Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Seth's Successful Santa Session

Friday night we bundled up in our rain gear to visit the Santa House in downtown Renton. It was nice because unlike mall Santas (which I steer clear of anyway), you can either feel free to take your own photos, or there is a photographer there and you can download your photos for FREE! Anyway, I guess no one else wanted to be out in the weather because we were the only ones there and could walk right in. Seth wasn't too sure about this guy, but it was nice and quiet and we weren't being rushed by people waiting behind us. Eventually, he saw that the big guy was OK and agreed to sit on his lap.

So, compared to last year's visit Santa...

...this year was a happier experience!
My friend/distant-second-cousin-twice-removed-in-law (?) Jessica wrote a post I just love about the goodness of Santa. I, for one, figure that as long as I teach my children why we really have Christmas and they understand that, the magic of Santa is too fun to ignore. So, if you agree, check out her argument for Santa post. If you don't agree, I recommend you read it anyway to see another point of view.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mr. President

Ever since we checked out The President and Mom's Apple Pie from the library, Seth's favorite word is "president" (sounds more like "ped-i-dent"). So, last night while I was away at school, this is what was going on at home after dinner. He's saying the president has a big tummy (which is true since the book is about President Taft, our largest president weighing in at over 300 pounds! Plus the illustrations in the book really emphasize his girth. :-))

And, speaking of pie, I tried a new one that was delicious for Thanksgiving. Paula Deen said it's best not to try new things for a special occasion dinner, but I don't think anyone minded being a guinea pig for my experiment. Like most pies, it is best with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream! Here it is:

Maple Dream Pear Pie

5 1/2 to 6 cups peeled 1/2" diced just-ripe pears (if they're too ripe, I'm guessing they'll get mushy when you bake it)
1 1/2 TB cornstarch
pinch of salt
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 TB lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 TB chopped candied ginger or 1/2 tsp ground ginger
9-inch deep-dish pie crust

Oatmeal Crumb Topping:
2/3 c. flour
1/2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4" pieces

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Please the diced pears in a large bowl, sprinkle with cornstarch and stir well. Add remaining filling ingredients and toss gently, until the mixture is evenly combined. Turn the filling into the chilled pie crust and smooth the top of the fruit. Place pie on oven center rack and bake for 45 minutes.

Combine topping dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the butter, and using your hands, rub the ingredients together until you have large crumbs. Refrigerate topping until you are ready to use it.

After 45 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Remove the pie from the oven and spread the crumb topping evenly over the top of the pie. Return the pie to the oven and bake until the juices bubble thickly around the edge, about 15 minutes. If edges of crust begin to brown too much, cover with a pie shield of strips of aluminum foil. Cool at least 2 hours before serving.

While I was making our Thanksgiving meal, I heard some serious giggling coming from the family room. I knew Matt was upstairs, so I really wondered what Seth could find so funny by himself. He had pulled his winter hat down over his eyes and belly-laughed every time he ran into something. This is the kid who never likes things on his head, but he was genuinely entertained by his own cleverness. When he pulled it over his eyes, I'd say "Hey, who turned the lights out?!" so here's a moment when the "lights" were on:

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A TREAT of a Halloween!

Wow what a whirlwind Halloween day we had! First, we had our much-anticipated 20-week ultrasound and found out Seth is going to have a baby SISTER. We are excited to look forward to a little girl next spring, and it's so nice to finally say she/her and not "it" when talking about Baby. We're half way there!

On to other Halloween festivities. I just have to say I love Seth's costume. One of his favorite words these days is CAR (lately it's the phrase MY car!), so I decided to make him a NASCAR driver. How was I to make this when kids don't wear jumpsuits anymore? Enter eBay. I found a vendor who sells nothing but vintage clothing patterns and scored this circa 1970's Kwik Sew pattern, brand new, never been opened. Aside from the fact that this would work perfectly, I was instantly charmed by the cartoon drawings of those little kids!
I made style C (blue with white polka dots in the picture), and made it out of black stretch cotton and added red piping around the sleeves and down the sides. Next I printed logos for Tonka, Hotwheels, Lego, NASCAR, Matchbox and McDonalds and made my own patches using Heat n' Bond iron-on fusible webbing. They weren't staying on very well, so I secured them using clear "invisible" thread in my machine. Sounds like more work than it was, but it was really fun to see it evolve and turn out just, BETTER...than I imagined! I'm sure Seth thought his mom had lost it the first time I put it on him and I squealed with delight. So...pardon me for the discourse (I sound a bit like I'm bragging, eh?) on costume construction, but WALLAH here is the finished product!

The driver in action!

He set out trick-or-treating with Matt and his trusty Frankenstein candy bag (made from a kitchen dish towel and more of that great stuff Heat n' Bond). He was close to saying "Trick or treat!" by saying "eat!", but mostly he just said "Hi!" Like the good little boy he is, he always said thank you ("kyou"). It rained all day but let up long enough for the kiddos to run around outside, and the rain returned again for the rest of the weekend. We kept a tally by the door, and when all was said and done, we had 125 "treaters" come to our house, give or take was hard to keep track the few times we got ambushed by huge throngs of goblins, princesses, animals and monsters.

...taking inventory...

We hope everyone had a Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More Pumpkins! ...and a recipe

Saturday was clean-out-the-garden day, and we gleaned the last of the season's harvest. Here's our pumpkin/squash bounty, all shapes and sizes. These will make a festive display on our front porch (maybe all except the two mammoth zucchinis we didn't know about).

And here's Seth getting ready to "help," which consisted mostly of shoveling dirt from one side of the raised bed to another.

And, just as I was getting ready to rake a cleared out bed, I saw what I thought was a dried out leaf HOP about 3 feet! We fascinated at our little Kermit, and Seth spent the rest of the time watching him and pointing out every little critter by yelling "BUG!"

When we had Seth's birthday pancake party, lots of people asked for the recipe for the pumpkin pancakes, so here it is:

2 eggs
1 1/4 c. buttermilk
4 TB butter, melted
3 TB canned pumpkin puree
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips (optional)

Combine eggs, butermilk, butter, pumpkin, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Mix ingredients well with electric mixer. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and blend with mixer until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour batter in 1/4 cup portions onto heated and buttered skillet or griddle. Flip pancakes when batter is bubbly and finish cooking on other side.

Friday, October 17, 2008

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

That is one of my favorite holiday movies of all time. Poor Linus, no one believes him. I remember watching that movie every year (anyone else remember those holiday specials on a Friday night with the Dolly Madison commercials?) thinking that it would end differently and I would FINALLY be able to see the Great Pumpkin. Never happened. *sigh*

Last week we went with my sister Gerilyn and the nieces and nephews to Carpinitos Brothers farm for a day out in the pumpkin patch. We didn't pick any pumpkins ourselves since we have (cross your fingers) 5 or 6 good ones in our garden waiting to be picked shortly.

Which weighs more, Seth or a pumpkin? hee hee

Here's a REAL workout...Hannah AND Seth AND pumpkins!

"OK let me try. How hard can this be?"

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Blink of an Eye

Our little man!

That's what the last two years have been with Seth. He was born, I blinked and now he's two!I've heard it said that when you have children, the days can seem like forever, but the years fly by. How true! He turned two years old a week ago Friday, and our little guy just gets better every day. I'm thrilled and amazed at the things he can do, and I love being able to actually have little conversations with him. Happy Birthday, sweet boy. We love you so much!

I brought cupcakes and apple juice to day care on Friday, and then we went home early for a little dinner and family time. I'm disappointed in the quality of photos from that day. I seriously need help figuring out the settings on my camera! Outside shots come out clear and perfect...indoor ones are a blurry mess. Any advice?

Anyway, Saturday we had a "pancake party" for his, and our, friends. It could not have been a more perfect morning for a breakfast at the park. Thanks to all who came, ate and played! And thanks, Jason, for sharing the great photos.
Matt the pancake chef

So excited to be two!

I actually took a few decent photos, like these:

Can you say static cling in my hair from the slide?

Sophie to Seth: "OK, let me show you how the slide is really done."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

which austen heroine are you?

I'm Elinor Dashwood of Sense & Sensibility. I am practical, circumspect, and discreet. Though I am tremendously sensible and allow my head to rule, I have a deep, emotional side that few people often see.

I am Elinor Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

a limerick for you...

There once was an Orton family
Who laughed and lived happily.
Next year March nineteen
A new one'll be seen,
And then there'll be four and not three!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sew Happy, Volume 1

This is a bit of a personal indulgence, but I wanted a venue to document my adventures in the sewing studio (OK I don't have a studio...the sewing machine is in the same room as the office and the rest of the studio is everywhere from the dining room table to the living room floor). I've heard of some people creating separate blogs to showcase their hobbies, but I'm afraid if I did that, it would just be another nagging "to do" that I would feel guilty about neglecting. My sewing whims come and go in spurts, so as the inspiration strikes, I'll post what I've done and I'll feel good to see for myself what I've accomplished (some days I need to see more than checked boxes on my to-do list to feel productive, know what I mean?). Here goes...

I've always loved wearing and making aprons, and it seems there is a resurgence of the love affair with this domestic icon. I participated in my first Sassy Apron Swap last spring and enjoyed making something for someone else. I have photos of me wearing it, but it's much cuter on Julie, the recipient. What a happy relief to know that she loved the apron.
This is the apron I received from Jess all the way from Australia. It's made from the leg of a pair of jeans, cut open and trimmed with a cute ruffle. It's funky and totally different than anything I would make myself...that's what I love about it!

July is family reunion time in our family. Ever since before I was around, there has been a reunion for the families of my Granny Taylor and her siblings. They are all gone now, but so far, thankfully, no one has had the heart to discontinue the tradition. Part of the festivities is an auction of donated items to raise money for the next reunion. Since we couldn't be there, I made an apron from the same pattern as the swap but in a cute fabric pattern called "Social Butterfly". It just looks like something Granny would wear, so I thought it appropriate for the occasion. And I had enough leftover fabric that I made a coordinating child's apron. So fun to make, and it was a hit at the reunion! Someone bought them for when her granddaughter comes over to help her make homemade noodles. What a happy, memory-making image!

At the risk of this being a too-lengthy post, I'll digress for just a moment but still stay on the subject. I read in this book some insight about the art of housekeeping. Although I relish the feeling of a clean and orderly home, sometimes I wonder what the point of housekeeping is when I'll have to do it all over again next week. Then I read: "You can say what you want about housework, but besides having dinner together every night, there's nothing more valuable to a household than order. A tidy home provides structure for family life and an oasis from the chaos of daily living. And these sorts of household chores keep us in touch with our possessions, ideally in a constant state of measuring their value in our lives." *sigh* Don't you just love the word "tidy"?

Anyway, I ventured for a short time into purse making with this Frenchy Bag from Amy Butler. It was fun to make, and something I've never attempted before. There are two sizes so I tried the smaller one, but I'm ready to take on the shoulder bag. I didn't notice it until I started cutting out the pattern that there is an owl amongst the flowers, swirls and leaves. I centered it on the side...can you see it?
(I wasn't trying to make an artistic statement by hanging the bag on the outdoor water spigot...there was nowhere else to hang it outside, and I didn't like the indoor lighting.)
The inside has two divider pockets and a magnetic clasp.

Today I just finished piecing this quilt top. I call it Sudoku Harvest.
It's just like a Sudoku game, but instead of numbers 1 through 9, there are nine different fruits and vegetables, as seen in the close-up.
Not too challenging to sew, but I had to double and triple check to make sure I wasn't duplicating the same image in a row. I dare you to find one! Looking at it now, I wish I had made the sashing wider so the 9 boxes were more clearly defined. But overall I'm happy with it, and the border fabric makes me think of summertime picnics and county fairs.
Not sure what I'll do with it...I may just put a backing on it (no batting) and machine quilt it and use it as a tablecloth.

Finally, the project more rewarding than any of those mentioned above is one I don't have a photo for, and understandably so. A friend's daughter gave birth to twin girls a month ago and after battling for 10 days, one didn't survive. This amazing, capable woman who has raised a family, retired from a long career and has always been unashamedly independent asked me to help her alter the would-be blessing dress to fit a little 2-pound, 11-ounce body for her burial. She is now legally blind, and I watched in amazement how she held the dress up close to her eyes and ran her fingers over the seams and knew exactly where to cut, gather and stitch. I was just the facilitator for her expertise. We worked together to create a dress, bonnet and pillow all out of the original dress. When we were finished, she cradled the tiny bonnet in her hands, cried and said "This is exactly the way I hoped it would turn out." This is why I sew.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Spare Time

Ever have one of those weekends when all you do is stuff you WANT to do??? When you actually have spare time?? Saturday is usually chore day (Everyone sing along: "Saturday is a special day, it's the day we get ready for Sunday..."), but this past weekend was a little different from our norm.

First, Friday night we went to the annual Bite of Seattle and experienced Seattle dining at its finest. If you haven't been before, the whole area around the Seattle Center is lined with restaurant vendors where you can get a good meal for 6 bucks or less - admission is FREE. We chowed on salmon ceasar salad, Australian road kill pita (BBQ steak & veggies), hot dog for Seth (he wasn't feeling too adventurous), followed by a fresh yummy strawberry shortcake. There were 4 different stages with all kinds of bands performing...a relaxed, festive atmosphere that was mucho fun! The only photo I took that night was this one because I was strangely fascinated by how this vendor was smoking the salmon. They were one of the people's choice winners of the night.

So, back to Saturday. Matt usually mows the lawn on Saturdays, but it hasn't rained enough for it to grow much. The house was still clean (well, presentable at least) from when I scrubbed and vacuumed last week. The laundry was in the what do we do when there's nothing we HAVE to do?? Go to the beach! We hopped in the car and drove to Alki beach for the afternoon. It wasn't too hot, but warm enough that the chilly water was pleasantly refreshing.
We played in the sand, attempted to catch some speedy little crabs in the sand bucket (no success), found shells and sea glass, and watched three big luxury cruise ships sail out to sea. The only thing we could have used that we didn't have is a kite! Gotta save something for next time. It's nice to have a trimmed lawn, a spic-and-span house, a weed-free garden and freshly-ironed clothes. But what is more important than seeing pure delight and utter fascination in your child's face? We can't wait for another spontaneous escape!
Although it looks like Seth is getting too much sun, I'm happy to report that (thanks to SPF 45) we all arrived back home as burn-free and pastey white as we were when we left.

"Maybe I can use my foot like a shovel - it's a great scooper!"

Thursday, July 10, 2008

35 is the new 25, right?

I'm another year older today. Birthdays, it seems, after a certain age become just another ordinary day with tasks that must be done and responsibilities to fulfill, but with a little magic mixed in. That was today for me...taking Seth on a run this morning (I just started up again this week, so there was some running, some walking, and a LOT of gasping for air), grocery shopping, straightening up the house, but with thoughtful phone calls from loved ones sprinkled throughout the day, lunch with my sister, surprise gifts showing up in the mail and the front doorstep, and an evening out at my favorite restaurant Tutta Bella with my two favorite guys, Matt and Seth (as if I have to say their names!). I count myself fortunate to have the life I have, and blessed that I've been given another birthday to celebrate.

Pleas'd to look forward,
Pleas'd to look behind,
And count each birthday with a grateful mind.
- Alexander Pope

This was part of my birthday present from Matt, these lovely raspberry-colored mums with bright, cheery centers. So thoughtful - he knows what makes me happy!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Special Visitors and Another First!

We enjoyed the long-anticipated visit from Matt's parents (Grandpa Rex and Grandma Diane) from Texas. As always, the time goes by much too quickly when they're here, but we managed to fit in oodles of fun stuff to do! We camped overnight at Lake Easton and were pleasantly surprised at the delightful weather!
Seth (don't you love his little Carhart hiking boots???) making sure Dad is building the fire correctly...another pyro in the making!
After a good breakfast, we wanted to hike to Snow Lake up by Alpental ski resort, and we found it aptly named. Even though it was June, the trail was covered with snow, and it got more treacherous the further we went. Less than a mile into it, we regretfully decided to turn around. We're going to attempt it again later in the summer when it will hopefully be melted!

Ready to hit the trail!

Three generations of hikers.

This was the getting-in-the-car routine. Any kind of button, or anything that looks like a button is a magnet for Seth. As you can imagine, pulling him away from it and putting him in the car seat wasn't pretty.

Also, while they were here, Rex gave Seth his FIRST haircut ever! I was nervous about the whole idea because I was picturing a buzz cut and all his lofty white curls left in a heap on the floor, but as you can see, all went well, and he's looking all grown up! Great job wielding the clippers around a squirmy toddler, Rex!

Getting acquainted with the clippers - he kept holding it up to his head like a phone.

After some fussing and trying to grab the clippers, here's the surrender.

After all is said and done, a cookie is the reward - it makes everything better!

This is just a random photo from this past Sunday. It was a HOT weekend, especially for the majority of us Northwesterners who don't have air conditioning. So after church we headed for the mountains and had a picnic at Gold Creek near Hyak. I snapped this sweet photo on one of their many trips to the river to play and splash in the water.