This morning I put up some tomato soup for winter. It smells so good! There is nothing better than homemade bread and tomato soup on a cold day. My recipe is very simple and completely wrong (according to all of the online recipes) but my family LOVES this quick and easy soup. The best part is that everything comes straight out of our garden, that makes mama happy. :)
10 ripe tomatoes
2 bell pepper
4-5 leaves fresh basil
1-2 small sprigs of fresh rosemary
2-3 cloves of garlic
tbs sugar (optional)
pepper to taste
Cover the bottom of the pot in a thin coat of olive oil. Cut the tomatoes, I just cut off the top and bottom and then cube them and throw them in the pot. Cube the bell pepper and add them in. Tear the basil and rosemary leaves and throw them in. Crush the garlic cloves and add in. Add in salt, sugar, and pepper. Cook on medium until you see bubbles, then simmer for an hour or two stirring occasionally. When it's done cooking let it cool for 30 minutes or so and then run it through the blender or food processor on puree. Now this is the part that is considered wrong, from there I just put it in freezer bags (once it's cool) and pop it in the freezer, but a lot of folks strain out the seeds and skins. I like the "pulp" texture of having the seeds and skin, so I don't worry with that. I'm an outlaw, I know. :)
When I pull tomato soup out of the freezer I sometimes add a sauted onion, sometimes I add cheddar cheese, sometimes I just pull it out as it is and eat it with whole wheat crackers, and sometimes I dip grilled cheese in it. It's good no matter what you do!
Now, I'm going to drink a cup of tomato soup for a snack. I hope you enjoy this recipe! xo, Sam
We had NO idea when Ben was planning the triple bunk beds for our children that so many others had the same problem! We have had hundreds of emails about those beds. It's so exciting to think that we could help other big families work out these same issues. We have been teasing Ben about being famous for his handy work, but today I think he really made it! His design was featured on Apartment Therapy today! What?!
So, I have already shared what awesome forts can be made out of his bed design, and you know how cool they look just as beds, but today I want to show you one more reason I think Ben is a genious....
...the pack-n-play fits perfectly into the bottom bed space! My little Claire is not quite ready to sleep in a big girl bed, and this one just took up so much floor space in the girl's room, so yesterday Ben just stuck it in there and it fit! Now when she is ready for a big girl bed she will already be used to her little cubby. :) xo, Sam
PS I didn't want anyone to worry, there is NOT a mattress under her pack-n-play. It's just a blanket under there to cover the ugly plywood. The girls didn't like that showing. :)
This is what we call hillbilly candy! All of the reds are gone before they make it to the house, and the greens get put in the kitchen window for later snacking. In our first years of gardening we couldn't figure out why, with all of those tiny-tomato plants (that's what the kids call them), we never seemed to have any in the house for omelets or salads?? We finally realized that they never actually made it through the door! So the last few years Ben has been planting enough tiny-tomatoes for us to snack and cook with. Smart man. :) They also like to snack on the green beans (raw) and cucumbers. We should name all of our hillbilly candy...green beans could be belly beans, the tiny-tomatoes could be....OK, so I'm no good at this! xo, Sam
Yes, it's true, we have more Caffee's on the way. I know that many of you remember Cristina and Daniel, who had little Zoe just hours after the devastating tornado last year, well they have another little girl on the way! Yes, all of the Caffee girls were pregnant together again this time. Who knew that I would get to be in this group again?! So now that little Levi is here and has his gift, it's time to knit for our new girly coming next. Cristina loves ruffles, pretty colors, and lace so the picture above was my vision for this little cardigan.
I'm using the In Threes pattern that I used for a cardi last year (for Claire). I changed it up a bit to make it a little more dressy/heirloom. Instead of the garter stitch rows that the pattern calls for, I knit those in 1x1 rib. I love the way it looks so far! (You can see all of the details of my pattern modifications HERE) This pattern is a super fast top down knit, with only two ends to weave in! I think I may have to sew up a frilly heirloom dress to go with this when I'm done. A soft pink with pretty lace or netting?? Hmmm...
The mix of heirloom sewing and heirloom-ish knitting is really making me happy right now! And dreaming it all up, with a new sweet babe in mind, is so much fun! *Love* xo, Sam
My precious nephew made his appearance in the middle of the night last night. He weighed in at 8 Lbs and 6 oz. He has an enchanting set of dimples that I just wanted to look at for hours. I love him. And I love the way it feels to fall in love at first sight. When I made it home around 3AM I couldn't even sleep! I was just too excited! I know I say it every time, but it never gets old, I adore being his aunt!
I will be starting my new if-it's-a-girl-blanket today. This blanket will have several colors so I decided to plan a little before diving in. First, I pulled out a basket for each side of my chair. I usually knit out of bags, but I thought this project will work much better out of a basket. I plan on doing a striping pattern like this...
..so I made myself a little color guide so that I don't get confused.
And last I made yarn-ball-socks to hopefully decrease the amount of tangles that comes with working with several skeins at once. These "socks" were a pair of well loved tights in another life. Now that they don't fit any of the girls, and they are obviously worn out and dingy, they will make nice little homes for my yarn.This was all very fast and easy prep work, but I think it will save me a lot of headache. It feels good to be prepared (sometimes). Now it's time to knit! This is another free and EASY pattern if anyone else wants to cast on a stash busting blanket. You can see all of the details here on my public Ravelry page. xo, Sam
Yesterday while I listened to "The Maid of Fairbourne Hall" I started knitting the last color on this blanket.
This morning Claire and I were at home alone (Claire was recovering from a little fever virus) while the rest of the family was at church. Just after she fell asleep for her nap, I grabbed my knitting bag, knit the last few rows, and bound off. I am very happy with the color, texture, and weight of this blanket!! I love it!
As I walked out into the 90-something degree heat to take these pictures, I tried to imagine the places that this blanket may visit later this fall after our wee one gets here.... the grass, the wooden bench in the front yard, the creek rock. Now won't that be nice? The mild, fall weather AND a wee babe? That just sounds perfect. :) xo, Sam
I finished my nephew Levi's sweater. :) Our little Levi should be here any day now, and even though I didn't have to have this done until winter, I finished it! I felt like I had too many projects hanging over my head. Do you ever feel that way? Now I have a little ways to go on my boy blanket and then I'm starting a NEW girl blanket. Yeah, I changed my mind about the girl blanket. SO back to this little sweater... I knit this up in beautiful Spud and Chloe yarn. This was my first time ever using this yarn and I really did like it. All of the details can be found HERE on Ravelry (including a link to the free pattern!). Ahhh...finished projects sure do make a girl feel productive. :) xo, Sam
I'm knitting for my little nephew Levi (who should be here any day now!), and sipping coffee, while the kids look for enough roly- polys to have a respectable race. By the way, I have been told that they just discovered a new kind of beetle that they have never seen in these parts before. The race has now been abandoned. They may have discovered a new species, so several have been collected for further research. Thought you'd like to know. ;) xo, Sam
PS I'm posting from my iPhone sitting here in my rocking chair! There is a new posting app for blogger! Who knew?!
My kids are CRAZY! When Molly came into the living room to show me this little stunt I almost wet my britches laughing! I laughed so hard I cried! I thought it may give you a good laugh too. :) xo, Sam
PS If anyone has ever questioned the integrity of the Baby Bjorn carriers, rest easy! This is a 38 pounder right here! Hehehe!
I'm needing a lot more sit down time lately, I can still be active for about half the day, but if I do more than that I pay for it at night. I think of it like this, I have a certain amount of steps everyday, and I just have to spend them wisely. :) I'm fighting for 37 weeks this time friends! I want to be able to say that I carried at leastone child full term. And just one pregnancy without Mag Sulfate or a Brethine pump would be nice too, but I'm not going to push it, I will do whatever I have to just to make it to 37 weeks. So with the extra sit down time comes extra knitting! No big deal! With this extra knitting time everyday I am over half way finished with my boy blanket. Woot woot! I love it, it's so soft and pretty. I'm thinking about knitting a girl one like this now too....maybe. It's not too late to change my mind and frog the other one. I'll have to think on that. :) xo, Sam
PS. I have wanted to tell you guys this for a while but I keep forgetting, go here scroll down to "Like Arrows" (it's the third one down on the right) and listen. I promise your heart will be blessed! I've been knitting, praying for this baby, and listening to this sweet song for days and it blesses me every time! For some reason it doesn't play on my laptop but it plays on my iPhone. I hope it works for you guys! Tell me what you think!
I started the boy blanket a couple of days ago and it's going fast! I realized that the girl blanket wasn't holding my attention, it just seemed like it would take sooooo long, so for this one I chose a fast pattern and chunky yarn. It's Berroco Vintage Chunky, and it is knitting into the softest squishiest fabric! My goal for today is one whole color, I think I can. :) You can see my Ravelry notes HERE. I was thinking that if this little one decides to be a girl I could put a plum colored border around the edge. I love this blanket. :)
The girl blanket has been started! You can see my Ravelry notes and pattern details HERE. I bought the yarn for the boy blanket today after our trip to the doctor. Baby Caffee is doing just fine, and the heart rate today was 148, which has the boys in the house cheering for the boy team! So far all of my girls have been in the 160-180 range, and Tim was in the 140-150 range. Tim made it clear that he would REALLY like to have a brother, but that he will still be happy if this baby is a girl. :) I love him, and I hope that he gets to see how it feels to be a brother VERY soon! xo, Sam
I'm really just starting to see a few of the kinks that comes along with having older children and a babe. For instance, when I'm trying to train the little one, the older ones are just coming behind me spoiling her ROTTEN! When she gets a "no no" from mama she runs to them to get coddled. I've been calling them "brat-makers". They like the name and are really quite proud of it. :) What's so funny about the whole thing is that even more than I dislike it, even in those moments that it seems so counterproductive, I absolutely love to see that bond between them....and I secretly think "Yes sweet babe, you run to them and feel better, they will be in your corner for the rest of your life." So what are the secret, behind the scenes, family politics working in your home? xo, Sam
Today I'm going to tell you a story. It may be rather long by the time I'm done (grab a cup of coffee), and maybe even a bit heavy for some, but it's a story I must tell.
First I'll tell you why, after five years of blogging here, I just now wanted to tell this. To be honest I didn't really remember it, well not in the way I remember it now, until very recently. A few weeks ago I began to put together a plan/program to help children going into foster care -I'll tell you all about that later when I have it all settled exactly what we will be doing. I had been praying about how I would present this to our church and possibly other churches to get help and support. I began to ask myself why in the world I would even consider talking to a group of people about this when I can't even talk to a stranger one on one without turning blood red. Why, I, the shyest person in America, would consider for one SECOND being the front-man for ANYTHING? Then I realized, it was because I have a passion for this, these little souls, "the least of these", "the fatherless", that I don't have for anything else. So I began to ask "Where did this come from?" "When did this start?" and one night on the way home from church a vivid memory came flooding into my mind. Right then I knew that this was the ONE moment that set my life on a different course. From that moment on I made decisions differently. It wasn't a drastic turn around, but rather a point in which the trajectory of my entire life changed. It was a moment made just for me, a divine appointment of sorts, that happened where most divine appointments happen, in the most unlikely place.
When I was a senior in high school I took a sign language class. To be perfectly honest it was mainly a way to get out of taking a foreign language, not so much an overwhelming need to talk to the hearing impaired. As you might imagine by the end of this class I was really interested in working more with the hearing impaired, specifically children. When I graduated a few months later I decided to jump right in, so I drove to the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind located in Talladega. I heard that they did a summer camp there for hearing impaired children and I begged the man over the camp to let me come. Yes, I begged. He gave in and gave me a room in a dorm full of little girls. I was to start in a couple of weeks. I was so excited! I had all of these "noble" plans to go and help these "poor little deaf children". I would have all these great memories to tell my kids about how "compassionate" I was as a teen, and how instead of going to drinking parties and all of those things, that I was sure "normal" teenagers did, "your kind hearted mother was teaching the unfortunate little children".
So a number of rude awakenings came shortly after arriving when I realized that 1)I wasn't near as good at sign language as I thought I was, 2) all of "the poor little deaf children" that I met weren't poor little children at all, they were normal, LOUD, running, playing, children didn't give a flip if they could hear ME or not, 3)they were the ones that felt sorry for ME when I was obviously the only "poor little hearing girl" that was the slowest communicator in the country. My bubble had been properly busted! But if there is one thing I can now say about my 18 year old self, although I was terribly disillusioned about a lot of things, I didn't EVER give up. I decided to stay and I set my mind to let these children teach me.
My first lesson came shortly after unpacking. This was my moment, my divine appointment, and it was heartbreaking. A lady that was sent to show me the ropes took me to the pool, where my girls were, and instructed me to make sure they all get out, get dressed, and get to lunch on time. I set to work doing my best to communicate and round everyone up. When they were all almost ready a little girl came to tell me (very patiently, I might add, because remember they were teaching me) that there was one little girl that needed help in the back shower. I walked back there and was shocked to find a little brown lump curled up in the corner of the shower. I nearly dissolved into tears right there, but I had this surge of I don't know what brace me and give me the strength to help instead of cry. I took her little body and washed her off, she was much too weak to stand or even sign. I dressed her and I carried her back to the dorm along with all of my other girls. I thought that she must be about five or six years old and I wondered what must be wrong with her. While the other girls were at lunch I took her to a lady over me and, very concerned, asked what was wrong. I didn't know if she was disabled or sick?? I was informed that this particular little girl had just arrived that morning. She was severely dehydrated when they picked her up from her foster home, but her foster mom insisted that they take her anyhow and just give her Gatorade. By the time she was done swimming she had just completely run out of energy. I asked why I didn't recognize any of her signs and was told "Well, she doesn't really use American or English sign language, she mostly uses her own signs. She goes to a school that doesn't really have a program for deaf children, and her foster mom doesn't use sign language either." My heart dropped. I came from a home where my parents would have moved heaven and earth to communicate with me if I had been unable, and this sweet child had not one person willing to hear what she had to say. This was the moment that a feeling took over me, an overwhelming urge to protect this child to the best of my ability, to hear what this child had to say NO MATTER WHAT. I now recognize this feeling as what I can only call my "mama bear instinct". I wanted to mother this child. I found out that her name was Stephanie and that she was nine years old. She couldn't read or write and she wasn't fluent in sign language (as most of the children her age was).
(Stephanie and my sis Rae, at Rae's Missionette Ceremony)
For the rest of camp Stephanie was glued to me, and on the last day we cried that we had to be separated. I got her foster mom's name and number from her social worker and she left. During the week I taught her to write "I Love you", her name and my name. Just before she left she handed me a note that said "I love you Sam" in a five year old hand. I couldn't let her go. I had to make sure that she knew that somebody believed in her. The next week I talked to her foster mom on the phone and she told me that I was welcome to come and get her anytime I want. "What? I'm only 18 you know?" She lived two hours away, the very next week I headed to Montgomery and got my little girl. Her foster mom seemed very kind, but she was an older lady who "couldn't learn new things like sign language". Stephanie would come and stay with me for a week at a time until one day I called and she wasn't there anymore. Her foster mom couldn't tell me where she had been taken to, so just as fast as Stephanie had came into my life she vanished.
I'm sure that Stephanie is all grown up now and she has no idea how she changed my life FOREVER. You see, in that moment I discovered that it wasn't "needy children" that I was called to help. It wasn't just this blanket group of abandoned children, but more like the souls of individual children like Stephanie. I wanted to help, and be helped by, children like her that just needed someone to believe in them. A lot of people looked at her as "broken" but I could see how her little eyes lit up when there was someone there willing to care for her, protect her, and speak for her. And surprisingly, that's what she did for me too. She lit me up! She helped me more than I could ever have helped her! She taught me more about who I was, as this cocky teenager who set out to save the masses, than I could have ever learned in any other situation. She brought forth emotions, passion, mama bear instincts, and pure LOVE that I never knew I possessed before. This sweet little girl who wasn't the right color for me, or whole in the worlds eyes, this abandoned "poor little deaf child" gave me RICHES! God used her to show me what my life's passion was going to be, children, the biological ones, the adopted ones, the broken ones, the not the same color ones, the abandoned ones, the ones that barely made it, and the ones that didn't make it.
That's my story. That's where my passion started, it's the fire inside my heart, and it's why I truly believe that every child is a blessing. People have asked before as we were struggling through miscarriage after miscarriage and through this long drawn out adoption process "Why do you keep trying? Don't you just want to give up? Wouldn't that be easier?" and my answer was always "I want all of them, I want all of the children that God has planned for me, no matter how they get here." Because you know who would miss out if I don't fight for them? Me. And now, even that doesn't seem like enough. Now, I want to help the ones that I can't keep too. I want to somehow touch the lives of children who need love, even if for brief moment, like Stephanie touched mine. xo, Sam
Today is our first official day of no school! Woot woot!!! I think mama is just as happy as they are! And on our first official day of no school, God gave us this perfect, rainy, dreary day to stay inside and watch cartoons/movies. That may sound like no fun to you, but for us it means that summer is really here. You see it's a House Rule during the school year that there is no TV Monday through Thursday in the Caffee house, so this just sweetens the deal! They were all out until after dark last night picking blackberries, and we were making cobbler at 9PM. Tim is eating some for breakfast right now. :) Summer memories have already been made!
Molly took advantage of this first day by sleeping in until 10:00, and then getting up for some toons on Netflix. I'm pretty pumped about my free day too! I think I will knit, listen to an audio book, crunch ice (of course), and take a nap with the babe today. Ahhhhh! Summer is finally here! xo, Sam
PS. Ben and I love all of the name suggestions!!! We have a few more names added to the list, thank you!
(Claire Louise at just a few days old in an unsmocked Miss Violet gown.)
Ben and I have been playing the name game for the last few months, we still have a boy name ready (Silas Franklin), but our girl names have been used up! We can't seem to agree on anything. If he loves it I like it, if I love it he likes it. We need a name that we both LOVE! We both tend to like old fashioned or little old lady names but we haven't found THE ONE. I like Penny (short for Penelope) and Fern, and he likes Beatrice (Bea for short). So do you guys have any suggestions? What's your grandmothers name? Or your great grandmothers name? We need some help here! xo, Sam
PS. We have never found out what we are having, so that's why we have to have both names ready. :)