I have purchased and used 3.5 Liters of vodka in the past week. Shocked yet?

You can stop researching  the nearest AA meetings and staging my intervention…I haven’t been drinking it, I’ve been crafting with it; behold, vanilla and mint extracts! A friend of mine gave me some homemade vanilla for Christmas last year and it was the most delicious, put-it-in-my-smoothie-every-morning, lovely vanilla I’ve ever smelled or tasted. Naturally, I had to make gobs of it for myself. Unfortunately, it won’t be ready for about 3-6 months. Boo. But good things come to those who wait, right? Cliché, yes…but applicable Winking smile.

The process of making vanilla

In the past three days, I have made and preserved (or eaten) strawberry jam, basil pesto, zucchini bread, vanilla, whole wheat bread…and dinners…painted some glass and picture frames, knitted, and drunk enough coffee to motivate a large family of sloths to compete in the 2016 Olympic decathalon.

Mint extract

Things I have learned from these endeavors:

  • never assume that your preferred scent (vanilla bean) will stick around and trump a despised smell on your fingers (garlic). By the way, Martha Stewart, your expensive and cute soap bar-shaped stainless steel thingy does NOT get rid of unwanted smells on hands. I want my money back.
  • spiders don’t discriminate; just because I love basil doesn’t mean the dreadful creatures will stay away from it. Note to self: wear gloves and shoes while pilfering the basil plants.
  • think harder before letting the dog out on his tether out back in the morning dew…some puppies just get to have more baths than others, I guess…I’m also not sure who won, the dog or the grass.
  • chalkboard paint is one of the coolest inventions ever.
  • mint is a delightful smell any time of day. my nose is still dancing, if that’s possible.
  • I need to make something with a lot of tomatoes very soon, because when you forget to pick them for a few days, there are a lot to pick!
  • Pinterest has made me eternally discontent with the decorated trendy/cuteness of my home. I thought I liked the way I had things done up until I go pin eight more amazing ideas that I won’t feel satisfied until I try…

I think that’s all the mind-junk I have to throw at you for now. I’m going to go finish painting my picture frame and then watch chalkboard paint dry, with colorful chalk at the ready…after which, I will try to convince my husband that our decorating budget should be bigger.

the birth, the death, and the money-does-buy-some-things rebirth of my garden

The birth: IMG_1939

The death: IMG_1951

And the “I gave in and bought it at Meijer”

View albumView albumView albumView album

^ Check out my pretty plants that somebody else coaxed into the world Smile

Granted, the basil looks a little untended…because it is…and I just pilfered it to make oodles of pesto. You may stop drooling now; it’s pretty good stuff. Now I want to go make a pesto turkey grilled cheese sandwich…

I’ve always heard that mint will take over and can resurrect itself anywhere. So I tried it: I ripped a stem off the mother plant and unceremoniously stuffed it into some dirt in a pot that has killed everything else I’ve ever planted in it. And the baby plant is thriving! And it even has another plant friend in there that I haven’t identified yet…but I’m gonna let it grow some and try to figure out what it is.


               Momma plant……………..……………………………………baby plant

apologies and albert einstein

For those of you that faithfully read my blog: my apologies; it has been entirely too long since I posted anything! For those of you freshly stumbling upon this post: welcome to my ramblings!

A few months ago, I started some seedlings, nesting them in our guest bathtub under a fluorescent light. A few weeks in, they flourished, amazing me with the speedy germination of especially the lettuce…since then, they have flopped. I do not have the greenest of thumbs and have no clue what to do about my sad seedlings. I’ve read numerous things ranging from “put them in bigger pots” (which I don’t have) to “ plant them outside now and cover them at night” (which I’m not wanting to risk the ever-present frost potential). So, for now, they sit, drooping in the bathtub, until I decide nature has quit the cold for the season. I just spent a few hours prepping the deck with plant pots and hand-tilling and weeding the garden, so I’m ready to mix in some fresh dirt and put those plant babies in to grow!

One of two scenarios will inevitably take place: 1) the plantlings will make a comeback once planted in their summer dirt homes and my faith in money-saving strategies like starting your own seeds will be restored, or 2) the plantlings will flop (which is their current chosen path) and I will trudge back to the store like I have every summer for the past three years, and begrudgingly pay for already cultivated and healthy-looking plants that some other more experienced farmer has grown…and then, because I am an ever-hopeful-stick-it-to-my-failure optimist, regardless of this year’s success or failure, I will try to grow my own plants from seed again next year. Basically, I define insanity.

Farewell for now, more level-headed friends. I’m off to buy magic dirt that promises my not—so-green thumbs that I, too, can have a beautiful garden.


is my favorite time of day. Not the abuse of the alarm clock, the achy body sliding out from under warm covers, not the frantic scramble of assembling a decent outfit or dragging the dog out from under the bed to stuff in his crate before stuffing myself in the car…not that kind of morning.

The kind of morning where you have a moment to snuggle and cherish the warmth of the covers, where you deliberately did not set your alarm clock, when your body wakes up naturally because you finally got enough sleep…the kind of morning when you remember that you have already-made-no-waffle-iron-to-clean-today homemade waffles in the freezer that can be reheated to deliciousness in mere minutes, and multiple cups of coffee can be enjoyed out of your favorite chipped mug without worrying about spilling it all over your desk or dress shirt. The kind of morning when it’s raining outside but you love it because you are warm under a blanket and still in pajamas inside and the rain makes everything so much more vibrant and real.

The washer and dryer are humming, the dog is snoozing in the middle of everything, the house is clean and quiet, and the other chores have been pushed aside in favor of a rare morning of time to  sit on the couch and listen to the rain with my husband. The day is fresh and new and hope is real and present and there is peace and joy in my soul. That’s my favorite.

What’s your favorite kitchen tool?

I love my food processor. It took me a little while to figure out all the amazing things it can do, and I about freaked out when I discovered it could make homemade pie crust.

So, do share.

What’s your favorite kitchen tool?

August jardin and berry picking


My ONE morning glory!

Also, apparently my peppers turn red. I’ve been picking them green, and they’ve been tasty. Then things got busier and I forgot to water…a lot. So when I finally remembered to water again, I found out that my peppers turn red! A beautiful, tomato-y red! And still tasty! So, I’m learning patience.



Raspberry picking…I’ve waited ALL summer for this! It’s really a shame the berries won’t last through September Sad smile

I love pie! And berries and bread…and chicken and donuts.

IMG_1830Hand-pitted cherries, stains on my counter, homemade pie crust…yes, please! I loved making it. And eating it.


IMG_1836What do you do when you have extra pie crust that you just can’t bear to pitch? You make a baby apple pie. Duh.


IMG_1839100% whole wheat baguettes-started in the bread maker, finished by the oven- makes yummy bread for dipping in oil, munching with soup, slicing for sandwiches, splitting for french bread pizzas…


IMG_1846My first roast chicken. I think it turned out pretty well! And of course, I tried it out on some friends we have over for dinner.


IMG_1851I found this donut recipe at the Salvation Army center, reportedly from World War I. Um, delish. We ate them ALL. With coffee.

i. love. cooking.

Due to my employer’s schedule, I have had some wonderful time off this summer! Thus, the following homemakings ensued:


IMG_1546peach blueberry pie

IMG_1776strawberry jam

IMG_1789 granola

IMG_1788whole wheat bread

IMG_1556 God cooked this cutie up, but I had to include him!


There was also the redecorating of the kitchen, from reds and mustard yellows (think Tuscany) to apple greens and lemon yellows (think…summer). Of course, I’ll switch back in some of the reds come Christmas time. Lastly, I think I’m finally done nesting in this new place for a while: the kitchen’s done, with it’s homemade “artwork” (I framed some cheerful cloth), fun towels, new rug; the fireplace cozied up with some plants, basket with pillows (and some for the couch, too), candles, pictures, and a clock; cabinet installed in the guest bathroom; and curtains in the bedroom. Happy Homemaking!

mon petit jardin, summer 2011

I’m always learning new things with gardening. We recently moved into a house and I elatedly learned I would have a garden plot. The planting began as soon as we had the house interior in working order.

  • tomatoes: heirloom and beefsteak
  • peppers: bell, tabasco, and jalapeno
  • greens: lettuce and spinach
  • flowers and decorative: morning glories, wild, lavender, hydrangea, mystery flowers I bought  but have no clue what they are, and coleus

What has worked: tomatoes, jalapeno and tabasco peppers in the garden plot; lettuce; morning glories, hydrangea and wild flowers; coleus

What has not worked: bell peppers in garden plot; peppers in pots; spinach; wildflowers, lavender, coleus, and random ones


What I’ve learned:

  • plants work better in the ground, like nature intended
  • bell peppers don’t like me
  • morning glories take forever, and sometimes should be called afternoon glories
  • the dog has no regard for my plants and rakes over them daily with his leash/cable
  • there’s a garden fiend eating half my best tomatoes- so much for vine-ripened tomatoes… I’m now saving them while green and window-ripening them
  • gnomes are a delight
  • water while there is still daylight…nighttime watering gets a bit wet pointless when you end up watering your grass more than your vegetables


    I’ll post more recent pictures as soon as I get them uploaded…

    Bucket List: Run a Mini-Marathon: CHECK!

    Once upon a time, I made a bucket list. I included items like, cook a whole meal completely from food I’ve grown in my garden, knit a pair of socks, drive Route 66, etc. In January, I decided to sign up for my first mini-marathon, 13.1 miles. I was already too late for the most popular race in Indy, so I signed up for a local one and I’m glad I did. The route was scenic, running by local businesses and through neighborhoods, lined with residents cheering us on and even offering to spray us or give a drink from their hose. My good friend ran it with me and provided much needed encouragement- thanks, chica!

    This was one of the most empowering things I’ve ever attempted. I started running about a year and a half ago, with a looooooong break after running a couple 5Ks last spring. Truth be told, running in heat and humidity makes me ridiculously angry. I mean, don’t talk to me-get this over with-get out of my way when I see a water fountain- ANGRY. So I started running again (for real, not just a mile every few months) in January. I joined a group through the Blue Mile to run on Saturdays for our long runs, especially. Training was hard and there were definitely days I wanted to never run again, days where my whole body screamed “give up!” and days that I looked up the road, thinking “I’m gonna have to call and have somebody take me home.” But many days were A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Knowing I was tired, but also knowing my muscles would power through and experiencing such a high from those beautiful things called endorphins…very worth it. I ate things I didn’t know existed, primarily gels, Clif bars, and electrolyte tablets. I slept like the dead, stretched in funky positions, became a avid fan of sweat-wicking everything, couldn’t stop talking about running, ate carbs like it was my job, lost almost 20 pounds, and gained an incredible sense of I-can-do-it-ness. My prayer life, my body, and my resolve became stronger.

    That being said, here’s a summary of what it was like:

    • good start, pumped up, adrenaline rushing, surprised by the number of people there
    • waving to our awesome “fan club” around mile 3 Smile
    • humid, warmer than during training, starting to worry about why I’m not hitting my stride or getting in the groove yet, like I did on most of my longer training runs
    • gel around mile 4, water breaks, feeling okay
    • bathroom break around mile 6, glad for the brief pause
    • hit uneven pavement halfway through (mile 7.5ish) and twist ankle- freak out, walk a bit, decide I’m going to be okay, and continue running
    • hills- not as steep as I expected,  getting tired and still frustrated at the non-grooveness of my running
    • mile 10- friend asks about ankle, I own up that it’s been tingling for a while- we stop by an aid station where the wonderful nurse ladies make me sit down, took off my shoes, iced and wrapped my ankle, and band-aided my blisters, and gave me some ibuprofen- really nice to sit down and have ice on!
    • after a rest, continue running, getting really tired and wondering if I can run to the end- frequent walk breaks, ankle okay, but weird to have it bulked up with the wrap
    • Really struggling to keep going- awesome encouragement from my friend-don’t think I would have done as well without her!
    • Mile 12 marker in sight- gonna run to the end- only 1.1 miles left.
    • Just keep moving, just keep running, don’t think about how tired I am…talk to me, friend- starting to feel cold chills and not the excitement kind, the I’m-running-really-low-on-fuel kind- just talk to me, make it to the end
    • VICTORY! Crossing the finish line, feeling like I’ve conquered the world!


    Things I love about running: mint chocolate Clif bars, Nike stability running shoes, strength, and running with friends.


    P.S. Currently, I have patella femoral syndrome and have been advised not to run. So, I’m exploring swimming, biking, and as the physician recommended, “working my quads and glutes until I don’t want to sit down the next day.” I’m signed up for another half-marathon in October…and I plan to run it!