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Showing posts from 2013

Our New Custom Microwave Cabinet

Are you kidding me with that talent? Can't wait to fill the bottom up with my Kitchen Aid and other goodies. I love additional storage space!

Toddler Road Trip Successes

Having just survived a big road trip with a 25-month-old I thought I'd share a couple successes for keeping her entertained. It was by no means easy or fun, but it was manageable. I just wish she'd sleep more!

We have this amazingly cool travel tote box with one side as a white board and one side as a chalk board. It slides open to store goodies -- crayons, books, etc. I had bought some window gel clings from the dollar bin at Target, thinking that Jane and I would decorate our French doors and sun room windows. That didn't work out so well/she wanted to keep pulling them down and playing with them, so I brought them with us so she could do that on the white board. That was an activity that was a lot of fun for a long period of time. She would rearrange them, pick them up and put them back on their plastic holsters, etc. I'd definitely recommend that or something like it if you're trapping a toddler in a confined space for a long time. (Or if you just need one to s…

Christmas Crochet: Pink Chevron Doll Bed Blankie

I made this little blanket to fit my daughter’s Ikea doll bed that she’s getting for Christmas (about 16x20 inches). I used leftover yarn and tried a “cornrows” stitch pattern from a book I have.

Basically a chevron (7 SCs in each up/down) and every stitch in backloop only, making the blanket much stiffer and seeming thicker. A really neat effect, although I was glad it was such a small project because it was tedious.


Christmas Crochet: Festive Toddler Hats

Inspired by browsing Pinterest, I used the toddler ear flap pattern (http://allicrafts.blogspot.com/2011/12/free-pattern-earflap-hat-toddler.html) to create a flurry of festive Christmas hats for the toddlers in my life. Once I started I couldn’t stop. There are so many ideas for hats, and I have many more I want to make. My own toddler will not want for head gear!

For my nine-year-old nephew I made an Angry Birds hat (thinking he’d think any Christmas-themed hat would be too lame), and I used the same pattern with a slightly larger hook. The baby reindeer hat was made with the baby version pattern (6 months) for a baby. I improvised the starflake, and the snowflake is from an About.com pattern (it’s so ad-heavy I don’t want to link it). I used the buckle part of Micah Makes’ Santa belt hat pattern: http://www.micahmakes.com/blog/free-pattern-crochet-santa-hat.

So far they've been a big hit with everyone who has acknowledged receipt!


In addition to the ear flap hats I a…

Christmas Crochet: Barbie Charted Afghan

I made this huge afghan for my sister for Christmas. We opened presents together today due to a confluence of things, so she has it and loves it, so I can post about it! It's for her Barbie-themed guest room and is intended for a full-size bed, although this photo was taken on a queen size.

When I decided to attempt this project I couldn't find a pattern, so I made my own with a free online program called Knit Pro. Instead of filet crochet, where the pattern is made by leaving open squares, I decided to try changing colors and carrying the unused color behind. It worked out fine, as you can see, but it took about three tries to get started.

Also, the graph pattern that was created wasn't completely square, and neither are double crochets. I did two DCs to each block on my pattern, and the result was slightly squatty. It wasn't as obvious in the "Barbie" part and I worked from the bottom up, so by the time the silhouette didn't look as good as I'd hop…

Baton Rouge Zoolights

We went to the Baton Rouge Zoo's Zoolights this year, and we went on the perfect night. It wasn't cold or even chilly -- we didn't even wear jackets. For all my complaining about the weather it is a good benefit for evenings out.




Zoolights was a nice, easy stroll around the zoo, although there were a couple parts that weren't lighted so I was confused as to whether we were going the right way, particularly around the tiger cages. It turned out that we were, but it was a little stressful.


It cost $13 for the three of us (two adults at $5 each and Jane was $3). It's the only lights display I know of in Baton Rouge, and it was worth it as a fun thing to do.


We ate supper early and then drove the ~20 minutes to the north side of town. Jane loved seeing the lighted animals, and she liked talking about ZOOLIGHTS! They also had a snowman, and the PA system played Frosty at one point, so she was especially happy then. She didn't want to leave!


There is another…

Pinstrosity: Better Than Salt Dough

Jane loves the homemade play dough we made this fall, and I thought we could try our hand at salt dough ornaments for Christmas. I kept seeing pins on Pinterest for "better than salt dough" with the most beautiful image of pure white ornaments. I knew I couldn't get anything that looked like that, but I was still tempted.

The link for the pin led to a private blog (WTH?), so I couldn't use that for more info. The caption seemed to have enough info so I mixed up the ingredients. Uh ... it was a big soupy mess. I did a bit of googling and found a tutorial that told me to COOK the mixture (just like I did with the original play dough recipe).

Ta da! I had pretty white clay, and once it cooled Jane and I played and I made some ornaments with cookie cutters. I also made a baby hand (she wouldn't do her left hand, Grandma Dale) and then trimmed around it. All seemed OK.

I think I made them too thick/didn't roll out the dough enough. I KNOW that I left them in the …

Christmas on the Bayou

So I love Christmas movies, and not big Hollywood ones like Elf or the like. I mean the crappy, low budget Hallmark and Lifetime movies. Oh man, they are so bad they are good.

This year there is one called Christmas on the Bayou, and it was actually filmed in Louisiana. It's a formulaic plot -- busy, overworked NYC single mom comes home for Christmas and finds love, resists love and her kid learns about the true meaning of Christmas, i.e., Santa Claus (or Papa Noel in this case ... and played by Ed Asner).

At least they didn't have it snow in Louisiana -- although that seems like the closing "miracle" for every Christmas movie I've seen this year otherwise, including those supposed to be set in the South. (Christmas in Conway was another one I enjoyed with a southern setting, but it did have the snow-at-the-end bit.)

This will be our fourth Christmas living in Louisiana (although we've never actually spent one here), and this is the first year I've heard …

Blue & White Chevron Crocheted Baby Blanket

My latest "FO" (finish off) crochet project is a blue and white chevron baby blanket. It's made with a stitch from a crochet dictionary I checked out of the library (I am a sucker whenever they put out anything crochet-related on the new releases table). It is much wavier and less chevron-y than I envisioned, but as it worked up I fell more and more in love with it.

I did three rows of each color and on the color changes I crocheted in the back loop only. That made a nice texture and makes the stripes almost appear to be floating above the other colored stripes -- depending on which side you have up. I finished with a round of single crochet and then crab stitch/reverse crochet (basically my favorite finishing stitch ever). I am not good at crocheting-in-the-sides-of-stitches, so the sides of the blanket aren't quite square, but I'm still very happy with how this turned out.

I hope the mom-to-be likes it. I haven't sent it yet, but it's packed up to go w…

A Toddler and Her Christmas Tree

Baby Hand Wreath

After my mother-in-law made a passing comment about "is this it?" re: my Christmas decorations I have been feeling that something is missing, that I should have more. It's a horrible feeling I try to stamp out -- I want to want LESS and to ultimately be satisfied with what I have in every aspect of my possessions, including Christmas. It's a constant battle.

In any case I decided to make this baby hand Christmas wreath. First, Jane loves to have her hand traced, and two it seemed easy. I bought the construction paper (got a multi-pack so I can use other colors for other things later) and a red bow for the top of the tree.

Because Jane and I have November birthdays and because I am unable to throw out most perfectly good boxes, we have quite a collection of cardboard in our house. I used a dinner plate and a salad plate to make a wreath base -- just traced around them onto a flattened Amazon box.

Cutting the cardboard was a real pain in the hand. My scissors aren'…

The War on Glitter

We went to Hobby Lobby today for yarn. I am making a baby blanket and ran out of white. Yesterday I got some at Walmart, but it ended up being not as soft as what I had been using ... oh well, another excuse to shop! Jane and I (and all our purchases) came out of there covered in glitter.

YUCK!

It's so pervasive, and while beautiful is a real bitch to clean up. I am still finding glitter on our couch from an unfortunate T-shirt I bought Jane that vomited its glitter everywhere. It was her most expensive shirt I'm sure since she only wore it once before it hit the trash. Ugh.

I also bought some red Christmas (non-glitter) balls today, and I put them in my cake stand in the china cabinet. It's reminiscent of a big brandy snifter that my Grandma Jane had at her house and filled with red Christmas balls every year. I can't remember if it lived in the old fashioned bedroom or on the piano (maybe both different years or times of the year), but I always loved the look of it. …

Wrap Up

November is coming to an end, and it's bittersweet. I love this month, but I also really love Advent and Christmas. I'm looking forward to spending time with my family in Oklahoma and maybe getting to see a little snow? I have a lot of presents already that need to be wrapped plus a bit more shopping to do before all is said and done.

For me I need a second pie plate (had to use a 9 inch cake pan, which worked but made getting the pie out difficult) and a meat thermometer (poor dried out turkey) if I'm ever going to attempt to make a big meal again. Otherwise Thanksgiving dinner went off OK, save for being about an hour early due to my panic since the turkey had to be in the oven alone/there was no way to fit the rack to allow the second rack to hold anything.

I'm trying to get my act together and order Christmas cards. We tried to take some pictures of Jane today in her red dress by the tree. I'm not sure if I got a shot that's worth anything. I might try a wr…

A Felt Christmas Tree Toddler Christmas Activity

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ...

We got out our Christmas tree today and a few other decorations (including a ceramic Christmas tree that plays Winter Wonderland that was my Gran's ... I finally talked my way into her giving it to me since she doesn't put it up anymore). Maybe that's jumping the gun, but I wanted my in-laws to see the house decorated a bit, and I want to stretch the magic with Jane as long as I can!

One of the things I have been looking forward to the most was making a felt Christmas tree for Jane. The idea is that she'll play with and decorate her tree instead of bothering the actual tree. Time will tell if that's true, but she's had fun carrying around the felt ornaments I made, and they stick to the felt tree beautifully.

I used a combination from two tutorials: Empty Bobbin Sewing Tutorial's No Sew Felt Christmas Tree and Juggling With Kids' The Secret to Cutting Felt & Making Felt Storyboards for Preschooler…

Thankful

Thanksgiving is here, and I'm working on day two of a cooking extravaganza. You can follow me on Twitter to see what I've been making (and any disasters ... I'm pretty worried about the turkey!).

A lot of people on Facebook have been doing 30 days of gratitude, posting about something they are thankful for each day in November. I know for everyone it's only a drop in the bucket full of blessings, but I like the idea anyway. So here are my 30:
Shawn -- everything about him as a husband and partner, and I'm so grateful for our marriageJane -- sweet baby, trying toddler and all around best girlOwen -- my first baby love, the brightest boy I know and my favorite nephew. Rest of my family -- without using up all 30 slots for names of everyone I love, I'll just say I'm grateful for the family that raised me and the family I married into.My childhood -- being raised a Christian in a loving home has been critical to me being me, and I'm so grateful to my parents…

The Great Nap Fakeout

My kid is getting too smart for her own good (or my own good). She seems to have figured out that she can hang out in her crib and stay awake during nap time. She definitely sings and talks to herself after I put her in the crib, but she'll usually quiet down. I am convinced she's faking me out to make me think she's taking a nap because she gets so tired and crabby by the end of the afternoon.

If I had a baby monitor with video I could spy on her, or even just a sound monitor I could hear her breathing and be able to tell if she actually slept. We never got one of those, since she slept in our room until she was almost 10 months old. Seems crazy to think about it now, but I loved it then.

My mom suggested trying a later nap, but Jane is so sleepy by lunchtime I'm not sure how I could work that. We may give it a try when we're back on our own next week. But I definitely don't want to give up my exercise/cleaning time, and she's definitely not ready to drop…

A Brand New Year

I'm 33 today and feeling pretty good about it. I like birthdays even now when they're not that big of a deal. I am going to get to have a date night with Shawn -- margaritas, Mexican food and a movie -- while my in-laws stay with Jane. It's a perfect grey cool cloudy November day. My kind of weather for a great birthday.

I'm very happy with my life, and I can't think of any resolutions or goals or ideas to take into the next year. I want to stay on the track toward better health ("transformation is not a future event; it is a present activity") and be better facing the challenges of raising a toddler. There are a lot of things I love to do and would love to make more time for: reading, crocheting, movies. I also contemplate expanding our family and returning to the full-time workforce (probably mutually exclusive goals at this point though).

Stay tuned as this girl's life continues to unfold...

Labyrinth and Holiday Shopping

Since my in-laws have been here (less than 24 hours!) I've had two church commitments. The first was a meeting of a spiritual leadership academy of which I'm a part. (I agreed simply because I was asked, even though it cost $90 and three weekends plus these extra meetings. Oh me.)

Anyway, at this meeting we walked the labyrinth at our church, which is something I'd never done -- at this church or anywhere else. I focused way too much on the mechanics and not getting "lost" in the maze-like walk.

I kept my mind somewhat focused by repeating "God is with me" over and over with each step. But at one point I thought "I know that, why do I need to walk in a circle to know that?!" Then immediately thought it's not about knowing that but remembering it, which is something I'm not always so good at!

Today was something I AM good at -- shopping at Target! I met a bunch of other church people, and we were shopping for children at a nearby head s…

Too Fat to Run

I'm trying to get my body back into regular movement for health and sanity reasons. So far it's going OK. I've mentioned that I do exercise videos during Jane's naps, and I do them during the week so five times per week. On the weekends I rest (and I'm also usually doing errands during her naps since Shawn is home to stay with her).

But sometimes I feel like moving anyway -- doing a few back kick/front kick combos or a lunge here and there. It's the weirdest thing because I am seriously lazy and would rather lay on a couch than just about anything I think.

But before I settled into this routine that is working for me right now I tried to do a Couch to 5K program. So many people on my Facebook feed and on blogs I read are "mother runners." And I thought it sounded amazing to "run like a mother." And couch to 5K sounded doable.

I found a free podcast that started slow -- mostly walking with a few minutes of running. I set out and got to work. …

Feeding My Toddler

Making meals and snacks for Jane isn't the hardest thing I've ever done, but it's also not the easiest. I think she's a very good eater and will mostly try everything. It's me I worry about.
I don't want to push her or nag her to "eat your veggies" or the like, but I find myself asking her to please take a bite of your squash or eat some more apple and we'll talk about more crackers or yogurt or whatever. (She loves carbs and cheese/dairy just like her mama!)

It's hard to know what to do because I recognize the enormity of establishing good lifelong eating habits. But I'm trying to be more relaxed and laid back -- providing her all good choices so it's OK if she doesn't eat all of her peas or beans or whatever. She's getting plenty of variety across the days and weeks.

One way to get veggies and fruits in her no problem are with the baby food pouches. She still loves to suck those down and I keep getting coupons for them. I al…

Selfie Reflecting

So the word of the year for 2013 according to the Oxford English Dictionary is "selfie." Jezebel wrote a piece spring boarding off this called Selfies Aren't Empowering, They're a Cry for Help.
Further, self-taken digital portraits are typically posted on social media, ostensibly with the intent of getting people to respond to them — that's what social media is. In that respect, selfies aren't expressions of pride, but rather calls for affirmation. In real life, walking up to a stranger, tilting your head downward at a 45-degree angle, duckfacing, pushing your tits together, and screaming "DO YOU THINK I'M PRETTY!" would be summon the authorities. On the internet, it's just how people operate. ...

Selfies aren't empowering little sources of pride, nor are they narcissistic exercises by silly, conceited bitches. They're a logical technically enabled response to being brought up to think that what really matters is if other pe…

Prompt: Outfit that Makes Me Feel Good

Writing daily is getting harder. I think of LOTS of things to write about after I hit post (with plenty of gripe, gripe, gripe ideas), but somehow I don't keep those in my brain for the next day. I've exhausted almost all of my pre-November ideas that I had (save for some that are a little bit more truth-telling than I'm sure I want to get into here, although desperate times so we'll see how it goes). So here's a prompt I just got in email:

NaBloPoMo Writing Prompt for 11/21: Describe an outfit that makes you feel good. (It can be from any period of your life.) Double points if you post a picture of yourself in the outfit.

Hands down my best outfit is jeans and a T-shirt with a hoodie or sweater cardigan on top, because my perfect weather is slightly nippy inside and out. I'm wearing that outfit now, and it's pretty much what I wear in mild weather (i.e., three months of the year in Baton Rouge). The rest of the time the jeans are traded in for shorts. I …

Haterade

With the death of Google Reader my blog reading has dropped off. I still open Feedly a couple times a day, but I am usually powering through just to make sure I don't miss my favorites,* and a lot of things go unread. With the truncated feeds at Jezebel/Lifehacker/etc. needing a click through to see a full article (which then crashes Feedly) I usually don't read much there except first paragraphs.

There are a couple blogs though that I read just because I hate them. (Not the writers per se, but the stuff they write about/how they write about anything.) It's kind of like Get Off My Internets, except I just keep reading and make fun of them to no one. But I read almost every post they write!

Highlights of such blogs include trying to use overly descriptive words for everything (such as never using the word "said"), being proud of lax parenting and a regular diet of processed foods and sugar by making fun of parents who worry about what their kids eat, media they co…

Read: Heloise's Housekeeping Hints

Just before our travels Jane and I did some garage saling, and we hit up an estate sale. Jane always rides in the Ergo backpack for that, which is infinitely easier than chasing a toddler through someone's home filled with breakables for sale. But it makes for some achy Mama back if we take too long. Usually we do a quick walk through and leave. On this occasion Jane also pointed out every teddy bear in sight with a top-of-her-lungs shout of "BEAR!" Oh me.

We got a few things overall, but my favorite was probably the Heloise's Housekeeping Hints book, 1962 edition. I read it in a couple days, intending to come back and try some of the tips. It was unintentionally hilarious, basically the dated language and ideas of women vs. men made me laugh. A particularly funny-to-me passage was about splurging on a piece of ham every month. "No husband understands that ham costs more than hamburger!" LOLOLOL.

Here are a couple things I thought sounded useful/that I'…

Gift Ideas for Toddlers

I'm having a lot of fun dream-shopping for gifts for my cousins' daughters (ages 3 months and 2.5 years) and of course Owen Max (age 9!). My budget doesn't allow me to be extravagant, and I think it sends the wrong message anyway ... We are so blessed that in our house our problem is keeping ourselves from buying Jane too many toys and gifts because she already has so much, and I know my cousins and sister are in the same boat. But even so it's fun to look at gift lists (here are twogreat ones I found via Pinterest on It's Always Autumn) and sift through catalogs and Amazon recommended items. I think I'm closing in on what I want to buy for the kids in my life, but I thought I'd share some ideas, mostly things Jane got for her birthday that are A-number-one.

Early Childhood Classics - Old Favorites With A New Twist - We've owned this CD for a month since Jane got it from Grandma Dale and Popeye. We learned about this artist at our library story time, whe…

A Home Cook from Magazines

I'm not a great cook, but I can follow a recipe and make things turn out OK most times. I'm realizing that the way I meal plan heavily involves magazines -- mostly pages ripped from magazines that I keep in a file folder.

As Jane started pulling books off shelves I had to move my cookbooks out -- and then the bookshelf got replaced with a bench but the cookbooks haven't made a reappearance. So I don't really make recipes from cookbooks. They're tucked away in a box for now.

My magazine clipping file folder is getting out of control. I tried to organize things (chicken, beef, pasta, desserts), but as I use recipes I don't put them back/they land back at the top of the pile making things even messier.

I know if I went digital -- finding the recipes on the magazine's websites and then saving them in an online recipe box somewhere -- I could search and find things more easily. But I wouldn't want technology in the kitchen to get messed up by my less-than-s…

Christmas Frenzy

The count down to Christmas 2013 is on. I guess it starts right after Halloween? Thanksgiving is much later this year than last (my birthday was after Thanksgiving, this year it's before), which kind of crunches the true Christmas season even more. I guess some bleeding edge is to be expected.

I, for one, am ready to delve into the holiday season, and I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving with my in-laws followed by decorating the house for Christmas, figuring out Christmas cards and finishing off holiday shopping (mostly online I think). I love making lists and checking things off, and Christmas provides ample opportunities for that.

When it's 80 degrees outside it's less easy to feel in the spirit, but I guess I'll enjoy it while I can and try not to get too wound up about something still safely in the future. (I already ordered my stamps for my Christmas cards though!)

Bossy Baby

Our weather is back to balmy, and Jane and I went to the park this morning. We were the only ones there for a while, but it really started to pick up around 10:30. She was swinging and said "Mama swing," but I couldn't because the other swings were taken. I explained she was swinging with other kids, isn't that fun? Then one of the kids left his swing and Jane said "kid swing!" like a command. Out of my mouth popped: "Jane, don't be bossy."

I've never said that to her before (probably because she's never bossed anyone but family). And as soon as I said it my brain went into overdrive analyzing it. Do I really not want her to be bossy? Isn't that a prerequisite to leadership? But she has to learn to be mindful of others. You can get others to do things your way without the use of commands, and you attract more flies with honey. Gah! She's two for crying out loud.

Would my approach or response be different if I were raising a boy…

Creepy Monkey

While we were traveling the fall consignment sale for Rhea Lana Baton Rouge took place. I was very bummed to miss it, so I did a quick Google to see if there were any consignment sales happening while we were in the DC area. Lo and behold, there was one the first weekend we were there, and it was about a mile from our hotel in Greenbelt! SCORE!

So before we headed to Annapolis that first Friday I took a tired baby on my back and bought a few things. It was amazing fun as usual. (I think I like consignment sales too much AND I really don't need most of the stuff I buy. Also not a good idea to talk about it -- I made a friend's eyes glaze over talking about my rapture ... and she has two little kids so could somewhat relate!)

Everything was 50% off on Sunday, and since we were so close and I could sneak away by myself before we left to go to a friend's house for brunch I went back for another look. That's when I found Creepy Monkey (even though the picture doesn't s…

Pictoral of Recent Travels

My last pre-written post about our trip was published today. I didn't write extra from Danville since November had already begun and I was struggling just to get one post together. Anyway, here are some non-Jane snapshots from our DC/Virginia trip and our weekend trip to New Orleans (actually just two pictures from the zoo). In order:
The White House (through the bars of the fence)The National Press Club Building (memories)Bert & Ernie and the Washington Monument, just becauseWashington Monument through the World War II Memorial (note scaffolding)Fox on the Mall -- so weird in broad daylightPanda at the National ZooFall leaves at the ZooMetro ceilingWalker Drive (we were staying at a hotel just off this road)Route 66 light sign in the American History MuseumWashington Monument Earthquake Repair sign (explanation for scaffolding)More fall leavesProfound quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. MemorialFall leaves and Washington MonumentCarousel on the National MallUnited Methodist Bu…

Danville or Bust!

I drafted a few posts from our recent trip and am scheduling them to post when we get home. These will not count for NaBloPoMo, since I use that as a write-every-day exercise.

30 October 2013

I'm so tired that I'm READY to go. I am looking forward to relaxing at Steve and Dale's once we get there. And then we'll prepare for Jane's second birthday party on Saturday! I haven't even begun to fret about that, as I have been swept up in trying to see everything and everyone here in DC (I failed on both counts, but we did pretty well).

As our trip wound down I couldn't sleep as well fretting about how we were going to fit things in, especially as Jane and I got more and more tired. Metro-ing and walking long distances became harder. I used to stay up late thinking about websites, content, strategy, events, publications, etc. Now it's whether we can make it to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial AND the Supreme Court. (We did. I'm still tired.)

It's …

She is so beautiful

My daughter is a beautiful child. She has smooth white skin, big, bright blue eyes with ridiculous eyelashes, tons of dark hair and adorable features. I'm partial, of course, but her beauty is confirmed by people almost everywhere we go. I never tire of hearing someone say how gorgeous she is. (Especially if they also say she looks just like me: LOL!)

What I like hearing even more is a compliment or comment on her personality, throwing arm or climbing ability (all of which are even better than her looks!). She's much more than a pretty face, and as she becomes a full-fledged kid and moves further from her babyhood the complex person she is becomes more and more evident.

One comment I have a hard time responding to is "Shawn's going to need to get a shotgun" or "You're really going to have trouble with the boys with this one."

Me: "..."

Somehow in this type of comment I hear Jane being devalued, which is something I can't stand no mat…

Top of the Newseum

I drafted a few posts from our recent trip and am scheduling them to post when we get home. These will not count for NaBloPoMo, since I use that as a write-every-day exercise. 



26 October 2013

The Newseum was great. I got free tix from a former coworker so we didn't have to pay $22 each, and we got there early so beat the massive Saturday crowds. I could have stayed longer, but with a need-to-nap toddler our visit was a smidge briefer than had I been on my own. We still got to see most of the museum, and I especially loved this picture, one of the few of me from the trip and probably the only one of me by myself. I especially love the Canadian flags visible in front of the Capitol. LOL.