Friday, July 29, 2011

More Pleated Purses

I put some of my fabric by the pound to good use and made 3 more pleated purses (I actually made 4 but one was from leftover material from the one I made for myself)

I used Kona solids for the lining.

BBWP claimed this one as her fun prize.
It looks black-ish in the picture but is actually navy. It's my favorite fabric of all of the fabric by the pound and I was happy to send it out west.

This is the one I made from my original leftovers. It's about an inch and a half smaller because I was trying to cut scrap fabric, but that's not really noticeable. I like the way the pink goes with the polka dots. But I still like my light blue liner too.
black and white.
This might be my second favorite. All though I'd never actually carry it ... because, well, I would have to wash it daily! too much white for me. I like the print.
My mom picked this one out and has been carrying it around nonstop.
I don't really have any plans for the extra 2. They'll stick around for awhile until I gift them away. I did enjoy making these more than the first one. Just for confidence sake. It was nice to know I wasn't doing it "wrong"

Plus, it was nice practice for all the different skills.

Double Plus, it was the first time I've sewn with Kona solids. wow, I love it. I bought a few yards of white for a later project after using the pink and blue for the purse liner!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Palisades Park from Daughter's Point of View

Recently, we took another trip to Palisades Park. seriously, my kids love to hike. I love it.

This time when I was packing Daughter's backpack with oranges, wipes and ice water, I added her camera. She was so excited when she found it. "So, I can taking pictures during the hike? Of whatever I want to?"

yes, yes, indeed.

And, boy, she did. She took about 50 pictures and I parred it down to 10.
The captions in quotes are what she was saying when she snapped the picture.

"This tree is so big and strong. I love it."

"Mommy, this says, 'Our hike starts now.'"
I'm not sure why it looks like I'm asking a question. Maybe because I was wondering if she was actually taking a legitimately good picture. She was.
She took a picture of EVERY one of these on the trail identifying the trees (over 20). I liked this one best because of the lighting.
"This is a tiny pine comb. It's where trees come from."
something like that, exactly.

I love how she picked up the rock to take a picture of it.
(Son in the background)
Son. (sigh. what a cutie)
Husband starting eating these wild "blackberries" Well, not these. He ate ripe ones. He offered me some but I told him if he didn't die, I'd have some on our next hike. (I'm glad he didn't die)

a great sunset.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Membership Day at McWane? sure. um, NO.

Saturday was "Membership Day" at Mcwane. We had no idea what that meant until we got there and the place was C.R.O.W.D.E.D. like I've never ever seen before. ever. An employee handed me a piece of paper that listed all these organizations/attractions in Birmingham that included McWane, the zoo, Vulcan, The Ballet, The Alabama Theatre, the art museum, the Civil Rights Museum and the public library. Basically, they, (and many other places that I'm forgetting now) all partnered together so that members of ALL these organizations could get into ANY of these organizations for free.

Sigh. This would have been fabulous to know BEFORE we got to McWane. Sure, it was listed on the website, but there was no description of what membership day actually was. So, it was close to 100 degrees and anyone with a library card could get into McWane for free. Genius idea if you want people to visit your attraction for free for the possibility of loving it and paying to come later. Horrible idea if you're already a member and just want to enjoy an afternoon with your kids.

After about 45 minutes the kids were still having a fantastic time but the noise level (WHAT WAS WITH ALL THE SCREAMING UNATTENDED CHILDREN?!) and the crowd, I was done.

It was 3:30 and not getting any hotter outside ... Hey, let's go to the zoo. For free. Admission for a family of 4 to the zoo is $46 and that's if you don't ride the train or the carousel.

I was optimistic about the zoo and it really turned out to be a fantastic family adventure. I loved it, the kids loved it, Husband at least acted like he mostly loved it. Great fun.

the only picture from McWane. Listening to the ocean. See Daughter's yellow bruise under her eye? That's what's left over from falling off the futon in Mobile!

Son's favorite. This big guy was roaring and roaring and ROARING some more. It was pretty amazing. But by the time I grabbed the camera, he'd tired himself out!

Daughter's favorite again.

Son actually said, "I go pet 'dem." Ok, good luck, buddy.
It was a lot of fun walking around seeing everything I didn't get to see after the 5K. I think we saw everything. Then we went to the children's part. They didn't go there last time so we all got to discover it together. Splash pad, butterfly house, petting zoo, nature walk and the carousal (which we didn't ride) - oh my. It was fun.

we didn't bring bathing suits, but that didn't stop anyone.

Daughter didn't even have a change of clothes. So the best I could do for her was take off her dress, wring it out well and put it back on her. She didn't mind at all. They both loved the water.

Daughter petting a goat

Son petting a goat. I'm not going to lie. I think I had the most fun with the goats. Everyone was ready to leave WAY before I was!

We all took turns getting very close to this rooster. I think he was our tour guide because he followed us around the petting zoo for awhile!

Daughter petting a sheep.

She was singing Old MacDonald to the rooster.

Son taking his turn. "cock-a-doo-loo-doo, roos-der."

"look, Mommy, we found a bunny."

And then we REALLY did find a bunny!

"I say ROOOOOOAAAAAR like 'de lion."

Sigh, it really was so much fun. We stayed about 2.5 hours and I just kept marveling about how I never would have imagined the zoo could be this great especially when it was so hot outside!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Voices from Chernobyl

I'm not any kind of history know it all, but I do enjoy learning about history.

(slight tangent: my favorite history source right now is The History Chicks. Check them out. subscribe to their podcast and visit their website)

Anyway, back on task. I know enough about history that I can answer a Jeopardy category on most history topics, but that's about it. And my Husband has a BA in History and Political Science and BBWP has an MA in history. So, I'd like to know more.

Recently, Husband has been checking out more nonfiction books out of the library that he thinks I'll enjoy and Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster is the latest one. I actually heard about this one on a recent episode of This American Life and mentioned it'd be a book I'd enjoy digging in to. Weeks later, Husband picked it up.

And I guess enjoy is certainly the wrong word. There was nothing enjoyable about this book. It was hard and dirty and sad and pitiful. But also so moving and powerful.

Before reading this book, all I really knew about Chernobyl was that in April of 1986, a nuclear reactor blew and caused massive amounts of radiation to escape. And really, that's all you need to know to appreciate the book.

Ten years later Svetlana Alexievich started interviewing first responders, their families, evacuees, soldiers called in to help with the "clean up," journalists, teachers, pretty much anyone that would talk to her that had their life impacted due to the explosion and its aftermath.

The stories are so gripping, and moving and sorrowful. By far my two favorite stories are the first and final ones. They are both told by wives who lost their husbands. These were the ones that I reacted to the most, that pulled my heart and made me cry. Probably because I am a wife and have a fear that my husband will die. And these women told their stories so bravely and nakedly.

Anyway, I recommend this book if you're into history and nonfictions. It really is a story that deserves to be remembered.

Now Everyone has a Quilt

Since I've started sewing, I've made a quilt for each kid and Husband and I. So, who's left? Well, if you're a diligent blog stalker, you've noticed my sidebar of WIPs and have seen blankets for Blue Bear and Baby appear and disappear fairly quickly.

When it comes to fabric and well, most anything, if I think I can use it later, I keep it. My leftover fabric stacks were piling up. No, not really. It's not like I have a great storehouse of fabric. But I keep my fabric and all my sewing accessories on a shelf in a bookcase in my room and that space WAS filling up.

So, I decided to sit down and get rid of as much of the scraps as I could. I made Blue Bear a blanket out of the left overs of Son and Daughter's quilts. And I made Baby's out of the left overs of the coasters and mug rugs (and used some of Nanny's fabric for the binding). It took nap time of one day to design, cut and sew the front and back of Blue Bear's. And nap time on a second day to do the same for Baby's. Then on the third day, I quilted and bound them.

There's something so satisfying about completely 2 projects in about 6 hours.

The fronts. The both ended up being in the neighborhood of 18x23 (Blue Bear's is a little smaller)
Daughter loved all the pink on Blue Bear's blanket
And Son just loved Baby's. He didn't care what colors I used.

the backs.
this is the first time I haven't done a solid back and it was simply because I didn't have enough of any one fabric to complete a full back. I like it. This will definitely make it easier for me to make the decision to piece backs on future yet to be determined quilt projects.

Daughter, Blue Bear and his new blanket

Son, Baby and her new blanket.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

And the SKOY winner is ....

Number 1! It was the woman that said, "number one is rarely the winner." Well, today, it's number 1. Congratulations, Rita. Email me your address and I'll get your new SKOY cloth in the mail to you. And, I'd like to see what you think of it!

I was excited to see so many comments that you'd probably buy it anyway, and I definitely recommend you do. Hide your paper towels and save some money AND trees.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Food Day Friday: Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

A few summer's ago, JSS changed my life when she gave me Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. seriously. It's a great book to read if you are at all concerned about the food you put in your mouth or feed to your family.

A great feature of the book is recipes. score.

I love her sun dried tomato pesto recipe (you can find it in the book or on the website linked above) and I only tweak it a little.

Here's what I use:
2 cups of sun dried tomatoes
1 cup of walnuts
1 cup of olive oil
1/3 cup of grated Parmesan (the fresher the better)
1/4 cup of dried basil (or 1/2 cup of fresh basil)
4 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
salt to taste

Here's what I did:
combine all in blender or food processor until well blended. I usually have to add a little extra olive or water just to thin it out a little, store in fridge.

Here's what I got:
served on THE bread

a close up ... sort of resembles a very meaty marinara sauce, huh?
I've only served it on The bread, but I think if you thinned it out much more (with olive oil and water) it'd be great on pasta as a side dish.

I really love this recipe. First, because I use the Juliets out of my garden (it takes about 70 tomatoes to get enough for 2 cups when dried -- but that was only about 3 days of picking for this batch). Second, I used fresh basil from the garden. Third, I do really love garlic ... but this time I used GIGANTIC cloves and could taste garlic for days. Next time I will probably roast the cloves for a more mellow taste.

You don't have 7 Juliet tomato plants in your back yard or the 5 hours it takes to "sun dry" tomatoes in the oven? easy - use store bought. making your prep time about 5 minutes. seriously easy and seriously good.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mobile -- A Weekend of Fun (and rain)

We had a super fun weekend in Mobile visiting our friends Lucy and David. The kids had a ball. Even when Daughter turned herself perpendicular and rolled out of the futon the kids were sleeping in, she was still having fun. And the next morning when she had a cut and bruise on her cheek from the fall, she was still having fun. seriously. Lucy and David have two small dogs that the kids were just gaga over. It was pretty cute.

Our two major highlights were Saturday at the Exploreum and then Sunday at the beach.

The Exploreum is a lot like McWane. Many of the exhibits were the same (and the kids loved discovering, "HEY, this is like at McWane!"). We got there two hours before closing so we didn't get to see everything. But what we saw, we loved. The Wharf of Wonder (for preschoolers), Hands on Hall (which had most of the McWane stuff in it), My Body Works, and Spaced Out Summer. Plus, they partner with McWane, so we got in free.

Daughter floating in "the water" on her life raft.
They really enjoyed the wharf area and all 4 adults enjoyed watching the hi-jinx.

Son swimming

Daughter catching fish.

Son ringing the bell on the ship. They both took turns steering the ship, but I didn't manage to get a picture of either!

Son measuring hang time at Body Works. This was probably a bad idea to let the kids use this because now they want to hang on our bench press bar to "keep practicing!"

Sunday after breakfast we packed up and headed to the beach even though there was rain forecasted. It was supposed to be spotty and we were willing to take the risk. When you only get to see the Gulf of Mexico for a couple of hours once a year ... you're willing to put up with some rain.

And it was drizzly and the wind was blowing and it was 74 degrees (IN JULY - CRAZY!) The water was so clear and warm ... fabulous. Daughter loved the ocean and splashed around for a long time. Son found a hole in the sand and busied himself in the hole. He wasn't really into the yellow flag waves. We stayed on the beach for a little more than an hour and I didn't take any pictures because it actually rained the entire time and I didn't want to get my camera or cell phone out for pictures. The only things we carried with from the car to the beach were the sand toys! Son helped me find some seashells and that was about it for our beach adventure.

We showered off and cleaned up and got dressed, THEN I got out the camera for a minute.

the palm trees blowing in the wind

Heaven. Seriously, if I had a float I could have probably stayed out there for 3 hours. rain and wind would have been blocked out.

Husband and the kids

Daughter and I in various stages of saying "CHEESE." Son is too cool.

Next, we headed across the street to Souvenir City to pick out seashells to put in the sandbox when we get home. The kids very carefully picked out a dozen various sized and colored shells. Daughter was very concerned that we got at least one that we could hear the ocean in. And $8 later, we were standing under the shark for a "family photo" Unfortunately, it was raining so no one offered to take the picture so we could all be in it. It's a 3/4 family picture.
fun, fun, fun. The downside was my seafood loving Husband didn't get one bite of seafood (I felt a little bad for him about that) but on the upside -- we never worried about any sunburns!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

First Tomato Canning of the Season

There was actually a 5th pint that I didn't completely fill, so it's in the fridge and I forgot about it when I took the picture!

It may only be 2 quarts but to me, it's A LOT. My original goal was to can last week before we left for Mobile, but I kept putting it off and putting it off. Finally, after another big picking day on Tuesday, I decided to start canning at 9:00pm. seriously. I thought it was a fabulous idea. (And I sure slept great by the time my head hit the pillow 3 hours later!)

I used the kids' Husky Cherry Reds, Rutgers, Homesteads and of course the tomatoes that are coming out of our ears -- the Juliets.

I really like the Rutgers and Homesteads. I researched them before I got them to make sure they were good for canning and WOW. They are so meaty and have so few seeds. Truly a canner's dream. I'll definitely grow these next year.

I used the kids' tomatoes because, well, they aren't that interested in eating them and I'm not that interesting in them rotting on the vine. I think because the kids love to water and check on their tomatoes, they can each have a plant again next year, but I'll get something much more canning friendly - probably Romas.

Can you tell I'm already making plans for next year's garden? I may or may not already have a chart drawn up showing what goes where ... I do.

Anyway, I'm so excited about these 4 jars. I'm imagining curries, soups, stews, chilis, sauces ... wow. And also thinking about how many more jars are to come.

I've decided to make Saturday (or Sunday depending on how our weekends shape out) "Official Canning Day" That way Husband will be home to help and we won't be staying up late when we're already tired from long days. So I'll just save tomatoes (using what I want as I go) and then come Official Canning Day, we will do just that ... officially can. ;-)

Wordless Wednesday: Bed of Nails