Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ups and Downs

The Fail:  

I scurry over to the salon during the munchkins' nap time to get a quick pedicure on Sunday.

(Note:  Even when pursuing a frugal mindset, in a climate where one wears flip-flops 10 months out of the year at least, it is imperative, I believe, to budget in a pedicure once or twice a month.  FYI.)

So anyway, I get there, and I'm feeling pretty groovy because I've remembered to bring some crochet to work on and was making great gains in it and completely falling into a wonderful and productive comfortable pampered zone.  I picked out a beautiful, bright, ever-so-slightly bluish green color for my oh-so cute toes, which my awesome pedicurist applies expertly.

Feeling like a normal, put together, lady-like human being.

Then she goes to put on my shoes.

Sigh.  Normal, put together, lady-like human being feeling gone.

Friends, I'm wearing two non-matching flip-flops to the salon, and I'm once again in frazzled-mom zone.

Oh, well.  At least my toes look snappy.

The Score:

These came in the mail last week.  

Ever since I was a little girl with an Australian pen pal, I've had a thing for getting mail/packages from other countries.  So cool!  Am I the only one?

So I was pretty psyched when these arrived from Ukraine.  I mean, I have to even study the packaging for a bit before I can even open it.  Maybe I should get out more.  But I love these earrings from Lepun and the sweet wrapping they came in.  I've been wearing them for the past three days, and I think they look neat with my pixie hairdo.

Anything interesting happen to you over the weekend?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Birthday Time

Well, it's that time again.  Birthday time.  Which means birthday planning time.  Leif's birthday is coming up soon, and he'll be four!

He used to look like this:

But now he looks like this:

I've been working on other projects seeing his birthday as some hazy event in the distant future, but egad!  It's nearly here!  There's so much to do:  Spray painting, sewing, baking, balloon buying, snack making, gluing, decorating, wrapping, and there's still another present I want to get him.  And that's the easy part.  Mostly I need to sit down and write out what to do and when to do it.

Rose's birthday went over pretty well.  She had a mermaid theme, and I like how it came together.  


The best and funniest thing about her party was the way the pink octopus candies came out.  They look positively terrified.

Which, if you had seen the massacre that followed, was quite apropos.  

Here's a peek into the pre-massacre.

I still laugh when I see these.

Run, Octopus, run!!!  Oh, nooooo....

I'm hoping my kids won't completely inherit my twisted sense of humor.  

Leif has requested an airplane birthday.  I've been collecting ideas on Pinterest for his party that I'll post soon.  I'll try to keep you up to speed on the preparation projects if I don't get too overwhelmed.

Like when does that ever happen?


(For instructions on how to make those fun octopus treats see:  Octopus Marshmallow Pops by Wants & Wishes.)

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Have I mentioned I have the attention span of a fruit fly?

Well, that's not completely true.  What would be a good way to put it?  I mean, I can focus on something for a good while, but there are just so many somethings to focus on.  There is so much I want to try to do, that I have a hard time getting to do anything, because it never actually works out to actually finish something or master it.  Because if I spend all my time on this one thing, how will I fit in everything else?

(Boy, this blog is such a voyage of self discovery.  Of course, that doesn't help you much, reader, since you are not my self.  So I won't feel bad if you stop here.

I'll wait until you've had time to move onto a more productive website.

Go ahead.

Hum, hum, hum.)

So anyway, this explains, of course, why I can start a conversation in Spanish and French, say hello, please, count to 10 in German, and greet people, say excuse me, and I love you in Russian, Chinese, and Romanian.  But please don't go any further, because to me, it will be embarrassingly incoherent.  It's also why I've been an environmental science major, a photography major, a studio art major, an art history major -- sidetrack to get an A.A.S. in computer animation -- an international studies major, and back to a B.A. in art history.

It's also why I know the basics of so many arts and crafts type things but am nowhere near the skill level of some of my favorite people and inspirers (I love making up words; I'm going to write a dictionary someday.  You'll be able to find it in your local bookstore in the fiction section.) who have been able to really hone in on something they love and work at it.  I have a lot of family that falls into this category.

It explains why in an actual family and a global family of so many perfectly fried eggs, I feel like the one that went in funny during the cooking process, and so you simply decide, "Well, I guess this one's gonna be scrambled eggs instead."

I am scrambled eggs.

But optimistic scrambled eggs.  And as an scrambled optimist egg, I'm hoping my interest in pretty much everything will help me be a great encourager (another entry for my dictionary) to four kids who will probably have extremely different interests -- or at least drive them into therapy trying to incorporate them into all of mine.

In the meantime, I'm going to have to embrace who I am and stop trying to find that one thing.  I just have to try to find ways to work in everything I can't stop thinking about trying or doing -- (not in any particular order) -- design, crochet, sewing, Bible studying, cooking, baking, developing bookworm kids, encouraging Christ-loving kids, blogging, vintage finding, learning new arts (hand lettering, art journaling, craft designing), photographing, reading, friend visiting, family history tracing, etc.  But I think I should do it in a way that's a bit organized, planning ahead, and deciding which things are most important.

I think most people knew to do that already.  I'm catching up.

It's a work in progress.  Probably will be till I move onto glory.

So I'd like to know:  Any other lovely scrambled eggs there?  

Monday, June 4, 2012

Real-Life Handmade

Confession time.

I have an oddly-shaped head.  At least I assume I do.  It would explain my headband issues.  There are two kinds of headbands in this world.  The kind that wiggle off my oddly-shaped head or the ones that hurt like the dickens behind my ears and give me splitting headaches.  Elastic, plastic, metal, doesn't matter.

Until now.

Enter Sunshine and Carousels.

This beautiful, green headband is the most comfy, stay-put, cutest headband I have ever, ever owned, and I've tried a few.  Granted, this photo was taken pre-irrationally-last-minute pixie cut.  But I have a few ideas on styling my new do with this headband.  There's no way I'm letting this total awsomeness go unworn, and I'm wayyyy too selfish to give it to somebody else.

Fortunately, my girls are still a bit too small to start swiping my stuff -- well, my accessories, I think.  Though I keep finding my red crystal flower pin curiously in their possession.  I have no idea how that keeps happening.


But cute miscreants.  So I'll keep them.

But this post isn't so much about hair accessories as it is about my love of handmade things.  I know.  It's been like five seconds since I mentioned it.  But is there anything better having something that someone has obviously put real care into, someone you can believe truly loves what they do?  I could be reaching, but it makes me feel connected just a little more to real people, and real people with real skill and beautiful minds.

I am a big thrower-outer.  (Yeah.  That's a word.  Would I have typed it if it wasn't?  Okay.  Probably.)  My answer to clutter is to give it away or throw it out.  Ask my kids.  They just lost about half their toys to a recent purge.  Rose thought it was traumatic whereas Leif was helping me fill the bags for the Salvation Army.  But four kids with birthdays and Christmas tend to rack up a lot of stuff that doesn't necessarily get played with.

But things I would never get rid of?  I love the blankets my grandmother lovingly crafted for my kids, gorgeous knitted and quilted ones.  There's the display case my great-grandfather made for my great-grandmother that I'm using to hold my plethora of books.  I have articles of clothing that my mom made/designed that I haven't worn in ages.  She even made my wedding dress, which, though the marriage turned out badly, is a work of art and will be precious to me forever, as will the veil my grandmother stitched with her glorious hands.

Don't even get me started on the funny clothespin people my kids make.

It's not even just things made by family and friends.  It's jewelry and paper things and wooden toys purchased from true craftspeople.  These are the things that will still be here when I've clocked my 100th Goodwill run.

It's why I'm able lately to talk myself out of getting clothes or other make-able from corporate superstores.  I mean, do I really need what I sometimes think I do from there?

(I do realize, however, that we're probably destined to start wearing holes in our outgrown clothing if I can't find more time for the sewing machine soon... or at least more time for the thrift stores... or I'll have to cave.  I did just get the twins some shorts recently from Target.  It's Florida for crying out loud, and they didn't have any.  But I digress.

These arguments with myself can be so tiring, not to mention psychoanalytically scary.)

Because, money aside, it seems, at least for me, to be better to have less that means more in life, to be focused on making and salvaging and saving things that matter, and then to actually have things that matter to save.

I know I'm not who feels this way lately.  There are so many people jumping on this train, and I actually feel like I'm behind.  I follow so many charming and brilliant blogs from the U.S., UK, Australia, Norway, Romania, Ireland, et cetera, lately about people who have these awesome ideas along these handmade lines and who actually share them, passing ideas onto others who come up with their own neat things to do with them and pass those on.

In a brief but lovely conversation I had with Nicky Walsh of Nicky & Max, I think she put it well:

"The world financial crisis is changing everyones mindset…here to. Money is no longer the goal, less material living is. Homegrown, homecooked, enjoyed with friends, family, keep it cheap, support local producers, get a more wholesome hobby, learn a craft, make it yourself, old and secondhand, heritage and vintage, back to basics, experimentation and re learning and got to be cheap."

And that's really it, isn't it?  It is to me.  What do you think?

So I really like my headband, and I can't wait to find more creative people to talk about and, of course, shop from.  Because... well... that's the fun part.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Priorities or Something Else

Man, this morning was hectic, and not because it had to be.  I got the absolute most laziest start this morning, and of course after all the GET YOUR SHOES ON WE HAVE TO GO!!! for the 47th time, we did finally make it to the car, and I did apologize for the yelling and the reason for the yelling, which was I just wanted to do nothing all day.  But being who I am, I also had to squeeze in a tiny lecture on working together to get things done, including getting ready to go somewhere.  Don't judge me; two year-olds, almost-four-year-olds, and five-year-olds understand more than you think.

At least that's what I tell myself. 

But church was fantastic, and I'm now ready for the week, if not really so much ready for the cleaning I need to catch up.  Well, it's better than I was when I got up.  That's for sure.   But I really need to still my mind (enormous feat actually), and while the kids are napping, it seems like a good time to do it.  Time to get ready for the week, make some plans, and wish to high heaven there was a fence up in the backyard, so the kids could play out there and I could tidy up and plan a bit longer.  But a trip to the playground should be fun, too.

Things to accomplish today (some of which aren't going to happen; let's be honest):

Blog Plan for Week (As opposed to my usual by-the-seat-of-my-pants approach.)
Clean Kitchen & Bathrooms
Meal Plan for Week
Have Rose & Leif Tested for Anti-Nap Virus (Just kidding. They're just driving me crackers in their room playing at the moment.)
Bake Bacon and Pecorino Scones by Gabriela at What Liberty Ate (Recipe:  Scones with Bacon and Pecorino)  
Take Kids Out for Serious Playtime (If they ever actually nap, but alas, they are still talking, and Leif actually came in crying to me a minute ago, because he'd apparently fallen out of the top bunk goofing off, and after confirming nothing was seriously injured, I got to balance kissing and cuddling with I TOLD YOU SO.  It's one of the perks of being a parent -- countless allowable I TOLD YOU SOs)
Choose Cookie Recipe (because gasp! we're almost out of cookies)
And Whatever Else I Can Think Of In the Meantime

Okay.  I need to stop myself.  I always plan too much.  And how many hours are left in this day.  Jeepers.  And I'm sitting here, typing away like it's the only thing I wanted to do today.  It's like, if I had half the brain God gave a goose, I'd stop and get stuff done.  But am I?  No.  

Still going...

Yep, still typing.  

Okay.  I'm going now.  

Nope still here.  

All right.  Really now.  


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Farmer's Market Saturday

Oh, how I love you, local farmer's market.  A quick trip to over there after a breakfast at the nearby French bakery, then an annoyed zip to the bank after I realized that I'd decided to skip the long line at the bank on Friday, then back to the farmer's market.  (Thank heavens I only had 50 percent of my youngins, which made it a mite easier.)

I always look for the local stuff, which means from Florida or Georgia.  One of the honey farmers had honeycomb today (score!), and I love how the twins say YEAH! to everything I ask them about getting.  I don't think they really pay attention to what I'm really saying.  Otherwise, I don't think I'd have gotten such an enthusiastic response to the veggies.  But they were eating their weight in apricot cookies, so they were in a pretty good mood anyway.

Portobello mushrooms, yellow squash, blackberries, and blueberries, fresh rustic German bread, blue cheese, horseradish cheddar, and pretty sunflowers to brighten up the house.  I regret not picking up eggs from Lake Meadow Naturals.  I used to love going over to their farm to get them with the kids.  Maybe next time.  But I was sneaky and snagged a rum truffle at the bakery that I'm going to enjoy after the kids are in bed.  So all in all a good trip.

Did you go to your local farmer's market today?  Whadja get?

Friday, June 1, 2012

I Heart Cookbooks

From Nigella.com

I used to have quite a collection of cookbooks.  Not like Nigella Lawson's up above, but a nice size for a beginner.

I love seeing glimpses of her collection, though, and day dreaming of the day she'll let me sit on the floor for hours in there surrounded by them and looking through them.  

I would my cookbooks, when I got them, like novels.  To me it's a window into someone else's beautiful world, especially these days, when there's so much personality in them -- the books and the people.

Sadly, I had to give away/sell many of them when I moved up north since we were going to be sharing a small place with my parents when the transition to single momhood began.  It was rough-going getting rid of all some things, but especially books (and my lovely college SLR camera).  I still go to my book shelf wanting to reread something by Frank Peretti or Nathaniel Philbrick, etc., and am a little disheartened to find it gone.  But life goes on, and I've gained so much more in the meantime.

It was a little bit funny, though, trying to pack up and get rid of things, because every time I'd pass the pile of cookbooks destined for the yard sale, I'd think, "Oh, no, not that one," and grab it and throw it in a moving box.  So I'm not completely cookbook destitute.  But it's not what it was...


The silver lining -- there's always one of those, isn't there? -- is that while I unfortunately got rid of a couple of good ones, most of them were probably only so-so, and therefore their departure has made room for some better choices that I may find in used bookstores, in moments of weakness on Amazon, or receive on (ahem) birthdays and such.  And there are so many wonderful recipes online these days.  At this very moment, my home is filled with the delicious smells of Bourbon Brown Sugar Chicken, a recipe by Meg at Sweet on You.

And here are some cookbooks from my wishlist to soon replace the old:

This is one is being released in October and was written by Rohan Anderson at Whole Larder Love.  I love how he leans toward more rustic foods, and using what's local taking it a step further by hunting, growing, and gathering for himself.  And his photos are just inspiring.  It's probably a good thing he and his family live 15,000 miles or so away, or else they'd be incredibly creeped out when the five of us just popped over unannounced for dinner.  Instead, I'm getting this book one way or another when it comes out.

Interesting side note:  I checked out of curiosity, and Google Maps' suggestion for getting from California to Hawaii, Hawaii to Japan, and Japan to Australia is by kayak.  Yes, by kayak.  I think they're a little optimistic, however, in estimating it taking 56 days or so to get there.  I'm actually an experienced sea kayaker (though it's been a little while), and I'm still pretty sure I'd never make it.  So my estimated time should read something like:  Never, ever in a million years.

Hardee har har, Google people.

I love pie.  

True story:  I spent a decent chunk of my growing-up years living near Apple Hill, California.  And my mom and her grandmother would spend a decent chunk of time each year getting together and turning out batch after batch after batch of delicious variations of apple pie.  Some of these were given away as gifts, some of these were eaten at Thanksgiving, some were frozen baked and unbaked to be revived in all their original glory at a later time.  Then comes summer vacation with my brother and me spending the day alone in the house with a stand-alone freezer in the garage full of apple turnovers.  Oh, dear.  Picture me hanging over the side of the freezer rearranging items to hide my theft.  

Of course, now as a parent myself, I don't doubt for a minute that mom knew.

Bless you, Mom, for all the things you let go...

Then there was that Scottish bakery in Maryland... but I could go on forever.  Anyway, I was delighted to find Handheld Pies by Sarah Billingsly and Rachel Wharton.  And thank heaven for brilliant food photographers.

One day, Lily and I will go traveling around the world looking for good things to eat.  I have a two-year-old who will try anything.  She loves food.  I have three horrible picky children and one delightfully adventurous one.  Well, not horrible, but more than once I've cried out woefully, "Well, fine.  If you're not even going to try anything, I'll just make whatever I want!"  But I do love them all immensely in case you wondered.  But when it comes to food, Lily wants to help make it and help eat it, grin, and say, "I like it!"  It's a blessing to have a person to cook for who loves to eat.

So I'm going to grab Lily, and we'll start making things out of this French food cookbook.

And I want this one, because I, too, love butter and sugar.... and tattoos.  You can see some of Joy Wilson's creative genius, too, on her blog, Joy the Baker.

And this one, because it will look totally rad on my bookshelf.  

Ha!  Just kidding.  But the pictures are so beautiful, and it will take me a couple of visits within its pages to work up the courage to start cooking from it.

So now I'm off to surf more food blogs (Oh, my goodness!  I just found i am a food blog, and where has it been all my life.  I have a sticky note on my computer screen with the words "Pulled Pork Pancakes with Bourbon Syrup" on it, and now I'll never be the same.)

Or maybe I'll be responsible and clean house a little.

Or surf food blogs.

What are some of the cookbooks on your wishlist?  And what are some of the favorites you have?