted dress that I have in my mind for Victoria that I need to start knitting and making the pattern for... As I have never ever made a pattern before this might prove interesting. But if I figure it out this one will be a pattern that I will share with you, dear readers, as this accomplishment would be something I would be very very proud of, and would want to share high and low with everyone!

And then I'm working on two huge projects for two people in my life that I absolutely adore... but they are taking a long time. The initial drawings, finding the right garments to bring them to life, all of it has taken it's time. I am now finally in the process of actually starting the crafting of them and I don't want to divulge much, but I am super excited about completing them and seeing the finished product! They will be one of a kind articles of clothing that I hope will be much loved in the future.

Last but not least I have to restore to health this lovely little wooden horse that I found at the thrift store... the thrift store! I need to stain some chipped areas, glue a piece of the back that broke and fill some other areas that have seen better days, but all in all he is so handsome I couldn't believe anyone would send this little guy to the thrift store.

Hope you are having a great time figuring out what your new year projects are!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcoming the New Year

I have had a rough week-end, with a stomach flu that was never ending, leaving me supremely weak and unable to do much but move from the couch back to bed so far. But I wanted to mark the passing of the new year in this blog and wish everyone the most blessed and bright New Year!
Also hopefully this will mark the moment when I start being a little more active with this blog, although I know that with juggling a nearly walking little 10 month old with a huge personality, I am likely to still have a hard time updating as often as I would like to.