What’s Up?

So.

I’ve been gone again.

Busy.

Life happened.

I’ve been working.

Doing school.

Helping at home.

Catering my cousin’s bridal shower. (Loose use of the word “catering.”)

Attending my first birth.

Photographing my first birth.

Taking the knife to my closet.  (The old ugly stuff has to go!)

So.

First things first.  I am working at a fun little salon in town two days a week, four hours a day, as a receptionist, and cleaning.  Actually, this is the first week I have worked two days.  Which I am really excited about.  I like it.

School and life it pretty much normal, so not a whole lot to say about that, except that I’m loving school, as usual.

The shower went well.  It was great to see everybody up north.  For the dessert at the shower, I made mint chocolate brownie bites, lemon poppy seed cake, and Mom made coffee punch.  Yum.

Last night, my good friend had her sweet baby, and I was blessed to have been invited to the birth, and it pleased God to have all the circumstances happen exactly right so I could go!  I am so blessed to have gotten to be there, and it was wonderful.  She had asked me and another young lady to take some photos during the birth, which I found quite enjoyable.  What a blessing to record that special moment!

My closet has been getting too full. Not just that, but after doing the Botkin ladies’ beauty webinar, I have really been thinking about what I am wearing, and trying to look nice.  To be honest, some of my old clothes aren’t really nice.  So I have decided to start paring down my closet, then filling it with things that look nice and that will look good on me.  I emptied a whole bunch yesterday morning, which made me surprisingly slightly apprehensive?  anxious?  teary? not quite sure which.  But the first cut is the deepest, right?

So, that’s what’s been going on.  I’ll be hoping to post a full post about the shower tomorrow when I process the pictures, or at least in the very near future.  So look for that.  In the meantime, here are some photos of the closet-cleaning!

 

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The first pile to go

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One side of my closet, after the first clean-out (hopefully not the last)

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Fun new hairstyle I tried, and wore all day, and it didn’t give me a headache!  Which made me SO HAPPY!  (I usually get a headache when I where my hair pulled back, usually at the base or near the base of my head.)  What do you think?

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On to D.C. – Part 2

On Tuesday we went to Mount Vernon.  It.  Was. Gorgeous.  Mount Vernon is beautiful – the house is well kept, and the grounds are beautifully planted.  Also, the Welcome Center has an AWESOME museum underneath it, and we only got to spend a few minutes in it.

Wednesday we went to the Library of Congress and the U.S. Capital.  The Library of Congress was beautiful.  They had a Gutenberg Bible there, which was really neat to see.  Also, they had some exhibits in the basement, one of which was about the Gershwins.  They had George Gershwin’s piano there!

Next we went to the Capital.  I really enjoyed the tour – seeing all the rooms that I had heard about and (risking sounding cheesy) only seen on T.V.  We were able to sit in the Senate chamber during one of the votes on gun control.  It was fascinating, at least for me.  Meiling didn’t find it that interesting, but she was such a good girl and sat quietly.  I was quite proud of her.  We were in the Senate chamber during several votes, which were so interesting to watch.  The senators were milling about, talking, and then it would be time for the vote.  The lady tallying the vote would look around the room, and the senators would just give a thumbs up or thumbs down.  Then, after a bit, she would read through the votes, and then start calling senators by name, and they would vote.  Then she would tally the votes.  It was interesting how almost disorganized it had appeared, with the senators in their groups talking, and the votes happening.

After we left the Capital, we drove the two hours down to Charlottesville, VA.

And now for the photos.

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At Mount Vernon

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Heading in

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A walkway (wow, am I profound today!)

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My boys

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The view is amazing

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Drake

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Thyme.  I LOVE thyme.

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The 8-sided wheat-treading barn

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Library of Congress

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This and the following photos:  The inside was GORGEOUS!

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George Gershwin’s piano!

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Walking to the U.S. Capital

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The rotunda

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The Jefferson Davis statue in Statuary Hall

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I tried several views of the Capital, so bear with me.  It’s right up there with the Washington Monument.

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Dublin Coddle

Well, it is now officially September.  I am so enjoying the cooler weather.  We have had the windows open off and on the past few days, and it has even been a little chilly at nights.  When Mom and I were running errands on Saturday, I actually needed a jacket!  It was so fun to have to get my jean jacket out again!  I love fall.  It is one of my three favorite seasons (the other two are Spring and Winter), and is currently top on my list (although that could change in about 36.1 seconds.  You never know).

Well, with the onset of September, this is always a time of getting back into school.  Just something about the cooler weather and shortening days makes me want to get back to my books.

This year I am doing some unit studies with Meiling and Noah on different countries.  We just started this Monday, and I am having so much fun with both of them.  For each of the countries we are going to make a somewhat traditional dish.  It may be a dinner, it may be a dessert.  Disclaimer:  I am not making the meals very traditional.  Most of the dishes will probably be only semi-traditional.

Are you really that surprised?  I organize some unit studies, and they include food.  Amazing, I know.

This week we are learning about Ireland.  After perusing through some recipes, I found this recipe for Dublin Coddle.  It looked pretty simple and I thought everyone would like it (it has bacon).  I did make a few changes to it, and I also seasoned my own meat to use instead of the sausages, since I didn’t know when we would be able to find some.

Everyone liked it!  It was a bit too salty, but not too terribly salty that it couldn’t be eaten.  Next time I will decrease the salt in the “sausages.”

Here is my version of Dublin Coddle.

Dublin Coddle

2 lbs.  Bangers (or ground pork, seasoned, like in this recipe – just decrease the salt by about half!)
12 oz. bacon, cut into one-inch pieces
2 onions, halved and sliced fairly thick
3 cloves of garlic, minced
5 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and sliced (about the same thickness you sliced the onions)
1 to 1 1/2 c. of water or broth (I used the water since my meat was too salty)

1.  If using ground pork, mix it with the spices and form into small sausage shapes.

2.  Take the sausages (or your mini sausages) and fry them on medium heat in a Dutch oven or similar pan until brown on all sides.  Remove from pan, and cut sausages into four or five pieces (your mini sausages should be cut into halves or thirds depending on their size.  Just eyeball it).  Pour off the fat from the pan.

3.  Next, fry the bacon just until it begins to get crispy.  Remove the bacon to a bowl, and pour off all but about 2 tsps. of the fat.

4.  Add the onions and sauté until just starting to soften.  Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Remove onions/garlic from the pan and place on the pan.

5.  Now, according to the original recipe you are supposed to layer the stuff in like this:  first potatoes, then onions, bacon, sausage, potatoes, onions, bacon, sausage, and ending with potatoes.  After I got it all layered in my pot and added the water, I wasn’t sure if the potatoes would cook properly, since they weren’t covered with water.  So I stirred mine, trying to push the potatoes toward the bottom of the pot.  So I say:  just put everything in the pot, pour in the water, and stir gently.  If you try it the other way, let me know if it works.

6.  Simmer, covered, for about and hour, or until the potatoes are tender.  Serve warm.

 

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Noah getting started on the “sausages”

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Meiling waiting for a job 🙂

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Ahhh…BACON!

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Potatoes

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Noah forming the “sausages”

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The little sausages

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The finished coddle

Plattar

Yesterday morning my dad made plattar, or Swedish pancakes, for breakfast.  Swedish pancakes are somewhat similar to crepes.  They are a thin pancake that is traditionally filled with lingonberry jam, although we fill them with all kinds of jelly and fruit.  We used to make them fairly often, but recently we have forgotten them.  This recipe came from my family, as we are part Swedish.

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Mom’s pancake, filled with peaches

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Making more

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Jelly

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I picked this jelly for my second pancake

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All rolled up

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Yum!

Chinese Dinner

For Chinese New Year, I had planned to make lettuce wraps, dumplings, wonton soup, chicken and broccoli, rice, and steamed cake for dessert.  I made everything like I planned, with two exceptions: I forgot to start the rice early, and I forgot about the mango that I was going to slice to go in the lettuce wraps.  Thankfully Mom had some rice in the freezer, but we didn’t end up eating it anyway.

Meiling was quite the little helper.  She helped me make the cake and fold all the wontons and dumplings.  It was quite fun to have her in the kitchen with me!

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The cake, ready to go into the steamer

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My little helper

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The wontons ready to be folded…

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…and put in the soup

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Dumplings being fried

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Chicken and broccoli

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Ready to eat

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Lettuce wrap

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Wonton soup

Happy Chinese New Year!!!

Today is the first day of the Chinese, or Lunar, New Year. In China, it is called the Spring Festival, as it marks the end of the winter season. This holiday lasts for fifteen days. It is the year of the Dragon this year.

Since this is the first day of the Chinese New Year, I am planning a Chinese dinner tonight. We are not having a fifteen day holiday (although that would be fun), but I will hang my Chinese lanterns up for the holiday.

For dinner I am planning to make dumplings, wonton soup, lettuce wraps, chicken and broccoli, and rice (of course). For dessert I am going to make a steamed cake (you can see the recipe here). We are also going to make green tea and serve it with Meiling’s tea set that I bought for her when we were in China. Meiling is going to be my little helper today.

Happy Chinese New Year!

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Chinese New Year decorations for the year of the pig (Mom took this picture when we were in China.  We were there right before the Chinese New Year.)

Pierogi

Yesterday I decided to make pierogi.  Pierogi, for those of you who are wondering, are a traditional Polish dumpling filled with either fruit, mashed potatoes, meat, or a mixture of mushrooms and sauerkraut.  We make ours with sauerkraut and mushrooms.  We love pierogi!  I made pierogi once with my grandmother years ago and it was so fun to make them.  Making and eating them brought back memories for me.  They turned out fairly well, almost like my grandmother made.  The recipes I have now were written from memory, so a lot of the details are missing.  Mom and I had to remember them.  Now I have some pointers for next time.

And, of course,  I took pictures!

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The rounds of dough with the filling

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Ready to be flash frozen

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The finished product – Yum!