Friday, January 30, 2009

The Beer Making Continues...

Bottles being washed and sanitized.


Sifening the beer from one bucket to another



This past week the beer had finally fermented to the point that it could be bottled. All I can say is, this beer making thing is quite labor intensive and time consuming...I hope it tastes good! So now it is in 53 bottles back in our bathroom for a couple of more weeks. Then they will go to the basement where it is even colder for the remainder of their time (4 weeks.) By middle March we should be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
I am so excited to be planning a beer tasting party for the beginning of April. I am already assembling a menu of tasty treats to go along with the brew. Mike is going to design a little invitation.

Filling and Capping the Bottles

Snacks and Sweets

We have been stuck inside for nearly a week now. Literally, I have not left the house since Monday...I have stayed in pajamas since Monday too. Yes, I have showered and changed into new pajamas, thank you very much!
With all of this homeboundness, there has been lots of crafting by me, lots of coloring by the boys, and lots of cooking and munching.
I saw recently this idea for letting your kids snack. I am a firm believer in letting kids snack throughout the day on healthy things and not being so strict about 3 big meals each day. The boys do eat meals but they like to graze throughout the day as well.



I've been using these muffin tins and putting them out on the kitchen table in the late morning or early afternoon. Each day can be something different. Today I am going to cut up some healthy frozen waffle slices to add to the mix. Things like raw almonds, apple slices (which I soak in lemon water to keep them from turning brown), cheerios, carrots, celery, raisins, grapes, you get the idea....



I find it gives me a break too because I am not always having to listen to them say "I'm hungry, can I have ____".
Although we do try to eat healthy around here for the most part, I am not opposed to some fun cookie making/eating either.




This week we tried these yummy chocolate cookies with marshmellows in the middle. The recipe called for chocolate icing--which seemed a bit over the top- so I swirled on a little mountain of whipped cream instead. They tasted a bit like whoopie pies from Maine. Very yummy and very easy for the boys to help with.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Oh How I've Missed You, KitchenAid...

This is our front yard last night--one big ice skating rink. The ice is over 2" thick.




(before I begin this post, let me just say, we are in the midst of an insane ice storm. It snowed yesterday morning 3" then iced on top of that all day and night. This morning we woke up to broken trees, downed lines, and everything caked in THICK layers of ice~~ and thats just in our yard.) Today brings more ice and another 3"+ of snow on top of that. I am just praying that our electricity stays on and these enormous trees that surround our house that I love so much, don't fall!)



Last week I was pulling together dinner and decided to add a dessert to the mix. Having very little in our fridge or pantry, I remembered the frozen tart dough in my freezer (I posted about that a while back--its the handiest thing in the world!). I pulled it out along with a small carton of heavy whipping cream.
I rushed over to my cookbook shelf and grabbed my "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child (a MUST have book, by the way) and looked up a recipe for a custard.
After beginning to beat the egg yolks, I stood there realizing that it had been quite a while since I had baked! December was crazy with our travels and January has been interesting in its own right. I haven't taken (or had) much time for baking. But to me, baking and cooking are so comforting and exhilarating. I love the process of it all and realized just how much I had missed my baking times.



The custard tart that we topped with chopped mangoes I had sliced and frozen back in the fall, turned out great and I am looking forward to once again, having a date with my beloved KitchenAid again soon.

A Thrifting Marathon

For our 10 year anniversary this weekend we went to dinner on Friday night. Mike's sister kept the boys overnight for us and on Saturday we woke up bright and early and headed to Cincinnati (1 1/2 hrs away) to go thrift store shopping. Cincy has "St. Vincent DePaul" thrift stores, which we love! There are 8 in the Cincy area and we google mapped all of them.

(Our favorite bakery in downtown. It is over 80 years old and run by the same family. It is right across the street from the thrift store and we always make a stop for chocolate eclairs..yummo!)


After 6 straight hours of shopping and an hour stop for some good diner Cincinnati chili, we had made it to 5 of them.

(a 3-way which is spaghetti noodles, chili, and cheese. Served with oyster crackers.)


We found LOTS of goodies!!! A like new North Face coat for $1.25, a Patagonia kids coat for $.99, some amazing lighting for our bedroom remodel that is coming soon!, some good stuff for my Peddlers Mall booth, a dry erase board that I desperately needed for my little booth, and one of those cool metal school pencil sharpeners that used to attach to the teachers desk for $3. Remember those? We always lose or break those small plastic ones so I was completely thrilled to find that metal one!
Most of all it was fun to be able to go run around town without 2 boys in tow. As much fun as we have with them, it is vital to our sanity and overall health to have time away from them every once in a while.



With that said, I have been cooped up in the house with them for 2 days straight while the snow and ice continue to fall...this is cause for some major cabin fever.

Sunday, January 25, 2009



I have been sewing up a storm lately. I just took a batch of stuff up to Street Scene (the awesome shop I sell at). On Monday I took 10 reversible vintage fabric headbands, 2 aprons, and a throw pillow. Yesterday I made 4 pairs of Amy Butler's wide leg lounge pants, and yesterday I finished up a quilt that has been in the wings for months and 7 linen applique bibs.






Sewing has been intermingled with the rest of life--it hasn't been my life, by any means! Here is a typical schedule nowdays...

7:10am- wake Canaan up for school; breakfast, getting dressed, etc...
7:35am- get Canaan off to school
7:35-8:00- check email and try to post on my blog without success (the pics wouldn't load)
8:00-8:45 - pick up random clothes and shoes from the night before. Get dressed for the gym and get Ezra dressed.
9:00- Dance!Dance! class at the gym for 45 minutes. Its a hip hop dance class. So much fun and very humbling to realize I will not ever be a memeber of Britney Spears music videos.
10:00- leave the gym, grab a few bagels to bring home for the family.
10:45- Ezra eats an early lunch and so do I.
11:00- Ezra lays down for a nap and I start in on sewing the lounge pants.
12:00- Ezra wakes up (too soon) from his nap and plays in his room for another hour--coming downstairs every few minutes to discuss what he is playing with me while I sew.
2:00- I wrap up sewing for now. Ezra watched a movie and played, and talked with me from 1-2.
2:00-2:30- get dressed in layers and bundle up to go walk to get Canaan from school in the 20 degree weather.
2:45-3:15- get Canaan a snack and get him changed for tennis lessons across town.
4-5pm- tennis
5:30-7:00- dinner with Mike and the boys
7:30- boys in bed
7:30-8:30- finish up the lounge pants and go grab a quick shower
8:30-11pm- watching LOST! Usually we don't spend 2 1/2 hrs on the couch at night, but watching the premier of Lost was so much fun!! I love that show...
11:00-12- pack Canaan's lunch, pick up around the house from the day, and fall into bed.

So there it is, a day in the life. I don't have any major projects lined up for this week. I think it will be a catch up day with laundry, cooking, playing, and calling friends.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

10 Years and Growing Strong...



Today is our 10 year anniversary. I can't believe we have been married 10 years! So much has happened in that time. We have lived all over the US and traveled around the world to the remotest of tribal villages.
We have climbed the Great Wall, surfed in Hawaii, explored the quaint streets of Quebec City and Sydney, Australia. We have built our own bamboo house in the woods of Mississippi, moved to Maryland for one day (yes, just one day). We've done ministry together, impacted hundreds of lives and learned from many more. We have had our struggles and fights yet always manage to come out on the other side laughing together.
We enjoy our bottomless cups of morning coffee, listen to music endlessly, dream big dreams tirelessly, and love each other deeper than I ever thought was imaginable.
We have had beautiful children together.
We are best friends.
We often say we are going to go on welfare just so we can spend more time together.
We were married 10 years ago in our apartment on Cochran Avenue. It was a cold wintry night and we huddled in our small red living room with just our family as witnesses and our friend as the photographer. We ate cake from our favorite French bakery just down the street. I wore a dress made for me by my mother-in-law and carried a bouquet of flowers my mom arranged for me.
It was intimate, serene, thoughtful and absolutely perfect.
One day in college my friend Allison and I were in the maintenance office doing work detail. We were chatting about our potential future husbands (we were single at the time) and what the qualities we look for in that special guy. We wrote them out and decided to hold onto each others and mail them to each other when we got married to see how they matched up to our "qualifications". A couple of years later I was married and had totally forgotten about "the list". Alison held up her end of the bargain and mailed me my list.
Here's what mine said:
Megan's man: Taller, Older (Mike is 4 years older), interactive, thoughtful/creative in the little things, humble/teachable, Spiritual leader/influential, spontaneous/adventurous, romantic, intellectual conversationalist, genuine prayer life, ministry minded, dark hair


I was amazed that every quality I wanted and prayed for was fulfilled in Mike. Cheezy, yet true...
He is the guy that finishes my sewing projects for me when I just can't take another minute. He will go out and buy a late night bottle of wine for me when he knows it has been "one of those days". He will light candles and make me a warm bath while I put the kids to bed. He takes his shoes off at the door even if he is just coming in for a minute just because he knows it makes me happy. He is incredibly patient with me and believes in me. He is really just one amazing husband!
We can't wait for atleast another 70 together. We always said we'd have atleast 80 years :)
Happy Anniversary Mike.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hops and Barley...




Mike finally got around to starting his homebrew beer last week. It was quite the lengthy procss (about 4 hours of measuring, boiling, straining, mixing...) And now the really lengthy process of waiting for a lager (4-6 weeks) has begun. As he has read, lagers need cold temperatures to ferment--about 45-55 degrees. We thought under the house in the crawlspace may be a good place for this. But because of our frigid temps recently, it just was too cold.
So low and behold, the big 5 gallon bucket of beer is in...our shower. Yes, our master bathroom shower which is all tile and really cold! He cut off the heat source back there and it stays right around 47 degrees. We usually take showers in the front bathroom anyhow, but it still cracks me up that he is brewing beer in our shower!
In late March we should be having our first beer tasting. A 5 gallon bucket makes 55 bottles, which should last for quite a while around here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

In each of my friends there is something
that only some other friend can fully bring out.
By myself I m not large enough to call the
whole man into activity.

C.S. Lewis

Friday, January 16, 2009

Date Night


Sometimes having a date night means sneaking it in however we can. A few nights ago that meant late night dinner in the bedroom after the kids had gone to bed.
We grabbed some food at the grocery store that would allow us to have a dinner without cooking.

Tomato soup (in one of those cool microwavable mugs for me)
Crackers and brie
Ramen noodles (for Mike)
Peanut butter & Chocolate ice cream

As simple as it was, it was lovely to have some quiet time together eating and chatting.
In the midst of the craziness of life don't forget the importance of those date nights with your love.

Ezra



Since Ezra got his drums on Christmas he has been abolutely cracking us up with them. He has turned his tinker toy canister into his drum stick holder. He takes this with him nearly everywhere to play drums in the car or at the store. In his small overnight suitcase he puts his ear muffs (not cold weather ear muffs but the gun range kind of ear muffs). Just ear muffs, nothing more.
He likes to dress himself in his "soccer clothes" as he calls them--which are really Canaan's soccer shirt and his Puma pants or shorts. When he insists on the Puma shorts then I have to layer those with sweatpants underneath. It is quite a get-up he has going on.
Getting out the door nowdays is pure work for him but he does it nonetheless.
When he is at home he continually moves his drum set (a full 9 piece drum set) around the room, arranging the set up. When he isn't moving the drum set from one part of the room to the other, he is moving his wooden toddler bed closer to the drum set--wherever that may be at the time.
Atleast twice a day I hear the scooting of furniture and drums upstairs. It actually cracks me up because it reminds me of myself as a child.
Maybe not at 2 years old but growing up I used to re-arrange my furniture all the time in my bedroom. This was not an easy feat with carpet, not hardwood, but I would continually move my bookshelves around, hang new pictures, move my bed, re-organize my stuff, and clean out my closet. I wasn't an obsessively clean person or neurotic about it but I just enjoyed moving it all around. Ezra seems to have inherited that gene.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Cost Breakdown

For those of you who were wondering how the budget played out on the kitchen, here it goes:

Wall Paint $1 at Habitat for Humanity Restore
Hardware $1 at the Restore
Cabinet paint free at Restore
Glass knobs free from a friend
Painting supplies $38.00 (rollers, tape, etc...)
Floor paint $1 at Restore
Door $10 at Restore
Hardwood floor free leftovers from a friend.
Butcher Block $40 at Salvation Army
Poly for the floor $60
Ikea lighting and hardware $54.00
Kick plates $10 at Home Depot
Supplies at Home depot $20
Sink $20
Island $0 Free dresser off the side of the road

Total = $275

Monday, January 12, 2009

ITS DONE! The Kitchen is Done!!!

Before

After
After months and months of waiting, the time is here. We pushed through this weekend and finished all of the little projects that needed to be done to finish it.

If you have read this blog for very long, you know we have worked tirelessly on the kitchen. We set a $500 budget for the entire remodel. A very small budget for a very large project. I am SOOOO happy to tell you that we came in WAY under budget. It was just under $300 for the entire project. Yep, $300 bucks for the flooring, paint, hardware, butcher block kitchen island, shelving, and lighting.

I'll give a cost breakdown in the next couple of days and some more details on the project.

But without further ado....THE KITCHEN!!! Woo hoo!!! Here is the link to the flickr photo album.

Let me know what you think!

http://flickr.com/photos/canaansmith/sets/72157612491165598

Friday, January 09, 2009

Comfort


(in the background you can still see the kitchen remodel in progress.....never ending progress)

Its been a week of comforts. After a month of traveling in December I find I rarely want to leave home. I am seriously bringing the song "take it easy" to heart. We've been eating lots of meals I had stuck in the freezer in the past few months which means barely any pots or pans or dishes to wash. I have slowed myself down to a snails pace (for me--I think this might be normal speed for some) which has given me time to just sit in front of the fire and read for a while, sew a bit, embroider, do crafts with Ezra, read lots of books with the boys, and re-watch season one of Gilmore Girls at night.
Ahhh....its been AMAZING. Much needed and thoroughly enjoyed. But all the same my brain is already getting things in order for next week because I am ready to start tackling some projects in this new year.
My top list of comforts this week:
~ Having a big pot of hot cocoa on the stove waiting for Canaan when he gets home from school.
~ Curled up with my tattered old quilt on the tattered old couch (1930's) watching Lorelai and Rory spend their days in Stars Hollow. (ok, I will take this moment to say that if you have never been introduced to Gilmore Girls, you are seriously missing out.)
~ Listening to Fernando Ortega. His voice is amazing and is comfort food for my ears.
~ Reading my Bible for longer stints than 5 minutes at a time.
~ Embroidering linen scraps to make ornaments for our tree next year.

Monday, January 05, 2009

My 2009 Goals

I started thinking through my potentail goals for 2009. I guess they could be considered "resolutions" by some but for me they are "goals".
Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Get us out of credit card debt.
~This is a big one for me. All of Mike's income goes to our house, bills, food, car, etc... Since I don't have a paid job I try to contribute to the family income through my little entrepreneurial endeavors. I firmly believe that if I work hard at those this year and save the money I make, I can have our credit card debt paid off by the end of 2009. We are following Dave Ramsey's steps. Baby step #1~ put $1000 into an emergency fund. I went to the bank last week and opened up a money market account with $250 I had made over the holidays. We are well on our way!!!

2. Incorperate more color into our house.
~I have a color phobia. Actually,no, I take that back...I just love white. And cream, and off white. Bringing color into the house is hard for me. But I am going to do it!

3. Spend more time in discipleship with my college girls.
~ As much as I love discipleship and love spending time with people, I also love the time I have at home with my family. With that being said, I feel like it is time to step up my one on one time with my college girls and really take time to truly and deeply disciple a few of them.

4. Start a business (non profit) that has been on my heart for a while...details to come on that one!

5. I have a few personal goals that I will be working on too. Just some things that need tweaking....I am a work in progress!

So there it is. Not an impossible list at all, I don't think! Very acheivable.

This and That...

Not much to report from here. We had a nice weekend up at Ikea on Saturday and at church on Sunday. Last night I went to the auction and scored a combo weed eater/ tiller/ leaf blower for a fraction of the price in stores. We have been wanting a tiller for our garden so with spring right around the corner, it was perfect timing!

In other spending news, Mike sold his candle making supplies and has decided to try his hand at homebrew beer. So after some research, he has purchased a few supplies. I don't know really if it will save us any money in the end~but I guess thats not really the idea here~. I think it will cost about $40 for 55 bottles of beer. He is going to try a Bock beer first which will take 6 weeks to ferment.

I am really wanting to try my hand at cheesemaking. I looked for a good book at our library without success which means I will have to purchase one on Amazon. Have any of you tried cheesemaking?

Canaan is off to school again today (sad face, sniffles...from me). He is excited to head back but I always miss him when he is gone.

I'll leave you today with a little picture I save and often look at. This is what Mike and I would consider a dreamy home to have someday.