Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hey good lookin'

This afternoon Dorothy walked into the kitchen and started to say "what are you..." then changed her mind, started again, and said with an impish grin, "Hey good lookin', what you got cookin'?" Nice way to score points with Mom, I guess, just in case the answer was cookies. It was flatbread instead, but she still ate just as much as she would have if it had been cookies. I use a whole wheat pita bread recipe but cook them on the stovetop in a skillet, tortilla-style, and they make great snacks with hummus or lunch-sized pizza crusts. Yum. Wonder what Hank Williams would have thought of that?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Here comes my son

Baby Worth is, amazingly, 3 months old already. I know people say it all the time, but it's true--it goes too fast! I'm posting a little video tribute to his first three months because that's the kind of sap I am. When he's president someday everyone will thank me for making it easy for reporters to dish on his whole life because there it is, right here there on the internet. Thank you to my video software for the instant movie feature! I might not have chosen the graphics, but then I'm posting baby videos on the internet, so who am I to say animated baby rattles are hokey?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Yes sir, yes sir, five bags full!

OMG, I bought five big bags full of old sheets today at Unique Thrift! I love that store, but the last few times I'd been in the linens selection felt really picked over. Today I went in (Monday is 25% off day!) and made a huge score. I'd been looking for some yellow floral prints with a 70s vibe, because the room Dorothy wants in the house we hope to buy has some crazy yellow 70s flowery wallpaper and Dorothy loves it. She won't even allow discussion of taking it down. So I was thinking that maybe the best decorating choice is just going to be to embrace the look and make her a quilt of similar-era prints in a color palette of yellows, golds, and a few greens for pop. Because her current lavender/peach/lime green set is just not going to work there.
And voila! After keeping an eye out at thrift stores for months, I found a huge stash of sheets that fit the bill. They go together better in real life than the picture conveys. I considered that it might be bad luck to have purchased them, knowing that we might not actually get the house we want (since we still haven't sold ours) but I decided to embrace some positive thinking, and that the worst case scenario is that I spent next to nothing on fabric and got a funky quilt out of it, and you can never have too many funky quilts, even if it doesn't end up in use as a bedspread at that particular house.

But I didn't buy five bags of just endearingly outdated yellow florals--I also found the endearingly outdated prints above (hello, new summer shirt for me!), a sheet that I swear looks just like the Liberty of London prints, and a terrific stash of boy-appropriate prints that I may use for linens in a bedroom for Worth in a future home, or maybe for little boy clothes and baby accessories.

I've got the flush of a successful hunter who just landed some big prey! But don't laugh--if buying outdated used sheets by the bagful isn't your thing, then, well, I'm glad because next 25% off day you won't get them first. :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

An experiment in reusable snack bags

I was at a local store this past week that sells "green" products and fell in love with these cute snack bags. The concept is so great, but the price is a bit high. I'd run across a similar product before (on Etsy, maybe?) and had read about people making them out of PUL and oilcloth, but it seems those fabrics are not necessarily food-safe, so I hadn't tried making them myself. But after I saw the product in my hand and got to thinking about how easy they would be to make, I did some brainstorming about possible food-safe lining materials and I may have come up with one. I used heavy-duty Ziploc freezer bags. I'm sure they have BPA, but I'm not going to put hot liquid in them, plus we already use (and wash and re-use) Ziploc bags, so I'm at least not changing our household status quo. The benefit of these over disposable snack bags is that the little bags are not usually made out of the same sturdy material as the freezer bags, and thus aren't reusable in the same way. Plus the little ones always seem to split in the corners, and they definitely aren't cute. I'm excited to give these a try. We'll probably be using them for mostly pretzels and crackers, nothing wetter than carrot sticks, so they shouldn't need much more than a wipe-out after we use them, but they seem sturdy enough that we could immerse and wash them in the sink with our dishes if necessary. If they work I'll make some more in some kid-approved prints.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Upcycled jeans and a shirt

Change of seasons means some re-purposing of clothing. These jeans fit everywhere but length, where they were just too long. Long jeans used to be nice when I'd wear tall shoes or boots, but these days tall shoes or boots just seem like a good way to drop a little person from higher up, so I'm mostly sticking with flats. (Someone needs to do an "evolution" chart showing how women go from cute shoes to mom shoes over the course of the decade from, say, 22 to 32 or so.) So I cut off the bottoms of the jeans and turned them into cropped pants, then added some fun fabric and ribbon to embellish them. With the legs of my jeans looking so cute, who will notice my sensible shoes? (Unless I forget again and wear the pink Crocs.)
And this shirt (minus the fleur de lis) was calling my name at Target for $5, so I bought it and took it home and made it my own. Suitable for showing civic pride in Louisville, New Orleans, or any of those other cities that claim this classic logo as their own.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A shift of tasks

There was recently a redistribution of tasks at my house that resulted in me now managing our household bills and checkbook. Which is so cool with me, because now I'm absolved of kitty litter duty. Hooray! But I decided if I'm going to be managing the household finances I needed a more organized (and attractive) system than the stacks-of-paper-shoved-in-drawer method employed by my dear husband. (Not to say he wasn't effective, just that my own organizational needs require more visibility and cuteness.)
So I made this cute folder for our bills, which will live in my mail bin over my desk.
And a new and feminine cover for our checkbook, made from a vintage tablecloth that has already given me other projects (such as this bag) I love.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A first sewing lesson

Last year I made some sewing cards for Dorothy, the kind where an adult punches holes all around the edges, and a child threads yarn in and out of the holes. She enjoyed doing that to a certain extent, but she definitely didn't feel like she was sewing (she knew the difference between cardboard and quilting cotton, after all!) and she never asked to do it again. Today it occurred to me that she was plenty old enough to wield a real needle, so I set her up with a beginning sewing project and she did a great job. I just cut out a red felt heart and a strip of blue felt with pinking shears, then guided her through sewing the heart to the strip, then stitching up the sides to make a little pouch. I picked out a rather blunt embroidery needle for her, but sometimes she had trouble getting it through the felt, so I think next time I'll have to set her up with a sharper one. She feels like the pouch needs a hook and loop closure, so I need to either find hook and look tape she can glue on, or I'll have to sew that on myself, because it's hard for anyone to push a needle through Velcro and I don't want her to get discouraged (or poked). In the meantime she carried the pouch very proudly (deservedly so) to Target with her very own dollar inside.

And I've been staying up late watching online tutorials for some software I recently bought but am apparently not smart enough to use, and while I've been watching I crocheted a little green soaker for Worth. I've made this pattern before and just love it. This should be a great summer diaper with a t-shirt, nice and breathable but with the amazing waterproof qualities of lanolized wool.

And finally, slippers for myself! I found a new-to-me fun website with patterns and couldn't resist trying one out.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pesto from scratch, part 1

A few weeks ago I started some basil seeds in a little windowsill terrarium I have. I'm not really gardening this year--not even tomatoes--because I still hold out hope we'll move this summer, so I've decided just to do a few short-term and portable container projects instead. The little basil plants were outgrowing the terrarium and their pots, so Dorothy and I fixed them up with a new home on the front porch. We repurposed some half-gallon yogurt containers as pots by poking some drainage holes in the bottom. We brushed all-purpose glue on sections, then stuck on colorful squares of tissue. The pots are cute and Dorothy enjoyed the project. Today we transplanted the little plants to our pots and gave them a new home on the front porch. I used soil pellets (expensive but unmessy) that Dorothy loved watching expand in my mop bucket, and Dorothy declared that basil is stinky. Now I hope the little plants enjoy life on the front porch for a few weeks, and then I'll enlist my small one's help again to make some pesto.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

A lovely day, a family I love. Heartfelt gifts from my daughter (made with Nana, made in Sunday School, made at her own art desk, and purchased with her father), a nice lunch that included my own mother and maternal grandmother, a laid back afternoon, then a fun casual evening of burritos and ice cream with my husband and kids. It may have started as a Hallmark holiday, but it felt "real" today. May all mothers everywhere feel as blessed!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Speaking of cleanliness

Dorothy spent the night with her Nana and Opa last night, and Rob and I spent our first night alone with the little guy. Of course we missed all of our girl's energy around the house, but it was pretty nice to have some time to just shamelessly drool over the beautiful baby without worrying about the feelings of a touchy 4-year-old. Dorothy likes to be involved in Worth's care to the extent that I've been known to sneak around and give him a bath after she's fallen asleep because I'm concerned that all her "help" will drown the baby, so this quiet morning with her gone was the perfect time to clean him and fuss over his amazing cuteness without her there to assist or witness.
So this post is just in celebration of my beautiful, clean (and safe!) baby. Photo 1: in the washpod, which I think is the best baby tub ever. Photo 2: enjoying a towel-dry. Photo 3: dressed and ready for the day, in a formerly sports-themed onesie I embellished with a vintage VW ad. I want to eat him up!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Next to Godliness

I was running out of the lye soap I'd kept for myself after a pre-Christmas gift-making session with a friend, so this week I made another batch. It's a girly, summery, floral scent, and I have some coconut fragrance on order, so I may make another batch and alternate scents. It's always nice to have homemade soap on hand anyway because it makes such a nice gift, straight from the linen closet. (Somehow Dove just doesn't do the same thing..."Here, I brought you a bar of soap." "Oh wow, you went all the way to Walgreens for it, thanks.")
I've made soap now a number of times, but I don't think I'd ever done it on a warm day without the a/c on. It's not advisable. It took forever for the soap to reach trace, and I kept using my rubber-gloved hands to push my sweaty protective eyewear from dropping off the end of my nose as I was stirring over the hot pot. Problem is, the whole point of the gloves and eyewear is that I was dealing with caustic chemicals--and very stupidly rubbed them on my face by using my gloves to push back my goggles! D'oh! So I have a small chemical burn on my forehead and one on my nose. Worse than it sounds--it stung a bit, then I realized my stupidity and rinsed, and now it's just kind of like getting over a mild sunburn. But still, dumb. That was my first (and I hope last) soap-related injury.
Other than the concern of the chemicals, soap-making is actually a very fun project. Using a stick blender instead of hand-stirring makes the job pretty fast and easy, even in a hot kitchen, and the resulting bars are so creamy and nice. I've used several recipes that I've found on the internet, and one that is about half lard is my favorite, although I do feel a bit self-conscious buying a 3-lb tub of lard at the grocery store. (Hey, it's not to eat! I know I still need to lose a little baby weight, but this lard is for WASHING!) And finding the lye is a bit of a problem, too, but it can still be ordered on the internet if you sign your life away and promise not to make meth with it instead. Somehow I doubt there is much soap making/meth making population overlap, but you never know.
Now the soap has to cure for six weeks, and in the meantime my kitchen smells very pleasant, because it's all laid out in the space over the cabinets.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

New skirts and old shoes

First, my productive weekend of skirt-sewing. Really, it's very sad that we didn't sell our house before the tax credit expired, but this post-tax-credit lull in the house-showing is actually pretty nice. It's so refreshing to do things besides frantically hide kid clutter and cat hair. This weekend I had several projects going on, including sewing these two skirts. They are both on the same basic A-line model, but the first is a super-comfy blue knit and the second is a brown linen blend. I plan to get a lot of use out of both. I was especially pleased with the way the trim around the bottom of the blue one turned out. I was actually in bed Saturday night, all tucked in and trying to sleep, and I was lying there thinking about how the blue skirt I'd just made needed a little something extra. Then I got the idea to make these little ruffles out of raw strips of fabric, similar to trim I'd seen at TJ Maxx last week, and I got back out of bed and did it while everyone else slept. Hooray for late-night skirt-embellishing!

Today the kids and I had a pretty good day. Lovely sunny weather, a nice walk (with Dorothy on her scooter) to the post office in the morning, then a fun craft project at home for the girls while Worth slept, then an afternoon trip out to the farmer's market and the grocery. Only problem was, by the time I got everyone in clean clothes and diapers and all associated gear ready for our afternoon errands, I totally forgot to look down at my feet. I wear hot pink Crocs around the house all summer because they are so comfortable and practical for home or garden, but I never wear them out. (Because a. they are Crocs and that's sooo a-few-years-ago, and b. they are hot pink, for Pete's sake.) And if I did wear them out, it would be with maybe my black workout capris and a tank top or something. Not a cute brown skirt and off-white t-shirt. But I just forgot. We were already at the farmer's market before I noticed, and there was no way I was going to go back home just because I felt like my shoes weren't cool. Sigh. And I went to Kroger that way too. Surely I have started a new fashion trend in Louisville, no?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

T-shirt rehab

I tried on a shirt at Target last week (bad neckline, so I didn't buy it) that had these cool flowers on it that seemed to be no more than torn strips of fabric sewn on in a spiral and finished with hand-drawn leaves. I decided to give it a try at home on a plain shirt that needed some embellishment. The flowers turned out nicely, although the cool batik pattern of the strips is pretty much obliterated. The hand-drawn (fabric marker) leaves look a little goofy because I'm a terrible drawer, but really the ones on the shirt at Target didn't look that great either, so we'll say it's part of the look. This shirt was a bit big on me to start out with, which can't be helped, but at least I like it better now than I did. I think I'll try to put more flowers on something soon, maybe something for Dorothy.