Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Yarn Along

Joining Ginny today in the weekly Yarn Along...

I've finally finished the little grey picot sweater for my niece.
I actually finished this up a couple of weeks ago, but didn't add the buttons until last night. I had to add something pink to it, so that she'll actually wear it! (She's rather choosy about her outfits, you see...) I also made a little hat to go with it. She won't be getting this until Christmas, but I'll be sure to take a picture of her in it when she finally gets it.

I've gotten a little further on the baby blanket-I love that this has such a simple pattern, so I can take it anywhere and pick it up where I left off without looking at the instructions-until I get to the border that is.

 I've been taking this blanket along with me everywhere to keep my hands busy.

To the midwife's office, the hospital when I visit my sweet itty bitty niece and nephew (who are doing fabulous, by the way, and are no longer so itty-bitty) and even to church.
I've mixed the pattern up a little, and I'm using two different shades of pink, just for kicks.

I finally found a book of my own to read.

Aside from the boys' homeschooling books that is. As fun as they are, I need a break from Daniel Boone, William Tell, and every other macho historical hero!

I'm a good chunk into "the Help" and have fallen in love with it. I adore the way that it's written from the different perspectives of each character, and that it's written in the way that they would actually speak.

Unfortunately though, having always struggled to fight my already "southern" accent, I find that after reading a chapter or two my accent starts to come back.
The boys pointed it out this afternoon, I hadn't really noticed. Zeke asked if I had been speaking with relatives back home on the phone. It comes out after those long phone calls sometimes, I just can't help it.

I'm loving the book so much that I'm afraid I'll now be disappointed with the movie!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

DIY+Pregnant Brain

Without getting into too many details-the baby is going to be a little longer than we thought. We were afraid that she was going to be early, and now that she isn't, I sort of feel like I'm living life in limbo.
I don't know if it's just me, or women in general, who find the strangest tasks to pass time until a baby arrives.

Suddenly, the weirdest things pop on to our 'to do' lists, and become oddly important. And the tasks seem to grow weirder and weirder with each baby.

Right before I had Reuben, for some reason, I decided that my living room futon needed a new cover. Not great timing, but not so strange.

Before I had Zeke, I needed to get all my Christmas cards done early-not just written, that wasn't good enough. They had to be handmade as well. Oh, and I had to make a bunch of "snowflake" ornaments that I had seen in a Martha Stewart Kids magazine, out of pipe cleaners and borax. Yes, that's right, pipe cleaners.

My mom also contributes to this fun little routine-I think that she nests right along with us. When I was pregnant with Zeke, she decided that for some reason, I had too many kinds of salad dressing in my refrigerator and dumped them all together into one bottle-and then afterwards laughed about how that probably wasn't really helpful but it just seemed so important at the time.

That, and that's what her Mom always did to "help". Grandma even had a sick little motto about her own tendency to condense one's refrigerator contents..."Best kinds mixed!!"

I couldn't help but laugh last week, when the two of us sat in my living room, and we found ourselves performing the strangest tasks yet-all in the name of "getting ready for baby."

 Well, maybe not stranger than the salad dressing.

Mom had suddenly decided that it was time to pair my family's odd socks. I had quite a stash, several bags actually, and she got them all out and started playing go-fish. She actually found quite a few matches. Apparently I do not need to add socks to my Christmas list this year.

I, on the other hand, found myself cutting up toilet paper rolls, and actually using them for crafts, like I was a first grader all over again. 

After getting some raised eyebrows from Mark and my sister when they found my hidden stash of empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls-and I refused to tell them what they were for, I got down to business.

Cross legged on the couch, huffing and puffing through "false" labour (lemme tell ya, there ain't NOTHIN' false about contractions-whether they're doing anything productive or not) and gluing bits of cardboard into a floral pattern.

As absurd as it sounds, it didn't turn out half bad. I plan to take this carnival act one step further and bring spray paint into the game-something bright and shiny, and hang it on the wall over the little Miss's crib.

For the record, after he saw the finished product, even Mark admitted that my strange little creation was actually kinda cool.

If you'd like to make your own flower, all you need is toilet paper rolls (or paper towel rolls) and craft glue.
Flatten the rolls, cut into bands (a toilet paper roll should give you about four circles).
Pop them out a bit so that you have a flower petal shape, and glue together on a flat surface, in any pattern you desire!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ten Reasons I love Autumn Babies

My first Autumn Babe, at age 2

When I first found out that I was expecting yet another autumn baby, I was a little, well, overwhelmed.

Not that it normally matters what time of year a baby is born, they're blessings regardless of their timing.

However, all of our birthdays are in Autumn. Mine, The Mr's, both of our boys, both of our mothers, the Mr's brother...the list really goes on. (and on, and on.)
It's always been a little bit of a challenge to separate one family member's birthday from that of another. And with kids, gift giving is always kind of tricky, because we want to be careful not to blend right in to Christmas!

But as the cool weather is starting to set in, and I'm getting rounder by the day, I'm reminded of why I loved having babies this time of the year. (Aside from Autumn being my favorite season.)

1. Cuddle time is not sweaty time. I love nothing more than snuggling up close with my newborn, and keeping them skin to skin. But as much as I love this, I can't imagine how that might be in, say, August, when the sun is at it's hottest and the humidity levels are through the roof. Same goes for wearing a baby wrap.

2. Festivities. Autumn is loaded with a roller coaster of holidays, keeping families close and spirits high. I can't think of a better way to spend those (often dark) postpartum months than surrounded by close family and friends.

3. Perfect day for a walk. I can take my little one around the block  for some sun, without her getting a sunburn or heat rash, and yet she won't be cold and miserable.

4. Cozy baby sweaters, blankets and hats. All those sweet little knitted outfits and blankets will actually serve a purpose.

5. Comfort food. All the things that sound appealing to eat, either while sick, or right after having a baby, are meals that tend to be on the menu this time of year. Hot cider, Tea, chicken noodle soup, pumpkin pie, baked sweet potatoes...

6. By Spring, my baby will be *ready* to be out and about. I love that we're headed into winter, when the world just sort of shuts down. If you're going to be stuck inside anyway, it might as well be with a new bundle! I don't feel like I'm missing out on too many events this way. After Christmas and New Years...what much happens in the winter? Nada.
And when things DO start happening, my little one will be old enough that I won't worry so much about bringing her into crowds and to outdoor events etc.

7. Household chores are at their lowest. No garden to tend anymore, not grass to cut, no garden to plant, very few fruits and veggies to preserve, no snow to shovel. (I'm hoping!)

8. Fall/winter wardrobe is much friendlier to the postpartum body. I know that it will be almost a year before I have to set foot near a beach.

9. Cold and Flu season: the perfect excuse for not passing my baby around.
Ever go to the mall, or to a restaurant and have a random (well-meaning, I'm sure) old lady come up and insist that they hold your baby?

I have encountered this-multiple times. I've found that during these seasons, somehow the answer of  "I'm worried about them catching a bug" seems to be an acceptable answer, while in the spring and summer, it just doesn't seem to fly.
I also find that if I can kind of keep a blanket over the baby at most times, it tends to deter those baby grabber hands.

(For the record-any reason I provide to any total stranger should be reason enough, and I would not let a stranger hold my baby no matter how hard they tried or insisted. I try to let the sweet little old ladies down gently though.)

10. Nursing.
Nursing with a cover while the baby is still learning doesn't make my head (or the baby's) want to explode like an overheated steam engine.
In warmer weather, sitting under a blanket would be like camping out in a green house!

 By the time the time spring rolls around, the baby is a pro and a cover isn't needed.
(please note that this is MY personal preference. I don't care what other mothers choose to do in regards to covering/not covering.)

To all the other autumn expectant Mamas, enjoy your wee ones!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Their World

Every once in a while I'll leave my camera unattended, and later find the weirdest, and sometimes most entertaining photos when I go to upload my memory card on to my computer.
Here are today's winners:

I particularly like the last one, it's Reuben in a nutshell.
This is about all we see of him most of the summer. A wild-shirtless thing, with bug aquarium at hand, who only comes inside to feed.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Yarn Along : Picot Bottomed Pee Pee Pants

Joining Ginny again in today's Yarn Along...

I've finally finished up a little project-wee soaker pants. I tried to find a pattern I liked, but they all seemed to be knitted, and alas, I cannot knit. (yet...) And the crochet patterns that I did find all seemed to be really loosely stitched, which sort of defeats the purpose.
So, I took a stab at making up my own. I still have to make a little drawstring of some sort, as these are perfectly square to accommodate those puffy little diapers.
And an added funny bonus, they're self standing!
I know these posts should include what I'm reading, however I haven't done much leisurely reading at all lately. Almost all my reading has been from the boys' homeschooling curriculum. (Which I confess, I rather enjoy...especially the history.) Right now we're starting into Canadian History with "Discover Canada".
I'm trying to get the boys off to a good start in so that we can take a few days off when the little Miss arrives.

I'm in the last stretch of pregnancy and scrambling to get some things done around here. However, I've been told to take it *really* easy at least for another week, until I hit 37 weeks. My midwife is afraid that I'll go early if I move too much. So I've been folding laundry, and organizing boxes etc from the couch...slowly crossing things off my list. 
Luckily, I have the sweetest mother and sister in the world who have come over to help me on several occasions and do the things that I'm not supposed to be doing. (Painting, carrying laundry and boxes etc-since we had to completely empty our baby room-it was our storage unit!)

Last week I made this baby sling (sewing is a sitting activity, thank goodness!!) I may post a tutorial on it soon. I love the way it fits and holds a position snugly. I even tried it out with my 3 year old niece. She thought it was pretty funny to be put in a baby sling, but cooperated for the sake of my experiment. I told her it was for the baby, and she happily obliged.
I've just started on this sweet little baby blanket in a really yummy strawberry colour. I really don't think that I'll get this done before the big day, but I'm quite OK with that. It's just going to be something to do when I *have* to be sitting...and maybe something I'll pick up now and then after the baby is born as we're cuddling. I can't wait for all those sweet snuggles!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Special Days -Spicy Mango Ketchup

Hot chicken tacos-corn tortilla with chicken, shredded cabbage, diced grapes and spicy mango ketchup.

Yesterday Zeke and I had a "special" day. We do this now and then-my Mom will take one of the boys to her house for some alone time with her, and the other will stay home to hang out with his Mama. The boys started calling these "special days" when they were quite little, and it stuck.

One of Zeke's favorite "special" things to do is cook, especially if he gets to make up a secret recipe.
This one is no secret though as I've made it quite a few times. Sometimes I make it with all peaches, but usually Mangoes.

 Unfortunately, I'm notorious for letting fruit go soft in the fridge. And once that happens to a Mango, it's only good for few things-such as chutney or hot sauce!
Hint: fruit off of the reduced rack makes really good preserves!!

This recipe makes a nice, thick sauce (like ketchup) that goes great with just about anything. It goes really well with samosas! The perfect mix of sweet/spicy.

The recipe is pretty simple: yields 8 pints

  • 7 mushy mangoes. They don't really have to be mushy, but they do need to be ripe!
  • 4 peaches or an extra mango
  • 15 Asian chili peppers.
You can use any other hot pepper for this-but please know that Asian chilis are really small. If you go using a different type of pepper that is larger, don't use 15. I'd say maybe 7 Jalapenos, scotch bonnets etc. For Habaneros, maybe 4. You want to enjoy this! The heat level with 15 chili peppers is about the same as Tabasco, maybe a little hotter. It isn't so hot though that my boys can't have it.
  • 1 cup lime or lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar or any other vinegar-but if you're canning it, make sure that it's 5% acidity or higher.
  • 3 tsp of pickling salt, or kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp Honey
  • 2 tsp whole mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp curry powder Optional. I've made this with and without the curry. I find that the sauce is a little more versatile if you don't put the curry in, but then again, it's really yummy if you do. If you're a curry fan, go for it.

Peel and dice up the mangoes, and throw into a non reactive pot. (if you're planning on preserving that is. If you're freezing or just putting in your fridge, it really doesn't matter what you cook it in.)

Chop the peppers up as fine as possible, and depending on the heat intensity you want, discard some or all of the seeds. With Asian chili peppers, I leave the seeds in, same with Jalapenos. For hotter peppers though, you might want to leave those out. It's really up to you though.

Put all the ingredients in with the Mangoes, and bring to a low boil. Let this simmer until the Mango pieces are easily *squishable* against the side of the pan. The riper the mango, the quicker this will be.

Then remove from the heat and put through a strainer. This isn't absolutely necessary if you want a few chunks here and there. If you're planning on putting it all in a squirt type bottle though, you'll want to strain it.
There's also the option of pouring it all in a blender. I hate washing my blender though (and where I have it stored right now I can't even reach it) I usually pass on that.
With the strainer though, in the end there really isn't much to discard, since you can force just about all of it through. A foodmill would work well too.

Once it's strained (or blended) you can either put it in jars and seal it (open kettle is fine for this) or put some in your fridge and freeze the rest.
I usually save some large soy sauce bottles for things like this, and this recipe will make about two large bottles. One goes straight to the fridge (keeps about 6 months-but never lasts that long!), and the other goes in the freezer.

Some ways to eat your Mango Ketchup:
Bbq'd sausages or burgers
Rice with cilantro, green onions and grilled chicken
Butter chicken
Toast with melted goats cheese and prosciutto 
Casseroles...The list goes on.

Get creative, and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday's Tune...

This afternoon Zeke was singing such a cute little song that he had made up on his guitar...I couldn't resist recording it. And much to his embarrassment, the little girls next door can't resist Zeke!

There was orignally much more to this song than what we recorded-but after the little flirty interruption the poor boy just couldn't continue with a straight face.

While his songs are often really romantic, and he's a total "gentleman",  he's still just a 7 year old boy, and really isn't too interested in girls just yet- And that's super duper with me.