Fall Food

Now that we are a mostly veggie family I have hit a wall when it comes to Fall food. I MISS pork roast and slow simmered chicken. And no, that fake stuff that they say "tastes like meat" will just not do..HA!. no such thing. And don't even get me started on veggie broth instead of chicken or beef.
So my goal is to make hardy rich tasting meals that fill the soul as well as the stomach!! Last night I used some adorable baby squash, french green beans and baby portabellas that I quickly blanched and then sauteed in walnut oil. I then topped it with Mizithra cheese and put it in the oven to broil for just a sec... enough to soften the cheese. I made a balsamic vinegar reduction to dribble on for those who wanted it. ..yuummmmmmmm

Pimp my sofa

Things are coming together for the livingroom redo.. here are the photos I promised. First off is my sad sad sofa. Actually it's not in awful condition but the cats had ripped up the front part of the arms and the back pillows ( already gone in this photo) had bellied out to the point that they would not even stand up any longer. So I purchased three large feather/down pillows and some new fabric to cover them as mentioned before ( two as yet to be done ,seen here)..I then removed the panels from the front of the sofa arms. These had seen some major cat abuse and I decided to recover them in the fabric I had chosen for the pillows. This was fast and simple. I am still thinking of adding the fabric to the lower front edge to match a great sofa I looked at while out. It also featured mixed fabrics in a way I love but it's colors were all off for my room. Notice the use of the table knife as upholstery undoer?.. NOT an approved technique.. I should be ashamed.
And here is my almost done "pimped" sofa. The large back pillows are slipcovered with long zippers on the bottom of each cover. I prewashed and dried the fabric so it would be safe to wash and dry later. I used a simple faux corded edge on the pillows since I knew they would get a lot of abuse and did not want to use expensive trim on them since some trims don't wash up all that well. I have some extra fabric and some fruffy trim for some small pillows that I hope to do later this week. The trim is left over from the new curtains I am just about done with. I had thought I would have them made since I am trying to get this project done. But after the $1600 quote to do two windows I decided that I could do them myself. That really is the bain of being someone who use to do this sort of thing for a living.. I can't stand to pay what it costs on the going market!

Things are starting to swing into high gear here at Casa-Kertay. The new found nip in the air has finally gotten me off my fanny to do something about our living room. First I spent a whole bunch of time looking at new sofas only to come to the conclusion that a new one would look as bad as my old (2 years) one in no time given the abuse it sees on a daily basis.

You see last time we got a new sofa we got a GOOD sofa, it was expensive and yet some how the dogs ( two Great Danes) and the cats ( 5 of them) missed the message that this was the GOOD sofa... but I suspect that they did not care. So fast forward two years and many many large doggy naps and scratching post sessions later and it's looking a bit worse for wear. I will not even talk about the back cushions and how they slumped 6 months after we got them!.. But it's neither here nor there now since I am getting rid of the fitted back cushions and making some nice new pillows for the back and adding some of the new fabric to the body of the sofa like so many of the really cute sofas you see these days. ( photos soon.. I promise)

I have had this project in mind for a while now but could not find any fabric that brought together all my colors until today! ( please join me in a small happy dance in celebration of this most wondrous event) I bought a yard this afternoon to bring it home and see it in my living room light since while Hanocks might be lit up by 100 florescent lights my home is not and that really changes the color of fabric. It was perfect and i returned tonight to get 5 more yards and 3 very large and very nice down pillows. This was another happy dance moment as it seems my $45 dollar each pillows had been marked down to $15 each and my fabric was 30% off. .. don't you just love it when it works like that??? For those wondering the fabric is from the Dublin collection at Hancocks and it's the Pecan floral.

My Dirty Little Secret

Bet that caught your attention hu? The truth is that I do have one.. I Maddie K. am a closet organizational junkie. I love stuff that is freaky hyper organized, I mean I get a little thrill when I see t-shirts color sorted, spices grouped by type and ribbons in color matched order. I nearly have a tiny little stroke of ecstasy just walking into the Container Store, and yet that is not how I live my life and I generally think it's for the best.

Mind you, a times like now I think it would be best to let a little bit more of this side of me out of the closet and in fact I am in order to get some work done on the house but once it gets out.. well do you remember that movie where the cute little furry creatures stayed cute as long as you did not feed them after midnight? Well it's sort of like that. So thus I am careful how much I let out at a time.

People mock Martha Stewart all the time but I do understand where she is coming from and it's just that she has let her monster out of the closet ( or can't get it back in) and she even dances with it! Do I think it's good for her?.. well maybe for her bank account..yes, but personally no. I think she has suffered for it as do all of us who put our stuff no matter grand or meager in front of our connection with people and this often really extends to our own families and close friends.

Last night on the spur of the moment we had some darling friends over for a last swim of the year before we closed the pool. I would have loved for my house be be perfect.. for it to have glowed with candles and warm Fall decor but in the end it was cheap pizza, Jones sodas and a most wonderful evening of just kicking back with friends and the kids. Swimming, warming up by the fire pit, laughter and in the end much more rewarding than alphabetized spices.
**Please note: that is not my craftroom, but is sure is cute and orgainzed! :)

Getting *paid* to Clean up my act.

Seems that I am finally back in the swing of things when it comes to making some progress on getting this house finished. We got some new furniture delivered ( photos soon!) and I am busy cleaning out things in preparation for some painting and other changes. This all feels pretty good and as a cosmic bonus it paid me $60!

You see since we have become debt free for our daily expenses (not bills) we use cash. I get out a set amount every two weeks and that is what we use for groceries, gas and the like. This took a little getting used to but makes you pretty dang accountable for your spending when you watch it go away as dollar bills as opposed to as a swipe of the debit or credit card. As an off shoot of this I am known to squirrel away a $20 bill each time and tuck it away just in case we get to the end of a two week period and I would be low on funds and need gas.
SOOOOO.. when I went to go clean out some purses that were in a drawer and decided which to keep and which to donate I did an interior inspection on each and found : 1 lost house key, 1 missing ear ring, numerous phone numbers scribbled on slips of paper and $60! ( 3 $20 bills to be exact) Sometimes life is good :)

Do your jeans really fit?

Well mine never did. It seems I was under the delusion that I had a waist, or more to the point that I had hips. It seems that I really don't and honestly I could not be more thrilled to find this out! Seems that Lane Bryant (yep..the big girl store) has put their money into a multi shaped line of pants and jeans that breaks our human/woman shape down into finer detail which in the end gives us more choices that ever when it comes to shape and fit.

Personally I have found the holy grail of jeans. Seems I am a YELLOW, this is LB code for the fact that I am lacking in hips or if you're being less charitable.. my waist is not waisted, in fact it's the same size ( or just about) as the fullest part of my hips. ( Might you be a RED, or a BLUE?)

Silly me.. I never did understand why I could get jeans that fit in the hips then I could not button them, or if they could button they flapped around my hips like sails in the wind. And guess what?.. seems I am also a petite!.. at 5foot 5 I wear a petite!.. But who cares!... my jeans fit.. in fact they fit so well that i went back and bought 3 more pairs!

Best of all since getting them I have had 3 people stop me to ask where I got my jeans since they looked so good!.. two of the women were MUCH smaller than my rather generous size 16 self and were disappointed to know that they would not be able to get any for themselves. But if you happen to be a 14 or above, make your way to Lane Bryant and find out your true shape.. you will not be sorry!! My pair are the trouser cut, dark wash and were $44 a pair. Better yet there is a coupon right now on the website that give you $25 off of $75 or $50 off of $150.

More proof that I am a slacker...

If I were a good upright person I would be in mopping my kitchen floor... and yet I am not.. Hester is doing it for me :) And you what's even worse?.. I left the cats to supervise!


Lapbooking, while not widely used is one of our keys to effective and dynamic learning. I think of it as a practical and visual bridge between what we have read and what the kids take in. The kids enjoy going back over the books and showing them off to their dad in a presentation they do at the end of each unit. The photo below is from Greg's lapbook on microscopes and introduction to the microscopic world around us. This book represents about 1 week of science work and it is sort of slim. Most of our lapbooks last for more like 2 weeks and sometimes 3 if it's a big subject. But generally I like to keep it to 2 so things feels fresh and new.

We use multiple different formats to showcase our learning. To the far left of the above photo he used mailing tags to draw examples of the two main types of microscopes that we studied. We secured these in with a brad so the cards swing apart for easy viewing. In the center we used a blue CD envelope with clear window to hold the drawings of what the kids saw through the microviewer. In the zebra paper-flap book there is an example of graphed micro drawing ( why zebra paper?.. why not??) Barely visible under the the flap book is a small plastic envelope in which we put index card on which we list our vocabulary words from the unit. This makes for an easy way to review words and play simple memory games with the cards.

What you can't see above due to rather crap-tastic photography on my part is the fact card on Robert Hooke, an actual slide that was preped and attached in the book and a labeled diagram of all the parts of a microscope.

Below is the front of the folder with a graphic of one of the early microscopes built by Robert Hooke. Each boy went on to add other personal art to the front cover. I believe dripping blood was a popular thematic choice ( but not mine!)

Today we got to work in earnest on our Classification unit. We started off by talking about Carl Linnaeus and his gift to us of the system of Taxonomy that is still pretty much the standard used today. In doing that we studied some basic systems of sorting and classifying. We used buttons for our purpose since wide slew of wild animals was not at our disposal! I found this lesson on line - Dichotomous Keys.. http://ericir.syr.edu/Virtual/Lessons/Science/Process_Skills/SPS0002.html

Currently we are out by the pool and the boys are enjoying one of the last nice swimming days of the year :)