Thursday, March 27, 2014

{p,h,f,r} Kitchen Whitewash Edition

round button chicken
It's Thursday. Time for {p,h,f,r}! You know, these four words capture so much about the truth of home and family life. Once again, I feel that these photos could all fit in multiple categories, depending on how you look at them, and their context. 

{pretty} and {real} 
My newly refinished pickled oak cabinets! (Auntie Leila, I was inspired by your fireplace whitewashing results. Want to see more pics here?) I am very happy with the results, a fresh, bright, pretty finish *and* the real, natural oak grain shining through.


What's happier than this? Daddy with his little boy, and a glass of Guinness; little Bilbo in Daddy's arm, smiling at Mommy.

While I was trying to get something done in the kitchen, I had an inspiration. Little Bilbo is there in his exersaucer, (see his foot?) and Leia had these wooden beads and needed something to do. I grabbed some bamboo skewers, punched them into the bottom of this box (beer again), and told her she could use it for her beads. She had a wonderful time for quite a while. Which goes to show, once again, why we don't need shiny plastic toys that do only one thing. Natural materials, cardboard, and ingenuity tend to satisfy more.

{real} but also {pretty}
When you're doing any home improvements, things get a lot worse before they get better, right? Here is a  pile of kitchen stuff all displaced during the counter and cabinet project. And yet, look at these great colors!
Come to think of it, all of this stuff is as {real} as it gets! And it's a good life.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Caps for Sale - WWRW

I'm gonna link up with Housewifespice for What We're Reading Wednesday.

It's true, I'm in a stage once again when I just can't read an actual book. No time, or no mental energy for this kind of reading. When I have a little time I read a short article online or look at Pinterest, or watch PBS, Amazon Prime or YouTube! I know. This, for the woman who claims she actually needs to read every day for mental health, is a hard stage. And I'm a little ashamed. But this stage will pass.

But, I'll tell you about a book we do read here almost every day. A book that is a classic, with wonderful folk-art illustrations. A book so delightful in its narration that it bears endless repetition:

Caps for Sale, By Esphyr Slobodkina, is a favorite for Luke and Leia's bedtime story, right up there with Frog and Toad and The Cozy Book. (I remember seeing/ hearing it read on Reading Rainbow long ago!) It has such a folk tale-like cadence to it. Just enough repetition and variation to make it perfect for the reader to pause regularly and let the listeners chime in what comes next. And a recent development here is to change the story each time, replacing 'caps' with something else for the peddler to carry on his head, and replacing the mischievous monkeys with another animal. You should have heard the hilarity the night someone decided the peddler should sell underwear! Endless potential for fun. 
Highly recommended for all ages. Our eight year old wonderful big sister, Kitty, sometimes reads it to them. And I must say, Fyodor and I enjoy reading it aloud, even for the millionth time. Which is a good thing in a storybook. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Perfection is the Enemy, and Pickled Oak in the kitchen

It is so easy to lose perspective. To think that, now that I have a blog, and have a reading list (see below) of really awesome blogs, that I have to be A Blogger among the best of them. Which I just can't. I don't have a fancy camera, I can't think as clearly or be as articulate as I wish. And so I have not put a thing on here in a week. Stupid mistake. I know better. I should quote a wise Catholic intellectual here, or Pope Francis, or the Bible itself. But I've got Flylady at least. Who, unlike Martha S., refers to "perfect" as the 'p' word. Who says that 'housework done wrong still blesses your family'. And whom I call to memory when I realize that my ideal of something is keeping me from taking any action at all. If anyone who reads this finds that to be a pitfall for them, too, check out the link.
So, here I am! Thinking out loud. And sharing some cool things. Like this:
Hermione reminds me its my Youtube Tuesday. So, in case you haven't seen it yet, check out Sister Christina. And then see what Kathryn has to say about it at Through a Glass Brightly.

What I really want to do is share pictures of my kitchen! It's not completely done, but I am really happy with what we've accomplished. I had golden oak cabinets, a la the 1990's, and while it isn't my style, the wood is such good quality that I just can't simply paint over it. Actually, natural wood is one of my favorite things. So, spurred on by the new dishwasher to do something, and by Auntie Leila's whitewashed fireplace, I decided to whitewash the oak, so it would be white and bright, but still show the grain of the oak.
This is a good summary of what I did. Here are before pics. You can see our old white countertop, which was *so* seamed and stained and coming apart. But the white was bright. I knew that once we put a countertop on that was the medium tone, earthy colors we picked, it would become a lot darker in the kitchen.

That confirmed my desire for not just a fresh, sanded down oak finish (the cabinet doors really need sanding no matter what), but a whitewashed one. Which, I forgot to mention, is called 'pickling' when it's done to oak.
Here's the new countertop and the pickling I've done so far! Can you see the wood grain a little bit?

I keep the doors off the upper cupboards, which I painted inside the other summer. The lower doors and drawers need to be done. The pickling/whitewashing is my brainchild, but Fyodor has offered to help sand! also, you can see we removed the 'appliance garage' from the corner there. so we have wall repairs and painting to do. But! I'm so happy with what we have so far. Spring break is comin', too, so maybe we'll finish then.

Emptying cupboards was a good opportunity to declutter and wipe things off, as well. So that fits in with spring cleaning/lent decluttering!
See ya on Thurs for {p,h,f,r} !

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

YouTube Tuesday- Maewen Succat

St Patrick's day was yesterday, of course, but I didn't celebrate it very well yesterday because of the Kitchen Project, which I will post about soon! We had a super fun family celebration at my mom's house Sunday night. And yesterday we all wore green, and had takeout pizza for dinner.

Anyway, here's a fun YouTube for St. Paddy.

Also, I get a kick out of this Grahame Norton show with Harrison Ford and Benedict Cumberbatch.
That's all I've got! Kitchen pics coming soon...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

WWRW Linkup

Linking up with Housewifespice!
        Hi, Hermione here! I'm going to review the Warriors series, which is my favorite series right now. I think Catholic moms should let their kids read these, because they are very exciting and interesting, and have really good characters.
        Warriors is a great series about feral cats who live in Clans in a forest. In the first series, a house cat named Rusty joins ThunderClan, and changes his name to Firepaw. But a lot of the Clan cats don't like him because he wasn't born in the forest, especially a warrior named Tigerclaw, who is secretly plotting to take over the Clan.
         I really like the series because the cats follow a code of honor, and even though it's called Warriors, it's not only about fighting. In fact, killing is against the Warrior Code. And when a cat dies they go to StarClan, where they watch over their Clanmates.
         I would recommend these to anyone who likes cats and excitement, and who doesn't mind reading about battles once in a while. There are also some graphic novels, which my sister Kitty and I love.

                    One of the graphic novels. (Sideways)

My cat, Mintpaw, "reading"
a Warriors book
Another cat, Parsley, "reading" 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

YouTube Tuesday?

* This post has been edited to display the videos correctly
My baby wanted me, and made a sound so much like "Mommy"! Of course I picked him up. He's only five months old, so this probably won't happen again soon, but you can be sure I repeated  "mommy" several times as I held and talked to him.
Made me think of this fun Sesame Street song from way back:

The other evening, I was hoping to find a good, intelligent interview with Benedict Cumberbatch like this one With Gary Oldman. I found only gossipy trash. The problem that comes with being a fan of an excellent actor who also has tons of rabid female admirers, some of whom call themselves very unfortunate names.
Anyway, I did find this, which I thought was delightful:

I have ideas for a few future posts, including my thoughts on the song "Let it Go".
For today, here is my fave offshoot of the song. This was made the day after Idina Menzel's name was butchered at the Oscars. I like seeing her have fun with such cool backup:

Monday, March 10, 2014

The light and the weather at this time of year make me feel so Irish.

This day God gives me 
Strength of high heaven
Sun and moon shining,
 Flame in my hearth,
Flashing of lightening, 
Wind in its swiftness
Deeps of the ocean,
 Firmness of earth.

This day God sends me
Strength as my steersman,
Might to uphold me,
Wisdom as guide.
Your eyes are watchful,
Your ears are listening, 
Your lips are speaking,
Friend, at my side.

God's way is my way,
God's shield is round me.
God's hosts defend me,
Saving from ill.
Angels of heaven,
Guard from me always
All that would harm me.
Stand by me, still.

Rising, I thank you,
Mighty and strong one,
King of creation,
Giver of rest.
Freely confessing
Threeness of persons,
Oneness of godhead,
Trinity blest.

-St Patrick's breastplate, (to the tune 'Morning has Broken', a traditional Gaelic tune "Bunessan")

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Pics from Friday's date

So, as I mentioned the other day, Fyodor and I got to go out together on Friday night. My husband attended for work, actually, and has been encouraged to take me to such things. Nice to be considered an asset :)
It was an auction dinner that was really beautifully decorated and staged. We hardly ever go out together these days, so we were (at least I was) kind of giddy to get all dressed up and spend time in an elegant setting with my husband. He dressed up pretty well, I thought, so I made sure we had photos!

I took a ridiculous number of tries, in an effort to get a good shot of my dress and makeup. Not a very rewarding pursuit. I do like to dress up, and to dress every day in a way that makes me feel pretty. I actually enjoy putting outfits together, and hardly ever try the same combo twice. (This fits in nicely with my enjoyment of thrift shopping). I enjoy what Lindsey does with What I Wore Wednesday, and I like her reasons for doing it. However, my trying to get photos of outfits to share is going nowhere. I do not look half as good in the pictures as I feel, and I don't want to spend more time thinking about my clothes and my appearance! So, this will be one of the rare times I post such a thing on here:
Darn it. I never did get a shot with my pretty silver ballet flats. Lindsey must have a truly enormous mirror.
My husband told me I was the most beautiful woman ever to have been inside the building, and we had fun together, so that's all that matters!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Only Forty Bags?

I have six children, I educate them at home, and I'm married to a man who loves books, and 
is the son of a man who has Collections and who buys gifts to show affection.  One of our 
sons finds sentimental value in almost everything, and collects nature items galore.
And, OK, I like thrift shopping for recreation, and I hold on to things like fabric and rags and 
potentially useful craft materials. And the children all have clothes that they are always 
outgrowing, or receiving as hand me downs! So, yeah. We have a lot of stuff.
Spring cleaning has been a significant, freeing thing for us here the last couple of years. We 
are in not too bad shape now, in the garage and basement. But, gosh. We still have a lot of 

So! I'm going to take inspiration from Ann Marie at White House Black Shutters and join in 
Forty Bags in Forty DaysThis takes impetus from lent, and includes deliberate, systematic 
decluttering. The ''forty bags" can be any size, any number. The point is to take a look at 
your stuff, and decide what needs to go. Then get it out! 
I'll be going systematically through my house with a Goodwill bag and a trash bag. 
I think I'm also going to forbid myself any recreational Goodwill shopping during lent. 
That should give me a good twenty bucks that I can give to St. Vincent de Paul.
Here's the first bag! (Ironic that it says "shop your way"?)

Friday, March 7, 2014

I am new at this blogging thing, and am appreciating suggestions from my friends about how I can make my blog better. I just added a 'follow' and a 'search' gadget. Also a list of the blogs I love to follow! My friend Maile recommended I put a facebook 'like' thingy on here, too. I'm going to try and figure that out today with my consultant, my twelve year old. But I know I mainly need to focus on content. *Edited to add: Speaking of which, here's a summary I pretty much agree with about the blogs I really like. A lot to aspire to, although first of all I'm writing this to meet a need in me.
Diana said lovely things about my blog, but objects to my photo of myself. It doesn't show my true beauty, because I'm not smiling. Oh, boy. Not my favorite thing, but I am taking pics of myself today. This post should really be 'Seven Photos of Me with My Eyes closed':

I'll spare you, and limit it to six.

Kristen of When at Home has a helpful post about how to set up your blog smart, making it viral ready. I'm not thinking my blog will ever go viral, but I am concerned about things like watermarking my pictures; (like the one of me nursing 'on' a toilet). Please comment if you have great suggestions about this!
I get to go out to a fancy dinner with my husband tonight, dressing up and leaving six children with a super babysitter! I don't even have to make sure I can nurse in my outfit!! What am I gonna wear?! I'll take a pic after I get dressed.
Speaking of photos, there is an ungodly number of 'selfies' taken by Leia.

I am really liking being a bit more detached from the internet, by staying away from facebook. It truly gives me more time to pray or read; and also lots of moments throughout the day to stop and reflect on the day, and what I should be doing next. I have decided to read once again Fr. Jim's book The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything.  I highly recommend it!
I am in one of those stages in life when it is hard to read an actual book. Too tired and distracted most of the time. I don't know when was the last time I read the assignment and attended my book group. But I've decided to go anyway. The company is great, and it is just so good to be with other smart, reflective, fun adults without all our little ones. Last weekend Fyodor and I attended our parish's Trivia Night, and had the best time. It stayed with me all the next day, the refreshment of being with friends (and winning).

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Time for a link up with Like Mother Like Daughter!
I just read the first {Pretty. Happy.Funny.Real} post Auntie Leila did, and (true to form) it has a beautiful bit of philosophizing and some very good suggestions. If you want to know what it's all about, read here.

(This is right up Auntie Leila's alley, since she has just written a book on the subject). This is our little icon, Scripture and prayer area. We have morning prayer before starting school, and set up a little table with the lit candle and a few other things, in front of this buffet, which is also our entertainment center, and has a TV mounted on the wall above the other side. I know; TV and prayer table, not an ideal set up! But this side, all set up for lent, looks pretty to me. The image in the black frame is of the prodigal son repenting, and is from a set of art prints I bought from Catholic Heritage Curriculum. The purple covered thing is a wonderful icon of the resurrection, which I want to unveil in glory at Easter. I could say something about each of the other items, but in total, this area is pretty and meaningful to me.


My new kitchen faucet and dishwasher! I am so thankful for my Fyodor, who has taught himself to install such things. We had just shopped for a new faucet the day before the old one broke off! Thank the Lord for tax return time, when non-urgent needs can be addressed. (Though I think we all agree, breaking in half makes the kitchen faucet urgent. But I didn't have to get the lowest of the line replacement!) I wanted a tall enough gooseneck that would allow me to fill a stockpot even when the sink has dirty dishes in it. The dishwasher was just rusted out and the racks falling to bits. Isn't the new one beautiful? And the other thing we all notice, as always with new things, is that the surrounding things look awful! Sanding and redoing these cupboards in on my list, believe me!

My husband and son looking handsome, and my cute daughter being funny. She is twelve, and I love to see her smile unselfconsciously!


This photo was a sensation on facebook. This is me, at the store looking at faucets, and realizing my poor little baby was super hungry! Never thought I'd resort to sitting on a toilet to nurse in public ;)  Baby's gotta eat when baby's gotta eat!
I was super tickled to have my husband take this photo. I love how this captures my care for my baby, and that it is super modest!

That's it! Check out what everybody else has for {p,h,f,r} over at LMLD!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fat Tuesday, and other bloggers' thoughts on Lent

Mardi Gras!

Some interesting things about Lent from the web this week:

This post about clothing and evangelizing culture, using Lent as an opportunity.

And this response to it

I don't agree with either of them 100%, but I need to think more about it.

I think this post from Catholic Catalogue is great. Since our children 'bury the alleluia' in their
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atria, 
we like to get in lots of alleluias at this end of ordinary time! I like the reference to heaven as a 
celebration that we need to work towards!

This incredibly delightful YouTube:
looks like a taste of heaven to me!
These babies remind me of our little Bilbo, five months old:

How' bout some photos of Mardi Gras celebration here? Our homefried doughnuts. Once a year decadence, fried up in *bacon fat* and dusted with powdered sugar!

I pipe these into the wok, and some of them turn out wonky. But so good. The kids and I are allowed to eat as many as we want. And then no one wants more than a little fruit for lunch, for some reason... (They are gluten free, made from a recipe in Bette Hagman's book More from the Gluten Free Gourmet).

And how about a King Cake? Hermione made this all by herself using store bought bread dough and giving it the deluxe treatment, inside and out. It turned out awesome.
Since I am gluten free by necessity, and wheat flour worries me like other people would be worried by iocane powder all over their kitchens, I like to let kids enjoy the delights of dough without making it from scratch.

Here are Haldir, age ten, and little Leia enjoying paczkis. A South Bend Polish tradition.

One more good post on lent from my dear, dear Auntie Leila:

And another from Kendra, whom I admire so much:

I am not putting much original content here this time! But, since I have resolved to stay off facebook this lent, in order to use the time for prayer, reading and other important things, I hope to reflect and post more on here.
Happy Fat Tuesday! Gonna go eat some roast lamb. Here's a poor photo to give a glimpse of the deliciousness: