Wednesday, November 26, 2008
We have no television, so the girls are forced to entertain themselves. And it's not like they didn't do so before we cut the cable cord; none of them has ever had that tv addiction thing where they couldn't pull themselves away ... or where we could use tv time as a reward/consequence currency. They'd rather be outside. If you tell Sarah she can't go outside because, for instance, she has a bad cough, she'll cry and whine -- I mean -- she'll logically explain how important fresh air is to her recovery. Whatever.
What I'm trying to say is, the girls would way rather read or create huge crafty messes with permanent paints (oilcloth is my friend) and hot glue guns than watch television. They would way rather create a new game (their latest board game is called "Uh-Oh") or write a play and rehearse it all day and then wheedle Daddy into buying tickets to the performance.
They get a little confused when they go to friends' houses where tv is the main event. But what're we gonna do?!
And I'm aware this makes me sound like a beyond-PBS mother. I'm fully cognizant that this could be construed in that hyper-competitive parenting way that some folks have fun with. Trust me, I'm not judging. The girls still fight over computer time, if that makes anyone feel better. The Marches had to share gloves to go to a dressy party, and my girls won't share clothing unless forced (or, in a pinch, if Grandma's watching).
So when my beloved white Suburban gave up last week (I know: broken hip + chicken massacre + family car demise = fantastic seven days) it was time to buy a new one. We really need a Suburban because it's the only vehicle to seat our whole family and to haul a horse trailer. Just in case you're worried about the minivan dilemma.
I had narrowed my choices to a couple of used Suburbans. The final contender seats nine (one more than the old one!) and has low miles, snappy red paint (cop magnet, anyone?), FlexFuel, heavy duty towing package, etc. It doesn't have only one thing on my wish list: leather. I decided that I could give up the leather for a car we could afford that also drives. Down the road.
It also has highly embarrassing Fresno-style blindingly bright chrome 18-inch wheels.
And a television.
So Madeleine knew about the new car one day earlier than anyone else. She was torturing her sisters-- I mean -- she was handing out hints about our big "appointment" like the tiny niblets of power that she knew them to be. It is so awesome to be in the know, isn't it? She gave Sarah the news that "you can watch movies in it."
Sarah thought. And thought.
"We're buying a THEATER?"
They still haven't watched any tv in the car. They already have colored pencils and notebooks all over the back two rows.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Yesterday I decided to try my hand at some homemade yoghurt .
So I peeled back the plastic to reveal the most beautiful sight. Staring back at me was lovely plain yoghurt, teeming with probiotic life and only the tiniest bit of whey pooled on the top.
I sniffed. Smelled like yoghurt. I gave it the taste test. Tasted like yoghurt. (Then, I waited to make sure I didn't die.)
Clean quart jars. Check. Stainless steel pot. Check. Thermometer. Check. Milk and starter. Check.
Jars were filled, capped and placed in this insulated bag covered with towels and placed on top of my water heater to incubate. Where it is to remain untouched and undisturbed for a few days.
I am such a mother hen. I want to peek and shake and poke these little jars, just to see how things are going. It's taking all of my will power not to mess with them. Just the idea of all that homemade goodness just sitting there.... It is going to be a long few days while I
I will let you know how it all turns out!
Monday, September 29, 2008
Take my hand as we stroll down the lane, reminiscing the days of summer past.
::Post re-published from June 9 2008::
So the sun decided to shine yesterday and I was so smart as to make a commitment to spend the day inside. SEWING. After begging for sunshine for weeks, can you imagine! I am NOT bitter, not in the slightest. :)
I spent the day sewing with, and for my girls. I thought that, at some point (HA!) the sun'll come out (TOOmorRrOW! whoa, channeling Annie there for a sec) and the temperature will rise (like, this very minute) so, why not make some (boy, I am so brilliant) sun dresses?
First we chose the music................... A little, Fiona Apple to help us get into a groovy mood.
Then we fluffed them in the dryer, but they still were too wrinkly, so...........
(doesn't the sun do wonders for my heap of fabric?)
I set my minion to work with the iron.
(Oh look, there, yes it is more sunshine)
Because my minion did such a good job ironing all the fabric, I let her pick out the fixin's for her dress.
She chose this cute pillowcase. YES, that's right I said pillowcase. I made my minion a dress from one of the zillions of pillowcases I have in my secret stash.
(isn't the sun shining beautifully in my back yard?)
She is very proud of her new swimsuit cover-up.
I felt this particular pillowcase has, well, the look of a pillowcase (minus the big greasy head print, of course). So for my next dress making adventure, I am going to attempt to make one from a vintage pillowcase and add some more foo-fa-rah and see if that will help make the pillowcase look less pillow-casey. Since I have only slightly less than a bazillion (this is no lie) vintage pillowcases, I am going to be making lots (well maybe, if the rain keeps up) more of these little cutie pies (mmm, did someone say PIE!). BUT, I am going to save this project for a rainy day.
(I spent a SUNNY day inside, with children, sewing things, I might have gone a little nuts, O.K.! )
Monday, August 4, 2008
However, I learned from farmgirl Carri a neat new trick using my thumbs to help back up a horse (or any other) trailer.
You may remember that I only recently got brave and learned to drive with our vintage (old, heavy, short-tongue-so-hard-to-tow) horse trailer hitched to the Sub. It was a necessary skill for me to learn since Madeleine will start Horse 4-H in the fall and I will have to drive the girls and horses to a nearby arena a couple of times a week. Ah, the fuel bill. But that's another post.
Today I had to pick up some hay at a neighboring ranch. No problem. I did think ahead to the particular driveway's peculiarities, and discussed them with my husband. I was worried because there is a triangle of farm roads that intersect at this barn, and gates at each side. I would have to do some tricky backing up. My smart husband said to just pull into the driveway on the right of the barn to straighten out and then back straight up to the barn. Simple, right?
There's what happened when I tried to back up straight. Oh. Not so straight, you say? We shouldn't see the whole side of the trailer like that if we're going straight? That's not the barn behind the trailer at all?! Fret not. We will not hit the lovely fence on the other side. Nay, we will not hit the expensive remote control gate opener thingy either.
We will call our husband in a farmpanic. He will be in a VIM, or Very Important Meeting, and unavailable to help us beyond reminding us that it is a "pace not a race." Or, in English, "go slow and you'll be okay."
Crikey. Too bad I'm not the queen or I could continue thinking in the Royal We and someone else would be driving my horse trailer and picking up my horse hay.
Then I remembered that chicks rule. So sorry to be such a confused feminist and all. My friend Carri told me that if I got confused while backing up the horse trailer, I could simply put my hands on the bottom of the steering wheel with my thumbs pointing to one another.
Like this (oh, look, my pedicure is still cute):
It's kind of hard to take a picture of both of your hands on the steering wheel, but I want to be sure you see how to do this:
After your hands (mine really aren't that pudgy. It's gotta be the camera) are in the correct position, steer the trailer by the direction your THUMBS are pointing. It's a mirror-reading backwards thing. And it's genius. Because before I knew it:
Sunday, July 20, 2008
This outhouse lived in the old gold mining town of Columbia in California. It's a beautiful drive to get there from nearly any direction, and there is lots to see for the kids. We didn't pay a dime for anything, except the sarsaparilla and a couple postcards.
Happy Summer everyone!
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Here are some tips to make your own iced coffee not so BLAH and your insides go Hurrah! (Wow, that was a stretch.) It's the bomb, especially when you need your caffeine fix, but don't want to sweat through all your nice clothes with a steamy cup o'Joe in the afternoon. Plus, it's FRUGAL - as you're making less trips to the drive through coffee joint every afternoon for your
I have seen people just say to use leftover coffee from the morning. Go ahead - do that, if you want. It's certainly frugal and I applaud that! But in my case, the need for caffeine doesn't show up until it's too warm outside to have any hot coffee. Plus, it's a little too bitter tasting for me after I let it sit for a long time. So, I brew a double strength dose of the dark deliciousness and wait just a lil bit for it to cool somewhat. If you really plan ahead for this stuff, you can brew it the night before, and let it chill overnight in the fridge. Just don't ever set your hot pot of coffee directly into the fridge. Better yet, make coffee ice cubes. If you like sweetness, then add sugar or dry creamer only when it's still hot. They will not dissolve into cold coffee later (artificial sweeteners will do fine in either).
When you're ready for a tall glass of HELLO I LOVE YOU, you pull out a LOT of ice cubes (or your coffee ice cubes) and place them in a mason jar with a lid This makes it look much more country-glam while you mix it. Or, if you're hard up for time to find a clean jar and a lid, just put it into a tall glass.
The McDonald's coke glasses work really well for this drink. And, they're summer looking. Plus, they were free with the purchase of an extra value meal. I have extra value hips right now, how about that?
If you'd like, you can put in a little milk, liquid creamer or flavored syrup now. I like to do this before adding the coffee because it's just cool like that and it's easier to blend. I'm using Creme Brulee today because it's OOOHHHH MY GOSH GOOD.
After everything is perfectly mixed, blended or shaken, remove the lid and
Enjoy your iced coffee! And, enjoy all that moolah you just saved by making it yourself at home.
Totally Useless Fact:
Did you know that Farmers Union Iced Coffee outsells Coca Cola in South Australia??
Hey, I can see why.
Friday, June 20, 2008
For this particular project, I fished deep into the briny depths of my very illustrious, Goodwill bag and produced 2 items to make-over. First, I dug out these cute short-alls. Super cute, but lo, they were missing a clasp, as you can see in the picture below.
Next, I pulled out a once uber adorable little tube dress ( I am assuming that is what it's called ) and lo again, this little cutie patudie had lost it's stretch. All of the elastic in the top had come out in the wash.
So, I took out my trusty scissors and hacked away the straps and ironed out the wrinkles. Next I folded the dress in half top to bottom, then cut the whole thing in half. Producing two tubes with one raw and one finished edge. I then opened the side seam of each piece, making two long strips.
In this next step I laid the strips wrong sides together, making sure that the hemmed edges laid on top of each other. I stitched these two pieces together, making one fairly long strip of fabric. This will be the ruffle of the dress.
In order to make a dress from shorts you need to do a little trimming. I wanted to keep the pockets in tact for this dress so I cut off the bottom/crotch portion of the shorts but left the pockets as you can see. If you aren't in dire need of pockets I would recommend that you just whack those little buggers right off and avoid all the hassle that they bring. I sewed them to them to the body of the dress twice and to the ruffle once. OR......one might think ahead and just pin them out of the way. You might think that I would have thought of that before hand, especially after sewing them into other parts of the dress several times and cursing like a fish monger. But I digress.......
(READ: I did not need to iron the hem up as it is in this picture, I did it for a better visual)
For this next step we move back to the ruffle. The easiest way to make ruffles is to use a basting stitch. In order to do this the super easy way, you must set your sewing machine stitch length to it's longest length, for me this was 4. Start stitching on the raw edge of the fabric strip. We are not doubling the fabric, stitch only a single layer of the ruffle. Stitch about a quarter of an inch from the edge, all the way around. When you are done leave a long piece of thread attached to the ruffle. You will then firmly grasp the cloth in one hand and the thread in the other and GENTLY pull the thread making the fabric gather. Do this all along the edge you just stitched. You may have to gather till you reach mid point in the fabric then switch to the other end. Just remember not to pull on the thread too hard or it will break.
Next we need to close our ruffle circle. This is as simple as it sounds. Place the two ends, wrong sides together and zip across the edge. After you have gathered and stitched your circle, turn it right side out. Now we need to divide this circle into quarters with stick pins, this is not a precision division, just eyeball it.
Grab your shorts and turn them wrong side out. Carefully place the gathered ruffle inside of the shorts, as in the picture below, (with the ruffle inside the shorts) the right sides of the fabric will be together. Now this is the hardest part of the whole ordeal, pinning the ruffle so that it gathers evenly around the edge of the skirt. This is where the pins we placed at quarter intervals come in. Using those pins, attach the ruffle to the shorts, then adjust the ruffle so that it fits the inside profile of the shorts. Gently adjusting the gathering as needed. I suggest inserting pins from the raw edge down into the fabric and letting them stick out. This makes it much easier to remove them when you are actually stitching.
Now you are ready to stitch down the ruffle. If you have saved the pockets of the shorts be sure to watch out for them, it is a real pain to remove stitches at this point. Make sure that you take a seam allowance big enough to hide the basting stitches from the gathering process, it is no fun to try and pull these out later. Be sure to watch your fingers closely! Do NOT turn your head to yell at fighting children. Do NOT look away to see whose shoes the dog is eating, as this will result in dire injuries to your little fingers. Trust me on this one!
Be sure to take breaks often so as not to wear yourself out. I had a lovely assistant bring me a little sugar boost. Doesn't it look lip-smackity-de'lishioso?? Try not to get too involved with the snacking or think that you could totally stitch that seam one handed. Because if you do you will have issues like this.........
..........my daughter thought it was fancy butt stitching. Bwahahaha! Well it was pretty fancy alright, that little slip made a huge pucker right on the behind of the dress. NOT a good thing. So, lesson learned, don't snack and sew.
After you have the ruffle attached, ahem.... properly, turn the whole get-up right side out. Since I had a missing clasp on one shoulder strap, I needed to rectify that. I decided to make buttonholes in the straps. Aren't I just a Mrs. Smarty Pants?! I hear that you can purchase replacement hooks for over-alls, but I didn't want to make a special trip to town when I could just use what I had available.
Here is the finished product. My daughter thinks I am THE coolest Mommy in the whole world because I made her one cute dress out of garbage. Who'da thunk??
Hopefully, you enjoyed this farm girl re-do. Hopefully, I didn't confound the day-lights outta ya. ;P
Do you have a Farm Girl "re-do" up your sleeves? Leave us a comment, we would love to see what your working on.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
You can make this fun hiding spot for your children this summer.
You will need:
Two or three sampler packets of sunflower seeds. I like to mix it up: Mammoth Russian for the classic eight- to 10-foot-tall yellow sunflower with a brown-black center, closely alternated with Evening Sun for variations in russet, red, brown and yellow, also eight to 10 feet tall. The height range should be close if you mix up the varieties.
Two or three sampler packets of annual morning glory vines. Go crazy with color if you want, but blue is our favorite.
A plot of dirt that's tilled or weeded and loosened with a rake. If you want to use a grassy area, that'll work, as long as you don't mow it once the seedlings start coming up!
Mark out a square, rectangle or other shape (creativity counts!). Let your little ones help with the shape.
Next divide up your seeds so you have an equal number of each type and variety of seed for each "wall" of the room.
Time to plant!
Alternate varieties if you have more than one. The Mammoth Russian is a single-stalk variety, and the Evening Sun has multiple stalks, so this helps fill in the lower areas of the "walls."
We have found that four to five inches apart works pretty well.
Important! In each hole or spot in the row that you plant a sunflower seed, place two morning glory seeds in that same spot. Right alongside.
Check your children's placement of seeds... this will be vital to the roof of the house.
After all the seeds are lined up in the shape of your walls, make sure you left a hole on at least one side for a door!
Finally, cover the seeds with soil, water well, and watch them grow.
As the morning glory vines start, twine them up the stalk of their sunflower pals. After about six weeks you should be able to string a network of twine between the sunflower heads.
The morning glories will twine along the string ceiling and form a beautiful blue canopy for the sunflower house.
I will post pictures of my children's sunflower room as soon as the seedlings poke their heads up.
Hope you have fun with this project. And tell us your kid gardening tips!
Monday, June 9, 2008
A couple of my favorite knowledge base forums have proved to be quite valuable to me over the last year or so. It has been almost two years since I was fired from my rootin' tootin' job as a financial services consultant and I truly believe it was God kickin' me in the patootey and putting me back in my place. That place is on the home front with the kids and the critters and the roasted chicken in the oven. Seriously, I have a chicken in the oven. It's a miracle. I think a press conference is in order for this shocking news. (And no, it's not one of my beloved hens!)
But really - when I decided I wanted chickens in my backyard again, where else would one go but BackyardChickens.com? Talk about a plethora of advice! Need pictures of breeds? Need to know what kind of chick you got mailed to you? When do your chicks no longer need a heat lamp? Does your chicken have a
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Now listen closely. I have found the secret to not having that crusty, nasty block of honey in the bottom of the jar. Seriously. Bet you didn't know there was a secret. But really - just buy less honey more often. It's that easy! The guy around the corner from my little farm sells clover honey, but I haven't tried to buy it from him yet. I'm afraid of strangers. So, I get it at Winco. If you don't have a Winco, maybe you have some other larger grocery store with bulk food or a "gourmet" section. If you're lucky, you can also score your peanut butter there too. Ours are right next to each other. The nice thing is, it costs the same per pound whether you're getting half of a pound or ten pounds. If you're a price tag reader like me, this will make sense.
Then, I ground up some peanut butter. Dry roasted peanuts in a little machine. Voila!
You must use fresh peanuts, preferrably from a source of origin you wouldn't mind getting eggs from. Old peanuts have lots more mold. You can't see this mold, but it is there. Especially if they traveled a dozen weeks from China in not-well-sealed shipping containers. This particular mold is a carcinogen. Ok, enough about that. Just use fresh peanuts and use the fresh ground peanut butter faster than you would the processed Jif in your cupboard. Plus, your kids will think you're cool and you'll have less sugars, salts and oils to feed them.
So basically, you put a big (we're talking BIG) scoop of this fresh ground peanut butter in a medium mixing bowl. You can use a small bowl, but this is a messy job, so use a medium one.
Then, if you're not concerned about fat and calories, toss in a smaller blob of plain ol' margarine. It makes the peanut butter smoother and, well, buttery tasting and it adds back those oils you saved yourself from with the peanut butter. Ok, you can use Jif, but hey, this is my blog. Or at least my turn to blog.
Then, put a hefty sized dollop of honey in. Isn't this honey beautiful? It makes me want to have bees. But not really. That's like getting sheep to have a nice wool coat. It's not all that easy and glamorous. Did you know you can get bees without stingers? I just learned that yesterday when my husband was introducing the thought of hydroponics to me. Does anyone else think he's insane?
By the way - let your kid dollop the honey into the bowl after you have done the scoop and twirl. This way you don't get honey all over the entire planet.
Now, stir the lovely concoction. I mean, let your kid do the stirring. Then, while he goes to get a damp washcloth, secretly stir like mad behind him to get it all blended nicely. Then tell him what a wonderful job he has done. He will be very proud.
After you have blended everything into a nice, creamy dream, give one piece of WHOLE WHEAT WHITE bread (every mother's dream come true) a giant helping of the peanut butter and honey. Spread it so it looks like something out of a commerical, and top with another piece of nutritious white bread.
I prefer to put some honey straight on my bread. I think it comes from years of being lazy and not wanting to mix it all up ahead of time, but after it sits for a few minutes, it crystalizes a tiny bit into the bread and gives that delightful crunching sensation as the honey bursts into your mouth. I'm drooling.
Then, find someone to lick off the honey spoon.
I found this little squirt to be quite willing.
He is a good boy. Unless he's shrieking.
I find the lightly salted Kettle Chips to be a delightful accompaniment to any food that is lacking salt to begin with. Toss a few slices of melon on the plate and you're good to go.