Monday, September 19, 2011

For My Sister...

This post is for my sister... who faithfully checks my blog to see what I've been up to... who is always there for me whenever I need her... who knows just when my day has turned sour and comes through with a pick me up email...

What have we been up to?  It's been quite busy here.  We got ourselves a rescued hive of bees for our new farm, where the walls that came a crumblin' down are being built back up.  Our garden has done amazingly well this year despite the lack of care it generally gets.  I'm up to my ears in tomatoes, apples, peppers (sweet and hot), and zucchini.  I've got apples drying in the dehydrator, and apples being sliced for a tasty delight.  I've got tomatoes cut up and ready for the puree machine hopefully tonight.  I've been purging ourselves of unneeded or unwanted items in this house to make the move as easy as possible (did I just say easy?!?!?!).  And homeschooling and dance classes have begun in earnest around here.

The spirit of fall is already here.  We are all doing our best to keep up with the winter preparations.  There are a bunch of things that need to get done in the new house before cold weather hits.  Not to mention a ton of things here to make sure we are comfy and well fed this winter.

I'm doing my best to tackle what I can and not let the rest bog me down.  Trying to remember to take time out of the busy day to enjoy myself and spend time with those I love.

Wishing you all a lovely Monday evening!  It's chilly and raining here.  Fall weather to be sure.  My favorite season of the year.

And, sister, thanks for being such a wonderful person!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Little Kindness...

Goes a long LONG way!

I had some errands to run today.  And I had to take the kids with me.  At one of our stops - a small health food store - the owner complimented me on my children and how well behaved they were.  And then complimented me on how I was handling them during our shopping there.  (And we were there quite a while since I was searching for a new vitamin...)  The feeling his friendliness gave me was overwhelming.  I really needed to hear something like that.  Lately, I've been feeling quite stressed with the harvest and the new house and school starting and fall coming...  I have been feeling like a less than adequate mother.  The little encouraging pat on the back was just what I needed to help keep me going. 

The kindness of a stranger is a powerful thing.  Spread the kindness.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Summer Corn Salad

We've been having lots of yummy local corn from our favorite organic farm and also from our own garden.  Living here in the corn belt, I've become kind of a corn snob.  I don't like to buy corn if it was not picked that day - as it should be for the freshest, sweetest taste and texture!  I always buy extra ears, but boil them all at once (only for 4 minutes so they retain the sweetest possible flavor and crispest texture).  The next day, with what was leftover, I like to make this salad:

Summer Corn Salad  (serves 6 – 8)

2 cups corn off the cob
1 large cucumber, diced
1 large bell pepper, diced
2 cups diced tomatoes
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 T olive oil
2 T apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Toss everything in a bowl.

These are just basic amounts.  Feel free to play around with it.  The key is a light apple cider vinegar dressing.  Just enough to meld the flavors of the veggies together.  

Happy eating!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Chocolate and Zucchini Cake

I have an abundance of zucchini right now.  If you garden, or have neighbors who garden, you may be swimming in it too.  I've been making copious amounts of veggie burgers (my recipe here) for fresh eating and for the freezer.  And lots of zucchini breads.  Yesterday, I felt like something chocolaty.  SouleMama linked to a Chocolate and Zucchini cake recipe that sounded super scrumptious to me.  So I made it.  And I loved it!

What's your favorite thing to do with zucchini?!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bedside Caddy

A friend of ours asked me to make a bedside caddy for her daughter.  They had a bargain store version that just didn't hold up to the amount of use it was getting.  I was also given a stack of cotton batik fabrics to go crazy with.

So I measured and thought and measured and drew and measured and dreamed.  And then I measured and added and measured and cut and sewed and swore and ripped seams and sewed and ironed...  And eventually came out with this:

The original version had those fun mesh pockets that I salvaged for the new version.  The finished bucket measures about 4.5" in width, 12.5" in length, and 10" in depth.

Each piece of the outer bucket - pieced together front, sides, back, and bottom - is lined with a medium weight fusible interfacing for durability.

Inside, there is a large flat divider that can be used to hold a book or two, and a smaller divider that separates the remaining space in two sections.  Both dividers are sandwiched with medium weight fusible interfacing as well.

Boy, this fabric looks pink in my pics.  It's really a lovely shade of deep purple...

I made a pocket to slide under the mattress that will hold a piece of cardboard.  This way the whole thing can be washed when you remove the cardboard.  (Shown below is the original "under the mattress" part I cut off the old version and used in the pocket of the new version.)

Then it's just a matter of sliding it under the mattress.

And filling it up with your favorite bedtime items.

All in all, it came together fairly well.  I had a few issues with not measuring properly and cutting pieces that were too small (that's the problem with sewing after you should be in bed!).  And only one other mishap involving not attaching the small divider to the large divider, but we won't go into that.  It all came out cute in the end.  And the little girl I made it for had a huge smile on her face when she realized what it was!  That, right there, is the best part about sewing.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Birthday Dress

July is flying by!!  What a crazy month it has been.  We've been up to our eyeballs in summer camps, cleaning, gardening, and preserving. 

Sweetpea turns 4 tomorrow.  Hard to believe my littlest is going to be 4.  For her birthday, I made her a dress.

I'ts Simplicity 4161 and I have no idea what the fabric is.  I thought it was a cotton, but it may be a rayon or something like that.  It ironed funny...  I made her a size 5, but it was way too big at the top.  I had to take in the seam at the armhole down to the waist by a good good bit.

 (And I need a hook and eye.  That seems to be a downfall of mine - not sewing on the hook and eye.  So tedious!!!)

All in all, the sewing went well.  The pattern was fairly simple to follow.  And... I did my first buttonhole!!!  (Thanks, Nick, for all your encouragement!)  With such cute buttons, who could resist?

I'm hooked!  Or buttoned, rather, since we all know how i feel about putting hooks on dresses.  It was so easy, I can't believe it took me this long to try it out!  Way way way easier than lining up a zipper.

Happy Birthday my lil Sweetpea.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I keep waiting for life to slow down a bit.  So I can do some of the things I've been meaning to do.  Like stare at the clouds.

Play in the creek.

Take my kids to the park.

Waiting for life to stop spinning quite so fast and give me a bit of time.

But life is stubborn.  Life plunges along whether you are holding on or not.

We are responsible for making our own time.  For doing those things we want to do.

For finding our own balance.

***Here is a note added by Nick in the comments.  I thought I'd share it with everyone in case you were looking for some clarity...
It's not clear from those pics (thanks to a fast shutter speed...) but that spinny thing was actually SPINNING.

And pretty fast, too...

And Munch could stand in the center and move her feet fast enough to NOT spin with it. An impressive feat - both physically and metaphorically...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


***  Warning:  If you are one of my sisters, and you want to be surprised by this in person, read NO FARTHER!!!!!!!  ***

A couple weeks ago, I was combing Sweetpea's hair after a bath and I said "your hair is down to your butt!"  Her response was "oooohhhhh!  We should cut it and donate it!"  Now, she is only 3, so you can imagine my surprise.  Munch has donated her hair twice in her 11 years.  But not in the last 2 years.  It seemed hard to believe that Sweetpea could remember her sister doing that.  They must have talked about it at some time or another.  Ya know, as sisters are wont to do even if there is an 8 year difference between them.

We decided to wait until after the recital was over.  So I could more easily pin her hair back.

Last night after her bath, we downloaded the form from Locks of Love, and set to work.

Sweetpea is having a great time telling how it all happened.  Here's her version of it (in her words, but without her little Sweetpea accent):
First, we picked out a rubber band.  A pink one.
And mama put it in my hair in a pony tail.
I had to hold really still.
Then mama cut the pony tail off!
[fit of goofy girl giggles]
The whole pony tail!!
[hand motions and more giggles]

12 inches.  Oddly, this was very difficult for me.  I sorta felt like i was cutting off one of her limbs.  Like it would hurt her or something.  Not sure why I felt like that.  I'm usually not one to be so sentimental about things like that.  But...

I'm loving the new look!

So fresh and cute.

I think she's loving it too.

Monday, June 20, 2011

What Happens When Life Runs Away With You?

This.  This is what happens when it is heavy planting season and the recital is coming up and the house falls into a spiral of disorder and...  This is what happens when you find your kids saying "salad [or sandwiches or eggs] for dinner again?

But that's all over now.  We're into garden maintenance mode.  The costumes have been gathered or made and danced in. 

I've got some po-ta-toes to salvage!

(Hey, no one can say I can't grow anything!)

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Sister's Garden

I have 4 wonderful sisters.  We get together often and have a great time.  Last week, while 2 of my sisters went on a trip to North Carolina (welcome home!!!!!!!!!), I got the chance to hang with another one of my sisters twice!  Twice in one week!  She lives an hour away in PA, so we don't see each other as often as we'd like. 

This year, she decided that she wanted to plant a garden.  Much to my excitement, she asked me to help her design and plant it.  Early last week, I took the kids to her place, had a sleepover, and then planted her garden the next morning.  'Twas really fun!

Her garden, being her first ever garden, is 3ft by 12ft.  She wanted tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, green beans, and onions.  We chose 3 tomatoes - 1 Debaro paste, 1 Bellstar paste, and 1 Medford field; 2 sweet peppers - 1 King of the North bell, 1 Lipstick;  1 hot pepper - we had chosen a Hot Portugal, but a lil bunny ate it, so we replaced it with an Anaheim;  Provider green beans;  Black Eel zucchini;  and onions grown from onion sets. 

Right after planting.

Hurray for sprouting seeds!!!  Always one of the most exciting parts of gardening (next to harvesting the yummies, that is).

With bunny protection and replaced plants.

Isn't it cute?!  I think I'm just as excited about her garden as she is!  (Thanks for letting me be a part of it all, sis!!)

Gardening is a never ending spiral.  Once you start, you can't stop.  You constantly think of how next year's garden will be bigger, better, different.  You learn from your mistakes and from your successes.  Happy accidents happen.  Losses occur.  It's challenging and exciting.  Each year is different.  Gardening is dynamic.

This was one of the wettest springs I can remember.  We are just now caught up on getting things in the ground in our own garden.  Now that things have slowed a bit in the garden, I'm hoping to have the chance to take some pics of it and post them.  After all, this will be our last year of gardening at my sister in laws house.  Next year, we'll be able to garden at the farmhouse we bought.  Hopefully we'll be living there as well!  Right now, we are dealing with the challenges of buying an old farmhouse.  But!  We now have a working well.  That's some progress!

How does your garden grow?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Totally Hilarious!!!

Hi.  My name is Alayne.  And, I'm a geek...

There is this website with truly funny comics for the geeky person called xkcd.  Some of them are over my head, but some of them make me howl with laughter.  Nick forwarded me this particular comic today.  Ohmigosh!!!  I nearly fell out of my chair laughing.  It totally made my entire day (not that it was a particularly bad one, mind you).  I just want to share it with everyone I know.

Hope you enjoy it!  Happy Friday everyone!  And, have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cinnamon-Apple Fairy

She loves apples with cinnamon sprinkled on top.

She loves to dress up in her sister's old dance costumes.

I love her little fairy feet.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Inside Out

Hi everyone!!  It has been a long time.  We've been up to our ears in stuff to do, and blogging has been the last thing on my seemingly endless things to do.  But, today, I thought I'd pop in to say hi.

Every year, I love to bring all my house plants out onto the back porch.  I finally did that on Monday.  They seem so much happier out there in the fresh air. 

When we finally get our new old farmhouse in livable condition, I'm going to miss this porch.  It's probably the thing about this house I will miss the most.  It's wide enough for a table.  Our farmhouse has 2 porches - a back porch that wraps around a bit, and a front porch.  Neither porch is wide enough to accommodate our table.  But, since I'm thrilled with the rest of the house and the property, we will happily figure out some alternative.

In addition to bringing the inside plants out, I like to plant some annuals in pots for splashes of color.

Here is where I enjoy taking my tea (or coffee depending on what the day has brought me).

Notice my bay tree in the dark green pot.  I just up potted that into a pot more than twice the size of the original!!!  Boy does it look MUCH happier in it's new home.  (Although a bit crooked, it seems...  Note to self:  take care of the crooked tree.)

And, a view from the swing into the back yard.

In the way back, by the fence, you can spot our compost bins.  We found some galvanized burn cans with predrilled holes in them at our local hardware store.  They are perfect for neighborhood dwellings since they keep out the animals.  Guess what is hiding in the bush right off the porch!?!?!?!?!

Yup!  You guessed it - baby cardinals.  How cute they are!