Saturday, January 31, 2009

Great Bear

Do you remember when you were a kid and you had a stuffed animal that you projected a personality onto? Bean's been doing that for several months now with Great Bear. Great Bear has become a regular member of our family. Here he is:

I get to fix him snacks and tuck him in at night and all that. He's my quietest, most polite charge.

Here is what Bean wrote about Great Bear yesterday on his blog. I had a hard time keeping a straight face as I typed this for him. It's just so darling.

"Great Bear is uncommonly good-mannered. At times he has to fight the other stuffed animals. He is also very skilled with a gun. Don't mess with him. He keeps one eye open when he's asleep. So, in case somebody is trying to capture him. So. Beware. Sometimes I'm very good with him. Sometimes I bring him along just to keep the other kids laughing. Just to electrify me. It's very odd that whenever he defeats another bear he gets half of all their powers. He's a very good bear. He sometimes lets the other bears win. But not often. His birthday is Friday January 30th. We had celebrated his birthday by eating pie for breakfast. His cake's going to be delicious. It's going to be cupcakes. So, he is very nice in his own powers. You'd better look out. He sometimes falls in the mudholes."

You notice that Great Bear's birthday was yesterday. Great Bear has about four birthdays a year, or more. They pretty much happen when Bean decides we need a birthday around here. We had pumpkin pie for breakfast (sugar free!) but we never did get around to the cupcakes. Next birthday, I suppose.

Great Bear got some fabulous birthday presents yesterday. Many of our homeschool "Making Day" crafts revolve around making things for Great Bear. Last fall Bean started sewing a nine-patch to make into a quilt for Great Bear. It took him a long time, but he stitched the whole thing himself by hand.

I helped him back it with a square of fleece and tie it. Great Bear and Bean are both very pleased.

Yesterday for Making Day we made a house for Great Bear. Bean told me he wanted to do it several days ago (when he got ahold of the box my bookshelf came in!) and I told him it would be a great Making Day project. Yesterday morning when we got started it became apparent that he and I both had very different ideas about what a house for Great Bear would look like. Instead of trying to fight him about it, I decided to just let him go at it and do it however he wanted. I stayed nearby to help with cutting or taping as needed, but he designed and created this all by himself. I guess he decided that Great Bear needed a royal castle, because he made battlements and a drawbridge. It was a great learning experience.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Finally Finished!

One lovely day in the spring of 2006 my mother-in-law and I spent a happy afternoon browsing around a quilt and gift shop in Lehi, Utah called Broadbent's. It's a marvelous place. I came away with a gravy pitcher in my favorite shade of blue and a kit to make the top of a baby quilt.

The pattern for the kit was very, very simple, but I loved the bright florals. I didn't have time for elaborate projects anyway, with baby Roo on the scene. Speaking of baby Roo, she already had more blankets than a little girl needs, so I decided that this quilt would be for my next daughter.

Sometime late that summer I got the top put together, which was easy. Too easy. I decided the quilt was too simple and I should do something to make it fancier. What if I hand-quilted flowers on the large squares with pink embroidery floss? I did the first of four squares and it looked great. But then I ran out of steam. And I got busy. And then I moved out-of-state. Twice.

The quilt sat in my cedar chest, full of pins. They poked me every time I dug around in the chest. It was annoying, but I never seemed to have the time or the inclination to finish it.

Until now! I realized that my second daughter was definitely here and she wasn't going to need such a small quilt much longer. And I've had this January burst of finishing unfinished things.

It didn't take very long to quilt the flowers, so I decided to quilt small flowers on the small green floral blocks as well. But I definitely didn't have time to hand-quilt the whole thing, so at that point I tied it. That made the quilting superfluous, but it's still cute.

Here's a close-up so you can see the hand-quilting (if you click to enlarge):

It shows up better on the back (again, click to enlarge). I like the back.

I love to do stuff like this and I can't believe this is the first quilt I have done in over a year. I will definitely be doing more as soon as I can train my children not to flip their "AWFUL" switches the minute I get out my sewing machine.

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She Likes It

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Like Quilts?

Here is a link to a website of a friend of my mother's. She is ninety years old and still quilting and you can see much of her amazing work on this site.

I was so amazed and inspired as I scrolled down and down and down and down through all these beautiful quilts. I was blown away by the ones where she uses thousands of teeny tiny pieces. Made me want to keep all my small sewing scraps and turn them into quilts. Talk about not letting anything go to waste!

I would love to make quilts like this. Someday I will, in a different season of my life.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

An Uplifting Thought For Today

"We need to remember that the full commitment of motherhood and of putting children first can be difficult. Through my own four-generation experience in our family, and through discussions with mothers of young children throughout the Church, I know something of a mother's emotions that accompany her commitment to be at home with young children. There are moments of great joy and incredible fulfillment, but there are also moments of a sense of inadequacy, monotony, and frustration. Mothers may feel they receive little or no appreciation for the choice they have made. Sometimes even husbands seem to have no idea of the demands upon their wives. "As a Church, we have enormous respect and gratitude to you mothers of young children. We want you to be happy and successful in your families and to have the validation and support you need and deserve."M. Russell Ballard, "Daughters of God," Ensign, May 2008, 109

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bucket Princess

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Eight Pounds to Go

And you can see where every bit of it is in this photo, which the Badger snapped yesterday as I was leaving to go shopping and he was feeling silly.

My goal is to have it all off by the Ides of March. One year from when I started this whole endeavor.

As part of this final push, I have sworn off sugar until March 15th. I do this periodically because I am addicted to sugar, and I don't just say "addicted" casually. Once I've had a taste of it all I can think about is how I can get my hands on more and if I can I eat until I am ill. I would love to be able to eat it moderately like normal people do and just enjoy one slice of cake at a party or bake cookies and eat only 2 or 3, but I haven't got to that point yet. Either is ruling my life or I have to avoid it entirely. So I go through these periods where I avoid it.

I try to allow myself other treats when I am off sugar. Over the years I have come up with quite a few munchies and snacks that I like when I am "on the wagon" and it's fun to rediscover them. Dried apricots. I had forgotten how much I love dried apricots (natural sugar doesn't kick off the same reaction as refined so I'm safe with fruit.) Golden raisins mixed with almonds. Dates. Stuff like that. And I can handle honey, so I've got some good recipes for baked stuff with honey. Like pumpkin carob cookies. And I'll try to post some more of them if I have time.

Here's to health!

(I can't believe I just posted a picture of my backside on the internet!)
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Fun and Easy Project

I don't have much time for sewing these days, but I can handle a pillowcase.

My mom makes these neat pillowcases out of three fabrics and I wanted to make a couple for my girls. As I was looking at the one she made for Bean I realized that the seam for the cuff was completely hidden both on the outside and on the inside. How did she do that?

She sent me the instructions, which she realized didn't make much sense, so she also sent me one halfway done so I could see how they were put together. As I made mine, I decided to take pictures of each step so I could refer to them in the future when I want to make them again. My blog is the natural repository for such pictures, so here you go! You're going to learn how to make a totally keen pillowcase! Get excited. You need more pillowcases in your life.

Here's what you need:

For the case: 27" of fabric
For the cuff: 9 1/2" strip of fabric
For the trim: 2-4" strip of fabric

Cut all pieces the width of the fabric, which is usually 40-44" wide

Fold and press trim piece in half the loooong way.

Pin folded trim to one edge of cuff right sides together. It's very important that you put the pins perpendicular with their heads out.

Now, pin the body on top of the trim and cuff, right sides together.

Roll up the body like a hot dog. Now you know this is going to be no ordinary pillowcase! When was the last time you rolled something up like a hot dog when you were sewing?

Fold the cuff up around the hot dog roll and pin it to the edge. This is why you want the pins perpendicular with the heads sticking out. You pin this thing three times before you sew a single seam and it's a lot easier to do all the re-pinning with the pins in this way.

Would these instructions make any sense without the pictures? They didn't to me!

So now you can go ahead and sew that seam that you've pinned three times. You're sewing through two layers of cuff, two layers of trim, and one layer of body, like so:

I sewed twice just for fun. The body fabric is slightly wider than the cuff fabric, but that is okay. It will all get evened out soon.

Now comes the fun part: pull the hot dog out of the middle and turn the whole thing inside out.

And you have this!

I mean, you have a sewing project that looks like mine. If you have a spastic Birrd in your sewing room too then I'm very concerned.

Next you can even up all the ends if you need to. Then of course you just fold it in half and sew along the two non-cuff edges to make a pillowcase. I also did a zigzag stitch on the raw edges because I was using funky satiny stuff that frays really bad.

And here is the finished product, folded up neatly and awaiting Roo's birthday.

Much more interesting than a plain old pillowcase. Fantastic if you want to make cases to match a quilt you've made-- just use scraps from the quilt. And very amusing to make. My kind of project.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Buried Treasure

I was burrowing around in my storage room today and I unearthed some things that haven't seen the light of day for a long, long time.

My mom made this play rug for our toy cars when we were kids.

My mother is phenomenal. Check this out: she drew our house. (For those of you in Provo, this is on 820 North and 11-something East in Provo, Utah. The park she drew behind the house is Kiwanis Park, which was just down the street.)

And she drew the local service station-- you can tell we lived right by BYU!

This is where we went to church, on 7th North and 9th East.

My kids love this thing. I'm so glad I still have it!
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My New Bookcase

We never seem to have enough bookcases around here and every time we move we lose some. As I started into this mania of earnest organization I quickly realized that I was only going to get so far unless I could procure another bookcase.

So I went bookcase shopping. Is there any better pasttime?

In the past I have bought the bottom-of-the-line, dirt-cheap, practically-made-of-carboard bookcases. And that's why they keep getting left behind when we move-- they won't survive the Penske Truck Experience.

So this time I decided to Invest in something a little more solid. And then I found a screaming deal on the bookcase of my dreams. Isn't it lovely?

Welcome to the family, Bookcase. We hope you like it here. And we also hope that you will reproduce.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Song to Sing

Last fall while listening to General Conference, I had an interesting spiritual prompting. I don't remember if the subject of the talk was on music or not, but I found myself thinking about how I really needed to be singing the hymns more often around the house. I remember my mother singing as she did house work and I'd been thinking for awhile that I wanted to be like that. But if I ever did remember while I was working that I wanted to be singing then I couldn't think of a song to sing. I know zillions of songs but when I would think "Oh, I should sing a song while I'm folding laundry!" nothing would come to mind. So, the prompting I got was this: Go through the hymn book and make some short lists of hymns you want the kids to hear you singing and post the lists near the places you do your household chores. That way you'll remember to sing and you'll know what to sing.

That was in October. Life was going like a mudslide, sucking me along in a torrent of squelchy goo-filled days, accelerating as the Holidays approached. Now, I like mud and all, but come January I decided that I was going to harmonize my debris flow and tell it where to go instead of letting it push me along. So I made a long list of things that needed to be straightened up, closets that needed to be de-booby-trapped, and organizational items that I had been putting off for months. Like the hymn lists.

I'm happy to report that I have made astounding progress on my organization list. The linen closet no longer says "Rarrr!" and throws washcloths in your face when you open it. I deleted 37 pictures of the inside of my pocket from my camera phone. I now actually have a current driver's license in the state that I've lived in for the past year. There is no more ring of pink mildew on the lid of my Brita pitcher. And next to my sink, my washing machine, and my cleaning bucket are little lists of hymns.

It works! I sing while I wash dishes. I sing while I fold clothes. I sing while I scrub toilets. And I catch the boys humming along. It's great. It even makes the chores go faster. And it definitely makes me feel like I'm doing something right.

Friday, January 16, 2009


-by The Couch

Well, the fancy schmancy new couch did not pass the smell test. That means not only do I get to stay with the Acorn family but I get to stay UPSTAIRS in the living room! That means I get to be the star of snuggly family evenings by the fire.

Okay, not really the star, but close enough.

P.S. The other couches went to the Schmoo family, who don't have the same touchy animal allergies as Birrd. They are apparently thrilled with their new furniture. Hurrah! Everyone wins!
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

On Flakiness

I have always tried to be a reliable person, a person of my word. If I say I'm going to do something, I want to follow through and do it. If someone asks something of me, I want to try really hard and do it or else tell them I can't so they're not left hanging.

This is one of the reasons this last year has honestly been one of the hardest of my life. Since the Rabbit entered the scene, things like reliability and punctuality have gone totally out the window. The combination of a very high-maintenance baby mixed with three other small children has caused me to drop a lot of balls I used to juggle very smoothly. I've felt very flaky. It's been very humbling.

Now, I'm not complaining. I wouldn't trade my Rabbit for any higher level of organization or a better public image. (What a ridiculous thought!) What I'm doing is apologizing. Some of you blog readers have asked me questions that I haven't addressed. Some people have "tagged" me and I haven't responded. Some people have sent me emails that I haven't answered. My response to all of this friendly internet sociality has been spotty. So if you're one of the people I left hanging, I'm sorry. It has seemed like I'm giving the cold shoulder when ironically my shoulder is anything but cold. It contains a very warm wiggly infant who has made me very proficient at typing one-handed. And sometimes she lets me type long blog posts and answer emails and sometimes she doesn't.

Recently, someone emailed me one of those Recipe Exchanges where you send a recipe to the #1 on the list and then forward it on to a bunch of people. I get one of these every couple of months and I usually pass them on. I've gotten some good recipes that way. With the way my life has been the last few months I have not been passing them on. But this one included a "Bonus Recipe" at the bottom of the email for "Pecan Salmon." It looked marvelous and I had all the ingredients, so tonight I gave it a whirl. The Rabbit howled the whole time I was working on it (dinnertime howling is her specialty), but it was worth it.

The Badger went so wild over it that he took a picture of my dinner plate (even after I had already eaten several bites of salmon):

It really was fantastic. Everything salmon should be: tender and flavorful and flaky.

Here's the recipe:

Pecan Salmon

4 salmon fillets - lightly salt and pepper

3 T honey
3 T dijon mustard
2T butter melted
Combine honey, dijon and melted butter. Spread over the salmon fillets.

1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup bread crumbs
3T fresh parsley chopped
Combine pecan, bread crumbs and parsley. Layer over the honey & mustard.

Bake at 425 for 10-18 minutes based on thickness of the fillets.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Another Fabulous Internet Time Waster

Free fonts. My favorite so far is Gilligan's Island.

I don't think I'm ever going to get over the wonder of the internet.

Rhythm is a Dancer

I liked all your suggestions, but in the end decided on Jenilyn's. Now Jeni dearest, I'm trying to think of a suitable prize for you. I just have to get that song out of my head first...
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I'm sitting there this evening, minding my own business, when suddenly this creature appears....

...and starts talking to me. It was reciting the stories from the Jungle Book with a British accent. Go figure.

This is a really weird house.

I love it.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

They're Learning

One may surmise, from my lack of posts about homeschooling, that we have let our school routine slide.

Not so. In fact, with this new year we're all feeling really energized and enthusiastic here in Acorn School. Things are going great. Bean is tackling his reading lessons again. Fish keeps asking me if random things like windows and oranges and shadows are made out of molecules. And Roo is finally learning to use the potty.

It's good to have this resurgence of energy. School got a little bogged down toward the end of last year. Our schedule went completely out the window, thanks to the Rabbit, who doesn't believe in bedtime. By the end of December things were totally unorganized and when you opened the homeschool cupboard you started an avalanche. However, we were still learning. Bean and Fish were especially enjoying Geography. December's unit was on the west coast and Hawaii and Alaska and Bean really really liked Alaska. We checked out some books on the traditional Inuit way of life and he ate them up. Now he wants to go live there. It didn't help that the Badger mentioned to him that he originally became a pilot with the intent of being a bush pilot in Alaska....

Anyway, to further fuel their enthusiasm for Geography I purchased a book my friend Janet reviewed on her homeschool reviews blog recently. Janet was somehow lucky enough to be selected for a panel that reviews various products for free. She then writes about them and, guess what, Janet? I read your reviews and I've been buying some of the products. I'm so glad I bought this book. It's called The Little Man in the Map, and my kids and I both adore it.

We also adore the educational toys we got for Christmas, including this building set called "Wacky Wigglers," by Learning Resources. They are compatable with the "Gears Gears Gears!" sets, which we have owned for several years. This set adds a motor and googly eyes and clacking teeth and other silly things to make moving creatures. It said "ages 5 and up" and I hoped that I would be able to let my kids just go to town with them, but I find that my five year old is not careful enough to have free rein with electronic components. Therefore when we play with these it has to be under Mommy's supervision. I usually end up building most of the creature myself and then they play with it, but they love it and someday they'll be building their own.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

This Photo Needs a Name

Please, my dear readers, apply your creativity and name this photo!

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Monday, January 5, 2009

I Know You Are Dying to Know This

Yes, I am still using cloth diapers.

I mentioned this at a social gathering last month and a friend said she just couldn't stand the idea of cleaning them. Of course I do not love cleaning them. But it's funny-- last time we went on a trip and I used disposables I kept thinking "these things are disgusting!" every time I had to change a really soggy one. So to me, changing disposables has actually become grosser than cleaning my cloth diapers.

(Rubber gloves really help.)

The thing I love most about my cloth diapers is that they are SO cute! I know I have saved some money over the last six months but it hasn't been very much because I somehow keep picking up new pocket diapers here and there. They're so fun!

I know I got into this because I was sick of spending money, but to me there is a big difference between buying something you're shortly going to throw away and buying something you can use over and over again. I'm in this for the long haul. So I might as well have fun with it.

They're just darling! Look!

When was the last time you saw a picture of a baby in just a diaper and said, "Oh! Cute diaper!" Well, Behold! Cute diaper!

Cute baby, cute diaper.

Lucky me!

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