The Log Book: June-July 2016

Latest Projects:
-Planning a vacation to Acadia National Park in Maine!
-I’m still shuffling things around to my new studio on the other side of our duplex.  On the up side, the two spare rooms on our side are starting to look like rooms and less like gigantic piles of stuff.
-My first major knitting project is still unfinished five years later (this is a chronic problem for me).  I’m making a final push to complete it, once and for all.

What’s cooking?
Camping food:  Hot dogs and s’mores, hamburgers, tinfoil meals.  Oh, and lobster boiled over a campfire.  It was MAINE, after all.

Reading:
Everywhere Present by Stephen Freeman
The Lost Boy by David Peltzer
The Martian by Andy Weir
Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie
Redwall, Mossflower, and Mattimeo by Brian Jacques

Other happenings:
Basically, this comic:

Where Did June Go?

We’re more than half-way through 2016. Maybe my head will stop spinning by the time November does its fly-by.

July has gone by at a more leisurely pace.  We spent the first part of the month on vacation in New England.  I had my first real camping experience at Acadia National Park.  It was fun, scenic, and tiring–and it drizzled most of the time.  Vacation was capped off by attending the wedding of a dear college friend.  The rest of the month was spent trying to  beat the heat and watching my lilac bush droop from lack of rain.  August is looking pleasantly busy from here….

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The Log Book: February 2016

Latest Projects:
-Still decluttering!  I’ve finished my clothes and have moved onto books–which is so PAINFUL.  For us, books are really more like “sentimental items.”  Actually, I just overall don’t like Marie Kondo’s approach to books (one of the consistent criticisms I’ve heard about her method).  Our bookshelves need tidiness and order, but I maintain: There is no such thing as too many books.  Only too few bookshelves.

The total now for boxes and bags of discarded stuff stands at 6.  A bit of a slow-down from the clothes.  We love our books.

What’s cooking?
-Gnocchi.  It’s so easy, and fun!  It tastes great in gnocci soup.  I used this recipe  without the sauce (from allrecipes.com).

Reading:
-Spark Joy by Marie Kondo
A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold  –this is a hard read, by the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine shooters.  But it is absolutely worth it.
Anchored by Kayla Aimee  –I love her blog and so finally picked up a copy of her book.

Other happenings:
-Shaun has taken interest in beekeeping, so we are both learning about that.  Bees are fascinating  creatures.  The more you learn, the more interesting they become.
Last year at this time, we were both sick, the house felt like it was falling apart, and I was tired to the bone.  I am thankful that this February was so different from last year.   Especially considering that it had an extra day, and all.  🙂

The Log Book: December 2015-January 2016

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Happy New Year!  2015 went so quickly, but I’m on the fence as to whether I miss it or not.  It had a lot of good points, like our brothers getting married, and our trip to California.  But mostly when I think of 2015, I just feel really tired.

Latest Projects:
-The big project for December was (no surprise here) getting ready for Christmas.
-I read a blog post last Christmas in which the author made orange pomanders, and thought, “I need to do that next year.”  I highly recommend making them–my hands smelled wonderfully of citrus and cloves after handling them.
-My big project is to renew last year’s New Year’s resolution to get organized.  We are off to a better start this year.

What’s cooking?
Cream of broccoli soup. 
This is a staple for Christmas dinner for Shaun’s family.
This year, we actually planned and executed a real feast for Santa Lucia.  My brother and his wife came over to celebrate with us.  Our Swedish-inspired (because we are not so sure about pickled fish) menu:
-Swedish meatballs and pasta
-Smoked salmon (in honor of St. Herman of Alaska, who is also celebrated on Dec. 13)
-Fingerling potatoes with dill
-Bread with cream cheese (for the salmon)
-Linden berry jam
-Baby dill pickles
We basically ate off the leftovers until we went on vacation.  Awesome.

Reading:
-Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon, which reminded me pleasantly of the Tiffany Aching books by Terry Pratchett.
-Everywhere Present by Stephen Freeman
-The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy by Marie Kondo, which has given my resolution to “get organized” some much-needed direction.
The Canada Geese Quilt by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock

Other happenings:
-We celebrated St. Nicholas Day and Santa Lucia.  Each year I fall more and more in love with these holidays.  It’s fun to have something to celebrate leading up to Christmas, that’s not Christmas.
-We made a grand and very nearly foolhardy trip to visit THREE states between Christmas and New Year’s: Massachusetts, Maine, and Ohio.  I did a lot of praying and checking the weather reports in December.
-As you can see from my reading list, I have finally jumped on the “Kondo-ing” bandwagon.  There’s been a lot said about her books and method, but overall I am finding them helpful.  The true test, I suppose, is the fate of the all the “Kondo-ed” spaces in the long-term–can we actually stay tidy, once the excitement wears off?  Only time will tell.  On the other hand, I have only just finished clothes (and some other paraphernalia along the way), and have already donated or trashed four bags of stuff.  I actually like looking in my closet now.

The Log Book: November 2015

Latest projects:
-I am finally getting back to my New Year’s resolution to “get organized.”  Which still means sorting paperwork.  How can two people generate so much paperwork?  Answer: the Army.

What’s cooking?
Somehow, this month has not been a successful cooking month.  It’s not that I haven’t been cooking.  It’s just that most things haven’t come out very well.  The new recipes I’ve tried have almost all flopped.
This month’s favorites:
I did make a few things successfully!
-Chicken and rice dinner, from Betty Crocker (1986 edition).  A great way to use up leftover chicken or turkey.
-Cranberry sauce.  Delicious with the above, and on pancakes.

Reading:
One Second After by William R. Forstchen
St. Elizabeth the New Martyr
Orthodox Veneration of Mary the Birthgiver of God by John Maximovich

I’m looking forward to:
-St. Nicholas day
-Santa Lucia
-Christmas

Other happenings:
Another dear friend from college visited me this month!  Our “spare room” is getting a lot of use. 🙂

Shaun was on the Thanksgiving team at his DFAC again this year.  His team had to decorate according to the theme of the movie Frozen.  For his project, Shaun constructed a gingerbread castle based on the Arendelle castle where Anna and Elsa grew up.

The castle took about a week total to build and decorate, and Shaun had the additional challenge of being sent to the field for a few days right in the middle of making it.  I helped in the final two days with decoration and construction.  It was really fun to work on a creative project together.

The Log Book: October 2015

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So, I should probably post this…now that’s it’s almost THANKSGIVING……

Latest projects:
-At the beginning of the month I was still canning and cooking and eating apples.  It’s a good thing they are my favorite fruit (though my love is being severely tested).
-Operation Christmas Child.  I’ve packed two shoe boxes, one for an older girl and one for an older boy.  According to Samaritan’s Purse, the older boys get very few boxes, as do the 2-4 year old boys and the older girls.  I’ve decided to make those age groups my mission.  Packing for a 10-14 year old boy was out of my “comfort” zone, but it ended up being fun.
-Taming paperwork.  I bought a filing cabinet for the purpose.  It made me feel very grown-up, in a very boring way.  But we are DROWNING in paperwork.  I sometimes marvel that there are any trees at all left in the world.

What’s cooking?
-Apples.  Need I say more?
Applesauce “crepes.”  We were going to have pancakes smothered in hot applesauce, but I made the pancake batter too thin…so we added some cream cheese and rolled them up for crepes.  Delicious.
-It’s really soup weather now.  🙂

Reading:
The Promise of Francis by David Willey
The Castle of Llyr and Taran the Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander

Watching and listening:
Iron Man (I had never seen this before.  Yes, I know.)
Ender’s Game

I’m looking forward to:
-Our fourth wedding anniversary is November 5.  Shaun might get some time off for it.
-Thanksgiving…sort of.  Shaun will have to work on Thanksgiving, and then I have to work Friday and Saturday.  I’m not sure when we’ll end up celebrating.

Other happenings:
-Shaun passed both the Soldier of the Month board and the promotion board!  He is now eligible for promotion to SGT!  Of course, now we just have to wait for promotion points to come down.  Because nothing in the Army can ever be simple….
-My friend Jori came for an overnight the last two days of October.  It was so good to see her and have talks and hugs.  We drove around to see the sights and explored a local museum.  And the chocolate shop.  Mmmmm!
-We ran out of candy AGAIN this year on Halloween.  Seriously, there are so many kids in this town. 🙂

The Log Book: September 2015

In August I wrote that I was not looking forward to autumn, and September.

Well, now they are both here.  And my fretfulness about the changing seasons has been soothed by low, golden sunlight, sweet-tart apples, and jewel-colored trees.

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Our apple tree

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An Easter lily which Shaun planted in the spring bloomed for a second time.   A little bit of April in September.

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In spite of myself, I am content in this season, the same in which I fell in love, was baptized, was married, left home and came back again.  It is here that dreams have been both sewn and reaped.  Without autumn, you cannot have spring.

***

Latest projects:
IMG_0871-I’m working on beading this piece of lace into an applique for a little handbag.  It’s an experiment, and my most ambitious piece of beading yet.
-Canning.  More on that below.
-Fall cleaning.  Spring cleaning never really got off the ground, so fall cleaning really needs to happen.

What’s cooking?
APPLES!  Apple pie, of course, and I also made my first venture into canning with applesauce.  We have two apple trees, but only one produces good apples (which are delicious!).  Even so, it produces far more than the two of us, and even the animals, can eat.  So far, my production tally stands at 5 apple pies and 5-1/2 pints of applesauce.  Plus various apples eaten as nature intended. 🙂
-Soup!  Cooler nights and days means hot, rich food is back on the menu.  So far I’ve made potato soup, tortilla soup, and gnocci soup.
-Veggie burgers.  I’d been wondering for a while about whether it would be possible to make my own veggie burgers, as an alternative to the frozen, expensive, processed kind.  And then I happened upon a book at the library called Veggie Burgers Every Which Way, which answered my question pretty decisively.  The first recipe I tried was Armenian Lentil burgers, which were pretty good.  I like the lentil base more than the spices, so I may change those to suit.  But in any case…move over, Morning Star Farms!
This month’s favorites:
Apple pie, potato soup.

Reading:
The Girl in White Armor: The Story of Joan of Arc by Albert Bigelow Paine
Veggie Burgers Every Which Way by Lucas Volger
Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen

Watching and listening:
Movies:
Amazing Grace
Cinderella
(2015)

Music:
Gaither’s Vocal Band
The Piano Guys

I’m looking forward to:
My friend Jori is coming to visit at the end of October.  I can’t wait to see her. 🙂

Other happenings:
-On Labor Day weekend we enjoyed a day at the house of friends from church.  They treated us to an impromptu “Labor Day bash” supper of farm-grown food and delicious artisan bread.  We loved meeting their sheep, ducks, and bunny. 🙂
-We helped out with our church’s “Mediterranean Festival.”  I also started a few of my wedding and baptismal items through the church bookstore.
-Apple canning and apple pies.  That pretty well sums up the last half of September.

The Log Book: August 2015

What?  August can’t be gone already!  The leaves start changing early here, but autumn doesn’t officially start until September 23, so…summer isn’t over yet!  Keep the lemonade coming (and maybe some sweet cider, too).

Latest projects:
I surprised myself by getting many small projects done lately.  And thank goodness, because there’s still quite a long list waiting.  I’ve cleared out/rearranged the spare bedroom closet, set up make-shift linen storage in the upstairs hallway, and organized all my scrapbooking paraphernalia.

-Framed necklace
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I grew up spending a week every summer in Wells, ME with my family and my dad’s parents.  One year my grammy bought me a sea-gull necklace while we were out shopping.  I don’t wear it anymore, so I wanted to do more than keep it in a jewelry box.  A table-top frame and a piece of sky-patterned scrapbook paper now display my keepsake.

-Scrap-scrapbook paper holder/waiting-to-be-mailed-to-Prilly holder
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Too many magazines, too little storage…and the same goes for scrapbook paper.  I like to have the smaller scraps available and easy to see.  The scrap paper is sorted by color and stored in binder sheet protectors, which I already had to hand.  Another box holds all the stuff I have collected to send to Prilly

-Letter-writing desk
While organizing my scrap-booking paraphernalia, I realized that all my letter-writing items–stationery, address labels, stamps, address book, etc.–were scattered in five different places across the house.  We have a large end table that doesn’t fit anywhere except in front of our living room window, so I decided to make it into a letter-and-bill-writing station.  Eventually we hope to clean out our under-stairs closet, build a desk and move the letter-writing in there–especially since our Christmas tree has to occupy this space come December!
Inspired by this post at “House for Five.”

This is part of why I write these posts–when I see the list of things I’ve actually accomplished, it’s quite exciting!  I don’t feel quite as bad about the things that I didn’t get around to doing.

What’s cooking?
I’m still getting used to the “new” normal of the working-cooking relationship, but I think I’m starting to get the hang of it.  I’ve also accepted that we are going to be eating out or using pre-packaged food more, so I’ve started budgeting for the inevitable take-out night.  It’s not ideal, but it’s not going to kill us, either.
This month’s favorites:
-It’s not summer without potato salad!
Baked bean sandwiches!  This idea came from Taste and See II, an Orthodox fasting cookbook given to me by my khouria (embedded link directs you to the cookbook’s website).  We modified the recipe by using hoagie rolls and adding tomato, and cheese and coleslaw when it’s not fasting season (the coleslaw makes it so good!).  As the recipe says, it’s a great summer meal!  Two tips: I always doctor the baked beans a little bit 🙂 and, cook them until they aren’t very soupy–that way the sandwiches aren’t soggy and messy to eat.

Reading:
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and the Half-Blood Prince, and the Deathly Hallows
Stardust
by Neil Gaiman

Watching and listening:
Harry Potter movies
M*A*S*H season 4

I’m looking forward to:
Um…actually, I’m not really looking forward to the start of September.  Generally I love autumn, but I don’t want to be any closer to six months of snow than I have to be.

Other happenings:
-Shaun has been working 11-12-hours a day, 6 days a week since the end of June, which has been grueling…especially for him, of course, but really for both of us.  Somehow he has still managed to help my brother and sister-in-law move apartments, study for promotion and help me celebrate my birthday.  I love him.  But I hope this exhaustive schedule comes to an end very, very soon.

-Probably thanks, at least in part, to his joints being weakened by being on his feet 11-12 hours a day, Shaun injured his knee in mid-August.  Thankfully, he is almost completely recovered by now.  We just hope this won’t happen again.

-I celebrated my birthday this month!

The Log Book: May-June-July 2015

May went by in a rush and a whirl.  Between a wedding and a two-week trip to California, time sped away until I was suddenly in the middle of June.  And then I blinked, and it was the middle of July.

Latest projects: Spring cleaning.  Or should I say summer cleaning?  Better late than never, I say.

What’s cooking? Not a whole lot.  I did make strawberry shortcake for Mother’s Day, and steak for Father’s Day. But I didn’t cook for about three weeks between the wedding and California, so I’m trying to get back into it now.
This month’s favorites: Most of our meals have been eating out, or eating at other people’s houses.   It was fun to walk up and down Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey, CA and sample clam chowder from various restaurants.  In our opinion, the Old Fisherman’s Grotto had the best chowder.  We also bought ourselves some horchata and indulged in some pan dulce and other Mexican treats while in California.  Apparently there are some things I miss about El Paso.

Reading:
Pig Tales by Barry Estabrook
The Emperor of All Maladies:  A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee (I am still reading this one.  It’s thick, but good.)
300 Sandwiches by Stephanie Smith
Uprooted by Naomi Novik (I have not enjoyed a piece of fiction this much in a long time.  Highly recommend.)
Financial Peace Revisited by Dave Ramsay
Harry Potter:  Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban & Goblet of Fire

Watching and listening:
M*A*S*H
season 1 & 2
Unbroken
War of the Worlds
BBC’s The Chronicles of Narnia:  Price Caspian & The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I’m looking forward to: Not having any major events scheduled until Christmas.  It’s been fun, but I am ready for things to slow down.

Other happenings:
My younger brother commissioned into the Army and graduated from college on Mother’s Day weekend.  Is he really grown-up enough to do that???
…and then, because you can never cram too many important life events into the space of a few weeks, he got married over Memorial Day weekend.  Despite my sarcasm, it was beautiful.  I was a bridesmaid and Shaun was in the saber arch.
…two days later, we went on a two-week trip to California, visiting Shaun’s relatives.  We went to L.A., Yosemite, Monterey and San Francisco.  I want to go back!
At the end of June I took a test to determine if I have asthma.  Although the results were close, they were negative.  This is both a relief and frustration: while I don’t particularly want to “have asthma,” something is going on with my lungs.  It would be nice to pin it down and say, “That.  That is what I have.”  I am considering allergy testing, but for now I’m continuing to treat my “asthma-like symptoms” and hope that this will go away at some point.
A reunion the second week of July with some of my dearest friends from college–the first time in four years.  We met at the school and spent the weekend together.  Some oft-repeated statements that characterize the weekend:
“Why did we wait four years to get together like this???”
“We need to do this more often.  Let’s do it yearly.”
“Guys, we’re talking about health insurance and jobs and the mileage on our cars.  WE’RE SO OLD!”
It’s a summer of weddings!  My brother-in-law married to his lovely fiancee in mid-July.  We weren’t able to attend the ceremony, but we will celebrate with them at a reception in the New Year.
We have four new windows on our house!  Good-bye to stuffing dishcloths in the gaps to stop the winter winds, or sweltering in summer because we can’t open the windows to let in the breeze.

The Log Book: April 2015

Latest projects:
I’m learning to crochet!  My first project was a dishcloth.  My goal is to eventually be able to crochet lace.

What’s cooking?
It seems that just as I’m getting the hang of Lenten food, Lent is over.  Not that I’m complaining.  But I did invent a rather yummy Lenten casserole based on, of all things, my mom’s meatloaf.
This month’s favorites:
Lentil and rice loaf for Lent.  ANYTHING with milk, eggs, cheese, or chocolate for Paschal feasting.  Hard-boiled eggs never tasted so good.

Reading:
Little Women

Mikis and the Donkey by Bibi Dumon Tak (a very cute book!)
Emma:  A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith
The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Data and Goliath by Bruce Schneier  (Read this book!)
A review of Data and Goliath: “As it becomes increasingly clear that surveillance has surpassed anything that Orwell imagined, we need a guide to how and why we’re being snooped and what we can do about it. Bruce Schneier is that guide—step by step he outlines the various ways we are being monitored, and after scaring the pants off us, he tells us how to fight back.”
—Steven Levy, editor-in-chief of Backchannel and author of Crypto and Hackers

Watching and listening:
All Creatures Great and Small, series 4 & 5
The Theory of Everything
Star Trek: Enterprise,
season 1
planet earth

I’m looking forward to:
May is going to be such a crazy month.  My brother graduates one weekend, and then gets married two weeks later.  Three days after their wedding, Shaun and I are taking a trip to California.  But if we survive, it should all be wonderful!

Other happenings:
Christ is risen!  Happy Easter!

Early in April I was diagnosed with mild bronchitis.  This was not surprising, since I have been sick with some sort of respiratory illness almost constantly for the last two months.  It’s still hanging on, but slowly I am healing.

Our car broke down in a rural little town on Easter Sunday/Orthodox Palm Sunday on our way back home from visiting my parents.  These things with our car always seem to happen around holidays.  I felt bad calling roadside assistance to get a tow 40 minutes back to our house, but the guy who came to rescue us was very kind and friendly, and waved off my apologies for interrupting his Easter Sunday.  Thank you, Lord, for the kindness of strangers!

…Unfortunately for the car–and our bank account–the engine had up and died on us.  Since it’s a good car otherwise, we decided to replace the engine.  It lives!

Shaun and I are planning to put in a vegetable garden this year.  We have two seed trays of veggies, berries and herbs on our dining room table, in front of a big window where they can soak up the sun.  Go spring!

The Log Book: March 2015

Oh, why…hello, April.  Where did you come from?  March was so busy, I almost didn’t realize the calendar had changed….

Latest projects:
The first half of March was taken up by doing my part of the preparation for a wedding shower in honor of my brother and his fiancee.  The shower was planned by my future sister-in-law’s younger sister, and it came off beautifully.  The theme was “a ladies’ afternoon tea” and it was held at the Palmer House in the Griggs Mansion, a restored historic mansion which is currently being run as a bed & breakfast.  My mom and I got to stay overnight in one of the rooms, which thrilled me to no end.

The sky-painted ceiling in the double parlor at the Griggs Mansion.

The sky-painted ceiling in the double parlor at the Griggs Mansion.

Each of the bridesmaids contributed to the treats served at the tea.  There were delicious grape bars, chocolate-covered strawberries, butter cookies with nutella, fruit tarts, and French macaroons.  I made cake bites and lemon cookies.

The table laid with all sorts of good things.

The table laid with all sorts of good things.

Cake bites.

Cake bites.

What’s cooking?  Things Lenten for home, things sweet for the shower.
This month’s favorites:
Lenten/vegan chocolate cake.  Shaun’s birthday falls during Lent, and after he had a very rough, long day at work on his birthday, I was determined to make him a cake.  I used my grammy’s chocolate oil & vinegar cake recipe and cut it in thirds to make an appropriately-sized cake for two people.  The frosting was a modified Betty Crocker recipe using margarine instead of butter, and soy milk instead of dairy milk.  And it worked!

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The raspberries look a little funny, because the cake is so small...oh well, it tasted wonderful!

The raspberries look a little funny, because the cake is so small…oh well, it tasted wonderful!

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Reading:
Little Women
Don’t Try This at Home:  Culinary Catastrophes from the World’s Greatest Chefs

Watching and listening:
All Creatures Great and Small, series 3 & 4
Anne of Green Gables

I’m looking forward to:
The continuation of the melting of snowbanks.  Not being sick anymore.

Other happenings:

My memory of March is already fading….

There was the wedding shower, which was lovely.  For the most part, I remember being sick, and tired, and being tired of being sick and tired.  If the weather would warm up, I am positive that would help.  C’mon, April!

The good news is: I am enjoying my job at the library.  I am finally starting to get my studio into some sort of order.  Shaun won a cook-of-the-month board, which is a test of an Army cook’s knowledge, both of culinary and military practices.  I am proud of him. 🙂