Friday, January 13, 2017

A Clean Room and Bed Pouches

The major project over Christmas vacation was a deep-clean of the children's bedroom.  It was not fun. I could not bear to take any "before" photos.  It started with my husband banning everyone from the room while he boxed up all the junk and washed and vacuumed and dusted.

Then, Ben and Genevieve and I sorted through the contents of the boxes, keeping the good stuff, throwing junk away, and sending other things to the thrift store.  It was not fun.  There were sharp words, tears, and worse (tantrums!).

It was not fun.

 It required all my adult skill to focus on the end goal:  a reasonably clean room that we were not embarrassed to have children or visiting aunties see, and a reasonably tidy room that allowed Genevieve and Ben to work on projects, find their supplies, see their books, and sleep happily.

I will say it again:  it was not fun.

But now!  Now it's a pleasure to walk into their room and it's not hard for me to say, hey, the clutter is building up, take a few minutes to put things back where they belong.

When my husband roared into that room in December, I protested feebly that I try to teach the kids how to clean instead of doing it for them; he retorted that you don't teach drowning kids how to swim, you save the kids and then later teach them how to swim.  Yes.  So wise!  So he saved them, and now we're working again on teaching them how to clean.

One of the little problems I solved was a place for the in-bed reading books.  Usually, we cuddle on the living room sofas to read a book aloud at bedtime (currently, The King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry, one of my childhood favorites).

But then Genevieve and Ben like to read in a bed a little, too.  They had nowhere to put their books or their book lights.  I whipped up two little pouches.  Ben's is made from an old sturdy workshirt of my husband's; it tucks under his mattress.   Genevieve's is made from some fabric left from her baby nursery curtains, a Waverly print whose colors I adore.  I added ribbon ties to the back so it could be tied on the top rail of her bunk; I sewed some extra lines along the top to lend it sturdiness.

Any comments or wisdom on children and messy bedrooms?  I'm always eager to hear how other people manage this.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

More Authentic Kimchi

I've made kimchi before and we did really like it, but I kept on buying the commercial kind at the Asian store because it tasted better.  For reasons this fall that I cannot now remember, I got really determined to make more authentic kimchi. Linda Ly's recipe convinced me that I did really need to buy the Korean pepper, gochugaru (but what I actually got was gochujang, the paste, because that's what my Asian store and the herb shop had). I resist buying specialty ingredients that I only use in one recipe, but this one is totally worth it.

Oh man, this kimchi is good! Pungent, garlicky, gingery, spicy but not too. . . we eat it straight out of the jar.   I wish I could remember to get it out and serve it as a kind of relish or salad at meals. Do you eat kimchi?  With what?

I also wish I could say kimchi kept our household entirely healthy while everyone else fell to the dreaded stomach bug over Christmas, but no, that is not the case.  But I'm not really eating it to stay healthy - it's just intensely more-ish and the kimchi breath is totally worth it.  I think we're on our third batch since November.

Kimchi (modified just slightly from Linda Ly's recipe, linked above)

Place in large bowl:
2 lbs. Napa cabbage, sliced fine
1/4 cup non-iodized salt

Stir and massage well.  Cover with water.  Stir occasionally for 2 hours.  Volume should be reduced by half and cabbage should be limp.

Strain salt-water off cabbage. Rinse and strain again.

Add to cabbage in bowl:
1/2 lb. daikon radish, julienned
1/2 lb. carrots, julienned
6 green onions, cut in 1" pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
1" piece ginger, minced

In a blender, puree:
1 Asian pear, cored and chunked
1 small yellow onion, chunked
1 cup dechlorinated water
1/2 cup Korean chile powder (gochugaru)
2 Tbsp. fish sauce

Stir puree into vegetables.  Stir well (can use your hands if you wear gloves).  Pack into jars or a crock to ferment, leaving at least 2" headspace.  Weight the vegetables down under the liquid, pressing firmly.  Ly recommends pressing down firmly every day and fermenting for 3-7 days.  I don't always press daily, and I usually ferment a little longer.  Store kimchi in fridge when it's done fermenting.

1. I did use a Bartlett pear once and didn't notice any difference.
2. I halve the water since I'm using the chile paste instead of the powder; well, once I forgot, but I just had more delicious liquid so it seemed fine.
3. Use organic ingredients when possible for fermentation because they are more likely to have happy bacteria on/in them already, which assists fermentation.
4. On my previous kimchi post, I explain the methods of fermentation much more fully (but used cayenne! wouldn't do that now).  But if you're still confused, please ask.  I think fermentation is a strange process until you've done it a few times and know what to expect.
5. Kimchi is not like baking chemistry, so you can probably add or subtract ingredients up and down the line.  We love the flavor of this recipe because it's similar to what I used to buy.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Little Striped Socks

Now Phoebe has little socks from the same yarn as Genevieve's.

They were adorably fun to knit, they fit her, and she likes to wear them (it's hard to hit all three of those things, yes?).  I used this pattern on Ravelry. 

Next for the sock needles are knee socks for me, which will probably feel like an eternity after these wee little socks.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Home-sewn Christmas Gifts

I typically only squeeze out one sewn Christmas gift, but this year, I managed a bit more.

I like to get my children an ornament every year and then I put their initials and the year on it.  My mother-in-law did that for her children, and we have a lovely set of ornaments from my husband's childhood.  For the first time, I made the ornaments!  It was fun, relatively quick, and the children were charmed to find these in their stockings.

I also made a busy book for Phoebe, which is never something I thought I would mess with.  However, my nephew has a busy book made out of felt and it was so simple, I really wanted to copy it for Phoebe.

A few weeks before Christmas, Phoebe began unzipping any zipper she could find and also trying to undo my belt buckle during diaper changes.  She would unsnap her dollie's sleeper and beg to have it snapped up again so she could unsnap it.  Over and over and over again.

I was thrilled to give her the busy book on Christmas morning and yes, it has gotten a real work out.  In fact, one of the grommets is gone, and a zipper seam is loosening; I dearly hope this book can stand up to Phoebe's enthusiasm.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

"Happy To You!"

We've eaten our good-luck sauerkraut with friends and family and have the half-empty crock and pile of dishes to prove it.  And now Genevieve is stirring up a batch of molasses cookies as her way of relaxing.  Ben is going to the park with a neighbor pal, and my husband is wheeling down his bike for a ride.  I'm off to the sofa to puzzle over a new knitting project.  If Phoebe was not napping, she would offer her all-purpose holiday greeting:  "happy to you!"  Indeed.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Scrappy Trippin' Around the World

Each block looks nutty on its own, but then, I lay them out together and ahhh!  Pools of calm and sparks of energy!  I am hooked.  Good thing, too, because I want to do about 30 more blocks for a queen-sized quilt.  I started this quilt in November, and am only dawdling along.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Some Bread For Christmas

These are three projects made on different days, photographed only in their dough state.  We had the St. Lucia buns for breakfast one Sunday close to St. Lucia Day.  Another day I made French bread to give as gifts with small jars of jam.  And finally, on another Sunday morning, we had Midwinter Buns.  Delicious December!  Down below in the freezer is Grandma's Russian Kulich, waiting for Christmas morning and mugs of hot chocolate.  Today I made marshmallows for the first time ever to float in that hot chocolate.

Merry Christmas, dear readers!  May your plates be full of goodies, your mugs bottomless, and your beloved people close to you.  May our plenty and love overflow to those who need it, in honor of Jesus whose birthday started all this feasting!


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