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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

sweater dresses, knight tunics, and a pixie hat

Yes, oh yes, my crafting with woolens has again reached a fevered pitch. There is no snow on the ground and it still hits 40 degrees (!) but its coming...the cold, its like the music waiting for Jaws to attack...counting down...

And so, I sew.

Here are some creations. And I would show you pictures of the process but I didnt take any because I wasnt sure it would really turn out...but it did, so, happy me. HA.
like the legwarmers? HA. i love my girl

so the dress came about beccause 1) i went to
target and elsewhere looking for little winter dressses
and they werent warm or cute and 2) because
my sister had some cool sweaters to chop up :)

i saw these little dresses like pull over jumpers
in a cool store, locally made, expensive, yada yada.
i liked them because the seams were on the outside
so kinda playing up the whole scrap sweater look...

the sweater i chopped had a cool cowl neck that i
was able to save and then i cut out the bodice around it

i had to add a little ribbon (which missy girl LOVED)
to keep it on her shoulders because the buttons didnt go
up far enough

no nap plus a slight from brother equals huge
dramatic tears...cracks me up.

look at that drama!

the hat was knitted by yours truly. i made up the pattern so, dont ask. (it kinda
sucks too, strangely big in weird places works)

oh, the agony! (and yes, i did comfort her...)

so then little man was all, where is mine?? and
he wanted the sparkle fabric (bless him)
because it looks like knights armor he said.
so we made him a knight tunic, at first just
with the pockets but it wasnt "knight-y" enough
so we added the coat of arms thingy

he REALLY likes it. :)

and as long as it keeps him warm and he
will keep it on, really, who cares?

and dont worry, i didnt forget baby dear. :)
she got a pixie hat out of the sparkly fabric...

seriously so easy to make. cut out pixie shape. one seam up the back, hem up
bottom edge and edge around face, thread a tie through...voila. HAT.
kind of a hack job but still, cute.
Monday, November 28, 2011

making a list, checking it twice

little miss last christmas. SO TINY!
I am a list person. I actually have a book for all my lists, purchased in September when the school supply aisle shows up at the grocery store. I have had books for my lists since as long as I can remember. Sometimes they have writing, story ideas, sometimes doodles.

When I was five I wrote stories and drew pictures and practiced my name over and over.

When I got into school years and later, college, I made lists of homework assignments, my best friends, boys I liked, etc.

And then adult years led to lists of wedding plans and projects and things I needed to get done at work. In my previous life at my job that led me far from home I made lists of things to look forward to, clothes I would buy with bonus checks, and plans for when I got back home to my sweetheart.

And then I got pregnant and the lists grew exponentially. I had lists to catalogue my lists. Nursery things we needed, clothes we needed, books to read, birth plan thoughts. And then after baby was born a list wasnt cutting it. I had a spreadsheet, oh yes I did, to document every feed, nap and wet diaper. (you laugh, but it was needed to keep me sane.)

I live in pages sometimes, pages I create myself. Happy thoughts and work accomplished. Everything is organized, neat, even when life is not. (We could analyze this but, let's not.)

little man cutting snowflakes last christmas
And so, as I face the holiday season with not one, not two, but THREE babies, I of course, make a list.

Craft supplies needed, events and activities planned, we will enjoy every gosh darn minute of the month and I WILL be prepared. Kids are bored? I've got an activity lined up! Cousins coming to play? Here, a craft! Presents needed for 25+ family members? Oh yes, all under control.

You may be thinking, geez this girl needs to lighten up, enjoy the holiday season, the real meaning and all that. And yes, yes, I agree with you, but the lists, they facilitate that peace of mind to be able to do all that good stuff. You see?

Okay stop psychoanalyzing me, m'kay?


So, what are your favorite things to do with little ones this time of year that I can add to my list?
last much snow!
Thursday, November 24, 2011

i am thankful.

For these guys...
watching the parade

And this guy...

And getting to do this every day...

Good grief, how blessed am I? A good thing to remember. Blessings to you too, dear reader friend. And Happy Thanksgiving.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011

anti-recipe #42 pumpkin cheesecake with sour cream topping

Eh. This is totally a for real recipe. Like, I (mostly) follow the whole thing (mostly).

me and my cooking buddy. the kids were absorbed
in holiday specials on TV...
A few years back after making another pumpkin pie that hardly anyone in my giant family ate (not that we are giants, but that there are a lot of us. HA.) I thought to myself, Sara, we should find a different pumpkin-y recipe that people WILL actually eat.

So, the following Thanksgiving, after much googling, I came upon this recipe for pumpkin cheesecake with sour cream topping.

And, holy crap, it is good.

Please, however, don't look at the estimated fat and calorie count at the bottom of the page. Not till later anyway, post consumption. You will thank me.

little miss crumbling the crumbs. brother joined in when
i put the crumbs in a ziplock and smashed them on the floor
First, the crust. I feel its important to make your own graham cracker crust. One, its easy, and two, you avoid all the nasty crap they put in store bought crusts. And three, really this is the only part the kids show any interest in. Crushing graham crackers to a pulp?? YES PLEASE!

So you need about a cup and a half of crumbs plus a quarter cup sugar and around 6 or 7 tablespoons of melted butter. The recipe said 5 but that wasnt enough. Mix this then spread evenly in a greased 9 inch springform pan. Mine is 10 inch, it worked just fine. Bake around 7-10 minutes at 350. Let cool.

my helper fell asleep!
Now the yummy part. Mix one can of pumpkin stuff and 5oz of evaporated milk. A note, the recipe says a can of evap milk and then 5 oz in parentheses. My can was 12 oz. Glad I checked. I guessed at 5oz. (Of course) Add three pkgs cream cheese, softened and one cup brown sugar. Beat this mixture on high until smooth. I never EVER get all the chunks out. But I am using a sicko old one-beater beater that doesnt work well. You may have better luck. The recipe says to add cornstarch. I dont do that. Eh. Whatever. Its still good and my sister is allergic. Now add two eggs. Beat some more. Now some spices. I do cinammon, nutmeg, and ginger. And vanilla (1tsp).

still a little clumpy...but good!
Spread this into the cooled crust. Bake at 350 for around 50 minutes, until the center isnt too too jiggly (it wont totally firm up until cooled overnight in the fridge)

Now for the sour cream yummy part. Take 2 cups of sour cream (or more or less, whatever you have) add some sugar, I do around 2tbs, then a splash of vanilla. Mix it up and put onto the baked cheesecake. Put back in the oven for around 10 minutes.

the final product. with a few finger pokes in the middle...
(little miss!!)
Take out and cool for an hour, running a knife along the edge at some point to release the sides. Chill overnight in the fridge. Serve and enjoy the next day. YUM. And, so much tastier than the normal stuff.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

today's zen moment

snuggling my babies. the most unfuzzy picture i managed to achieve..
(fine, the most unfuzzy one in which i didnt look terrible and/or fat
and/or my punk son wasnt covering the baby's face with his hand)
Monday, November 21, 2011

mitten stays

So, just as a side crafty note. Lord have mercy, isnt putting your kid's mittens back on over and over again the most annoying thing about snow play (aside from when you step in a deep drift and get snow down your boot, that is the worst...or when your kid thinks its funny to throw snow at you...or when they have to pee five minutes after you get outside...okay so there are many things more any case...)

Here is a temporary solution, until I have time (somewhere over the rainbow) to craft new mitten that fit little miss and are long enough to tuck far into her sleeves so they never ever come off.

Mitten stays.

And here is how it is done.

Take old holey wool sock.

Cut off toes of sock.

Pull on over mittens and sleeves.


I swear it totally works.

first snow

but i dont WANT to look like
a cute fuzzy snow bear!!

So, while we had a ridiculous weekend away (in which the car broke down AGAIN) it snowed back at home.

The kids, upon staggering into the house late last night, were delighted to see the white fluffy stuff on the ground.


Yes, yes, I know, I am familiar with the stuff.

We Northern folk have a love hate relationship with our long cold winters. We love to kvetch to each other, and the world via Facebook, but secretly we love LOVE our winters.

I guess that is me. I really do like the cozy snowy winter. And we all know I love woolens and bundling up my babies.

brother is a tad agressive in his snowballing...
So this morning, after begging and pleading we fiinally got our act together enough to go outside. PHEW. Dressing three children for outdoor play is ROUGH. First we track down boots in which I tried not to swear in front of little man because his carefully saved winter boots from three years ago which will now fit little miss are MISSING. Well, one is, which is all the more maddening. And then, you go to actually get them dressed (rainboots will work little miss, for now) boots, hats, where are the mittens? Etc. Etc. and then first one dressed starts stripping off their clothes as you are dressing number three (But I am HOT Mama!)

And then baby cries. Ah, milk, yes you need milk.

So I chuck the kids out into the snow, throw on some boots, grab Ergo, baby, scarf, hat, and then by the time I get outside the kids are already throwing snow at each others faces and the little ones mittens keep falling off...but then, baby starts nursing, wailing stops, and kids are threatened properly (you throw that snow in her face again and you WILL go inside!)

And then ahhhhh....snow play. And they love it. And I love them. So, even though I forgot my gloves inside, it all works out.

her grin is cracking me up these days

doing the tricky ergo nursing thing

rocking the gypsy look these days...
Friday, November 18, 2011

anti-recipe #41 erin's "christmas crack" chocolate cracker toffee things

I had a crappy day. I tried to go to play group and it turned out badly, very badly.

Suffice it to say when I came home I needed chocolate, badly, very badly.

So, as the children watch PBS Kids (yes, I know, a lot lately, I feel terrible about it Not that terrible I guess. HA.) I sneak in the kitchen ("Just making dinner, my darlings!" That should have tipped them off, mom in the kitchen? cooking? WHAT??) And I make the below concoction.

I totally didnt come up with it, and it totally is a for real recipe from my friend Erin, so its kind of cheating to call it an anti-recipe BUT it is good enough to share, so here it is.

And yes, the crack is in reference to how good it is. Its now barely cooled in the freezer and I have already broken off a giant corner to nibble on, sneakily, while the children play. (Hurray, the tv is finally off!)

So. Pre-heat oven to 350. While you wait line a cookie sheet with tinfoil. Then line up a whole bunch of Saltine crackers on the tinfoil, you know, the stale ones stuck in the back of your cupboard that you bought when your kid was puking but no one actually eats Saltines, so there they sit. So, yea, get those out.

Then you melt a stick of butter, yes people, a FULL STICK, and no you can not use margarine. (ICK) Then when its nice and melting dump in a full cup of brown sugar, stirring, heat on medium high, until the mixture bubbles - and this is key - you have to let it go like this maybe 3 or even 5 minutes for the sugar granules to get smooth, otherwise your toffee part will be a bit grainy, delicious sure, but its better when its smoother. I never EVER get this part right. I really should time it.

Now, spread this bubbly golden yummy mixture on top of your crackers. Bake for 5 or so minutes.

Pull the tray out and sprinkle around a cup of chocolate chips on top. Wait for 10-15 minutes as the chocolate melts then take a spoon or spatula and smooth out the melty chocolate chips to cover the crackers.

Now the "anti-recipe" part, you can sprinkle with any kind of other goodies. Nuts for sure, I dont know, crushed peppermint? I am not really into crushed peppermint things but, ohh, maybe some kind of candy like a Heath bar? I am a purist but I do sprinkle some sea salt on top. Hmmm...

Let sit and cool for a bit, then put cookie sheet and all into the freezer for an hour or so.

Break apart and store in tupperware....if there is any left by the time it cools.

Sure to get your crappy Fridays cured right quick. Or, at least better. HA.

Enjoy. And thank Erin!
Wednesday, November 16, 2011


So, as I have written before dada has a second job that keeps him away from our den of chaos on more than one night each week.

Which the kids...alone...for bedtime...several times each week.

Which wasnt a big deal when there was just two. Not at all. Some nights were better than others but it was fine, in fact, I could typically get them to sleep earlier on nights when dada was 7 even!

Not so much anymore. Tonight will be a mama on her own night. As was several nights last week. I find myself mentally preparing for it all day.

With baby to manage, and a baby that needs quiet and calm and isn't in the slightest bit patient, it has turned into one grand juggling act to get the kids into bed and asleep. And mind you, we are not parents that kiss little loves on the cheek and close the door and let them fall asleep, no, for better or worse or whatever, we have always laid with our kids till they doze off, FINALLY, into the land of nod.

So, this is how it goes down.

Dinner finishes up. IN THE BATH IMMEDIATELY. Kids play in tub, mama puts baby in pajamas and into sling and cleans up kitchen and retrieves jams for big kids. Kids out of tub. Mama, with baby still in sling (hopefully, and hopefully asleep, if she isnt this is one big chaotic happening with a baby screaming in Mama's ear) Mama scrubs down children with soap, rinses, then lifts up crazy wet slippery children, towels them off, wrestles them into jams, usually chasing little miss around the house trying to convice her to put on her night time diaper.

Once wrestled into jams Mama brushes hooligans teeth. Sometimes little miss refuses, even after talk of ickies on our teeth that give us owies. Sometimes Mama gives in and lets her run away.
the fuzzy quality of these pics helps to capture the chaos....

This is when brother starts yelling that he can get "medicine" (vitamins) out himself. Mama lets him, under close watch. Little miss "helps" get warm milk in the microwave for each kid. Then we head downstairs.

Inevitably the baby is awake and screaming at this point. And little miss jumps up and down on the big family bed and, if we haven't managed to get jams on yet, little man takes his towel and flaps around the room like a naked wild man. Sometimes they start chasing around now. Throwing pillows and screeching. This is when Mama makes them do time outs on the rocking chair and/or stairs while threatening to take away night time books. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesnt.
hello little poochie face!


The darlings pick out books. Mama settles baby. Ah, peace. Then all cuddle together on the big bed while reading...until little miss pokes brother in the eye and accidentally kicks the baby and more threats of no books and then Mama might start reading in a very soft voice which requires calm, which sometimes works...ah peace.

And then little man realizes he forgot his stuffed puppy "Flash" upstairs and convinces little miss to go with him upstairs to retrieve it, along with her stuffed bulldog, named "Bulldog" (their latest favorites). Ten minutes later they come back down with their dogs, after Mama bellows at them to stop playing and come to bed.

And now is when baby starts fussing again, as the lights go off and the kids nestle into their cozy spots, each on one side of Mama. Mama swings baby on her knees while sitting up in bed and/or nurses and/or prays for peace.
can we just go to sleep Ma? Please?

And usually little miss conks right out, although sometimes she gets up and dances around the room and Mama chases her down and chaos ensues. And usually little man talks to himself for awhile and shifts around and slides his cold toes under Mama's legs, but sometimes he just falls right to sleep. And sometimes the baby quiets easily and Mama breathes in a deep breath. And sometimes she gets out of bed, rocking baby in the big chair, or bouncing up and down. And then climbs back into bed waiting for that magical moment when the kidlings breathing deepens and their arms go limp. And sometimes she then heaves herself out of bed - with sleeping baby - to go watch mindless TV while eating Ben and Jerry's straight from the pint. But sometimes Mama lays down with a deep sigh and sleeps too.

And that, folks, is how it goes down.  
Friday, November 11, 2011

what is next

Funny thing about waiting nine months + for a baby, baby is born, head clears after a few weeks and suddenly you are like, NOW WHAT??

how i spend many an afternoon, sitting on the stoop, bouncing baby love
while the hooligans run off their halloween candy...
Waiting for that little soul to come into the world is such a monumentous thing, nothing like it really, maybe waiting for Christmas when you were like 8 or so, remember that? The countdown, the anticipation, the daydreaming? And then going back to school in January....ugh.

I am not at an ugh point, not at all. Its just...what is next, you know? Like oh, ok, Thanksgiving, that will be nice, Christmas, yes definitely fun, but there is nothing as life changing on my horizon, at all. And so...

And so.

This is life. You know? And we get up in the morning and give kids juice boxes and breakfast bars (I am particularly lazy/unavailable in the AM hours. Baby love likes being nursed and held...and nursed and held...and repeat...and repeat...) And then play outside, some housework, laundry, maybe something crafty if my energy is up, maybe even, GASP, some writing. And then lunch, then naptime (or not? Little miss is transitioning away from naps, we still do quiet time but we are in that awkward nap=10pm bedtime, no nap=crabby evening...what to do...) Then afternoon play, then maybe a story with mom or some playdoh, then dinner prep, then dada is home and dinner, bath, bed...

And the next morning...

I do it again.

Its not that it is bad, not at all, it just IS. You know?

And then the whole skin cancer thing (now removed and resolved) and then the car breaks down and costs upteen dollars to fix and now babylove may apparently have a port wine stain birthmark...on her eye...and...well, I am TIRED.

how i spend many an hour...

and when she wakes up like this its all the better...
And, I am horribly bad at the whole "what is next" thing. Its always been a major struggle for me to be present in my day, I am much much better at it, even to the point of conquering that mindset, but every now and then I go, oh, okay, this is my life. And I love it, husband, babies, house SO so much, you know that, but every now and then I think, what about living abroad, writing a novel, doing do-gooder work again, etc. And I know it will come and I am in that baby phase now, and it goes so fast (I have a FIVE YEAR OLD?) I know that. Its just...Huh. I dont know.

Does anybody get this? That post-baby excitement...dare I say it...letdown?

Oh, that sounds evil.

But I look at them and GOOD GOD I love them, I do. I am so proud of them. And of me, for doing this, being at home with them. I do it, and I know, most days, I do it well.

I was trying to do this little game, to pull myself out of this post-baby funk, but, well, even now as I try to blog, I have to stand and bounce baby love sleeping in the wrap, too fussy just to sit and be asleep in my arms. Space and time to sit at the computer are, well, hard to come by.

And, its okay, its good. And I know this too shall pass, as they say, all too quickly.

And so. And so.

And so I look at the little faces around me, and I look at the cozy house around me, and I snuggle my snuggle baby, and laugh at my crazy kids, and, well, and I HAVE to be content. How can I not?


Sunday, November 6, 2011

an organized, portable diapering station (and a how-to for homemade diaper wipes and a wool wetbag)

With your first kid the changing table is an integral part of nursery decor. It matches the crib. It has cute baskets to hold all your supplies. You hang colorful pictures or a mobile over it for stimulation.

I had all of this for little man.

Then little miss came along, and the second hand changing table (all we could afford at the time during dada's law school days) was held together by duct tape, so we got rid of it, plus we needed the space for another dresser in the kids room.

I made due by laying a changing pad on top of her dresser, with cute shelves and baskets nearby, holding all her diapering supplies.

By the third kid, well, third kid doesnt even get a dresser, she gets baskets, and for diapering, well, she gets changed on the floor.

But the little diapering station I have created for her is one of her favorite spots, she is hanging out there right now, cooing and talking.

So, in the middle of my living room floor I have a changing pad, from the throwaway changing table, and this great wooden (and attractive!) dangling toy that she lays under, and a big (and attractive!) basket with all my supplies next to it.

squirt bottle with wipe solution, flannel wipes, a few changes of clothes
of course plenty of dipes including fitted dipes and some woolies
And you know what? It works.

My only dilemma at first was where to put the wet diapers? I am not really keen on having my big diaper pail in my living room, but running up and down the stairs to where I keep the diaper pail and my diapering stash wasnt fun either. I have always meant to buy a wet bag, made out of that fancy breathable fabric, but then I saw a blog somewhere about making a wetbag out of an old sweater, well, you know how I love crafting out of sweaters. PERFECT. I sewed up a quick bag using an old sweater that was too scratchy for baby pants and then simply used yarn and a yarn needle to thread a drawstring through the fabric.

Simple. Easy. Cheap.

Oh, and you are wondering about the homemade diaper wipes? Here is what I did - flannel cloths, cut out from worn out pajama pants (the flannel was too thin to use for diapers) with sewn edges to keep from fraying plus a spray bottle with water, and a few drops of tea tree oil (an antiseptic) and lavender (soothing on sensitive skin).

It is gentle on little bums, smells great, can be used for a quick baby wipe down, and in a pinch works on a washcloth to wipe your own stinky self down (come on, admit it, how many times have you used a wet wipe to wash off when you cant get to a shower or when baby spits up on you as you are leaving the house?!)

Spray a few squirts onto a cloth for diapering needs, then just throw in with your cloth dipes and wash with them. SO EASY.

So there you have it.
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