A Baby’s Birthday

One whole year. A year. How can it be?

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My baby girl is one. The year has flown by at lightening speed and I’m watching my sweet baby girl develop into a spunky and joyful toddler. She’s taking steps and babbling constantly and always smiling. What a sweet pea.

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She has become rather attached to a Lamb stuffed animal over the year so I decided a Lamb theme was perfect for her birthday. And for her, my little lambie pie. It was a small get together with my mom and our close family friends. Someone was tickled pink by the little lambs surrounding her and thoroughly enjoyed her special day.

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Her stats are 21.5 pounds and 30″ tall. Still on the bigger end of normal but small compared to our boys. She has blue eyes, light brown hair, the most perfect chunky thighs, petite features, long fingers and toes, and 8 teeth that she frequently flashes with a grin. She loves her brothers, food, daddy, stuffed animals, and of course, snuggling with mommy. She claps, blows kisses, waves ‘bye, bye’, amd plays peakaboo.

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We love her so!

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For my mother

Lorraine_websizeIt feels so odd to call her “mother”. Even “mom”. She’s always been “mommy” or in more recent years “MawMaw”. Mother or mom always seems too distant. You see, my mom has been one of my best friends over the years–it only makes sense to call her the most endearing and personal of names.

In September she turned 60. Exactly twice my age. Approximately 100 times more wise, kind, patient, and generous than me. I hope I can become even a small bit more like her in my next thirty years. It’s a strange thing to be an adult and to reflect on your childhood from a grown-ups point of view. Knowing that I’m the exact age my mom was when I was born. That really puts things into perspective. I’m more amazed and in awe of all she was at such a young age. All she has become and continues to be.

In a lot of ways, I watched my mom grow up. She became a Christian when I was in Junior High so her transformation is vividly engrained in my mind. I watched an already hospitable woman turn her talents towards welcoming women into our home and lives — walking through life with them and showing them Christ. I witnessed a woman who had been primarily focused on external beauty, focus her attentions towards her soul’s beauty, and in turn, made Christ and his church attractive and beautiful too. I was there when her inner nature began to transform into a more patient, giving, humble, and prayer-relient one.

But most of all, I was the recipient of the greatest love known to man when in my teenage foolishness I spewed hateful words towards her and frightened her with my desires and choices. As tender as Christ was with me, to forgive me and embrace me as his own, so was my mom. My mommy. Who spent countless nights in tears and in prayer, longing for reconciliation between us, and for me with God. She was such a beautiful picture of the gospel that year.

I could recount countless other stories when she died to self, serving her family and the church tirelessly. I know everyone who meets her is struck by her real-ness and her joyful spirit. She is the hardest worker I’ve ever met and is very gifted in all areas of homemaking. My mom, she really is the best.

MawMaw, I know this tribute can but skim the surface of my gratitude, but I hope that in honoring you in this way that you know how deeply loved you are by your family and friends and how much I’m thankful for you. Happy (very belated) birthday — here’s to 60 more!

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Pumpkins Galore

I do love holidays. I think they are such a fun way to create family memories that will last for years to come. Now that Parker is a mature man of 5 years old, he knows the ropes with the holidays and it’s fun to have him reminisce about past years and remind me of all the things we need to be doing. For the fall? That means all things pumpkin. Pumpkin patch, carving pumpkin, and, you guessed it, baking pumpkin. With all we have going on these days I took a short cut and had Mr T. Joe make the pumpkin pie (oh my! The scandal!) that we enjoyed this Halloween weekend. Other than that, I can assure that our holiday was very homemade.

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Very excited about their pumpkins this year.
Not so excited about touching that yucky stuff on the inside of the pumpkins.
I thought boys loved yucky stuff??

Our trip to the pumpkin patch was somewhat ceremonial. These things are such a big deal out here we spent our time going on rides and eating apple cider donuts and decided to get the actual pumpkins from Mr. Farmer T. Joe himself. It was a fun day and resulted in Parker declaring “this has been the best day ever” quickly followed by a meltdown of epic proportions when we left the patch. Such are the ups and downs of life with little ones. Or with their mama for that matter. Ahem. Hormones.IMG_1824.JPG

This boy. Some days he’s an angel and makes me smile with his sweet thoughtfulness and silly jokes. Other days are hard. But most are a mix and I’m so thankful for all the days with him.

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Those shoes! That jacket! I love babies that are turning into toddlers. 

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Wagon rides are an essential part of the pumpkin experience.
The younger two rode while the eldest pulled them along. How’s that for slave labor?

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“Take a picture of us with the Cat in the Hat, mommy!”

Oh and there were homemade costumes, of course. When someone comes from a long line of costume-makers, it feels like such a privilege to continue in the tradition. Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and Tinkerbell. This movie plays nightly around these parts so the participants were in full character breaking out into sword fights at the drop of a hat and brandishing phrases like “walk the plank!” “Hooks a codfish!” and “oh the indignity!”

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Captain Hook, missing his foil hook at the moment. He actually loves getting dressed up and especially wearing hats so this outfit was perfect for him. 

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Such a happy Peter Pan. He was really quite tickled by being Peter. The hat from Disneyland was pretty special too!

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And Miss Bell, of course. She also had a sparkly green headband but promptly removed it and tried to eat it. One thing I didn’t quite think through? The glitter. Oh. My. Gosh. The. GLITTER. It is still everywhere and probably will be for the foreseeable future. At least the boys think it’s pixie dust. 

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Little Elijah and his mommy joined us for the trick-or-treating (in the frigid ridiculous snowyness that is October in Illinois) and it was a blast. He wore Nolan’s costume from last year and fit in quite nicely as a little lost boy. It was a fun evening for all!

Hope you all had a fun holiday and are gearing up for the impending holiday season!

 

 

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Cooking Party

So an opportunity has come up recently that has given me a whole new branch of my little business. Cooking Parties. Kind of like a tupperware or jewelry party, except we all get together to cook and create a meal together. The cost is per person and the party is a blast. It’s an opportunity to learn new cooking skills, get a few new recipes, and eat a great meal with your friends. Doesn’t that sound great?

I’m putting on my first cooking party in December for a large group of people and I’d like some input from all of you. If you could learn one new skill in the kitchen, what would it be? Would you like to learn how to handle dough, or use a torch on creme brulee, or chop an onion correctly, or something else? Would you just like to learn some time/money saving tips to get dinner on the table faster? It’s a large group so I’m thinking we can’t all be working on something at the same time, but maybe demonstrating techniques in small groups. Either way it’ll be a great team building activity and I hope an enjoyable evening for all.

Interested in hosting a cooking party for your friends or for a group you are a part of? Just shoot me an email and we can talk details. It’s all the fun of a cooking class in the comfort of your own home, for a reasonable price, and with your closest friends. What’s not to love?

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Canning Class and Life

I’ve been recipe testing for my upcoming Canning Class (registration is on the right) and this Blackberry Lemon Zest Jam is just so good.

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Everyone will go home with the recipe and a jar of this jam, along with a whole lot of knowledge about preserving food. It’ll be fun! I’m probably going to be adding another canning class this fall on a different date so please send me a message if you are interested but this date and time aren’t working for you. You can also message me if you’d like to get emails about future classes I’m offering.

But don’t think for a minute I’m forsaking this old blog just for business news. I’m still going to be yammering away from time to time about the stuff of my life. Like how our house is for sale (please pass the word!) and how Avery just had surgery to remove a lesion from her scalp and how my almost three year old may never get potty trained because I just don’t have the willpower to do it and my five year old is becoming a little boy and I don’t even know where to begin when he asks me questions about life and death and heaven. Life is very full in our house these days but honestly, it’s how we roll and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Well, except the house stuff. Someone please buy our special house, please!

Anyway, picture speak louder than words so here’s a smattering of our life these days. Hope you enjoy!

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This girl is almost 11 months old and so special to us.
She’s starting saying “uh-oh” and is jabbering constantly.
And trying to walk. Stop growing already, baby girl!

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Sometimes they stop fighting and play together.
It’s a beautiful thing.

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Pre-K is going smashingly for this one.
He just got to take a trip to the Police Station and he loved it.

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She literally doesn’t stop giggling the entire time she’s on the swing.

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A little blurry, but he doesn’t hold still or smile for pics very often.
He’s growing up so much and communicating better everyday.
We still have a lot of screaming but it is getting better and I’m thankful!

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Busy and full days and sleepless nights mean these two get to watch cartoons in the morning on daddy’s iPhone. It’s never how I thought we’d raise kids but we are talking survival here and it works for now. Plus they are super cute together.

So that’s a slice of life right now.
How’s Fall treating you and your family?

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A New Phase

I’ve wanted Deliberately Domestic to be more than just a blog for a long time. I always had this little dream in the corners of my mind that it could be a business where I help others better manage their kitchens and homes. I finally decided to take the plunge and turn my dream into a reality.

My goal for Deliberately Domestic is to help people who may not love cooking, but spend a good deal of time in it anyway. I hope to help you become more efficient in the kitchen and maybe even grow a bit of an appreciation for the art while you feed your family and save money in the process. Anyone who wants to learn — any age — is welcome in my kitchen or sewing room for individual instruction. So whether you are a teenager hoping to add some Home Ec hours or a working mom who can’t figure out how to get dinner on the table — I’ve got tips and tricks for you (and your friends).

So as I get started here, would you please spread the word? Any new business is a bit like a first date. You feel all exposed and are just hoping that someone likes you and wants to hang out again. If you aren’t interested in this sort of thing but maybe have a few friend who might be, can you point them in my direction? If you’d like to host a class in your kitchen, can you invite your friends and I’ll do all the work? Can you share my classes with people who you think might want to take one?

You’ve probably already noticed my class registration up on the right side of the blog. Keep up with it so you are aware of any upcoming classes you (or a friend) might be interested in. Thanks friends! I’m excited about this new endeavor and hope you’ll join me for the ride!

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Food Sanitation for the Home Cook

I was amazed at what I learned this past summer in my Food Sanitation for Food Professionals course. After receiving my state certification for Food Protection Management, I’ve realized that this is information that EVERY home cook should know. I have developed a course for home cooks dealing with applicable food sanitation topics. I am still working on providing a video series for my long distance friends who may interested, but the dates and pricing for any in-home courses will be announced soon. Here’s a teaser:

Introduction to the course:
Food sanitation may sound boring or something that should be left in the hands of professionals, but nothing could be further from the truth! As a home cook you are often concerned about the health and safety of your family. You spend time and money to learn about nutrition and what to feed your family. Did you know that how you store, prepare, and serve the food your family eats is just as important? Your family eats at home more than any other place, and every meal provides an opportunity for you to nurture your family – or potentially harm them. In this course we’ll talk about how to ensure that you are buying quality ingredients, storing, thawing, cooking, reheating, and sanitizing properly.

For those of you who may be skeptical about the importance of food sanitation, let me tell you that no one was more skeptical than I! I am a natural-minded person who avoids prescription medicine, mainstream lotions and soaps, and harsh chemical cleaners. This course is not about buying into the FDA or USDA or bleaching everything in sight. It is about educating yourself to the potential dangers in food and how to prevent foodborne illness in your family. With this knowledge you can make educated decisions and protect your family to the best of your ability.

Foodborne Illness, aka food poisoning. Just the phrase can give you the chills as you remember that incident one time at the one hole-in-the-wall Mexican food joint. We all can think of times when someone we know has gotten violently ill off of poorly prepared food. As the primary food preparer in your home, you are responsible for making sure that foodborne illness doesn’t happen in your own kitchen.  And if you have small children, elderly people, or people with compromised immune systems in your home? This is even more essential information to obtain and implement. Those populations are particularly sensitive to getting a foodborne illness – it’s your job to protect them.

The Type of Applicable Information You’ll Receive from the Course:
Bacteria love warmth, moisture, and food high in protein or carbohydrates. They grow particularly fast in these types of food. This doesn’t just apply to meat or poultry, cooked plant based foods are at a high risk for food borne illness. That means cooked rice, beans, and baked potatoes. I was shocked when I learned this! I am certainly guilty of leaving baked potatoes out, still wrapped in foil but not refrigerated immediately. Or of leaving cooked rice in the pot on the counter before putting it away later in the evening. Leaving these types of food out of a refrigerated environment can lead to some serious illnesses. Especially baked potatoes — under the right (or wrong, in this case!) circumstances they can cause blindness and death. Yikes! Are you sure that you are handling your food correctly?

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Happy Birthday Parker

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Someone turned 5 today. It’s so hard to believe! The years have flown by and he’s growing into quite the big kid. He’s doing one more year of preschool and couldn’t be more excited. These days he’s obsessed with riding his bike, watching and reciting Robin Hood, talking about his recent trip to California and Disneyland, singing along to Oldies music, and asking a million and one questions about everything. He’s a wonderful big brother and very social and friendly with everyone. He’s got a very tender heart and a generally happy personality. He’s still topping the charts of size for his age with an appetite to match. Happy Birthday our big 5 year old. We love you!

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Culinary School:: Semester 1

As of today I’ve completed my first semester at Culinary School! Hooray! After almost 10 years of being out of the classroom, I was happy to know that I still remember how study and keep on top of assignments. It was a lot of work but I’m happy with all I’ve learned and feel like it will benefit me for years to come!

As my first semester at Culinary school comes to a close, I thought that I might share with you all some of the things I’ve learned. My courses are directed towards running a restaurant, but many of the principles end up applying to the home cook. Especially in my Food Sanitation class. I really think that anyone who cooks at home should know some of these basic skills — it’s the health of your family at risk! And Culinary Math? I think everyone can benefit from learning how to price a recipe or convert recipes from metric to US or multiply to a greater quantity.

I’ve learned so much I could do a small series on each subject I’ve learned, but I won’t go to the effort if there isn’t interest. Would y’all be interested getting the 411 on Food Safety and Math? I promise there won’t be any homework ;-) Just some basic information that might help you run your home kitchen more safely and efficiently.

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Able to Serve

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We aren’t 100% sure that we are done having kids of our own, but we are definitely leaning in that direction. For now that decision is based on a lot of different factors (some being that since 2008 I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding for all but a handful of months and my body needs a break). Another factor that has been on my mind lately is being out of this “we’re all on the verge of falling apart and need help wherever we can get it” phase. Between health problems, house problems, and various family situations it feels like we’ve been on the receiving end of help for a looong time. And there’s nothing wrong with that, for sure. We’ve been so blessed by family and friends who’ve rallied around us to help. But by golly, I’d kind of like to not be so needy and be able to give back.

My friends seem to be going through the ringer lately. Whether from good stress or hard stress, I wish I could be doing more to be there for them. Miscarriages, moving, new babies, hard pregnancies, health problems, death of family members, parenting difficult children, hard marriages — all these things are going on right now with my friends and most of my energy is sucked up by my own three needy people and trying to run our little household.

Having kids that are old enough to be able to serve other families with me (instead if running around like crazy and making matter more hectic) would be so nice. Being able to bring people meals, help clean their house, babysit, help them move, or even just be there emotionally without kids yelling and demanding my attention. Being available for people sounds divine. I realize part of becoming a parent means choosing to serve your own little people most of the time. But getting the focus off our little corner of the universe and being a bigger part of the community is really important too.

Can I just offer a word of encouragement to those of you who are already more able to serve? It seems like people who are out of this stage often forget how hard it is or don’t feel it’s their place to offer help. Can I just assure you, if you’ve got kids that are older or out of the house or are single — young moms in the thick of it NEED your help. Most of us don’t have a ton of money and some of us don’t have family near by. Getting a young moms groceries or babysitting or coming over to clean or bringing her a coffee is always welcome. Or honestly, if you go to church, it’d be a huge blessing if you were serving in children’s ministry. Young moms who are surrounded by littles 24/7 need Sunday mornings off more than anyone. They should not have to work in the nursery too! It is a huge relief to them to say “you can’t work in nursery until you’re kids are older” rather than expecting them to be involved when they are already drained.

We’re all in this thing called life together. And as much as the American dream is all about “do-it-yourself” we really can’t survive without one another. I am looking forward to teaching and modeling this to my own kids one day. I hope you will too!

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helping you take control of your home and kitchen