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Thursday, September 30, 2010

musings on boots and dreads

I am recently obsessing over these boots. I can’t help myself.

I WANT THEM.

I MUST HAVE THEM.

It’s like I will become the mother I want to be if ONLY I have these boots.

I can see myself hopping out of my minivan, kids in tow, happily conquering the world.

Also, these boots too.

Totally see myself running around outside at our goat farm, mucking stalls, riding the horse with my blonde dreads a-waving in the wind, fixing fences, and then going out for a beer with dada (while the kids put themselves to sleep. HA.)

My mother thinks I am joking about the dreads. I am not. I recently told her and my sisters how I was developing some dreads and contemplating actually trying to make them.

They laugh and look at me.

I say no, really I am.

My sister (young and cute) says, “really??” with admiration/suspicion.

Yes. REALLY.

I see it in her eyes. “Really?? My older (read-old) (read-boring) sister with two kids is going to do something crazy like grow dreads? Huh???”

They all start laughing nervously and look at me.

Hmmm. My girlfriends think I am crazy to consider this, mostly. My oldest sister kindly suggested some great leave-in conditioning spray. (HA HA.)

my hair at easter. see the dread-potential? its several inches
longer now...
also, witness the cute children and very cute dada.
very cute. yes.
My Anne-Taylor-wearing sister would be aghast. I haven’t told her yet about my (nearly serious) intentions. Here is the thing. I am mostly able to crossover at this juncture I have one (inconspicuous) tattoo (acquired on a much-disputed first date). I have no weird piercings. I can walk into an Anne Taylor type store with confidence (mostly, especially if I have a “Try” outfit on. In my yoga pants norm, hmmm, better just skip over to Gap Kids where I belong.) Not that I really buy anything at Anne Taylor, unlike my sister who literally has 47 T-Shirts from Anne Taylor. I buy T-Shirts at Target. I recently (shamefully) bought two at Walmart. (I mean, come on, five BUCKS for a perfectly decent v-neck shirt? Why not, right??) Admittedly I feel a little uncomfortable at Anne Taylor already. I don’t quite belong. I feel salespeople there know this. This is what they do. 1) look at your shoes 2) look at your hand bag and as I am typically wearing my “mom” shoes (ballet Priva shoes by Clark SOOO COMFY) and carrying a tattered old clutch (which is just the right size to fit in the diaper bag) or the diaper bag itself they ignore me as I lower my head and beeline to the sales rack. I don’t go there much. Unless I am with my sister (who really should purchase stock in Anne Taylor.)

Anyway. With dreads one can no longer cross over. Even my best Try outfit would fail to cover the fact that I am a dirty dreaded hippy mom. Even if I – gasp – broke out cute flats and the 8 year old Coach purse (which at this point is likely so outdated what is the point really, right?)

see?? arent these so cool??
I would be outed. A dirty hippy mother. Might as well stop shaving right? (I would, out of pure lazi-ness but after a week or so in the winter I can't take it anymore and give in. I like smooth legs)

So, what to do?

Here are my reasons. I could keep my hair long but it would be out of my face. I could even wear it down which I NEVER do (unless I have a headache – which is a lot lately, insert sad face for my poor head) and it would be contained.

Some misconceptions – you STILL WASH YOUR HAIR. (hear that mom?) You just don’t brush. Think of the cool beads! The cool leather straps! Ok, I am totally laughing at myself right now. I sound ridiculous. Dreads. Really? Can a 30-something year old stay at home mom just up and put dreads in her hair? I feel like I need to join a revolution or something. Become a hardcore activist type. Take part in a sit-in. I am so not the sit-in type. I have strong convictions about many things but I really REALLY dislike confrontation (which makes me a great blogger. No one to argue back. HA HA) I also find myself too often empathizing with many sides of an argument. Perhaps because I was the second oldest of a large brood. Perhaps because of my ENTJ personality. I want to understand and feel for everyone and where they are coming from and make everyone love each other as I tuck flowers behind their ears. I am a passionate person though, but only about things I find to be worth the exertion. (HA) Certain political issues. Certain social issues. Certain parenting issues for sure. My family. My faith.

Maybe I am extreme enough come to think of it.

Also – you DON’T have to cut your hair off. VO5 oil and lots of patient combing.

So, to dread or not to dread. Hmmm. Stay tuned. (because I know you are dying to know what I will do with my hair...HA HA)

And the boots? The inspiration for this post? My birthday is tomorrow. Hopefully a whole blog post about these boots will be enough of a subtle hint for dear dada. (insert winky face guy and kissy face guy. LOVE YOU BABY)
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

the world's easiest baby hat

little man at a week old with a roll top hat - so tiny! so sweet!
I went through this phase where I made everyone I knew a version of this hat. I was studying at Oxford and had little pub money, as it were. (Although I did manage plenty of that too) So me and the girls starting knitting. Watching cheesy British soap operas. Beautiful really. The following winter I was newly married and very broke. For Christmas that year EVRYONE got The Hat. My inlaws got The Hat. My fashionable sisters, yep they got one too. And the little sisters. And the brother. And mom.
Throughout the year I kept making them. Anyone need a hat? Especially every new baby. I went around looking for babies to knit for. Your co-worker is having a baby? Totally knitting her a hat! This hat can be made in baby size in approximately 72 minutes. Seriously it’s so easy.

I love knitting baby clothes. They are so tiny and as such they require only a minimum amount of patience. 30 minutes of knitting and you have a sleeve done! I could never ever knit a full person size sweater, on account of this lack of patience. The most I have ever attempted was a three year old size sweater for my son. It felt like it took FOREVER to knit (and then was too scratchy for him to wear, but we were expecting baby dear and out of guilt I felt the need to knit for him too. He seriously wore it twice.). Babies are much more grateful of my effort. Their very eyes light up as they snuggle into my hats (HA.)

little man in a rib brim version of The Hat
My first efforts of this hat were somewhat sad. Huge floppy monstrosities that my husband still (embarrassingly) insists on wearing when its gets down to the single digits here in Minnesota (or the single below zero digits…or the double below zero digits…yikes. Not looking forward to winter right now.)

I actually cut off the sides when I made it too large and sewed it together on a sewing machine to make it the proper size. Pathetic.

I have since made a note of remembering basic sizing and stitches needed to avoid this.

(I think.)

The best yarn for making this hat for babies is a cotton yarn or cotton blend. I have done linen cotton blend which was really nice. I also like a soft wool, cashmere (of course! When is cashmere NOT nice?!) or something like this. I am not big on synthetics for babies. They feel funny to me as an adult so for a baby even more so.

Basically do this:

Size 5 or 6 needles. One ball of yarn will be plenty. It needs to be sport weight yarn, whatever you choose, “regular” yarn weight (not super thin sock weight, not big chunky weight).

Cast on 65 stitches. Maybe 55 for tiny newborn. Maybe 75 for a one year old.

(if you are making this for an adult cast on 70 or 80 and use bigger needles and chunkier yarn)

Knit a row. Then purl a row. This forms a little roll for the brim.

because he is so cute.
If you want a ribbed edge, which I do like too, knit 2 then purl 2 across the first row then switch it up for the next row. Starting with purl 2, then knit 2, and so on. Do this for 6 or so rows until you have a nice little brim. This version is nice because you can fold it up if it doesn’t fit quite yet. Then start knitting a full row, then purling the next row as described.

Keep repeating this until you have maybe 5 or 6 inches of knitting. It goes quick.

While you are knitting stretch out your piece, think of it stretched over your hatee’s head. Does it seem like the right size? If not rip out and try again. I have done this MANY MANY MANY times. MANY. MANY. MANY…..MANY..... You get the point. Your section needs to be big enough to cover your hatee’s head, covering ears and all. I usually make mine longer than I think necessary. A hat that doesn’t cover one’s ears is rather pointless in my opinion. Once you think about the hat on the hatee’s head it’s easy to figure this out.
Then you start reducing the size. So, for the first row (start on a knit row) knit four stitches then knit two together (simple push them together and knit as if they were one) One the next purl row just purl like normal. Do this one more time. Then knit two stitches and knit two together. Then purl. Then do this again. Then knit one stitch then knit two together. Then purl. (This gives you a gradual crown of the head) Then when you have about 20 stitches left bind off your stitches. 
little man in the infamous condom hat and
much too large booties that he never wore
baby booties are cute. i make them.
but they are totally and completely pointless
they never stay on. i make shoes that
do stay on and are super cute.
(another post!)


When I first started making this hat for babies I thought it would be adorable to make a little pointy elf looking hat until my husband pointed out – after making one cream colored version in particular – that combined with the roll brim this looked uncannily like…a very large condom…I obviously cannot make hats like this anymore. 

So then you just turn the hat inside out and stitch up. I like to stitch it by sewing through the second row of stitches rather than the first row, it gives a better looking weave.

And there you have it. HAT!

What did I forget? Questions? Clarifications?
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

traveling crazies

So my posts have been kind of lame lately. Sorry. I was laughing at myself realizing that for someone who claims to not know how to cook I have been posting a lot of food topics lately. Eh. They are easy to put up. And my brain has been slow this week. Tired. Very un-witty. And I have been getting these crazy headaches. Too much caffeine? Not enough? Who knows. (No, really, I am not. Don’t ask. Don’t think it.) Because of this I have been wearing my crazy nearly-dreaded-too-long hair down. I really very nearly have dreads. Eh. I am okay with that. (Is that weird of me? That I am okay with that? I wonder.) If you see some woman with crazy long hair and two charming (in public) children, that is me. Hi.

So, we went to Iowa over the weekend to visit relatives and in particular my grandmother.

Have you ever driven long distances with young children? One of the evil-est things. Ever. You think “oh, this is going to be great. Sing songs. Color. Look at books. Listen to music. Play I spy.”

Yea. All of those things take up approximately 22 minutes.

a moment of traveling zen. sleep my pretties. SLEEEEEEP.

You then have 4.75 hours of “Mommy she is touching me.” “Mommy. I want MORE FRUIT SNACKS.” “Mommy I DROPPED MY NEW TIGER!” and “Mommy I want to BE THERE by now!” (me too buddy, me too).

Even the little one got in on the action.

“Mama! No Bruh-ber! My SIDE.” (Can you believe my dear sweet baby was yelling MY SIDE??? Last night she actually said to me in her defiant little baby voice. “NO! DON’T!” ACKKKK!!)

So, like all good parents we start bribing them.

“If you don’t stop throwing things you get NO POOL.” The hotel was chosen on account of its indoor pool.

Pool. Hmm. Dada did you remember your suit?

No. (This is what happens when I let dada pack for himself.)

Stop at Target and buy shorts that pass for swim trunks.

Back in the car.

“WHY ARENT WE THERE YET?”

I don’t know. God. WHY??

Of course it’s also raining, which terrifies me. (Driving in rain. Not the actual rain. Although I do hate thunderstorms)

Finally I turn on Baby Beluga. Dada is BEGGING me to choose other music. But this CD is the ultimate soother. Must. Get. Child. To. Stop. Whining. At. Any. Cost.

The rain slows to a drizzle. The babies sleep. Yes. Peace.

We get to the family event and breathe a sigh of relief. Of course we had gotten up at 5am and had had only crap coffee the whole drive. Trying hard. Trying hard. SMILE.

And then someone offers me a mimosa. AH! YES! PLEASE! (gotta love family events like that!)

We survive the morning. The kids are charming.

And then little man has “an accident.” We were playing ping pong in the rec room. He starts dancing around. “Hey, do you need to pee?” “Yes. Um. Not anymore.”

Great.

Honey can you go grab the kids bag?

Sure.

Make sure you grab their bag not ours, you know the little suitcase.

Huh? What suitcase?

The one packed and sitting by the front door….where it still is…apparently.

Crap.

We scrounge the diaper bag for clothes. Stop at Target. Again. Buy swimsuits and change of clothes. Get to the hotel. NAPTIME!!

No one will nap. The pool prospect is too exciting.

We head to the pool. FREEZING COLD.

CRAP.

At least they will sleep well tonight, with no nap, right? That night it becomes evident that this is NOT AT ALL TRUE. Not. At. All. It doesn’t help that a frat party of a wedding is happening below us AND some national soccer tournament for girls ages 10-12 is staying at our hotel. And running through the halls screaming until 1am.

Fun times.

The next day we take another freezing dip in the pool and head over to Grandmother’s retirement home for dinner. A big Sunday dinner with roast. And my kids, darlings that they are: Refuse to eat. Scream for dessert regardless. Dump glasses of OJ and glasses of milk on the floor. It’s like they have choreographed this chaos to especially charm me. Lovely. I am of course humiliated but as we leave and I apologize to every table around me all the other residents smile and laugh and say please come back we loved the show.

Stepping back from the chaos you have to think. Yea. They certainly are lively. That is for sure.

The drive home goes down just as the drive there. But the clouds have parted and the gorgeous Midwestern sun smiles down on us as we pass lovely gold cornfields and the blue blue sky is dotted with fat fluffy clouds that look like a child’s painting. I love the Iowan landscape.

By the time we arrive home we vow never again to drive 10 hours out of 24. We pinky swear on it. Never. Ever. Again.

And that is how I spent my weekend.

No wonder I am tired.

Luckily it is my birthday weekend this coming weekend. I plan on milking it for everything it is worth. Shopping. Movie with a sister. Dinner out with dada. Sleeping in. I want to be celebrated dammit. (Insert winky face guy)

Ok. Enough whining. Off to a playdate.

Maybe more coffee first.



Next up: how to make the world’s easiest baby hat
Monday, September 27, 2010

Anti-recipe #13 Applesauce cake


 I am making more applesauce today. After the debacle of the last effort I felt the need to redeem myself I suppose.

It really is easy when one's children aren't trying to "help" too vigorously. Cut up apples. Put in pot. Add water. Boil. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer. Mash. Throw in some spices. Maybe some sweetner (I added maple syrup and some stevia this time as the apples I used were a little tart.) And there you have it.

I also realized that even though my kids don’t like applesauce (not currently anyway) there is another use for it – COOKING!

The following applesauce cake is one such recipe, er, anti-recipe.

And really this is a PRIME example of an anti-recipe. This cake is so flexible. I have never screwed it up (and that is saying something folks!)

The original recipe comes from this amazing cookbook of my sister’s. It’s a compilation of all sorts of recipes collected by missionaries around the world and put together by Wycliffe International.

It includes things like stewed alligator and provides alternative cooking directions for cooking over an open fire (this cake can be made in a skillet!) or alternative ingredients if you don’t have access to fresh milk, eggs, etc. Really, it’s an anti-recipe cookbook. I love it (and would love a copied off version for a birthday present - hint hint Stacy!)

Here is the original recipe:

Jungle Camp’s Favorite Chocolate Cake

Combine:
½ cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda

Combine and add to above: [why do recipes do this?? I NEVER do this, it all goes in one bowl. Am I alone? I mean, I know its to make sure everything is distributed evenly but...more dishes aren't worth that!]
½ cup sour milk or yogurt
½ cup oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup water
Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 325 for 1 hour (or until knife comes out clean)
*Cook in frying pan over flame spreader but reduce cooking time.

Mayonnaise Spice Cake Version: [ewwwwww] omit cocoa. Substitute 1 cup mayo and 1 cup water for oil, eggs, and milk. Add 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and allspice.

I love any recipe with sour milk in it. Awesome. But mayo?? Ew.

Here is what I did last time I made it, and you can see how easy it is to switch up. Essentially applesauce can replace oil (or mayo, ew) in any recipe.

1 egg (that was all I had on hand!)
1 cup applesauce
½ cup vanilla yogurt [again, what I had on hand]
1 tsp vanilla
Sprinkle of ground cloves and nutmeg [I would’ve added cinnamon but we were out]
½ cup wheat flour
1 ½ cup unbleached white flour
1 cup water
1 ½ tsp baking soda [soda is one of those things you cant mess with]
2 TBS butter, melted [I am out of coconut oil! That is what I usually use in this cake but I did butter instead, much better with the coconut oil]
½ c brown sugar [the cake turned out too sweet. Next time I will omit this, or maybe a little honey instead]

See how great this is? Take the basic concept of the original recipe and as long as your consistency is right (cake batter is usually runny) and you have your leavening agent (soda and egg) it will turn out! And be really yummy! I eat this as a mid-morning breakfast type treat but you could easily add cream cheese frosting (whip up a little cream cheese and milk, maybe some maple syrup) to make it more dessert-y.

Other things you could do:

Shredded carrot, instead of applesauce or maybe half and half. Add some chopped walnuts too in this version. Yum.

Zucchini instead of applesauce. Maybe add more honey to this version?

Add more flour and turn it into a bread. (I think this would work easily…opinions?)

Add flax or wheat germ for extra goodness.

Spoon into greased muffin tins for muffins. I think I will do this this afternoon.

Hmmm. Fun huh? And seriously, it’s foolproof.

So. I just took out three jars of applesauce from the canner, plus I have some in the fridge for baking later. Now I need to do some more. I still have A BUSHEL of apples in my cold storage room. A BUSHEL. Yikes. Maybe some apple crisp for dessert is in order.

Oh. I forgot. You know what I am gonna do with the next batch? Apple fruit leather! I will post "how to" if it turns out any good.

Happy Monday!
Thursday, September 23, 2010

Anti-recipe#12 Stovetop popcorn, "kettle style"

So, up until about a year ago I didn’t eat popcorn. At all. Ever. In fact the smell of it, wafting through an office building (who, I ask, pops a bag of popcorn at the office?) or at a movie theater made me feel ill. Also it didn’t help that the stuff made me actually violently ill to eat.

And then I discovered a lost art. Stovetop popcorn. Something surely June would excel at.

Hmmm. I wonder if all those years I thought I couldn’t eat popcorn was because of all the crap chemicals they put in micro popcorn? Hmm. Maybe?

In any case. When my girl was born someone brought us a meal of chili and a bag of home-popped popcorn. And I was hooked.

So, I use coconut oil to pop my popcorn. It is impossible to overheat and results in a light fluffy popcorn. I don’t know why. That is the kind of food science stuff I don’t try and understand. But something about this kind of oil makes for a better fluffier pop.

Drop about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a big pot. Drop in 2 or 3 kernels of corn. Cover. Turn on burner to high.

While your oil is heating take a tablespoon of butter, melt in micro, add a tablespoon of coconut oil, a tablespoon of olive oil (again, guessing, I just dump) and – this is the key – a few drops of stevia.

What is stevia? It’s an herbal sweetener. It’s hard core intense stuff. Be cautious. Buy it at Whole Foods or some place like that. DON’T buy the processed “stevia sugar” stuff they make. I am talking in a glass bottle with a little dropper. Just pure stevia extract.

Stir this mixture.

When the oil is hot enough the two kernels will pop. Turn to Medium High (or so)

When this happens drop in half a cup of kernels (or so – you know me, I just dump a bunch in). Now, the key part to not burning the popcorn – hold the lid on (with an oven mitt! Learned the hard way!) and shake the popcorn, lifting it up off of the burner every minute or so. Constant shaking, really, this is the key.

When the kernel popping slows down to every few seconds you are nearly there. Start shaking off the finished popcorn from the top into a large bowl, placing back on the burner to catch the last few kernels (if you want, if you care.) REMEMBER THE OVEN MITT to hold the lid in place. OW.

Layer popcorn from the pot with your butter mixture. I like to pour a little popcorn in, then the mixture, then repeat etc. This is easier and more effective than trying to stir it into the huge bowl, IMHO (In My Humble Opinion). (My husband likes to dump the whole batch in a paper grocery bag and then shake it. Every time he does this my response is WHAT ARE YOU DOING?? But, it does work I guess. Just seems…unsanitary or something? I don’t know.)

Sprinkle each layer LIBERALLY with sea salt. Sea salt is about all we use around here. I forget why exactly it’s better for you. The kind of information I knew once then promptly forget. (Again with the food sciency stuff) Read here if you care to know more. (I am being somewhat flippant about the salt, it really is because regular salt is purified and bleached and stripped of lots of naturally occurring minerals. And this is a really interesting article about lots of other changes in diet that you can make, little things like that. We used to eat much more like this and are transitioning back to it, as this article describes.)

And there you have it.

The result is like kettle corn, sweet and salt. Truly delish.

Hmmm. It’s a rainy day. I feel like Harry Potter and popcorn. Perfect really.

(hope you like it Tracy!!)
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

adventures in urban gardening

I grew up in the countryside of Wisconsin. We always had a giant-ass garden. I mean truly huge. Rows and rows of corn that you could almost get lost in. Towering brussel sprout plants. Bushy beans. Cabbages. Carrots. Giant green peppers that I would eat like apples on a summer day. One would think that my mother just threw seeds at the soil and they grew into beautiful crops for our family to enjoy year round (because of course my mother was also the expert canner/preserver of food). She hardly watered. Never really weeded, owing to the great square foot gardening technique.

So. One would think that I could channel a little of this into my tiny backyard plot, right? Build a few boxes, buy some good soil, plunk in some seeds – with the help of dada and my adorable little twosome who gladly watch the miracle of growing things in their own backyard.

Hmm.

Not quite.

This is our first year with an actual yard so we were quite gung ho to achieve this backyard utopia of greenery around mid-May. We planned. My husband built some boxes. We bought bag after bag of quality top soil and then lots of seeds, corn, peas, beans and salad greens. My sister brought me some plants she had been growing from seed in her house all spring. Kale and broccoli and tomato and pepper plants. I cut up some old potatoes that had been sitting in the basement cold room too long (already sprouting out of the eyes!) and planted them in mounds underneath the big oak tree.

And then we waited.

And waited.

And watered.

And waited some more.

Our little plants grow. The peas wind up the back fence as we had hoped. The beans get big and leafy. The corn, however, never shows up. Nothing. The ants maybe? Or rabbits? We have a family of rabbits living in the side hedge. We used to think they were cute. “oh, kids! Look! A rabbit!” Overnight they became The Enemy. “Mom! It’s a rabbit! It will eat our plants!!”

We pick a few peas. A few beans. (I think they are still sitting in the back of my fridge in a paper cup, come to think of it.)

And then we buy more at the farmers market. (Two dollars for a giant bag, which I freeze for later. Trying not to think about how that is as much as we paid for the seed packet…)

The tomatoes never even blossom. Just spindly little things with a few forlorn leaves. The broccoli and kale become the rabbits next victim. Then the tiny shoots of spinach and lettuce.

I inquire to my mother what could possibly be wrong.

Apparently most plants need full sunlight.

Oh. Mine are in “occasional sunlight.”

Sometime around mid-July I stop watering the garden. Except when the kids need an outdoor activity on a hot day. “Here. Here is the hose. Here are some containers. Go. Go water the garden. No. NO. DO NOT SPRAY ME. THAT ISN’T FUNNY!” (Of course it’s hysterical though.)

So I think. Eh. At least the potatoes are still going strong. When my mom digs up her potato plants in her giant-ass garden she gets like half a dozen huge tubers with each plant. I have five plants growing. This is great, right?

Yesterday I notice that they are looking a little dry around the tops (maybe I should’ve kept watering?) So I decide. What the heck. Let’s dig em up. Little man is ecstatic and grabs a shovel. Baby girl gets a trowel. Away we go.

The first, most promising looking plant results in TWO potatoes, slightly smaller than a golf ball.

Crap.

Three others produce one marble size potato each. The last has nothing. Little sister drops one potato on the ground as I dig for more. It is so small I can't find it.

Four potatoes.

Good thing we live less than a mile from the best farmers market in the city. Or, we can go to grandma’s farm, with her blasted green thumb that I apparently did NOT inherit.

And, there is always next year, I guess.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010

zen moment - a sunny romp in the leaves














especially posted for G.S and N.S. - thinking of you this week...

Anti-recipe #11 more canning adventures - applesauce

SOOO last night I had planned this (rather smug, in retrospective) post about how incredibly simple it is to make and then can applesauce.

A breeze, really. So simple.

And how fun it is to involve your children (young one wash apples, older one cut apples with a butter knife, etc.)

And it was a cold rainy morning, perfect for such an activity.

But then the following occurred:

Set up child 1 to wash. She whines. She wants to cut.

Set up child 2 to cut. He whines. This is boring, he says.

Mama washes apples while smallest child attacks apples with the abandoned butter knife. Die apples. Die.

Mama cuts remaining apples, puts into pot. Starts the boiling.

As she cuts Mama wonders why the heck she feels the need to make jars and jars of applesauce as she just remembers NO ONE LIKES APPLESAUCE in her little family. Well, dada does. He can eat it. And homemade applesauce is better than regular.

Mama continues cutting. (No peeling. Just cut and cook)

Mama smells something funny. It must be the boiled over apples on the burner.

Mama keeps cutting. Pot #2 is now on the stove.

And then suddenly, the clouds part, the sun comes out and being a good Midwestern mother she feels this (almost resentful) compulsion to take the children for a walk.

She remembers to turn off the apples cooking.

45 minutes later mama and children retreat back into the house. Sun or no sun those mosquitoes are VICIOUS.

Apples are turned back on. Mama adds white and brown sugar. A little nutmeg and cloves (since she discovers too late she is out of cinnamon.)

Hmmm. Smells….

Burnt?

Mama investigates. Front pot, tastes fine. Back pot, tastes funny. Maybe it’s just the beer she is sipping on? (Because of course with the sun and the lingering humidity it is now ROASTING in her kitchen – beer is required)

She hopes for the best and keeps stirring.

No, in fact it smells burnt.

And, in fact, it is burnt.

Apparently one is supposed to turn the boiling apples down to simmer after reaching a boil. Hm. Shoot.

Apple pot goes outside (where it is still sitting the following morning)

Sauce that was somehow spared in pot #2 is quite tasty though. Mama prewashes and boils canning jars and rings and lids. Applesauce dumped in (rather messily because she cannot locate the nifty canning funnel thing she bought a mere month ago. It makes a really good megaphone apparently.) Wipe rims down. Close with hot lids and rings. Look up canning time required on blackberry – 20 minutes, not bad.

Water boiling. Jars in.

In walks dada. “Wow, its a million degrees in here. And, what is that smell?”

Welcome home, honey. Welcome home.


And today, I wake up and think. Hmm. Burnt applesauce in the yard. And a FULL BUSHEL left of apples to deal with....

Eh. They will keep for a few days.


Happy canning all!


Next anti-recipe post: Stovetop popcorn


Edited to add:
SO, I just went out to take care of the burnt applesauce. How does one dispose of 3 quarts worth of burnt applesauce? I decided to just dump it in the trash and take it right out to the garbage can on the street. Um. burnt applesauce, with skins on especially, looks uncannily like vomit. Which is what I almost did when I spilt it down my arm and onto my foot. The ew look is still on my face as I type. Ew.

Message here. Please don't burn your applesauce.
Monday, September 20, 2010

Anti-recipe #10 Split pea soup

Split pea soup is just about the easiest thing to make ever.

Now, I know what you are thinking. Why would I want to make it Sara? It is seriously gross!

Ok, yes, STORE BOUGHT split pea soup is really disgusting. Goopy and clumpy. Nasty. My husband refused to eat it anytime I tried to make it.

Until I discovered (in my favorite cook book ever) how easy it is to make.

And delicious.

SO MUCH BETTER than canned stuff.

So, if you have refused to eat it in the past. Give it another chance.

Here is how.

You can do this in a crockpot or regular pot. I chose crockpot today. It ended up slightly thinner than I like. Probably because the lid was on the whole time and it didn’t simmer down the way I like.

2 cups split peas (1 small size bag)
(Note: make sure to sort through and pick out any tiny rocks they may have missed. It seems tedious and overcautious, something I usually try to avoid doing. But the bag warns you to do this. I actually found a rock today. That would not have been pleasant.)

Add in 6 cups of water and/or broth. I do half and half. (1 frozen yogurt container full of broth, 1 full of water)

Add in some chopped onion, if you like.

And that, my friends, is it.

See? So easy.

Other things you can add: chopped up potatoes or rice (to make it thicker) chopped up carrot. A ham hock or chopped ham (I used to be in the habit of adding a hamhock. Then, one day I came across a gelatinous glob from the hamhock in the soup and it was so disgusting I couldn’t do that anymore. But you can. If you want.)

After an hour (in a pot) or several hours (in a crockpot) add salt and pepper to taste, maybe garnish with some bacon or chopped ham or shredded cheddar cheese.

Serve. With hot bread. And lots of butter. Yum.

No really, it really is really good.

on mondays and contentment

the three best guys in my life...
I had a startling, almost disconcerting, realization lying in bed last night.

I no longer dread Mondays.

What the heck? (as my 4-year old loves to say, loudly, in the presence of lots of adults who think this is somewhat inappropriate.)

What the heck indeed??

I have no idea when this took place. Sometime in the last few months I guess?

Mondays and I never had a good relationship. There was a time in my life where I developed a bad attitude sometime around 1 or 2pm on Sunday, it typically would take until Wednesday evening to shake it (HA.) when the weekend was in sight. (This was also when I worked in an uninspiring job and had staff meetings every Monday morning at SEVEN AM. Seven AM? Really?? Brutal.)

Living from weekend to weekend sucks.

And then when babies came along weekends meant the presence of daddy. Running errands. Going out for dinner at Perkins. Maybe a nap. Etc. Etc. and Mondays were still met with dread, although of lesser intensity.

Thus this realization last night was quite startling.

More than that. I found myself looking forward to the morning.

WHAT THE HECK???

This morning I woke up to rain and grey skies and nothing on my agenda. Nothing except dealing with the TWO BUSHELS of apples sitting in baskets on my kitchen floor. Nothing except laundry and cleaning. Nothing except a little crafting I keep meaning to do. (I read these amazing books last week, The Hunger Games Trilogy. Thus, little laundry and cleaning happened. We also had guests over or went somewhere EVERY DAY. Which is crazy busy for me. So my house is really, really nasty.) And yet. And yet I woke up relishing the cold wet day of cleaning and applesaucing and etc. putting the house back in order. Writing a little. Saying hi to you all.

Huh. What does this mean I wonder??

Could it possibly mean, gulp, that I am content??

WHAT THE HECK????!!!!

I have always been a looking-for-the-next-bend-in-the-road kind of girl. What is next? What to looks forward to now?

But, I don’t feel that so much in this moment.

Today, today I look forward to making applesauce and split pea soup.

Huh. Who knew?

I think that is it. Mondays don’t bother me because I am content.

Contentment is a funny thing. It sneaks up on you when you least expect it. (I realize after my last whiney post on grocery shopping this is rather ironic to claim, however. But it is like I say - sneaky.) It also isn’t complacency. It can’t be. One always needs to maintain some kind of striving/dreaming/scheming (I got lots of scheming going on right now) to keep things interesting. But contentment in the now can coexist with those things. Quite nicely.

And, also (to give myself an out) I imagine by Thursday morning this will change when I can no longer stand being the dishes/laundry/whiney-child-entertaining/applesaucing queen.

But for now, for this rainy morning. I will take it.
Friday, September 17, 2010

i hate grocery shopping

Blah.


It is a blah day. I was awake from 1-5am last night. I don’t know why. Lots of things rolling around in my head I guess.

I am currently working up the energy to go to the grocery store.

As a non-foodie type person and mother to two small, adorable yet sometimes cantankerous children I truly TRULY detest going to the grocery store.

Here is how it goes down.

I go in. I have my list. I hustle babies into the two-seater kiddie-car cart. Strict instructions are given.

“Do NOT grab at things.”
“DO NOT put your hands out of the cart to try and touch people’s legs.” (if you ever get groped by a four year old in a store, yea, that is my kid. Sorry.)
“No we are NOT buying corn-syrup laden fruit snacks OR corn syrup laden superhero popsicles OR matchbox cars.”
“Yes I KNOW dada buys you those things EVERY TIME he takes you to the store. DO I LOOK LIKE DADA??”
“ok then. Lets go.”
“oh and DO NOT HIT YOUR SISTER. Gentle hands, gentle touches.”

And we are off.

By this point the list is wadded up in my pocket. Probably in tatters. I have a tendency to tatter things like paper napkins and grocery lists. Probably some sort of underlying adrenaline problem.

I pull out the list and try and remember to look at it occasionally as we careen down the aisles, me yelling, er, firmly reminding, about the above rules.

Oops. That aisle has the forbidden matchbox cars. We don’t really need more toilet paper anyway.

“No really kid. NO REACHING OUT AND TOUCHING PEOPLES LEGS.”

“Sorry ma’am” Sweet smile. Run quickly away.

Crash. Glass shattering. $20 worth of vanilla beans on the floor.

“Did you guys do that??” innocent looks. No one else is in the aisle.

I choose to believe them.

“Oh, must’ve been the cart bumping into it. Oops.”

I find a store employee.

“Looks like there is some broken glass in aisle five.”

RUN AWAY.

Quickly run down the aisles in the last half of the store, grabbing a mix of healthy food and snacks (brown rice! almonds! raisins!) and crappy snacks (“FINE. CHOOSE SOME FRUIT SNACKS.”)

Congratulate self for remembering laundry detergent. Go down the aisle to grab whatever brand is on sale. I don’t care at this point.

SHOOT. He saw the matchbox cars.

RUN AWAY QUICKLY.

Proceed to checkout while little man stifles cries for a new car “dada always does!” feeling like the most evil mother on the planet.

Change lines to a different checkout counter to avoid children staring at rows of candy bars.

Try to look over list while standing in new line behind woman who has forty million coupons. (I mean really. I seriously HATE coupons.)

Where is the list? Ah. In a wad in baby sisters mouth.

Pay checkout woman money without even registering that you bought way more stuff than you meant to because of course you haven’t eaten much all day.

Cart out to car. Load in kids. Load in groceries. Get home. Go to the bathroom, shutting the door for 30 seconds of privacy in which you also check Facebook (ESCAPISM).

And yes. You were out of toilet paper.



Yes, it really is like that.

EVERY TIME.

Ok. Now I really really don’t want to go.

Ergh.

Pull self together. Put on smiley face.

Come on kids. Let’s GO! YAAAAAAAY!!


I am not making this up - I just said to little man "come on, lets go to the store!"

His response?

"I WANT A TOY CAR!"

Fun times folks, fun times.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Anti-recipe 9: Rae's Granola

Granola is one of those things that when you realize how easy it is to make you kick yourself for all those $5 boxes you have bought over the years.

Plus, homemade granola is So. Much. Better.

Really, it is.

I also love how you can throw in a little of this and a little of that. A perfect anti-recipe thing to make.

So, I got this mixture from my mom. Who got it from her neighbor in upstate New York about 30 years ago. I feel this compulsion to credit this woman somehow. So, let’s call it Rae’s Granola.

So, here it is.

Preheat oven to 350.

Melt around ½ cup of butter in a large pan (I use my big old roasting pan). I have also used ¼ cup butter and ¼ cup coconut oil. Keep reading for my schpeil on cooking with coconut oil.

Mix in some honey or some brown sugar. Or both. Or maple syrup. Maybe a couple tablespoons full. I like less sweet so I just use a little.

Add a little vanilla, more if you like it more vanilla-y, less if you like it less vanilla-y.

(See, what did I tell you?? Oh, the options!)

Throw in a pinch of salt.

Add a handful of wheat flour (around ½ a cup). The flour helps it all stick together.

Stir in around 6 cups of oatmeal.

Add some peanuts, raisins, sliced almonds, dried coconut (my fav!), dried cranberries, dates, etc etc.

Mix it all around really well. Put in oven. Stir every few minutes (5-10 even) until golden brown.

Here is the key point. DO NOT leave in oven until crispy. It only crisps up AFTER it cools. Or you may end up with a stinky house and a bunch of burnt oatmeal in the garbage can (can you tell I did this?? Really an awful stink.) Take it out when it is a nice golden color. The way granola “should” look.

Let cool. Store in airtight container (a ziplock bag works well).

YUM.

A note on coconut oil:

I cook a lot with coconut oil. Why? Its one of these “good fats” you hear about. (for more on that read here)

A short list on the goodness in coconut oil:

"Coconut oil is 92% saturated with over two-thirds of the saturated fat in the form of medium-chain fatty acids (often called medium-chain triglycerides). Of particular interest is lauric acid, found in large quantities in both coconut oil and in mother's milk. This fatty acid has strong antifungal and antimicrobial properties. Coconut oil protects tropical populations from bacteria and fungus so prevalent in their food supply; as third-world nations in tropical areas have switched to polyunsaturated vegetable oils, the incidence of intestinal disorders and immune deficiency diseases has increased dramatically. Because coconut oil contains lauric acid, it is often used in baby formulas."

I use it for popcorn. I cook with it. I bake with it. It’s just a great thing to have around. It’s also amazing for soothing really chapped skin (and smells nice!) and can be used for bad diaper rashes or patches of eczema.

Here is another science-y article about it. (although I must admit this is the kind of thing that I read and it goes right out of my head immediately, but maybe you are not like this with science stuff.)

“Coconut oil has a unique role in the diet as an important physiologically functional food. The health and nutritional benefits that can be derived from consuming coconut oil have been recognized in many parts of the world for centuries. Although the advantage of regular consumption of coconut oil has been underappreciated by the consumer and producer alike for the recent two or three decades, its unique benefits should be compelling for the health minded consumer of today. A review of the diet/heart disease literature relevant to coconut oil clearly indicates that coconut oil is at worst neutral with respect to atherogenicity of fats and oils and, in fact, is likely to be a beneficial oil for prevention and treatment of some heart disease. Additionally, coconut oil provides a source of antimicrobial lipid for individuals with compromised immune systems and is a nonpromoting fat with respect to chemical carcinogenesis.”
Tuesday, September 14, 2010

on babies and careers

When I was a little girl I, along with everyone else I knew, came up with elaborate career plans. I would be a painter. An anthropologist. And, later, an astronaut (and would live on a space station eating freeze dried ice cream and etc). Of course.

this picture has nothing to do with this post really.
its just cute.
so i thought i would share.
And then I would also have babies. Five of them. And a perfect home. With a garden, a horse, and lots of wallpaper borders, which for some reason were the height of sophistication to me.

I had no idea that these things were at all incompatible. Like these two of me could co-exist, eating freeze dried ice cream in space and braiding my little girls hair, dressing her in bows and smocked dresses, and then baking home made bread. Every day.

And then. Huh. What happened? I got married. Watched a few people around me have babies. And realized, dang. That is a lot of work. That whole baby thing. (my husband, during this time of life, would chastise me cooing over babies telling me they are just little angry people who want to steal your wallet. Run away! Run away!)

One would think that having been the second oldest of nine children I would know this. But, one doesn’t really know this sort of thing until one experiences it for oneself. Right? (My old editor is very right. If one starts writing in this way one must continue to use “one, oneself” etc. ad nauseum. Will try and refrain. But it is hard to control.)

And then I rethought my career plans. From astronaut to international do-gooder/adventurer girl. A little trickier maybe but, hey, I could do that with babies strapped to my back. Right? RIGHT??

And then along came babycakes. Oh, high maintenance child who sapped the life out of us (and gave us a new one, at the same time. Out of ashes rises a phoenix, stronger than before, and all of that good stuff. HA.)

Which made me rethink the whole adventuring with baby strapped on one’s back bit (did it again. Shoot.)

I love a good adventure. I can take it. Doing that with a spitty baby who refuses to sleep unless it is dead quiet?? Hmm. Not so much.

So baby boy gets bigger. And along comes baby girl. (Who could happily adventure around the world strapped to my back.)

And mama takes on clients here and there to make an extra buck.

And now. Consulting work dries up. (dang economy) And…I am now…hmmm. Where am I again?

This age old question which really stinks. Babies or career?

(Ok, I must interrupt myself here to make a statement. There are many many mothers, more often than not really, who do both and beautifully, better than I could hope to. I know its not an either/or question. It really isn’t, its more what do I focus on now? Where am I now? Just keep reading and I will get to my point. I hope. I do tend to ramble. Sorry.)

Right now. I want both. Maybe baby 3 would be the one (still a hypothetical baby, mind you) who would be able to sleep strapped on my back as the adventuring commences. But then still. Lugging toys and baby things around the world (which, people do do) uprooting children away from playmates (sure they will find new ones) and grandparents (sure they will visit) and then juggling the whole work/nanny/home thing? That last one is the one that gets me. I can multitask. Every mother can. It’s the juggling of emotions that catches me off guard in this question. (Also, as you well know, I am lazy. And the lifestyle of impassioned career and mommying to two little ones sounds VERY tiring. Plus my hoped for career could send me to crazy places for weeks on end. Rough places that one can’t take a baby strapped on one’s back. How does one do this? – AHHH. Doing it again! SHOOT.)

And yet, I do. Want both that is.

I want: Heels. A suit. A briefcase. Oh, maybe lipstick! Stimulating dialogue with other adults. On a daily basis. Work that utilizes degrees. That makes a difference. Life in another culture. Bringing along my two beautiful children (and dada!) who grow up speaking three languages and living all over the place. Adventuring and living in another world than this. Where less is more and relationship is supreme.

I also want: Mornings in the Midwestern sunshine with coffee in hand. Walks to the park. Sticky hugs. Playdates. Crafts and mid-day chocolate chip cookie baking – just because. A million more babies. Funny little stubborn babies. With big round cheeks and smiling lips. Maybe hanging out in the country. And homeschooling. With dairy goats as a 4-H project. And crafty things to sell at some little store. Homemade goat cheese on fresh baked bread. Iced tea. Cousins coming to play. Writing a book. Writing a blog.

Good lord. The back and forth of it kills me some days.

Right now of course, when all is said and done, I am where I am. Just as you are where you are, dear reader. We all are in these respective places for a reason, I think. Bloom where you are planted. To everything, there is a season, and all that.

Because, as always happened, just when you have it figured out life throws you that clichéd curveball. So what is the point of trying to figure it out, as it were? Maybe it will be another baby (as little man has taken to praying for lately. “God. Please God. I want a brother.”). Or a plum job offer. (Or both? What does one do then? Ah, too much.)

So for now, should I just float in between these worlds? Wait and see? Pursue one or the other, just to find out how receptive the universe is toward me pursuing this or that path?

So, when the dust settles from this internal debate what do I do?

Hmm. Well, I write about it.

And then I go make dinner. Dada will be home soon.

today's zen parenting moment

the littles playing legos together - nicely - this morning. 
that little chair in the corner is where i was sitting,
sipping my coffee in the sunshine
(when i first typed this i typed "sipping my sunshine in the coffee"
which is a really funny visual to me...)
Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cloth diaper creations: Part 1

The thought of one single post about all the cloth diapering creations I have come up with over the past four years was a little daunting. Mainly because of the trial and error it took to create useable creations. A little of this. A little of that. Lots of ripping of seams. Lots of bad fits. Lots of wasted fabric. Because of course, being me, I don't want anything to do with patterns and pinning and etc. Bah. That is for the weak. Also. I am rather tired of diapering babies, after four solid years of it, I have, perhaps, lost my zeal for creating cloth diaper creations, as it were.

That said.

I do love a good cloth diaper discussion. And do love being crafty. And I do love spreading the love.

Therefore.

I have decided to break it all up into a series of posts about cloth diapers, and creating them.

This post will present the very simplest thing I have thus created – diaper liners. (Something like this, except I shape mine a little differently)

Nowadays I use my liners more than anything. Perfect for an active toddler, with a trim fit (unlike regular prefolds, which are bulky). Extra absorbent. And really easy to stick in a bag or Ergo pocket for a quick change. Really quite handy.

So, what are these liners?

Simple. Fleece, to wick moisture away and an absorbent pad sewn on one side, to soak it all up. Not diaper stuffers, doublers or whatever to put into pocket dipes, but to be used on their own. Stick it in a diaper cover. Double up for car rides, naptime, etc.

Really easy to make too.

Here is how.

Fleece. I have used nice expensive fleece (that doesn’t pill, all organic cotton, etc) and I have cut up old fleece blankets (the thin stuff, not the thick stuff). They both work well. Cut in a long rectangle shape, the length of your diaper cover, slightly bulbous at the end to fan out around baby’s belly and back. (Does that make sense? Bulbous doesn’t sound right.) Round the edges (I don’t know why, it just looks better I guess).

Absorbent layer. Don’t laugh. I fold up cheap washcloths into thirds like you would fold a prefold, and sew them onto the back of the fleece. You can get packs of 10 washclothes at any large Target/Walmart/Kmart type store. If you wanted to be fancy you would ideally use hemp here. Or maybe some bamboo terrycloth or something like that.

TIP: Make sure as you are sewing that you are getting through all the layers. It is slightly annoying to pull newly sewn liners out of the wash only to find them all clumped up on the inside because you didn’t do this. Trust me.

And to use, just slide in a diaper cover, fleece side toward baby’s skin. (You get that right? Fleece near baby's skin? Lord. I am confusing myself at this point. I don’t know why but past nannies, even my own husband sometimes, turn the liner the wrong way, putting the absorbent washcloth side toward the baby butt. Maybe they don’t get the point? Maybe it only makes sense in my addled brain? Fleece. Wicks. Away. Why is this complicated? Ok. Obviously it is late. I need to get myself out of these parenthetical ramblings and go to bed. Ready, set…)

Ok. I am out.

So. Go. Cut. Fold. Sew. And then….




the ugliest demo picture ever taken in the history of man.
EVER.
a piece of fleece cut in the above described shape.




an old washcloth, folded in thirds, against the fleece.
the shape of the fleece isnt ideal really, i like it to be a little longer than the
washcloth to protect babies skin from plastic cover

sewing washcloth and fleece together

place fleece liner in diaper cover this way.
 i often use a pocket dipe "doubler/stuffer" (whatever)
underneath for extra absorbancy. this is a prowrap cover. i hate it.


Friday, September 10, 2010

thoughts on being nice to yourself

So yesterday I was doing the lazy walk around Target (note to my sister Anne: I cannot boycott any longer. I needed a plastic bin and bananas and kid socks all in one place. Where else can one go?? Please forgive me.)

I strapped babydear in. Gave little man strict instructions (no yelling for toys, no screaming and crying, be nice to your sister. If you do all these things I will buy you corn-syrup-laden fruit snacks) and we were off.

As we wandered up and down the aisles I came across the makeup section.

A note re me and makeup – rarely ever does this happen, perhaps some mascara to brighten the eyes and some foundation to cover up circles under said eyes.

kick back. enjoy your babies. be nice to yourself.
you deserve it!
Anyway. So I was like. Hmmm…I need new foundation. I am gonna buy some, darnit. So I looked and found this tinted “face brightening” lotion stuff, complete with SPF 15 (as I am increasingly concerned about the lines appearing around my eyes, daily SPF is a good thing. Seriously, it’s like a hit my 30s and BOOM lines around the eyes. Where did they come from? And then my forehead too? WHAAAA??? The squint line between my eyes is the one that bothers me the most. Why? Because it isn’t symmetrical. It goes up and off to one side, only one side. Why does it do this? I like symmetry. Please, if you know me IRL (In Real Life, as the kids say) please don’t look at me cockeyed the next time you see me. Maybe I need that stuff that Jennifer Garner sells. What is it? That lotion with like caffeine in it or something? Retinol? No, that isn’t right. Anyway. I need that stuff. But for now, SPF is a start.)

Anyway. Enough on wrinkles.

(I just googled it - of course I did - the stuff is called Neutrogena Anti-Oxidant Age Reverse Day Lotion. I NEED IT. MUST HAVE IT. Maybe it’s because I like her hair in the commercials though?)

Enough. Back to Target.

I also walked past this book I have on reserve at the library – silly teenage fiction – and was like, I am gonna buy this book too, dangit!

My point is – can you tell I am tired? My second cup of coffee is sitting in the microwave, I should go rescue it before I write anymore – as I was saying before I interrupted myself, my point is that we need to do these kinds of little things to be nice to ourselves once in awhile.

My dear husband, last night, put the children to bed on his own so I could go sit with a friend and have a glass of wine at a little café down the street. I went early and brought my new book. YAY. To be out at 9pm without children? I mean, amazing. Bliss.

I have done that sort of thing before of course, since becoming a mother I mean, but never with such ease, clear conscience and lack of trepidation for my husband.

I am totally doing that again. SOON.

This kind of freedom to allow yourself to enjoy life is essential in quality mommying, and a quality mommying experience (for you, and your kidlings!)

Be nice to yourself. Treat yourself like you would a sister or good friend who is a mom. Think of yourself in the third person.

“Poor Sara. She has a headache. Babydear is teething – darn molars. Both kiddies have colds. She is getting this cold. What can we do for her? I know! LET’S BUY HER A NEW BOOK AND SOME NICE NEW MAKEUP!! YAY!! YAY US! That will make her SO happy!!”

Just don’t talk like this out loud. Not in public anyway.

So. Go make yourself a cup of tea. Get online. Order yourself some flowers to be delivered. (Can you imagine the audacity?)

And now, Sara needs a snack. Come on, let’s go get her something yummy.



Next up: Making cloth diapers. Or something like this.
Thursday, September 9, 2010

Anti-recipe 8: Kick ass potato soup

Now, I know what you are thinking. Potato soup is so freaking boring. But really this is really good potato soup. More “watery mashed potatoes” than soup really. It is versatile as to necessary ingredients, reheats well and I imagine leftovers could even be frozen (although there never are any at my house.) You could also very easily spoon feed it to a baby, as its more mash potato than soup, and its easy for little people to eat (again, not as messy as regular soup). (This quite jives with my feed baby food from your table kind of philosophy, but more on that in another post.)

(Yes, I just used the word "jives".)

So, hopefully its nice and fall-ish where you are. If not, crank up the AC and lets make some soup!

First step. Scrub up potatoes, say maybe 4 or 6 or something like that. Or fewer. Whatever.

Cube up potatoes, cutting out bad spots. 1 inch cubes work fine. That is right, don’t peel. I don’t believe in peeling potatoes.

Put potatoes in big pot. Add water, to just covering potatoes (maybe 1 inch over)

Boil potatoes. Throw in some salt and some diced onion.

Potatoes are done when peels start flaking off and they easily mush with a fork prick.

When potatoes are done mash with a potato masher (don’t drain, obviously.) Add some seasoning. I usually just do fresh parsley, chopped and maybe a little garlic salt. Salt and pepper to taste. I have in the past done rosemary. Whatever floats your boat.

Keeping potatoes on simmer, add some milk, not too much. Remember we are going for just a little thinner than mashed potatoes. Or add more if you want it thinner (but then you wouldn’t really be making MY potato soup but…it would still be potato soup). Oh, you can add cream instead of milk. Yum. Or sour cream.

Stir it up.

Add some cheese. I usually go for cheddar. I have done plain old American cheese (in desperation – it works) and Brie (when I lived in Oxford and always had fun yummy cheese on hand).

Stir it up.

Serve with more cheese grated on top. Also, crumbled bacon. And a nice crispy baguette on the side. With lots of butter.

Yum. I am hungry.

So, the beauty of this dish is its flexibility. You can add chopped up ham. You can cook the onions in the bacon grease first. You can add all kinds of cheese. One could imagine a smoked gouda being really tasty.

Anyway. That is my potato soup.

Happy fall!
Tuesday, September 7, 2010

woolies - how to make wool pants/diaper covers

babydear in woolies
I love woolies. I am addicted to making them. I would put my four year old in them if he would wear them. Wool is perfect for babies, cozy on winter days but allows baby’s skin to breathe as they wick moisture away from baby. They also work even on warmer days because they breathe so well. You can make straight up covers or pants. Lanolize and pair with a fitted diaper and you are good to go. They are also great for potty training, with a pair of cotton training pants underneath.

So, how to make these beauties?

First off. You need starting material. I like to go to thrift stores. I have a favorite thrift store (click here for you locals) and I LOVE it. Fabric. Pots. Kids clothes. Random pictures. And always, great wool sweaters.

ok, you cant see the woolies she is wearing in this picture but
isnt she dang cute??
I went there this Monday (half off sale!) and found this cute sweater to show these steps to you. Ok. It was kind of crazy of me. It was totally packed. The kids were nuts. Actually babydear was nuts. Little man was an angel, carrying things for me and chasing after sister. Other shoppers alternated between “oh how cute” and “oh how annoying” as I chased her under the clothes racks and etc. (YOU know what I am talking about right??) Finally some store clerk took pity on me and found us a cart to use (they are scarce on sale days). She gave me the old “Honey, you need this more than anyone in the store” kind of pity. I gratefully accepted.

Or if you are not the thrift store type you can always dig around the closet for that sweater that your mom gave your dear husband and he never, ever wears.

You are looking for a nice soft wool sweater at a thrift store – 100% wool ONLY or maybe a wool/silk blend – maybe cashmere, angora, etc. Its best to get the kind of sweater with a waist band on the bottom edge. That waist band is great for making the waist of your bands, without having to mess with elastic.

So, the basic steps.

Cut sleeves off sweater. Cut waist band off of bottom. Snip edges of sleeves to form crotch of pants. Sew crotch seam. (Double stitch) sew on waist band to create waist, gathering a little. You can also just fold over and use elastic.

See pictures of this below.

Wool is also great to work with because it is very forgiving. And each new sweater you work with presents a new set of challenges.

See pictures of that below too.

To lanolize simply squeeze some Lanisoh breast cream into hot water, massage cream into woolies, let air dry. You can wash your woolies (by hand, although mine go through the wash all the time) then drip dry and re-lanolize every now and then.

I have also made wool overalls which I am dying to get babydear in this fall. SO DAMN CUTE. (I am actually fearful she will potty train before then…heck, I am gonna dress her in the woolies anyway.)

Any questions?

little eddie bauer lambswool sweater.
pre-wash it, on cold. mine still shrunk too much which
presented a whole new set of challenges...
cut off sleeves
measure on your kid and cut along the seams,
this forms the crotch of the pants.
my sweater shrank too much (these are going
to be leggings) so i will need to do some
improvising to "make it work"
i had to cut off more than just the bottom
ribbing because i will need more fabric to
cover the big diaper butt.
is this making sense?
so you see how the leggings will fit together?
now, right sides facing, sew the pieces together to form the
crotch seam...(is there a more polite term for this?)
if it doesnt make sense just look at a pair of pants
see how this seam works?
now, trim up your bottom (now top) piece to form the waist area.
sew this together, RIGHT SIDES FACING to create the waist band
arrange waist band to legs, just remember RIGHT SIDE TOGETHER
if you get confused...i hope this is understandable...
arrange seams, i like to center my seams to the back
sew around the waist, attaching legs to waist band.
and here, are your woolies. geez these are ugly. that seam across the
butt makes them look so weird! sorry...now to try them on babydear...
as i feared, the rise of the back of the pants
isnt enough...doesnt cover the big diaper butt..
here is where one must improvise.
hopefully yours turn out better!
i riped out the seams, took it apart, and cut out a little piece from my
left over waist band to create a "rise" allowance...
the "rise allowance" sew on the back
the waist band sewn back on. the "rise allowance" gives a little
more room for the diaper butt
see how it creates a nice little butt for the pants?
i like them better now...
really CUTE. especially under dresses...
not my best work but...
these are my best pair ever...
made out of a cashmere turtleneck sweater.
GENIOUS. i used the turtleneck part to create
a great waist that can fold down or up...
unfolded up, underneath a shirt, it is great to keep crawling
babies warm in winter...
i used the sleeves of this sweater to make the
kick ass overalls, basically woolies but with a bib and straps attached
anyway...hope this all makes sense. happy sewing! and watch out, its addictive. i have like 20 pairs at this point for the kids...
Monday, September 6, 2010

oh, those days

So today we were driving around (trying to get babydear to nap!) and dada and I entered into that most dangerous discussion - “What would we be doing right now if we didn’t have kids?”
you gotta hang on to the nice moments on the rough days
out for a walk with the fam

Now. This sounds Truly Awful.

I know that.

But it’s a blustery sort of day. Perfect for sitting in a coffee shop with a book. Oh, or the paper! I can’t remember the last time I read the paper. We even GET the Sunday paper, which nobody does anymore and I still never read it. It goes into the recycling still bundled up nearly every week.

But yes, sitting in a coffee shop with a latte reading on the latest world events. Maybe catching a movie and then a late dinner out.

Good lord. I miss those kinds of days.

You have to know the kind of day we had been having however.

Babydear has decided to act two this week. “No! MY! MY DO! MY TURN! MY CAR! NOOOO. Etc etc.”

Which is just lovely.

Also, not wanting to nap. Hence the car ride.

Little man was complaining of a belly ache. Tired. Crabby. He and I actually got in a little shouting match today before dinner. I know shouting at your child is Truly Truly Awful. However. Big however. He literally grabbed the bag of animal crackers I told him he couldn’t have (5 minutes before dinner) and ran down the hallway with it screaming hysterically after I told him no. I think I shouted after him something like “ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME??? COME BACK HERE WITH THAT!”

Then mama and dada got in a “conversation,” as little man says, about how shouting at ones children is Truly TRULY Awful.

Did I mention dada is in the ER right now for a suspected broken foot? No, he didn’t do it playing volleyball. He STUBBED HIS TOE chasing children at the park today. (I know I know poor dada however my immediate thought is “A CAST??? NOOOOOOOOOO!!!”)

Yes. Yes indeedy. It has been a swell day.

So, thoughts of lazy Labor Day weekends aren’t too too evil of us, right?

Oh, the clothes I would have. Oh, the purses. Maybe a little loft downtown? All sleek and modern looking. Oh, the movies and the dinners and the vacations! Oh, the vacations. Italy? Maybe France? Or somewhere exotic like Tahiti. OOOH. And I maybe would still look decent in a bikini? OH, maybe I would have an actual career?? (My chosen field of international-and-etc doesn’t quite mix with babies-and-etc.) OOOOOH. Maybe we would actually be living and working abroad like we always said we would do??!!

But, then, as we drove around sipping our lattes, little miss conked out in the back and little man chomping on his fruit leather dada says “Yea, but we’d be sitting in our nice loft downtown sad that we didn’t have kids. And you would work too much.”

Which is all true.

So, after getting babies to sleep, I sit and type with my glass of wine by my side waiting for an update from dada (please just a sprain! Pleasepleasepleaseplease!)

And despite it all (because of it all?) life is pretty good. You know?

….especially when they are asleep, after a day like today…..and when I have a glass of wine to end it with…..


Next up: I actually purchased a great little sweater to make a pair of woolies, as promised, however what with the crazy non-napping baby and the broken-foot-dada not too much sewing time was available this weekend. Hopefully this week.
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