Saturday, April 30, 2011

the garden ... or lack thereof

I'm finally motivated to get the garden going again. Remember the Craiglist guy who sold heirloom tomato plants? We wanted Rutgers and Mortgage Lifters from him, but he never called us back ... That didn't help my motivation level. Then on Wednesday I stopped in at Walmart between storms and decided to take a peek at the plants. Bonnie Plants saved my sanity. Walmart had Juliets!! (ya know, the variety we grew last year and loveLOVEloved that I keep starting from a seed and it keeps dying) I got 3. They had some heirloom varieties but none that was good for canning. So I decided to stop by Marvin's. They're on the way home and also carry Bonnie Plants. They had Rutgers and Homestead -- both great for canning. And one that I was already interesting in. HUZZAH. yes, I actually shouting "HUZZAH" when I saw them.

wow, I am going to embarrass my kids when they get older.

Anyway, I got 4 each and we headed home. Now we just have to get the fencing and get the tomato cages made. I'm excited about the garden again!!

Anyway, here's what's going on now with what's growing:

The mint (to the left) and the basil.
The mint is getting thick and I need to make a gallon of mint tea to thin it out a little.
The basil looks thin because I just picked 8 cups of it for pesto.

The Juliets that I reseeded.
I'm glad they are growing, but their importance level has dropped of now that I have more mature plants. I'll probably still plant them or see if anyone wants them if we don't have the room.

a closeup. I wish the first ones I planted made it to this point!
The cucumbers and melons are both doing well and will be ready to put in the ground soon. I didn't get a picture of them though.

The blueberries are blooming. I hate to admit it but I don't like them. They are so prickly, I can't even work the garden around them because I get stuck. I am rooting for the blueberry bush, which may or may not even be alive! eh. Husband loves the blackberries. I'm happy something he likes it doing well, but I just stay away from them.
Hopefully, today or tomorrow will be the day that we get everything planted. It's nice to feel excited about the garden again. I was close to throwing in the towel this season.

Friday, April 29, 2011

I love: my tumbleweed composter & the soil it makes

Husband got me this composter (a Tumbleweed) for Mother's Day 2 year's ago. Um, I was pretty much ecstatic.

That's right. Putting our kitchen scraps and leaves in a green bin and spinning it every few days had me over the moon. (It also majorly cut the amount of garbage that was being picked up weekly. well, that and recycling. We started both at the same time.)

See all that dirt/soil on the ground below it? I took this picture right after I COMPLETELY emptied it for the first time in 2 years!

And dumped it all in the garden. I love how dark and rich the soil looks compared to the garden that I put it on!
It's so neat to me how our orange peels, banana peels, coffee grounds, onion skins, celery ends, carrot peels, etc and lots of leaves turn into dirt/soil/compost.

Hopefully, this means we'll get the garden started soon. But that's for another post. Perhaps one for tomorrow. ;-)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

hummingbird pick-me-up

After yesterday's tornadoes, property destruction and loss of life, I just feel so heavy hearted.

We lost our cell service. And our chief means of communication was our home internet. (And of course we were watching Spann) For awhile we couldn't get in touch with my parents and didn't know if they were safe. Luckily, they are fine. Their house is fine. And BBWP in Arizona was actually able to get in touch with my mom before I did! I was so thankful for that. We didn't get cell service back until about 9pm. I would have been a nervous wreck if it took that long to hear from them!

Until about 2pm today I didn't think we had any damage. Sure, there was some wind, rain, lightening and thunder. But nothing "bad." We never even lost our Dish Network signal. Well, I finally looked in our yard and noticed one of our trees was almost split in half.

the view looking up

the limbs on the fence
Not that big of a deal. Nothing an hour or so of manual labor couldn't fix. (the fence is fine.)

But this broke my heart. I found it in the yard close to the tree.
It's a May 16, 2005 issue of Jet magazine. The label is an address in Pratt City (Birmingham, AL) A solid 45 minute drive from us. And we later learned that the street on the label is one of the ones totally destroyed. As in no houses remaining. (sigh)

It breaks my heart to think that this lady who owned/owns this magazine might not have survived. (right now I have no idea either way)

As a way to cheer up a little I decided it was time we filled up and hang the kids' hummingbird feeders. Earlier in the week, The Wonder Pets helped a baby hummingbird. Daughter was beside herself with excitement that such a bird existed. You should have heard her going on and on about this tiny red bird with wings that flap super fast that can fly like a helicopter and has a long beak. She was just a talkin' about it. Off we went to get each kid a hummingbird feeder. They've been talking about it for two days!

Showing off their feeders

"Mommy, we're just relaxing while you fill dem up."

and hung.
now we just have to wait for the hummingbirds to show up.

Two Kisses for Maddy or Pass the Tissues, Please

There's not much more I can say about this book that isn't described just as well in the About section of its website.

There's an audio version, that Matt reads. And the paper version (there's also a Kindle version, I think)

I've been reading Matt's blog since Maddy was about 6 months old. I don't know him personally, but I feel so proud of him, nonetheless. Get to know this man and his daughter (and Brooke). They truly are people worth knowing.

Also, you can donate to the foundation he started to honor his late wife, Liz. The Liz Logelin Foundation

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

FIRST fresh pesto of the season

Hurray, hurray. Sunday, I gave the basil it's first major picking of the season. And the result? PESTO.

ready to freeze. And the freezer stash of pesto begins.
For Lent, Husband gave up red meat, alcohol and pasta. So for Easter dinner we had steak, pasta/pesto and margaritas. (plus garlic green beans because I thought it went better with the steak than pasta/pesto)

Monday, April 25, 2011

"Let's go outside and take pictures"

I finished Son's quilt Friday night in a sinus medicine haze. My top priority wasn't getting it right, it was getting it finished. But, it does look a lot better than Daughter's. And I think that's progress. I learned and did better. My 4th grade teacher would be proud.

Daughter got a sneak preview of her quilt Friday night after Son went to bed. She wrapped it around herself and declared it, "the perfect size for me." She also had one criticism about it, but more on that later.

Anyway, Saturday morning with the grass freshly cut and Son's blanket fresh out of the dryer, I told the kids we were going outside to take pictures of them with their new quilts. HURRAY. everyone loves going outside.

Here's what happened:
Son ran and jumped all over the quilt. Never slowing down long enough for a good shot.

oh, and Daughter did the exact same thing.
I gave up. We'd try again later. It was play time.

Back to Daughter's criticism. She was looking at all the colors of the squares when she noticed there was NO PINK. gasp. Her favorite color if you all remember. I asked her if she'd like a "secret pink square on the back" (imagine I'm talking in whispered conspiratorial tones) She thought that was a decent compromise. And I grabbed a pink charm and quickly sewed it on the back.
"perfect," she deemed.

They were so excited about their quilts that they wanted to take them in the car later that day. I didn't mind. I was actually a little proud they liked the quilts enough they wanted to carry them around. With the help of a couple of 5 point harnesses, I was able to hold my subjects captive long enough to get a picture of each of them with their new quilts.

Son, his quilt and his forehead scrape from earlier in the day

Daughter asking if she could take a picture
All in all, I learned a lot from the first Second Saturday Sew day. I'm excited I made something the kids like and I love the sense of pride it gives me. fun times.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

J-Day: trying to get the perfect timed picture

taking a picture shouldn't be as hard as this. on the plus side we did laugh a lot at my ridiculous camera skills. (this is only 8 out of about 50 pictures that we took)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Five year Date-aversary

Its been a fun five years, full of the flavor of life - bitter and sweet. Who knows how many pages the book still has left in it, but I'm pretty certain how things will end.

Our Song.

Book to Purse Part 2

Tiffany received the books in the mail yesterday and promptly headed to her local craft store and picked out fabric and handles. She did a fantastic job. I REALLY like her fabric choices. Stop by her blog to see her choices.

I'm really excited for Part 3!

I love: single serve packet coffee

seriously. And I'll tell you why.
When I first saw these in stores, I'll admit I thought, "What a gigantic waste of money. I bet it tastes horrible. Who would spend money on this? There are people really too lazy to brew 1 cup of coffee" And lots of other ridiculous judgmental thoughts.

Then months later, our 6 year old coffee maker went on the fritz. I reluctantly picked up a pack to get me through those mornings I really wanted coffee until we could replace it.

Um, it's fabulous. truly. I suddenly didn't miss the old coffee maker so much.

My mother got Husband a new coffee maker for his birthday. (hurray) So now, I only use these on the mornings that I just want one cup of coffee and Husband has already gone to work without making any - about one day a week. That helps justify the cost.

I think there are 7(?) packs in a box. One box will last me awhile.

This weekend Husband and I were having a Soprano's marathon (thank you bham library) and at about midnight we wanted coffee. It was nice to be able to whip these babies out instead of grinding beans and risking waking up the kids.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Is Cinderella really eating my daughter?

The short answer, for me, is "not yet." Although, earlier this week Daugther brought me two of the finger puppets we got both kids for Christmas (pirates/unicorns/fairies/princesses. Thank you, World Market) and wanted to play. She had the princess and gave me the fairy. She told me the princess was named "Princess." But she told me that the fairy was really named "Rapunzel" because she had long hair. Then she said, " I will say 'Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your hair. And then we'll go play at the park." Super Why! (sigh) that's how my Daughter knows about fairy tales. I try to steer Daughter away from stories about helpless princesses being rescued by handsome princes. I'd rather she build towers out of blocks, even if she is wearing all pink to do it!

Anyway, back to the book. I heard about it on npr, and in her interview Peggy Orenstein, the author, sounded a lot like Ayelet Waldman, who I REALLY like so I decided to read the book. (It turns out Ayelet actually wrote a blurb for the back cover)

Husband checked it out from the library and that was the only thing I didn't like about it. I wanted my own copy so I could underline and highlight and write in the margins.

This is a quote from the book that sums up almost perfectly my feelings on the matter: "Mothers want so desperately to guide their daughters to an authentic, unconflicted balance of feminism and femininity, on that will sustain rather than constrain them."

I could go on and on about my ideas on the subject and yada yada yada, but I'll spare you. Maybe we'll talk over coffee soon. I recommend the book. I don't know how much a non-parent will enjoy/get out of the book, but I have a friend who doesn't have children but is a teacher and she really enjoyed it. It's definitely a lot of food for thought and at the very least will spark a conversation.

Raising a daughter is hard. But, really, so is raising a son.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Second Saturday quilt finished

The material for Son's quilt came yesterday. I decided I needed to get the show on the road and get them both finished.

Daughter's has been sitting in a shelf for over a week with nothing left to do but the binding. So I finally just did it. I should have worked slower. It really does look like a mess close up. One of the corners looks amazing. The others? Not really so much. And when I was basting it, I made the mistake of letting the back slip a little in a couple of places, making the back look a little off. It's won't win any prizes. Not even a beginner prize in an 8 year old division, but I'm proud of it and I know Daughter will love it. She's definitely enjoyed popping in at various points of the process to "help."

I used Ivy as the border color. If you look closely there are four Ivy squares in the quilt. I thought it would compliment the green polka dots.

I also finished Son's front last night. It worked up A LOT faster than the first one did! (It only took about an hour and a half to get all the squares together and the border on! and that is progress) I should have measured Daughter's border before I cut Son's because I wanted them the same width and I thought they were the same width, but as soon as I got the first piece sewn on I realized it felt a lot smaller. Not a mistake per say, but I should have listened to Handy Manny and measured twice and cut once.
Daughter's quilt is now in the dryer and hopefully in the next two or three days I can get Son's basted, quilted and bound. I definitely learned a lot from making Daughter's. Son's WILL look better. I'm excited to get it finished.

I'm planning on waiting until his is finished and give them both their quilts together.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The great make a purse out of a book adventure of 2011 PART1

Back in January, Tiffany posted a tutorial on how to transform a book into a purse. THIS is the original tutorial on Media Bistro.

My exact comment on her blog was : seriously. I love this idea. I can't even imagine how much time it would take me to choose a book, fabric or handles though. probably more time than it would take to assemble.

and that was before I learned how to sew!

Well, I now know how to sew and I just so happen to have three books lying around. (I used to actively scour antique stores/yard sales/flea markets/thrifts stores/etc for old Nancy Drew books.) I have quite the (incomplete) collection. sigh. I love Nancy. And along the way, I managed to get these three duplicates.

So, I decided I have three books and two friends who I know would LOVE to have one. Fabulous surprise I was going to craft for my crafty friends. Then, I sat down with my X-acto knife and the books. And I couldn't do it. I could not cut the pages out of the books.


It seemed so wasteful and demeaning to the words on the pages. I tried again. Still couldn't do it.

So, I spilled the beans in an email to Tiffany and Tina about my idea but how I couldn't cut the books. Tiffany gladly and QUICKLY volunteered her steady hand and knife for the job. (This woman is a librarian!! gasp)

It wasn't long before the Crafting Trifecta (I've made this a new tag on my blog ... so that means this won't be our only collaborative project) divided duties and started planning.

The book covers

the backs
and because I love books with histories, I feel like I should tell you more about each book we're about to mangle for a greater cause. (We are saving the pages for a craft project to be determined in the future)

The Password to Larkspur Lane once belonged to a girl named Lori Miller. She wrote her name in pink cursive. The book was published in 1966.

The Whispering Statue has the stamp of a Long Island, CA bookstore in it but no one's name. It was published in 1937. (as an aside, the copy of this book that I am keeping was owned by Lori Miller and was republished in 1970 but the cover isn't as colorful as the older one)

The Clue in the Crumbling Wall was once owned by Jana Ost and even included her telephone number. It was republished in 1973.

I remember our middle school (which we all three attended, btw) library had nearly all, if not all of the Nancy Drew books. And week after week of my 6th grade year I read them all. fond memories of Nancy.

I'm excited to mail these to Tiffany today. Then she'll do her part and blog about it and mail them along to Tina. And she'll do her part and if there's parts left to do, they'll come back to me.

I'm excited to see what these books become in the hands of my crafty friends.

ETA: I have no idea why the text is so many colors, but it probably has something to do with the copy and paste of the comment. blah. I can't fix it easily.

Wordless Wednesday: An Ode to the simple things

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What could be better than one baby doll?

Over the past few weeks, Daughter has been saying things like, "I sure wish I had a baby doll like Son's," and "I would really love to have a baby doll to take care of."

So, Daughter got her first baby doll. It looks exactly like Son's except it is dressed in pink (the only other option was the yellow like his). And much like I thought, she loved that baby doll for 17 minutes. And that's been about the extent of her really taking "care" of this baby doll she wished and wished for.

Son on the other hand, has taken this orphan baby into his arms and heart. He gets so excited he runs around shouting, "two babies. I have two babies." And I have to remind him that one of the babies is Daughter's and he's just taking care of it. (More than once she has demanded HER doll back when Son has been tending to the infants.)

He also brings me his dirty baby asking to put it in the shower. Its clothes are horribly dirty and I really should throw it in a pillowcase and wash the thing.

(BTW, I've posted a couple pictures from this angle lately and I want to explain what the background is. See the baby gate? It's the only one we've ever had and it's really a "play yard" I bought it two years ago to go around the Christmas tree. Now it is used for what I call "Book Jail." It is around my two bookcases that house most of my books. And the kids aren't allowed in book jail. Book Jail was erected shortly after Daughter started walking and she tore the cover off one of my Kurt Vonnegut books and a few pages out of a Bret Easton Ellis book. Also, the garbage sack is my shredded paper that is waiting to be taken to be recycled. Anyway, that's completely irrelevant to the rest of the post, but I thought I'd tell you about Book Jail and more things my kids trash.)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Daughter's blocks

Recently Daughter has inherited possibly the worst quality digital camera I have ever known to be in existence. 80% of the time the colors are weird and lighting wonky.

No one wanted this abandoned camera -- except Daughter.

She loves it. And I love her eye. She takes pictures on the most random everyday things from the most childlike angle. And she's so precise. It's adorable to watch. She doesn't quite understand the zoom yet, so all pictures must be obtained by either standing really far away or really close.

So, from time to time, I'll post a shot that I really like.

This is 3 sets (not all pictured of course) of wooden letter blocks I found at Target for $1. A good deal and lots of fun.
maybe I'll start adding a quirky name to each shot. Or maybe you should add the title! comment below.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Our first Second Saturday Sewing

This past Saturday was our first Second Saturday (of the month) Sewing day. I was pretty excited about getting together and creating. Five of us were able to get together and 3 of us made/started baby quilts.

We celebrated small victories. This was MMP's first time using a sewing machine and this was her first row of charms completed. I loved the fabric she picked for her nephew's qulit. very neutral browns and then she mixed in a few bright coordinating colors that really jazzed it up.

We slowed down long enough to celebrate SDJ's birthday.

My bright squares all assembled. I really was euphoric. JSS does a really great job of teaching and explaining and encouraging. I didn't get a picture of her squares but you can oooh and aaah over them on her blog post about the day.

SDJ worked on a purse

MMP's finished squares. She'd never used a sewing machine before so I think I was almost excited about her achievement as I was about mine! I'm excited to see it with the border, backing and binding.
When I got home Daughter was in a horrible mood for a reason I don't even remember, so I thought showing her the quilt would cheer her up. She's been very interested in the quilting process and has helped me cut squares/hand me pins/ask me dozens of questions/whatever. She's told me more than once that this is a quilt we're going to work on together, using teamwork and then she will "sleep under the warm comfy quilt in her bed at night time." Don't forget, I have a daughter who has very strong ideas and opinions about the way things should go.

So when I left the house before she woke up with a bunch of 5 inch squares of fabric and showed up hours later with a mini-quilt, she was HOT.

It went something like this:
"Look what Mommy made today. It's your quilt."


"Hey, wait, wait. It's not finished yet. You can still help. We'll do it together."

"Now? Can we work on it now?"

sigh. "sure."

I unpacked and knocked out the rest pretty quickly. There was some stress when I realized the fabric wasn't cut straight, making the polka dots look askew. But then I realized that I probably wouldn't sew it straight anyway, so it make little to no difference whether the polka dots were straight on the fabric or not. I'm so glad JSS had the idea to use a brick pattern for the squares. It took the pressure off having the corners having to line up exactly.

The finished front.
All I have left to do is add the backing, filling and binding. Which I really have no real clue how to do yet. JSS talked me through it and I think I can figure it out given enough time and google searches.

This is a closeup so you can see the details a little better. The only non-solid charm I used was a fabric I originally chose to be the binding. But I started second guessing that decision and bought something else I think suits better. You can see the non-solid is the second square from the right on the bottom. It's yellow with an orange morse code pattern.

Since Daughter has claimed this one and Son has shown interest in it as well, it looks like I'll be making a second. For Son, I'm going to use the same charms, but a different color motif and use blue polka dots for the border and backing. I'm excited about ordering the fabric and getting started on it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The 158-Pound Marriage

I FLEW through this book. First, because it's short. And second, because I got really wrapped up in the characters. There are 4 main characters and I liked some more than others but they were all very interesting and had deep personalities/motives/emotions. They seemed very real to me.

This is the first John Irving book I've read and I liked it so much, I'll have to read another. (He wrote Cider House Rules and I know it's a movie, but I didn't see it and couldn't tell you anything about it except it was nominated for some Academy Awards.)

The briefest synopsis I can give you is 2 couples begin a casual affair where they swap wives. (The book calls it a foursome, but never in the book are all four parties in bed together) I'm pretty sure anyone who has ever been in a stable serious relationship is like, "What? This will not end well." And not to spoil anything(the back of the book will tell you) it doesn't.

It's told from the perspective of one of the husbands and he seems to be a very reliable narrator. btw, the book was published in 1974, so give you a little historic perspective.

This is the kind of book that after it was over I wanted to talk about it. A LOT. This is the kind of story, that if it was a movie I watched with Husband, we'd still be talking about it.

I can't imagine a situation where I would ever think it was a good idea that Husband and I find another couple and intermingle socially and sexually with them. So, that part of the story was hard for me to relate to, but I definitely believed it was a possible scenario. Plus, I enjoyed reading how each of the four dealt with the affair.

read it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fun Day in Auburn

When you have a best friend that lives states and states away there's lots of notes, postcards, packages, emails, and direct messages on twitter shared. It has been two years since we've been able to get together and we did it in Auburn. It was a dual purpose trip. She and her husband got to visit their alma mater AND enjoy a fun get-together.

Everyone in my family (less me) has baby fever. true story.

To a little boy who loves rocks, Samford Hall was heaven.

Daughter couldn't turn the wheel.

I took about a dozen pictures of the girls sitting there, but this one was by far the cutest.

He's ridiculously cute

We had quite the mini photoshoot here. Lots of fun poses and facial expressions

we rarely have a good picture together. It's mostly the fault of a child in front of us.

The kids were identifying letters. Isn't this a hilarious picture? I feel like they were just playing then someone yelled FREEZE and they stopped.

walking to the student union (and as a non-Auburn student I forget its name)

This kid has 3 speeds: fast, faster and asleep.

Husband and Son found an unlocked gate and got into Jordan-Hare.

I cannot adequately express how excited these two girls were about all the Aubies. It was so sweet watching them. (Daughter was excited that she got to meet Aubie because she's seen "him on tv with football games. And he's friends with the Gopher and Big Owl." (yes, in our world where Mommy is an Auburn fan and Daddy is an Alabama fanatic and alum, Big Owl and Aubie are friends.)

Another Aubie the girls were excited to see.

checking out the new coliseum

blowing bubbles
(Son took a spill right in bottom of an otherwise great shot -- he added a little comedy)

Daughter's turn

And finally, lemonade at Toomer's

Daughter was studying the menu while sipping lemonade.

We took about a dozen bad self portraits. This was the least bad one.
We had so so so much fun playing together. Daughter was very mad we were leaving - Auburn AND her new playmate. Both kids were exhausted. (and of course, Son's favorite part was playing bubbles with Nanny. sheesh)