Thursday, July 30, 2009


This is the kitchen sink in the soon-to-be-ours house. Cosmetically, it looks just fine. I can get over the fact that it isn't stainless steel. But there are two things about it that really bother me:

1. Situated against the end of the counter, it has no counter space to the left.

2. The left-hand side of the sink (the one with the garbage disposal) is really small.

I have to rethink the way I use my kitchen sink now. In our apartment, I prefer to have dirty dishes (that can't go in the dishwasher) stacked to the left of the sink. I don't like putting them in the sink unless they need a soak. But if I put them to the right of the sink, where will I put the dish drainer? Can it sit on the top counter ledge without falling off?

And how will I do dishes? Currently, I wash in one side and rinse in the other. But that small side doesn't look like it will accommodate the rinsing of large dishes. My mom suggested washing in the big sink by starting with just a little soapy water and rinsing over it to increase the water. I'm afraid I still won't have enough space to rinse big pots and such. Maybe I could use the sprayer (lift the spigot) and rinse from a greater height to accommodate large items.

Finally, what good is that little side with the disposal? What can I do in it besides rinse off food gunk into the disposal?

I'm open to any and all ideas, especially from anyone who has worked with a sink like this. Thanks!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fun feet and colored shapes

Teresa has been playing with both of her feet for over a week now; her right hand is much better at grasping her right toes but her left hand skills are improving. Alas, she may have inherited her mother's lack of flexibility - the feet haven't made it up to her mouth (yet).

A set of colored shapes I got at a thrift store has also been helping Teresa develop her ability to manipulate objects. Although this video only shows a second of her loudly banging the shapes together (something she loves to do), it does let you see how she is already able to pick them up between her thumb and forefinger.

Teresa has silly parents

I just wanted you to see how well Teresa sits by herself and maybe catch her flapping her arms in front of her the way she does so often these days. But David made this a funny video...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Seeking input: Washer & Dryer

Appliances are at the top of the list of things we will need for our new home, specifically a refrigerator, a washer, and a dryer. We are prepared to spend the bulk of our small "moving in" budget on these parents are strong advocates of "buy once, buy right" when it comes to appliances. The Maytag washer and dryer they bought for their first home lasted 25 years (washer) and 30+ years (the dryer is sitting in the garage at their river house, ready to quick-dry wet winterwear). I've been told they don't make them like the used to, but I'd really like to purchase appliances that are going to last us a long, long time...and perform their functions efficiently. I'm a big fan of high efficiency appliances that save resources (such as water) and energy (and therefore money).

In this post I am requesting any an all advice about washers and dryers, especially if you've acquired some recently and are familiar with current options. Here are some of the questions running through my mind:

  • I think that Maytag and Whirlpool are good brands - am I right? What other brands are trustworthy? Kenmore, Frigidaire, LG?
  • Are the high efficiency models worth it? Do they clean and dry well? How about with cloth diapers?
  • Have you dealt with incomplete draining and/or mold growth in a front-loader?
  • If I go with front-loading HE models, do I need to buy the pedestals as well? What do you use those drawers for?
  • I am considering shopping for appliances at a local Sears Outlet store, where "cosmetically flawed" units are discounted. I don't mind a scratch or ding if it saves us money. Have you ever made a purchase at a store like that?
Please share your experiences and ideas with me via the comments, email, or Facebook message. Thanks!

Photo credit: chris.corwin

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"You have served my purposes, Bear...

...and now I toss you away!"

Friday, July 10, 2009

We're buying a house!

We accepted the sellers' counteroffer yesterday and signed the contract papers last night. Today our mortgage loan was approved at the fabulous rate of 4.5%. We're scheduling the inspection for next week and getting other ducks in a row. What an exciting time!

Here's a picture of the backyard through the screen door:

The deck canopy and wooden playset are staying. The yard is flat and well fenced, and there's plenty of sun so I can grow a garden. What a blessing!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Brusha brusha

When I went to the dentist's office to have my teeth cleaned a few weeks ago, I took Teresa with me (David was working that day). I nursed her right before I went in and she played in her car seat for a while. When she started fussing the dental hygienist recommended I cross one of my legs over my other knee and hold Teresa in the pocket while the cleaning continued. It worked! Teresa was fascinated by the whirring equipment.

While we waited for the dentist to arrive and make his inspection, the dental hygienist gave Teresa a baby toothbrush with a fat, rubbery handle. She recommended I allow Teresa to play with the toothbrush even before she gets teeth to help her get used to it. Teresa took to it right away. Because the brush end is small, I have to supervise her closely to make sure she doesn't choke on it. She enjoys chewing on both ends, and I'm impressed by her coordination!

PS The dentist gave me another clean bill of (dental) health - no cavities, yay!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Third time's a charm?

Today David and I made an offer on a house. This is the third time we've completed offer paperwork since we started house hunting almost 2 and a half months ago. We never expected how time-consuming and energy-draining this process would be, nor did we realize how much we had to learn about real estate markets, home purchase financing, and so much more. But we've taken in stride some tough lessons, difficult decisions, and frustrating delays and now we're really, really, really hoping everything will go through for us to purchase this house. We feel great peace about it.

We're going to wait to share any details about the house and its location until things are more settled. But I wanted to post this news quickly and thank everyone for their prayers and understanding as we've searched for a home for our little family. We've let all sorts of things (including relationships) take a back seat during this time, so we're looking forward to getting back on track and picking up the slack soon (how's that for mixing idioms?).

Your support and continued prayers are greatly appreciated. God's will be done!

Monday, July 6, 2009

An unexpected Facebook friend

This morning I had an email informing me that someone had requested me as a friend on Facebook. Someone with the same last name as the Filipino boy I sponsor through CFCA . . . someone who looks a lot like Manuelito, too. Could it be? A message from the person confirmed it: my dear sponsee found me on Facebook. How's that for modern technology?

I shouldn't be too surprised, since Manuelito indicated in a recent letter that he's interested in studying computer technology at college (go him!). Apparently he goes by a different first name on Facebook - I sent him a message to get to the bottom of that. I can't understand most of what he and his friends have written to one another via Facebook since it's in Tagalog. But it's so good to see his pictures and know that he is mastering the tools available to him so that he can get a good job, be a blessing to his parents and younger siblings, and - hopefully - prepare to support a family of his own.

This unexpected event reminds me that my Facebook profile/presence should always be a witness of Christian virtue...I must be mindful of everything I share and what impression it might make on my friends (near and FAR) who see it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dairy-free, soy-free treats

I have a sweet tooth. I love desserts, especially chocolate ones. Since I've had to forgo foods containing dairy and soy for Teresa's sake, I've discovered just how prevalent those ingredients are, especially in boxed mixes. So many desserts - even those made from scratch - contain dairy...I challenge anyone to find a restaurant that serves a dairy-free dessert. Thankfully, I've found a few sweet treats that I can enjoy these days:

1. Enjoy Life chocolate bars

My friend Jennifer found these at Whole Foods: dairy-free, soy-free, and nut-free chocolate bars. She got me two different flavors: dark and rice milk. Both are excellent!! I've tried 2 other dairy-free, soy-free dark chocolate bars (by Dagoba and Green & Black's - both organic) and both were very bitter. But Enjoy Life's is not. Yum yum!

2. Purely Decadent "ice cream" made with coconut milk

During my mom's recent visit she treated me to a pint from Harris Teeter. I got the chocolate flavor and it was absolutely delicious. I like coconut milk in recipes, so the flavor in my "ice cream" doesn't bother me at all.

3. Made from scratch chocolate cake

I have a recipe clipped from an old magazine that doesn't call for dairy or eggs. It's so easy to put together and the results are moist and delicious. David spreads frosting on his pieces, but I don't think it's necessary. Here's the recipe:

Cinnamon-Chocolate Cake (12 servings)

2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
6 T cocoa powder
2 t cinnamon
2 t baking soda
3/4 cup oil
2 T white vinegar
2 t vanilla
2 cups water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Stir in oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water until well-blended. Frances tip: Grease a 13 x 9" baking pan with the excess oil from your measuring cup. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 25-30 minutes until cake pulls away from side of pan. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar.


In putting together this post, I discovered that Enjoy Life also makes chocolate chips, so I may have to purchase a bag to try in our pancakes (made with rice milk). I've missed chocolate chip pancakes!! Now the only thing I need is to find a decent dairy-free brownie recipe. I've tried a couple and they weren't any good at all.