-I made an ice cream crunch cake with peanut butter swirl ice cream on the top and mocha cookie dough ice cream on the bottom. And I did actually like it, even though I generally despise anything remotely coffee-flavored.
homemade mocha ice cream cake

-I’ve been reading a book about consumer psychology. Interesting stuff, that. I’ll report back when I’ve finished it.


-I’ve been supervising lots of piano practicing. We have four pianists now, and it’s awfully fortunate that I can teach them all, since lessonsX4 would start to add up.

Zoe practicing piano

-I’ve been making messes (actually, this mess is not entirely my doing!)

messy kitchen

and cleaning them up. It’s the ebb and flow thing I’ve talked about before. Messy, clean, messy, clean…..


Did you notice that one of my mended towels is hanging there on the oven handle? It’s still going strong a year later.

mended dishtowel

And lastly, we recently acquired a vintage pencil sharpener.

Isn’t it beautiful?

vintage pencil sharpener

It was actually one of Sonia’s birthday presents. You see, a while back, she visited my parents, and when she came home, she said, “Mommy! They have the coolest pencil sharpener. It has a handle that you push!”

ebay pencil sharpener

So, I decided she’d probably enjoy getting one for her birthday. I looked at the new manual ones that are available, but reviews seemed mixed at best. Then I hopped onto eBay and found one from the days when things were made of metal, not plastic.

This thing works great. Seriously. It is so much better than our electric one, which tended to sharpen the pencils unevenly. And this one produces pencils with a much sharper point too.

Ours suctions to a flat surface when you rotate this little metal bar, so it’s quite portable.


Ooh, and it was tons cheaper than the new manual sharpeners. So, I got a better product for Sonia (she loves her sharpener, by the way!) and spent less.

You know what that is, right?


So, there you go. That’s what’s been happening here….recently.


Joshua’s 365 post: Morning’s First Light


  1. says

    Loving the cake…I love cake it doesn’t really matter what it tastes of. I see cake as a work of art.
    The book looks interesting – I’m a trained marketer by profession (although it’s gone on the back-burner) and the area of most interest to me was the consumer psychology. I’d wanted to do criminology at Uni but didn’t get good enough grades, so figured if I can’t study serial killers I’ll study shoppers! :-)
    It’s fantastic you can teach piano, my daughters having keyboard lessons and even those are expensive! Wish I’d learnt.

  2. michelle says

    i guess all those folks who complain you are perfect are going to have to eat their words when they see your normal lived in kitchen.. or they will say it was staged. lol

    • Kristen says

      Ha! No staging necessary, let me assure you. It gets like that pretty much every day around the time that I serve dinner, despite my efforts to the contrary.

      • SarahD says

        Yes, my kitchen gets a little messy while I’m cooking dinner too, but I try to clean most of it up before I serve dinner. Somehow, the living room is another story. Because I’ve been so busy in the kitchen for an hour or more, and not monitoring the kids as closely, the other rooms become disasters around that time…almost every single day. Ha ha!!

  3. says

    I love the messy picture of your kitchen :) Mine looks similar at the moment and I’m procrastinating by blogging instead of cleaning!

    Recently I have been busy – classes have started up so I am teaching the first year students, which means more money :) I had a friend visit last weekend and am going to be away for a (work) fieldtrip this weekend, so I’ve been eating out of the freezer a lot, which has been good for the budget.

    The cake looks delicious :)

  4. jenelle says

    It’s funny that you enjoy those pencil sharpeners as much as I do. When my parents moved from the house I grew up in, I demanded that they take the pencil sharpener (that was nailed to a window frame) to the new house. It now resides in the “mud room” of their new home!

  5. Lisa M. says

    Love the before/after pics of the kitchen. I am so right there with you on the ebb and flow! The loaves of bread are beautiful! Any particular recipe that you use?

  6. says

    My kitchen does that too. It’s just a sign that it’s getting used. And really for the amount of cooking that you do, your kitchen doesn’t look that bad in the before shot.

    You know those gorgeous kitchen remodels that some people do? Well have you ever noticed that those kitchens, and all their perfection, rarely seem to get any use?

  7. says

    Yay for mended dishtowels! I do the same with towels, washcloths, and especially hot pads. I have a tendency to catch things on fire if I’m cooking and the phone rings, so I have learned the art of patching/mending. I actually like the look of my patchwork hotpads. I too, find it gratifying to make these things last a bit longer. Its a fun, quick little sewing job, too. Perfect for lazy evening time.

  8. says

    One: that cake looks delicious. Two: I miss those pencil sharpeners! Three: **a deep sigh** for the clean! messy! clean! messy! kitchen. The only thing that makes it better is acceptance. Acceptance that it is always going to be this way (unless we all of a sudden strike it rich and can hire a house cleaning fairy, but who am I kidding.) Happy Wednesday!

    • Kristen says

      Or if you stop cooking. Which isn’t really a good option either! I’ve just decided that if I’m going to be cooking, I’m going to have to become sort of ok with a kitchen that is always getting messy.

  9. says

    I’m interested in reading a review on that book. Two books I really enjoyed were: Buy-ology and Brandwashed, both by Martin Lindstrom.

  10. Kris says

    I had a pencil sharpener like that when I was growing up! Hey! Maybe it’s still lurking in a corner of my parent’s house … unwanted … unused …

  11. Inga says

    Your mended towels, way back when, inspired me to mend my pot holders. I bought them right before I went off to college (Aug 1995!) and the trim was starting to come off. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that I could just sew them back together until I read about your towel fixing/saving. I admit my sewing skills are a bit rusty, but they look way better than they did falling apart and they are still going strong.

  12. says

    Funny, funny Sonia! Manual pencil sharpeners are still in traditional classrooms, so I guess she really is home schooled.

    So now when people grill you about the downsides of homeschooling, you can tell them how your daughter had not been exposed to to a traditional classroom pencil sharpener!

    Poor little tyke.



    • Kristen says

      Maybe out on your side of the country, but not here! We asked the girls’ neighbor friend, who goes to public school, and she said they have electric sharpeners.

  13. Jenny says

    I will probably need to find one of those old-school pencil sharpeners when my children are school-aged. I remember how much I used to love a freshly-sharpened pencil! And the electric ones just never seemed to do quite as good a job.

    I made an ice cream cake per your instructions for my husband’s birthday this past summer and it got rave reviews. I think, with the weather warming up, I’ll need to make another.

  14. says

    We left our pencil sharpener in Wisconsin. Our son uses less pencils now that he is in high school, but we may have to get a new one at some point. We had one like that, but it nails on to a wooden frame of some sort.

    Your kitchen looks a lot like mine. Messy, then has to be cleaned. I can’t cook in it, if there are too many dirty dishes. Glad I have a dishwasher. I run it at least twice every day. Often times more. I remember someone who said why do you need a dishwasher? I mean, what 3 people probably only need to run it once a day. Well, if it was only the dishes we eat off of maybe. I made homemade pork lo-mein with some purchased fresh egg noodles. That is a lot of veggies to cut up and it uses a marinade for the meat and a sauce for the meat and veggies and a different sauce for the noodles. Lots of bowls for all that sauce, and pans, etc.

    Now for my version of recently I….
    Recently I found a new produce market with fresh lo-mein noodles, hence making lo-mein. I also bought red cabbage and some dried lo-mein noodles.

    My bike tire went flat for a second time. Must be something on the metal part of my tire, or in the rubber part (which I tried feeling it extensively), that is puncturing the inner tire thing.

    I had my son make homemade biscuits last night to go with our one pot soup with rice recipe. Such an easy recipe, but comfort food for me.

    Currently I am sick, hence the comfort food and having my son make the biscuits. He is on spring break and is now at a sleep over at a friends house. As we recently moved here in Nov. and he started school in early January, it is nice to see him making friends. He was worried about it some before we got here. He is so much more social then I am.

    Feeling a bit sorry. I meant to call the church where I normally help unload the food pantry van today, to tell them I am sick and can’t make it, but was sleeping and now it is too late. :( I hope I can make it Friday morning to help, but if I still feel at all feverish, not going to go and make anyone else sick.

    Do like our new area. Many, many trails and areas I still haven’t explored. A very pretty beautiful area and spring is breaking out here all over. Not like Wisconsin where things don’t warm up for quite awhile. We had a 70 degree day the other day and I had to sit outside and read some. Today is a bit cool to do that or I would be doing that, as I don’t feel up to much else. I hate being sick. I so rarely get sick. Since we have moved here and my son started a sit down high school for the first time in a few years, my hubby and son have both been sick about twice each and now I am sick. Oh, well, our bodies will adjust and we won’t get sick so often.

  15. cathy says

    I have to say im loving the baked bread on the counter after the clean up and the pad and pen ready for your next tasks.

    Speaking of bread… I am always on the hunt for a great bread recipe. Every recipe I have tried comes out a little crumby. Great for toast but not for sandwiches. Or is there something to the kneading and resting that gives a nice soft bread for sandwhiches?

    • Kristen says

      Oh yes…that’s my low-tech to-do list right there. A scrap of paper and a pen work perfectly for me!

    • Kristen says

      About the bread-have you tried potato bread? That’s probably the best for sandwiches of all homemade breads, since it produces quite a bendable loaf.

  16. SarahD says

    Oh, that cake looks scumptious.

    LOVE the pencil sharpener. They don’t make them like that anymore. We’ve been through too many over here. I often wish we could find one from my era or before, because I think it would last longer. :-)

  17. says

    Hey our kitchens look alike! Well the before shot looks like mine. I am not to the after yet. We had a pencil sharpener like that when we were growing up! We loved it!

  18. Randi says

    Have you ever tried vintage metal ice cube trays? They make the best ice, very hard and they last a lot longer. I don’t know why they ever got rid of those. I love them.

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