Friday, November 14, 2014

Seasonable and Unseasonable; Seven Quick Takes

Linking up, because I don't want to lose blogging momentum! SQT hosted by Kelly today.

It is cold and snowy here in South Bend, breaking some kind of record, even for here. And There are still half the leaves left on our trees. #dreamingofawhitethanksgiving

As I have already shared, I am now the proud driver of a big huge van. Which means, thanks to QT#1, I now know the full meaning of the term 'fishtailing'. Need to buy a bunch of something heavy and cheap to pile up in the back of the van!
Thrifting Therapy! My wonderful young friend Kate came over to share some time this week, and let me go out alone to Goodwill for an hour. Joy and freedom! I Got two awesome sweaters for $5. Aw, yeah.
 The sweater at right is almost certainly vintage. I love it. See the gorgeous blue birds? I wanted an 'ethnic' sweater without that crazy 'waterfall' style; it's just not me. Delighted with this classic cardigan shape, with pockets and a belt.
Here is my attempt to show the other sweater. It has silver, charcoal and gold, and a very pretty lacy edge. Trust me.
I can't help it. I'm listening to Advent music. The snow is bright and fun, and it just requires seasonal music! At least I got a little collection of music for Advent last year, and have it saved on Spotify. This album by Elizabeth Mitchell is one of my favorites. It seems clearly based on folk music work by the Seegers. Good stuff. I'm interested to see if Haley will have an advent playlist for this Advent, like last year.
We did some art this week. So good for me and the kids. We used watercolors, hot glue and chalk:

 Isn't the glue-resist effect awesome?

--- 6 ---
Oh, yeah. This is a project I haven't shared. I took an idea from someone online (sorry, I completely forget who!) who was crafting with paper which she had spread with silicone caulk. It made a nice, slick, protected surface for her desktop, I think.
Eureka! An idea for making 'oilcloth' (stain and water resistant cloth) from fabric I already have. I worked silicone caulk into this heavy cotton fabric with a plastic squeegee thing. Tried to get the caulk as deeply penetrating the weave as possible. Also tried to get a smooth surface. Let it dry overnight, and voila! It works. It's kind of a weird, rubbery texture, but it is wipeable. Maybe I won't have to replace this seat cover again for a while.
Last: nothing says 'I love you' quite like a surprise grande Christmas blend! Sigh. He loves me. Thanks honey!

For more Quick Takes, (visit Conversion Diary!) -Kelly today.

Happy and Real; linking up with LMLD for the First Time in a While
'Grabbing a button' is not working for me for some reason this time!

Something so, so heartwarming about the love of brothers. I put little Bilbo here to 'get' his big brother and help wake him up. I came back in a few minutes to find them peacefully snuggled. Haldir is faking being still asleep.

Toddler messing up Mom's makeup; so, so real. This is after most of it was cleaned up. My little artist  had squeezed out all my creme products and mixed them up with makeup brushes. I controlled my temper really well; actually I was speechless for a good thirty seconds.

A family van that fits all eight of us with room to spare! So thankful to the Lord for how this has worked out. I already shared on Facebook a pic of us all out for ice cream in *one vehicle*. Yay!

{happy, real}
Father and son. I find them so adorable.

That's it! I have not been taking photos or finding time to blog lately. My intentions to learn and get good at photo editing have not taking any form at all, yet.

Monday, November 10, 2014

For Jim; In a Rose Tattoo!.

So, yeah. My little brother has introduced me to this band. Mind blowing mix of genres; Celtic Metal. Is that a thing? Very fun, often heavy, often poignant. awesome instrumentation. And i like these images; again, a mix of metal and Irish imagery.

Little Leia and I are sitting here singing along to "In a Rose Tattoo"

Saturday, October 11, 2014

My Go-To Gluten Free Carbs; Fab Pancakes and Muffin Gems

My friend Anne asked for a recipe for gf carbs for her little boy. These two recipes are my faves for when I want something yummy to spread butter on. This type of recipe works great gluten free. I have found that for pancakes, muffins or quick breads, which use baking powder and soda for leavening, I can follow a general formula and do substitutions based on what I have or what I feel like eating.  I keep dry ingredients constant and substitute in different fruit purees, yogurt or coconut milk for a total volume of wet ingredients.

Fab Pancakes (GF)
2 c  gluten free flour mix
2t   baking powder
1t   baking soda
1t   salt

2 eggs
2c wet ingredients (medium thick consistency. GF flours need help with thickening)
1t vanilla
1/2 c melted butter, coconut oil, or canola oil

Blend dry ingredients first. (There is really no one flour that can replace wheat in a one-to-one substitution. I have a couple flour combos that I love, here.) Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl. I use plain yogurt, bananas with milk, pumpkin with yogurt, thick thai coconut milk. Whatever. Just keep the total volume to 2 cups or a little more. You want a nice thick batter.
Add eggs, oil, vanilla.
Combine all ingredients, blend.
Usually, the directions for pancakes would say not to overmix, but I find GF flours need to be well blended and the batter needs to be stirred periodically while cooking; rice four in particular tends to settle in the bowl.

Cook on a griddle with a little canola oil on it.

GF Muffin Gems (based on Graham Gems recipe)
This is my adaptation of a whole wheat muffin recipe my mom used to make a lot. So hearty, with a moist, dense crumb.
This recipe makes 2 dozen. Trust me, you will want that many!

4c       GF flour mix (recipe here)
2t       baking soda
1/2 t   salt
1t       xanthan gum (I don't normally use this ingredient, but it makes a difference in this recipe)
1/2 c  brown sugar
optional cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, to taste

2        beaten eggs
2c      liquid: yogurt, thai coconut milk, pumpkin or banana with some almond milk, whatever. Needs to be thick like yogurt.
6t       melted butter or coconut oil
up to 1 cup raisins if desired
up to 1 cup chopped nuts if desired

Preheat oven to 350
Grease muffin cups with coconut oil, or your preferred oil.

Combine dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients separately. Combine. I find GF flours need to be well blended; rice four in particular tends to settle in the bowl. Fold in raisins and nuts. Or chocolate chips! This will be a very thick batter.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake about 25 minutes.
Enjoy with butter! Best fresh and hot, or microwaved for ten seconds. These freeze well.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Another Brain Dump; 7 QT

This has come up recently a few times. The Little Story (Catholic Heritage Curriculum) we read yesterday used the metaphor of seeds, and weeds vs desirable plants.
Saint Paul said "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Phillipians 4:8
Speaking of Trinity School (The above Scripture is very familiar to anyone who is familiar with Trinity): I attended Moms' Prayer at Trinity Greenlawn yesterday. It's a new thing, started last year by a mom and alumna. Moms of students attend morning prayer with the students, then meet together afterwards and intercede for the concerns and needs of the Trinity School community. It was very upbuilding to be part of. And, if there are any alumni or others in the Trinity School community reading this: I prayed for you!
Someone is One tomorrow!! We can't wait to give him presents!

Having an ice cube popsicle, because he is teething like mad, working on his last of four front teeth.
Made pancakes this morning for the first time in ages; maybe since school started! Made my GF, egg free ricotta pancake recipe; added banana and pecans. Yum!! (Similar to this recipe that I blogged about.)
Flavor and texture awesome. 
Excited about trying citric acid as a water softener in the dishwasher, maybe in laundry. Need to research that. Lemishine is so expensive. Here is the page on Wellness Mama that gave me the idea.
Recently discovered Rumpole, of the delightful mystery/legal novels by John Mortimer! Yay! Love them.  And very happy to find myself having the mental ability to focus on a real book for the first time in a while. bust be related to #3
We have been having good time going to the farm at Prairie Winds every Wednesday with a group of homeschoolers. Charlotte Wolfe has let many acres return to native Indiana prairie plants. She has woods and a pond, and barns with a few of many types of animals, as well as large vegetable gardens. Delightful. I must take some pics.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Random Thoughts Upload; Pictures to Come Soon

I need to upload some thoughts.

  • Maybe some photo stuff will get done later. I don't love fooling around with the computer, so I have been sooo slow in getting a system for editing and watermarking photos for use on this blog. Need to get my Tech Support (a.k.a. Hermione) to help me with that!
  • It's Bilbo and Frodo's birthday! (not my Bilbo, but it's the birthdate of our beloved Hobbits). We need to have some seedcakes, a second breakfast, and some good, hearty, earthy food for dinner. Haldir says Shepherd's Pie. What else whould be appropriate? Ale? Tobacco? (kidding)
     Photos added! We ended up having 'seedcakes', aka lemon poppyseed muffins.
     We had 'second breakfast', which was basically a tea party.We did indeed have shepherd's pie for supper, made with lamb. Yum! 
  • I keep catching a whiff of something awful this morning; a rotting stench like dirty diapers, or a litter-box overdue for scooping.... Realized at last that it's coming from my crock of homemade sauerkraut!! The crazy thing is, when I took of the lid and sniffed, I said "Hmmm" involuntarily. It smells like great kraut. Weird.
  • I have gotten some great things recently when I go off for an hour of what I have admittedly been calling Thrifting Therapy. I will have to take pics to share...
  • I am in that spot once again where I am feeling pretty good, and enjoying my family, thinking about being open to another baby while at the same time hoping to never experience the suffering I had in my last pregnancy again. I am praying for healing, so if God wants to give us another child I can be strong and healthy to serve my family without so much suffering. Also feeling sad about the idea that maybe we won't have another baby. Also thinking, ok, if it's God's preference that little Bilbo is my last baby (sob! he's almost one! my last nurseling?!) then maybe I can get a dog soon! Crazy-making. Got to keep all these thoughts and emotions submitted to my Lord in prayer. 
  • Sharing the above thoughts and feelings with my best friend, my dear husband; but not nearly as often as I think and feel them! I don't want to make him crazy ;) 
  • Celebrated yesterday the anniversary of our Haldir's baptism. I remember that day, in 2003, so well. We belonged to St. Augustine's Catholic Church at the time, a traditionally black parish with an awesome gospel flavor. We all sang Sign Me Up (for the Christian Jubilee! Write my name on the roll...). What a great song for a baptism! 
So, a totally sub par blog post as far as other people enjoying it, but a good 'brain dump' for me. 
Time to get to work this Monday morning!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A new Era; first child off to Trinity School at Greenlawn!

It just seems like I need to write a blog post this week. This is a big turning point; our oldest child has entered school! I homeschooled her from kindergarten though sixth grade, and now she has entered Trinity school for 7-12th grades! This is the same Trinity school that my husband has worked for, on and off the 'clock', for the last 14 years. Teacher, college guidance director, and now director of development and net-worker extraordinaire! Our family has been supporting Trinity, and sacrificing financially while our head works for this wonderful non-profit, for many years. And now! Now we get to benefit from this wonderful education opportunity! I am so happy and peaceful.
Getting ready for school to start, I was having a bit of insomnia. I was not really worrying, but all the preparation and anticipation were taking their toll. We school-supply shopped. We prepared the uniform and went to the parents' orientation. I crashed, literally, in bed nursing the baby, after that informational overload.

Student orientation went well. Only problem being that my firstborn's shoes were 'dumb looking'. They are perfect school shoes; sure to be allowed, quality, comfortable leather loafers. I admit they were thrifted, but only because I happened to see them last spring, when Hermione was shopping with me, and they fit perfectly! So, we went all summer, blissfully free of shoe-worries. Then. The brown loafers were dumb, compared to the black flats-with-no-socks that lots of the other seventh graders were wearing. (I did not see what the upperclassmen were wearing. That would have been good information.) I am very practical in the shoe department. I do love a fabulous pair of shoes! But, if they hurt your feet, it's not worth it. And a 12 year old girl who is lucky enough to go to a school that still gives all the students, 7-12 grades, recess, ought to wear shoes that she can run around in, and go up and down stairs in, without getting blisters! So. I told the daughter, sorry, but we can't do anything about the shoes immediately.
Then I kept thinking about it, and how maybe I was wrong, and maybe they really are outdated, dumb-looking pilgrim shoes, and my sweet daughter should wear what people wear, otherwise its not a 'uniform' is it? Thrift guilt. Is that a thing? I searched online. Found some really cool, cute black shoes that are shaped like sweet flats, but have leather and mesh, and a flexible rubber sole (think sketchers). Hermione and I went to Kohls and found them in her size right away. I had a coupon. Thank you, Lord. It was meant to be.
Daughter had to wait for the shoes to be approved by the Dean of Girls. She had to wear her Pilgrim Shoes one more day, this time with invisible footies. They really don't look that dumb. I may have over-reacted. But I am delighted to help her feel happy about how she looks, while still insisting that she wears shoes that won't give her blisters. Win-win, don't you think?

So many other things coming up. In September, Notre Dame Children's Choir starts. Also Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at our parish, and I am a catechist for the first time! I was extremely anxious about this, but I decided it could be the Enemy, and it's not a good idea to change direction when you are experiencing desolation. Plus, with all that is going on in the world now, what do I desire to give my time and energy to more than proclaiming the gospel? My binder, or 'album' is ready. We have a meeting coming up! I have been planning for a year to serve as a catechist once trained, and I am going to do it!
Also, an opportunity has arisen to take my homeschooled kids to a wonderful local farm every wednesday. Awesome. My children and I need this. I long to be in the country, but know that it makes more sense for us to live in town as near Trinity as we can. So a farm day once a week is a gift. More on that to come.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Thrifting Haul, and Bilbo's 10 Month Photo Shoot-- In Which He Never Holds Still

Hermione and I just ha d a nice browse through our Goodwill for an hour. We got some great things!
I like shopping for her, but I can only do that when the dear almost-teen is with me, nowadays. It was fun! I found that tank dress, with beautiful color blocks and a hi-lo hem. Yes, we are going a bit trendy with this one. I will see if I can get her to pose in it...
 Also, I found her trying on fun high heels and other crazy shoes. And these adorable purple ankle boots. Which I bought her for her birthday. They were $10, which is big bucks for me to spend in Goodwill. They look awesome on, and I am kind of proud of her having such a strong sense of her own style.
I also got her these pointy-toed black flats. Cuz she's going into seventh grade and I want to help her be prepared for her new school, so I.... buy her shoes? Anyway, they are a staple!
All in absolutely brand new condition!
 And on the way to the checkout I found this book. We got a son The Dangerous Book for Boys, which is great. I had heard of this one as well. I looked through the table of contents and read a few pages. This is a really cool book! The Daring Book for Girls. Two bucks, baby.

For me, I scored these camo capris. 50% off, yeah! I gave away a camo skirt to Goodwill last year because it was just not the right fit, and I have been looking for another camo item since. And yay me! Gap size 8 fits me. I also got this cool t shirt. 100% cotton, cuz that's my rule. I am a fabric snob.
Is it being a snob to insist on quality, non- sweaty fabrics?

And the part of this post really worth looking at....

Baby Bilbo Photo Shoot!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Crocheted Rag Rugs; The Lazy Frugal Woman's Braided Rug!

I have claimed, over there on the right, to make braided rugs from thrifted sheets. Wanna see evidence?
I started learning a little about crocheting last year. And I got the idea, being a frugal, lazy homemaker who loves beautiful, handmade things, that crocheting might be a faster way to make a braided rag rug! I was not wrong. I was not the first one to think of this, either. There are dozens of tutorials on youtube. I liked this youtube tutorial best. You rip up some cool sheets from your fave thrift store, get a big huge crochet hook, and take it away! It is much quicker than braiding, because the chain is created and attached to the previous row all at once with crochet. To braid, you have to make three long strips, braid them, and then sew the braid in a huge coil! And, as far as crochet goes, this working in the round this way is super easy and forgiving, because you don't have to count or line up rows. I have found that, with my state in life, I have to leave perfectionism behind. If I can get a decent result that makes me happy and blesses my family, I will use the simplest, quickest method I can, even if it would not pass the inspection of more scrupulous homemakers.
Here's the first crochet rug I made:

I learned a few things about the width of sheet strips I prefer and the type of rag texture that works best. This one has sheets, as well as a cool woven tablecloth. I should have made the tablecloth strips more narrow, since the weave was significantly thicker than a sheet. Also, cheap, cotton-poly blend material is not so good to use. There is a princess sheet in here made of such a blend, and the texture is really not as nice as the pure cotton.
Still, thick and soft and cute in my little girls' room.

I started another. Because, I am wierd about buying beautiful material at Goodwill. I had quite a few sheets to put to good use! This one I planned to use in a public area of the house. I put my new knowledge to use, making big torn sheet yarn balls of the right thickness.
Here's the rug in progress:
My foot may not be so helpful for scale; I wear size 11.

 I learned more things. Like the fact that tearing vintage sheets creates dusty little cotton fibers! And apparently I get a bit allergic to cotton shreds. So I delayed a bit. But then a brilliant child of mine (jokingly) suggested I wear a respirator to finish the rug. Great idea!! I grabbed my mask from my tool bag and finished off the ball of rags I had. It helps a lot to keep it on a flat surface, though it gets more unwieldy as it grows.
There is nothing odd here.

Here it is! About 16 in diameter. I can add to it. I probably will, because it needs some red/orange/pink tones, and it wouldn't hurt to have it a bit bigger.
But it looks nice in the entry area, I think.
And here's a sweet mommy-baby selfie. Because this post needs some baby adorableness.