September 30, 2016 by Sarah
A few months ago, my friend Christie wrote a post called “These are the Days Of,” inspired by the book Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman. I’ve since been following Emily’s blog and am just finishing her book.
I’ve noticed that I’m constantly looking ahead to things in the future. From the day to day activities being done, to events that are weeks away and upcoming trips. The upside to this is that I can and do plan well, the downside is that it can and often does leave me feeling distracted and not able to be present to what’s in front of me. As a mom, I also find myself thinking, “if only we can get ourselves to such and such stage, things will be so much easier!” But, I’m not in “that stage” and I want to grow in embracing the here and now.
Since reading Christie’s post, I’ll find myself stopping from time to time when I feel like I’m looking too far ahead, and I’ve been making a mental list of my own “these are the days of…” Here’s what the list looks like now.
These Are the Days of:
New routines of school drop-offs every weekday
Being woken multiple times a night, every night. To nurse, soothe, change wet undies.
Toys and dirty footprints everywhere
Sweet friendships growing between my kids, it’s beautiful to watch
Time being very scarce to do anything beyond love my kids and husband, feed them, and return the house to a tidier state at the end of the day.
Saying no to lots of things and yes only to the most important.
Needing to scale back on my garden, it’s too big for what I can handle.
Plans being made and aborted due to meltdowns.
Baby toes, children’s laughter, and snuggles. The best.
Lots of reliance on Pat’s parents who live close-by, I don’t know what we would do without them.
Having lists of new recipes I want to try but only being able to cook the simple, old-faithful ones.
Loads of silliness and getting to enjoy my kids’ wild imaginations.
Lots and lots of children’s books.
Poop. Tons of poop that I am responsible for cleaning.
Getting used to Pat traveling more for work.
Loving to see how much Gianna enjoys school, it’s fascinating to watch her grow and learn. She is wonderful.
Lots of new in my faith-life, learning different ways to pray and walk with God.
Harder questions from my kids, ones that I don’t always know how to answer.
Stashes of dark chocolate in the pantry that I treat myself to throughout the day.
So much joy. Deep, good, wonderful joy.
Category musings | Tags:
September 23, 2016 by Sarah
I do a lot of reading with the kids. We currently have three huge stacks of books around the house: in the kids’ room, in my room, and in the family room. And the piles are getting bigger! Over the summer we went to the library twice a week, and while I always told the kids that they can choose two books each, they always convinced me to get a few more, and I was always finding a few that I wanted to bring home too. I adore children’s books. But, there are definitely books and authors that I love more than others. Some I just dread! Is it bad that I… hide them?
I always appreciate book recommendations because there are so many books out there. Here are a six that the kids and I have been enjoying lately.
Annie and the Wild Animals, by Jan Brett.
I love grabbing books by Jan Brett, she tells a lot of classic fairy tales from an assortment of different cultures around the world. The stories are sweet, and just the right length for both Gianna (almost 5) and Caleb (just turned 3)
Strega Nona’s Harvest, Tomie de Paola
This is my absolute favorite right now. I am passionate about gardening and I love this story about an abundant harvest and the sharing of it. The pictures are charming and the characters are endearing. We’ve been picking up other Strega Nona stories since reading this one, some of Tomie de Paola’s stories are too long, but this series is just right.
A Squash and a Squeeze, by Julia Donaldson
Easy Street, by Rita Gray
The Firefighters, by Sue Whiting
This book always finds its way back from the library into one of our stacks. It sparks a lot of imagination in the kids.
The Brambley Hedge Series, by Jill Barklem
I discovered this series through a library book recommendation list. It’s more for older 4’s and up, but Caleb enjoys them too. The books are about a little community of mice that live in trees and the illustrations are so detailed and charming.
I’d love more recommendations for books!
Category musings | Tags:
September 16, 2016 by Sarah
When I talk about my go-to dishes, some variation of this sauce is used in most all of the Korean dishes that I pull together. My mom taught it to me when I was first starting to cook in college, and I quickly learned that there are a million and one different ways to use it. Like most Korean moms I know, she didn’t have a recipe written out for it, and she couldn’t even tell me measurements. She just showed me. And after making it over and over again, I’ve become the same way with it. I pour in a little bit of soy sauce, add a small drizzle of sesame oil, and then a little of this and that. After being asked for the recipe many, many times, I decided to put it in recipe form to share.
I most often use this sauce to dress tofu salads which become a side dish for a Korean/Asian meal. A typical version I’ll make is tofu, chopped cucumber, carrot shavings, and chopped green onion. You can add any and every kind of vegetable you like in a salad! This week I made a one with thinly sliced red cabbage, tofu, and chives because that’s what I had in the fridge.
This week I also tossed the dressing with steamed broccoli as another simple side. And, you’ll notice that a variation of this dressing is used in this Korean braised chicken slow cooker dish. Minus the sesame oil, and subbing in a cooking wine, or vinegar, you can use this dressing to marinate many different kinds of meat and even fish. It’s super versatile!
Korean Everything Sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce*
1tsp – scant 1TB sesame oil, be carefuly, a little goes a long way
1 small glove garlic, minced
1 scant tablespoon honey or sugar
1tsp sesame seeds, more to garnish at the end
optional, 1/2 tsp Korean red pepper flakes
Mix everything together and pour over whatever you want to dress it with.
* I use Monggo Sun Soy sauce, it’s less salty than the Kikkoman brand. If you use the latter or a soy sauce that’s on the saltier side, you can dilute the sauce with a little water.
Category in the kitchen | Tags:
September 9, 2016 by Sarah
One thing I learned this last month is that one single ingredient or food item can inspire multiple meals and dishes around it. For example, an amazing country loaf that I picked up when visiting the new Tartine Manufactory in San Francisco. We had so many tasty meals where the bread became the star. It was the same with roast chicken, make it a good one and you’ll thank yourself in the days after.
Here are a few of the things we’ve been eating the last few weeks:
Pat’s dads homemade bread with butter and honey, hardboiled eggs, fruit.
Mussels with Spicy Tomato Oil: Pat and I had a dish like this on a date night a while back, and the Tartine loaf made me want something tomato-y to dip in. This is definitely not a typical lunch, Pat was home on paternity leave. I would make this again as a dinner, it’s surprisingly quick.
Korean Soybean Paste Soup with Tofu and Squash: One of my go-to’s that the kids love. I’ll post my recipe for it soon, the one linked is a general one I found. We eat in with rice.
Margherita Pizza: Again, with Pat being home this week, I got to cook more than usual! We had tomatoes and basil from the garden, and I picked up fresh mozzarella. So good. The link is to the pizza dough recipe we used.
Chicken Soup: I simmered chicken bones from dinner’s roast chicken and added carrots, celery, and potatoes the next day for chicken soup. Tartine bread on the side.
Roast Chicken: With summer coming to the end, it’s time for roast chicken! I make this sometimes once a week in the fall and winter. It turns into so many meals.
Chicken Salad on tortilla: I made the salad dressing that I linked in my last “What we Ate” post and used it for many salads. The kids love making their own “burritos” with tortillas, they’ll eat anything I give them with it. For this particular salad, I chopped lettuce, steamed brocolli and green beans, and corn together. Sliced almonds added a nice crunch.
Chicken Salad with Cheesy/Tomato Toasts: Melted mozzarella onto bread and added tomatoes on top, drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Done!
Korean Beef Soup with Kimchi Fried Rice: Looks like I need to post some more of my recipes soon!
What I Bookmarked
This Banh Mi is calling my name.
Coconut Yellow Split Pea Soup for a fall lunch.
Afternoon pick-me up, Energy Bites
These Roasted Carrots would make a yummy side.
I have Chocolate Cake on my mind.
Category in the kitchen | Tags:
September 2, 2016 by Sarah
Welcome to our kitchen! We’ve been back in our home for about 8 months now, and the kitchen is hands down my favorite part of the remodel. We spend a lot of time in this space; cooking, eating, hanging out, and hosting. Pat and I knew that we wanted the kitchen to be a central part of our home, and we were very excited about how it turned out. I thought I’d post some photos and share some of the thought behind how we planned it.
First, if you hadn’t seen it, here is what our kitchen was before.
I loved this little kitchen. When we first bought our house, it was just so cool that it was ours. It was galley style, and it was definitely small, but it worked for us. When we first moved in, I was pregnant with Gianna our first, and this kitchen served us very well up through the second trimester with Eliza, our third! Lots of memories in this space.
As part of our remodel, we opened up the wall behind the original kitchen sink and pushed out to add a family room. (A little aside, in the photo I think I had given birth 3-4 weeks before. I did a huge bulk of the kitchen planning in my third trimester and then had Eliza and was post-partuming it up in the months where things were really taking shape. I was SO ready and wanting to get back in our house.)
A huge inspiration for our kitchen layout and design was one of my favorite HGTV shows, Fixer Upper. I absolutely love it. This kitchen and also this one that Joanna designed in particular were what I drew a lot of ideas from. In the first link, Pat and I just loved the idea of a huge island for our friends and family to gather around. The second kitchen made me fall in love with the contrast of natural wood and white/gray. I would say the name of the look we went for was “modern farmhouse.” I created a small Pinterest board for it here.
When the time came for us to design the layout of our kitchen, we planted a large 6 foot by 6 foot island right in the middle of it. And it really has become such a central part of our home. We decided on butcher block because we love the look and it’s inexpensive compared to other countertop options. It does get scratched and it’s easy to make marks (which is also true for our carrera marble side counters), but we don’t mind that. For us, it’s a lived-in look that tells a story.
To orient you a little more to the space, as you can see above, the family room is adjacent to the kitchen, and the dining room is on the other side. You can see the edge of it to the right in the photo below. The doorway leads to a hallway with bedrooms.
When planning the kitchen and house in general, we thought about our current family but also our family 10+ years from now. Right now we have 3 little ones 4 and under, but fast forward into the future, we hope to have 4. And they will be teenagers someday! Teenagers who eat a lot. Thinking about that, I ended up doing a cooktop with 5 burners and also added a second oven to the kitchen. After doing a lot of research, I chose an induction cooktop for it’s energy efficiency and also safety for the kids who are often underfoot as I cook. We also did electric ovens because we plan to get solar panels in the future.
One of the coolest features in our kitchen is the pot-filler. I had never even heard of such a thing before Pat’s CEO’s wife showed it to us in her kitchen. It’s so nice to have water access there to fill up pots with. And, I’ve since noticed that almost every Fixer Upper kitchen has one too.
And, let me tell you about our drawers. I LOVE our drawers. Especially these ones below that are big and deep and wide and hold everything.
These two are right under the cooktop, and it’s so nice having all my pots and pans easily accessible underneath. We splurged on getting custom cabinets, and for us, it was really worth it.
When setting up our kitchen, I designated a few of the smaller, lower drawers for the kid’s plates, utensils, and cups. It’s been so nice having the kids able to access their own things. They (mostly) love grabbing their plates and forks themselves for meals, which saves me a few minutes as I’m trying to finish up a meal. It gives them more responsibility and I think helps them feel like the kitchen is their space too.
On the topic of drawers, another layout decision was to position all our plate/utensil/tupperware drawers in close proximity to our dishwasher. I got this idea from my uncle’s kitchen and then I was convinced by it from this blog post. Having lived with it these past few months, I’m really glad we did it. It’s so functional.
Another part of the kitchen design that I knew I wanted was a window behind the kitchen sink. Pat and I both spend a lot of time washing dishes at the sink area, and I love being able to look outside. We went with a garden window and it’s currently holding all our orchids.
We plan to add 2 or 3 floating shelves on each side of the window, wooden ones that match our butcher block island. Like this.
A few other looks at the kitchen.
You can see below that the 2 ovens are across from each other. We also snuck in the microwave in the island, I wanted as much open counter space as possible.
And lastly, what I think might be one of the smartest things about our kitchen is that we converted a closet for our water heater into a pantry. You can see the door to the pantry in the right-side of the bottom photo. The former water heater door used to be on the other side, in the hallway. We went with a tankless heater and moved it outside which freed up the closet! Having a pantry is awesome.
I’d love to answer any other questions you might have about our kitchen including specific products and vendors. Just let me know.
Did you make it to the end of this post?! Congrats, you deserve a home-cooked meal in our new kitchen.
Category in the kitchen | Tags:
August 25, 2016 by Sarah
I like Instagram a lot, here’s a round-up of what I’ve been posting over there in the last few weeks. You can follow me directly here.
This is my second year trying to grow melons. I thought I had failed another year in a row after seeing lots of flower but no fruit, and was about to pull out the plants, when I noticed this. A melon! About the size of a quarter in diameter. How did I miss this after studying the plant every single day? There’s a whole lot of mystery that comes with gardening, there’s a lot that I do as the gardener but than there’s a lot more that I have absolutely no control over. There are so many parallels here with my spiritual life.
I’m planning for our fall and winter garden! And I’m really excited about these seeds that I picked up at our local farmer’s market. I’m planning to grow lettuce, arugula, spinach, kale, broccoli, chard, radish, beets and broccoli raab.
Summer harvest is the best. We’ve been getting tons of tomatoes, lots of beans, and experimenting with eggplant.
I was so excited to check out Tartine Manufactory this week. It’s SO GOOD. I even got to meet and chat with Liz Prueitt, the co-creator and James Beard award winning pastry chef. I was totally a blubbering fangirl asking her about her country loaf and telling her I followed her on Instagram. I brought back home the pastries above, a broiche with jam and humboldt fog cheese and a strawberry candied-lemon scone, as well as a humongous country loaf.
Perilla leaf is a plant I grew up eating a lot of with my Korean side of the family. I have memories picking enormous amounts of it in my aunt’s backyard. I started growing it this year and love incorporating it into my cooking.