January Socks


One of my resolutions this year (#10) is to participate in Sockdown 2014. It technically goes from August to August, but I’m aiming to participate from January to December. Hopefully, I will keep it rolling after that. As soon as I started knitting, I wanted to learn to how knit socks because it seemed so cool – I still think it is so cool! Five sticks and a really long piece of string = socks. So neat!

Each month sockdown has one or two techniques, two designers, and a mystery sock. You can pick any one you want, and there are a lot of options there. This month the two techniques are lace and intarsia and I went with lace. I picked Anna by Barbara Richardson. It’s knitting up nicely! I mainly work on it while I sit and watch our oldest at jiu jitsu at night and then late night when everyone else is in bed. Gotta fit it in whenever I can!

I am aware I’m a day late for Work in Progress Wednesday – let’s just gloss over that and I will explain why I’ve had big plans but have been stumbling a bit tomorrow. 😉

No Comments

Week Two Photos

California, Kids

Ack. Our tiny dancer had her first dance competition this past weekend so that’s what I was up to instead of blogging. Worth every second of all the planning, for sure!

Resolution #8 is to post a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014.

I haven’t done my resolution check in for last week either. If I don’t do it later today, I think I may just skip it. I’ll aim for the accountability of getting it done today. 🙂

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014 – Week Two
I am trying to choose one picture of each of them that hopefully shows what their week was like

When he’s not feeling it, and I can’t get a decent picture, he’s stuck with one of him and his sister. 😉

All her hard work and training really paid off. She won first place for her jazz solo at Miss Dance Drill Team California.

This little lady is learning to read. Watching her start to understand and see it clicking is incomparable.

I reeeeally hope I develop the habit of posting these every Saturday instead of Monday!


Orange Creamsicle Cake


The second cake of the year! It was actually a happy birthday cake for my friend Brigid! Happy Birthday, Brigid!

It’s wonderfully simple and could not possibly be easier to pull together. No really. It has three ingredients – 4 if you include the orange zest – you really should, it makes it more legit I think. 😉

You know how I feel about using a cake mix as a base, or anything that comes from a box like that when you can just as easily make it yourself from scratch. I keep being told that some recipes (like this one) need the cake mix and it wont work out as well if it’s done from scratch. This usually infuriates me, but I’m trying to pretend it doesn’t bother me relax about this stuff a bit.

If you’re counting calories, this cake is a pretty good treat. If you slice it into 9 pieces, each slice is about 200 calories.

Orange Creamsicle Cake

via Better Recipes

1 box white cake mix (see, this bugs me, is ‘white’ a flavor??)
6oz plain Greek yogurt
1 cup orange juice
zest of 1 orange

This is one of those ‘dump it all in one bowl and you’re done’ type cakes, which, hatred for cake mixes aside, is actually really helpful. Preheat to 350 before you get started.

Orange Creamsicle Cake

I mixed the yogurt and the cake mix together first, then added the orange juice and once that was well mixed I folded in the orange zest. Bake for about 30-35 minutes.

Orange Creamsicle Cake Orange Creamsicle Cake

I keep taking pictures of my finished kitchen accomplishments with my phone for Instagram and then I totally forget to get a picture with my camera. Lame.

Orange Creamsicle Cake

This cake is really, really moist. Even the next day! It’s orangey, for sure, but not as orangey as I would have liked. If I make this again I will add more zest and maybe even some orange extract.

No Comments

Week One Photos

California, Kids

Resolution #8 is to post a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014. I took the pictures in the first week and then totally forgot about posting them on Saturday. Ahem.

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014 – Week One
I am trying to choose one picture of each of them that hopefully shows what their week was like

Our oldest is on the move so much it’s hard to get an actual ‘portrait’, but this is what his week was like

Our tiny dancer is seriously devoted to her training

Our littlest is madly in love with this baby doll she got for Christmas, she brings it all over South Bay with us

I hope I get into the swing of this self imposted challenge and remember to post these every Saturday!


Week One Resolution Check In

California, Domestic, Healthy, Homeschooling, Kids

I thought checking in once a week would be a helpful way to stay on top of my resolutions. Or maybe make me feel like an epic failure. Only time will tell – stay tuned!

1. stay at least one week ahead of our homeschool schedule
School in our district technically doesn’t start until Monday, but I started the littles this past Monday, so goal #1 of being one week ahead of our homeschooling plan is in full effect! Maybe I can get even further ahead at some point so we can take longer breaks? I’m sure they’d love that!

2. celebrate everyone’s birthday (local and long distance) with a card in the mail and a little letter
There are six birthdays in our lives in January. On Monday, I got out cards for the first two – my dad and my good friend Melissa. Yay!

3. keep our family photo site updated (in the 10 years we’ve had that site, we’ve always been about 3-5 months behind)
Ok so when I made this resolution last week, I didn’t realize just how far behind I was with it. The photo section is updated to Jan of last year, the video section is updated to May of last year, the house tours page is updated to 3 houses ago. The mobile galleries and blog pages are totally bare. This week I fixed some code that was making it take longer to make new additions so hopefully I can make some progress next week.

4. start a ‘what we did today’ journal (index card version is cute)
I just got 365 index cards and a date stamper. I’m hunting for the perfect box to put them in still. I was using The Happiness Project but I need a little room to ramble. 😉

5. quit social media that’s not blog related (this is part of a bigger move to be more present in all of my relationships)
I am officially only using social media for the blog. Though to be honest, I am still chatty on Instagram and Twitter with some friends and family, the main objective was to get away from Facebook as the world’s biggest time suck and I accomplished that! It was pretty tricky actually. Facebook doesn’t allow a page (like the one for this blog) to exist without a Facebook user as an admin. I read a lot of blogs explaining different ways to go about doing this, so naturally I thought I knew what I was doing. I converted my personal profile into a ‘page’, and the instructions I was following said that after I did this, I’d be able to merge this page with my existing blog page. Buuuut, I had no such option and was the proud owner of my So Very Domestic’s FB page, and also a page that looked similar but had my name instead. Ugh. I poked around the settings on my personal ‘page’ and changed it’s status to unpublished. This way, I am not on Facebook as a person, but my blog can still be there.

6. blog 3-5 times a week
Today makes 2! This was our first week back doing school and dance and jiu jitsu. Hopefully, I’ll find a groove!

7. make a lightbox and get better at food photography
I have been reading about lightboxes and I love the idea of getting tiles to use for backgrounds and all kinds of fun stuff I want to put into play. I’m still researching and learning.

8. a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014
Every Saturday morning, I’m going to post the best picture of each kid from that week.

9. bake a cake every weekend
Week 1 – Nutella Icebox Cake

10. participate in sockdown 2014
Sockdown is, essentially, a knitting challenge within the Sock Knitters Anonymous on Ravelry (which is sort of like Facebook for knitters). Each month there are different sock knitting techniques, sock pattern designers and every other month there is a mystery sock (it’s a mystery because you’re given the pattern  but no pictures). For example, this month the techniques are lace and intarsia and the designers are Stephanie van der Linden and Heatherly Walker. I am casting on this afternoon a lacey sock. I think probably this one or maybe this one. Hopefully this will get Work in Progress Wednesday happening again. 😉

11. finally finish my knitted beekeeper quilt
My beekeeper quilt is sitting in a bag, in about 360 pieces. I am not going to like writing that every Friday until I put it together. This weekend, I am going to lay out all the hexipuffs I have knitted and see what it looks like. I don’t think I need more puffs but I will make sure, and if I do I will estimate how many I have to knit and start knitting them. If I don’t need to make more, I will work on piecing it together. So exciting! I started knitting this before we left Canada!

The two other things I’m working on are replacing alcohol with coffee and working on my vitamin levels and cholesterol and 10 days in, I’ve been successful with the coffee over alcohol! Though really, I haven’t had any alcohol since a Christmas party in mid-December. As far as my vitamins and cholesterol levels, I had my bloodwork done on the 2nd and yesterday I saw my doctor about it! Only my D is low, everything else is good so maybe this is a short lived goal haha. I guess it’s about keeping my levels good, my cholesterol is actually higher than it was! I think I got kind of cocky when I first had it checked in July and when it came back good I thought, hey look eating just ok is perfectly healthy for me, and then I started eating even less than just ok. Ahem. I am having my bloodwork done again in April, so I will compare numbers then.

So far, so good I think. I’m off to a decent start. Now, to edit that pesky photo site!

No Comments

Nutella Icebox Cake


So the first weekend of the year has already passed! Ours was busy as usual, but we managed to do a little Greek Christmas celebrating by making some traditional cookies and we had a little barbecue with lemon chicken and roasted oregano potatoes. Serious hit. Since today is technically Greek Christmas it would probably be more fitting to post about that, but I also made the first cake of the year and I think that trumps pretty much everything else.

In 2009, I vowed to make a different pie every weekend and I ended up making 57 pies that year – with no duplicates! Here’s a messy gallery of them. The following year, we moved out to the woods and I wanted to bake a different cake every weekend, but with a serious lack of people around us, I ended up making only 45 cakes. Defeated, I didn’t even try any self inflicted challenges like this for the next three years. Now though, I think this year I can easily meet that goal.

Presenting cake #1 of 2014, the Nutella Icebox Cake.

I’ve seen a few versions of this cake online, some of them are a little lazy in that the filling is made from Nutella and whipped cream. Really? That’s pretty much just Nutella Pops, right? We can do better than that, people!

Enter this recipe! Thank you Dessert by Candy! This recipe involves making a beautiful Nutella custard/pudding from scratch and then layering it with graham crackers to make a pretty icebox cake that my Granny would have been proud of. She really would have, she was a serious force in the kitchen. If you’re not feeling the effort of assembling the cake (although seriously, making the pudding requires way more effort), I encourage you to make it just to taste the Nutella pudding. It’s even better than you think it is. No, really.

Nutella Icebox Cake

via Dessert by Candy
2/3 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons cornstarch
6 1/2 ounces Nutella
2 tablespoons Frangelico I didn’t want to kick off my year of not drinking by spiking the cake
graham crackers (the number depends on what size pan you are using)

First, choose your pan. The original recipe says to use a 7″ square pan, which is not something all of us have on hand. 8″? Yes. 9″? of course. 7″ though? No, I don’t have one either. I almost ordered this one, but I told the Tiny Dancer that she could choose the cake this week and I didn’t realize I needed an odd pan until it was too late. So I went with my 9 x 13 and made do. Once you’ve chosen your pan, line it with plastic wrap.

Nutella Icebox Cake Nutella Icebox Cake
Whisk together the milk, cream and 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, and then scald that in a saucepan. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs yolks, the other 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and the cornstarch.

Nutella Icebox Cake Nutella Icebox Cake
Now weigh out the Nutella and (not pictured), temper the egg mixture with the scaling milk and cream mixture. Do this by veeeeery slooooooowly pouring the scaling milk and cream mixture into the egg mixture while whisking the egg mixture as if your life depended on it. There is no overexaggerating here. Pour slowly, whisk seriously. Easy peasy. Now, stir the Nutella into the now warm milk, cream and egg mixture.

Nutella Icebox Cake Nutella Icebox Cake
I switched from wooden spoon to whisk after the Nutella melted into the custard because I wanted to to make sure there were no lumps because I saw a little lump and my obsessive personality just could. not. let it slide. Now it’s time to make the cake – but first, try this Nutella custard/pudding. Divine right? (Little Miss D says ‘divined’ instead of ‘divine’ and I say it that way in my head every time now. Ahem.) So you start with a layer of graham crackers. This is when I realized that if you have a pan that perfectly fits any specific number of graham crackers, that’s the pan you should be using.

Nutella Icebox Cake Nutella Icebox Cake

Cover that first layer of graham crackers with about 1 cup of the Nutella custard/pudding and then another layer of graham crackers. Keep going until you run out of your Nutella layer, just make sure you end on a Nutella layer! Now it gets covered in more plastic wrap and hangs out in the freezer for a few hours.

Nutella Icebox Cake
Then tah dah! Everyone declares your cake a hit at Sunday dinner and cake year is off to a success. Or you know, whatever happens at your house. 😉

1 Comment

Resolutions 2014 Edition

California, Crafty, Domestic, Healthy, Homeschooling, Kids

I’m a big fan of setting goals and working hard to achieve them. Some of the biggest goals I’ve had and achieved were not resolutions at all, but I do love the ‘fresh start’ feeling of January, even though it’s already 1/4 of the way through the school year and doesn’t really actually change anything. Ahem. I love January! Resolutions are fun and I usually set a few for the blog and for my knitting and so far I’ve come pretty close to doing what I set out to do. The only times I really fall short of the goals set in January is when I unexpectedly set harder goals halfway through the year and kick my own butt to reach them. You know, like moving to a different country or homeschooling.

Two years ago, I listed all of my goals for the year (2012) in my blog sidebar and achieved almost all of them. Last year, I blogged a list of goals for 2013 but I didn’t add them to the sidebar and I mostly didn’t do them. I think I need the visual reminder. This year I will add them to the sidebar and use that to keep track of them. 🙂

I think I will even set aside a day once a week where I post about them and how it is going. I have noticed that while most of my new visitors are not so into commenting, you’re there and knowing you’re reading is helpful motivation.

Personal Goals
1. stay at least one week ahead of our homeschool schedule
2. celebrate everyone’s birthday (local and long distance) with a card in the mail and a little letter
3. keep our family photo site updated (in the 10 years we’ve had that site, we’ve always been about 3-5 months behind)
4. start a ‘what we did today’ journal (index card version is cute)
5. quit social media that’s not blog related (this is part of a bigger move to be more present in all of my relationships)

Professional Goals
6. blog 3-5 times a week
7. make a lightbox and get better at food photography

Fun Stuff
8. a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014 (inspired by Miss James)
9. bake a cake every weekend (hoping to match my record in 2009 when I baked more than one pie every weekend)
10. participate in sockdown 2014 aka knit as many socks as possible (technically it goes August to August, but you can jump in whenever)
11. finally finish my knitted beekeeper quilt, I have all my puffs knitted I just have to piece it together

Miscy changes that are not really resolutions…
I’m replacing alcohol with coffee this year. Which really isn’t much of a stretch for me since I used to never drink at all and now my California bestie is more interested in coffee than cocktails!
My doctor gives me a print out of my blood work, which is new for me as none of my other doctors have ever done that, and I’m a little obsessed with stats, so I’m working on my vitamin levels and cholesterol (it’s not bad but it would be nice to make it even better).

No Comments

Happy New Year 2014

California, Kids

I hope you all had a wonderful New Years Eve full of whatever makes you happy. Over the years we have always either celebrated with my family, my husband’s family or just our little family at home. Since we’ve been living away from our families, we have been adding to and changing our traditions a little, and this year we added to something new we started last year. Last year we made all the kid’s favorite finger foods and got some miniature fancy glasses and had a cute party. The kids counted down to midnight on the East coast and were tucked in bed sleeping long before midnight local time. This year the two littlest wanted to stay up to midnight, so we came up with hourly activities to keep them busy. It was easily the best New Years Eve yet!

We started our countdown activities at 5pm and did something different every hour until midnight!

At 5, we made these countdown cupcakes with Twix clock hands. We used the Stir and Bake Chocolate Cake recipe that we all love so much (especially me because it’s so easy and always comes out right), and just some plain buttercream frosting.
At 6, we made a glittery photobooth and took about a zillion pictures. Then the girls got their American Girl dolls out and took a zillion more – I think it’s fair our son quit with the pictures as soon as the dolls came out!

7 was time for making (and breaking) the New Years crackers. All you do is wrap a cardboard tube with tissue paper, toss a few treats inside and tie the ends with curing ribbon. Each cracker maaaaybe takes 2 minutes to make and when you pull on the ends to open them the candy goes flying. They were a serious hit!

8 was party hat time! To make sure they were sturdier than the construction paper party hats of our past, we taped white paper on top of dollar store birthday party hats! Then the girls attacked them with pom poms and metallic sharpies. We attached them to cute F21 hair bands to keep them in place.

At 9, we made the traditional Greek New Years Eve cake Vasilopita. Growing up, I knew that most Greek families did this tradition because all of our extended Greek family did, but I didn’t know that who the pieces were cut for was up to the family matriarch. I cut the cake similarly to the way my mother does it, starting with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Then it’s for all the impoverished, the suffering and then it starts with the oldest in our family (my husband’s grandmother) and down to the littlest. Since Chris’ family is really big, we cut for the ‘houses’ so his cousin, her husband and their new baby got a single piece. Once you’ve cut for all your family you move on to close friends. Last year, the impoverished got the coin in our cake and this year Jesus got it! My husband wants to keep this coin and always use it as the cake coin. Another new tradition!

We set out the dessert spread at 10, most of which the girls helped me make. We had the Vasilopita, mint chocolate pudding, vanilla pudding and really serious Oreo truffles. The truffles were big, covered in milk chocolate and sprinkled with edible golden glitter.

Not pictured was the 11pm picture of the kids tearing open their Christmas presents from their grandparents, delayed over a week by storms on the East coast and customs wanted to have a little look as well, but it worked out nicely for them to have a second little present opening session, these cute nightgowns are from Grandma and Grandpa! Midnight itself was toasted with ginger ale in plastic champagne glasses and honestly? It was perfect. Happy New Year!

Stuff from this post: Gold Curling Ribbon, 11″ Gold Balloons, Gold Metallic Fringe Curtain, Gold Foil Baking Cups, Tiny Pom Poms, Metallic Sharpies aaaaand I read them this book for a week before New Years and they got really into it (The Night Before New Year’s)

No Comments

Christmas 2013 Rewind

Domestic, Kids

Oh my goodness, this Christmas season really seemed to fly by faster than others have! I think it’s that this year we are involved in more activities than ever before. Several years ago, when we lived in the middle of nowhere, I felt like I had a pretty good grip on being fully present and that helps to make time feel a lot slower! I’m going to have to think about that and try to work out a way to be fully present when there is so much going on. Challenge accepted!

This holiday season I made a knitted advent calendar and it was so fun to do the activities with the kids. Some of the activities were seriously time consuming like making homemade marshmallows and some activities were especially messy like making window clings, but they were all a blast. The whole reason we do so many countdown activities with the kids is to spend time together, add to the magic of the season and stretch out the anticipation!

We celebrate Eastern Orthodox Christmas as well, though the focus on our ‘little Christmas’ is to make things for each other and to bake traditional Greek Christmas treats. I’ll post some of the other Christmas treats we have made between now and then (January 6) because they were all so good! This year we made peppermint fudge, Oreo truffles, a holiday version of cowgirl cookies, checkerboard cookies, English toffee, two kinds of peanut brittle (the accidental kind was voted the best), red and green velvet Ferrero Rocher cupcakes, chocolate dipped pie crust stars, and date cakes baked in tin cans with caramel sauce. Our oldest had a Jiu Jitsu tournament where he placed second, and a promotion ceremony where he moved on to his next belt! Our second had a weekend of dance workshops to prepare for her competitions next month, she danced for a fundraiser and her dance company had a Christmas party. The littlest and I were just trying to make sure everyone was where they needed to be and that we managed to have a healthy dinner on the table every night. She’s playing around in the kitchen a lot more lately and loves when she makes something she can share with her friends.

Oreo truffles peppermint fudge
checkerboard cookies peanut brittle

My husband and my sister both got me the bulk of my kitchen wish list, and I could not possible be more thankful or more excited! Aside from the glass bowls and the stainless steel measuring cups and spice rack (thank you so much guys), I got cookbooks from my two absolute faves – Bobby Flay and Ree Drummond. I am really excited to cook and bake my way through these books. I think I will start with some of The Pioneer Woman’s finger foods for New Years Eve and work on some cute mocktails. Today though, today is for knitting and relaxing and maaaaaaybe making some lemon curd, because why not?

Merry Christmas!!

No Comments

Knitted Advent Countdown

Crafty, Kids

I’m late to the game on this one, but it was just too cute and too fun to wait till next year!

While stocking up on yarn in November for my annual knitting marathon (every evening in November and December) at Knit Picks, I came across this pattern for Smitten, a Holiday Garland and, naturally, I bought everything I needed for it that very second. So so so cute!

From http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/smitten-a-holiday-garland

Rounds 1-8: *K1, P1 repeat from * to end of round (8 rounds of ribbing)
Switch to stockinette and begin the body of the mitten
Round 9: K3, M1R, K6, M1R, K6, M1L, K6, M1L, K3 (28 sts)
Round 10: Knit
Round 11: K12, M1R, K4, M1L, K12
Rounds 12-15: Knit (4 rounds)
Round 16: K12, M1R, K6, M1L, K12
Rounds 17-19: Knit (3 rounds)
Round 20: K12, M1R, K8, M1L, K12
Rounds 21-22 Knit (2 rounds)
Round 23: K12 and move them onto needle 1, K10, move the remaining 2 stitches on needle 2
onto needle 3 for safe keeping (12-10-12)
Work back and forth on the 10 stitches on needle 2 to make the thumb.
Row 1 (WS): Purl
Row 2: Knit
Row 3: P2TOG 5 times
Break yarn, leaving a 6″ tail.
Draw the tail through the live stitches of the thumb, pull up and secure.
The tail will be used to sew up the side of the thumb when finishing.
Continue Round 23 by attaching the yarn at the beginning of needle three and knitting all of
the stitches on it.
Rearrange stitches evenly on three needles and mark start of round if needed. (8-8-8)
Round 24-30: Knit (7 rounds)
Round 31: SSK twice, K6, K2TOG, SSK, K6, K2TOG twice (18 sts)
Round 32: Knit
Round 33: *K2TOG repeat from * to end of round (9 sts)
Break yarn, draw tail through the remaining stitches, pull up and secure. Hide tail inside.
Using the tail on the thumb, sew up the side of the thumb. Yarn can be knotted with the cast on
tail (mid-round 23) at the thumb joint to secure. Hide the yarn ends inside.
Fold the end of the i-cord to the mitten cuff and sew in place with the cast-on tail to form a loop
for hanging. Weave in (or hide) all yarn ends.

I knitted them up over the course of a few nights at the end of November. You just knit 24 tiny mittens, feel free to use whatever colors go with the room you’re putting this in or just whatever makes you happy. I used six different colors, so I made four of each. I used Knit Picks worsted weight yarn Swish in Serrano (holly red), Rouge (pink), Honey (yellow), Gulfstream (bright blue), Dublin (green) and Amethyst Heather (purple). Each mitten has it’s own little i-cord knitted into the cuff to hang! Then you knit a long i-cord to hang them all from, I also used Split Rings to mark the countdown.

Knitted Advent Countdown
Knitted Advent Countdown
Knitted Advent Countdown Knitted Advent Countdown

Instead of putting candy or toys inside (we have a few advent calendars, our kids are big on counting down and we didn’t want to add any more trinkets or candy to our lives), my husband and I dreamed up 24 fun activities and opened these cute little characters in Photoshop and got to work. We printed them, cut them out, rolled them and tied them with red curling ribbon. Then we stuffed each mitten with an activity! The kids have such a blast picking out the activity for the day and since we know what they are, we can make sure we are prepared for them!

Knitted Advent Countdown
Knitted Advent Countdown

When we’re done, I’ll post pictures of all the activities we did! Here is the list:
1 – write letters to Santa
2 – make paper snowflakes
3 – make paper chain dolls
4 – bake bread
5 – make cinnamon ornaments
6 – read Christmas stories
7 – Christmas movie marathon
8 – make homemade marshmallows
9 – paint Christmasy pictures
10 – make hot chocolate balls
11 – have an M&M race (more on this later)
12 – make Borax snowflakes
13 – decorate a gingerbread house
14 – play minute it win it games
15 – make snow globes
16 – make botttlecap snowmen
17 – make gifts for each other
18 – make window clings
19 – make gingerbread and star garland
20 – try a new recipe
21 – make a huge blanket fort in the living room
22 – watch The Polar Express and drink hot chocolate
23 – play reindeer games
24 – read The Night Before Christmas

« Older Posts
Newer Posts »