Friday, July 18, 2008

ice cream update

This morning while making waffles, I heard howling from upstairs. Unfortunately, not an entirely unusual occurrence. Mornings can be touchy for Marian if the princess is feeling neglected. In a moment, Nathan came down carrying the distraught child. Uncharacteristically, they were reading last night's blog posts together on the computer, and the ice cream's fate was revealed too harshly. Nathan didn't realize it wasn't old news & didn't think to tread/read softly until it was too late. Luckily, she was distracted in a hunt for clues (ultimately fruitless) and agrees to try again.

(can I spell my Spanish anymore? Corrections welcome.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

everything smells like beeswax

I made up an excuse to buy 2# of beeswax (more on that later), and it has been the mum-imposed focal point of our household for the last 2 days. I LOVE the smell, Audrey is politely enthusiastic, Marian is neutral (which is saying something: she's super smell-sensitive since her transplant, and constantly screwing up her nose with an "EEWWW!"), and I have been interested in the emotions it has elicited from Nathan. When he was a child, his father kept a couple of beehives, and the smell has been bringing up memories aplenty. I'm way into the idea of having my own, but he had rather enough back in the day. And, surprisingly to me, since he is a self-sufficiency superstar, I guess my father-in-law did, too, because the bees have been gone for a long time. My friends Scott and Cynthia are new beekeepers, by the way. I'm fascinated. I lost the link to Scott's beekeeping blog (happy edit: found!, but found this in their local paper:

I bought the wax from, which fit my needs of being (1) small and from-the-beekeeper-ish and less processed, (2) inexpensive, and (3) shipping quickly, since I have a bit of a deadline for the intended projects. It came very quickly and is golden and honey-scented. Pleased consumer.

(AND: just found Scott listed on the same as a beekeeper who will come remove bee swarms for you. He's all over this.)

pregnant sewing

In my spring-cleaning/nesting organizing rush, I sorted through all sorts of old clothes I'd saved to give to Goodwill or upcycle (use the fabric), and took a second look at a few in the discard pile. My body is shifting rapidly into full watermelon mode with nearly 4 months left to go, and I did my first sewing in awhile.

Project 1: I used 3" elastic and an old weird stretchy tan tee to make new, lower-cut waistbands for two pair of pants (one khaki, one linen capri) that I had discarded pre-accidental pregnancy because they were too short and too saggy-butted, respectively. The result is a bit wonky (that 3" stuff is hard), but perfectly acceptable when properly covered by prego-friendly long top. And I was able to solve the too-short and too-saggy butted problems with a bit of clever cutting and sheer good luck, too. I have more pants recently rescued from the discard pile to remake in a similar way, but some can wait for cooler weather and/or also need widening. My Alberta college roommate and her friends would put in fabric panels on the sides of their gloriously old 501s for the decor of it; I think I'll do the same for the hip-widening possibilities.

Project 2: I had purchased a girls' size XXL gauzy peasant dress from Old Navy for $2.97 last fall and found it in one of my piles. I immediately cued into the empire-waist styling (prego watermelon self) and light fabrics (prego overheating self) and focused on a rescue. All of the dimensions were good, when on, but the length a bit short. After draping several fabrics all over the dining room table and couch as extension possibilities and being seriously warned as to the frumpiness probability of the finished product by my ever-wary-of-post-project-breakdown husband, I decided on a low-contrast option, and tried to unify it all with a bit of cotton crochet trim and adding a bias strip over the elastic waist casing. I stitched the extension to the underskirt, which I think works better. I enjoyed sewing this project after the stretching and inventing of the wide elastic: mostly very careful, very perfect topstitching. I felt pretty pleased with the result, and was frumpiness vindicated when the teenage sister of one of Audrey's friends commented on the coolness of my dress twice, threatening a while-you-sleep robbery, while we watched movies at their house that night. No on-photos, but here it is drying in the sun on Tuesday:Project 3: A circus tent of a shirt. Even striped! I tried to modify a pattern by adding way too much length and breadth. Loved wearing it, but had to pin up the neckline. Unpicking done, pleats and resewing of FOE yet to come before photos appear. Too sensitive to think photos of circus tent on circus self very comical.

good wood

Remember my recent wooden toys obsession? Yeah, 2 posts ago since I'm so bloggy lately...Well, I got myself all excited with bedside sketches and decided to buy a scroll saw, then remembered a chance conversation with a friend who offered the use of hers a year or so ago...luckily still willing. While I decide how much I might ramp up production to justify the big purchase. The danger is, of course, once I have the saw, then I need the belt sander, then the...

I warmed up by doing the sanding and waxing and happy wood purchasing for a new rail for Marian's bed. We're putting the girls' beds back up in bunkbeds, so the top bunk with rails will become Audrey's, back on top, and Marian needed a rail. I wouldn't ordinarily worry, but she is tube-fed by pump all night, and if she fell out of bed, it could rip out her port and just be an ugly situation. Nathan was a champion and got right to business with the circular saw (too heavy for me) and screws. Of course, we haven't subsequently gotten around to arranging lifting help to re-bunk, but are ready when the time comes :).Then more wood for me! I decided to stick with pine: not only beautifully inexpensive, but a softer wood for a novice saw-er (my last time with a scroll saw was 8th grade shop, a marvelous experience that has left me with all sorts of "I can handle power tool" confidence, even though, um, it's been awhile...). And I do love the familiar grain of pine and was able to find a beautiful board of "select cut": no knots. I love those, too, but they're a beast to cut through (in my vast experience).

SketchesRough cuts
(note the Childbirth without Fear on the table with my goods. I'm getting obsessed. These books are all over the house! Must recommend, though: Grantly Dick-Read was so completely radical when he wrote it in the 40s, and the information is still excellent. It's interesting to note how childbirth practices have and have not changed in the intervening 80 years or so).I used watercolors to stain the wood to my taste, and mixed my own beeswax (candle post coming soon!) finish paste. I don't have the consistency right for ease-of-use, but it's food (and therefore future gnawing) safe and the eventual result was silky-smooth and smells yummy.

I'm SOOO thrilled with the first result. My own stacking/standing wood block tree. Or puzzle. To put on one of the lintels (see! it stands!) in the baby room until he's ready to play. Or until the girls want to. Or until I just want to touch it. Or make my husband admire it. Or...

ice cream shop robbed!

[me: "okay, Mare, a really big smile now" awesome.]

Nathan & I take turns staying home with Marian from church for now (although we are fine going about town a bit with a mask, the very love we feel at church precludes her going there: too many little germ breathers will hover), and this week was my turn. Our private religious instruction cream. She did wear a Sunday dress, though. She recently received the flower girl dress for my brother's upcoming wedding in the mail, which excited her about the last flower girl dress :). Perfect little apron made for her 2nd birthday by our darling friend Cynthia (hey, Cynthia, get a blog so I can link you here!).

Marian was at the computer with me while I was scrolling through my google reader subscriptions when she spotted a salt dough ice cream parlor featured on The Crafty Crow. So Sunday's "what shall we do today?" was easily answered by "Remember that ice cream for a play store...?"

They were all marvelous. We mixed in food coloring and cocoa to make colors and ripples and used bamboo skewers and the stick left over from our fireworks punk for popsicle sticks. Used cherry pits and bits of our yard's ubiquitous sycamore bark for nuts. Broke shale into pieces for chocolate chips.

The robbery (alas!!!):
Tonight, downloading photos, I saw these of her mixing and creating and remembered that I had put the salt dough out to dry (after an hour in a slow oven...too hot!) in a sunny (and out-of-usual-sight) spot on a picnic table in our yard that is partially overgrown by a lilac bush and seldom used. 2 days ago. So I rushed out in the dark and found the cookie sheet on the ground; no icies in sight. When I was frantically ransacking my daughters' recently-rearranged bedroom for a flashlight to aid my searching, the older, still awake, responded to my frantically narrated tale (what will Marian say!??) with, "Well, at least none of the good ones were there."
"???" "I saw the tray there today and only a couple of scoops and popsicles were on it." Apparently one of our animal neighbors (there are all sorts of burrows in our yard, and rabbits and groundhog sighted) liked the salt, has been munching, and finished them up tonight. Arrghh!! Audrey and I are plotting how to spin it to Marian as fun ("You know how we don't want to really eat your ice cream? I think something does!") and remake tomorrow. I'm still a bit sick. Lousy mum.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I hauled the family out to Hollabaugh Brother's Fruit Farm in Biglersville, PA to pick blueberries. I thought the girls were excited and knew Nathan came just to humor me, but found that I was pretty much the only one who enjoyed it at all ("It's hot!" "It will hurt my fingers [sobs]!" "My whole childhood was devoted to trying to teach me to love this kind of work. Instead, I just learned to avoid it at all costs."), though everyone tried and Audrey was fairly determined (and Nathan & Mare put in their time: see them here.)
AND: enjoy it I did! I was exceedingly cheerful and could have kept going for hours. Except we already bought more than we will eat (luckily they freeze wondrously).
Most happily, I was able to buy a huge haul of beautiful local fruit: Queen Anne cherries, Sweet Cheeks apricots, Snow Queen white peaches, lovely plums (Santa Rosa?) with bright red-purple flesh, and plenty of Blue Ray blueberries. Here's the sampling I put up front to eat while I drove the 20 miles home. It lasted 5 minutes.

Marian did cheerfully (and unasked) help transfer berries from my pickin' basket.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, RedWhiteandBlue!

My husband the addicted cyclist is away for a grand stage race in Massachusetts, and we're in our self-imposed exile of virus avoidance, so this 4th was definitely my least social ever. The town I grew up in, Idaho Falls, though pretty small, has "the biggest firework display west of the Mississippi" (so says the sponsor, but really, it's impressive), and our family & neighborhood have a very firm tradition of exactly how the day should be spent leading up to the very loud and glorious debris-falling-on-your face experience of lying on the banks of the Snake River and watching $Xmillion go up in smoke.

My girls were absolute champions today, quickly getting over the disappointment of our planned visitor's trip-canceling cough with our . Each girl chose a craft to lead us in and I was sponsoring 2 RWB food events. Unfortunately my exhaustion set in and we skipped the cookies. And it rained all day and we postponed our strictly class C fireworks fun (smoke bombs, sparklers, and spinning flowers, ah yeah!)

(hey: I can see someone's illegal display--make that our town's I didn't know about but just found with a quick google search-- over the trees outside my window! I was feeling okay with no fireworks, but it's doing my heart a lot of good. I just called my daughter in to watch, but she got bored & went back to her book, telling me, "you should get to bed soon!" But I'm watching Marian's fever so can't: thus, at the computer trying to stay awake and writing weird run-on sentences that are randomly punctuated).

So, my poor-light photos of our lanterns (Marian's craft, from MS here) & dipped strawberries. Audrey did a fantastic summer-print origami fortune cookie with us, too, but I was really really tired then and didn't take photos. When we have light tomorrow, I'll add the finished products.


With Marian's health situation stabilized, I'm in full-throttle pregnancy mode: a heady mix of vigorous nesting (reordering playroom & girls' bedroom to carve out a corner for baby), furniture refinishing (when I figure out my new camera card situation, we have great photos of the auction we attended last month), total exhaustion, and reserving and reading stacks of childbirth and breastfeeding books. I used to feel myself quite an expert, but it's been seven years. A realization of just how long that has been was clarified by this: I scoffed at one book for being out of date, then saw it was published after my last birth. I, my friends, am the one out of date. I've been doing a lot of browsing, but just finished one rather excellent book cover-to-cover: Giving Birth: A Journey into the World of Mothers and Midwives by Catherine Taylor. It's definitely a pro-midwife book--no careful unbiased dissertation here--but does allow respect for all women's choices and is carefully researched, not at all an emotional rant. I just got out of bed this morning after reading the conclusion (with some yogurt, of course--I'm a continually-starving pregnant girl through & through!), to write a summary of my favorite parts to my little sister, who has her own new reason to start childbirth research. I'll spare you all of what I wrote, but I loved that Catherine's conclusion emphasized that birth creates not only a baby, but a mother.

Ensuring that birth is an experience during which you realize how powerful,
how strong,
how competent &
how confident
you are makes your mother transformation as integral a part of birth as your baby's safe passage, which does not need to be compromised (look at the statistics) by choosing a situation that allows that powerful woman (me!) to be the primary decision maker in her birth.