6 November


It's no secret around here that autumn is my favorite season. I mean, I love all the seasons for their own reasons, and winter, especially, is pretty beloved to me. But there is nothing else like autumn. I will probably write at least one more ode to autumn before this month is out. 

last of the tomatoes

One thing I love about autumn is the food. Tea is steaming hot, soups are in, hot chocolate and popcorn become the favored afternoon snack, and baking picks up a bit. Baking is a bit different for us now, as about 10 months ago, we transitioned James to a gluten-free diet. Our hope was that it would help with some behavior issues he had been struggling with. I was very skeptical about trying it, but it was really a last-ditch effort and we were encouraged by the success of many friends with a gluten-free diet. I was so weary of dealing with constant behavior battles, and I was even more weary of everyone we knew either throwing diagnoses at him or complaining about him to me, as though I was unaware of my own child's struggles. 


In reality, I knew that none of these "acronym" diagnoses that many of our well-meaning family and friends were suggesting fit the bill. But I knew that his meltdowns weren't helping him, and I could see it wearing on my other children, as well. So we were at a place of (almost) desperation when we decided to try gluten-free.


And it worked. Within a few weeks, he was like a different child. It's not perfect, and he can still work on impulse control, but suddenly he was happier, more relaxed, and healthier. I no longer saw the look of fear and confusion in his eyes as he struggled with meltdowns he didn't understand. People started remarking on how he seemed to be so much more calm and confident. A long-time friend (who'd known him since birth) remarked that he seemed more himself again. I do not know why this has worked for him. But it has.


I'm still trying to learn how to bake well with two handicaps (gluten-free and high altitude), and we've had successes and failures. But it's very worthwhile. I'm no longer finding myself crying at the end of the day about a child I don't know how to help. And that means everything.

GF popovers

In this post: gluten-free popovers from King Arthur flour, and some hot tea, apples (from the market), and the very last few tomatoes (from our one tomato plant), just because. 

11 March

finishing touches

finishing up the snowman

snowman's profile


This moment seven years ago, I was basking in the afterglow of my blessingway and heading out to supper with my husband, my almost-four-year-old little girl, and my friends Gina and Rachel. It was snowing then, as it's snowing right now. The next morning, I woke up and had a baby!

In other news, I have been feeling crabby today, had a slight headache, and snapped at my children. It was altogether not a great afternoon. 

Saturday night, after a long day playing out in the snow (snowmen were made), we made my favorite soup, Pasta Fagioli. Or Pasta e Fagioli for the fancier people. 

My parents used to go to this restaurant ages ago, it reminded me of the type of fine dining establishment you might see in the Godfather movies. I mean, it was really nice, but it was definitely that old school, urban Italian-American feel. There used to be a few of those places in the city where I grew up but they all seem to have disappeared with time.

Anyway. If you went to this lovely little Italian restaurant, they brought you out a bowl of this soup to start. My mom was able to get the recipe by a slightly mafia-esque maneuver (exaggerating! I'm exaggerating!), and now I'm going to share it with you, only slightly updated to include canned beans because I never remember to soak mine the night before. Bad crunchy mama. :)

mmm, soup

my favorite soup

Pasta Fagioli Soup

1/3 cup olive oil

1 cup finely diced onion
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup finely diced celery

(We made a double batch this weekend and to save time we used the food processor but oh, it's so much better when you dice by hand.)

4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp ground black pepper (please take my word for it and don't skimp on the pepper)

1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 15-oz can small white beans, rinsed and drained (Great Northern or Navy beans)
7-8 cups chicken broth (you can use vegetable broth if you'd like a vegetarian soup -- also, if you use reduced sodium broth, you may wish to add salt to the soup)

1 cup small pasta (tiny bow-ties are traditional, or you can use little macaronis. We had to settle for large pasta this time which wasn't quite the same)

In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Make a mirepoix with the onions, carrots, and celery. When they are richly fragrant (about 8-10 minutes), add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Add the basil and pepper, give it a good stir, and then add the tomatoes, beans, and broth. Simmer for at least 20 minutes, preferably longer. 

Add the pasta, bring to a boil, and cook until pasta is done.

Serve with bread, grated cheese, or whatever you like.

Best soup ever.

9 November

Sorry guys, another quick phone post after a busy day. Elisabeth made these Cranberry Crumb Bars with Mulling Spices from the new Smitten Kitchen cookbook to bring along to some friends' house today and they were so amazingly good. We had everything on hand and they came together quite fast. And really, I must say, Deb never goes wrong with flavors and combinations. I have a feeling this cookbook is going to be my new favorite.

Nov 9, 2012

Lunch Week: Friday

Day 5: Lentils and couscous

lentils and couscous

This is definitely all of our favorite lunch. It's the lunch I've been making the longest -- indeed, I started making a version of this when I was pregnant with Elisabeth. It's the one we like to serve when we have friends over, or when we haven't been to the grocery store in weeks. It's comforting, it's nourishing, it's always available, and it's delicious. 

No matter what picky eater we have at the moment, they will all eat large bowlfuls of lentils and couscous.

This is the kind of simple food that you can go back to again and again. It's simple, pretty quick, and doesn't contain much by way of seasoning. But simple, healthful foods like this don't require a lot of seasoning. 

I know I've photographed this meal on a number of occasions, meaning to share it with you here, but always something has interfered with that plan. So, here, tonight, I am finally sharing this with you. 

Here is what I do.

I usually make this using green lentils, though sometimes red lentils find their way into my pot instead, and always pearl couscous (I used to call this Israeli couscous, but of course, the kids like the name "pearl" better!)

Thinly slice several cloves of garlic (3-4). You could mince, or press, or even use the jarred kind. But the slices soften up so nicely and are so delicious and pretty as you eat the lentils. I really do recommend the slicing.

In a large saucepan, combine 1 lb dry lentils, the sliced garlic, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, and 4 cups of broth of your choice. (You could use water and a bit of salt instead of the broth if you don't have any on hand.)


Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are cooked but not mushy, about 25 minutes. A lot of the liquid will evaporate. That's OK, it's not meant to be soup.

pearl couscous, before cooking (but after toasting)

Meanwhile, prepare your pearl couscous (also called Israeli couscous or sometimes toasted couscous) according to package directions. I always toast it first, but of course you don't have to.

our favorite lunch

Serve in bowls and enjoy a simple, satisfying lunch. Because that's what the very best of lunches are, don't you think? Simple, satisfying, sustaining. On the best of days, lunch is a moment for everyone to stop what they're doing and come together for a few minutes in the kitchen. Lunch can feel like a chore, I know. It often does to me, that's why I decided to do a lunch week! But if we remember to stop and savor it, it's also a gift and a blessing. 

(Now I'm thinking, the five "S"s of lunch should be: stop, savor, simple, satisfying, sustaining.)

Wishing you all a season of beautiful lunches.

Lunch Week: Thursday

Day 4: Tortilla pizzas

cheese pizza

First of all, it snowed, a real snow, last night.


winter! it's just around the corner!

on the apple tree

snow play

Somehow snow just makes everything feel better, doesn't it?

Today's lunch doesn't seem very snow day-ish, but oh, well. 

Tortilla pizzas have been a staple for us for a long time. It's a thing that everyone loves for a while and then gets tired of for a while, so it goes in and out of rotation a lot. But they are very simple.

pizza - before baking

Here's my method:

I like to use whole grain tortillas. These are made locally and are so soft and delicious for just about anything. Of course, you can use any tortilla you have on hand.

Sometimes I make a little marinara sauce on the stove, an old-fashioned "alla marinara" (1/4 olive oil, several tablespoons minced garlic, some oregano, and chopped tomatoes), sometimes I use pasta sauce (homemade or from a jar), and sometimes, like here, I just spread some olive oil, garlic, and diced tomatoes right on the tortilla. (You can use fresh or canned tomatoes, these are canned.)

After the tomatoes, I add a few toppings, depending on what we have on hand. Here, I used sliced mushrooms and some roughly chopped black olives. One of the pizzas was just cheese, just in case.

before baking

For cheese, I just grate up some of whatever we have. Gouda cheese is good on these! So is cheddar or muenster. Probably just about any cheese would be good! If you have some fresh mozzarella on hand, slices of that are the best.

Bake in a 400-degree oven for 10-12 minutes. If desired, you can throw some fresh greens on top, or sprinkle with some dried herbs before or after baking ... this is really a flexible meal. Like scrambled eggs, I really feel like pizza is something that just about anything can be thrown on!


I saved our VERY favorite lunch for tomorrow, so I hope you'll join me! 

Please keep sharing your favorite lunch ideas, either in the comments here or link to your own lunch posts! 

Lunch Week: Wednesday

Day 3: Poached Eggs


Sorry I haven't been here earlier today. Not much is going on, except perhaps a shift in the weather, and I've been feeling kind of out of it today.

Anyway. We have poached eggs for lunch quite often (once or twice a week). I think if you really learn to poach an egg well, it can take you far in life. People seem impressed by this skill. And they are really good. Now, normally we eat poached eggs with toast, butter, and some cheese. But last week, I was thinking a poached egg on salad sounded delicious and lo and behold, the very next day, the November issue of Everyday Food arrived with a recipe for salad with roasted vegetables and poached eggs on top. Since my kids don't turn down roasted vegetables (especially beets, carrots, and the crispy, caramelized bits of onions!), and since James would eat nothing but salad at every meal if he had the opportunity, I thought this would be a hit. It was so good! If you don't have a copy of the magazine, you'll have to pick one up or wait a month or two for them to put the link up on the website. 



Here is my method for poaching eggs. It's pretty much fool-proof.


Bring a tall saucepan of salted water to a rolling boil. Break one or two eggs into a small bowl and carefully lower them to just above the surface of the water, and then quickly slip them in. Set a timer for four minutes. (This is not forgiving, like the spaetzle -- you'll want to stay right there!) I usually make 4-5 eggs in the same pot at the same time. Skim the water occasionally if it seems likely to boil over. 


Use a slotted spoon to carefully lift the eggs, one at a time, from the water. You can place them in individual bowls with a small pat of butter and serve immediately with toast, or you can place them on a towel-lined plate to drain slightly first. 


The whites should be completely set but the yokes should be very runny. If four minutes leaves them overcooked (depending on your stove, your altitude, and a number of other factors), try 3 1/2 minutes the next time. If that still yields an overcooked egg, you could try 3 minutes. But start with four the first time just to be safe.


They do require a bit of care, but they are so worth it! And I highly recommend them on salad!

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In addition to my lunch post, I'm joining Ginny in the Yarn Along again today. 

Yarn Along 10/24

I finished the body, neck, and button bands on James's sweater. Just the sleeves to go! 

This week the only thing I read was the Catechism of the Catholic Church. My husband and I are following a schedule to read the entire thing during the Year of Faith.

And finally, Halloween is in one week! How is that possible?! I finished Elisabeth's costume on Saturday and about half of James's on Sunday. I could've completed more of it but my husband roped me into some projects around the house, which I'm glad we did. I haven't started anything for Fiona yet, but I may not. She is up in the air about what to be. There is a choice between an old costume of Elisabeth's or one I'd need to make. Right now I don't have the supplies on hand for the one I'd need to make and I'm not sure if I'll have the funds in time to buy them. We'll have to see. 

Lunch Week: Tuesday

Day 2: Loaded Nachos

loaded nachos

Need I say more?

loaded nachos, before adding top layer

We usually do these in a 9x13 pan and add a layer of chips, followed with shredded cheese, whatever toppings we're using (see below), and then I repeat the chips and cheese. 

Topping ideas: black or pinto beans (we put them on about 2/3 as James is currently in a non-bean-liking phase), pickled or fresh jalapenos (all my kids like spicy), olives, onions of any variety, and anything else you like! When we are having this for dinner, we sometimes add seasoned shredded chicken or (cooked) spicy sausage.

Pop it into a 375-degree oven and bake until cheese on top is melted and browning. Serve with salsa and sour cream, if desired.




Elisabeth and James can each eat about 1/3 of a pan of these, leaving the other 1/3 to be divided between Fiona and me, which is about right. 

Lunch Week: Monday

Day 1: Spaetzle and Sauteed Mushrooms


I thought I'd begin Lunch Week with the meal that started the idea.

But first, a little bit about our lunches. I find lunch to be the hardest meal of the day to come up with. The five lunches I'll share this week are common staples for us, although sometimes we have other simple lunches like fruit and almond butter or cheese and crackers (which I'm sure some would consider to be snacks but they can be good lunches, too). One thing you'll notice about our lunches: they're all vegetarian. Although we eat meat, I very rarely serve it as a lunch food, or even a breakfast food except on rare occasions. I try to keep things simple and healthy and I favor a plant-based meal for that. (Though I'm not against occasionally having high-quality hot dogs or a quick chicken noodle soup, or leftovers, of course -- if we have any.)

With that, on to the spaetzle. As I mentioned before, I have always loved spaetzle, as have my children. But the small boxes are pretty expensive so I was anxious to learn to make my own. I finally got a spaetzle maker a while ago and I've been so happy with how easy it is.


(This is a spaetzle maker. I think it makes sense to have a metal one rather than plastic, because of the sustained exposure to heat.)


I like sauteed mushrooms with it, because it gives the hearty flavor that gravy would without being so heavy. I usually just quarter the mushrooms but of course slicing would work, too.

For the spaetzle (this serves 3 as a main dish and about 5 as a side dish; we usually double this at lunch and have some, but not a full recipe, leftover):

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk

Combine all ingredients using an electric mixer. Believe me that you don't want to hand-mix this. It will be a sticky, stretchy, very thick batter. Let it stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before using. I usually put the water on to boil while waiting. 


Over a large saucepan of boiling salted water, using a spaetzle maker (or alternatively, I understand you can push it through the holes of a large colander, although this sounds time consuming and difficult. The spaetzle maker is only around $15 so it's worth it), drop the noodles directly into the boiling water. This is hot, but not difficult. (Whenever I'm doing this, I inexplicably think of Minnie, even though I'm not sure this is something she'd ever know how to make!)

When the spaetzle float to the top (within a few seconds), skim them out with a slotted spoon. They are very forgiving, if you get distracted by one thing or another and need to boil them a bit longer. (Haha, like Minnie!)


You can serve with butter if you desire, and the sauteed mushrooms (I saute them while boiling the spaetzle). You could also used roasted vegetables or sauteed greens in place of (or in addition to) the mushrooms.

This is the only recipe this week that requires a piece of specialty kitchen equipment, but let me know if you try it sometime in the future!

If you are joining me in Lunch Week, please leave a link to your lunch post(s) in the comments. I'd love to get fresh ideas for lunches, and I'm sure others would too. If you don't want to create a blog post, or don't have a blog, you can just leave your ideas in the comments! I thought about creating a linky for this, and may still do so later if there's interest, but I thought I'd start it off more casually to begin with.

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PS: Marching band season is over! Starting today, or yesterday to be more technical, I have my husband back!

12 October

I apologize for not posting all week. I so want to be here more frequently but this week just got away from me. I did get a fair amount of progress done on one Halloween costume, some stitching on the sampler, a tiny bit of knitting (not very much), dentist and orthodontist visits (phase two of orthodontia is coming up so soon!)

Here are a few pictures from the week. 

There comes a time in the life of the Halloween costume designer where just going for it is the best course of action.

There comes a time in the life of the Halloween costume designer where just going for it is the best course of action.

Week 3

Terrible phone photo of this, but my real camera is not doing so well either in lower light settings or when actual focus is required. :( It's old and very worn out. I have no idea when I'll be able to replace it. Fingers crossed. 

Homemade spaetzle and sautéed mushrooms.

Homemade spaetzle and sauteed mushrooms for lunch today, and often lately. Spaetzle has been a favorite lunch of mine since I was very young, and my children love it, too. For many years, we just had the boxed kind, but recently I learned to make homemade and it's so good and easy!




Lots of leaf play. These are from yesterday when it was a bit warmer. Today was chilly. For a while, it was gloriously sunny, but now it's overcast and thundering. 

See you soon!

Earl Grey tea slushy


At the end of last summer, I got the idea to make an Earl Grey tea "slushy" and spent a fair amount of time working out a recipe for it. Then the weather got cool and I set the idea aside in favor of hot tea and the coziness of my favorite season. The idea of a tea slushy seems to be seasonal for me, because it was just this past week that the idea came to me to try it again. 

Last year, I was experimenting with making ice cubes out of the tea itself to use, but this year I opted for a much simpler approach, using regular ice cubes and tea rather than milk as the primary liquid. I think this method is much better.

Here's my method:

1. Brew a very strong batch of Earl Grey tea. This is best done by using a greater quantity of tea rather than a longer steep time, which yields bitter tea. I used an organic loose-leaf tea from the health food store, which is more affordable than using tea bags for this purpose. The ratio I've settled on for this is two heaping teaspoons of tea per cup of boiling water. While the tea is steeping, stir in 2 Tablespoons of sugar per cup of water. This is very sweet, too sweet to drink, but just about right for the slushy. What this makes is a tea concentrate. Allow to cool completely.

2. Put 1 cup of ice in a blender, and cover with the cooled tea concentrate. Blend until thick and slushy. With the motor running, add 1/4 cup milk of choice. (Whole milk, half and half, almond milk, etc.) Blend until combined.


3. Pour into cup, and enjoy. 

Let me know if you try it!


Also "brewing" here (hee!), I have some projects planned! My sister is due with her second baby any week now, and I need to knit a little something for him (it's a him!). I also bought yarn for autumn sweaters for my crew. This was all made easier by a gift certificate I'd been saving, as well as a little bit of gift yarn. I'm super excited about all of my planned knits, as well as a few other planned projects, such as a little collection of Alicia's kits that I've never started but am so excited to finally get to, and also some Jesse Tree plans that I've had on my mind for literally years. It is so good to have things in the works. 

Easter tidings

I hope you all had a blessed Easter Sunday yesterday, and that the coming weeks of spring will be filled with much goodness! 

Here is a little bit of what has been happening here over the last couple of days....

dyeing eggs (turmeric)

dyeing eggs (beets)

eggs (natural dyes)


pink and yellow

pink and yellow

blue egg


We dyed them using beets, turmeric, and purple cabbage. The colors were absolutely perfect; the most beautiful we've ever done! Every year I plan to use natural dyes, and every year, I fail to get around to it. I'm so glad that this year, we did! Next year, I would like to do more eggs with a few more colors. (The egg cup above is an antique Japanese one from my great-aunt's Easter collection, which I was fortunate to inherit)

easter basket

The Easter bunny arrived on schedule, leaving behind his customary muddy footprints. However, this was the second year in a row that I forgot to put some little Ostheimer bunnies (that I got on sale after Christmas of 2009) into their baskets. I will need to make a note to myself for next year or something.


I brought my camera to our Good Friday and Easter Sunday services this year, thinking I could take some beautiful photos inside our lovely church (a la Kyrie), but I find that taking photos inside the church, especially during services, doesn't feel right to me, so here is the lone picture of our Easter church. And I love it. 

my mom's pretty china (formerly my grandmother's)

My mom's pretty china (formerly my grandmother's). I love it so much ... it is so suited to Easter. This was the kids' table. There were real linens on the adults' table.

easter snow and fog

easter snow

Easter snow!

It actually snowed more on Easter this year than it did on Christmas. Hmm.

Today, I am relaxing, wishing for some warmth, knitting, cleaning, detoxing from yesterday's sugar overload, and reveling in the joys of Eastertide. 

What about you?

I almost forgot...

Oh, my! I almost forgot to post today!

Today we spent most of the day doing a deep cleaning of the house to prepare for the beginning of decorating that we'll do on Sunday (we gradually decorate all through advent).


I worked on our Christmas cards for a little while. I plan to have them ready to mail on Tuesday, which means I have a lot more work to do over the next few days!


And, another shot of yesterday's pretty pie, an apple-blackberry pie (which was not as spicy as the Michaelmas pie we've done in the past, but perfect for Thanksgiving).

For later

I haven't forgotten about you today! It has just been one of those days. Two sick little ones, rude person behind me in line at the post office, not enough time to get to the things I needed to get to, etc., etc.


Anyway, I'm thinking a lot right now about making foods that can be frozen and pulled out on just such a day as this. Foods that are comforting, warming, and nurturing on a chilly autumn evening, or after a day that was just too much for everyone.

Yesterday I made this yummy Sausage and Bean Casserole. It actually yields two casseroles. We ate one for dinner and froze the other. I'm looking for more suggestions! What are your favorite make-ahead meals?


I haven't posted about any knitting (besides a few teasers here and there) in this space in a really long time! It's not because I haven't knit anything in almost a year, it's just that I've been so bad about photographing them and getting them up on Ravelry (and here).

So, this is going to be the first of several knitting "catch-up" posts that are really long overdue.



I cast on and completed this cute, cabled, very pink hat within just a couple of days at the beginning of June, right before Fiona broke her leg. I intended it to be the first of what I hoped would be a series of knitting projects to be completed in our many hours at the pool over the summer (between swim team and swimming lessons, we were at the pool about 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, plus 6-hour meets on Saturdays!). Instead, when Fiona broke her leg and needed constant holding and care, my husband and some friends took over the pool duties, my plans were set aside, and this was the only completed knit for the summer.


The pattern is the Cabled Greenspun Beanie from the book Nature Babies by Tara Jon Manning. I knitted it using Green Mountain Spinnery Cotton Comfort (peony colorway), which is a favorite yarn of mine (it's also the yarn called for in the patttern). I really like that it's mostly wool with just enough cotton to give it a lighter, cooler hand, and an interesting texture, without losing any of the stretch of the wool.


When I made it, I intended it for Fiona, who didn't have a well-fitting hat at the time. With outdoor swim meets to get to by 5:30 in the morning (it's still very chilly at 5:30, even in the summertime!), I thought it would be useful. However, it ended up being way too big for her. I actually knit it a bit smaller than the gauge called for in the pattern (I'd knitted it before, so I knew it ran big), and it still ended up being huge. It could be because we are a family of small-ish heads, or it could just be that the pattern runs really, really big. Anyway, it fits Elisabeth much better than Fiona, so it ended up belonging to her instead. And she did get a lot of use out of it this summer at meets.


I decided to knit the hat in the round this time rather than seaming it. I liked the way it came together so much, even though it leaves a barely visible line up the back (no more visible than the seam would have been, in my opinion). I just cast on two fewer stitches to make up for the fact that there wouldn't be a seam. It was so easy and looks great.

Anyway, I have a pile more knits to share with you in the coming days. Yay for handknits!

Oh, and one last thing, the cookies that I did this week were these Halloween Whoopie Pies.



They tasted great although mine baked kind of flat compared to the picture. I think that's because I live at altitude and didn't make any adjustments (I don't always need to, it really varies). But the verdict on these was "yum!"


Whew! Last week was a hectic and overwhelming one. Some people thrive on activity, and I have to admit that I am not one of them. I prefer a lot of space to my days. But as my children grow, they have more things to do outside the home, and I have more commitments of my own. This fall has presented an entirely new level of complexity as we've piled on an all-day homeschool enrichment class for Elisabeth, swimming, CGS for both children, a real class (entailing lots of reading and actual homework!) for me, and a long and varied list of volunteer commitments.


{the beginnings of roasted vegetable soup}

With all this going on, I'm finding my reliable home rituals to be all the more important -- and soothing. One of these is the meal planning so many of you asked about. It's so simple that I'm almost embarrassed to share it with you, but here goes.

I do a once-a-month meal plan. I started this when Elisabeth was four and James was a little baby. We had some class that was in the late afternoon, and I knew those days (Tuesdays at that time) needed to be crock pot days. I sat down to make a week's meal plan, and realized that I had (at that time) four favorite crock pot recipes, or a month's worth. So I made a sheet of paper with the days of the week written across the top, and plugged those four crock pot recipes into each of four weeks of Tuesdays. Then I thought, "I could fill this out pretty easily." So I put things my husband could make onto my teaching days. And so on. Pretty soon, I had planned for a whole month's worth of meals. I've been doing it every month since then.


{two different angles of the same thing -- sorry, that's all the relevent pictures I had for tonight!}

I've been a subscriber to Everyday Food since the first issue. I have a low cupboard on the backside of our kitchen island that I store my back issues in. (I am a back issue saver. I know they say not to do that; it wastes space; bla bla bla, but it's just what I do.) So now when I do my meal plan, I pull out my entire stack of back issues for the given month. Many (though not all) of the recipes use seasonal ingredients, so that's been helpful to me. I make notes in the pages of my magazines about what we've tried, what we liked, what worked, what didn't. I use other sources for recipes, too, but Everyday Food is really my staple recipe source.


Since a lot of what goes on in our home is repeating -- every Monday I teach cello lessons, two nights a week my husband is home late, once a month I have a church council meeting in the evening, etc. -- I can easily determine what to make based on our schedule. Another thing I have added to my meal planning sheet is a list of various "types" of meal -- beef, chicken, fish, pork, and vegetarian -- that I can cross off so I don't repeat something in a week (like chicken three nights in a row or something!). We used to eat more meat, but now a little more than half of the meals I make are vegetarian, so that's a little less important than it used to be. (We used to be a strictly vegetarian family, and gradually added meat back into our diet the year before James was born. Now we've reduced it a lot and feel really good about that choice.)

Anyway, I find that planning for a whole month doesn't really take very long -- in the end, it probably saves me time over planning once a week or more -- I usually spend about an hour doing it. We shop once a week or as necessary. It takes setting aside the time and having the right tools on hand (the recipe sources, the family calendar, a meal planning sheet, and a pencil!), and a little bit of discipline to actually follow though and finish, but I now find it just as nourishing to have this little ritual in place as the food itself is to my family.

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And for you: a copy of my meal planning sheet. I hope that my little ritual proves helpful to you. 

Love, Grace

Oh! Also, I've updated my much-neglected reading list up there to the right. You'll find lots of great autumn reading there!

I love red

Pink is definitely still my favorite color, but there's something so festive, warm, and bright about red, don't you think? I find myself drawn to it a lot lately.


{red high chair cushions, again, because I can't help it}


{red for breakfast}

This was a breakfast from earlier in the week. It's my breakfast crisp, made with three pears and a pomegranate. I highly recommend both this combination, and pomegranate in the crisp in general -- it retains its crisp tartness perfectly, even when baked in the crisp.

We had a lovely weekend and I'm looking forward to this week -- a time of family, gratitude, and a little news here in this space (watch for that in a day or two).

See you tomorrow!

Look who came to dinner!

very first bite

she likes to do the spoon herself

new experience

An exciting development in our house over the last couple of weeks or so has been Fiona's first solid foods. We waited a little longer with her than is average (she was right at eight months). This was mostly because she wasn't showing any interest until close to the end of October and I didn't want to push her into it. Current recommendations for beginning solids with breastfed babies can be found here.

playing with the spoon


sweet potatoes {first solid food}

Just like her older sister and brother, Fiona's first solid food was sweet potatoes, which she gobbled right up! We've quickly moved to other fruits and vegetables.

We've been getting lots of use out of the bibs that were gifted to us -- the ones you see in this post were made by my friend Laura and by Erin.

being a little saucy

playing in the sweet potatoes

And this little ladybug bowl was a baby gift from Melissa, and it's one of my favorite things ever. We give Fiona all of her meals using it.

holding melissa's bowl


I make all my own baby food, and use a combination of sources for information on feeding solids. My two favorites are Whole Foods for Babies and Toddlers and Super Baby Food. Whole Foods for Babies and Toddlers is a bit more laid back, but has helpful information about incorporating solid foods into baby's day without replacing breastmilk (which should be the primary source of nutrition for the first 12 months of life). It also has some of our favorite recipes, including our go-to birthday cake recipe. Super Baby Food is more of a regimen. It's perfect for Type A mamas who need some real structure to follow. I followed it almost to the letter when Elisabeth was a baby, and I've referred to it often since then, although as I've gotten to be a more experienced (and relaxed) mama, I don't feel like I need such a strict regimen anymore. Just FYI, the information in there about the age to begin solids is a bit outdated and the breastfeeding advice in it isn't too great, but otherwise, it's been a really good resource.

Anyway, what fun to share a love of eating good food with our littlest one. We're all looking forward to many, many happy family meals to come!

Celebrating Michaelmas

michaelmas table

We enjoyed a lovely celebration of Michaelmas this weekend.

michaelmas candle

The children awoke to the annual surprise of our new Michaelmas candle. We burn the candle at dinner every night until it burns out (if well-timed, this is usually around the beginning of advent). My husband sculpts the dragons every year. He's gotten quite good! (He uses beeswax candles and this.)

michaelmas candle

We spent the afternoon cooking -- my husband and the children made our dragon bread (using a regular white bread dough), while I made our dinner and dessert.

michaelmas dragon bread

At suppertime, I told a version of the tale of St. Michael and the Dragon.

For dinner, there was the dragon bread, and dragon soup (recipe below).

dragon soup

And for dessert, we had a delicious Michaelmas pie. This was the first year we'd made it (I found the recipe here -- scroll down). It was really good! The flavor was so surprising -- spicy with all the cloves and nutmeg -- and so yummy. The only thing I did differently was that I just used my usual pie crust recipe (from my grandmother), but added the 1/2 tsp. cinnamon to it. We will definitely make this again next year.

michaelmas pie michaelmas pie

After dinner, there was just enough time for some dragon and knight dress up and play before our little heroes slipped into bed to dream about Michaelmas until next year.

michaelmas table

Michaelmas has been one of the harder festivals for me to "grasp" -- at least the "meaning" behind it. But every year, we follow our traditions, and it works its way into our hearts. I am beginning to see how fortifying it is, this first festival of the autumn and winter, and the way that it celebrates the excitement at new beginnings that we naturally feel at this time of year. How grateful I am for the forms that our family has put into place. These forms offer predictability and strength to us, even during times that are busy and hard. And how amazed I am, as each holiday or celebration greets us, that our traditions carry us. They are so familiar and so much easier now, requiring a little less fumbling and work each year. What a gift we are giving to one another -- our children, their father, and I.


If there is one thing that I would like to share with any young family just finding its way, it's this: seek celebration, and embrace it. You will be blessed many times over.

g l o w

Dragon Soup

(this recipe is adapted from one I saw on a homeschooling Yahoo group a few years ago)

Finely chop one onion and two cloves of garlic. In a stockpot, melt 4 Tbsp. butter. Saute the onions and garlic until soft.


1 qt. vegetable or chicken stock (we used about 6 cups)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 large beet, scrubbed and diced (we used two smaller beets, from our garden, and we peeled them first)
1 small jar roasted red peppers, chopped well and added with the juices from the jar
3 Tbsp. orzo pasta or other small pasta (we used much more -- about 1/3 cup)
Salt and pepper to taste

Simmer until vegetables are tender.

Add 1/2 cup frozen green peas and serve at once. (We added more like a cup of peas.)

Optional garnishes: sour cream and sweet chili sauce or salsa. Enjoy with your dragon bread!

Oh, do you know the muffin man?


James's favorite nursery rhyme is The Muffin Man, perhaps because he is, himself, a little muffin man.

One of his favorite requests in the kitchen is to make muffins. Most muffin recipes seem like a variation on a theme ... here's a recipe I came up with that we enjoy. (Note: These muffins are not very sweet.)

1 stick of butter, softened (or 1/2 cup of coconut oil)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (we used dark brown)

1 egg

Mix to combine.

1 cup applesauce
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Mix to combine.

Sift together:
2 cups flour (I like a combination of white and whole wheat; something like 1 1/4 cups white and 3/4 cup whole wheat.)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Add dry ingredients to wet; stir until just combined.

1/2 cup chopped nuts (we like almonds) -- optional, but recommended

Fill greased or lined muffin tins about 3/4 full. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Serve warm, smeared with butter. For a special treat, you could also sprinkle the tops with powdered sugar when they're still hot.

Happy October!

October is probably my favorite month of the year. I really love the changing seasons, the coziness of autumn evenings, baking, comfort foods (bring on the soup!), the festive feel of preparation for Halloween ... I really love it. As I'm starting to feel just the teeniest bit better (nearing the halfway point of pregnancy -- yay!), I have high hopes that our days won't all blend together this month, with day after day of my lying in bed. I'm looking forward to exploring the season with my wee ones, making some costumes (really just getting reacquainted with my sewing machines -- I haven't sewn since July!), starting to think of some holiday gifts ... I'm so excited!


Not many photos for you today; I have been forgetting to carry my camera lately. Again, I have high hopes that this, too, will shift with the change of season and my feeling a bit better.

pumpkin bread

We made this pumpkin bread last week after I saw the recipe over at Molly's. We were just pouring in the ingredients, and I was kind of on auto-pilot, so it wasn't until after I baked it and tasted how sweet it was that I went back and looked at the recipe -- 3 cups of sugar! It was so tasty -- a real treat. We called it "pumpkin cake" because it was so sweet. Anyway, I might reduce the sugar next time, but it was really, really yummy. It got gobbled up very quickly in this house!

{Edited: Though I am feeling somewhat better, I am still quite sick. I've experienced this hyperemesis in all of my pregnancies, though this one has been by far the worst. I have tried all the usual home remedies, acupressure, homeopathy, acupuncture and Chinese herbs, and two pharmaceutical medications -- the latest being one that was developed for chemo patients. I haven't received much relief from any of this. It seems that, for me, time and rest are the two best remedies. I have a really good midwife who is monitoring my health and the baby's, and everything is OK, though I would probably benefit from eating and drinking more. Thank you all so much for your kind thoughts and warm words. It's such a happy, exciting time, but feeling sick dampens that sweetness just a little bit. Sigh. It's good to know that people are thinking of me.}