My Perfect Mother’s Day Menu

So Mother’s Day is a whopping 2 days away, and other than a family BBQ in the afternoon (no different than any other Sunday, really), we have no plans. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Why? Because I’m in charge, of course, and it’s been the last thing on my mind. I plan my birthdays and those of everyone else in this household, so I shouldn’t be surprised — but I’m drawing a blank. I have no idea what I want to do, although I could list upwards of 10 things I don’t want to do, like laundry, dishes, nap time, and bath time.


The Farmhouse Table Restoration

Sometime soon, I’ll write about the Kitchen renovation that drove the need for this table. For now, I’ll stick to the table. The kitchen table is the center of the family home. Especially in our house with 3 boys. Our oldest builds bridges, tree houses, clubhouses, and other stuff with his mega blocks on the table so his brothers can’t get to it.

The twins (turn 1 this month) spit out all their baby food on the table and surrounding area, and my wife and I share peaceful and romantic date-night-home dinners there…every few years :). The kitchen table we had was great. It was passed down from my grandparents to my parents and then to me. I re-finished the table and chairs the summer before our wedding, and it’s been at the center of our home ever since.

The table could last us for years to come, but I’ve always had this dream of sitting down to dinner with my whole family around a table that I built with my bare hands.

Fortunately, my wife is supportive and loves what I do so she commissioned me to build us a “new” table. We wanted a table that was warm and inviting, and sturdy enough to hold up well to years of abuse from dogs and 3 boys (4 if you count me).

I had my eyes set on a reclaimed barn wood table. I saw them in magazines, on Pinterest, and everywhere else. But, I had one problem: where I am going to get barn wood? I don’t have a barn in my backyard, no one in my family owns one, and most people that have it either won’t trade it or are happy to sell it to you for $5-$10 a board foot ($500+ just for the table materials). I kept looking though, and one day it showed up.

A 550 board foot stash of 80-year-old lumber. Rough cut Oak and Birch found in the loft of a Wisconsin barn, have never been used. I had no idea what I was going to do with all this lumber but I knew I wouldn’t find a deal like this again soon so I went for it. The guy was very nice and even delivered it to my house. So there I was sitting in my garage, literally half full of dirty, weathered lumber grinning from ear to ear. I already had 3D plans done using Sketchup so I got to work.

My design centered around a strong desire to build a table with no metal fasteners. That seemed like the manly way to go. It didn’t take long for me to realize how different it is working with 80-year-old Oak compared to hardware store oak.

Every cut with the saw was slow. After the first joint was complete, I gave up on the table saw and switched to my trusty circular saw. The entire table base was made using a hammer, a $5 chisel, a circular saw (used the table saw a few times), wood glue, and oak dowels…oh, and lots of grunting, sweat, sawdust, and sandpaper. Three days in, the table base was assembled. I was leave sanding for last…it’s messy and not nearly as fun as construction.

I had this crazy idea that I wanted the base to be rustic, full of character, and then contrasted with a beautiful tabletop sanded smooth and a high gloss finish. So I headed over to a friend’s shop to run 8 boards through his jointer and planer. 3 hours later I was down to 5 boards, none more than 3/4 thick, and most looked like….well, oak. 2 boards were stunning, but not enough to build a tabletop.

Now what? I spent two weeks considering various options: I didn’t want to bother my friend again, all the remaining rough boards were of various thicknesses and not exactly straight, and I was running out of time. I decided that I would build a “temporary” tabletop until I could afford the power tools necessary to do it “right”.

I picked 6 boards, laid them out, and joined them with pocket screws. I then spent 6 hours (3 separate days) sanding and HAND PLANING (never used one before this) getting the top of all the boards level and smooth. I rested the top on the table base and I fell in love. It was stunning. It wasn’t perfect, and I think that’s why I love it so much.

Throughout the entire build, I was reading about St. Joseph. He, too, was a carpenter, and as I worked I the table I felt connected to him. There is something spiritual about taking the remains of an oak tree God created over 100 years ago and turning it into something equally beautiful that serves a completely different purpose. God gave me the skills of a carpenter, and I hope that, through Him, I can bring Him glory in what I create.

Food review Life Recipe

A Great Sauerkraut

With St. Patricks Day around the corner, I thought I’d share with you an awesome Sauerkraut my husband discovered. It’s very delicious and yes, a bit more expensive, but ever so worth it.


International Women’s Day

So today is International Women’s Day. It is celebrated all over the world and has been observed since the early 1900′s. There have been many struggles and achievements reached by all different women in our past. Clara Zetkin, who was a leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, came up with the idea of an International Women’s Day. In 1910, she proposed that every year there should be a celebration on the same day in every country to press for women’s demands. This idea sprung from the oppression and inequality women were feeling in the early 1900′s because of hours they worked, the pay they received, and voting rights.


How to Heal and Prevent Ingrown Hairs

The best way to safeguard ingrown hair is to shave your legs the right way.
The first thing you must do is prepare your skin with a gentle scrub and polish it onto the surface of your skin while it’s dry. Step into the shower and soak water onto the area you wish to shave for 5 minutes. The warm water will help soften the hair down and when it’s time to shave, use a shaver that has a sharp razor blade because one that is dull might cause your skin to damage and skin not smooth.


Four Bean Salad

I made this delicious, classic four bean salad as a quick side last night, and it was a great reminder of summer cookouts and picnics to come! It’s one of my husband’s favorites. If you aren’t much of a cook, and you were asked to bring a side dish for any dinner in the future, trust me… you should give this one a try. It’s easy, it’s quick to throw together, and after just an hour in the fridge (or travel time), it will be delicious. Even better the next day!


Obesity is on the Rise — But So is Meditation

I love Deepak Chopra. I mean, how could you not? Just listening to the sound of his voice is so soothing, calming, and grounding — not to mention what comes out of his mouth. His “spiritual solutions,” meditations, and even just basic responses to interview questions all seem so simple, and yet he is where he is because his musings are, arguably, genius.


Responsible Entertaining — Ways to Show You Care

There’s always room to improve — I would still make a few tweaks for next year — but overall the party was a great success, people raved about the food and there were very few leftovers (although we did enjoy them and I polished off the last bit of cake just yesterday). All the guests but 1 were able to make it, and I think also because of all the planning we did cleanup was a cinch. When you plan and execute from a thoughtful place, it shows in many ways.


Continue Being the “Bad Guy” — Stand-Up Gals Who Are Making a Difference

Standing up for what you believe in can be hard. We all know this; some of us give up at the slightest criticism or setback, others experience compassion fatigue and still, others are unsure of what they even “stand up for,” if anything. This is all understandable, but today of course I’m addressing some of my favorite Tough Gals when it comes to shining the light on yucky food practices and the physical health effects of our industrialized food system. Call them food activists, call them bloggers, call them what you will; I’ve seen a lot of both positive and negative comments about them and their causes and I just think the negativity and backlash is a shame. The following should be an inspiration to us all to show how powerful your voice can be — and that it CAN be heard — in this niche or wherever you’re trying to fit in and make a statement.


French Me, Baby — My Long-Time Obsession

While some of you may know that I am a fluent Spanish speaker (I often get mistaken for a native Argentinean), my interest in languages goes way past Castilian Spanish — I’ve also studied French quite extensively, dabbled in a little Portuguese, can throw out a few random words in German and once decided that Russian would be my next venture. With Spanish under my belt for years now, however, the French language has always sort of been that beautiful dress in the window for me, so delicate and stunning, yet where would I wear it? How can it be of use to me? Can I be the woman in that dress? I don’t have anyone with who I can practice my French; there are no French bakeries in my neighborhood (probably a good thing) and with all the other things going on in my life studying the philosophy that The French Do Everything Better isn’t always at the top of my priorities list.