Sunday, December 30, 2007

Gifts Made Easy

As some of you may have noticed from reading yesterday's post, receiving gifts for the girls has become a stressful subject in our little family. With limited space and a vague desire for order, Christmas and birthdays can feel like sabotage.

RaeAnn (I talk about her a lot, huh? Yeah. That's cuz she's awesome.) suggested that I make a gift registry for the girls on So I did.

I'm not linking directly to the girls' registry here, because it includes our last name. But if you KNOW our last name (and if you're getting my girls a gift, you probably do), you can search by either of their first names and our last name and it will lead you to their registry.

Anyway, I'll add a link to the MyRegistry main page on our sidebar, so you can access it any time.

This way, when you give a gift to our girls, you can know that the gift will be loved and used, and that we will happily make room for it in our tiny home, even if it means other things have to head to Goodwill to create a space.

Thanks for loving my princesses!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Junkless Christmas

Come on over to Makeshift Mama for my award-winning (?) Christmas poetry!

Two Mommies

Ariel is working on the concept of plurals. She is putting "s" after words (think "two mens") and referring to anything greater than one as "two."

Lately she has been saying, "Daddy, Mommy! Two Mommies!" We've been trying to tell her that she does not have two mommies, but the accusation continues.

I hope this doesn't last too long...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Am I fickle? Maybe...

From the moment I typed in the name of this blog, I knew that it wasn't what I wanted it to be long-term. It's one thing to emphasize my kids, but to leave myself out entirely? This blog is more than just updates and pics, and I WANT it to be more. So I've been playing with the idea of coming up with a more fitting name for awhile, and I've finally got it.

So I'm starting a new blog. But I'm not dumping this one. The majority of my updates about the girls will stay here. The new one will be more about me. And for at least the next while, I will put links up to my entries here when I type them over there.

So you don't HAVE to check two blogs every time you want to know if I've updated. Of course, add both to your reader account and it won't be any additional hassle! I just started using Google Reader, and I LOVE it! I don't know how I ever got along without it... I probably save a good 15 minutes a day. And when you have two babies, that's precious time. And I spend it sipping coffee and surfing the net.

So come on over to Makeshift Mama and see what I'm working on, if you are so inclined!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

How to get a good picture of my girls:

Take at least 20 of them.

They're busy little buggers, are they not?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

WFMW: No More Soggy Rice!

One of the most frustrating things about cooking rice in a saucepan is how often it turns out soggy. I learned a trick a few months back that has allowed me to make perfect, fluffy rice every time!

The trick is simple: as soon as your rice is done cooking, remove it from the hot burner and place a folded dish towel beneath the lid. Leave it there until you have all the food on the table and are ready to serve.

The dishtowel will absorb the excess steam and leave you with light, fluffy rice! It's easy, it's free, and it Works For Me!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tasty Tuesday: Warm Lentil and Barley Soup

It's soup weather, and Dan and I recently enjoyed one of my personal favorites.

I made this soup for the first time when I worked at David's Bridal. In the midst of the crazy fast-paced world that is the bridal business, I spent my half-hour lunches sipping this soup all week and reading In Praise of Slowness.

Those breaks were like a mini vacation to look forward to each day. A perfect way to shed the stress. Since it takes a little more time to make than some of my other recipes, and it's flavor is simultaneously simple and complex (is that possible?), the soup and the book go together like seafood and white wine.

So here's what you'll need:

That's olive oil, an onion, two carrots, a cup of lentils, 12 cups of chicken broth (or, in this case, 12 cups of water and 4 tablespoons of bullion), a can of kidney beans, a can of white beans, a can of black beans (I cook my own and freeze them - if you do the same, you need 1 1/2 cups), a can of diced tomatoes, a tablespoon each of basil and cumin, 1/2 a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and a few sprigs of parsley, or, if you're like me and forgot to buy fresh parsley, about 2 teaspoons of dried parsley.

Start by putting a very large pot on the stove (I use a Dutch oven - this makes a lot of soup!) and heating about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Meanwhile, chop the onion.

Add the onion to the pot and saute it until translucent - probably around 5 minutes? Meanwhile, boil 2 cups of water in a small pot.

Add the lentils and four cups of the broth/water and bullion.

Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Add the barley to the boiling water and cook it for 20 minutes as well.

Meanwhile, chop the carrots.

When the lentils are done cooking, add the carrot, cover, and simmer for 10 more minutes.

While that's cooking, drain the black beans and the white beans. Put HALF of them in a blender or food processor and puree them. I use a baby food processor, because it is very easy to use and clean up.

When the 10 minutes are up, add the pureed beans and the whole black and white beans to the pot.

Drain the kidney beans and the barley and add them, too.

Finally, add the tomatoes, herbs, and spices.

Simmer, uncovered, for 30 more minutes.

Don't even think about serving this without some very hearty bread! It's not filling enough to be a stand-alone dinner...

MMMMMM! Enjoy!

Want to print it? Copy and paste this:

Warm Lentil and Barley Soup


1 large onion

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup lentils

1/3 cup pearl barley

12 cups quarts chicken broth

2 carrots

1 can black beans

1 can white beans

1 can kidney beans

1 can diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon basil

1 tablespoon cumin

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons parsley (dried or fresh)

Chop the onion. In a very large pot over medium heat, sauté the onion in olive oil until translucent. Meanwhile, boil 2 cups of water in another saucepan. To the onion, add the lentils and 4 cups of chicken broth, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Add the barley to the boiling water and cook until the 20 minutes is up.

While the barley and lentils are cooking, chop the carrot. Add the carrot and the rest of the broth to the lentils and simmer, covered, for 10 more minutes. While the lentils are cooking, drain and rinse the black and white beans, and puree half of them. After the 10 minutes is up, add the pureed beans, whole black and white bean, and rinsed and drained kidney beans to the pot, along with the barley (drained), tomatoes, and herbs and spices. Simmer for 30 more minutes.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

Welcome to the S____s' 1st annual online Christmas letter! We're so glad you made it!

Now you may be asking yourself: Is this some newfangled attempt to reduce waste, save trees, and defeat commercialism by forgoing conventional Christmas cards, or is it just Jenni's way of getting out of having to address 50 envelopes?

Well, I like to think of it as both. There are few things as valuable, in our modern, fast-paced lifestyle, as efficiency.

This year has been a very eventful one for our little family. So here's a brief recap:

Ariel turned 1 on February 19th.

Since then, she has become a proficient walker, talker, jumper, counter, and ABC sayer. And she makes us both laugh out loud multiple times a day.

Felicity Ann was born on August 9th. She weighed 7 lb. 5 oz. The addition has been a joy and a challenge, between the sleepless nights, dairy allergy, and complete lack of spare time that comes with having two babies that nap at different times. But she is a beautiful little girl with a killer smile, and she's been more than worth it so far!

Dan has continued to go to school full-time and work part-time. This has been a great time of self-exploration for him, as he discovers what he's good at and shapes his career path accordingly. It has also been wonderful for our family, since he is home a lot between classes and can take a very active role as a parent. He has changed more diapers this year than most men in the United States probably have, as well as done more tickling and chasing and reading aloud, and all of his ladies feel very blessed to have him in their lives.

I spent half of the year pregnant, which made it hard to really interact with and enjoy Ariel. Which is part of why I have relished the past few months so much. I feel like I'm just now discovering on a whole new level what an amazing person she is, and I absolutely adore her. The past few months have been some of the hardest and most rewarding of my life, and I am finishing this year so very, very grateful to Jesus for pulling me through the hard times and for giving me such wonderful blessings.

Well that's our year in a nutshell! Please leave a comment telling us how you're doing! And if you want to be able to see what's going on with us throughout the year, here is my blog's main page.

Merry Christmas!