Thursday, July 29, 2010

A jar cozy

This isn't a new project, but just one I was using and enjoying. Last summer I crocheted cozies for the repurposed glass juice jars we use for water. I put little handles on them and they are very cute and portable, and they both insulate the jar and keep it from getting broken if I want to grab one on the go. It felt like a nice way to use up (gifted) scratchy acrylic yarn I wouldn't want to wear or put on my babies. I just crocheted a little mat the size of the bottom of the bottles, then did double crochets in a round all the way up the side. I used several stands of yarn together so it would be extra bulky.

In other news, we're really enjoying our hiatus from house-selling. Our goal is to have it back on the market in two weeks, but in the meantime it's nice to not have the constant threat of a showing hanging over our heads. In a funny turn of events, however, the house is actually pretty clean right now because I just bought a steam mop and Dorothy and I are both so charmed by it that we keep using it. I love the idea of being able to keep the floor clean and chemical-free as our little wee one becomes more mobile and has the floor as his new realm. We'll just hope the charm of using the mop doesn't wear off in a couple months. (Ha!)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A caffeine fix and an earring

We had a fun weekend with a happy baptism celebration and out-of-town guests. We're having a summer that is fun but never lazy. So lately I've been finding my afternoon energy in this yummy blended drink that seems much more appealing to me in this nearly 100 degree weather than a hot cup o' joe. I blend 10 ice cubes with 2/3 cup of cold coffee, 1 tablespoon of powdered milk and 1 tablespoon organic chocolate syrup. Yum. Ordinarily powdered milk is not something I'd consider putting in a drink (I keep it on hand to thicken homemade yogurt), but this drink is too watered down if I use regular milk and too fatty if I use cream. This version gives me just the right caffeine kick, tastes just the right amount chocolately, and is only 75 calories. Happy mama.
Yesterday I had one of those tough-call parenting moments that makes me need more coffee. Dorothy had been lobbying for quite some time to get her ears pierced. I don't have any particular thought-out philosophy about child ear-piercing. I'm not really comfortable piercing an infant's ears (although I don't really have any problem with the theory), and I was 13 years old myself before I even wanted earrings, so I don't have any helpful memory of how my own mother handled the issue. So I'd basically told Dorothy she could get them pierced whenever she really wanted to, and I'd taken her to the mall to show her where you sit and describe how they do it. That had cooled her off on the idea for a while, but yesterday she was back on it, big time.

We watched a Youtube video of ear piercing, I was frank about the fact that it does hurt, but she was motivated. I wonder if a child at Bible School last week had earrings, but Dorothy didn't mention it. To make a long story short, Dorothy ended up getting one ear pierced and then changed her mind about it. Although I'd stayed quite neutral to that point (I was neither discouraging or encouraging the piercing--this was her thing), once we had one earring in I thought it would be a bit odd to walk away without both done. I hugged, consoled, bribed her with new earrings and ice cream. She sat back up in the chair to get the second one in, but just couldn't go through with it. She's four, after all, and it does hurt. The young woman doing the piercing felt like if I could hold her still long enough, she could just get it in there (I'm sure she'd done this before), but there was no way I was forcing my kid to get an ear pierced. What a breach of trust! So we left, with one earring.

Today Dorothy is very proud of her earring and has even yelled out to the elderly man across the street (who is hard-of-hearing and certainly neither heard nor cared) that she got her ear pierced. She says she's going to get the other done "tomorrow." I'm thinking maybe in a couple weeks. Or maybe she'll just look charmingly and quirkily lopsided for years. Isn't that the way life is anyway?
Back at home last night as she was processing the whole ordeal we had to pierce her teddy bear's ears. (Both of them.) The bear did not find it particularly painful.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hot buns

Because, well, I just couldn't resist that title.

I've done bloggable things this week while Dorothy's been at Bible School, but in the form of a birthday gift for Molly, and since she reads this blog I'm not going to dish. :)

These rosemary-herb sandwich buns came out of the oven this evening looking so pretty I just had to photograph them. Wish I could capture the smell too.

And photographing reminds me that I'm now officially, totally addicted to Mpix. I mentioned them this spring, and I am a little more in love with them after each order arrives. The combination of the camera I got last month, my old but still useful copy of Photoshop, and the print quality from Mpix has turned me into some camera-toting-mother-hell-on-wheels-nightmare, and I couldn't be more pleased. Last week I took some sweet pictures of Baby in the outfit he'll wear for his baptism this weekend, and then I had little wallet-sized prints made for our guests to take home (they send them die-cut with the cunning little round corners!) and some 4x6 thank-you cards, too, since I know his proud grandparents have gifts for him. Necessary? Nope. But fun. And worlds better than Walgreens, when I have the time to wait for shipping.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Taking it up a notch

Our house is now off the market. Our contract expired and we're trying to think creatively about what to do next. Switch realtors? Rent a storage unit? Stay here? Bury Saint Joseph in the yard? It's nice to not feel like we might have to show the house at any moment, but it's kind of sad to feel like we're not getting anywhere toward our goal of living in a house where the baby's bed and all this stuff doesn't seem like a crammed-in, added-on afterthought. In the meantime, this came in the mail. Isn't it great? A friend sent it (a thrift store score, she said) and it totally made my day.
"Faith can move mountains...and homes!!!" I feel better already. We'll sell. It'll feel like the right time when it happens. And then I can start the battles with my little budding interior designer who feels like her brother's new room, in whatever home we eventually move to, should be painted red, blue, green, purple, pink and gray.

Now I think I may go collapse on the sofa, and take St. Joseph with me. My wee ones and I are generally very late sleepers, staying up at night to maximize time with Daddy, but then snoozing in bed long after much of the world is up and buzzing. This week Dorothy is attending Bible School which starts (yes, this is no type-o) at the ungodly hour of 9:00 am. I'm in total denial that we've already paid tuition on a preschool this coming school year that actually starts (choking gasp) at 8:45. AM. Yesterday was our first day of early rising and we did it with the enthusiasm of beginners. "Yeah, we're up in time to catch Morning Edition!" "Look, the cats aren't so hungry when they get fed this early!" "Want to see this wetness on the grass, it's called dew!" But today the honeymoon was over. Baby fussed, Dorothy let out a little strangled yelp and rolled back over, and my eyes feel strangely dry and irritated. I'm looking forward to next week, when I can continue living the lie that this isn't going to become every morning of our lives starting in September.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A frilly school bag

Dorothy starts preschool this fall and will join the ranks of bag-toting tots everywhere. At our school the teachers prefer open-topped bags (not backpacks) to facilitate easy access, so that's what we made. Dorothy selected fabric from our stash downstairs (a thrifted sheet, in this case), then contributed the drawing of a flower, which I scanned and printed on fabric along with her name. I put frilly ruffles at the top, a little pocket inside for her sundries, and a little mother-of-pearl snap in case she needs it to stay closed while she's upsidedown on the monkey bars.

This old t-shirt was being demoted to sleep shirt, so I used it as an experiment for some new t-shirt transfer paper. I'd never used the kind designed for dark shirts, which is an opaque white transfer instead of the typical transparent kind that is only intended for light-colored fabrics. I printed some Dorothy flowers onto it and ironed it on. This paper seems to scorch easier than the other, which is good to know, but the transfers seem firmly affixed and flexible. Hopefully the little artist will be proud when she sees Mom sleeping in it tonight.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

There's no place like home indeed

We've had such a terrific summer so far, rushing this way and that, getting sunburnt, seeing sights and staying busy. But lately Dorothy and I have been getting a bit edgy, and I think we just needed to spend some quiet time at home. So today we totally ditched our plan to visit the Science Center and instead spent the morning in our pajamas doing fun, creative things while the baby caught up on a much-needed uninterrupted morning of sleep. I sewed a shirt from the sheets I'd bought this spring (more or less on the pattern New Look 6871), and she played and painted. Midway through the project I was starting to worry this shirt was going to turn out maternity-looking, which would be horrifying for someone who is only four months out of that state, but it doesn't. It does need a chunky pink bead necklace, which might require a trip to a bead store. I don't normally wear such bright colors, but I still think this is kind of fun in a very retro sort of way.

Dorothy did a lot of building with Lincoln Logs this morning. When she was still quite small and became the owner of Lincoln Logs for the first time I repurposed an empty kitty litter container to hold them. We store a lot of her things in these big, sturdy buckets, which I fashion labels for out of colored cardstock. This bucket, if you can't tell from the photo, has a portrait of President Lincoln on the side and his babyhood cabin on the front. All of the log-cabin-former-President bit is totally lost on Dorothy, however, who asked for them this morning by saying, "can I have those blocks that look kind of like peanuts? The ones in the bucket with that guy on the side?"

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The obligatory baby-in-sunglasses photo

Baby Worth is outgrowing things faster than I can photograph them. I keep finding things I thought he wouldn't wear until later, only to discover they are already tight! This turquoise and lime green crocheted soaker seemed enormous when I finished it, but is now (at first wearing, since it was with a stash of supposedly "too big" clothes) already snug around the legs. This is a good excuse to put it on him a lot in the next few weeks anyway. I love wool soakers over cotton prefolds in this heat even though it seems counterintuitive, because unlike PUL covers (or plastic gel-filled disposables--ick) they are so breathable.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Party time

Every year since Dorothy has been a baby we've hosted a 4th of July-themed bash in our back yard for her small friends. We had the 2010 event a couple days ago, and it was a success. This year we featured do-it-youself face (turned into body) painting, the dress-up box (even more exciting outdooors in 100 degree heat!) and other yard games. I wanted to make some version of the locally-popular game cornhole (basically bean-bag toss) that would be easy for preschoolers, so I stitched up some homemade bean bags before the party.
I used a set of coasters as a template to cut 8 fabric squares (leftover scraps from the matching outfits of last week), stitched them right-sides together leaving a small opening on one side, turned them right-side out, filled them with dried beans from the pantry using a small flexible cutting board as a funnel (see top photo), then hand-stitched the openings closed. Then I spray-painted two lines in the grass about 10 feet apart and put the bean bags on one side and a laundry basket on the other. The kids didn't actually end up playing with it much--the draw of the face-paint was too strong--but I kind of liked the idea and will probably use it again at smaller gatherings when there is less competition for attention. I think it would be a fun multi-generational game.

Here's Dorothy with self-painted cheeks and arms. We like the crayon-style face paints because the kids can paint themselves easily and it washes off with no more than a baby wipe. By the end of the party, some kids were almost fully naked and had paint from one end to the other!
After the party we had to return to reality with a jolt--27 children and 21 adults left, then we had three hours to clean the house and evacuate for a real estate showing. Ugh. No feedback, so I assume that after all that effort the prospective buyers were not interested.

Yesterday was much calmer. The party over, Dorothy went off to spend the day with her newly-relocated grandparents. I took Worth to his 4-month checkup (75% percentile in height and weight!), then he slept undisturbed by sister all afternoon while I got caught up on various quiet tasks and made some invitations to his upcoming baptism and brunch. It's certainly not necessary to send invitations to the small, close crowd of family and friends who will be included in this day, but doing so does seem to set apart this event as something extra-special. I printed a Filippo Lippi painting from the internet (for personal use) that I'd admired at the Uffizi in Florence before I was married and taped it to a little message I printed on cardstock.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tears in my...

She did not buy our house. She said she loves our house, but that the commute would be too long. Funny, since the location of our house did not change while she was thinking about it overnight. I'd hoped to post my own recipe for fresh-squeezed celebration margaritas today, but instead am sharing a recipe (this one not created by me) for disppointment "tonic." It has only one ingredient! Bourbon. Pour in a glass, ice optional. Sarcasm necessary. Enjoy.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Day tripper

So today's post is a bit, er, off my usual beaten path. Rob had a work-related commitment in Mercer County this morning, and since the rest of the day was supposed to be a holiday for him we all tagged along to have a little outing.

Much of Kentucky's population lives in the Louisville/Lexington/Frankfort corridor, and the rest of the state is where Kentucky jokes come from. I don't mean to ditch on my Commonwealth brethren, but just to draw attention to the fact that life looks a lot different in the more rural parts of the state than it does in the comparatively urban ones. Ahem.

So Rob and I, being the diligent planners that we are, visited the Mercer County website to figure out how best to spend our day trip. What does it mean when the Mercer County website says they are "within a two hour drive of 2.5 million people"? Is that like being almost urban? Or cosmopolitan by association? What if I said I live within a two-hour drive of lovers and haters and beautiful people and bigots and fools and poets? Does that actually say anything at all about me? So we tried Google instead and decided to spend our day in downtown Harrodsburg and at Old Fort Harrod State Park.

We set off smartly this morning, kids in tow. The house was left clean for a real-estate showing, the kids were dressed very sweetly in matching outfits (store-bought this time); we made an auspicious start with four people in good moods and ready for adventure. The drive went well, Rob dealt quickly and successfully with his business, and we decided to try to find local color in the little town square area. We found a diner and decided to give it a try.
So far, so good. Breakfast served all day, yeah! The mostly senior citizen crowd seemed to think our kids were cute, so they'd likely be forgiven if they made a bit of noise. We placed our order and made friendly faces at the people next to us who were cooing over the flirting baby. Dorothy's chocolate milk arrived and it was that really viscous, dark brown chocolate milk that I haven't seen in a long time and I'm sure my organic-chocolate-syrup-stirred-into-lowfat-milk kid had never experienced. She started sucking it down, fast. I saw my food coming and decided to switch the baby to my other knee, to free up my fork hand. That's when I realized we'd had a poosplosion. My apologies to readers who don't have kids, but it happens. I'd put him in a hand-me-down diaper we hadn't tried out yet--big mistake on a trip. There was baby poop all over my skirt and all over the bottom of the fully clothed baby. I make pitiful noises at Rob, who saw the problem, jumped up and handed me a roll of paper towels from the bar (glad it was the down-home kind of place that has paper towel rolls just sitting around). But this was really not a job for paper towels, and the only restroom there was a tiny facility you accessed by walking right through the establishment's busy kitchen. No thanks. I clutch the dirty baby over the skirt poo and headed for the car.
Unfortunately we'd parked right in front of the restaurant and it also had outdoor seating. I never turned around to see how many people were watching us, but we were only a few feet away so I'm sure we had at least some corner-of-the-eye audience, which is just what you want when you're trying to clean poo off yourself and your son on a public sidewalk. I grabbed the bag I'd packed for the day and located wipes, a bag and a clean diaper, but to my chagrin I realized Worth's change of clothes had been left with some other items in the bag I'd packed for church yesterday and accidentally abandoned under our pew. Never fear, I thought, because I keep an emergency change of clothes for both children in a bag in the back of the car.
I fetched the emergency stash and pulled out...a teeny tiny newborn jammie that I could not even have tugged over the feet of my enormous 4-month-old chubster (please notice his tummy rolls in the photo above, jammie laid out on the car seat to show scale). Too bad I hadn't updated that emergency stash lately! So I scrubbed him down with baby wipes--poo-soaked shortalls pulled down, poo all over lower half of baby; poo-soaked onesie pulled up, poo all over upper half of baby. But I had a Costco pack of wipes and I did get him all cleaned off, in the front seat of the car, with an audience of sidewalk diners, and put him in a fresh diaper. He looked radiantly happy and grinned and cooed at my the whole time I tried to clean my own skirt off with baby wipes, napkins and a bottle of water, all still on the sidewalk and with an audience. At this point I was both totally grossed out and starving. There wasn't much else I could do, so I walked back into the diner with my soaked but still visibly dirty skirt and my nearly-naked baby. This time our neighbors pointedly avoided looking at me, which might have been for the best. I choked down what turned out to be very disappointing french toast (fried Wonderbread, anyone?) and tried to laugh.
We decided the next course of action should be a stop at a store that sold clean clothes, so we consulted the car's navigation system for nearby shopping options. Of course there was a Wal-Mart handily right down the road, and I swear I never was so eager to go shopping there. Target would have been green with envy to see my eagerness to rush into that blue bastion of rural capitalism. I abandoned my naked baby in the parking lot with his father and rushed first (sorry, I have priorities) to the adult clothing section, envisioning the purchase of a clean skirt or maybe, in a pinch, a pair of capris. I found the women's section quite easily ("women's" being a euphemism for "clothing for bigger gals"), then the tiny skimpy junior shorts, but didn't see the clothing for people my size. I circled back around. I wandered over to the pots and pans. Was I missing it? It turned out the Wal-Mart only carried a few pitiful little rounders of clothing for average-sized people, and none of them contained skirts or capris.

Now I get that Kentucky holds strong at the seventh-fattest state, but seriously? One cannot even purchase average-sized clothing downstate? I do not hold anything against heavier people, nor do I fit into the scrawny salad-munching soccer mom mold myself, but WTF?? I went in with very low standards--I needed something to wear that was better than a shit-smeared skirt, and I found nothing. Wow.

On to the children's department. I did a little better there. A Carter's romper for $4 that said something innocuous about surfing. At least I was able to find clothing in his size that wasn't emblazoned with a sports team or a cartoon character. I made my purchase, dressed the baby, told myself no one would notice the now-dry discoloration on my skirt anyway, and we drove to the fort.

It was a really hot day to visit an outdoor exhibit, but we figured the place would be bustling anyway on a holiday. Dorothy professed hope she'd be able to pet a lamb as we'd seen on the website, the baby was ready for a nap under any circumstance, and Rob and I were still gamely ready to learn more about our state. Unfortunately, the reality was a bit different. The oppressive heat seemed to have kept most visitors away, the (full-grown) sheep sulked deep out of reach in the shade, and the costumed staffers seemed about to melt. But the trip still felt salvageable until we rounded the corner of the fort to the "primitive" or Native American exhibit. There sat a state park employee, in the dirt, in a manner that I have to say threw me off even more than poop down my skirt in a diner.

Are you familiar with Jay and Silent Bob? Well, the man in the dirt reminded me of Jay as much as anybody, definitely with a stoned sort of look but also with multiple facial piercings, and (I'm sorry, dear reader, I warned you this was off the beaten path) was wearing a loincloth. And a shirt. But on his lower parts, which were seated in dirt, as part of (I think?) an exhibit, he was wearing only a leather loincloth. Jay, from Jay and Silent Bob. With facial piercings. In a loincloth. In the heat. It's not that I'm a prude, my friend, just that I'm confused about the historical accuracy/necessity/advisability/legality of any Kevin Smith character wearing a loincloth anywhere near me or my children. And yet there he was, talking about curing animal hides (seriously? I couldn't make this up!) to another visitor standing on our side of the fence. Rob and I exchanged one of those married-people glances that mean 1000 things in one tiny look, and we, well, got the hell out of there.

I was trying to decide if I was going to recover from all that poop and Jay-in-the-loincloth all on the same day, trying hard to focus on a soap-making exhibit that normally would have really interested me, when the phone rang. Our realtor called, and today's showing went swimmingly! We probably sold the house. The potential buyer will sleep on it first, but intends to write an offer tomorrow. We're so glad, and so anxious all in one. We need to find a house/pack/mortgage and all of those things. We finally just gave up on our day in Mercer County and drove home to a liquor cabinet that I must remember to pack last at this address and unpack first at the new one, because honestly, on days like this, isn't that cheaper than therapy?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

4th of July

I'd hoped to make myself a patriotic bandana to match the kids' outfits for today but didn't get around to it. I did pull out earrings and a bracelet I made from really neat red, white and blue chevron beads a while back. A friend once gave me the tip of storing sterling silver jewerly in itty bitty ziploc bags (available in the beading section of discount stores) and it works so well. I think this is the eighth year I've worn this set and I've never polished the silver parts, because they don't tarnish in their little baggies during the rest of the year.

And here are my wee Americans, all decked out in their stars. Unfortunately the baby's romper is too big, as I suspected, and in this picture the sleeve falling down his chubby little shoulder makes him look like he's wearing a dress. Sigh. But in person I think he carried it off with masculine dignity! I designed this little card in Photoshop and had it printed at Walgreens through Snapfish to send to family. So much cheaper than ordering their cards and I can order just the right number (no pack of twenty cards when we only have two sets of doting grandparents). We had a great afternoon celebrating with family and neighbors, and are joining a neighborhood gathering for fireworks later tonight. I tried to explain the nature of the celebration to Dorothy, and I think she took in some of it. May she grow up to value diversity and tolerance in our great land, and to accept good-naturedly the fact that her father and I are about to torment her by singing the Star Spangled Banner on her kazoo.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


I need a new blog title. For some reason I just can't think of one I like. This dilemma actually kept me from starting a blog for a while. Any suggestions?

A star-spangled birthday

Friday I made a fun excursion with my dad and the kids. We drove to a local lake with a beach, where some friends of mine have been going regularly. It was really fun, we'll definitely do it again. We were almost surprised by how beachy and relaxing it was, even though the drive was so pleasantly short. It was weird to come home and shake off sand all over my own home, instead of a hotel room! I recently unearthed a little Playmate cooler of just the right picnic size in our garden shed--I think it must have been Rob's before we married, and it just never found its way into a spot where I'd use it until now. But somehow it seems to have fueled a spate of picnicking for us lately. I keep three plastic water bottles in the freezer, then pop them in when we're ready to go--no loose ice, no mess (and the bottles found a second useful life). And I have to favorite way to picnic lately has been to grab the cooler and the ice bottles, then stop on the way to our destination and fill the cooler with takeout! We'll have to head to the beach with it again soon.

Today is my mother-in-law's birthday, and since she and my father-in-law are now living close by we were able to celebrate with dinner at my house. It feels much more satisfying to be able to cook someone a birthday dinner than to make a phone call. I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I didn't have to decide whether or not to use patriotic dishes on our dinner table for this 3rd of July meal, but rather which set of patriotic dishes I would pull out. Hey, some people like cars, some people like gadgets, I happen to like dishes. A lot. Anyway, I chose these fun tin plates, where each one is a bit different and reflects a different American pastime, and Dorothy decorated some place cards (folded index cards) and we set a cute little red, white and blue party table.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pesto from scratch: the sequel

A couple months ago Dorothy and I repotted some basil I'd grown from seed into bigger pots. It was really ready to cut and eat a week or two ago, but we finally got around to it today. Dorothy decided we should eat it on pizza, so tonight I baked vegetable pizzas with pesto, yellow squash and sundried tomatoes. Rob and I thought it was delicious; Dorothy picked off the visible vegetables, dug in, then declared that our basil was "nasty." Luckily I'd thought to bake a separate pizza with more traditional toppings. If you've never made pesto at home, it's fun and easy. Fill a food processor bowl most of the way with clean basil leaves, then drizzle with olive oil, throw in a handful of pine nuts, a handful of shredded parmesan cheese (the real stuff, not its bastard cousin that comes in a plastic can), sprinkle with salt and whirl. Yum.

So yesterday I went shopping with my mother. Being the generous Nana she is, she bought Dorothy some new clothes from Children's Place--clothes Dorothy picked out herself. The girl selected one of her new outfits this morning and put it on first thing, instead of the usual time spent lolling in jammies. She put on this shirt with this matching (skimpy) shrug. My first thought was, sheesh, my mother bought my daughter hootchie-girl clothes! Why must little girl clothes be so much like skanky teenager clothes? Can't they be little and non-sexy for just a few years? Then I got totally knocked off my high horse. My kid said, "Mommy, in this outfit I look just like you! See this shirt? It has a nursing bra!"