Friday, May 31, 2013

A place to sit and ponder....

 With the terrible two has come a large use of the time out chair.  We were using a table chair, but that sends a bit of a mixed message when you sit down to eat dinner.  So IKEA also provided me a cheap chair.  I decided to decorate it! 
I also decided to call it the family's time out spot, because amazingly the older L has been going to time out lately too.  Plus, I wanted the ability to sit there myself when I need a moment to pause before reacting, or when I just need a break.  
 Love, hope and patience are what we hope will grow as we sit. 
 I made it very colorful.  It is a punishment in a way, but I want them to think of it more as a place to think and calm down, not sit and scream because they don't want to be there. 
And so, I put, where I sit and ponder how my words and actions effect the ones I love, and those who love me, most.  So far they like it and it is being used....frequently. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

FINALLY starting to quilt

Just to give you an idea of the size of this quilt....the king size batting fits, and there is fabric over the side.  I have had this put together and ready to go for some time, I just hadn't taken the time to spray adhesive my layers and get to quilting.  Partly because of the anxiety I have been feeling over having this huge quilt on my little machine.  The other night I told myself no more excuses, had the hubby help me clean the garage floor, lay it out flat, spray, layer, spray layer.  Then I ironed, and started quilting.   

 Before starting I loaded 10 bobbins.  Unfortunately I think I will need 20-30 more.  I ran out of thread the other night, but I am ready, and getting better at using the free motion foot, so that is a plus!
 I stitched all my vertical ditches.  Then started quilting on the side.  I didn't have a firm plan for patterns, I have just been doing what I can with hearts and flowers.  I only got the border on one side quilted before I ran out of thread, but It looks decent, and feels great. 
My attempt at connected hearts.  It doesn't look too shabby for a first.  I can't believe I never bought the free motion foot attachment before.  I think I am in love.  Hopefully in a few weeks I will have a finished quilt to show you, then I will also show the very small machine I am doing this on.  One thing, I never knew it took so much upper body strength to quilt this way!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A place to store my gardening tools

I have been in need of a storage chest for my gardening tools, seeds and books for quite some time.  I was looking around trying to find one I could refurb, but they were either too big, too wide, or just plain too much for something that is going to sit on my patio.  
Thankfully, IKEA has this little dresser for $35.  

It was rather plain, so I gathered up my paints and Big L and we went to work.  

 On top I put two sunflowers and my two girls.  In front flowers and Emerson. 
This side is Big L's interpretation of Jack and the Beanstalk, were jack uses a ladder to climb the beanstalk, and the giant is nice because he lives in the love mountains.  
This side is a rainbow with four flowers, one for each of us.  They have our initials in them. 

Once the patio is done I will show you how it fits with the other stuff around it and give you a good shot of the front.  It turned out much nicer than I thought, and the more I paint the more comfortable I am with paint, though I will always prefer pencils, markers and pastels I think.  Note to self, paint THEN assemble!

This is just the right size for my pruning shears, my gloves, my books, and my seeds.  LOVE IT!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Face cleanser? Not for me!

The other day I ran out of face wash/cleanser.  So I went to my book, Eco Beauty, and found a recipe for Honey Bear Cleanser.

It is simple, honey water and liquid soap, and I have been using it for a week now, but I can honestly say I don't like it.  I will likely use it until it is gone, but then I am going to find another face cleanser.  This one smells a little funny and is too runny to really rub into your face so you feel clean.  With warmer temps getting hotter by the day I need something refreshing that will make my face feel clean.  Honestly, this is not it!  But I tried.

I also had to make more laundry detergent, and after this second batch I think I am going to be trying a different recipe.   Everything can't work perfectly. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Busy/yet rough week

I have accomplished a lot this week.  I will have lots to blog about next week, but I have not had the time or ability to focus at all this week. 

Sometimes you have weeks like this.  There was a time when I would have beat myself up and berated myself in my mind for not doing enough, not being a perfect mother. 

The truth though is that I am a good mother, I do A LOT for my kids, as mothers should.  Last weekend was big L's dance recital.  She was wonderful and beautiful and has improved from last year.  Unfortunately, the Friday before she had to stay home sick from school.  She still has a lingering cough, but she was up on that stage enjoying herself on Sunday.  Then Tuesday afternoon little l got sick.  So hard for the itty bitty ones to be sick.  She cries out in her sleep at night when she coughs.  Of course, I followed suit and am sick, because I can't help but snuggle with my children.  The hubby came down with it yesterday afternoon.  It has been a rough week health wise. 

The fact is, I still managed to do a lot to nourish my mind (figuratively speaking of that part of you that exists in your mind, the thoughts that need to be fed but aren't really describable).  I made allergy friendly chocolate chip cookies for the end of year party at big L's school, that according to one child are the best cookies ever!  (patting myself on the back now)  As I said, I have a lot to post about, but merging pictures and words is a bit much for me right now. 

Instead I have been cleaning out the email box.  Taking surveys on next years Girl Scout cookie program; hard to believe my training will start in October.  Watching those things that you put aside to watch when you have time, but don't seem to find time for. 

This link will take you to a wonderful life story about a kid who was diagnosed with cancer at 14, died a few days ago at 18, and what he did with his life.  I think this weekend we will focus on taking care of ourselves and just spending time together being happy.  Because, really, that is how I know I am a good mom.  My kids like to do stuff with me, but they also like to just take time and snuggle up, maybe talk about something important to them, maybe just be near each other.  Watching what this kid did with his life makes me feel like the last half of this school year has left us sick and blah for a reason.  It is as if we were so busy going from one thing/place to another that we forgot to sit back, relax and enjoy what we were doing.  To enjoy each other when we could.  That ability was the point of me not working, and yet it seems to have fallen to the back burner these last few months, and honestly to have just been burnt beyond recognition. 

A break from school and activities is what we have for the summer, with the exception of little l's swim lesson, and big L's ceramics class which starts in June.  However, those are simple things that we can take the time to enjoy.  We don't have to feel rushed as summer is here, and it is too darn hot to move quickly anyway. 

I think that this weekend we will just spend time together, relax, and maybe listen to the album written by the kid who passed away.  Thankfully, my family is like me and we all need these down times to recharge and remember that what is important is the four of us. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Oops...I smell like Peppermint Bark

One of my favorites around the holidays is peppermint bark.  Love the chocolate and mint mixture. 

I reworked my body butter recipe.  Followed the instructions on the website I posted, and still ended up with a hard mass of stuff.  I remelted, added more avocado oil, and while not fluffy (except right after whipping) it does immediately melt into our skin. 

 That is what my body butter looks like after whipping.  It is nice.  I like it, but it is a bit oily.  I think that is just because of the cocoa butter and the fact it requires more liquid oil to make it not completely harden at room temp. When I made this batch I thought it would be fun to add a little peppermint essential oil.  A nice fresh scent.  What I forgot to consider was that when mixed with the cocoa butter it now smells like one of my favorite candies.  Plus, I am back on the diet and can't indulge in said candy (which I purchased during the holidays so I could eat in moderation once done with the diet).  Oh well! 

I am ready to break down and test my kids for coconut again.  Maybe a week of coconut oil in one spot to see what happens.  Either that or I will have to experiment more to make this work with cocoa butter. 
The best part of that picture up there is my new mother's day present.  I am not normally one for appliances on mother's day, however, this is something I was always putting off buying.  I always told myself it was unecessary, I could mix with a spoon, I had a handheld beater.  I WAS WRONG and a bit crazy.  I used it four times in the first two days I had it.  IT IS AMAZING!  I get it now.  To be honest, I make enough items in the kitchen that will benefit from this that it was absolutely worth the money!  Best part my husband didn't make me get a cheaper color, her let me get the pretty blue you see before you, which goes well with the red and yellow in my kitchen.  I am in love with this thing.  What did I do without it? 

I will be using it for many things, not just body butter, cookies, cake and frosting.  I will also trying using it to make rye bread, because my last attempt was a bit unsuccessful. 

I will keep you updated on using the cocoa butter in body butter.  For now we need to finish off the batch we have.   I will try not to eat my children, but they smell like yummy peppermint bark so it may be hard!

Monday, May 13, 2013

How you know you are beginning to finally change

Friday night I attended an awards ceremony/talent show at a local Boys and Girls Club.  It was great, the kids were all very courageous in getting up in front of a packed room.  The staff presenting awards were great. 

It wasn't until the person in charge of the computer room came up to present awards for best girl and boy for that room that I did a double take and got a little mad.  He started describing the boy, who I am sure exhibits all of these qualities, as intelligent, focused, blah blah.  Then the girl, as caring, always focusing on others needs before her own, blah blah blah.  Now she may be this, but I am a little concerned with how it was worded.  Perhaps instead she is intelligent and always willing to take her computer time to help others be able to complete their task on the computer.  A natural teacher, and computer guru.  Wouldn't that have sounded better? 

I have been immersing myself in articles about girls, how they learn, boys, how they learn, differences, lack of differences, how girls are treated differently, how boys are not given enough credit for being traits we consider to be girl traits, you get the picture I hope. 

I have been catching myself telling my daughters things, and then changing my mind and rewording what I say.  I definitely focus on their looks (in their mind) too much.  I can't help but call them beautiful all the time, because they are, but what does that say about all the other brilliant things they do?  I have been making an effort to change what I think and say so that I focus more on what they do, how well they do it, and how totally awesome they are. 

I am not perfect, and it is difficult to change something that society is not yet fully behind.  I slip.  I do however, notice when I slip now and try to not do it again.  It will take time, I speak to my children the way I was spoken to, but somehow that is just not enough for my brilliant, go-get-'m, kick ass, totally awesome girls. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Chocolate Phineas and Ferb allergy friendly cake!

So this weekend was the birthday party for Big L.  Eight years old.  Hard for this mama to believe she is already 8, but she is growing into such a loving and responsible young lady I have no complaints!

Friday I set out to make the cake for our Saturday morning Phineas and Ferb Spa Party.  That's right, we combined Phineas and Ferb with a spa day.  Jealous?  So my big L.  The girls all put on avocado honey masks, placed cucumbers on their eyes, painted nails, did their hair, then ate healthy snacks, chocolate cake, and banana chocolate chip rice cream (homemade). 

Here is the link for the recipe I used: One bowl chocolate cake III.

Here is my modification:

2 Cups Organic Cane Sugar
1 3/4 Cup King Arthur Organic White Whole Wheat Flour
1 Cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons applesauce (unsweetened)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 Cup rice milk
1/2 cup safflower oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

The attractiveness of this recipe include the one bowl fact, plus it uses cocoa powder, not chocolate squares.   I was able to mix it up before the two year old got into something she wasn't supposed to be in.  Mix everything together up to the applesauce.  Then put everything else in and use your mixer to mix for a couple minutes.  It is a VERY runny batter, but the cake cooks up nicely.  I actually doubled this and made two 13x9 cakes.  (It was a big party.)

Decorate as you choose!

I purchased the Phineas and Ferb portion online.  It has the tree trunk, and Phineas and Ferb, if you pull down a branch, Perry peaks out from behind the tree.  I think it turned out rather well, if I do say so myself!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Leffcutter Bees-circular cuts on my leaves

I have found two dead bees in my room in the past week.  When I sit at my scrapbooking/sewing table I can see bees flying up in to the beams over my bedroom window.  There is a crack on the outside portion they seem to like.  At first I thought maybe we had a hive forming.  That can happen from time to time, however, upon further inspection we could not see anything. 

Leafcutter bee injuryIn the meantime I have been finding leaves with circles cut out of the edges on my best rose plant and my cherry tree. 
See these leaves?  That is what my plants look like.  It turns out the culprit is this little bee.  

Here, I have been looking under leaves, all around the plant trying to find out what is eating my plants, and it was a BEE.  This website will tell you all about Leafcutter Bees.  

To diagnose my problem I looked in the book, What's Wrong With My Plant (And How Do I Fix It?).  It clearly told me it was a leafcutter, but I didn't find the rest of the explanation to be satisfactory, so I went online!

Now that I know, I agree with my husband that we should seal up that beam.  Then next season I won't have to deal with as many, and there must be quite a few of them, because they are eating a lot of leaves.  Also, I think it is rather cool that a bee can cut such perfect little circles out of leaves, but I really don't want them to hurt my new little cherry tree.  Next year I have plans for at least two more trees, so I don't want a big number of them!  Isn't nature awesome (really, I do believe it is)!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Corn Tortillas

Last week I decided to get off my lazy bum and make my own tortillas, I have been saying I am going to do this forever, but I never "have time".  Well, phooey on that.  It really doesn't take that much time!

 The hardest part is getting your dough right.  I mixed it up and let it rest for about 30 minutes.  Then it was off to the tortilla press.  I have a light weight press that I am not happy with.  I really need to break down and buy the cast iron version.  Mine were a little thicker than everyone liked, but I liked them!  I made some chicken tortilla soup to throw them into and it was YUMMY!
 I had a little extra oil in my pan which made my first tortillas a little fried instead of cooked.

However by the end I just had nice warm corn tortillas that were very good.  I don't ever want to buy store tortillas again, but Big L was not as big of a fan, so I will see how long they will put up with me.  Next up I will try flour tortillas, although that will have to wait until I am done with my diet, because I will want to eat them.  Speaking of diet, I am back on my diet as of Monday.  I lost 60 pounds so far, about 30 more to go. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Laundry Detergent

I am out of laundry detergent.  Actually I just ran out and I had this premade from last week, but today is a good day to post about it because I actually USED it.  Can I just say, yeah oh yeah!

I used:
1 1/4 Cup Vinegar
1 Cup Baking Soda
1 Cup Washing Soda
1 Cup Borax
1/4 of my homemade liquid soap

Mix in large non metal bowl.  Place in vinegar then stir continuously as you add all of the powders.  Keep stirring until it flakes and crumbles.  Use 1/4 cup per load. 

I of course used an old pickle jar, but I may have to find a smaller jar next time! I used it today and can I just say, yum?  I mean, my clothes smell cleaner and feel softer without using a fabric softener!  The next test will be when I hang the clothes on the line.  I couldn't do that today I am trying to limit my outdoor time because our air is YUCKY right now.  I also need to make sure it doesn't bother the kids, but it is scentless, seems gentle, and has no chemical additives, so I have high hopes.