Saturday, May 23, 2015


Last Sunday was Allison's commencement ceremony.  She shared the day with two longtime friends, which made it extra nice.

I stressed about the details ahead of time, mostly the question of what I might be leaving out of my planning.  We used the program from Julianne's graduation as our starting point but I had niggling worries about what I was forgetting to do that I didn't even know I was supposed to be doing.  

The worries were for naught as everything came together beautifully and the kids were happy with it, which was really all that mattered, right?

Each of the graduates agreed to do a special musical piece.  Julianne played for Allison as she sang "He Leadeth Me".  Molly played guitar and sang, Josh played a cajon (that drum box you can see behind Allison) while his brother played guitar and a friend sang.  With only three graduates, it was nice to be able to see each of them share their talents.

The big moment!

Each of the grads had a customized cap.  Allison made hers-she used a pink paisley with a little glitter in the design...perfect!  Molly enhanced her cap with "Now I'm like this cylinder-we're both graduated" and a drawing of a cylinder.  Josh had Star Wars fabric on his cap, which totally surprised me because I don't think he knew the girls were doing anything unusual with theirs.  I loved their creativity and individuality.

This is the FIAR friends group shot.  Our group dwindled down to these three families the past few years and it's amazing to me to think about how long these kids have been friends.  I'm so glad Molly made sure they were invited.

We were delighted that so many people we care about were able to share in the day.  Their presence was so appreciated as we marked this milestone in Allison's life.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


For several years when the girls were younger, we had a Fat Tuesday tradition.

I had tried purchasing Paczkis at the grocery store but no one here was all that impressed.  Maybe if we lived near a Polish bakery it would have been different but, as an alternative, I tried my hand at making fried cakes like my mom had made a few times when I was growing up.  They were a big hit and a tradition was born (because, you know, it only takes one time to start a tradition).  One year, as I fried doughnuts in the kitchen, Clarence and the girls ate them in the dining room pretty continuously.  I had no idea how many the girls had consumed until Allison ended up sick in the night from too many doughnuts.

Our schedule changed and we ended up forgoing our tradition for several years because we were at co-op every Tuesday.  Since that is no longer the case, I decided to revive the tradition this year...but I only made a half batch this time!

I tried baking a couple in the oven, and a couple more in the mini-doughnut maker I have, hoping to find a lower fat cooking method that was satisfactory.  Both produced very dry doughnuts so it was back to frying in oil. 

I decided to see if I could cook them on our woodstove in Clarence's cast iron wok and it was surprisingly successful.

My friend who insists we are homesteaders will see this as more proof that she's right.  The woodstove, cooking on it, and using cast iron-all hallmarks of homesteaders, apparently.

Shaken in some cinnamon sugar, they were a tasty dessert tonight.  I'd call it a homesteading success, if I were actually a homesteader.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bathroom remodel

Clarence has been plugging away at remodeling our bathroom for a while now and it is finally pretty much done.  We still need trim around the door but that has to wait for spring, because I'm the painter around here and I don't want to stain and polyurethane the trim until I can do it outside.  I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me to get it done before the weather turned cold...

This is our rotating shower curtain rod.  You know those curved rods they have in many hotel rooms?  This is like that, except that it rotates into the tub when not in use, so the room isn't dwarfed by the shower curtain sticking out into the room.  With our narrow room, this is important to us.

Our Ikea cabinets, sink and faucet.  I don't completely love the sink/faucet combo, but only because it's impossible to wash your hands without water splashing out of the sink.  Otherwise, it's fantastic as we get a full top drawer under the sink, not a partial one with a cut-out for the plumbing.

This is the light fixture that I probably paid too much for, especially when Clarence had to build that box out from the wall in order to mount it.  But, it's really pretty in person and he is so good to me to figure out a way to make it work.

After changing our fixtures from chrome, we switched out the ugly, old, brown register for this brushed stainless one.  I think it's kind of funky and fun.

Another big change is the wall-mount toilet.  I loved the idea of being able to mop around and under more easily and we like the insulated tank in the wall-no more condensation puddles under the toilet in the summer!

I pinned a woven-top curtain on Pinterest a while back, planning to use the idea for the bathroom curtain.  I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out the best way to accomplish the look I wanted and finally had to overcome my fear of doing it wrong in order to  I'm happy with the final outcome and, like many things I procrastinate about due to fear of failure, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.

I don't think our paint color is quite accurate in any of these pictures-it's blue with a touch of green in it.  It's a color I chose at Home Depot, in an attempt to match one of the stripes in the shower curtain.

We never had a vent fan in our old bathroom.  I hated having to clean the mildew off the ceiling above the shower, so I'm thrilled to have a (nice and quiet) fan now.  I also love the timer Clarence put it on, so no fears of all our heat being sucked outside because someone forgot to turn the fan off.  Another impulse purchase was a ground-fault outlet with an automatic night light.  We always had a night light plugged in anyhow, so this eliminates the need for that.

Clarence put a lot of work into this project and I am so happy with the outcome.  Thanks for taking a look!

(Many specific products are on my "Bathroom Ideas" Pinterest board if you want to find links to any of these items.)