Fathers & Daughters

Last week was the Father – Daughter dance for Girl Scouts.  It’s always a much anticipated event here, what with choosing a dress and the opportunity to wear make-up!  This year was special because it was Neve’s first year going.  Unfortunately they didn’t let me choose what they wore but I think it turned out well anyway.  At least they didn’t insist on doing their own cosmetic application.


Neve got mad while I was curling her hair, claiming I was making her look like George Washington.  Can’t please ’em all, I guess.

I did some sewing this weekend and finished 2 simple dresses from the Weekend Sewing book I got.


Not only do the girls like them but they asked to wear them to school tomorrow.  I’d call that a success.  I even agreed, as long as they wear sweaters with them.  Apparently that was unbelievably unreasonable of me, but at least it wasn’t a deal breaker.  They’ve been rather restless and unruly lately.  I’m guessing it’s the weather.  They’ve got cabin fever in a big way and having the weather starting to warm up is making them itch to be outside and more active.  It rained all weekend, so they were ready to bust.  So much so that Friday night it was obvious one of them had been playing with the Febreze (they sprayed it everywhere, and soaked my slippers with it.  And no, my feet don’t stink!) .  No one would cop to it so I threatened to not allow them to have ice cream.  At which point Neve piped up and said “Ok, I’ll tell the truth.  It is all Emily’s fault.

That’s my Neve.


This week has been very typically March – rainy, a little windy, a little chilly, but full of blooming trees and flowers.   For me it’s been perfect for being in the craft room and working on some spring and summer outfits for the girls.  Oona does keep my pace at little better than turtle speed, but I’ve made some progress nonetheless.  I’ve gotten 3 new books that I am absolutely obsessed with and they are keeping me busy.  I bought Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross and I can’t stop drooling over the different projects she’s got.  Her fabrics have always been some of my favorite – the mermaid quilt and curtains for Emily are from Heather’s Mendocino line and I have a pink VW Bus fabric of hers currently on my quilting frame (been working on that on and off for the better part of a year now).  If I can locate some more of her fabric from that line (I am not sure it’s still in production) I will be scooping it up for some of the designs in the book.

I am also going crazy over 2 Japanese sewing books I bought on ebay.  I’ve been noticing a lot of crafters in the blogosphere raving about them for months now, so I looked around and decided to give them a try.  They are fantastic!  The designs are way cute – for kids and adults – and even though the books and patterns are 100% in Japanese (and I don’t read or speak Japanese) they are so well put together that I am still able to understand them.  That’s really saying something, I think.  I made a little blouse for Oona out of some cute little bird fabric I had.


It’s the first pattern I have ever made where I couldn’t read the instructions and yet it still has turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever made.  I’ll be working on plenty more from these books,  I can already tell.  What’s better is that I made them using a $20 sewing machine I picked up used a few weeks ago.  It’s an older model Singer that’s pretty much no – frills compared to my model 401-A that I adore, but it sews very nicely and practically makes buttonholes for you, so I am over the moon to have picked it up for such a great price.  Plus my other machine really needs a servicing so now I have something to use while that is being cared for.

In non – sewing news I have found a lady who runs a small farm with lots of chickens and plenty of hatching eggs in the breeds I was looking for.  Sometime after we return from Mexico I’ll be picking up some eggs from her and we’ll be hatching some baby chicks!  For now I need to get to work getting everything ready for them.   I hope my mother doesn’t mind chicken sitting when we visit family later this summer!

Speaking of animals……. looks like little Jasper cat has ringworm.  Let’s hear it for fun fungal infections!  After the last ridiculously expensive go round at the vets I am hoping to cure it without a trip in.  I searched around the web and some shelters suggest using Lamisil cream to clear it up, which would really be preferable at $5 a tube.  But let me ask this:  who the heck is in charge of marketing this stuff?  And what the heck are they thinking?  Are they trying to embarrass people into NOT buying it?  Because the generic CVS version of Lamisil is a bright green box with equally bright white HUGE lettering that simply says JOCK ITCH CREAM. I mean, really.  How cruel do you have to be?  I wonder if the teen cashier who rang me out believed me when I feebly mentioned “It’s for my cat” ?

Doggone It

Happy First Day of Spring everyone!  I wish I could say that I was able to get my spring cleaning done, or even finish off any of the projects I’ve had laying around all winter, but it’s been a week, let me tell you.  I did whip up a batch of cupcakes last night for the girls to celebrate the equinox, however.  Neve had picked out a box of cake mix last time we were at Target that had springy rainbow chips in the mix and some fluffy pink strawberry frosting and has been waiting not so patiently ever since for me to bake them.  So after dinner was done last night Paul took Oona for me so I could get the little pink treats done.  I’ve never actually bought strawberry frosting before (I come from the yellow cake with chocolate frosting school of cake appreciation) but it tasted pretty good.  They looked lovely sitting on the island in the kitchen, waiting for Neve to discover them.  Too bad she hadn’t eaten her dinner.

Not that it mattered anyway, because after changing Oona into her jammies and changing the sheets on the bunks for the girls I returned to the kitchen and where there should have been 15 pink cupcakes there was instead this:


Gone.  Paper liners and all.  You can’t see it in the picture but there was also pink smears all over the floor around the island.  And one very guiltily satisified dog lounging in the dining room, licking her paws.  Paul was beyond mad.  I was rather upset myself, considering I was the one who put in all the baking work.  But I was able to not be too angry because it called to mind the incident of my 10th or 11th birthday (can’t remember exactly which) when we lived in a rather tiny house in Kingston, NY and we had another golden retriever named Nugget.  My mother baked me a chocolate cake with chocolate chip frosting (and I was SO excited!) and left it in the middle of our dining room table to wait for the festivities.  And it vanished.  Completely.  The plate was found licked clean on the floor.  I don’t remember what happened after that but we love to bring that story up every tme a family dog eats something they shouldn’t.  I simply sent Pippa to bed without her doggy dinner last night.  After all, she was no doubt quite full.

It has otherwise been a quiet yet frustrating week.  Oona has strep, and though she has been on meds since Monday she is still not really herself.  She won’t let me put her down for anything, which makes cleaning and meal prep (not to mention showering) rather difficult.  Tuesday was our 13th wedding anniversary and since we are going to Mexcio in May we didn’t complain too much that we spent it trying to keep Oona happy (mostly successfully).

I’ve also been sitting with my eye on a large box of fabric that Paul’s aunt brought down this weekend for me.  So very nice.  I can’t even begin to tell you!  It’s a bunch of upholstery weight bolts from a closed out warehouse.  I am so psyched to make things with it that it’s been killing me sitting still with Oona, who is not happy unless my butt is parked in one spot all day.  The only thing I’ve managed is to finish Neve’s pj pants which were already cut and pinned and lingering on the sewing machine.


Such a cute print!

Hopefully the weekend will be better and Oona will recover from her woes.  She’s just been so frowny and miserable.  I want my happy baby back!


Bunk Beds, Strep and Jasper

Last week I found a set of bunk beds on Craigslist for $150 and mom and I drove out to pick them up.  I needed a set that was twin sized on top and full sized on the bottom so that we could still accommodate guests (and because we already had a good full mattress) which made it slightly more difficult.  I also wanted wood, not metal, and these things retail for about $1500 new for a nice set.  Ouch!  So when I found a set on Craigslist I jumped.  I am a huge fan of recycling good used items this way.  It saves things from being hauled to the landfill and buyer and seller both make out pretty well.

Anyway, I spent all Friday painting them white.  Originally they were more of a honey color, which was still rather nice, but I have a color scheme I am working with here, so they had to be white!  I was so very pleased with the result when all was said and done.  I got exactly what I wanted for Emily and Neve’s room.  Yes!  They are sharing a room now!  Partly because with 3 girls and 2 rooms between them someone was going to have to share, and partly because they bicker so much I figured it was time they learned how to live together and get along.


Excuse the poor quailty picture (still waiting to buy a real camera!).  I still have some reorganizing to do (and cleaning.  ALWAYS cleaning…) before it’s truly their room together.  They fought over the top bunk so we have compromised by making them take turns.  So far, so good.

I also worked on some sewing.  Specifically, new cotton pj’s for the girls.  I did manage to finish Emily’s pair but I ran out of elastic before getting to Neve’s.


The colors aren’t quite right here – the fabric is a rather brilliant turquoise, one of my new favorites from Heather Bailey.  I also like to add a little tag in every item I make for them.  I had a bunch made up that say “Mama t’aime”, just to remind them that their mama loves them.

I had planned on finishing up the cleaning and getting Neve’s pj’s done but Sunday night Oona ran a fever of 105 and nobody got any sleep.  Monday I took her in to the doctor and was sent home with antibiotics, as she has strep throat, which surprised me, as I was expecting either an ear infection or a gastrointestinal virus.  I’d had a dermatology appointment directly before Oona’s appointment and as I was getting off the elevator to approach the office she puked all down the front of me.  But I was assured that strep throat can irritate your gag reflex and make you nauseated, so there we have it.  Who knew?    She’s feeling a bit better today but still insists on being held ’round the clock and isn’t sleeping well.  No creative or cleanliness progress being made here.  It is supposed to be 70 degrees here today though so I plan to open up all the windows and air out the house again. I got my big snowstorm a few weeks ago; I am now officially ready for spring.


And Jasper is officially ready to be cuddled, all the time.  He loves Maddie!

I’m Souper, Thanks For Asking

I don’t know if it’s the airing out of the house or the whole “spring – ness” that is in the air, but the I’ve been pretty happy with how the last few days have turned out.  I am still suffering a bit with the stomach upset that plagued us all a few weeks back, but more or less I am well physically, and I am feeling a bit lighter and less weighed down than I have in awhile.  Oona is totally weaned and I am actually now below my pre- pregnancy weight. ( Really I don’t care so much about that, but I do want to firm up that middle mushiness that carrying three babies will do to you, especially since I got a new bikini for Mexico.)  That means a lot more options when I walk into my closet in the morning.  There’s not much that makes a girl feel better starting her day than that!

Oona now sleeps through the night, Emily’s impetigo is all cleared up and she’s back to school and we’re all back on schedule. The cloud of negativity seems to have lifted and we’ve been more productive.  Yesterday I managed to bake 2 loaves of homemade sandwich bread and whipped up a tub of dough for the fridge.  (We’re addicted to panini right now so we’re using a lot of bread).    I also made Auntie Anne’s pretzels for the girls.  ( I subscribe to Food Network Magazine and they had a copy cat recipe of those sinful pretzels from the mall and I just had to try it. )  I think my kids may have snorted them they ate them up so fast.  And yes, they do taste just like the ones you buy.  Score!

I also sent Neve to school in a peasant blouse I made for her and she looked adorable.  Emily got a new headband from a Heather Bailey pattern I downloaded  so her hair won’t look so funky anymore.    It was a good day to be the mommy of the house.  Today I continued cutting fabric for more spring and summer dresses for the girls and a halter top for me to take to the resort.  I’m hoping to pick up a set of bunkbeds this week for the girls so I can get everybody organized before summer hits and they are here all the time to get in my way complain about what I am doing slow up the process.

Today was chillier than the last 4 or 5 days have been so I decided to use the butternut squash and apples I had to make some soup.  Normally I only make this particular soup in the fall, when the apples are in season, but Neve loves it, and I have had a craving for it, so it seemed like the day to do it.   I don’t actually have a recipe I use, I kind of just “wing it”, which I find more acceptable with soups than most other types of cooking.  I knew what I wanted and grabbed the appropriate ingredients, and voila!  Yumminess!

First I chopped up a nice big squash.


While I was chopping this up, Neve commented that the knife was pretty big.  I agreed.  Then she went on to say “But you know papa has a bigger wrench than that.  I mean a REALLY big wrench!” Which of course meant that I couldn’t stop chortling to myself with laughter, picturing the euphemisms that Paul is sure to take from that.

When I stopped giggling, I chopped up two large granny smith apples.  Then I added all the chopped stuff to a pot along with a stick of butter.  Yes, a whole stick.  No, I don’t think my recipe is on the low fat side, but I didn’t use any bacon fat or lard, and I figure it’s chock full of vegetable and fruity goodness, and plus it tastes really freakin’ good.


I love this part, because I turn the heat on medium high and let the squash soften with the apples and it smells SO good.   Once they are all nice and starting to get a little mushy (but not too much) I add some chicken stock.  Now, when I first made this soup I was using store bought stock, and it was still good.  However, last fall I started buying whole frying chickens from Sam’s Club for $7 and making my own stock, and let me tell you.  The difference, if you’ve never done it, is phenomenal.


A big ol’ chunk of frozen stock.  I hadn’t had time to thaw it out, but I’ve found it doesn’t really matter.  I just let the whole mess simmer until the squash is totally softened and it just smells too darn good to resist anymore.  That’s when I whip out the immersion blender and puree it all.  I used to transfer it all to my blender, but that can be kind of messy and then there’s another thing to clean.   When it’s all smooth, try not to put your face in it like a hog.  (I myself have a hard time controlling myself).


When I haven’t had homemade stock on hand I’ve also added onions to the first step and sometimes even a bit of apple cider to bring up the apple taste.  But really, this is one of those dishes that is better for its simplicity.  Just ask the 5 year old who slurped down 2 ginormous bowls of it tonight.

SO that’s my gift to you tonight.  A yummy and easy treat and a hope that all of you are having a positive and productive week.  Enjoy!

When Things Go Awry (In which I wax all philisophical and stuff)

We’ve all had those days where we have to make tough decisions and hope things turn out for the best.  I guess it’s part of the fun of life, right?  Too many things can’t go well or the universe might become too unbalanced and smack you in the face.  At least that’s where we are right now, feeling the effects of a tough decision, feeling regret, but confident that it’s all for the best and we’ve made the best decision we could.    I’ve quietly watched some pretty awful stuff going on for quite awhile now and I’ve said very little in the interest of just being a good listener and keeping the peace (and let’s face it, you can’t help someone until they are ready to hear you, as difficult as it can be to hold back).  But it all exploded in my face (well, actually, my ear) yesterday and I could keep my mouth shut no longer.  I won’t say more than that, but I think everyone knows friendships and relationships are a sticky situation sometimes, especially when you see bad things happening to someone you care about.

So what DO you do when things go awry in your corner of the world?  If you’re like me, you open your windows to air out all of the germs from the last few weeks and get your “sew” on.  It’s about 80 degrees here today (hence the window opening) so I whipped up a peasant blouse for my Oona.


I love these little shirts because you don’t need a pattern if you’re familiar with the basics of garment construction (if you’ve sewn enough patterns, you have an idea how a shirt goes together).  I have a pile of leftover fabrics that I will be putting to use making more of these for all of the girls.   This print is from In the Beginning Fabrics. I got it from Fabric.com, my fabric equivalent of a candy store.   I’ll be working on the others  later in the day, after I’ve done some sweeping and scrubbing and airing out.  Out with all the bad and the negative (and the infectious!) and in with the new and the fresh and the positive.  Paul even drive all the way home from Charlotte despite his plans to stay through the week just so he could be here as a supportive force.  He loves his girls, and it’s a good weekend for them to play outside together and have fun and decompress.  The crocuses are blooming!

Happy weekend!

Spring Cleaning, Or When Norovirus Comes to Town

The Universe has a great sense of humor.  You may remember I’d just about given up on winter, right?  Still holding out for one big snowstorm but knowing deep down (based on several year’s experience, too) that we weren’t going to get one?  And remember how I was starting to come around to the idea of it being very early spring since the little crocus and daffodil greens were coming up and that maybe I should begin thinking about a spring cleaning?


Two things happened at once.  We all came down with a nasty case of norovirus (you know, that gut wrenching, puking, diarrhea, body aches so bad you’d gladly die RIGHT NOW illness that seems to be everywhere lately) and it snowed.  Major snow.  The kind that I should have been out playing and taking pictures in and making snowmen with the kids in.  Except for the aforementioned norovirus.  Ah, universe, touche.    So now that we are on the mend we need to do a VERY major spring cleaning (3 days of 4 sick and vomiting people makes for a nasty messy house), and I’ve been trying to enjoy the snow from inside as much as humanly possible.

But let’s back up a moment here, if we may, to set the stage for just one of the many reasons that a major cleaning is now in order, despite the fact that old man winter is not quite thorugh with us after all.


The Laguna del Laundry-o

This is immediately before I fell victim to the virus.  Neve had come home sick from school and I guessed it was a matter of time before I became incapable of any real housework so I put myself into overtime getting everything in order to avoid being sick and having no clean towels or dishes and dirty bathrooms.  My lovely washer and dryer were put on full time duty and doing a bang – up job.  Too bang – up.  My washer became somewhat unbalanced and the full 1.5 gallons of Tide HE that was sitting on top of it fell over and became wedged upside down between the dryer and the laundry room door.  Where it then popped off its cap and poured out all over the floor under the machines and onto the white hallway carpet, which is now a lovely laguna blue and must be ripped out and replaced.    And you know what?  I gave up on it.  I let it go.  Because really there’s no coming back from that.  You can’t clean that out.  The sudsing power (kudos to the laundry detergent companies for this, btw) is too much for any carpet cleaning device to handle.   I soaked up what I could with towels and threw those towels in the washer along with the bathroom rugs and they washed up rather nicely (no need to add soap!).  And since then we have been pretending like there is no huge unsightly squishy blue pool in the hall.

And shortly after that, Oona got hit with the vomiting.  All over Paul at Sam’s Club (buying more laundry detergent!) no less.  Twice while in line.  A few times more in the car on the way home.  All over the dining room chairs and the floors downstairs.  The problem was that in between throwing up you’d never know she was sick.  She could not be made to sit still, she wanted to play!  And since we didn’t want her to end up dehydrated we kept filling her with juice and pedialyte whenever she would take it.  And she’d be on the run and need to vomit, but keep running.  We’d try to grab her and she’d try to get away, spreading it everywhere.   Then, I got it.  No, I didn’t spread it all over the house.  But I did feel a lot worse than Oona.  I couldn’t get out of bed all day Sunday and could only stare woefully out the window as the snow started falling late in the day.  I didn’t expect much to come of it, but I was in a total fog anyway.  So imagine my surprise Monday morning when this is the scene from the back door:


I was blown away.  I was elated.  I was MAD!  I was still barely able to stand up and here was all this perfect snow (and I do mean perfect – this stuff was just right for making snow balls).


What a glorious sight.  And now Paul was sick.  Emily and Neve at least got to enjoy playing out in it.  Oh, and Emily, by the way, has impetigo.  You now that lovely bacterial infection that looks like itchy red pimples on your face?  Yup.  Sigh.  At least she wasn’t too sick to make snow angels and chase the dog around.  Pippa LOVES playing in the snow.  It really does make me wish we had this kind of snow more often like we did back up north when we were kids.


I am still amazed at how much we got, and that here it is Tuesday and it has barely showed any signs of melting.  Watching Paul clear off the van really made it kind of weird for both of us – flashback city!  He never thought he’d been doing this again!


I haven’t been able to get Oona out to play in it yet, but as of this morning it still looked like this out back:


It’s really beautiful with the sun shining (though a bit bright!!!) through the trees.  The birds are visiting the feeders in scores and the dog is eating her weight in snow.  I’m really sad to still be feeling so crummy, but with any luck it’ll pass soon and there will be enough snow left for my littlest one to get a taste of it (not literally!).  For now she is content to eat everything in sight (she’s weaned now, which apparently means HUNGRY ALL THE TIME!) and tormenting her big sisters.   As long as I don’t have to do any of that major cleaning in the next couple of days, I think I’ll be ok.  I’ll hang out on the couch and enjoy the view of the snow covered trees from my windows, and laugh as Oona makes everyone crazy.