Friday, August 31, 2012

Coming soon

A sign that the seasons are changing.

Hello friend! I keep writing blog posts in my head, but never seem to have the time and the presence of mind simultaneously to sit down and write them for you to read. Can I say, though, that if you like my blog, you'd love the inside of my head. That's where I do all my best writing. Sadly, so little of it makes it out of there and into print. Let me just throw out a quick list of the things I'd like to blog about:
  • Our little garden
  • A sneak peek at baby Squiggle's growing wardrobe. 
  • A few thoughts about why I chose to be a stay-at-home parent (even though I have a degree and a fully-functioing mind of my own.)
  • Project Pinterest, part 2: I used this method to clean my dish washer, in spite of having seen this
  • Is it too late to write about our trip to Norway?
  • I'm actually making a wreath for our front door. Do girl babies make you craftier?
  • And six months later, how about that post about Espen's birthday train cake?
  • A post about those tiny, perfect moments when everything is right. 
So. More to come soon. After the three-day weekend. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A little brag and your thoughts, please?

First I wanted to show off the fact that my lovely husband got me roses for our anniversary yesterday. I love getting flowers, and they make me happy every time I look at them.

Sigh :)
After I put them in water, I stuck them on our new hall table and liked how it looked so much that I thought I'd show you too. Let it be known that I'm no interior design blogger, and for good reason! However, I do enjoy putting our house together and getting things just the way I want them, and am usually very pleased with the result. 

Why, yes, our shoes always look like that!
I really like the little console table (Pier 1, if you were wondering) and am really happy with how it fits in the space. I looked for one for completely ages, but couldn't find the right thing, and was hesitant to buy anything until we put the tile in. The carpet that you see on the left used to go about 2/3 of the way across the wall, so any table would have had two legs on carpet and two legs on tile and just looked weird. Then, once the tile was in, Nick looked around online (after I had warned him how hard it was to find anything that would work and how I had been looking for four years), and in less than 20 minutes he came up with this. After that I introduced him to West Elm, and within minutes we had picked out the bowl that we use to catch keys, sunglasses and the general contents of my husband's pockets. So all of that was simple and straightforward enough, and looked great the moment we brought it in the house. 

Here's what is really stumping me: what do we do with the wall above the table? I feel like the framed photo we currently have up there gets a little lost in the space. I think we either need to go with one bigger piece, or lots of smaller ones. A big mirror would make a lot of sense, but we already have a huge mirror over the couch on the opposite wall, and my narcissism only goes so far. 

Right now I like the idea of doing a little collection of eclectic stuff in frames, like family photos, framed postcards and posters of significant places for our family, maybe a photo of where we were married, that sort of thing. But I'm a bit worried that we will end up with a hot mess on our wall instead. We tend to be drawn to clean lines and symmetry, and I'm not sure if we could actually pull off the kind of hodgepodge I'm envisioning. 

I'm also thinking that one of these maps could be awesome. I like the idea of marking the places where our family is from. I wish it was portrait-oriented instead of landscape to fit the space better, but I can't exactly ask that world maps be drawn differently to suit me. They do country maps too, but haven't added Norway to the list yet. Otherwise it might be cool to hang the US, UK and Norway together. Pretty please? 

So, now that you've seen the space and read my stream-of-consciousness thoughts on it, what do you think? Feel free to throw out some idea on what to use the itty bitty shelf under the table for too. Go hive brain, go!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Seven Years


Seven years ago today I married my best friend/love of my life/ the greatest guy in the world/Nick. I can hands down say that out of all of the dumb things I've done in my life, that wasn't one of them. Choosing a life with Nick will always be the best decision I have ever made.

Seven years sounds like a long time, and yet in the most-clicheed ways, I can remember exactly what it felt like to realize I was in love with one of my best friends, and the crazy flips my stomach did the night we discovered those feelings were shared. I will never forget kneeling at the altar together on our wedding day, knowing this was one of the greatest moments of my life and yet not being able to take anything in other than how much we loved each other, and how happy we were to be there.

Nick, I love you so much. You are my favorite and my best, and to you I will always say yes - twice.

Happy anniversary to us!

And now.
(3D glasses are so hot right now.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Project Pinterest: Chocolate Zucchini Cake

I tried something else from Pinterest! 

We've been attempting a little gardening this year, and have somehow successfully managed to grow (among other things) a very generous zucchini plant. It has been a fun and tasty adventure as we've tried to decide what to do with it all, because I just love the feeling of eating out of our own garden. We don't really know what we're doing at all and mostly learn by trial and error and Google, but it has been such a great experience to learn as we go, and now be at the point of actually producing something. 

Look what I grew!
Back to our zucchini plant. It has recently started churning out zucchinis at such an alarming rate that we have been forced to get a bit creative in the kitchen just to use it all. Which is why I knew that when it became my turn to host book club this week, there was no way I was going to allow eight people into my house without feeding them zucchini.

A few years ago, someone at a party gave me a slice of rich, dark, moist, fudgy cake and gleefully told me after a few bites that it had zucchini in it. I had never heard of such a thing, and would never have guessed from the flavor of the cake, and have been mildly intrigued by the idea ever since. So when I found myself with guests to serve and a 14 oz. (400 g.) zucchini on my hands, I knew what I had to do.

Enter the Chocolate Zucchini Cake, found here on Pinterest or here on Allrecipes.

After considering a few options, I went with this recipe because it had simple ingredients that I mostly had on hand, and seemed fairly straightforward to make. I'm not a great baker (too scatty!), and didn't want to try anything too ambitious.

Friends, it turned out great!

It was nice and chocolatey, but not too rich. It used up about 3 cups of shredded zucchini, but I couldn't taste the zucchini at all. Somehow the zucchini just seems to melt into the cake, so there wasn't even any weird texture issues like I thought there might be. My book club ladies were all nice enough to ask for the recipe, which always makes me feel like I know what I'm doing. Win-win-win!

A few things:
  • I baked mine in a bundt pan because they are prettier. Someone helpful in the comment section on allrecipes said to let it bake at the same temperature for 5-10 minutes longer than called for, and that worked great for me. 
  • The recipe was very simple and straightforward, as I suspected. The most time consuming part is probably shredding the zucchini, other than that it's mostly a matter of chucking things together and mixing them up, which even I can handle. 
  • Make sure you have plenty of time when you bake this cake. You can mix it up in about 15 minutes, but it takes about an hour in the oven, and probably at least that long to cool properly, especially if you're using something like a bundt pan. 
  • The recipe says walnuts, but I used chocolate chips instead. Nuts are just too sketchy when you're not sure of everyone's preferences/allergies. And the chocolate chips worked really well. 
  • A rookie mistake, but make sure you let the cake cool completely in the pan before you try to remove it. Also, make sure you spray the pan really well first. 
  • If you fail to do those two things, the cake is moist enough to puzzle back together pretty well when the top 1/4 inch stays in the pan. You can cover your tracks pretty well with powdered sugar, and just call whatever irregularities are left "charming" or "rustic". 
  • As rich as it looks, you might be surprised at how quickly you head back for seconds. It's rich in flavor, but doesn't feel too heavy when you eat it, if that makes sense. This might also have something to do with me being six months pregnant. 

So, definitely a recommendation from me, and something I'm sure we'll make again. I saw someone in the comment section say they had successfully made muffins with it, which I might try next time. I have no idea how well they might freeze, but that would be a great way to preserve the goodness for longer.

As always, if you end up making this yourself, please tell me what you think! 

Monday, August 13, 2012

25 Weeks and counting - a little ramble.

This week marks my 25th week of pregnancy, and I am starting to feel like there just might be an end in sight after all. I'm only two weeks away from the third trimester, and that definitely feels a bit downward slope-ish.

I'm actually feeling pretty good these days. My morning sickness hasn't lasted as long this pregnancy (about 20 weeks instead of 24), and I'm not so big yet that I can't move around. I can feel the baby move quite a lot and often, which I find reassuring, even if she is kicking me in the bladder. If a lot of movement signifies a healthy baby, then we're expecting an Olympian! Nick has even felt her move a few times, and it makes me happy to have someone to share this whole experience with. Espen will put his hands on my tummy when I do, but he never sits still long enough to feel anything, and always wants me to feel baby sister in his tummy instead.

My biggest complaints are probably how tired I am by the end of the day, and some sciatic back pain. But that's just part of the deal, and honestly a small price to pay for the gift of a healthy pregnancy and baby. Just don't remind me of that at 4 AM when my back hurts and I'm too uncomfortable to sleep!

We still haven't made a lot of preparations for this baby, which feels a bit funny compared to the turbo first-timers we were with Espen. Part of that is probably because we already have most of the baby gear already (it just needs to come down from the attic for a good cleaning), and partly because Espen is such an all-consuming part of our life, that there just isn't time to fret over baby preparations when we still have three months to go!

My mother, on the other hand, is super-prepared for this baby! She has already sent a respectable stack of adorable little clothes over from Norway, and I know there is more to come. And today when we were Skyping she showed me a half-finished little white cardigan for the baby to wear for her blessing (the LDS church equivalent of a christening), an event I have only vaguely thought about beyond "while my parents are here" and "yes, December sometime, probably". It's a good thing I'm not going to be solely responsible for this little girl's welfare!

To my defense, I'm not a complete wastrel of a mother. I have covered important things like making a Pinterest board of clothes and books (mostly clothes) I want to get her, and I have bought her two sets of jammies and a summer dress for next year, which roughly equates a Mother-of-the-Year award, right?

It is super cute, though, which I think makes up for a lot. 
In all seriousness, we have made a few plans towards her arrival. We've been talking to our doctor about how and when she might arrive (without getting too personal here, I'll just tell you that my babies seem to get good and comfy in their space and don't like to leave), and we've made some plans with Nick's parents for how we're going to handle the baby arriving in the middle of Thanksgiving when they live 3.5 hours away and someone needs to take care of Espen. That actually lifted a huge weight of my mind, just to know that Espen will be having the time of his little life with his grandparents while we're in the hospital. Now we just need to pick up some diapers and wait for the stores just need to start stocking cold-weather baby clothes and we should be set!

Right, guys?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Family photos

Here's another post I've been wanting to share with you for months. When we first found out I was pregnant again we decided to take some family photos. In part as a way to announce the new baby to my family, and in part to document our little family when it was just the three of us. I'm not sure if it's just us, but it seems like, left to our own devices, we get about two photos with all three of us in per year, and I'm always looking wild-eyed and flustered from trying to wrangle Espen in the general direction of the camera. And photos of just me and Nick barely even exist anymore. Clearly it was time to do a little memory preservation!

We got in touch with Keira of Snap Photography who spent an hour with us in the hot April sun, trying to get us all to look in the right direction at the same time. Miraculously (on our part) we got a lot of great shots, and here are just a few of my favorites:

We were lucky in that Keira is a good family friend and someone that Espen loves and trusts, so he felt very at ease with her, but I know from her other work that she is such a professional and so good with kids. I feel like it takes a very special kind of photographer to get such happy, natural shots of children as Keira does, especially when they're as busy and wiggly as Espen. So if you're local and looking for a photographer, I'd definitely recommend checking out Snap Photography. I'm so glad that we did and that we now have some good photos to look back on of this stage of our lives.

Oh, and one more photo before I go. I'm not sure what's up with that face, but this one makes me laugh so hard:

How about you? Do you do formal family photos, or do you prefer to keep it casual with the photos you take at home? Do you have any great ideas for documenting your family's life and growth?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Our 15 seconds of fame.

This is mostly for the grandparents and other special interest groups,  but  I thought I'd show you this little video. I've been meaning to show you this for ages now, but keep forgetting to for whatever reason. (Hint: it might have something to do with me not registering that there would be a camera, and showing up with wet hair and no makeup. Morning sickness, my friends). 

Anyway, Espen goes to a monthly art class at the Museum of Art at BYU, and we made it into this little news segment about it. Highlights include my good friend Ari and her adorable son Landon, and the two sentences the camera crew were able to get out of Espen. They seemed to zero in on him a bit because he is a very vocal and verbal little guy, but as soon as the camera was on he just clammed up and refused to perform. He ain't no circus pony! :) And yes, I was every bit as frazzled and distracted by Espen as I appear. 

If you're local to this area, you can find out more about the program here. Just don't take our spot! 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Project Pinterest: Twisty ponytail

Have you been bitten by the pinterest bug? I certainly have, and am the proud curator of 29 boards filled with 687 cool, pretty, clever, crafty, tasty things I'd love to try. However, I mostly just stick stuff on my pin boards and feel smug that I have such impeccable taste in things I'd theoretically be interested in, and then never actually do anything with them. I certainly think I've tried no more than 10-15 of the things I've pinned.

Well, a couple of weeks ago I really needed to do something about the bath mats in our bathrooms (glamorous!) because they were getting pretty undesirable, and I knew that throwing them in the washing machine would only go so far. In a lightbulb moment of sheer brilliance I suddenly remembered that I had seen someone on Pinterest recommend adding equal parts of white vinegar and baking soda to your regular laundry detergent to de-funkify towels. So I tried, and it worked wonders. It has been a couple of weeks now, and I still gaze in wonder at my white fluffy mats. Pinterest to the rescue!

Do you see where this is going? Yes, I thought it might be fun to try to actually try out some of these things and then blog about them. In fact, I'll even lend myself out as your very own Pinterest guinea pig if you tell me what pins you've been dying to try.

As my first effort, I give you this twisty ponytail that I found pinned here, from this blog, Everything Fabulous.

Pretty... not too tricky-looking, let's give it a try. 
Anyone who sees my head on a regular basis knows that I'm a pretty low-maintenance kind of girl. If it takes more than three minutes, I'm just not interested. Most days you'll find me makeup-less with my hair in a ponytail, realizing that I've left my wedding rings at home. But even a schlub like me likes to feel pretty, so why not give it a try?

Friends, this was more like a one minute style. And it only required one hair tie and worked just fine on wet hair.
Photographing the back of one's own head: not easy. 
 There were a few things in the description that weren't entirely clear, and I can see now that mine came out a little different from the photo. I think part of that comes from the model not having quite as thick hair as mine, and her ponytail started out a little lower and looser than mine. Also, next time I think I'd try to make the two sections of hair a bit less even, so you have more hair in the pony tail you loop through, rather than in the section you wrap around below.

The description in the Pinterest text was a lot more clear to me than the blog itself, so I'd recommend using that if you're planning to try it yourself.

All in all, though, it's a quick and easy way to do a pretty take on the humble ponytail, and one I'll definitely be revisiting. For a first attempt I'm really pleased with how it turned out, and will be trying it out again soon.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

There's just something about summer

Summer makes me not want to blog, and judging by my Google reader, I'm not the only one. Lots of people are on trips, filling their days with lounging in the sun (or the shade, depending on location), day trips or projects at home. While blogging may be down, my Instagram feed is filled with pictures of other people's summery goodness.

We took our vacation early this year (good gravy, I still haven't written any posts about that! Is anyone still interested in "What I Did On My Summer Vacation by Tamsin?"), and Utah tends to be a bit too hot for my pregnant self to go on too many outdoor adventures, so we've just been puttering about at home.

A little gardening

Some Legos

Some vegetable knitting

More gardening

Culinary adventures
Potty training.
(Holy Hannah, are we really here already?!?)

A few updates around the home.

Spending time with friends.

The tile saga.

Playing outside.

So we're still here, doing our little North family thing. I have been writing a million blog posts in my head, and before too very long one of them is sure to make it into writing. Until then, I hope you're enjoying your summer wherever you may be. I'd love to hear what you've been up to!