February 29, 2012

Living Room Progress

This is by no means a finished room reveal. I'm happy with some of the things I've done, others I'm not sure about, and some things are still completely unfinished. Most of all, I just want some input and ideas. Please?

Do you prefer the red pillow?
Blue pillow?
Or no pillow in the middle? 
Does the couch placement seem awkward?

Do you like this painting? Or should I do something more original? If I decide to keep it, I would probably hang it on the wall next to the red chair.

I need to hang something on this wall. One large thing or a few things?
 What types of kid-friendly accessories could I put here?
 Jared thinks I should hem the curtains shorter. What do you think?

 How do I get my child to watch less Dora?

I would LOVE some opinions!

Curtains: Waverly Parterre fabric. Like this, but cotton instead of polyester.
Pillow on red chair: Braemore Conservatory fabric with teal microsuede piping.
Turquoise pillows: Waverly Lenox fabric. Like this, but a different color. Back: teal microsuede.
Suzani pillows: Richloom Cornwall Garden with red cotton piping.
Red pillow/blue pillow: I attached white ribbon to cotton broadcloth. Inspired by Caitlin Wilson.
Console: I made it in woodshop in high school. Jared recently sanded it down for me because I didn't like the stain.
Yellow chair & ottoman: Given to us by family, upholstered by me.
Red chair & couch: Ikea

February 27, 2012

Homemade Sourdough Bread

Last year, my mother-in-law gave all of her kids a sourdough starter for Christmas, along with some useful bread accessories and a complicated-looking recipe to go along with it. When she gave it to me, I thought, "This is great and all for the domestic goddess types, but me? Probably not gonna happen." She told me I had to "feed" the starter, too, which sounded like something I'd fail at.

But then she also gave us a loaf of the sourdough bread that she had made. Taste alone convinced me that the bread might be worth making. After studying the recipe thoroughly, reading and re-reading it, I decided to try it out. Turns out it's not that hard.

I've made about six or seven loaves of it now and I'm hooked. Even if you don't think you like sourdough, you should try it. Need a starter? I can share. So can every member of the Campbell family, unless they've let theirs die, which I suspect a few of us have. Oh, and keeping the starter going is not as intimidating as I originally imagined either.

Here's a good video and recipe for a no knead sourdough bread that's very similar to the one I've been making. This approach makes it pretty simple. It also mixes wheat and white flour.

I've learned that the amount of time you let it sit isn't that big of a deal. I've pretty much just done as much time as was convenient for me and it's always turned out. Also, you can add instant yeast if you want, but I've done it with and without and it's turned out exactly the same, so I don't think I'm going to add extra yeast anymore.

If you want to know the way I like to do it, here you go:

1/2 cup starter
4 cups high protein, good quality white flour (I use Lehi Roller Mills)
1 1/2-2 cups filtered, non-chlorinated water
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Put 1/2 cup of sourdough starter in a very large bowl and dissolve in 1/2 cup room temperature filtered water. Add 1 cup of flour. Stir until mixed. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 6-12 hours. During this time, the dough will double or triple in size.

Add 3 cups of flour, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 - 1 1/2 cups of room temperature filtered water to the dough in the large bowl. Use as much water as you need to form the dough into a ball. Mix until consistent. Cover and let it sit for about 4-8 hours.

Turn out dough onto floured surface. Have a long sheet of parchment paper ready. (I've tried it without and it works if you just dump the dough into the dutch oven, but I prefer using parchment paper.) Form dough into a ball and lay it on the parchment paper. I like to put the parchment paper in a large bowl to keep the dough more rounded, but you can lay it flat on a counter as well. Cover for 1-2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size. At this time, heat the oven to 475 degrees and put in a dutch oven with the lid on. It needs at least an hour to fully heat.

When the dough is ready, pick it up with the parchment paper and lower it into the dutch oven. Put the lid on and bake for 15 minutes. Then take the lid off and bake for 10 minutes more. Let it cool for about a half hour before cutting.

Thank you, Vie! I never would have tried this without you. We affectionately call this "Grandma Bread" at our house now.

February 22, 2012

A Few of My Oil Paintings

First of all, I'm no great artist, so don't judge me too harshly, but here are a few paintings I've done.

When I want something for my home, I always just figure I can do it myself. If I wanted truly great art (and if it weren't so darn expensive), I'd just buy it. But, as it is, I make do with the abilities and money I have. I did all of these paintings before I had kids, so it's been a long time since I've done anything new.

I started this last painting right before Ivy was born. I've only worked on it once since. I really want to finish it, but I'm convinced the only way is if I get a babysitter for a couple days. Unlike the subjects of the other paintings, which don't have any special meaning to me, this one will (if I finish it). It's a place in Recife, Brazil, where Jared served his LDS mission. We really hope to go there together one day, so maybe this painting could be a reminder of that goal.

Here's an inspiration photograph of Rua da Aurora
Do you think I'll ever finish it?

February 20, 2012

My Life in Pictures

Photos from the last month or so:

Dress-up at my Aunt Connie's house.

Two girls having fun. Or at least one of them was.

Trying out the Bumbo my sister Michelle mailed all the way from Wisconsin.

Just cute

Ivy's toy lineup. Yes, Pez Yoda is always included.

"Why so serious?"
Ivy reminds me of a certain villain from a recent movie
whenever she eats jam on toast.

I found this recorder in our car and had to ask why.
Jared replied that he planned on practicing it while he drove to work.
So if you see a man playing a recorder while driving, it's my husband.

Getting bundled up to brave the cold.

Maren's smiles keep getting better.

Here's another.

And another.

February 16, 2012

Struggles of Mobility

I know, I know. Rolling over is probably the most overrated baby milestone ever. But hey, the video has Guster music at least, so give it a chance.

February 14, 2012

Why I Love My Husband

Valentine's Day marks the anniversary of our first date. It's been seven years now. Over time, I've discovered more and more to love about Jared. Here are some of the things I love most, in no particular order:

-He has never given me any reason to doubt that he completely loves me. Pretty much from the time we met, I haven't questioned his sincerity. In fact, the whole two years we dated (not exclusively), he only went on two dates--and both were set up by someone else. Once he met me, he knew he wanted to be with me. That gives me an incredible sense of security.

-He is good, kind, and forgiving. Of all traits that matter to me, being truly good is at the top of my list. And Jared is truly good. He doesn't hate anybody and he doesn't like to gossip. He just naturally wants to do what he believes is right. He always forgives. I can't say he gets over things as quickly as I do (mostly because I get over things almost too quickly), but he probably forgives more completely than I do.

-He is extraordinarily patient. I know he would never react in anger and do anything he regrets. He was very patient with me when we were dating and I didn't know what I wanted. He gave me the time to just figure it out and decide without pressure. I know that his patience is what allowed our relationship to work out. If he had pressured me into marriage before I was ready, or given up on waiting for me, I don't think I would have married him at all.

-He is consistent and dependable. This is very important for me because I tend to be consistently inconsistent. My Grandma Ricks, who died last autumn, always called him "the Rock of Gibraltar," telling me how lucky I was that I found someone who was so stable and would surely be there forever. Everything in the world could change, but Jared would still be reliable. He works hard, gets up early, exercises every day, and fulfills his responsibility. I, on the other hand, hate getting up early, have pretty much given up on exercising, and can be a bit flaky, unfortunately. See how much I need him?

-He is smart, but even more importantly, he is wise. Jared is always developing new skills and abilities, and I appreciate that. But it's his seemingly infallible wisdom that I so admire. Since we were dating, I've always said that Jared and I agree on almost all the important things, and if we disagree, he's the one who's probably right. I still think it. There are issues I sometimes struggle with, but Jared always seems to have something wise to say to help me know what's right.

-He keeps everything clean. I don't just mean that he doesn't make messes. One of Jared's many reliable traits is that you cannot leave him alone in the house for an hour without coming home to a spotless, sanitized, dusted, vacuumed, bed made, dishes done, laundry folded home. It's kind of like magic, actually. Sometimes I think he should be the stay-at-home parent; I don't have his cleaning stamina. Along with this trait comes perfect hygiene. I've never even smelled body odor on Jared in the seven years I've known him. Basically, he defies all man stereotypes.

-I have a good time with him. From the first time we met, our personalities clicked. We talked about everything and had great conversations. We still have valuable meaningful conversations (when we manage to get the kids to bed before we're dead tired, at least). He makes me laugh, and I love the way he appears to get great satisfaction from getting a good laugh out of me. He laughs at me too, which helped win me over on our first date. He treats me like I'm smart, and he doesn't think he has to be smarter than me. When we were dating and I went out with other guys, I went straight to him afterwards because the other dates were just never as fun as being with him.

-He really believes what he professes to believe. As members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, our beliefs are very important to us. I don't wonder if Jared believes because he always lives in accordance to his beliefs. Being married to someone who doesn't share these beliefs would seriously impact my happiness. I plan on being with him forever, so I'm indescribably grateful that he wants this too.

-He is a wonderful father. Ivy adores him and looks forward excitedly to the moment he gets home each day. As I said before, he is patient, patient, patient. I can't think of a more helpful trait when it comes to parenting. He doesn't care if we have all girls. He loves them to pieces and wishes he could be with them all the time.

Can I possibly complain?
Thank you, Jared!

February 7, 2012

Bookshelf to Bookbench Transformation

I love Ikea hacks. There are so many simple cheap pieces of furniture that are perfect for transforming into something unique. I had a small white Billy bookshelf that I wanted to put in Ivy's room, but I really didn't want her climbing it, pulling the shelves out, or tipping it over.

I thought if I could just turn it on its side, it would be perfect. But there was the problem with it being asymmetrical that bugged me.

So, I went to Home Depot and got some pieces of moulding. Then I glued them on with wood glue and clamps. I glued the shelves in so they wouldn't tip over or get pulled out. I also put wood putty in the peg holes for the shelves.

Then I painted the moulding pieces.

It needed something more in order to really look like a reading bench. When I bought the fabric for the crib bedding I made, I bought some extra of this pink suzani print. I had just the right amount left for a cushion (just under a yard).

I used some Walmart foam, put a zipper in the back so it's removable, sewed some velcro to the bottom and hot-glued some to the bench so it would stay put. (Update: the hot glue didn't hold to the laminate finish, so I put some white upholstery tacks into the velcro to hold it down. NOW it doesn't move)

We love reading together. Books are some of Ivy's absolute favorite things. I like that the books are accessible, which means she can go grab one to read any time, but safe. It's also a fun place for her to sit and look out the window.

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