a little shop talk…..

It would be embarrassing if you saw the stack of fabric boxes I packed up tonight.

This really better be the year of quilts for me because I sure as heck have the fabric to make it happen. My teenage boy will be teasing me about this for a very, very long time. Some how it all looks bigger in brown boxes than folded nice and pretty on a shelf. Ahem. Imagine me sheepishly smiling at the dear husband when he asks if I need it all. Well, of course not. But I love it all.

Speaking of fabric-y goodness…. I’ve got a sale going on in the shop. I’ll be putting a few items on sale each week for the next week or two. Just to pare the shop-goods down to one tote that will get packed for the ride to NY. The three youngest kiddos, two dogs, cat, and I will be heading north to hang out with family while we wait for Joe & Sam to finish things up down here. Two whole months without that guy I love so much. That’s a whole lot of making my own darn coffee. But, back to the shop goodies. I’m discontinuing the big fluffy wool quilts for now, a few spindrift quilts have been marked down (over $20 off!) and my postcard sets are buy one get on free!

Snag yourself a handmade bargain. Your purchase will help fund my dark chocolate and good coffee habit as I drive 1600 miles north with a pet/kid to grown up ratio of 6 to 1. (oh my!) Of course, the big girl isn’t really a “kid” anymore. She’s more like my co-pilot.

 

a little shop talk

 

a little shop talk

 

a little shop talk

 

a little shop talk

 

a little shop talk

 

Speaking of driving with kids….. does anyone have some wonderful audio books to recommend? Suggestions please…. especially something that a mama and big sister can also enjoy.

One last bit of news…. for the last year I have been a part of this group. I can tell you they are an amazing, talented, kind hearted group of crafters. Really, truly. We’ve got a really sweet giveaway on Soulemama’s blog this weekend. Here’s a sneak peek at the spring goodies. Swing by on Saturday to enter.

 

natural kids spring giveaway

 

I’m off to pack something else I have too much of. Books. Oh boy….

have a good evening~~

xo,

stephinie

 

ps ~ i know you’re wondering about that fabric. the answer is ten book boxes full. i know, i know…..but it’s all so pretty…..

   

the last three days…..

the last three days....

 

the last three days....

 

the last three days....

 

the last three days....

 

the last three days....

 

have seen…..

the daddy turning thirty-eight

with a giant chocolate peanut butter cake

many burrito lunches made with leftovers mixed with hot rice

topped with greens and rolled up,

easy + good (the ones above are brown rice + this soup)

the beginnings of packing

gratitude for friends who recently moved and gifted us a mountain of pre-loved boxes

the attic held surprises for the kids 

and more than I remembered….

the old rocking horse my dad built when the biggest was just a year old

oh, the places it has seen in the last fifteen years

creative dinners in hopes of using up pantry staples

perhaps a lot of interesting inventive soups

and some knitting

little bits here and there

this project is growing slowly, but growing none the less

and the yarn

oh my, it is the most delicious thing ever

really….

 

how have you been?

 

$100 grocery challenge ~ week 3

This is the week I completely fell off my budget.

In part this is due to the chaos of life right now! We've opted for some easy dinners with the house showings we had last week. I am well aware that we can have the best of intentions, but sometimes life has another plan for us. At first I really was bummed that I went over my budget, but that's just silly. You know? I did the best with what I had going on in that moment. 

Spent this week: $177

lunch meat, cheese, eggs, milk, chips, butter, bread, cereal, pasta, diced tomatoes, sliced almonds, oats, coconut flakes, almond milk, coffee, mayo, lettuce, kale, strawberries, mangoes, avocados, kale, apples, carrots & cucumbers

The deli sandwich fixins threw me over budget, but eating sandwiches for three meals (under $40) was certainly cheaper than eating out for three meals! And the ease was much appreciated in the crazy days last week. I briefly considered buying cheap lunch meat to stay within budget, but I felt eating as healthy as possible was worth going over. We avoided eating out too!

Menu for the week:

breakfast ~ smoothies, granola & kefir, oatmeal, cereal

lunch ~ leftover dinner 2 days, smoothies + chips + hummus, sandwiches, hummus + veggies + crackers, salads twice

dinner ~  sandwiches twice, hummus + veggies + popcorn, eggs + greens + fruit salad, black bean soup + salad, salmon + rice + salad, spaghetti + salad

We pulled off big meal sized salads or a green smoothie 5 days again. (still trying for seven!)

How about you? I'd love for you to share any helpful bits that got you through the week.

Today I want to talk about beans! For our family, beans play a huge role in healthy simple frugal eating. Bean dips + veggies for snacks. Bean soups. Beans + rice. Beans in burritos. Beans over tortillas and topped with eggs & greens. 

We soak our beans overnight & I cook double batches once or twice a week. I love heading into the weekend with a few jars of beans in the fridge. They can be easily frozen after you cook them too, we just usually eat them too fast to do this.

Please share a link to your favorite recipe or your favorite ways to eat beans in the comments! 

 

$100 grocery challenge  ~  week 3

 

$100 grocery challenge  ~  week 3

 

$100 grocery challenge  ~  week 3

 

Three new ways I served beans in the last week were roasted chickpeas, black bean brownies from the Whole Food Kitchen class (similar to this recipe here) and sprouted chickpeas in our hummus. All were very delicious, though the brownies are certainly on the earthy side…. 

Sticking with beans…. I wanted to share one of my favorite soup recipes with you. Served with a big green salad, this makes a hearty healthy meal. I usually make it meat free….. but if you have some good bacon, that takes it up a notch. Amazingly good.

 

$100 grocery challenge  ~  week 3

 

Black Bean Sweet Potato Soup

makes enough to feed a hungry family of six

 

3 small onions, diced

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled & diced into 1 inch cubes

1-2 TBSP cumin

1-2 TBSP paprika

4-5 cups black beans (about 3 cans, liquid drained)

4-6 cloves garlic

handful of parsley (optional)

water to thin, if necessary

sea salt and lime juice to taste

 

$100 grocery challenge  ~  week 3

 

Saute onions in oil of your choice over medium heat. When soft and translucent, add the potatoes and 8 cups of water. Stir in the spices and simmer until the potatoes are soft. Add the beans. Stir. Remove about one third of the soup and blend in a blender with a handful of parsley and the garlic cloves until it is nice and smooth. You may need to blend the soup in two batches. Add the blended beans back to the soup & stir to combine. At this point you can thin with water to make the soup the consistency you like. I make mine like a thick soup. Add more spices if you like, sea salt & lime juice to taste. 

Serve with a big green salad. This soup is really yummy with a bit of sharp cheddar grated over it. Or sour cream. Avocados, peppers, fresh cilantro. I don't make it spicy in the pot, my kids would be sad. But I do add a hearty dose of red pepper flakes to my own bowl. So very good.

Best of all you can add the leftovers to a bit of rice and make burritos/wraps for lunch.

Enjoy~

 

$100 grocery challenge  ~  week 3

 

this house…..

I have a half written post in the draft box for the third week of the $100 food challenge…. but my heart is somewhere else today. The truth is, this house stuff is completely dominating our lives right now. All in a good way, and I truly cannot complain one bit. It’s been so very busy! When I shared a bit of the recent chaos on facebook a friend replied, it seems like a good problem to have. She’s so right… it’s all good chaos right now.

I’m a bit leery to relax just yet, we still have an appraisal to get through, but things are looking good. The inspection went really well yesterday. It looks like we will be closing April 4th, perhaps sooner! We even have at least two families who want the house if this deal falls through. Everything seems almost too good right now, and while my first instinct is to be wary…. I’m quickly reminding myself to believe that things can work out just right every now and then.

So, while I’m riding the wave of beleiving in all things wonderful, I wanted to tell you the truth about the last three months. Joe & I have been a nervous wreck. The market has not been good here. We’ve watched houses sit for months unsold, or sold for really low prices. We were really concerned about having to split up the family. Joe going to RI for his new job with the teenagers to start school, me staying behind with the little kids waiting for the house to sell. We worked hours and hours a day, everyday, for the last three months finishing up the renovation projects, cleaning, and painting. We have truly poured a tremendous amount of work and love into this house. We made it a home. Selling a home is different…. it’s more than just a house. You know?

And while this might be really bad financial advice…. we decided we only wanted to make back what we put into it. We weren’t worried about all our time, or the tiny crumb we nibbled off the loan in the last four years. We just wanted what we put into it, and someone who would love it. We priced it a bit lower than other homes and had two offers in less than a week. The second one being exactly what we had hoped for.

Yesterday I loaded kids and dogs and cat into the van for the sixth time in 10 days. I gave Joe a good luck kiss and headed to the park while he stayed for the home inspection. Three hours later he sends me a text. “Everyone is leaving. They want it, as is. You can come home.” 

sigh of relief…..

He said he sat with the buyer on the covered patio and she told him how much she loved the house. She loves the color, the wood doors, the kitchen, the patio, the moulding that took Joe hours to put in. She loves all of it. I can’t tell you what that meant to a man who has spent hours making a house a home.

I still owe you guys a post on kitchen cabinet refinishing…. but today, I wanted to invite you in to see what we’ve done over the last four years. So come on in, there’s coffee and fresh donuts from the best place in town in the kitchen. Take your time and wander around. Welcome to our home…..

 

this house.....

the formal entry, or foyer as the real estate agent likes to call it

 

this house.....

from the foyer the kitchen & living room are to the left, the music room & bedrooms to the right

 

this house.....

the music room (somehow the guitar collection increased these last few years!)

 

this house.....

down the hall we come to the main bathroom

 

this house.....

you can see the last bit of yellow peeking out from behind the shower curtain

 

this house.....

the boys room (no more pink carpet!)

 

this house.....

the girls room

 

this house.....

our room

 

this house.....

the master bathroom

 

this house.....

master bathroom

 

this house.....

the living room, those french doors both open to the patio and to the left corner is a doorway into the kitchen (some good during the process photos)

 

this house.....

we replaced all the doors with those solid wood ones, the one in this photo leads to the laundry room

 

this house.....

the laundry room (and the tile job here)

 

this house.....

the patio

 

this house.....

roadside chairs and table

 

this house.....

the kitchen, this is my favorite room in the house… that island is fantastic….

 

this house.....

one more kitchen photo 

So there it is. You can visit the whole renovation album on flickr if you’d like to see the progress and before photos. It has been such an amazing experience….. so much work…. but in the end a job well done that we are so very proud of. And most of all, a home to pass along to someone new.

{ps ~ just want to say once again to my husband, who did all the hardest work of this project and managed to renovate an entire house on evenings and weekends….. never hiring a single job out…. you amaze me. I am most certainly a lucky and very grateful wife ~ xoxo}

 

my new favorite granola recipe

I made batches & batches of this recipe over the years.

Until we tried Heather's. The nutmeg did me in. Especially if you use freshly grated nutmeg. So good.

 

my new favorite granola recipe

 

When I first began making it, I followed it to the letter. Which is actually quite out of character for me. Then I began to mix things up a bit. I love granola with lots of nuts in it. Almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds. I added lots of nuts and seeds to the recipe….. and I really hoped that after a few months my little kids would love it. But, they didn't. In fact they started to complain a little about eating it. *sigh* So I went back to the original and slowly added things, seeing how much nut/seed protein I could pack in without them turning their noses up. It turns out, they do love coconut flakes and sliced almonds. Not so much the seeds though….. so here is the updated version. Which we eat most mornings. Topped with kefir and a handful of frozen or fresh berries.

 

my new favorite granola recipe

 

My New Favorite Granola 

this recipe makes just over a half gallon, I double it. always. it keeps well in tightly sealed jars.

 

6 cups of oats

2 cups of large coconut flakes

1.5 cups sliced almonds (or coarsely chopped)

1/3 cup flour (wheat is good, we use almond or oat flour in ours)

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup maple syrup (grade b is best!)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

1/3cup + 1 TBSP coconut oil (I always double this & use 3/4 cup in the doubled batch)

1/2 TBSP cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg (freshly ground is amazing + totally worth the effort!!)

1/2 tsp sea salt

 

*preheat the oven to 300. mix the oats, coconut, nuts & flour in a large bowl. set aside. add the remaining ingredients to a small saucepan and warm over low heat until it is smooth and liquefied. drizzle half the liquid over the oats, mix well with a wooden spoon. drizzle the remaining half over the oats. mix well again. spread in a thin layer over a cookie sheet. this may require 2-3 cookie sheets depending on the sizes you have. (it takes awhile when you make a double batch, but it's well worth the effort!) bake for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through. the granola will be lightly golden brown. it will get crunchier as it cools!

*notes, I have added up to two additional cups of seeds/ to this recipe with delicious results. walnuts, sunflower seeds and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are my favorite.

*I also love to add a cup of golden raisins or dried cherries. do this after the granola cools, otherwise they'll burn!

*if you want clusters, take about a third of the dry mix (oats, coconut, almonds) and process it in the food processor for a little bit. making a really chunky meal…. not so much that it's flour, just a little now. add that back into the bowl & stir well.

*let the granola cool completely, store it in good sealing glass jars. write good morning on it with a sharpie….. it'll make your people smile~ (and don't worry, the sharpie washes off)

*enjoy!

 

my new favorite granola recipe

 

~mindful monday~

~mindful monday~

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.

~Winnie the Pooh

 

————————————————————————————————————————————

 

mind.ful = conscious or aware of something

Something that speaks to your heart and leaves you feeling beautifully grounded right where you are. If you’d like to share yours…. please leave a link in your comment below for others to discover.

 

happy monday friends,

~stephinie

 

$100 grocery challenge ~ week 2

So sorry for the delay in pulling this post together. We have shown the house four times in the last five days and we *think* we might have an offer that is going to work out! There is, of course, a mountain of to-do's and such between now and the possible closing date of early April……. but goodness our fingers are crossed here!

The second week of my budget went well:

grocery store $21, $128, $8 for a total of $157

No eating out this week!

Two expensive items were local honey + good quality vanilla extract, $8.99 each!! I almost ditched the vanilla….. but I use it in every baked good…. so into the cart it went.

I misplaced my grocery receipt, so I don't have a list of what I bought this week. It was basically milk, eggs, pantry staples and tons of veggies & salad stuff.

Menu for the week:

breakfast ~ smoothies, granola & kefir, nut-butter toast

lunch ~ leftover dinner 2 days, popcorn & smoothies, salad & beans 3 days, lunch at a birthday party with friends

dinner ~ salmon tacos, pizza at a friend's birthday party, big salads and cheese bread, sandwiches + salad, chicken + veggies in the crockpot, curry soup + rice, pasta + marinara sauce

We pulled off big salads or a green smoothie 5 days…. still hoping to get in the habit of doing this daily.

How about you guys? What worked, what didn't? Did any of you plan a menu? Was it helpful? Any good tips or recipes to share in eating healthy + frugal? Share in the comments and be sure to read through them. My favorite tip from last week was using the air popper to toast raw nuts! We'll be trying that this week for sure.

I have two recipes to share this week. Our favorite green smoothies + my new favorite granola. BOTH of these recipes are inspired by my dear friend Heather. I have taken a few of her food classes and I am always inspired by the recipes and her nourishing holistic approach to food. She is a gem, truly. (and she has a beautiful blog, do wander over there….)

Onto our green smoothies…… (adapted from this recipe)

I have a no frills 10+ year old refurbished blender. I paid $40 for it at a discount shop years ago. I would love (LOVE) to have a fancy one someday that can blend root veggies into our drinks. But for now, we get by with what we have. I have found the trick to be adding the greens and liquid first. Tear up the greens into large pieces & blend until as smooth as possible. After you have a lovely smooth green mixture, you can then add your frozen fruit. We all love green smoothies and I really need to get over the noise of it in the morning and make them more often. Even my littlest guy celebrates when I make a pitcher of green goodness. (super groovy mason jar lid and straw can be found here!)

 

$100 grocery challenge  ~  week 2

 

In your blender put :

half a bunch of torn greens (spinach, chard & kale are our favorite) about 4-6 kale leaves

1 cup of water (or more if needed)

1 cup of almond milk or kefir

1 frozen or fresh banana (I freeze ripe bananas and keep them in a bag in the freezer, frozen bananas make the smoothie rich and creamy)

a generous splash of lemon juice

2 cups of fresh or frozen fruit (I prefer mangoes, pineapple & peaches ~ mostly because the smoothie stays pretty and green….. berries make it brown-ish and we eat lots of berries on granola + oatmeal)

*feel free to add some good nutritional boosts. we add maca (supports endocrine system), this powder, hemp seeds, coconut manna, etc…. get creative! also, a budget tip, bunches of spinach are nearly half the price of boxed spinach greens!

*Blend the greens + water + almond milk or kefir until smooth & creamy. Add the banana, lemon juice & frozen fruit. Blend until smooth. You may need a bit more water if the smoothie is too thick. I usually add another cup. This makes three nice sized smoothies. I pour about a cup and a half into glasses for Joe & I. Then I add a bit more water, kefir, another banana & 1 cup of fruit to the mixture, blend again and fill four glasses for the kids. I find that the kids are more eager to eat them if they have a bit more fruit & kefir in them than mine & Joe's. Especially my youngest girl who needs a bit of coaxing to drink hers up!

This turned into such a l–o–n–g post! Goodness. Tomorrow is Mindful Monday, but I'll be back on Tuesday to share our granola recipe!

Enjoy the last bits of your weekending…..

xo,

~stephinie

 

the honey cowl

First things first…. I'm working on week two of the the $100 grocery challenge. We've had two more house showings this week, a total of four in five days! So we have all been busy cleaning and running around. I'll have it ready for tomorrow!

I finished up my honey cowl last weekend. What a lovely, lovely knit!

It drapes beautifully and the yarn is completely delicious, which is really why we knit sometimes right? To make something with a skein of soft squishy beautiful yarn.

I did lose the tag from this yarn….. but I know for sure it was a custom dyed skein by Three Irish Girls. I think it was her dk weight? Purchased from The Net Loft this summer. I think the color is underbrush? It has a very subtle variegated color. So beautiful knit up…. I am smitten! 

 

honey cowl + some link love

 

honey cowl + some link love

 

Thank you to my oldest girl for that second photo…. in which she stood on a stool in the backyard to photograph me! I am looking forward to chilly weather this winter so I have a good reason to wear this cowl day after day…. 

Speaking of delicious yarn….. Jackie of Luna Grey Fiber Arts has a wonderful coupon code for 15% off your entire order through the end of February. Just enter the code WoolLuv15 when you check out. Her colorways are really, truly beautiful.

Also, my friend Annie has done it again! Check out the newest Alphabet Glue volume. It's fantastic, as always!

And a little plug from my handmade shop…. I'm trying to get 500 facebook fans. So if you're not hanging out with us on fb, come join us. I'd be ever so humbled if you shared the fan page with your friends….. and as a thank you, I'm hosting a quilt giveaway here on the blog when I reach 500 fans! 

I guess that's all….. see you tomorrow to talk about food!

xo,

~stephinie

 

a story that might be better left untold…..

The last two days have been a whirlwind!

We met with the realtor Monday evening and listed the house! She called Tuesday to see if we were ready for a showing…. and again today. We've been scrubbing & tidying & cleaning & running out of the house at dinner time the last two nights in a row.

For all of you who have gone through the process of selling a house…… you know what kind of chaos ensues. Attempting to load children and animals into a car is uhm….. well actually it's awful.

I probably shouldn't share this story with you, but I think it's good to talk about the ins and outs of real life. This was an outs moment…. which is a really bad joke. You'll get it after you read the story. You'll also understand why this post has no photos. In fact, I think it's the first post ever to have no photos.

Last night we loaded everyone up. Maggie in her dog kennel, Jasper in his kitty kennel, old man Sid in his dog bed in the car, three kids, two adults. And we're off. Luke is very upset that he cannot show the people interested in the house around his room and even more upset that they'll be in our house alone. Will they steal our stuff? he asks. No, no, they won't steal anything we assure him. We drive away and the cat starts howling. Insanely loud. This makes Maggie bark and the kids start laughing. Next poor Jasper starts trying to claw and chew his way out of the kennel, so much for his reputation of being the most mellow cat ever. He succeeds in his escape attempts as we're driving down the highway. Jade lures him into her arms, we pull over, fix the kennel door, put him back in, and drive off. Next we smell the unmistakable scent of cat pee. The kids start yelling. Joe rolls down all the windows. We pull over for the second time, get the cat cleaned up, the kennel cleaned up, and put him back in. At this point we realize a leisurely drive is a really, really bad idea and we head back towards town. (with a stop for lysol wipes + diaper wipes for emergency clean-ups) Which is good, because there were more to come. I'll let you guess what the cat did next. Yep, number two. Which smells even worse than number one. Joe is driving with his head out the window, some of the kids are making dramatic gagging noises and some are laughing. The cat is howling. The dog is barking. I just start laughing.

Joe looks at me and says, how do you think this is funny…. how can you be laughing. And I say, what else is there to do? And I keep on laughing…. so much that my cheeks hurt, big fat tears rolling down my cheeks.

We pull over and attend to the kitty (again). A text from the realtor says it's okay to head home…. so off we go (again). Arriving home to find out poor Maggie had gotten carsick in her kennel. We can imagine why! I got this, I got it…. I tell Joe. Just take everyone inside. I wonder how many showings it takes to sell a house…..

As I scrub the kennel out in the driveway, I hear Luke shriek from the kitchen, They stole our apples, our apples are gone!!!!

They're in the bowl on the table, I yell. 

Phew, he says. I was so worried about that.

So there you have it. A terrible horrible first attempt at getting everyone out of the house. I do apologize for the graphic (aka gross) nature of the story. But you know, that's life sometimes.

Messy, funny, real life.

{ps ~ tonight's showing was much less traumatic for everyone, with no clean-ups involved!}

 

~mindful monday~

~mindful monday~

the tiny lemon tree

we planted it just over three years ago

each spring there is such excitement when it blooms

there is nothing, truly nothing like the smell of those tiny lemon scented flowers

sweet. clean. spring

i find myself carefully tucking these simple things into my pocket

memories to savor later…. things to remember

meyer lemons. in my very own yard.

sweet + sour + delicious

which is really a lot like life when you think of it……

 

————————————————————————————————————————————

 

mind.ful = conscious or aware of something

Something that speaks to your heart and leaves you feeling beautifully grounded right where you are. If you’d like to share yours…. please leave a link in your comment below for others to discover.

 

happy monday friends,

~stephinie