Saturday, January 29, 2011

Party Day!

Today was Goosie's birthday party. Her first with friends. She invited 10 girls to join her and Peanut at their gymnastics center and everyone had a great time! They did an obstacle course of the tumble trampoline,
Goosie on Tumble Trampoline
Peanut on Tumble Trampoline
the balance beam,
Doing the Course
On the beam
somersaults and pit-jumping.
More of the course
The girls also played the parachute game called Sharks and Minnows, or Sharks and Lifeguards as one girl called it. This was hysterical. The girls sat with their legs out straight under the parachute. There was one shark who was under the parachute and would grab the legs of the other girls trying to recruit them as sharks to pull more under. The lifeguard would try to rescue the girls before they were pulled under. It was so funny to watch girls just *poof!* disappear! This is a shot of Goosie getting rescued by two lifeguards and the shark coming out of the water after her!

Sharks and Minnows

This is a cool shot of one little shark under the water~alas, I don't have an underwater camera and the shot is all blurred, but I thought it looked really pretty.
Cool Parachute Pic

In no time at all it was cake time. I haven't mentioned the cake yet. Goosie, as always, was specific as to what she wanted: "A cake with Kit's face on it and pink polka dots around it." *gulp* Ok. This kid once again has way too much faith in what her mom can pull off. Weeks ago one of the gymnastic moms I chat with during the girls' classes mentioned doing a chocolate outline and inverting it onto the cake. I was sold on that idea! So, I tried it.

Of course, nothing is without it's challenge. I was out of wax paper and parchment, so I piped it onto a freezer baggie. I piped it with a medicine dropper-the kind that looks like a syringe because I thought I could get finer detail. (I was wrong about that, but it worked.) Kit's freckles were rather large. Noses are very hard to translate with chocolate. Her eyes sort of scared me, and Derek kept teasing because Kit's part and clip were on the wrong side. I kept worrying it looked like Martha Stewart more than Kit.

But Goosie, my sweet, sweet girl kept saying "It's ok mom. You don't have to get all the details." She LOVED her cake. She was so excited for everyone to see it. She couldn't wait. She, once again, lets mom know what's important. Not being perfect, but trying to give all you can with as much love as you have.

"Kit Birthday Cake with Pink Dots"

Goosie had a really fun time with all her friends, and I think she felt very special to have so many people to celebrate with her this year. I'm thankful that she has such a sweet group of friends and that everyone had a great time.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Brr, baby! Get Crafty!

I can't warm up lately, and part of it is our unheated basement. There are vents down there but we'd had them closed off as the basement isn't finished. Another problem is the gale force winds that come in through the front door cracks. Ok, that's a little exaggeration, but there is a breeze. Enter in the door draft stopper. Or draft dodger, but that has a whole different connotation for me. I saw one ages ago and I searched all over for it and kicked myself when I finally did find it again. Of course I had seen it at Betz White's beautiful and inspiring site! I should have looked there first. It looks like a wooden log, with cute leaves on it. Scroll down (slowly, because there are too many other gorgeous things on the way).

Not being a stellar sew-er (that is, one that sews), and trying to use up crafty items I already have, I pulled out the felted sweater stash. I bought several at thrift stores over the last couple of years and have started many little projects with them, finishing very few. I never realized the accumulation of grey felted sweaters I had. Knowing that I wanted to make a little log-like draft stopper, I worried that the grey would look bad. I thought about over-dyeing the sweaters to a nice brown. I thought about how I could spritz them with dye to give a mottled look. I thought about how crazy I was and told myself to just buck up and make the darn thing. So, with Peanut as my assistant, we cut arms off sweaters and rolled them up.

Roll the sweaters
Then Peanut helped me sew each rolled sweater so it wouldn't unroll.
Peanut sews the rolled sweater
Then we seamed the three sweaters together, and I tried to have the bulkiest on the "base" of the branch, and the thinnest on what would be the "end" of the branch.
Sew rolled sweaters together
To make the "end" of the branch look more like the end, I cut the roll in two and sewed the ends so that the branch ended in a fork.
Branch end
Next we needed to embellish a little bit. Peanut added a flower and chose a nice button for the center
Peanut added a flower
and I rolled up half of a sleeve and seamed it to hold in a small branch shape and attached that to the main branch. I also added an owl with awesome stash buttons that were perfect for some owlie eyes.
Owl on a branch
Here's the finished project, doing it's job!
Branch draft stopper
We had a lot of fun making this and it took maybe an hour. A bonus to sewing felted sweaters is the stitches are so easily hidden. I just did a running stitch (and just had to look up the name for what I was doing) and a whip stitch (knew that name!) for attaching the branch and owl and seaming the owl as well.

So, if you're feeling cold and can't warm up, break out the stash in whatever form you have. Fabric? Seam up a tube and stuff it. Yarn? Knit or crochet up a tube and stuff that. Or, make it super quick and roll up some felted sweaters. Have fun, and stay warm!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Problem With Homemade Bread

Rise baby Rise!Really, the problem is that I eat it. I can have a store-bought loaf in the house and never consider it. But Sunday I decided to make bread. I had a store-bought loaf of wheat, but that doesn't go with Beans and Franks, which was on the dinner menu by request. So, I needed white bread, and I needed to make it because YUM. I used this recipe. I didn't have instant yeast, but it was fine. I didn't have enough milk, so I did 1/2 milk and 1/2 water, and it was fine. I didn't even have enough loaf pans, and it was fine! Here's a shot of the vessels I used instead of loaf pans, and I have to say it was really fun finding different tins to use.
The Vessels
Dough in cooking vessels
Research (read: Googling) has shown you can also use large cans, like the kinds veggies might come in (with all labels and glue removed) or even a large mouth canning jar was suggested by a wonderful Reclaiming the Home friend.

I was nervous about greasing properly so that the bread would come out right-there's nothing more worrisome in the kitchen than investing time into cooking or baking and having it not come out right-but all the bread turned out really well.
Mmmm bread
Too well, I think, as all I want is this bread lightly toasted and topped with butter and jam. Sigh, break out the leek soup!

I hope you try to make your own bread, at least once. This recipe is pretty fool-proof. I recommend you follow the recipe as-is for the first time, as with any recipe, then you can make notes on the recipe and tweak it next time.

When making this bread, I wondered why store-bought bread adds things into the bread that doesn't seem necessary. High-fructose corn syrup? Why? Doesn't it cost more to add ingredients that aren't needed to make something delicious? I know some ingredients make the bread last longer on the shelf too, and again I ask why? Do we not run to Starbucks or Biggby Coffee, or Tim Horton's or other coffee shop for a delicious, special-crafted delight? This is how our bread should be too. There are plenty of bakeries around too if you opt not to bake your own. It's just worth it.

Meghan of Stitch-It! Podcast recently mentioned this as well--must be bread-making season. She discussed some ladies she works with eating grapefruit from cans and not feeling satisfied. Meghan stated she'd rather peel her own, bite into the grapefruit, or dig her spoon in and dig it out. It's like a bite is a reward for working for it. This is true and something I've been working on in my eating experiences for a couple months now. Eating is an all-sensory experience, and I truly feel more satisfied when I enjoy my food with all the senses. Peeling an orange or grapefruit, having the oils of the peel splash up a bit, the sharp tangy scent that awakens your brain. It makes that fruit so satisfying. To read more about enjoying your food like that, and perhaps changing your perspective on food and eating on the whole, I recommend reading "French Women Don't Get Fat" by Mireille Guiliano. It made me conscious of walking, eating and drinking all the time. Very inspiring! Her website has lots of good information, tips and recipes as well.

She even allows eating good bread. :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Larynx Transplant

I'm a Speech-Language Pathologist, and I ran across this article and was very excited! I've not seen this before and wanted to share. I've done cadaveric dissection and know what the larynx looks like first hand. I've seen all the parts in our throat that allow us speech. I've seen the nerves and blood vessels and cartilages and musculature that connects here, and know the ramifications of injury to these. I know the hard work it takes to retrain the muscles to function properly for speech and swallowing, but I also know the hardship of having to carry and use an electric larynx (and check those prices!). I've trained a patient in how to use one and he was so disgusted with the whole thing, he chose for a long time to just use hand gestures. Not always kind ones. And I understood. Frustration! Embarrassment!

I wish this woman well. I am so happy that her quality of life is returning to her ideal. Ah, a shower again! Swimming! Eating tube-free! Freedom!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Goosie Turns Six!

Six? Six!? Yes, six. How do these kids get so big so fast, when we parents stop aging? I've no idea. Her birthday was really fantastic. Derek worked from home in the morning and took the afternoon off, so in the morning Goosie opened cards and her birthday gift from her sister. Peanut chose a Barbie for her-a Happy Birthday Barbie with a crown for Barbie and a matching crown for Goosie. :) They played Barbies and then Goosie and I went shopping for an outfit and a toy with gift card money from Grandma Sue. I took a picture of the outfit on my new camera, but I'm having trouble with the computer reading the memory card and can't get the photos off. Grr. But Target has a cute line of girls clothes right now by Alex Russo that is really cute and not smutty and doesn't have dumb little saying on it like "I'm a brat". Can you tell I have some issues with girls' clothes?

Anyway, Goosie picked out the blue striped shirt in the first pic in that link, green headband with the flower in the second pic, the cream colored shirt in third pic, and the skirt in the last pic. We also found a zippered hoodie sweater on clearance that matches perfectly. They make for really adorable outfits! The following day she wore pants with the striped shirt and her sweater, her new headband, and our friend Kathy gave us shoes she had gotten a while back but her girlie missed the right size/time of year to wear them. Well, they went great with this outfit, and Goosie was simply adorable in all her new things.

Goosie also was able to get a toy and she chose Polly Pocket. Yes, Polly has returned to the household. Peanut received some for her birthday in September, and the girls were better at dressing them. Anyone who has had Polly in their home knows that dressing rubber dolls with rubber clothes is nearly impossible, and by the time you can, you are too old to enjoy playing with them. But the girls were getting better, so I allowed it, and the girls play so well together I didn't want to deny another thing they could play. So we get it, get home, cut the package open, and what did the fine Polly Pocket people do? They gave Polly some athlete legs and big feet. Yes. She has huge feet and calves now. But did they make her pant legs wider? No. So mom's back to dressing Polly for all her events now. *sigh* A plea to Polly Pocket producers--could you try dressing her before you sell her? Or maybe have some kid testers? I'll volunteer my girls as your testers. Really. Maybe I'll email Polly herself and farm my kids out.

Ahem. Back to the birthday girl. By now it was lunchtime and we were ready to go. We trucked out to Chuck E. Cheese's and had a great time! Pizza and salad and games and trinkets and pencil drawings--it was much fun. The girls were so thrilled when a big row of tickets comes out of the machines. After a couple hours there, it was time for the Big Event.

All day Goosie just kept saying "I'm so happy." Later she'd say again, "I'm so happy!" To herself. Out of the blue. "I'm so happy!" She made a very grown up decision, discussed it with us and Derek and I discussed it between ourselves, and we agreed yes, she could get her ears pierced if she really wanted to. We talked to friends about it. About how it felt, the aftercare of them, and in the end, everyone said "It's worth it!" So....

I filled out the paperwork and Goosie wriggled in excitement.

She sat still while she had the marks put on her ears so she wouldn't look lopsided

She held my hands tightly while she got her first earring put in

She didn't cry! (I did.) She said the first one didn't hurt, but the second one did. She cried a bit, but really, she did so SO well! We didn't get a picture right after because we were hugging her and telling her how well she did and daddy scooped her up in a big hug and wiped away tears, and then she was all smiles. And what earrings did she choose?

Pretty Earrings

Aren't they pretty? Oh you guys, how do they grow up so fast?!

It was a wonderful birthday and she got to choose her dinner too-McDonald's, ick. I chose Panera for me :) But, in her new-found six-year-old wisdom she said "McDonald's toys are crappy!" Yes! They are! So is the food! Want a bite of my soup? haha, I'll convert her soon.

The next day she had school, wore her new outfit with her matching earrings and brought her treat and wore the birthday crown-she was just so excited. What a great celebration.

Next weekend is her party, her first with friends. It's at the gymnastics center where the girls take classes, and she invited 10 other little girls. Oh what fun we'll have!

Monday, January 17, 2011


Goosie is reading and phonetically spelling in a really impressive way. She drew me a picture and wrote "Janewary" on it so I'd always know when she made it. I looked at her spelling and prefer it to "January" since I (along with so many others) look at what I accomplished in the previous year and evaluate what I want to do in the next. I'm not one for resolutions, but I love lists. One year I bought a pretty journal and made a list of 42 things I wanted to do. I think I did about 40 of them. I know I never got that pedicure.

This year, I wanted to be on a better homemaking routine. Things are coming together here at my home. The living room no longer looks like a toy store or a day care, unless the toys are actively being played with. The Dora Castle is stored in the basement because it's not played with daily. The "baby set" with beds, a swing and a highchair is down there too with strollers and baby cradles and carriers. There's some order here and there but it can all too easily be torn apart and trashed. I want to be more vigilant.

Ladies on the Reclaiming the Home group on Ravelry started talking home management binders, and there are tons of printables out there to make your lists/calendars/dividers etc. exactly the way you want them. I had started one a couple years ago, but as I pulled it out to modify it this Janewary, I laughed and instantly realized why the home management binder never worked for me: all it had in it was knitting patterns and recipes! Ah-ha!! These two things, which I love dearly, will not help me to keep my household in order!

So, organizing began. I kept the front cover, artwork from Goosie when she was 3.
Front Cover

I went slowly and only worked a few minutes at a time on it, over several days. It's still easily adaptable, which is exactly how I like it. My to-do lists include daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal chores. I have one printable from that has weekly/daily/monthly tasks all on one sheet.

Weekly Master Checklist

I designated zones for each week ala Fly Lady, but I can't follow her regiment and get all the emails and look at her site too much. For a program that helps you get rid of clutter, the site is completely cluttered! However, there are some good points, tips and tricks there if you can pilfer through and find them. My zones are based on the number of weeks in a month, so week 1 zone is Entrances, porch, one bedroom. Zone 2 is Kitchen. Zone 3 is Bathroooms, one bedroom. Zone 4 is Master bedroom, and Zone 5 is Living/Dining room. I work on zone tasks on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and
Saturdays if needed, or if I feel like delegating out some tasks.

Monthly Cleaning list and zone list

I have each day of the week focusing on certain tasks too: Mondays are my heaviest days, including one load of laundry (wash, fold, put away, and put away handwashing done on Sat.). Then I clean all 3 bathrooms (sinks, toilets, mirrors, tub, shower). I dust the whole house and vacuum the whole house. But notice I don't mop bathroom floors when I clean the rest of the bathrooms--I do that on Wednesday when I do all the hard floors in the house.

Daily Cleaning List

I just had to separate out tasks throughout the week, and some things I had to do when the girls are in school.

I'm at this point where I'm getting awfully antsy about things in this house. We have a nice home and we ALL need to take care of it. Blinders have to come off sometime, and we all need to do our parts. Heck, last week I handed Peanut a wash rag and had her locate and clean all the doorknobs in the house. Goosie got her own wash rag and she wiped every baseboard she could see. They both also have their own To-Do lists and the best part about these lists? They are in page protectors and there's a dry erase marker that we use to cross off each task. It's very satisfying to see the big list at the beginning of the week become completely covered in blue at the end of the week!

Girls' Chore List

Of course I need monthly calendars in my binder too, and I went to for some blank calendars, and I had the girls decorate their birthday months for me,

January monthly page

and facing that calendar month I have a monthly to do list, parties to get ready for, birthdays, field trips, due dates, knitting goals and deadlines...all of it. When February comes, I'll put it in front of the month of January so it can face the "to-do list" for the month too. I didn't have the girls decorate all the months either. In my search for printable calendars, I ran across some awesome inspiring artwork on etsy and I wanted to buy several calendars. Then I figured I should hone my own skills and get some art in my life in the form of drawing again.

So, it's a start for me. I'm working hard at it and I'm teaching my girls to work hard at it too. It doesn't take too long at all, if we keep it up, and working together makes it fun too. Well, you know, not fun like eating ice cream fun, but fun to see a sense of pride in the work.

But mostly? Mom's not going insane with all the junk, clutter, trash, doll clothes, Barbie shoes, Lego bits, paper doll stands, tea party items, stuffed animals, headbands, shredded pieces of tissue paper, Lite Brite papers and pegs, parachute guys and horses all over the floor. (Yes, that is an inventory of what's on my floor right now. And I wonder why MY Dyson IS the only vacuum in the world that doesn't maintain it's suction).

Friday, January 7, 2011

Occupy Yourselves

"Occupy yourselves" I said, "I've got some work to do." "Ok mom" they replied. They started playing games, for hours. They got the foot stool to get some down themselves even.
Game day

Busy, huh? I think there was a puzzle or two thrown in and some paper doll play as well. They play so well together and it pleases me to no end.

Later I had them put on the snow garb and I kicked them out onto the deck. It's mom's sneaky way of not having to go out in the freezing cold, but the girls get to play and have fun. They have evolved this winter to building snow castles, packing cups with snow and inverting them. But then, they still like to eat snow, of course. I caught Peanut licking the snow off the arm rest at one point. :)

Snow fun!

more fun!

Anyway, they make me proud, these girls.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Pretty Knitting Things

I want to talk quickly about knitting things. I like pretty needles and use Knit Picks' Harmony needles. I just love the points and the beautiful wood. I don't find them too dark to knit with, and I think they have just the right amount of grab and slick on the sticks. I love the cables and smooth, tapered joins. However, I know needle preference is very individual. Still, they are pretty.

Stitch markers I've had for some time and not utilized like I could/should. But then I didn't ever knit anything too complicated either. I had some thought in the back of my head that what I was knitting wasn't that fancy, and therefore didn't need fancy stitch markers, so I used the plastic ones that look like "@" and are baby blue, pink or white. Now, they work just fine, don't get me wrong. I don't feel too bad when they fling across the room of fall into the couch cushion.

However, I've had a change in my thought process. I don't care what I'm knitting, I want pretty things. I had pretty stitch markers in my little drawer, and I pulled them out to admire them, to get them all in one place and to have them at the ready. Recently was involved with a swap on the Reclaiming the Home group on Ravelry, and I thought my swap partner would like some pretty stitch markers too. Off to hunt on etsy.

What I found was overwhelming. There are a bazillion etsy sellers peddling their beautiful stitch markers, but when I came across fripperies & bibelots, I fell in love with these little birdie stitch markers and the little blue robin eggs.

Sweet birdies and snowman

f&b stitchmarkers, stitchmarker holder

Had to have them. I found some pretty Christmas bulb stitch markers for my swap partner too. They are in the store, check them out. When the light hits them, it looks like there's a bead in the bead! So pretty!

As I shopped more in this store, I found a stitch marker holder that I had to have-one for me, one for my partner! Look at this thing, it's beautiful!:

f&b birdie stitchmarkers and stitchmarker holder

It clips to your bag and there are lobster clasps to attach your stitch markers. It's shiny and sleek and a necessary pretty thing. Did you see the adorable little snowman stitch marker in the first picture? The pretty black beaded ones in the second? Those were special gifts for ordering. (Well, one was because she forgot to add one thing to my order-no big deal-and she rushed me what she forgot and gave some bonus stitch markers! What a dear!) Anyway, these stitch markers are so smooth- the ring that goes on the needle has no join. They aren't split rings. They are solid and flattish and shiny and gorgeous.

Then, a friend in my knitting group presented us with stitch markers she made for us. We each got to choose and I chose these beautiful stone stitch markers. We laughed because we were each either knitting with yarn that matched what we were wearing that day, or chose stitch markers that matched. :) Look how pretty:

Stitch markers from Lorri

Sigh. Pretty things. I hope you are surrounding yourself with pretty things that make you happy, and are using them daily! If you find yourself in need of something pretty, do check out fripperies & bibelots. (I'm not sure if my friend in my knitting group is up to making them for sale or not! ;)

Life's too short to not use the good stuff, right?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Time to make the doughnuts~

So, someone mentioned that doughnuts on New Years day brings good luck. I'm not overly superstitious, but if doughnuts bring luck, who am I to argue? And I'm not Googling it to see if it's true or not. Because ... just because.

I whipped up some doughnuts. This is not like me. I love to cook and bake and all, but deep fry? Not my thang. Didn't even have the 2 quarts of oil it called for (and don't cars take quarts!?! That's a lot of oil and it squicks me out. I went to and used this recipe. I didn't have 2 eggs so I substituted flax seed and water (1 TBLS. ground flax seed + 3 TBLS water = 1 egg). I also didn't have buttermilk, so I added white vinegar to mine to make it sour. I didn't measure, just added a glug, but I think it's usually 1 TBLS to one cup of milk, stir, let it curdle. I also didn't have a full 4 cups of flour, but didn't halve the recipe like I probably should have, so I used just over 1 cup of bread flour and it worked out just fine. One more thing~I used blueberry applesauce that the girls don't like to eat in applesauce-form. It's great in baking though.

I heated the one quart of oil that I did have to 375 F. It's really important to have your oil hot when frying so it actually cooks the food rather than seeping into it. Ick. I'm also a stickler about having clean oil. I just can't reuse it, and can always tell when someone is reusing it. mmmm fishy doughnuts....gah!

Anyway, oil to temp, dough rolled out and cut
Doughnut/biscuit cutter
(I have a doughnut cutter?!? I use it as a biscuit cutter and take the center cutter part out.
doughtnut cutter center
I've only used the little center part to cut fun shaped things for bento lunches! haha!) and in it went. I have no pictures of this part because I was cooking, not blogging. But then I thought "I could take one pic and blog, right?" So, here's the pic of the doughnut holes cooking.
doughnut holes

How cute are they? That one, that's darker and deformed, looked like Pac Man and went around trying to eat the other dots in the pot.

The recipe made 33 doughnuts and holes, plus 3 little balls. 33 is the perfect odd number for the chef to taste the product while the rest are cooking. :) Here is what they looked like when done.

Mmmm doughnuts Doughnut holes

They hardly had to drain off excess oil as they didn't soak any in. I added just a bit of cinnamon sugar just after the fry. They were crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. mmmm doughnuts (channelling Homer)

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm a date geek, and the 1/1/11 made me really happy. So to round it off I ate 11 doughnuts. Or maybe not quite. Possibly though. And at 11:11 am, I raised a cuppa tea to all my friends and family, thanking you for your love and sending some back. Here's to good luck!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Merry Kitsmas and Ruthie New Year!

Yes. Sort of sacrilegious, but that was our Christmas, and the week in between. It was all about Kit and Ruthie, American Girl dolls. Goosie had gotten Kit for Christmas last year,
(on the left)
and Peanut for her birthday in September, but this Christmas, many accessories were added. Clothing, beds, sleeping bags, armoires, hangers, sunglasses,
Kit's stylin'!
and Santa brought Goosie a hair styling chair and Peanut an Appaloosa horse that was named Shyla. It's been a very imaginative time in our house, and the girls have really had fun. It's been really great to watch! Christmas morning, Ruthie rode Shyla to Kit's styling salon, got her hair done by Kit
Ruthie rides Shyla to get her hair done
and then they rode off on Shyla to go camping. Then they took an airplane ride to Africa to camp, and then Japan. Other fun items included Lite Brite,
Lite Brite!
Aqua Sand, Barbie Pet Vet dolls (Goosie got dogs, Peanut kitties),
Barbie Pet Vet!
a lip gloss making kit that Peanut gave to Goosie, and Goosie shared. :) They are such sweet girls. They've played so well together and haven't argued really either. They work things out well.

Now today it's New Year's Day. I'm a geek about fun dates, so 1/1/11 is making me ridiculously happy, and I plan on posting this at 11:11 am. See? Dorky. And I plan on raising a cuppa tea to my friends on Ravelry, those in real life, and family members, wishing a good year, full of health and happiness. Wealth in whatever form is needed as well. This year I'm hoping to be on the computer less, but blog more. Trying to hone my time better so that work is done and play time is focused on the family, and on fiber-my two greatest joys. In turn, I will blog about these joys more-I like having an account of our activities-but I can't let the activity become the focus of the blog. I plan on doing the activities, not trying to just document them.

So. That's that. :) Are you reading? Let me know, and I'll be raising a glass to you on the New Day.