Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ali's Doll

Yesterday Ali was bitten by the creativity bug and wanted to learn how to make a doll. So I got out a saucer and traced it on some material, and then drew lines for the body and arms and legs. I helped her guide the fabric through the sewing machine while she worked the pedal.
Ali stuffed the doll with some of Eva's fleece I had banging around (washed but not carded), and I showed Ali how to make a wig and attach it to the doll's head. She got the doll nearly finished when we decided to take a break from the doll and go shovel out the new batch of snow.
It was such a nice day out there that we ended up staying outside sledding for the rest of the day.

Ali finished the doll this morning,

and gave it to Quinn.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


So yesterday was the first day of February Vacation. We had a nice peaceful day at home. The girls got out the wooden blocks and made some castles, and had some mock battles. Quinn the dragon won of course. The living room resembled the battle zone that it was the remainder of the day.

While the girls were engaging in medeival battles I was busy in the kitchen making chicken pot pie and bread. I decided that I wanted a chicken pot pie completely from scratch. So I started off by boiling a small chicken with some onions, carrots and celery. I took the chicken out when it was very well done but not falling apart yet, and continued to reduce down the stock. When it got to an OK consistency (not too watery) I strained all the veggies out of it and added some flour (and a little corn starch 'cause it didn't thicken enough with just the flour) and put the chicken meat and veggies back in, with a handful or 4 of frozen peas. I poured it out into a pie plate, and covered it with home made pie crust and baked it for a half hour. All told the pot pie took maybe 2 hours start to finish. Last time I made this I used leftover chicken and previously made stock (actually it came from a can which is why I wanted to experiment yesterday) and it was about 45 minutes start to finish. A frozen Mrs Bud's chicken pot pie takes an hour to cook soI'm going to say that not only nutritionally, but timewise as well, homemade beats out store bought. Now if I had enough forethought to whip up a couple of these, they could be real convenience foods.

While I was making the pot pie I was also trying to make some whole wheat bread. Nothing fancy, just the recipe on the back of the king arthur package. But the day before yesterday I made this bread and it failed to rise. I thought it was 'cause my kitchen was too cold so I moved it onto the back of the pellet stove and it rose a wee bit. I cooked it anyway to feed the geese, but it took a chisel to get it out of the loaf pan. So Yesterday's method I changed a wee bit. I let it rise on the pellet stove and it took off! (the yeast was better I think) And when it came time for the second rise, I decided to try it without a loaf pan - bad mistake. We had a bread pancake. Tasted OK, but it's wider than my knife is long. Round 3 later this morning.

And Lastly, I decided to try a prototype pad for the goods for girls, so I got out a rubber sheet a towel and some PJ pants that the crotch split beyond repair. I made one by layering 2 layers of towel, 2 layers of PJ pant, and one layer of rubber sheet. It's ugly to be sure (but it's just a prototype and I've discovered a better way to turn and a neater place to trim seam allowances) and stiff as a board. I'm trying not to buy anything new for these - would just like to make something out of nothing, so I don't really want to spend $7/yd for PUL. I'll scavenge around and see what I can find for unneeded nylon today and see if I can make a softer pad. Don't use rubber sheets in your pads ladies.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My Dad

My Dad turned 60 on Valentine's day this year so we had a nice little party for him at my parent's house on Sunday.

So in honor of my Dad's big day I'd like to tell you a little bit about him. My Dad is a fantastic man. He's the father of 3 girls (bless him!). He's incredibly handy. He can fix anything (and does on a regular basis). He's the most helpful person I've ever met. Or maybe he's just helpful to me 'cause I'm his kid, but he'll go out of his way to help you fix something that's broken, and if he can't come by he'll at least walk you through it over the phone. He has some creative outlets too, he went through a stained glass phase in my mid childhood, and everyone in my family (even my eldest daughter most recently) has some furniture that was hand made by my Dad. It's good stuff too - nearly indestructible. He's made my Mom a couple of rings out of spoons and if that's not a neat trick I don't know what is. He's a walking map. This man can give you directions to anywhere, and give them to you right - none of this highway numbers and miles business - he gives you directions by landmark "ok so after you turn left at the oak tree you'll see an old victorian house with peeling paint on the front door, veer right around the dog that will be laying in the middle of the road" and he offer helpful tips too like when I went to the Forks ME when I was like 16, he actually said "when you get off the highway stop at that gas station and fill it up even if you think you don't need to 'cause you won't make it there if you don't have a full tank" That still kills me. But he's not overbearing with the advice. He only gives it if you ask. Not that I'd ever not take unsolicited advice from my Dad, but other people go spouting off all sorts of nonsense without you wanting to and then try to give you directions with miles and route numbers - he's not like that. Most importantly, my Dad taught me that I can do anything I put my mind to. And I completely beleived him (OK so I also beleived him when he told me that Jack Dempsies bite, and I didn't find out that weren't some domestic form of piranah until last year). Truly though, I live my life as if I can do anything, and I jump in with both feet and just do it. I don't think about it I just go. My Mom says I'm a lot like my Dad, and I take it as a compliment 'cause there isn't a person in this world I would rather be more like.

He's Quinn's hero to boot.


I'm gonna see the Yarn Harlot!!!! I called my Mom and we made a date. Stephanie's going to be at the Calvin Theatre in N. Hampton Ma on 4/27 (you have to regester). I'm psyched! It's almost worth it to miss SPA this weekend.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Manure drastically reduces development of lung cancer

Wow! If this is true I've got it made. Sometimes it feels like I'm up to my knees in poop.
In all seriousness. My kids do have particlarly well developed immune systems. I don't keep a very clean house. I don't use bleach if I can avoid it. I let my kids play outside - even (gasp) get dirty. I've often wondered if the fact that they're exposed to so many germs might have something to do with that, this article goes right along with that thought trail. I'll be interested to see what developments the study finds.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sump pumps suck

The husband says to Ali as he's going off to bed, "can you start the sump pump and turn it off before you go to bed". Ali, 10, is all business, she gets her wellies on, tromps down the stairs and stands the sump pump back up in it's bucket and returns upstairs for an hour of relaxation before bed. I know better than to leave it at that. I know that the sump pump is sideways in the bucket because it's hooked up to a temporary hose running out the front window and that the hose has been frozen beneath not one, but 2 storms since the last time it was moved, and the reason the pump is on the temporary hose to begin with is due to the fact that our regular outlet was frozen solid when we went from 60 and raining to -5 in an 8 hour period a month ago. I know that someone needs to go out to unearth the hose from all that ice, and check to make sure water is actually emerging from the end or else the pressure behind the check valve will cause the hose to burst spraying water all over the panel box. So I reluctantly get my boots on and go outside to check because the possibility of a burst will be far more of a problem than a little cold on my toes when I'm winding down for bed. Outside is pure ice. Quinn (nearly 2) has refused to walk outside (even assisted) since Wednesday and basically bursts into tears if I should so much as put her down out of doors. I perform something similar to Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks by slamming my heel first through the ice to get at the more stable snow underneath and wade my way to the front of the house. Directly in front of the window is even worse and is so icy I can't even break the snow and it's mounded up slightly from the stuff that slid off the steeply pitched roof (the one smart thing the builders of this house did) and I can't get close to the window let alone unearth the hose. I fumble around the yard looking for anything dark (and mind you it's 7:00 so everything is dark outside) in the snow and jam my hand through the ice in a feeble attempt to locate some part of the hose. But two storms ago was long enough ago not to remember exactly what trajectory the hose went and I came up with nothing. Knowing that the other outlet should be open, and that the pump has been running the entire time I've been outside makes me not want to spend forever trying to locate a hose end that is almost definitely frozen so I return to the cellar with electric screwdriver and wellies and disassemble/reassemble the pump outlet and reroute the water out the nonfrozen (I hope) outlet. I plug the sucker back in and dash outside. I can make it as far as the corner of the house, and I can see that water is indeed flowing from the pipe, which is good, but now I wonder where all that water is going becuse the hose is frozen to the ground and coming out of the front window. Can you beleive that the ice on the snow bank is so hard it holds my enire body weight, and I'm no feather let me assure you, and it's so slick because it was slightly above freezing today, that I can't climb up it at all and I have to pull myself up by hanging onto a branch of the yew bush that's in front of the window. The water has softened the snow where it's fallen and I can feel that the door we placed to deflect the water is still in place so I trudge back inside and sit me down in an area where I can hear the pump (at the desk) and babysit it. It goes off by itself (miracle of miracles) after 40 minutes and I go downstairs to see if it'll start back up and how well of a job it did, and though I wouldn't wear sneakers my wellies are a bit of overkill. I don't trust the sump pump to go on and off on it's own beacuse it's proven too fussy on too many occastions to be reliable so I reach over to unplug it whe I notice that all the water it just sent out of the building is coming right back in through the rock wall. Round 2, tomorrow 5:30 am.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Growing challenge thoughts

So I'm still really in the planning stages of the growing part of the growing challenge, and Wow did you all see the neato mosquito tuber that Path to Freedom had on their blog recently? It's Yacon.

I'm researching it. This and Jerusalem artichokes look like they could be a really neat experiment. I read the Mother Earth News article on Yacon and it said that the plant has a really long growing season and doesn't develop tubers until the fall, and that it needs to be stored in the winter like a dahlia. I'm ok with that 'cept I'm in a zone 5 and my last frost date is late May. If this infernal snow would subside long enough for me to put some plastic down to heat my soil up a bit I could probably get away with it. But the way we've been going it looks to me like we may be in for another year without a summer. Just kidding of course, but seriously, I think we've gotten more snow than the last couple years combined and we still have March and April left to go!

New Look

Took a little detour from trying to navigate the customer service page to update Melinda's Growing challenege button (now that I know how to do that) only to discover it's too wide for my settings. Not being incredibly versed in HTML, I did the best I could to make it wider - seemed to work pretty good too until I noticed that the darkening of the page on the scribe setting ended mid page. D'oh! I like green. This is good. Now to get back to figuring out how to get a response from the seller of the book I ordered in January that has NOT come in yet. I have emailed him 3 times for an update on the status and have not heard back yet, and I'm not past my 30 day window for the guarantee. Grumble, grumble.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Clutter or the Environment

I've got some serious issues with clutter. This is the thing, I have serious issues throwing stuff away. I mean I can throw things away, like food packaging and old receipts and junk mail, but about the time when Exeter (NH) started their pay per bag system I started to realize that the world's resources were finite and that we should reuse and reclycle everything possible. That said I started to keep alot more things than I did before, the number of my trash bags went down and I felt OK about what I did throw out. But there are a lot of things you can't recycle, don't really have a use for, and they just kind of acumulate. Add to that a move to a house with ample storage for some kinds of things (a huge barn and a garage) and not sufficient storage for other kinds of things (food, toys, books and cooking tools), plus family and friends effectively dumping their stuff (broken tools, crooked bookshelves, cheap acrylic yarn, games we'll never play) on us I have reached the point where even I can not stand it. It wouldn't be so bad if my toddler would leave the stuff in it's place, but I came home last night to a whole box of books strewn all over the office. I've kept these books because they are my favorites. I have whittled and pared down the collection 'til it only fit in ONE box and I'd like to have them all stored neatly on a bookshelf I have yet to build in the hall. I haven't built the bookcase because the wall is wavy and it'll need a fair amount of recon before I can put square wood against it. We don't have the cash flow to facilitate such a renovation so the books sit in a box waiting for a bookshelf and get strewn when Mommy's not looking. This is just one tiny example oth the thousands of things I have in my house that are cluttering up my life. I know some things I truly want to get rid of, so much so tat I rounded them up to bring them to the swap shop at the local tranfer station only to find out that the selectmen have decided it's no longer a good idea to have such a place and have closed it indefinitely. I suppose there's always freecycle, but that takes so long to unload things - I couldn't even give my perfectly good leather couch away - that it's not even worth posting. A yard sale would be a monumental undertaking at this point. So what options do I have left? I can pitch the stuff as I come to it in my cleaning/clutterbusting endeavours, or I can put it in boxes as I come to it and see if someone could possible come by with a U-Haul and spirit it away, or I can pray for a house fire.

I don't know. It's just too much.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Six Degrees

I've been watching Six Degrees Could Change the World based on a book written by Mark Lynas. Whoo boy, scary stuff. I highly recommend everyone watching this show/video.

I'm going to go think now.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Visit with Ailie

Kerry's new baby sure is gorgeous. And my girls seemed to like her too. Quinn's first reaction to the baby was to rip open her blankets to get at her toes - then she took her own boots off and played footsie with Ailie (that's pronounced Eye-lee BTW).

Here's Kerry w/ the sweater. She loved it.

A lovely visit was had by all.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

On my mind

My cousin Kerry gave birth today to a new baby girl. Hope all is well - I'm not calling 'cause Kerry said she wasn't feeling well and I wanted to give her voice the day off so I'll check in with her tomorrow.

Books. I ordered a book from amazon and I can't wait for it to come in. I want to read a couple others and thought I'd get them on ILL, but the librarian is very litteral and last time I wanted two books I got BOTH on the same day - what with my Amazon book coming in, I think I might hold off - but I got the ISBNs for both so when I'm ready it'll be a simple phone call. In the mean time I've got the latest body and soul magazine - not in my top 5 favorites but certainly better than most of the rags available at the local grocery store.

I'm going to have a lot of extra time this summer. I'm going to have a lot less money this summer. I'm thinking market garden. Perhaps it's because it's snowing AGAIN today and I'm just itching to get my hands in dirt, or maybe it's 'cause I've been doing a little reasearch on it and I'm lusting for sun drenched shoulders and caked on dirt on my knees. I have to remind myself though that I'll have a 2 year old and I don't have any beds already set up. Maybe I'm jumping in too quickly.

Looking into getting some chickens this spring. Will need to build chicken tractors - I'm thinking 2 w/4 chickens a piece. Had serious hawk issues the last time we had chickens so free ranging is NOT an option. I still miss my birds - particularly my black cochin - poor thing.

Have to tear my kitchen ceiling down tomorrow. The drain pipe from the bathroom upstairs is leaking (ew!) and the ceiling smells like pee. The Bathroom (with the only shower) is out of commission until we fix the pipe and the hubs has a low tolerance for not taking showers so the sooner the better. I'm all over the plaster tomorrow after my bus run - he can do the lath, and once we get it open we'll fix the pipe. Fun.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Thunder Snow?

I have lived in NH for 37 years and for the first 30 or so I can't recall ever having a snow storm with thunder and lightning, but the past 7 years or so, particularly the last 2, there have been multiple storms just like that, including this morning. Can I just say how incredibly weird it is laying in bed listening to the silent snow falling (for those of you in non snow areas - snow kind of muffles all the ambient sound, so it's a special kind of quiet you only get when it's snowing) when all of a sudden the room lights up and a couple seconds later there's the boom of late summer. I think it's just really, really weird.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Baby Sweaters

I have 2 cousins who are bout to give birth any day now, and both to girls to boot. I know girls. I have 3 of them, so I know just how gorgeous a little baby girl looks in a lacy sweater. Last month I finished up Sweater #1 for my cousin Emma.

It's an Elizabeth Zimmermann pattern from the book Knitter's Almanac :

I used Bernat baby yarn 'cause when it's baby number 2 or number 3 it's all about the ease of laundering. Normally I'm a wicked yarn snob and can't stand acrylic but there are certain circumstances that call for it and secondary and tertiary babies are definitely in that category. I scavenged the buttons off an old outfit I found from the 60's. The fabric a pink gingham, and quite threadbare, was not worth saving, but the buttons were pristine. There are little kitties remeniscent of Peter Rabbit drawings. Here's a shot of Emma at her shower.

So this morning I finished Kerry's sweater. Same yarn (I happened to have a couple extra balls hanging around and each sweater only took one ball). Same pattern - it's a really good one, and I enjoyed making the sweater, plus it was super quick. I had these buttons from a project I had intended to make Sam when she was little but got sidetracked (who me?) and before I knew it, she was too grown up for buttons like that. She loved Sunflowers and daisies when she was about 4 and these were supposed to button a little summer dress. Oh well, they look great on Kerry's sweater now.

Oh there are going to be a couple of gorgeous little baby girls to squeeze before the end of the month! I'll get pictures of the babies in their new sweaters for you.