June 29, 2010

Bread, Butter and Beans

Well the other thing that kept us all busy this weekend was cleaning up the yard and the garden after a mammoth storm we had on Thursday. Storm doesn't even seem to be the right word for what we had in fact. The weather people are calling it a "micro burst" but let's just call a spade a spade, this thing was basically a tornado. As my neighbor said, it was five minutes of sheer terror. The kids and I were at a bouncy castle play gym (which is a whole other thing I can visit later, or not, who knew there were bouncy castle gyms?) when the storm hit. The windows of the car were down since it had been hotter than hot that day and there was NO RAIN in the forecast. Suddenly the lights went out (and with it the power keeping the bouncy castles up - there was a lot of screaming) and the windows of the place started to shake. It was seriously crazy. When it was over we drove our dripping - literally - car home past uprooted and snapped in half trees toppled onto houses. We were lucky and our ancient cherry tree, the best part of our yard, escaped with just one large limb broken, so I can't really complain, but we also lost a lot of the garden.

Saturday we set to work trying to salvage things, picking the beans from the ripped up vines, pulling off the ears of immature corn (My corn!! Wahhhh!) and digging up the onions and shallots whose stems had simply snapped off. I need to dig the potatoes tonight, I thought that the plants might make a come back but it seems they are done for as well.

The problem is that I'm not ready for food storage. Oh sure, I have a little room in the jam cupboard, but other than that I'm just not ready for it. I had planned to have a big space in the basement cleared away and set up for hanging braids of onions and jars of pickles and bags of Potatoes. And a freezer. I was going to get a freezer. That was going to be my "I used to be cool and ask for clothes but now I want a chest freezer for my birthday" request. But oh well, you gotta do what you gotta do.

So in the afternoon I made some net bags for the onions and shallots (most were stemless hence the bag instead of braided stalks, I did get a few bunches braided) which are hanging inside the basement staircase. And then I made more pickles. When I was cleaning up the garden I pulled out three more giant cucumbers and since I had no room to freeze all the beans that went down in the storm, I pickled both.

I brined the cucumbers the same way I did before, but this time I added a cup of sugar to the vinegar mix, nixed the dill and chopped up a shallot and one of the peppers from our (miraculously ok) pepper plant. The result is something like a bread and butter pickle, except spicy. In a good way. I also packed the beans into jars with some dill, garlic and another pepper and used the original vinegar solution on them, also very good, and slightly spicy.

I'm running out of room in the fridge but still haven't progressed to processing the pickles. Mostly because I've been collecting these Kilner style jars and have to wait for the new rubber rings to arrive in the mail (Amazon has everything!) before I feel like it's safe to process using them. I could just stick with jars, but these are so fun, and pretty! And since I've been picking them up at second hand stores, cheap!

Tonight - potatoes. Which means I should probably look up how to store a big pile of potatoes. I also suspect there are another couple of cucumbers ready to go. Hopefully those rings arrive quickly.

June 28, 2010

Accidental Goodness

So I'm sure I'm not the only one that this happens to, but sometimes my baking projects just plain go wrong. Things don't rise or I leave them in too long or whatever. Hey, it happens, right? And unlike cooking, where you can more often than not just deal with things as they are, add a little more of this or that and go ahead and dig in, I find that baking gone bad more often than not just needs to be binned. I mean, who wants to eat a dry cookie right? Or worse, a dry cake? But occasionally the going wrong leads to something better than what you intended. And honestly, it's for those times that I love baking.

This weekend the kids and I decided to make a batch of graham crackers, something I've been meaning to try for a while, they seem to pop up on a lot of the blogs and cookbooks I like. I read through a few recipes and settled on a variation of Alton Brown's. The variation being that I didn't have graham flour. But I'd seen a lot of versions that called for whole wheat flour instead and that I had.

The other variation was that it called for a food processor and I don't have a food processor. I know, I hear you, what in the world am I doing without a food processor? Well, tell it to my husband. I've been saying it for years. The problem is that I do actually have one, it's teeny, and I mean teeny. It holds just one cup of whatever needs to be chopped. Which is perfect for nuts or onions or a small batch of babyfood in the days that I made babyfood, but for baking, it's crap. Still, it works, after 13 years, it works. It's held up better than my Stand Mixer, and I think it cost me all of $7. So until the thing dies, I have to live without. Which is normally no big deal (although, Will, if you are reading this, I would really like a food processor because, come on! I cook!) But I think it may have been the downfall of this recipe. Or maybe I should say the saving grace.

Because I couldn't really get the butter and flours worked together in that magic pea sized crumble, the dough didn't come together quite enough to roll it out thinly. So half of it we rolled out as best we could, to about 1/4 inch, and the rest we made into squeeze cookies, something I read about last year on Chocolate and Zucchini. The "crackers" puffed up quite a bit and ended up with a soft, chewy, almost gingerbread like consistency (real gingerbread, not cookies) and the squeeze cookies had a little crunch on the outside while still being soft on the inside.

We blew through them.

Today we made another batch and this time we grated the butter, which helped, but it was still pretty crumbly. I even added an extra 1/2 ounce of honey (I cut the molasses down to 2 ounces and added honey to make up the difference, which also could have had something to do with the dryness of the dough I guess) but since the kids declared they wanted them to be "squeezy" again, well, I wasn't too concerned.

We're almost out again. I kid you not. Better than Oreos though.

So here they are, "Not Graham Crackers"

"Not Graham Crackers"
adapted from Alton Brown

  • 8 ounces whole wheat flour
  • 2 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 3 ounces dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter, chilled and grated
  • 2 ounces molasses
  • 1 ounce honey
  • 1 1/2 ounces milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sift the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and blend in the butter with a fork or your fingertips until it is as incorporated as you can get (or if you are lucky and have a food processor, use that!) Make a well in the center and add the rest of the ingredients, folding them in until combined. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350.

Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch on parchment, transfer to a baking sheet and score into rectangles without separating them. OR, pull 2 tablespoons of dough out into your hand and squeeze it into a ridged oblong shape. Space them two inches apart on parchment. Bake either (or both) for 15 minutes.

June 25, 2010

Knitting Again

The Summer Solstice really gets the shaft in our family. We have a lot of traditions surrounding Winter Solstice, with more added each year it seems, but when the longest day of the year rolls around we have a bad habit of letting it slip by us.

It's not intentional. I love the thought of celebrating the beginning summer, it's just that it generally falls within days of both Will's birthday and Father's Day, so by the time the Solstice comes, well, we're a little celebrated out . Oh well, there's always next year. Or the year after.

Actually, I've decided that starting this winter (since, obviously, we didn't get it done for summer) we'll start a new tradition of giving handmade gifts for the Solstice. Or at least I will. OK, maybe it's just an excuse to plan on knitting something for everyone in our family.

Despite the nasty heat, the crazy lightening storms and the fact we spend half our life outside these days, I've been a knitting nutball. I finished the second shell for my slippers and am on to the last piece, which hopefully will go quickly because for some crazy reason I'm dying to knit sweaters. Sweaters! Seriously, it's an OVEN outside and I have sweaters on the brain. I blame Ravelry. Seriously, have you been there? It's like cool knitting projects exploded all over the place, too much inspiration! Too many must-do patterns. Maybe it's some kind of psychological reaction to the heat. My brain is so sick of the hot weather that it's just moved on to winter, regardless of the calender. So now my goal is to knit a sweater or other larger project for everyone by the Winter Solstice. That's a lot of knitting for someone who, a few months ago, was never going to knit again. By hey, a girl's allowed to change her mind, right?

Up until recently I've always thought of knitting as something I should do one project at a time. I'm not sure why, since I'm the queen of doing multiple projects all at once. I'm not even content to be reading one book at a time. But now that I've almost finished this long and, frankly kind of monotonous project with the slippers, I can see how having something else to switch to when i need a break from knitting 70 rows in the round without a change would be a good thing. I have this fantasy of sewing some white cotton drawstring bags and filling each with a different project that is mid construction. I know, I know, it's a little strange that the concept of organizing my knitting projects gets me all bubbly, what can I say, we all know I'm a little weird that way.

So, now I've got four patterns picked out (until I get on Ravelry again and find something different that I MUST MAKE) time to go hunt down some yarn, and maybe pick up some of that white cotton, because, you know, you can never be too organized, right?

June 23, 2010

What Kind of World

I'm usually a pretty upbeat person, glass half full and all that. But today I can't stop thinking about something I read this morning. A blog that I have, very occasionally, remembered to go read about a busy mother of four, Home/Work is one of the blogs on Babble.com. I remember reading some time ago of her revelation that her oldest child was addicted to drugs, today I read that he had recently died. That, coupled with the fact that my bookclub discussed Methland last night and all the horrors that go with that have me thinking of all the worst "what-if's" a parent can think.

I remember my father once told me that he and my mom thought long and hard about having children at all. About what kind of world their kids would have to grow up in, and whether it was right to bring more kids into such a messed up time. Thankfully they decided to take that risk, and probably because they were so concerned about things in the first place, I was sheltered in all the right ways and haven't really been exposed to many of the problems that my parents so feared.

I have to confess that those kind of thoughts didn't trouble me when Will and I decided to have kids. We were blissfully ignorant of most of the worlds troubles, I think in many ways we still are. Which is why, hearing a story like the one on Home/Work seems doubly devastating to me. An ordinary family, a child who was loved and raised in a happy, seemingly so from what I've read, home, and yet... I can't stop thinking about it. And wanting to hug the kids. Wanting to tell them all the things they should not do. And also not wanting to tell them, because I don't want them to know yet, all the horrible things out there. I want them to be ignorant. But I want them to be prepared. I suppose it's a dilemma that we all face. And to be frank, I'm no where near knowing what to take away from this, this horrible thing. Or what I want to tell them, and not tell them, to keep them safe.

Anyway, this is not my usual thing but, if you feel compelled, please keep this family in your thoughts. And hug your kids a little tighter. Because, well, just because.

June 22, 2010

Steak and Bok Choy

So I mentioned that we've had a bumper crop of bok choy out in the garden and I thought I'd pass on a recipe that we love to eat, either winter or summer, whenever we get our hands on a good looking bunch.

The first time I made this, we were living in Dublin and I was on a Jamie Oliver kick. I must have seen him on TV, although I can't remember that part, perhaps I just stumbled on his books in one of the four bookstores (oh heaven!) that were within walking distance of our flat. In any case, I loved reading his books. He was so cheerful, and unstuffy. And, unlike the cookbooks I'd brought from the US, the ingredients in the book were almost always easily found in both the larger chains (and by large, I mean small, because even the "big" stores were tiny compared with their US counterparts) and in the teeny corner shop grocery stores in our neighborhood. They were also nice and hearty, which helped us get over the fact that it never got above 65 degrees the entire time we lived there. (Actually, given that it has been in the high nineties here for days, that sounds pretty darn lovely!)

Of the recipes, this was our favorite. Briton, Will and I all love it - since it's not beige, it's not Evelyn's thing - and, to be honest, it's totally the reason I grew bok choy in the garden in the first place. The only change I make is to replace a whole chili - I hate cutting chili's - with a 1/4 tsp of sweet chili sauce. It give it a little kick without being too spicy for Briton. Ok, for me. I'm a whimp. Oh, and we use Strip Steak, not Sirloin, because we like it better.

Steak with Bok Choy and Ginger
adapted from Happy Days with the Naked Chef

2 thickish New York Strip Steaks
salt and pepper
large bunch of bok choy
8 T soy sauce
1 small garlic clove
1 thumb sized piece of ginger
1/4 tsp sweet chili sauce
juice of 1 lime
2 T olive oil

Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Grill until they are as done as you like (we prefer medium) and bring them inside. While they are grilling, set a pot of salted water on the stove to boil and pop in the bok choy when it's bubbling. In a small bowl mix the remaining ingredients (I like to grate both the garlic and the ginger with a microplane). Pour this sauce over the meat as soon as it comes off the grill and let it sit on the meat for a few minutes. When the bok choy is tender, drain and divide evenly between the plates. Slice up the meat and set on top of the greens, drizzle with the sauce.

June 21, 2010


The summer that I was pregnant with Briton, I went preserving crazy. I made strawberry jam and mint jelly and rose jelly and crazy I don't even remember what went in there chutney. I dried and bottled tomatoes and froze corn. And I made pickles. Actually, I should say I tried to make pickles. After reading through my preserving book I took myself down to the farmers market to stock up on pickling cucumbers. While I was there I chatted with the sweet little old ladies that ran the OSU Extension Office stand about the ins and outs of pickle making and went home, I thought, totally prepared. And to be honest, I'm not sure where things went wrong. They looked like pickles, they smelled like pickles, but they tasted, blah. Just really, really, blah. No crunch, no bite, no taste. It sucked.

So I've never gone down the pickle route again. Until I was poking around in the garden this weekend and discovered that my cucumber plant had exploded. No really. Last week I went poking through all the vines and leaves of my whole garden looking for signs of something, but didn't find much other than some good looking bok choy. Yesterday I thought I spotted a bean from the window and went out to investigate. I found, not a bean, but TONS of beans. And three enormous cucumbers. And corn! Still to small to eat but still, CORN! Feeling around under the potato plants revealed that the soil is packed with two inch diameter spuds. The carrots are starting to look like carrots. Not that I expected anything else, but still, it was exiting. But back to the cucumbers.

We planted Asian cucumbers this year from seeds bought from the Southern State Seed Exchange. From the descriptions, they were similar to the English variety that we love, but grow better in this hotter climate. I kid you not when I say that last week they were less than two inches long so it was kind of a shock to find them over a foot just seven days later. And while we love cucumbers on sandwiches and in salads, three huge cucumbers seemed a little excessive. Which got me thinking about pickles.

I dug through my big Stocking Up book, weighing a few different recipes (I can't remember which I used last time) read a few others I found in books on my shelf, and ended up winging it a little since none called for such a small amount of cucumbers. This makes, in fact, just one, tightly packed mason jar. Which is just the right amount for us. Or maybe not. Because these turned out great. Crunchy and a little spicy and just right. I'm still a little in awe. I didn't really think it would work. But I can see them disappearing faster than pickles usually do in this house, which has led me to do a little fantasizing about all sorts of things I can pickle. Maybe some of those beans. Or watermelon rind which I've never had but always wanted to try. Or Jerusalem artichokes. Can you pickle Jerusalem artichokes? Because I've got a bunch of them growing in the flower garden.

Anyway, if you have a spare pound or so of cucumbers hanging around the house, give it a whirl.

Fresh Packed Dill Pickles
Adapted from Stocking Up

1000 g of water
50 g of kosher salt
1 1/4 pounds of cucumbers, freshly picked and cut in spears
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 T kosher salt
1 tsp pickling spices
1 T mustard seed
1 small bunch of fresh dill

Make a brine out of the first two ingredients and soak the cucumber spears in it over night in the fridge. The next morning drain the cucumbers and pack them tightly into a sterilized, hot jar with the mustard seeds and the bunch of dill. In a saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, salt and pickling spices to a boil and pour into the jar until it's almost full. Cap with a lid and set it in the fridge to chill. Since these aren't processed, you have to keep them in the fridge. But I would guess that you can put the jar in a pot of boiling water and process for 15 minutes or so. That's part of the next adventure. Along with the beans and the artichokes.

Oh yeah, and happy solstice everyone. Nothing says the first day of summer like pickles, right?

June 16, 2010

not exactly the kind of pink i was thinking of

Ahh children. They change our lives, don't they. They come into this world ready to turn ours upside down. They teach us what it is to love instantly and unconditionally. They say funny, and touching, and amazing things. They figure out how to fix flashlights that you thought were broken after playing with circuitry kids and figure out how to write your name, all by themselves. They sneak into bed with you even after you've put them back in their own twice already. They snuggle up with you on the couch and tell you the love you. And they give you pinkeye.

Oh yes. Pinkeye.

I deal with a lot of pink in my life. In fact, on of my most often said phrases these days seems to be "Just because it's pink doesn't mean it's yours." which, funnily enough, reminds me a little of the phrase we chanted every day when Briton was four "Wild is funny, wild is just wild." But this isn't exactly the kind of pink I was expecting.

I woke up in the middle of the night Monday with a really itchy eye. Not terribly alarming since I've had terrible allergies this spring. But in the morning, once I'd gotten my eye ungunked and open I looked in the mirror and knew that this was no allergy. This, was pinkeye. When I went to see my doctor she walked in and said "Oh your poor eye!" and then smiled and said "Kids, eh?"

Kids eh is right. They don't even have the decency to get it themselves! Not that I'd wish it on them, I mean, come on, I'd much rather suffer through it myself than have them comedown with it. First of all, I don't want to see them in any kind of pain, but also - there is nothing worse than a kid who is contagious, but not really sick. Especially in the summer.

Before we had kids, Will and I used to laugh at the scene in the movie "One Fine Day" where her boss looks at her son and says "Do you know what I think when I see him? Carrier Monkey." But you know what? They are! What with the nose wiping, bottom wiping, force feeding (kidding, sort of) hugging, loving, licking (they lick me, not the other way around. And we're working on stopping that one), it's no wonder mom's are always sick. In fact, it's kind of amazing we survive motherhood.

So this morning I'd like to raise my half coffee, half hot water and milk (because, as it turns out, I also have the beginnings of an ulcer, so now I'm forbidden alcohol of any sort and am on half rations of coffee. So I suppose the pinkeye was a blessing in disguise. What if I'd waited until I had a real ulcer and couldn't have coffee at all? We know how that turns out around here!) to all the mothers out there who are snotted on, peed on, licked (surely I'm not the only one) and infected with colds and stomach bugs and pinkeye and still kiss boo-boos and hug fever ridden kids and healthy ones alike. We're one tough bunch my friends.

June 15, 2010

The Mad Hatter and the Storm

So Evie's party has come and gone. I wont say it went off without a hitch because, well, right about the time we got down to playing croquet a crazy rainstorm hit and we all went running inside, croquet mallets and giant playing cards in hand. While the thunder rumbled outside the bigger kids played and the little ones watched a little bit of Alice in Wonderland (No,not the new version, do you think I'm crazy?) before digging in to the cookies and cake and presents.

I have to say that three and four year olds opening, or watching the opening of, presents is a little bit like watching toddler soccer. They all clump together trying to "help" and no one knows who has what.

After the presents and the cake (pink with pink frosting and pink sprinkles...of course) the sun came bursting out and they all ran out like sugar crazed monkeys (which they were) to play a little more croquet - or at least to run around the yard with their mallets flying.

The wrapping paper hats turned out brilliantly but it was so hot that day that no one could keep them on. Will, I'm sad to say, ended up with a paper bag hat instead of a paper mache one, although that turned out pretty cool too. I am glad, however, that I'm done planning little girl birthdays for another year. hopefully by then she'll be interested in something other than pink and tea parties. I'm not sure if I can come up with yet another way to spin that.

June 14, 2010


I'm totally beat after a very, very busy day, but I had to post a link to some absolutely beautiful photos that the talented and amazing Dominique Attaway took of the kids last week. I'm in awe....
This is the second round of photos we've done with her since we moved here and I'm totally smitten.

June 11, 2010

Finding a New Rhythm

With two full weeks of this whole two parents working from home thing, I can hardly say that we've got it down pat, but we are starting to find our groove. We both prefer to work in the mornings, which means that on any given day, one of us is not working during our favorite time. Will likes the office to be silent, or worse, to have country music playing (he is a Texas boy) and I have a hard time working in either, preferring soft music like Vienna Teng or Haley Westenra, so when we are here together it's a hilarious show of me not hearing him because of my earphones or shouting at him when I have a question because I've forgotten I have them on. We've kept the kids pretty well entertained, lots of walks and trips to the park and library, which is nice.

I'm finding that I spend much less of my "free time" checking blogs and emails now that my computer isn't in the kitchen, always at the ready, and more time having fun when I'm in mommy mode. Evelyn and I had fallen into a boring sort of routine where most of the day was taken up with chores and email checking and trying to squeeze in a few minutes of writing time here and there. there are still chores, but when Will is working and I'm mommying, I'm more likely to sit outside and watch her swing, or even read a book, instead of using that time to pound away on my computer.

Dinner is a little bit of a struggle. I'm a meal planner so I know what we are having, but this new style of living has left me a little disorganized, and when I'm writing in the afternoons I have a hard time switching into dinner mode. I suppose Will could cook, but I'm so used to it that I suddenly look up at 5:45 and realize that I haven't started dinner. Besides, he's taken over dish duty, which I absolutely hate, so I'm ok with keeping with the cooking, I just have to adjust my brain to either get things started at lunch or remember to stop at five. I've been using a lot of old favorites from Everyday Food and new ones from Jamie Olivers iphone app which, by the way, is the best money I've spent on an app so far. Eaton Mess= Yumm...

We've tried to make it a rule that we start at 9 and stop at 6, working a little more only after the kids go to bed. Will is, surprisingly, much better at it than me. I think I've spent so many years being "on" for all things all the time that the idea of having a start and stop time seems odd, although it's one of the things that I insisted on when we started talking about embarking on this.

The real test will, of course, start Monday, when both kids are home all day, all summer long. And like I said, we're no experts, but so far, so good.

We're pretty much set for the party tomorrow, I'm going to work on cakes tonight and my lovely Auntie Amy gave me the best idea for hats for the kids that means I don't have to whip out half a dozen paper mache hats, which, whew, because I'm not sure they would have gotten done.

Oh, and if you don't read Ohdeedoh or missed this activity yesterday, Evie says "this is amazing!" She's playing with it now, as Daddy tried out his first Friday morning house cleaning. Yipee!

June 9, 2010

Fun with Shipping Labels

A couple of months ago I saw something on Design*Sponge using one of those funky stamps where you put all the teeny little letters in with tweezers to make business cards. I think they were business cards at least. That's how it stuck in my head. And ever since I've been wanting to buy a set for myself to make my own cards. They aren't cheap however, so I've been putting it off. But since I am, for now, the only income earner in the house and having cards made ends up being about the same, I decided it was worth it. And while I was puttering around Staples (dangerous, I used to love to hang out in the supply room at my mom's office, so many pens and papers and notepads and stickies....) I also picked up a pack of shipping tags because, well, I love them.

So now I've been playing. Playing with the stamps, playing with tags, and now, because I'm getting ready for the Mad Hatter Party, playing with markers and tags and stamps all together. Hey, that almost sounds like a song. Markers and stamps and tags, Oh My!

These things are seriously fun. I can see that I'm going to have to restock soon because I'm going through them at a kind of alarming pace. They've been gift tags and bin labels and gift cards. It's like when I had my lovely label maker and could find so many uses for it. Except prettier than the dot matrix on white tape look that the label maker spit out.

Oh, I could use them on our work board too... and hanging from the drawer knobs of my craft dresser. Humm....Oh, and the price tag on Will's Mad Hatter hat. Oh the possibilities are endless. (I'm making Will dress up as the Hatter, complete with a giant tie. Hey, I didn't make him dress up at Halloween this year, he's due!)

OK, time to stop playing with tags, there are giant playing cards to make still!

June 8, 2010

He Grows

Evelyn's fourth birthday is Saturday so by all rights I should be freaking out that my youngest child is slipping further and further away from babyhood. But I'm not. Four is a nice, comfortable age to me. It's over the hump of potty training and baby food and not quite big enough to be a truly a big kid. When she turned three is was huge. The end of an era, no more baby. Five will kill me, the last child off to school. But four is good. I'm excited for four. Of course I'm saying this now, by the weekend I may be sobbing into my oatmeal.

But it's Briton that seems to be growing up before my eyes these days. Suddenly he is very big. Tall and broad shouldered like his daddy. And looking more and more like his daddy too. His chubby cheeks and mischievous grin are being replaced by a more chiseled chin and a smaller, softer smile. It used to be just Briton and I. All day. We were conspirators. Roaming the streets of Dublin, hanging out in parks. Eating cake for lunch because every once in a while, you should just do that. And now he is getting too big for that.

He wants a pageboy hat and a LLBean Rolling backpack because they look cool, because other kids have them. He turns away when I kiss him in public. He can walk up to his friends house by himself. He can swim almost all the way across the pool, without touching.

Today when I dropped him off at school, late because we had photos taken today in honor of Evelyn's big day, I asked if he wanted me to walk down to his class with him, pulling out the sign in book as I asked because, he always does want me to. But today he looked at me with a wry "why would I want that?" kind of look and said "No, I'm good." Then turned and headed down the hall. I smiled until he turned the corner, then almost cried. "He's growing up mom!" the school secretary said. She's probably seen it a thousand times in her role as gatekeeper to the school, but for me it's a first.

I'm proud of him, my not so little boy. He's a good kid. A great kid. He loves his sister (most of the time) and is a good friend. Of course with growing up comes the inevitable door slamming and angry voices of "you don't understand" on occasion. And I suppose there is more of that to come down the road. It's a beautiful thing, watching your child grow toward being a young man. It really is. But sometimes I miss my finky little boy. I guess that's just the way of motherhood.

June 6, 2010

New Chairs or Old?

Because we are now paycheckless and officially starting a new business (or two, more later!) Will and I have called a halt to any major (read, if it costs money, it's major) renovation on the house. In my head I know this is the practical thing to do, but I look around the house and thing "but we never finished that! We haven't even started on this!" there are so many project that I want to do, and so many more that we've started but haven't yet finished. it's hard to think of going any length of time without working on some kind of something in our house. And the reality is that we wont really stop. We'll just scale down. I might not be able to talk Will into installing a huge skylight over our stairs, but painting the nasty redish brown deck, that's probably doable. Which is why I'm faced with a chair decision.

While Will and I are pretty good at finding deals, we are nothing compared to our friends Nell and Steve. They seem to come upon the most amazing finds for free, or close to it, all the time. Last week I got a message on my phone that they had found some chairs, was I still looking for chairs? Well yes and no. I needed more chairs for outdoors, we have six, plus two more that need serious aid before they can be used, but with our long table, we could, theoretically, have ten chairs out there. Did I need them? Probably not, but at $2 each, it seemed like a good idea.

The thing is, I also need chairs inside. Will and I bought our dining room table and chairs almost 10 years ago. They've served us well and we've loved them, but they have also lived through too many moves, two wiggly children and come from a time when, of course you matched your tables and chairs. For the past year I've been toying with the idea of getting a new set of chairs, something vastly different form the solid dark wood of our table. I haven't been able to convince Will of it, although when we had friends over for dinner the other night during a freak rain storm and couldn't use our much larger outdoor seating, I think he got the point as we all shoveled food while standing around the kitchen island. We need more chairs.

So now I'm faced with a decision. I have five, solid, kinda funky chairs that could be painted some interesting color and set around the dining room table, at last giving us a decent amount of seating.

Or I could use them outside (again painted, I've finally settled on a tealy blue and red color scheme for the outdoor chairs) and get above and beyond my ten chairs at the table goal.

What do we think?

June 3, 2010

Hip Hip Hooray!

We have a working washing machine!

So now excuse me while I go run the first of ten thousand loads of backed up laundry.

Back tomorrow!

June 2, 2010

Birthday Season is Upon Us

Well, almost. For our family, our little family of hour (six if you count the dog and cat, I cant even think about adding the chickens) we are summer heavy when it comes to birthdays. Evie, Will and Nigella all have June birthdays, Briton and I are both in August, as is our anniversary. So we get pretty busy around here at the start of summer in terms of party planning. Last year Briton opted for a kind of non-party. He had a sleepover with two friends and really they didn't come out of the playroom the whole evening. We had to drag them out for cake. It was lovely. But also kinda sad for me. I love planning parties and so having my child express taht he didn't really want a big to do anymore, well, I might have been a little teary. Then there was the "I just want a yellow cake from a box" incident which, I can't even talk about (come on kid! Your mother loves to bake, are you really going to make her make box cake? Yes, yes you are) Although we were in the middle of moving so it ended up being a good thing. This year he hasn't decided what he wants but Miss Evelyn knows for sure what she wants. I'm not really sure, but she is sure. So far she has told me she wants a GIRL party, but with boys too. And a TEA party, but really with cake. And a playing outside party, but wearing dresses.

You see my confusion. So we're having a Mad Hatter's Party which, I think, covers most of the bases there. I'm starting to gather old teapots and cups for the party and have great plans to get started on a bunch of paper mache hats for them to decorate and wear. I've been informed that the cake MUST be pink, with pink frosting and pink sprinkles and am in the process of making some very Alice-like "Eat Me!" signs for the food. I have a vague idea of dressing myself up as the Queen of Hearts, somehow. But most of that is still on the to do list. Or even just on the "in my head we will have this" list. The only thing that I have done is the invitations.

These are pretty much the same as the pencil cups I just made, except this time I typed out the party information in a (totally dorky, but they're three, what do they know!) poem and swirled it around some funky tea cups that I found at Salvation Army. Each of the kids in Evelyn's little posse of three year olds is getting one. I'd almost say that I'm going to have to give this whole strange and unusual (and only hand deliverable) invitation thing up once Evelyn hits school, except that's kind of the bonus you get for having summer birthdays. The trade off you get for having to suffer through 100 degree weather while pregnant, twice, is that you don't have to invite the whole flipping class to birthday parties. Don't get me wrong, it's fun to have a big party, but really, all they want is to hang out with a few really good friends. Or at least my kids do.

So in honor of the kick off to the Grimm Family Birthday season, here are Evelyn's totally unmailable Mad Hatter Party Invitations.

June 1, 2010

Shuffle Continued....

This weekend Will and I finally got around to getting started with the second part of the big playroom to office shuffle - building storage in the kids room.

Because they share a room, which isn't huge to begin with, adding some built in storage has long been on our to-do list. But until all the toys that previously occupied the playroom moved upstairs, it had never been a critical issue.

After two weeks of bins and baskets piled everywhere, and more than a few night time tripping incidents, I convinced Will it was time to get going on building them some shelves.

We pulled apart the shelving unit that had been there, which was actually something that had been in the house when we moved in, to use the parts and added a sheet of MDF that Lowe's cut into three not-so-even strips. Will wanted to lift the whole thing off the floor and pull the molding forward the way we did in the living room which caused some frustration (uneven floors) but in the end, we got the thing mostly built, all except for one piece on the top which I mistakenly told Will to cut to 37 inches instead of 39 (can't read my own handwriting it seems)

All that's left to do is to paint, something I'm not looking forward to because I know I should use oil paint, which has worked so well on things like trim and selves, but I hate the stink. And I really hate how long it takes to dry. I'm waiting for a weekend when we will be gone for a day or two (camping maybe?) so I can pull everything out and slap on the paint and then not have to be there for the mess or the stink. We'll see.

And by the way, holy cow (or as Evie says it "Roly Cow!") why do my kids have so many books? That's just one shelf too, they have three in their room!.

Oh, Right. Well, there is that.....