The adventures of Morty and Ferdie

If there is one thing Morty and Ferdie like to do, it's empty their dresser. They strew their once-folded clothes all over their room and romp about in the mess. Only slightly less attractive a prospect is emptying the container of wipes. They pull them out one at a time or in clumps and spread them around the room, often taking one or more to scrub the carpet, wall, brother, or whatever else strikes their fancy. And if they can get their hands on a tube of diaper cream, so much the better.

Last Thursday they managed all three. Simultaneously.

I had put Morty and Ferdie in their room to play while I was finishing up dinner (they were wreaking havoc in the kitchen/living room/dining room). Just before Tom came home I asked Rico to check on them, and he advised me that they had gotten out the wipes.

And all their clothes.

I groaned, but knew that there wasn't much I could do now that couldn't wait till later. Then came the bad news.

"And they got the cream out!"

That required action.

I abandoned dinner (which was not going as well as planned, but that's a post for another day) and went to survey the damage.

Ferdie was covered head to foot in white slime. Morty had a fair bit on himself too, but not nearly as bad. The floor had several large patches of smeared whiteness, and Ferdie's snuggle blanket (that he sleeps with every night, held up to his face while he sucks his thumb) was caked in the goo.

I was not thrilled to say the least. I had the presence of mind to grab my phone and snap a few pictures, but they don't to justice to the level of mess.

I grabbed a convenient wipe or two (since they were so strategically placed around the room) and cleaned the boys off as best I could and plopped them in their respective cribs. Then I hastily crammed the remainder of the wipes back in the tub while I contemplated the creamy chaos. After removing the clothes they were wearing, the aforementioned blanket, and those of the scattered, otherwise clean, clothes that had gotten a few smears of cream on them for a load of laundry, I wiped up the excess cream from the carpet and determined the rest would have to wait until the next day (as I had to leave right after dinner).

In the end, I got the carpet and blanket clean (eventually), moved the wipes and cream (again) to a (hopefully) more secure location, and shoved their clothes back in their drawers (folding is so over rated). But, I was reminded of this whole escapade today when I was changing Morty's diaper: I reached into the tub for the next semi-wadded wipe and pulled out a sopping onesie instead.


multiple personality disorder

Now, all my kids enjoy make-believe, or pretend play. Ella and Rico have been known to come up with (mostly Ella) and play out elaborate stories that go on for days. Morty and Ferdie love a good pretend phone as well as the next guy. But sweet Lou is by far the most dedicated to her imagination.

For starters, she is very insistent that we call her by whatever nickname she prefers at the moment. Currently (and for the past several months) that is "Big Loopy." I don't know why that one, but I'll call her anything else (even her given name), and she'll reply, "No! I'm Big Loopy!" And she's so cute I just can't say no.

But when she is pretending to be someone else (real or make-believe), she is just as insistent on being called the correct name. There was once that for a couple of days, she insisted on being called Caluken. Without fail, she would correct me if I called her anything else.

And then, without warning, she was Molly.

Once, when my parents were here, she insisted that she was Grandma, and Grandma was Lou. Everyone had to refer to them correctly, or suffer the wrath of an indignant three-year-old. (For the record, she also insisted that Rico was Grandpa and vice versa.) On that trip, my mom brought me a tin of buttons. (I have an unhealthy obsession with them.) When Louie saw them a week or so later, she commented that Lou had given them to me. "No, my mom did," I replied, slightly confused as to why she was referring to herself in third person. But she insisted that Lou had, until I remembered that she had been Grandma that day, and Grandma had been Lou.

Sometimes it's Rapunzel (a perennial favorite around these parts), sometimes it's Benjamin (a little boy in our ward), and sometimes it's completely off the wall, (like Caluken), but it's always cute.


My mother's daughter; or how I got out of doing the dishes for a week

My mom's hands have been scarred as long as I can remember. Nothing big, just dozens of tiny scars scattered across the backs of her hands. (They show better on the backs.) At any given time she had at least one cut, burn, scrape, or some other wound in varying stages of healing. And whenever I would ask what had happened, or how she got a particular scar, she would frequently (and honestly) reply, "I don't remember."

As a child, I found that hard to believe. A) that she could have injured herself so. many. times., and B) that she could have FORGOTTEN what had happened, sometimes even before the wound had healed.

But now that I'm a mom, with a kitchen of my own, I find myself following in her footsteps. I have 2 parallel burn scars on my left forearm, no how that happened. A mostly healed burn on the inside of my left wrist, from making popcorn. Burn scar on the back of my left hand near my thumb; no idea. A burn scar (those seem to be my injury of choice, but I think that's just because they scar better) on the inside of my right wrist; I remember it was hot oil, but can't tell you more than that. Burn scar on the knuckle of my right ring finger; no idea. Various knicks, cuts, and scrapes sprinkled here and there, most of which I would be hard pressed to list any cause.

But there is one finger that I've apparently had particular malice for of late. My right middle finger. First, I zested a fair amount of skin off the upper knuckle. It hurt like the dickens and bled a bit, but it was fine. Before that finished healing, however, I was trying to pick up a chunk of concrete in the backyard and it rolled and crunched the same knuckle, skinning it and causing more pain and more bleeding. Not more than two days later (yesterday), I sliced the inside of the SAME knuckle on my dough scraper, trying to reach around it in the drawer.

When I was still bleeding heavily more than 10 minutes later, I figured I should probably get it looked at. I knew if I just tried to bandage it up it would keep pulling open, so I called a friend to come and stay with my kiddos (bless her) and drove myself to urgent care.

After waiting nearly two hours (!) (and calling to arrange an alternate ride home for Ella), the doctor on duty agreed that stitching it up was the way to go.

Three stitches (and one lovely bout of nausea-lightheaded-wooziness) later and I was on my way.

And now I can't do the dishes for a week. It's a good thing Tom is a good sport.


Honey Whole Wheat Bread

I've been making the large majority of our bread for several months now, maybe even a year. For quite some time I was making a honey whole wheat bread out of this book. It was no knead, which I LOVED, and tasted excellent, but the texture left something to be desired.

So a couple weeks ago, I was making some french bread for panzanella (YUM), and I doubled the recipe, thinking I'd try it in a loaf pan. Though it weighed about the same as the loaves I usually make, it got ginormous. I really wish I had taken a picture because it really was ridiculous. It reminded me of MegaMind's head. (I haven't actually seen that, is it any good?). I think there was more above the pan than in it.
(Like this, only not blue)

Besides the size issue, the texture was phenomenal, but it wasn't quite sweet enough for sandwich bread (in my opinion). So I fiddled with (and multiplied) the recipe a bit, and thus was born the best bread recipe ever.

(Disclaimer: I apparently have large bread pans. Though they seem fairly standard to me, most recipes look pitiful in my pans, so you might need to adjust accordingly.)

Honey Whole Wheat
Slightly adapted from Freckles in April

4 T yeast
8 1/4 c warm water
1 c honey
4 T kosher salt
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
22-24 c white wheat flour (I use freshly ground hard white wheat. I make no promises about other flours, though I've heard good things about King Arthur Flour.)
3/4-1 c vital wheat gluten

Sprinkle the yeast in a large bowl, add the water and honey and let it stand until foamy. Add the salt and oil, then add the flour a few cups at a time. Continue adding flour until the dough comes together. Turn it out onto the counter and knead in flour until you reach a smooth consistency. Then sprinkle your gluten on the counter a quarter cup or so at a time and knead until that is fully incorporated. Continue kneading another 5-10 minutes. Then, cover the dough and let it sit for an hour, kneading it a few turns every 10 minutes or so.

After the hour is up, shape it into six loaves (weighing them to make sure they're even, if you're obsessive like me) and place in greased loaf pans (mine are 9 5/8" x 5 1/2"). Let them rise until doubled, about an hour. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, covering loosely with foil once they've reached the ideal level of brown-ness.

They slice best once they've cooled, or even better the next day, but you must try at least one slice warm slathered with butter. We generally go through one loaf the first day and then I slice, bag, and freeze the others the following day.

(So, I took step-by-step photos, but I feel lame posting them. I feel like a fake, since I'm not actually a food blogger, or anyone with real know-how. Just a girl with some wheat.)



Hello, my name is Janelle, and I have a blog.

I also have five children, so my blog has been completely ignored a bit neglected of late. In fact, you may have wondered if I had forgotten its existence. I assure you, I have not.

I make no promises about the frequency of future posting, but I am going to make an attempt to update this a little more often than has been the case.

So, without further ado, a post for you.

I have been wanting a Silhouette (craft cutter for those of you uninitiated) since I heard of their existence a couple of years ago. However, I was not about to spend that kind of cash on a toy. So whenever giveaways would pop up in the blogosphere I would enter and cross my fingers.

Well, all those entries crossed fingers apparently paid off, and at the end of April I was notified by the girls of Shanty-2-Chic that I had won their Silhouette Cameo giveaway. To say I was excited would be an understatement. There my have been (soundless) shrieking involved. (It was soundless because it was near midnight when I got the email and no amount of excitement is worth waking kids over.)

I promptly sent them my contact information and a couple of weeks later I got a lovely package on my doorstep.

While you might now be expecting pictures of all the wonderful projects that I've been doing, I'm sorry to disappoint. As it turns out, projects require time, and that's at a bit of a premium. But I've been playing around in my spare moments, and one of these days soon I'm going to bust out something amazing.

But this IS where the story gets a little more interesting. (At least, I thought so.)

A week or so later I was changing Morty's diaper before loading him in the car to go get Ella from school, when a FedEx truck pulled up in front of my house. (The changing table faces a window out to the street.) I was a bit perplexed because I couldn't think of anything I was expecting. The driver carried a large-ish box to the door and then took off. I pulled it inside and realized it was another Silhouette Cameo.

Immediately I thought of several people that would love to be surprised with a Cameo, and then pondered how much I could get for it on eBay and what fun things I could do with the cash. But I never really entertained those thoughts because, of course, the only right thing to do was to contact Silhouette.

I entered the number into my phone and called them while sitting in the pick-up line at the school. After explaining my situation, I was transfered "upstairs," (I can only assume to management), where I told my story again. The man on the other end of the phone almost seemed annoyed. It was fairly obvious he was not routinely trained on customer service.

His solution was, "Well, you'll just have to ship it back to the return address."

"...At my own expense?" I queried.

I guess he realized that was absurd, and he hemmed and hawed and finally took my address and email and said he would have someone send me a shipping label.

I guess I was naively expecting some gratitude, or even just acknowledgment of my honesty, because I obviously could have just kept the thing.


Twin tag

And just to prove that it's not all-work-no-play around here:

Silly, silly boys.

In which I run a sweat shop

As you can see, my kids get chores early on.

Good work, bubbers.

(Also, enjoy Ella's knock-knock joke punch lines in the background. Yes, just the punch lines.)


Why the long face?

I had occasion today to visit the website for Tom's school. Not really knowing what the principal looks like, I clicked over to the staff directory to get a face to go with the name I hear semi-frequently.

And this is what I saw:

While I concede that she (and the secretary) is likely shorter and quite probably slightly wider in the face than Tom ( I really don't know, I've never met her) I can't imagine it's quite this pronounced in reality.


She's scary

I'm not going to lie, I had a hard time thinking of things that scare me. Well, at least, things that scare me that I haven't already tackled for this challenge or the last.

Red lipstick? Check.
Full skirt? Check.
Belt over clothes? Check, checkcheck.
Skinny jeans? Check-ish. But I still don't own any real ones.
Mixed patterns? Double check.
Flats? Check, check, check.
Shorts? Double check.
Heels with pants? Check (times about 5, several linked to that post).
Fully tucked shirt? Check, checkity-check.

So, it came down to this.

The first fashion rule that I glommed onto as a teenager was to never mix brown and black. As in a black belt with brown shoes, or black shoes and brown purse, etc. As I wore a leather belt daily and frequently carried a purse, I was sure to always have those three coordinated, and indoctrinated my family thoroughly.

I even mentioned here that this was one rule I wasn't ready to break.

I'm okay with large amounts of both in an outfit (ie: black shirt and brown pants), or patterns that incorporate both (ie: animal prints) but mixing it up in small amounts still scares me.

So, today, I did it.

I don't wear a belt as a general rule anymore, so I had to find something else small to bring in the second color.

So black shoes and gray shirt, (brown and gray is scary too, since gray is just light black,) brown flower and buttons on my scarflette/neck warmer.

{Regulation jeans, Merona top, Gap jacket, Doc Marten's loafters, neck warmer and flower by me}

I realized long after dressing that the entire outfit was free. The top, jeans, and jacket came from various others, the shoes were a warranty replacement for a pair of sandals that fell apart, and the neck warmer and flower were handmade with things I had around the house. Not too shabby if you ask me!



Today's prompt was to interpret this outfit

And here's my take:

{Ralph Lauren khakis, thrifted sweater with no tag, scarf by me, Qupid shoes via myshoeshoppe.com}

I tried to keep the same colors, the cable knit sweater and the black peep-toes. A skirt on a weekday was just not happening. :) Overall, it was a perfectly cozy outfit right in my comfort zone.


Dressed-up coat

Dressing up a coat is an everyday occurrence for me. Most of my jackets have one flower or another on them most of the time. (See here, here, here and here for examples.) And being the kind of person who wears a coat pretty much everyday (I'm always cold), I figured this would be easy.

But in all honesty, I only put the coat on for pictures. I will be wearing it tomorrow like this, but didn't today, so think what you will of me.

{St. John's Bay jeans, Calvin Klein coat via Costco, shoes via myshoeshoppe.com, flowers and earrings by me}


Starlight, star bright

Wow, thank you everyone for you nice comments about yesterday's outfit!

Here we have today's ensemble, incorporating bright colors. Both the indoor and inevitable outdoor editions.


{Ralph Lauren khakis, GNW shirt, longsleeve via Pick Your Plum, Gap denim jacket, Lands' End flats, Shade scarf, Ike & Co necklace, watch via eBay, earrings and flower by me (both available here)}


For lack of a poodle skirt*

Today's prompt was to pick a decade or wear regional attire, without looking costume-y. To be honest, I almost skipped it and went straight to bright colors, but once I put on this skirt, I realized that worn high with a tucked in top, it had a fairly 50s silhouette to it. So that's what I'm calling this.

After taking the above picture, I had to throw on some red lipstick to round out the look.

{eshakti skirt; loft sweater, felted by someone else and chopped by me; shade top, gnw tights via fred meyer, old shoes from who knows where, knotted pearl rope inherited from my grandma, earrings and bow by me (earrings available here)}

*In the interest of full disclosure, I do own a poodle skirt, but I think that would qualify as "costume-y," so it stayed in the box.


Mixing patterns

Pattern mixing is not my favorite. While I love seeing other people do it, my closet is almost entirely composed of solids. Which means I don't have many choices of what to mix. I think I have four? five? patterned shirts, one pair of faintly striped pants and three patterned skirts, but none of them pair very well. Last time I copped out with stripes and a lightly patterned scarf. I liked the look, but didn't really feel like I was mixing patterns. I wanted to do a better job this time, besides the fact that I already wore my striped shirt this week.

I know the button-up doesn't look patterned in the above picture, but I swear it is.

{St. John's Bay jeans, old Docker's button up, Old Navy top, necklace from who knows where, Doc Martens loafers}


Snow, and ice, and miracles

If you're not from around here, you may not know (or care) that we had snow-mageddon last week. It snowed on and off the whole week. Now, I don't like being cold, but I can handle some snow. Especially if it doesn't stick around too long.

But this?

Out of control.

The snow wasn't the worst part.  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were all pretty standard snow days. And with Tom home (love being married to an educator,) he was happy to take the kids out to build snowmen and go sledding. (And Lou is totally faking that sad face in the second pic.)

But Thursday it started with the freezing rain. As in, it rains, but freezes the minute it touches anything. So everything (cars, houses, trees, everything) is covered in a sheet of ice.

All that ice makes trees heavy.

And they don't like that so they bend.

Or break.

And sometimes when the break, they take out power lines.

We were doing well, and more or less kept our power until Thursday night. Many people lost it before then (some as early as Tuesday), so we were counting our blessings.

But our luck ran out Thursday evening as I was cooking dinner. It was close enough to done that we ate it anyway and went to bed. The next morning the house was freezing. By which I mean it was 56 degrees. I was ready to leave (Tom's parents still had power and my parents have a generator). Tom wanted to stick it out, since the power could come back anytime, but by three that afternoon, I convinced him to abandon that hope. After all, PSE officials were estimating that it would be into the next week before power was restored to everyone. We packed up and drove north around 4, making sure to turn everything off, so if the power did come back on we wouldn't be wasting electricity.

As can be expected, our power came back on before 7 that night (Tom called, and our answering machine picked up-that's how we knew it was back). As the kids were already on their way to bed, we stayed the night, and planned to come home after lunch.

And as usual, it was a little later than that by the time we got on our way, and when we came home, I opened the door to the light on in the laundry room (it has two switches, so you can never be sure if it's on or off) and a smoky smell.

The kitchen fan was on, the burner (where I had been cooking dinner Thursday night) was red hot and our stove looked like this.

It took me a while to figure out what it was, but once I did, I realized how lucky blessed we were to still have a house.

Tom had emptied our food scraps container and it had gotten set on the cold stove instead of being put away. We had added several things to it, and now all that was left was melted plastic, charred orange peel and ashes.

We opened doors and windows to get rid of the smoky smell, all the while thanking our Maker for sparing our home.


The dreary morning I woke up to left me feeling a bit gloomy, a bit like Eeyore, if you will.

Gray, black and denim, with touches of pink for fun.

{Costco shirt, hand-me-down jeans and sweater, Land's End silver suede flats,  pink slap watch via eBay, gifted earrings, Target jacket, ginormous black flower by me}



Today's prompt of "embrace a trend" was a bit hard for me. (Sorry for the complaining.) I mean, I'm okay trying out new trends in theory, but it kind of requires having trendy pieces in your closet. Glancing at Kayla's list of ideas was a strike-out for me.

Winged eye-liner? been doing it for 3 years, hardly new.
Ballerina bun? love it, but I just cut my hair, and I don't think I can pull it off currently.
Neon? don't own any.
Skinny jeans? don't have any, nor do I have any alteration candidates, or time to alter them.
Dots? love them, don't have any.

Then I remembered this cardigan I picked up at Goodwill a couple of weeks ago. It's close to neon. I added some stripes (they were on the list as a dying trend), a belt (not on the list, but a trend in my book) and orange (along with my winged eye liner) and called it good. I even busted out the tripod and got a blurry picture for you all to appreciate! :)

{shirt: Kersh via Costco; cardigan: thrifted; jeans: hand-me-down; shoes: Land's End, watch: eBay, belt: hand-me-down}

Come to think of it, a bright orange slap watch is pretty trendy in my book, so I'm calling this a job well done. 



-chrome, that is.

This one is hard for me, and so I opted for the nothing side of my personality. I mean, I did complete the mission by dressing in one color (khaki is light brown, right?), but it was not a worthy effort.
{khakis: eBay, white long sleeved shirt: Pick Your Plum, brown shirt: Costco, flower: me (available here)}

And, again, no tripod. Sorry.

Louie, however did a much better job. :)

Minus the whole holding still bit.



Kayla is doing another challenge, and since I can't say no to a challenge, you get to see what I'm wearing these days. :)

This one is only 2 weeks, and weekdays only, so it's less of a commitment if you'd like to join me.

One thing I know about myself is that I'm not very good at doing a happy medium. I'm all or nothing. So when the prompt was layers, well, you get layers.

Three shirts, (plus a jacket), two necklaces, two skirts, and boot socks (totally faked) peeking out of my boots.

I failed at getting a full body shot, since I don't have a full-length mirror (which means, I don't know what I looked like, either) and didn't feel like getting out the tripod. Later this week, maybe.

{pink undershirt: Shade; ivory henley: Wet Seal (online); green button-up: Costco; denim jacket: Gap; brown skirt: mikarose via Costco; pink paisley skirt: who knows; pink socks: gift; boots: Anne Klein via eBay; necklaces: gifts, ring, earrings, and flowers by me, and available in my shop.}

And yes, I actually wore this outfit Sunday. :)