Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Three More Days!

Ok, I know that Christmas is not technically for five more days.


So sue me.


But MY Christmas begins in three days and I am super excited.


December 23rd is the Lessons and Carols service at Tenth Presbyterian Church, and then a huge, family-style meal at Buca di Beppo's restaurant.


December 24th is (duh) Christmas Eve, and we do the big extended family meal and gift exchange.


And then I'm hosting Christmas morning!! I'm so excited. Due to all the change-ups in family living situations this year I decided it was the perfect opportunity to both help out and inject a little of my own Kline Christmas traditions into the festivities.


Basically our Christmas morns are the same (sleep in, do presents in pajamas, late lazy breakfast) but the menu is quite different. I'm not going to do anything radical, still good coffee and an egg casserole, simple and delicious. BUT, instead of MomMom's coffee cake (which is delicious in its own right) I'm making these.


It will be epic.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Late Night Post

Because my husband is out. Again. I texted him to ask when he'd be home, but then I left my cell phone in the kitchen.


This is the epitome of laziness.


Yes, that's Lily. She's an excellent pillow. 

I'm sick again still. I feel like I've been sick for ages. That flu shot did me no favors, especially since I've never had a flu. One cold after another, and now a lovely barking cough. Can't wait to showcase this at our party this weekend!!


Did I mention we're having a party this weekend?




We are.


We just love parties.


This is our third annual Christmas party, so hopefully it's safe to say it's a tradition. For me, it's a good chance to get lots of friends in one place and enjoy more delicious food than we could ever need.


Plus, the best way to get the apartment deep-cleaned, organized and fully scrubbed is to threaten me with lots of company.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Finally!!

A truly productive day. There's just something about waking up when the alarm goes off, getting a shower, and leaving the house right away to put me in that "I'm going to accomplish things today" mindset.


I visited Jarrettown today, which was really fun. The best part of leaving for a week is that, upon returning, you are a rock star. The kiddos pounce, hug, cheer...you can do no wrong!!


It's awesome.


I also went to Elcy's Cafe today, which is one of my favorite places to just sit and chill. I got lunch and a coffee, and I worked on some job applications. Woot! I shall find a job.


Then I came home and kept right on truckin'...until tragedy struck.


Our first casualty of Christmas 2011.


Cue the sad music.





Dun dun dunnnnn. And the culprit?




She seems wholly unapologetic. Stupid tail.


Anyway, I didn't let that stop me. I strung up the lights and garland outside:



And I had an inspiration this year. For the last two years I've wrapped the lights and garland around the metal rail (only a plumber would find it convenient to use a huge mental pole as a handrail), but when it gets snowy and icy the lights and garland make holding the rail rather treacherous. And our stairs are fairly treacherous as it is.



So this year I wrapped the decorations around the wooden part, below the actual handrail. Still pretty and festive, but much safer. I'll take some pictures after dark when it's all lit up, it's a very cozy effect.


Lastly (so far) I attacked the attic.


I know this sounds dramatic.


But our attic will be the death of me.


If the stairs don't kill me first.


I'm a neatnik, an organizer, and a pretty minimalistic person. I love a plethora of food and books; other than that, I only need one or two pairs of jeans, enough sweaters to not wear the same one twice in one week, and I was perfectly fine sharing a car (which we did, until just recently). Our attic does not conform to any of these standards.


The reason for this is pretty simple. When my parents moved, I took everything that I thought I might want to keep; thus, all of my sentimental, don't-really-use-it-but-can't-bear-to-get-rid-of-it crap is in the attic. Then, when Dan and I got married his parents indiscriminately packed up his room and dropped it off at our apartment.


So our attic is a dump.


I'm slowly and surely purging it, every few months I throw away a couple more boxes of stuff. Over the summer I donated about six trash bags of clothes we hadn't worn since high school, and the next to-be-donated collection is my old books. I'll keep Laura Ingalls Wilder, but the rest are going to the local library.


So today, I got rid of this:



It doesn't look like much, but let me tell you, it made quite a difference.


And no, you won't be seeing photos of the attic anytime soon.


Nice try.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Caution: God At Work

I've been working on several things lately.


Especially now that I have time to think beyond what-does-this-child-want-please-don't-shout-we're-inside-raise-your-hand-don't-call-out-wash-your-hands-they-are-filthy-did-you-remember-to-flush-the-toilet-quiet-in-the-hallways and the other billion and a half things that are constantly running through my head and out my mouth when teaching kindergarten.


Aww, I miss those little buggers. Good thing I'm visiting soon!


One work-in-progress lately has been my deepening understanding of grace.


Yep. A serious post. You can always leave now and come back later when it's more muffins and Lily and whatnot, if that's what you really want.


But do you?!




Grace has always been my mom's thing (yeah, again, go ahead and laugh). I struggled more with the faithfulness part of my faith, where I really clung to God as my only strength and purpose and focus and all those good things. However, recently I've come to realize that I had it all wrong for a long time.


Are you surprised?


See, I'm not really that good at being faithful. I'm weak, I'm fickle, I get distracted eas--ooh, shiny!


You get the point.


So when the focus of my beliefs is on how I can be faithful to God, rather than really understanding how He is faithful to me, things turn pretty sour pretty quickly. I get discouraged, I get angry (mostly at myself) I get frustrated with what I think is God failing me, when in reality I've got the whole thing backwards from the beginning.


Christianity is not about what we, as humans, can do for God. It never has been, it never will be. See: the Pharisees. Rather, Christianity is about what God has done for us, by grace, through Jesus Christ and the redeeming power of the cross.


The whole point of grace is that I. DO NOT. DESERVE IT. 


It's not anything that I can do, it's not my faithfulness, it's not my choice to believe, it's not my goodness as a human that makes me worthwhile to God. And believe me, after spending one year with 2-year-olds and one semester with kindergarteners, it's really easy to believe that humans have no innate goodness whatsoever.


When I really step back and look at grace as God intended it to be, I find something so awesome (in the traditional sense--awe-inspiring, not like "awesome shoes dude"), so humbling, so overwhelming that I have no choice but to just sit back and let it overtake me. God loves me for no reason at all. He just does. He justified me to Himself, is redeeming me from myself, and will sanctify me to His purpose, all just because He can.


Let me say that again. JUST BECAUSE HE CAN.


When I accept this grace as it was meant to be (and I use the term "accept" loosely--who can resist such an overpowering gift of love?!) I find that I am nothing. And rather than being a deprecating realization, it is so peaceful, so right, that I no longer care about my worth. I'm not worrying about my self-worth, I'm not worrying about my rights, I'm not even worrying about working on myself to become the person I'm supposed to be, all because I'm covered by grace. I can bask in this grace, rest in God's faithfulness to me, and allow this grace the penetrate every area of my life.


In that way alone can I truly come to be faithful to God (as a response, rather than by my own initiative) and become who God intends me to be. It's a long way off, but each baby step reassures me that I'll get there eventually.


I know I'm not really saying anything original here. It's all been said, it's all been done, there's nothing new under the sun....but seriously. It's still pretty cool. And if-and-when it clicks for you, I promise. It will feel pretty new and cool to you.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Last Days

Yesterday was my last day of student teaching.


Cue the dramatic music.


I actually wan't that emotional while I was at school, but I'm still feeling kinda sad. It was a lot of time and effort, and I really loved the class. BUT! I already have plans to go back and visit, and I'm furiously beginning my job search. Because I want my own classroom. One that I can keep for more than 12 weeks.


But until that begins, here are some snapshots from my last days at Jarrettown:



 Snowman poems--we did a brief study of shapes, and then we sponge painted snowman using different shapes (triangle snowmen, star snowman, etc) and the kids wrote "poems" using describing words.



 My last bulletin board:



 The kids decorated the snowman and we cut out snowflakes from coffee filters (also using shapes!)


And, finally, they threw me an adorable little party yesterday afternoon.




There was a cake, but I didn't get any pre-cut pictures. The kids devoured it and promptly began bouncing off the walls. Our room mother, who is an incredibly sweet lady and is truly excellent at her job, was fine with the kids eating a slice of cake, two or three cookies, and a Capri Sun juice.


0_0


Just picture it.


Anyways, it was very fun. They all decorated the banner and my lovely new teacher bag has all their handprints (signed, of course--who doesn't love kindergartener handwriting?!), and the parents chipped in for some sweet gifts (flashcards, Becker store gift card, etc).


So all in all, it was a great experience and I'm ready for the next adventure. 6th grade class in a mostly Hispanic charter school? (read: job posted online that I will probably never have, but will pursue aggressively nonetheless) Bring it!





Saturday, December 3, 2011

Far As the Curse is Found

I loooooove Christmas.


Thanks, Mama. Yes, you can laugh.


Truth is, I will always say that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it's simply and entirely about my two favorite things in the world--family and food. Yes please.


However, it is also my favorite because it is the gateway to my next favorite time of year, which is undoubtedly Christmas. I don't really care about presents or Santa or even Nativity scenes where the actors are freezing their *bleeps* off and everyone is trying to feel sappy and spiritual but is really just shivering. What I do care about is that feeling of warmth, of safety, of community, of thankfulness, of recognizing all that we have and celebrating in humility the wonderful gifts we have been given (both under the tree and otherwise). I have this very Norman-Rockwell-esque picture in my head of a cold wintry night, and the bright window of a house shining out with lots of people inside, staying warm and enjoying each other's company and laughing and talking. That's my Christmas.


I also love Christmas because we get trees.


I love trees.


I love them in general. And for some bizarre reason, during this time of year, we are invited, even encouraged, even looked-down-upon-if-you-don't-do-it, to bring a big wonderful smelling tree inside our homes.



(I wanted pictures of us decorating it too, but I couldn't find my camera. Turns out I left it at school, so you can just enjoy the finished product. I love the way the light streams in through the branches in the morning.)


This tree is kind of funny to me, because my mom always wants the biggest tree she can find on the lot, and there's always some crazy, good-natured argument about whether or not it will fit. This has happened every.single.year in my living memory. I, however, just like a medium-sized tree, big enough to fill the space without overwhelming my small living room, big enough to hold the ornaments without looking crowded, or empty. This tree looked great, but it was a little bigger than I anticipated once we got it in the actual space, but oh well. It looks nice, and we'll take it down a notch next year. I just have to remember that the stupid tree stand adds several inches.


Otherwise, though, I'm super happy with the way our holiday decorations are turning out so far.



The baker's rack Kate gave me as a wedding gift looks great, too!


I'm succumbing somewhat to the Henrich style of decorating. My house will always be a little brighter and more colorful than a true Henrich, but I like the rustic touches and earthy colors.


Even Lily is getting into the spirit!

Next up: finish student teaching (three days to go!) and decorate the outside. Oh, and Christmas shop. That's very important.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Big Breath of Calm

....or something like that. It's been a busy couple of weeks here in the Henrich household; we moved some family, visited some other family in Michigan, and I began wrapping up student teaching. I officially have six days to go!

One day soon I'll have plenty of time to bake and clean and play with my dog and post pictures of my life again. For the time being, however, this measly little post will have to suffice. I'm trying to take this evening to relax a little bit, cook a simple meal, have a glass of wine, "mark" a couple papers (in kindergarten this means writing "good job!" at the top of each paper. I love my job!), and try to spend some time with my husband.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Procrastination 101

In case anyone was unaware, I am a professional procrastinator. I rock at putting things off until the last minute, but I will also say that I am pretty good at being efficient and accomplishing everything I need to when it really comes down to it.


That being said, student teaching has really put a new spin on my procrastination methods. I'm not comfortable improvising everything I do in the classroom, so I try to plan ahead by at least a week, and I usually have an overall scope for the next month or so. At least, I will until I'm done student teaching. That time is arriving alarmingly fast.


One of my new favorite ways to procrastinate is Pinterest. It's amazing. Truly. I've found delightful DIY ideas, delicious-looking recipes, and awesome decorating photos. It makes me itch to redecorate and hit the yard sales hard, but my little apartment is already full of stuff and I love the way it's decorated.


Guess I'll have to satisfy my urges by visiting one of my favorite stores (Ikea) with one of my favorite people (Liz).


(haha, tricked you, didn't I? You thought I was going to say Dan.)


Anywho, I guess I'm just growing up. I'm learning to put off checking my email and facebook and make dinner instead. I'm learning to do the dishes as they come into the sink, rather than waiting three days for the sink to be full (yes, sometimes when I don't do a lot of cooking I can not wash dishes for two or three days and still have room in the sink). I'm also learning how to make myself relax, which I've never been good at. Mugs of tea, glasses of wine, back rubs from husbands, walks with the dog in the evening, and a little bit of yoga and pilates tend to do the trick. It's just a matter of making the time for these things.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Fun-day

I have a love-hate relationship with Sundays...as most people probably do. I always enjoy going to church, but it's a wrench to set the alarm on Saturday nights, especially now that I'm teaching Sunday school. Once we get there, however, it's always good to see our friends and worship together.



And then there are delightful Sunday afternoons! Usually we have an old-fashioned Sunday dinner at the Henrich house with Dan's whole family, but since his parents are moving (AGAIN) next weekend and they are frantically working to fix up their new house to a livable status, our Sunday routine has been disrupted for the time being. Today we went out for brunch with his sisters, and then they came back to our apartment to hang out. While they were here I decided to use up a few more apples leftover from our annual Oktoberfest party (it was late this year) and make some homemade apple turnovers.


Yum!


I started with some puff pastry from the store (no, I wasn't that ambitious).



I chopped the apples, mixed them with lemon juice and cinnamon....







Cut up the puff pastry and add the apples. This was actually the trickiest part, because I wanted the turnovers to be full of apples, but it was hard to get the quantity of apple I wanted and still get the puff pastry to close.






But, finally...




30 minutes in the oven, and these were quite a hit, judging by the speed with which they were consumed.






I also made a Jewish apple cake and I'm going to simmer down the rest of the apples into apple butter this week. Huzzah!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Delicious Fall Snack

Let me preface this by saying:

I love my husband.





He is a wonderful guy. He is kind and generous and (usually) thoughtful. He never hesitates to give of himself to others.

That being said, he is also extremely social. And I am not. Extremely social, that is. I love my friends, and I've definitely grown in the area of "wanting to be around other people for more than 20 minutes at a stretch," but I doubt I'll ever be as sociable as he is. My home-alone time is extremely valuable to me.

Why is it so valuable, you ask?

Because I make things like this:





I love love LOVE pumpkin things. I've always felt the value of seasonal things, of savoring that one time a year that a particular beloved item is available. And this year, pumpkin is at the top of my list. Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin beers, you get the point. So when I was at Trader Joe's yesterday and found cans of pumpkin on sale, I jumped at the chance.





And since my darling husband is ~still~ not home from work (damn you, happy hour!) I decided to take advantage of my solitude and bake one of my favorite fall treats. Pumpkin muffins.





Of course, this works just as well when it's pumpkin bread, but muffins cook faster and by this time of day all of my patience has been used up by a bunch of five-year-olds. So muffins it is.

Pumpkin Muffins


1 1/2 C flour
1/2 C brown sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 C pumpkin puree
1/2 C oil (or applesauce, to lower the fat)
1/2 C honey
1/2 C raisins and walnuts, each (optional)

Mix the dry ingredients; add the wet ingredients. Mix well. Add the nuts and raisins, if using. Grease muffin tin at bake at 350 for about 12-15 minutes.

Voila! Of course, I don't have pumpkin pie spice, so I just tossed some cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice into the bowl. Whatevs, right?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ta-daaa!

I passed my Senior Portfolio Assessment today. Basically I collected all of my work from student teaching, related it to the six Temple teaching standards, and then "interview" with a panel of three professors from Temple/education professionals. Scary, but it's over! Just two observations and a month of student teaching left. And then...dun dun dunnnn...I have to find a job.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Half-Day Happenings

Today was a teacher inservice day, and since I'm enjoying the only pure benefit of being a student teacher (I don't have to attend all the inservices!) I had a half day. This morning I went with two other kindergarten teachers from my school to visit Lower Gwynedd Elementary School. It was really neat, Wissahickon is a great (very affluent) district, and the elementary school definitely reflected that. We saw some awesome writing conferences and literacy stations, and of course, observed some fun fillers and energizers. As anyone who has ever been in charge of children knows, it's always good to have some tricks up your sleeve for killing those last five minutes, or refocusing the children in a positive way. My favorite activity of the morning was a sight word activity. You know all those little words that aren't quite phonetic (sound like they're spelled) and come up ALL the time in reading? Words like the, she, it, am, and, etc. The students made cards for themselves with all their sight words, and then laid them out on the floor. They threw bean bags onto the cards and then spelled and said aloud the word the bag landed on. So cool, and such good practice.

I ran a couple errands after my visit, and then came home, because I had work to do. Cat lent me her mother's mini steam cleaner, and I had a date with my area rug. Lily is probably 99% housebroken, but those little accidents are ridiculously hard to get out of the rug. Plus we are the third owners of this rug, so there's no saying how long the dirt has been there.

First I moved the (freakin heavy) marble coffee table off of the carpet. It's a ginormous hunk of pure marble, thankfully in two pieces, but it disguises the fact that our rug is really too small for our living room.




As I said, Cat lent me her mother's steam cleaner. It took me a while to figure out how to use it, and I didn't have the appropriate soap, but warm water with a little baking soda did the trick.



It took ages, and a break in the middle to take the dog out, but finally I was left with:



and (brace yourselves, oh weak of stomach):


The rug is only 5x7, so it wasn't a ton of space to clean, but geez oh man that's a lot of dirt.

Finally, it was time for some Lily snuggles.



What a cutie. I don't think she really enjoyed the process, nor does she appreciate the end result. Oh well.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The more my feet hurt...

...the more fun my students had. That's become my basic mantra of teaching, because generally, if we are all sitting around on our bums we are not having fun, learning actively, and applying what we know. I don't mind as much anymore when my feet hurt (the first two weeks or so of school was pretty brutal), because I know it means that I was active, my students were engaged, and we were doing exciting things. I love teaching!



In other news, I'm currently listening to my dear husband explain a really awkward situation to a friend to try and alleviate much greater future awkwardness, and he concluded his explanation (every conversation is an opportunity for a presentation) with a "think about it; pray about it; I'll be here." He's such a good guy. No wonder he was nominated to be a deacon at our church. Who has two thumbs and is proud of her husband?

This gal!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Home At Last--An Introduction

I've been considering blogging for some time now. I already spend an inordinate amount of time online, so it's not like it will cause a greater waste of my time, and I think it will be a good way for people I don't see or talk to very often (my family in Michigan, California, England, New Jersey, Maryland, my friends in Iowa, Louisiana, Texas, New York) to catch up on little glimpses of my life. Unless, by some miracle, I start focusing a great deal of attention on one area of my interests, I don't intend for this to be a cooking blog, a DIY blog, craft blog, or even just a family blog, but some amorphous combination of the three, plus whatever else strikes my fancy.

I chose to call it Home At Last, because, thanks to my mom (pretty much one of my favorite people) taught me the huge value of home. I want my home to be a place of haven, of warmth and acceptance, of joy and the simple pleasures in life. After my family moved from Collegeville, PA (where I spent most of my life) I spend almost a year in limbo, without a real home. It was a huge relief to marry my husband, Dan,



move into our little apartment in Glenside,



 adopt a puppy,



and have someplace that truly felt like home. We're enjoyed improving the place (we have a great, very laid-back landlord who doesn't mind when we do things like paint, put holes in the walls, rip up the carpeting and refinish the wood floors underneath...), adding touches of our lives, and making some cool memories here. I also have come to love the challenge of making a tiny, sometimes awkward space work for us. (I'm sure I'll detail some of that later).

But mostly, this is just going to be a simple little way for me to document and share bits of our lives, here in our happy little home. Thanks for stopping by.