Monday, March 30, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
I love when useful meets cute!! I came across this pincushion at JoAnn's the other day. I already have 2 pincushions, so I put it back on the shelf after admiring it longingly. But when I realized that everything else I was buying was already on sale, I had an unused 40% off coupon in my hand. Back to the pincushion shelf I went and snatched this birdhouse without hesitation. I love birds and I love sewing (usually!). To have the two combined makes me so happy. Plus, the little roof comes off and there is a small storage space inside! Too adorable. Maybe this little addition to my sewing table will draw me back into the habit of creating (and away from the computer a little more often).
So, that's where I found my snippet of sunshine today. Where's yours? :)
Friday, March 27, 2009
The bird feeder was abandoned as our feathered friends wisely stayed warm in their nests. All except this little (make that big) one:
This plump robin repeatedly flew from our tree to the top of our back porch light, where she (or is it a he? With such a dark breast and head, I wondered if it might be a male? But being so fat, made me think it must be a female. My ornithology knowledge is sorely lacking!) sat perched for quite some time. Until she got tired of us snapping pictures, that is. This next picture is one Mark took by just cracking the door a bit, holding the camera outside, and then hitting the button -- hoping for a good shot. I'm sorry that it turned out so overexposed, but the snow was blindingly white out there!
I'm sure seeing an outstretched arm with a beeping, clicking camera on the end of it made her decide to make a quick exit. A few seconds later she flew away and didn't come back.
There was one other brave soul out there too (looking for food, no doubt):
I immediately recognized her as one of our "regulars." So, I quickly scoured the kitchen for an appropriate squirrel snack (since I wasn't going outside to retrieve squirrel food from the shed in this weather).
Surely, determination and resilience like that deserves a just reward, don't you think? She came back for seconds, and fourths, too! Fortunately for her, she didn't have to share with any of her squirrel siblings. :)
All in all, a nice cozy day to stay inside and watch the fury outside. But, as I said above, it's all a memory now as the snow is almost melted away already. And I think our tree's branches were spared this time around. Whew! It never feels completely like spring until we get a snowstorm! Now that the storm is behind us, I feel that Spring is here to stay! Thank goodness. Bring on the warmth!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
When I was a little girl, I distinctly remember my mom bringing trays of comfort to my bedside. I can still hear her crushing ice by hand (using a skinny wand with a silver ball on one end) and adding it to freshly squeezed orange juice. This was always accompanied by toast topped with my mom's yummy strawberry jam. I would wait, snuggled under my blankets, for the sound of her footsteps coming up the stairs and down the hallway to my room. She would talk quietly and gently, stroking my forehead (which I now know is "The Mom's Way" of testing for fever). After juice and toast, she would make me some tea to sip.
And always, without fail, mom would follow all the light, nourishing snacks with a spoonful of lemon juice mixed with honey. "To coat and soothe your throat," she would tell me with a reassuring smile. There's nothing like the feeling of being completely cared for, knowing that someone you love is at your beck and call, attending to your every need and desire.
I remember laying in bed on several occasions, with a throat too sore for me to call her name. I needed an extra blanket, or more juice, or a book to read, or...something to comfort and cheer me. And somehow, my mom sensed it. Within minutes of me sending her telepathic vibes, she would indeed appear at my side, "Is there anything I can get for you?" How did she know I needed her at that precise moment? One of those special gifts bestowed on mothers, I guess!
I am so grateful to have these memories to draw on, so I can try to recreate the same safe, comforted feeling with my children when they are feeling ill. Thank goodness, we've been very fortunate thus far. I've only needed to come to the aid of a sickly Roo once or twice over the past few years. And Rascal has been spared to this point (unless you count the last 9 months of chronic "colic" --as that's made him pretty miserable most days and nights).
But today, I made up a special plate of Roo's favorites. Two of them happen to be naturally high in vitamin C, luckily. The third is something normally reserved for the end of an exciting day, when she needs some extra help settling down for sleep.
After tucking her in on the couch with pillows and a fleece blanket (When there are germs involved or the possibility of not keeping food down, I tend to lean toward easily washed items versus her quilt, which must be handwashed), she enjoyed her treats,
and I got to play nurse today. Just like my mom, I hand-crushed ice and poured orange juice (although, not freshly squeezed I'm afraid). I stroked her forehead (yep, she was definitely on the warm side), and I spoke in hushed, loving tones. We cuddled and I smothered her with kisses as we listened to the enchanting vignettes of Jim Weiss. I even let her watch too many cartoons in a row.
I admit, I had a hard time ignoring the laundry pile and the various household tasks calling my name. This was especially true when the kids and I had been up for 8 hours and my little patient refused to take a nap, despite my insistence that naps killed germs and nasties. Hopefully, Rascal will not succumb to whatever Roo is suffering from. Otherwise, I'll be the one suffering with two sick littles to tend! :)
By bedtime tonight, she was feeling and looking much better. It could have been the vitamin C or the homeopathic drops. But I think, what helped her most, was a liberal dose of good, old-fashioned TLC!
Monday, March 23, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
*Warning* This post is a bit long-winded. It involves two things I love: lists and organizing!
I have scheduled days on which I try to accomplish certain home cleaning tasks. I am constantly tweaking my weekly schedule, or rhythm, as I call it. The season, out-of-town guests, holidays, the constantly changing nap schedule of my youngest, etc. There is a revolving door of reasons that my daily to-do list changes. Currently, I am following this daily cleaning rhythm:
-Church (if we didn't go on Saturday afternoon--we often have family gatherings on Saturdays, so we attend church on Sunday morning instead)
-Family activity or outing
-Strip beds and launder bedding
-Open windows and air out rooms
-Dust/neaten surfaces in bedroom
-Remake beds with fresh linens
-Do laundry: linens first, then diapers and wipes
-Clean guest bathroom
-Clean living room:
-wipe down coffee table
-straighten books/toy cubbies
-wipe down phone/light switches/door knobs
-vacuum floor and stairs
-Febreeze couch cushions and throw pillows
-Do laundry: Mark's and my clothes
-Clean upstairs bathroom while Roo takes a bath:
-wash counters, walls, medicine cabinet door and shelves
-clean tub (before popping Roo in it, of course!)
-Check linen closet for supplies
-Hang fresh towels/lay out fresh mats
-Do laundry: towels first, then diapers and wipes
-Look over grocery store flyers, begin shopping list
-neaten/wash down countertops
-wash sink, flush with boiling water and then bleach
-wipe down stovetop and vent hood
-wipe down appliances
-clean inside of microwave
-wipe down refrigerator shelves, toss old food
-Do laundry: Children's clothes, Mark and my clothes
-Finish grocery list
-Do laundry: tablecloth/napkins/dish towels first, then diapers and wipes
-Go grocery shopping
-Family fun/outing in the morning
-Misc. home, garden, auto
-Trip to the bread store (2x per month)
-Church in the late afternoon
While the weekly rhythm includes the major cleaning, there are little tasks that don't have to be done weekly. But if they are not scheduled in at some point, they will be overlooked. And while these little to-do's aren't glaringly obvious to anyone but me, they nevertheless need to be done as part of keeping a clean and organized home.The challenge I face is not finding time to do these little cleaning jobs, as the bigger and more obvious jobs call my name. Plus, some of them are so tedious that I find myself avoiding doing them at all. I came up with a plan to address both of these problems.
My 10-Minute Tasks are just that: tasks that are broken down so that I can complete each one in only 10 minutes. Additionally, I've set it up so that I can't conveniently skip over the tasks I don't feel like doing. Here's why:
I wrote each task (I chose to write 30 of them, so they run on a monthly basis) on a slip of paper (pretty scrapbook paper, by the way! I thought it might add a little cheer to the drudgery), folded it up and put it in a bowl. Each day I pick a piece of paper from the bowl and see what task I've drawn for the day.
I have to tell you, there is something...exciting (?) about picking from the bowl. You know, the whole, "Gee, I wonder which one I'm going to get today?" I know, I'm easily thrilled. ;) But, it takes the whole decision-making process out of the equation. For me, that's often what holds me back from doing things that need doing. I waste so much time debating what I should clean, that I lose all motivation and time (two things that are in seriously short supply to begin with) to do it once I decide on something. This way, I pick it and I do it. Luck of the draw. Eventually, everything in the bowl will be picked and therefore, done.
The second thing that makes it work is the 10-minute limit. I know it's only for 10 minutes--who can't stick with something for 10 measly minutes? But, even more important, I wrote the tasks in such a way that I know the job is one that can be completed in 10 minutes. I hate the feeling of working on something and feeling like I'm not making any headway. The jobs that look the same 10 minutes later as they did when I first started. I like instant gratification. I want to feel accomplished and I want to be able to say, "That's finished for another month."
Now, regarding the 10-minute limit, I tell you this: use a timer! I've done these tasks with a timer and I've done them without. The timer is the way to go. That "tick tick tick" really gets me focused and moving. It's like having your Mom stand over you while doing a chore. Being "watched" makes you do a better job. You can't mess around or dilly-dally because you are on the clock. When I don't set a timer, I sometimes get sidetracked, pause to get a drink, or whatever. I tell myself, "Well, I can always start my 10 minutes over again," if I feel like I haven't used my time wisely. But the thing is, I don't have the time to start over again, nor do I want to -- so I don't and the task doesn't get completed.
So, in summary:
1. Keep the tasks manageable (baby steps). Even small tasks, done consistently, will make a huge difference in the cleanliness and order of your home.
2. Do that task and only that task, for 10 minutes.
3. Set a timer!
Let's say you're having an off day and don't finish the task in the 10-minute allotment. That's okay. You are that much closer to having it done. And 10 minutes toward its completion is better than no minutes at all, right? Take comfort in knowing that the task will show up again in the bowl next month. ;)
Thought you might like a peek at a partial list of my 10-minute tasks:
*Clean silverware drawer (I'm always finding specks of this and that in the wooden divider we have in there. For some reason, this drawer is a crumb receptacle)
*Clean out purse (it's where my receipts go to die. I have had receipts in my purse dating back months! I also have a knack for carrying around pens that don't work and old lip gloss)
*Use tool to vacuum room edges (I vacuum every other day, but I rarely get the narrow attachment out to do the crevice where the carpet meets the wall)
*Clean/organize top of bedroom dresser (a spot where random things gather)
*Wipe down the tiled kitchen back splash
*Clean stove burners
*Organize spices, toss old ones or ones I haven't used in ages (even if I did pay almost $9 for that organic candied ginger -- I used it once and didn't care for it at all. So, rather than rummaging around it, out it goes!)
*Wipe down the inside of the freezer
*Declutter/organize kitchen junk drawer (Sure, there are organizing gurus that will tell you there is no reason to have a junk drawer since everything in your home should have its designated place. For the most part, I would agree. But, I do keep a junk drawer of misc. stuff we use regularly: batteries, tape, paper clips, rubber bands, pens/pencils, etc. However, I do keep little boxes and baskets in that drawer to group like items. So, in essence, it is a tidy junk drawer)
*Clean exterior and interior of washing machine and dryer (I run a hot water/bleach cycle in the washer and use my special brushes to clean the vents for the dryer)
*Declutter/organize linen closet (I have seriously pared down the number of bath towels and bed sheets we own, which makes this task much easier. No matter how many times I clean out the linen closet, I always find newly expired medicines, sunscreens, and other items I couldn't bring myself to toss the previous month, but now I am ready to say goodbye to)
*Wipe down banisters (ours our white, so they show the dirt/grease from the sometimes grubby little hands of our little ones)
*Shred old documents
*Put articles into page protectors and file into binders (I have an insane number of pages printed off the internet regarding information/ideas I want to be able to refer to without turning on the computer. I have binders for the following categories: Homeschooling; Homemaking/Decorating; Faith; Crafts/Sewing; Health/Beauty; Inspirational Poems, Quotes & Articles; Kids; Family Travel; Scrapbooking; Gift Ideas; Christmas; Other Holidays; Feed the Freezer; SCD recipes
*Wipe down the fronts of kitchen cabinets
*Clean glass on front and back door
*Clean kitchen window, take down curtain and shake it out/spray with linen spray and rehang. When the mood strikes, I actually wash the window curtain.
*Wash shower curtain and plastic liner (the taking down and the putting up takes 10 minutes. The actual wash time is longer: run a short cycle in the washing machine on hot)
*Wipe down baseboards (we live in a small house, so in 10 minutes I can do the baseboards downstairs, the next month I'll do the ones upstairs)
*Sweep back porch
*Clean around kitchen sink (I wrap a rag around the end of a butter knife and run it along the edge where the sink meets the kitchen counter. The nasty gunk that accumulates there is astonishing!)
*Organize (as in refold clothes to keep and put aside clothes that are outgrown, stained/looking too worn) Roo & Rascal's dressers
*Wipe down exterior of refrigerator (don't forget the top)
*Wipe down tops of door frames ("out of sight" really is "out of mind" on this one. I went a long time without doing this one until one day I noticed the top of the one in the bathroom had some fuzzy humid-dust on it. Yikes! I immediately went around the house wiping them all down. I couldn't believe I had overlooked this one for so long)
*Fold and re-stack fabric stash in the craft room (the added benefit of this one is coming across fabric I had forgotten about and feeling newly inspired to use it!)
*Choose 1 drawer of the scrapbooking dresser to organize. Purge old/unwanted items and move new ones I want to try to the top of my scrapping table.
Well, if anyone is still reading this, "Thank you" and I think that's all I have for today! I'm off to "haven" my home! :)
Thursday, March 19, 2009
The wooden piece on the left is a purchase that my husband will never let me live down. He proceeds to tell anyone who visits our home that I paid $20 for a tiny hunk of wood for our son to slobber over. I am quick to point out that:
a.) it's a handcrafted, heirloom-to-be from an organic, non-pesticide sprayed tree that lived in the yard of some hardworking American family.
b.) our son gnaws on it every single day (or at least he did until about the third day when the novelty wore off).
c.) it is not just a "tiny hunk of wood," as it has been hollowed out and filled with dried lentils or something like that. Thus, it is a teether and a rattle. Take that, dear husband!
Next to the treasured piece of wood is a teether (clutch toy, I think they call it) from Haba. The only time our son touches this one is to toss it out of his way as he crawls across the room.
The bunny teething blanket is from Under the Nile. It's organic cotton and has knotted ends to chew on. I bought it for Rascal after I noticed that he seemed to prefer gumming cloth items (his sleeves, my shirt collar when I would hold him to burp after feeding, etc.). I was hoping it would become his "lovey" of sorts. I really wanted him to like this teether. Our daughter never attached to a portable, inanimate object when she was a baby. *I* was her lovey! :) And I was ever so happy to fulfill that role. But, since Rascal is such a high-needs infant, I thought it would be nice to have a backup lovey, for when I can't be right there. It was a nice thought. And it's not for lack of trying on my part. I push that bunny into his hands/mouth every time Rascal fusses. No dice. You might be saying that maybe my son feels pressured by me to accept the bunny. Let me clarify: I don't really "push" it, as I wrote above. I "offer" it until he has no choice but to hold it himself. Oh, I jest! This boy is as stubborn as they come and he knows what he likes. Bunny isn't it.
The item on the far right is known as Sophie the Giraffe. I had heard many, many good things about Sophie from my attachment parenting group and on Amazon.com. Buying it was a no-brainer. Surely, 116 favorable customer reviews couldn't steer me wrong. Right? Well, let's just say that Rascal's 3 1/2 year old sister Roo enjoys having a giraffe join her for tea parties. The only time Sophie sees the light of day is when Roo plucks her out of the heap of unused teethers.
So what, you might ask, does Rascal chew on? Check out Exhibit B, below:
That's a measuring cup from the dollar store and a plastic syringe from Roo's doctor kit.
From now on, I'll just skip the pricey, recommended "must haves" and shop at the dollar store for any cheap, Made in China plastic I can find. Again, I jest. If I keep offering him that bunny, he's bound to accept sooner or later!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Despite appearances to the contrary, they are cooked. It certainly doesn't qualify as a culinary masterpiece, as we are strictly talking refrigerated breadsticks, cinnamon, and colored sugar. But, Roo enjoyed sprinkling the cinnamon and sugar, and doing her fair share of sampling after they came out of the oven. So, if she's happy, then so am I.
We also made a few pretzels in the traditional shape because pretzels actually have a historical significance relating to Lent. The Parenting Passageway linked to an interesting article regarding the pretzel and Lent. An excerpt:
"According to pretzel maker Snyder’s of Hanover, a young monk in the early 600s in Italy was preparing a special Lenten bread of water, flour and salt. To remind his brother monks that Lent was a time of prayer, he rolled the bread dough in strips and then shaped each strip in the form of crossed arms, mimicking the then popular prayer position of folding one’s arms over each other on the chest. "
So, our "crossed arms" version of the St. Patty's pretzel:
Maybe next year I can incorporate the many St. Patrick's ideas rattling around in my head. But, for this year, I will concentrate my energy on Easter, as it is fast approaching! In an upcoming post, I will be writing about some non conventional Easter basket items, sure to thrill your little ones and guaranteed not to rot their pearly whites!
Monday, March 16, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I found them here on Etsy. I also picked up several decorated lightswitch plate covers and outlet covers in the Elegance, Owl, and the Grateful tree design:
Our playroom colors are pale yellow and apple green, so this cover looks lovely in there. (Not that you can tell from my picture...sorry. Must have taken a breath at the exact moment of clicking -- it's a bit blurry. Of course, that doesn't explain the poor lighting, does it? ;) Hmm...oh well. It's cute and it has trees on it. You get the idea!)
So, that's where I found my snippet of sunshine today. Where's yours? :)
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Michael's, I had a nice little building set that fit two crucial criteria: all-natural and cheap!
Monday, March 9, 2009
Outside my window... a gray, overcast morning. So unlike this past weekend, which was so sunny and spring-like. The heat actually kicked on this morning. We haven't felt the blast of warm air from the vents for almost a week.
I need to go and I know I'll be so glad afterward.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Ce: Let's start with me. I am in my mid-thirties and have always felt like I was born a few decades too late. Minus the freshly pressed dress and the high heels, I am a housewife of the 50's. Although, I prefer the term "homemaker" rather than "housewife." Because everything I do is geared toward making our house a home. The "make" part is very important. A home that is a haven doesn't just happen. It has to be made. Although a dated concept to some, I love the idea of being the keeper of the home. Taking care of my husband and my children makes me happy. I have never been career-driven. Rather, I am a homebody who strives to make our home peaceful, cozy, clutter-free (but lived in), and a feast for the senses: good smells coming from the kitchen, soft sheets on the beds, laughter lilting through the air, fresh artwork on the walls (some created by the kids, some by me, and some picked up along the way), warm arms wrapped around the ones you love. Homemaking is my career.
While I may be old-fashioned when it comes to my home, I'm more modern when it pertains to my children. Some would go as far as to say that I'm a little "granola" or unconventional. I'm not sure what "label" fits me, so I don't really use one. I just do what feels right in my heart. So far, that has meant: drug-free childbirth with a midwife, co-sleeping, cloth diapering, extended breastfeeding, attachment parenting, and homeschooling. Basically, if my child cries (assuming I'm not right there, which I usually am), I go to her/him and pick them up. Instead of TV, we read and focus on imaginative play or art. I don't believe we have to physically dominate our children in order to get the behavior we desire from them (and who says that our desires are more valid than their wants and needs anyway? I'm certainly not a doormat when it comes to my children, but I think it's a question worth throwing out there). Basically, I try to put myself in the shoes of my children on a daily basis. This is especially important on "those days" -- the whiny, difficult, tantrum-filled days. If the roles were reversed and I was the child, how would I want the adults in my life to respond to me right now? Once I get my answer, I try to do exactly that for my children (if possible).
So, that concludes the introductions. Hopefully you feel like you know us a little bit better as you spend your time here reading about our adventures in daily living! Thank you for stopping by!
Which definitely resembles the round variety, so I am pleased. :)
I also got to work on sewing a slipcover for a hideous pillow that came with our couch when we bought it. With our son toddling all over the house, we need to cover the fireplace hearth (which is tiled) with something soft to break the inevitable falls soon to come. If there's one thing I've learned about kids, it's that they naturally gravitate toward all things dangerous, inappropriate, or something you've neglected to childproof. When our daughter was in that just-starting-to-walk stage, we covered the hearth with an ugly, albeit functional, egg-crate/foam mattress pad thingy. We taped it down on the hearth with clear packing tape. Hair and dust would collect in the tiny little egg carton "holes." Oh yeah. It was a beautiful sight, my friends. Beautiful. Martha Stewart would have been proud of that decorative display of form meets function.
So this time around, I decided to go with large throw pillows. The first cover is finished, except I still need to stitch around all the appliques (which I adhered with Heat'n'Bond lite) with the sewing machine. This will give it staying power when I wash it and also help it withstand the picking/rubbing/tracing of little fingers. I have a kind of tree, twig, natural, outdoorsy theme going on the main level of our home. I love owls and birds (which I understand are "hot" right now). But, I've always had a thing for them. Honestly, I think it's an inherited trait from my Grandma C. She had a forest right behind her house in New Jersey. Her feeders nourished countless birds, squirrels, chipmunks...most of them "regulars" with names and unique personalities. I was always amazed at her ability to tell them apart, because to me they were always "those brown birds" or "that pretty black and yellow one." But, I've come a long way since then and even have my eye on this book to help me learn more.
But, back to sewing! Here is the newest slipcovered pillow:
I have a couple other ideas for the remaining pillows I'd like to cover. We'll see what snippets of time I can steal in the coming weeks to get those finished. Hey, at least it's not a foam, egg-crate mattress pad full of hair and dust, right??
Monday, March 2, 2009
FOR TODAY: March 2, 2009...
One of my favorite things...hearing the little conversation my daughter carries on with herself as she plays.