Friday, February 27, 2009

i cannot decide whether this is funny

This is what I discovered when things suddenly became very quiet this morning. My first response was to get a camera, then I removed the child from the table all the chairs from the house.  I had already removed the chair from the kitchen because he had been using it to access the counters, so I guess this was only a matter of time.  Who the hell needs furniture anyway? With a toddler on the premises all you need are a couple of cushions and a vacuum cleaner.

Another thing that might not be funny is Joseph's new game: he holds out a morsel of food to you but when you open your mouth for it, he shakes his head and laughs. This is either funny or rude, probably both.  The dogs definitely do not find it funny but I do, so reasonable minds can differ.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Scott insisted that I help dig out the grass from the future garden beds and now I'm basically crippled with pain and disfigured by dirt. It's been three days and six showers since we did the digging and I'm still dirty: my hands are nothing more than chapped bits of skin held together by ground in dirt. I think I've essentially tattooed myself with the dirt. Let's not even talk about how old my back is making me feel. 

Here's what's in the ground as of today:
  • carrots
  • romaine lettuce
  • purslane
  • sugar snap peas
  • bush beans
  • thyme (overwintered from the fall)
  • basil
  • cucumbers
  • zucchini
  • winter squash
  • cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, oregano and more thyme are currently being started indoors.
This sounds like a lot but I don't think I planted very much of any one type of plant (except basil, which is everywhere).  I will be very disappointed if this does not work out.  If I don't see sprouts next week I will start incantations & ritual sacrifices.  

I would post a photo of the garden but it is currently just dirt and does not inspire much confidence.  Instead look at Joseph use a spoon (aka his "digger," a new word) to fill a Wonder Woman cup with dirt.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

something to sleep in

I have to admit I've been very much a "before" picture lately. This is partly because I've been going too long between getting my hair cut and colored and partly because much of my clothing is in tatters after a year and a half of full time baby wrangling. The stuff I sleep in is particularly raggedy: stretched out, dingy, and sprouting mysterious holes all over the place. So instead of becoming some kind of ladies magazine cautionary tale of personal neglect, I've decided to dedicate some of the random fabric in my stash to making stuff to sleep in.First of all, I don't know what to call this. It's not really a nightgown--more of a slip or a chemise, but "chemise" sounds altogether too prissy, and slip is not quite accurate. Anyway, I have one night thing that I like, so I basically traced it and made a pattern. I then tested the pattern out on some red broadcloth I had sitting around. I was kind of unsure about how to construct the garment (how to simultaneously join the bodice & skirt and create a drawstring) so the inside is frightening, but it was fun to figure it out as I went along. Despite the fact that I'm definitely not a cherry red kind of person, I'm pleased with the results and the next time I come across a yard of fabric I like I'll know what to do with it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

a turtle

While planning out the smock I made for the swap, I was flipping through Bend the Rules Sewing.  I had forgotten how good a book this really is, both for actual patterns and just plain inspiration.  I really wanted to make the tea cozy, but we are not a teapot family (we boil water in mugs in the microwave and then use tea bags, which I'm sure is incredibly declasse).

Instead I made the little turtle softie.  Joseph seems pretty fond of it.  I used scraps of a felted sweater (left over from making a diaper cover), some tweed of mysterious origin, and some fabric left over from the skirt I made myself this winter.  I am making an effort to use up fabric I have instead of buying more, and it is very satisfying when this results in non-ugly projects.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

these carrots cost four hundred dollars

delicious and huge, but not worth four hundred dollars

One thing that has definitely not helped with the grocery bill is the garden. I mean, it's lovely to sow the seed and grow the seed and all that, and Joseph likes to dig his little heart out, but we just put up a FOUR HUNDRED DOLLAR fence in order to keep the dogs from digging up and peeing on the vegetables. I also just had a nervous breakdown this afternoon when I realized what I spent on seeds last month (fifty dollars).

So I have made an executive decision.  I do not make many of those around here;  my usual style is more along the lines of "super duper!"  and "but what do you want?"  But yesterday I decided that every freaking scrap of ground behind the FOUR HUNDRED DOLLAR FENCE is going to be farm land, dammit.  This weekend we (Scott) are tearing out every last blade of godforsaken grass.  We are going to get our money's worth this summer. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

the valentine

We made this at a lovely, Waldorf-inspired playgroup we just started going to.  Joseph was not interested in smiling, so Scott got a very serious photo on his valentine. 

The inside:
I do not need to tell you what kind of scene it was with toddlers and paint.  The bigger kids just got down to business--smear on the paint, stamp out a hand print--but the littler ones were, shall we say, more process oriented.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

groceries are killing me

In order to do some damage control, I've limited grocery shopping to once a week. This cuts down on the opportunity for impulse buys, and makes me plan a week's worth of meals and use everything up before buying more. The downside of this is that it forces me to reckon with what we spend on groceries. If you shop a few times a week, you can spend fifty dollars here and seventy five there and you don't realize that you spend SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS a month on groceries for your family of three. Of course, some of that goes to medicine, dog food, dish detergent, toothpaste, etc., all of which I lump together under "groceries." But still. Seven hundred bucks. That is ugly.

We hardly buy any processed food; Cheerios are pretty much the only exception. Everything else I make from scratch: bread, muffins, snacks, and of course dinner. We also hardly eat any meat--our protein is generally eggs, lentils, or grains. I only buy organic milk, so that adds a few dollars to the bill each week; so do fruits and vegetables (they're expensive even when I don't buy organic). I try to buy organic but when the price differential is huge I buy conventional without remorse. The only luxuries in our diet are cheese (probably about $10 a week) and walnuts (about $5 a week), as well as dog food (maybe $25 a month). We don't buy alcohol, soda, or juice (with exceptions for when we have people over). I buy generic (target brand) when it's an option.

I really don't see a lot of room for cutting back. I'm not going to trade in the fruits and vegetables for doritos and burger king, not that I think that would really save a lot of money anyway. I wonder whether we spend much more than the average American family, and whether I'm just so spoiled that I don't recognize some of my purchases as splurges.

Friday, February 6, 2009

a little bit of winter

We've had a cold week here, at least by Florida standards.  For some of us this means full body eczema and a very exciting 24 hours with a broken furnace.  But for others, it means...

finally a reason to wear hand knits. 

The mittens I made in the fall.  I made this hat before I saw that Mason Dixon Knitting's latest book has a similar, cuter version of a flat-knit chin-tie baby aviator cap, and before I realized I could knit in the round using the magic loop technique (why am I so averse to DPNs?), and before I realized that we weren't going to have a winter this year.

I had to add the chin straps to at least slow those little hands down a bit before they pulled the hat off. I just picked up about an inch of stitches along each side of the cap, then worked garter stitch for four inches or so, then added a yarnover buttonhole on one of the straps before binding off. Easy.

My favorite part is how the straps pull the cap over his ears, creating that aviator cap / pith helmet / old fashioned football helmet look I didn't even know I was trying to achieve.

Monday, February 2, 2009

mei tai revisited

I think Joseph spent the first eight months of his life in a pouch sling--or actually a series of pouch slings, because one was always in the laundry/car/bag/etc.. I think a pouch sling was actually my first real sewing project (i.e., not napkins or an apron), necessitated by the fact that I could not stand carrying the baby while I waited for a poopy sling to make it through the laundry. I need free hands, people.

Even though Joseph and I are still reasonably happy using the pouch sling when occasion demands it (not often, although one lives in the diaper bag), a few months ago I made a mei tai and we've been trying to put it to good use ever since. We mainly use it around the house when he is feeling sick or sad and wants to be carried. He gets bored on my chest facing in, but I'm still not comfortable with him on my back--he feels too low. I'm sure I'm just doing it wrong and I need somebody to help me out in person, but in the meantime this is what we have decided on:

The internets say not to do this because it's supposedly bad for the baby's hips, but I think it's probably fine for half an hour at a time. Besides, I really don't think his legs are splayed any further than they would be if he were in a back carry and his legs were around my waist. But maybe I'm missing the point.

Also, this is what happens in my house if you try to use the camera's timer to take a picture of yourself:
At least one dog needs to smell the beeping thing. Oh, Freckles.