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Archive for June, 2008

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Happy

To be included here!  It’s a big deal for me cause I feel like I’m out here all alone sometimes.  I feel all insecure when people talk about the traffic they get on their blog because I get very little… so feel free to add me to your reader, leave a comment or bookmark me, I like to share!  

Of course I was so excited about it and the prospect of friends that the server went down and with it my site for a while.  I know it’s times like that where Ben wishes he didn’t manage my hosting.  I turned into dracu-client demanding answers and responsive action and the worst part was that he couldn’t ignore my phone calls or neglect to answer my email, poor guy.  It came back up though and I took a deep breath and everything was fine, lucky for him…

I think I’m all caught up on posting now.  I was feeling a little overwhelmed there just missing a couple of days over the weekend.  

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Monday, June 30th, 2008

Sugaring Off

This could very well be the single most money-saving post ever for us hairy gals.  I remembered my mother having a friend that made a homemade wax concoction for waxing legs.  This is the information age right?  You bet, everything you need to know about the home hair removal process called sugaring is right there at the tip of your fingers… I mean fingertips, honestly, who writes like that?  

If you Google sugaring you’ll get lots of hits but this page has some good tips.  I had to make it twice before getting it right.  I think that the key, like this person says, is to not let it boil too hard.  I got impatient the first time and cranked the heat and it was hot, like molten hot right up until the time it turned rock hard and unusable.  I didn’t end up using a thermometer so you can do this without it.  The one I have ended up going off way before the mixture even started to color so I knew it was off.  I did use a glass of water to see if the sugar would hold together when dropped in.  If you search sugaring on youtube you’ll find yet more info about it.  It will look about like this:

It totally worked and I am happy to have 42 more bucks in my pocket every month.  I didn’t even wax my eyebrows off.  

My second sugary topic is about jam.  We went back to Shaw’s and picked blueberries and cherries.  You HAVE to make this jam.  This jam is out of this world.  I found it poking around the internet for recipes.  It really delivers.  I increased the lemon juice by a tablespoon and decreased the vinegar accordingly.  Obviously I didn’t use frozen berries and it didn’t make a difference.  Now for all the cherries.  The trees were just dripping with fruit.  They were so easy to pick that even Chase filled a bucket.  You just put your hands up into the leaves and you would come back with a handful of ripe red cherries.  It was my first time picking cherries but by far the easiest of the fruits we’ve tried recently and by far the most fun.. you know, cause you can get dad up on a ladder.    That’s always good for a few laughs.  

I did proper canning this time but I did make one serving for immediate consumption.  I was sitting around last night complaining that my back was sore, that I felt bruised and then later realized that my underwear was too tight.  So tight that it made my back hurt?  You think it’s because I ate almost a whole loaf of bread slathered in jam?  It was worth it!

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Monday, June 30th, 2008

A New Bag

Whenever I get my shoes on and say ok, let’s go!  Chase tries to hand me my bag.  The giant might-as-well-be Hefty bag that lugs around an assortment of diapers, toys and snacks that I can barely lift off the ground.  It got me thinking about making a little bag that she could tote around.  I used some brown fleece from my stash and just started cutting.  I wanted to give it a little structure so she could get her hand in and out pretty easily so I used the shoulder pads that I cut out of mom’s jacket.  And you’d thought I’d thrown them away, ha!  A couple of buttons and a tube of light brown fleece make a serviceable handle.  

Then because I still had an itch to make something but it was far too late to stick my fingers near anything motorized I devised a little card holder style wallet for her to tuck inside.  I just cut some pieces of craft felt out around a credit card and stitched them together with some embroidery floss.  

My first instinct was to make her a cute little cotton bag with a cute print that would be like a little purse but what I like about this one is that it can just as easily be a picnic basket as a coach bag with a little imagination.  So… I threw a felt banana and strawberry in with the wallet just for kicks.  I keep making the little bits of food as I come up with ideas for things that can be made out of the crazy colors I have.  I was just looking at the felt too and passed up buying some.  Now I’m kicking myself.  Anyway, no matter because she really likes it as it is.  She swings it around on her arm as if she’s been carrying a handbag forever.  

It’s hard to get a picture of a toddler swinging a purse but here are a few of Chase enjoying her new toy.  I added a strawberry and a carrot to the poor sad banana.  

 

 

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Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Fun Friends

I’m just getting back from a long night of lecture but I’m not mad because we had such a nice day with friends Anny and baby Abby.  She’ll probably be mad that I’m posting such a close up shot but I can’t help it, you can tell how nice she is just by looking at her.  My gorgeous friend Anny:

They drove all the way here this morning just to play and it was so much fun.  We started the morning in Fells Point with a pastries and coffee at Bonaparte.  They had three little bowls with quick breakfast offerings on the counter.  Butter croissants, chocolatines, and another filled with apples.  I sampled one of each but the chocolate croissant was by far the best, how could it not be?  By the time we were done every patron in the place had tripped over Chase twice and she had put tiny hand prints all over the impeccably clean glass display case in spite of my best efforts to prevent that from happening.  

From there we hopped on the water taxi to go across to Ft. McHenry (where else, I know).  The water taxi was sooo much fun but at 9 bucks a head you don’t get a whole lot of bang for your buck if you’re not using it as a true tourist.  Nonetheless the kiddies seemed to really enjoy it.  The ride was just long enough to see some sights along the way but ended just before Chase got too antsy.  She was antsy but not too antsy.  They originally said that all kids under 10 were 4 bucks but they didn’t charge us for the babies once we were on board though I don’t know if that’s because they were strapped to our backs or because the boat wasn’t that full or just because the guy was nice.  Chase really enjoyed the boat ride though so I will more likely than not shell out to do it again.. and again.  I couldn’t get a great shot of Chase on the boat.  I couldn’t get far enough away to get more than her face in the shot.  She would have either a) best case scenario fallen off of the bench or b) worst case scenario tried to climb out onto the back of the boat.  I took the shot I could get.  A picture of a water taxi and one of Chase enjoying the ride.  

At Fort McHenry we just sat in the grass in a shady spot and had a snack before catching a boat back to Fells.  Abby is so close to walking on her own, she wanted to run with Chase a lot and they were all squeals and pointing over it.  I suspect she’ll be running within a matter of days.  It was a great way to spend the morning and I hope they come back to do it again!  I highly recommend these activities to anyone who needs to get out and about.  A boat ride, imagine.  No fuss no muss, you just show up and pay they run all the time so you don’t have to plan much of anything.  You might wait 15 or 20 minutes but in the meantime you could get a fresh squeezed lemonade across the street.  Enjoying some snack:

We also saw the visiting Japanese Coast Guard Ship.  It was pretty impressive.

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Monday, June 23rd, 2008

It Ain’t Chintzy

I finally got around to finishing this little chair project for Chase.  I had already cut and assembled it but ended up taking it apart and completely reconstructing it when my plans for using bias tape coordinating with the seat fell apart.  I tried, I really tried but after the second failed attempt I had to call it quits.  I just didn’t plan ahead for the bias tape and only had scraps to work with.  That being said I’m much happier with the way it turned out without the bias tape.  It’s a completely fly by the seat of your pants design and I’m really happy with how it turned out.  

The backing is a green fleece type fabric from a blazer that was my mothers.  I’ve been moving the jacket around with me for a long time.  It was one of the samples constructed from her designs that she would bring home from work and even though it’s probably the only one I have I was ready to part with it in its jacket form.  It wasn’t something that I could wear.  I mean, it’s possible that shoulder pads could come back and that I could rock them in an olive green blazer but I just don’t like the odds on that.  So I cut.  I did save the tag from the inside and all the buttons I’ll use those on some other project later.  

The front side is made of linen that I bought at Ikea.  I made the seat pad earlier using cotton quilted together with a few layers of craft felt as batting.  I followed the same process of measuring and cutting for the back only this time I constructed it by turning under the linen piece 1/4 inch all the way around and then stitching the front and back wrong sides together with a blanket stitch.  

On Saturday I came into some chintz that a neighbor was willing to part with that’s where the applique bird and bugs come from.  I just stitched them down with a blanket stitch and sewed on some bias tape ties.  

Chase was adequately impressed and pleased with her little friends and so we are all very happy about it.  I found the little stool at Goodwill on Saturday.  I never find cute stuff like that and it matches!   I picked up a set of retro canisters too for storing upstairs craft supplies.  See you in hell shoeboxes!  

Hmm.. I would have bet money that I posted about the bottom part of the seat when I finished it but I guess not.  It’s hard to see but I machine stitched in her initial using contrasting thread.  

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Saturday, June 21st, 2008

Summer

I kinda fell off the face of the earth for a minute there.  Earlier this week Kayris gave me this award!  

Cool, huh?  It makes me feel cool and lame at the same time because even though I loved getting it I have no one to pass it on to.  Not really anyway.  I think most of the people’s blogs that I read either already have a huge enough following that they know just how many people’s days their making or have already been awarded it not to mention that I am completely inept when it comes to how these things go.  So… Thank you, thank you!  And I’m glad somebody’s reading :o)  Gack, now I have to figure out how to get it into my sidebar.  

In other news it’s finally here along with all the good and bad that come with it.  

The good:

The farmer’s market is in full swing.  I can’t wait for tomatoes so I can eat insalata caprese everyday.  

It’s full on yard sale season.  I left the house with 5 bucks and came back with 3.  Also in tow, two giant dump trucks for backyard play, a cool vintage pattern to make for myself in the fall, three vintage books for Chase and a pile of fabric.  Not bad huh?  

I love watching the tiny veg grow a little everyday.  I finally got some perennials in the front so we’re not the weed garden people anymore.  It’s pretty bad when the guy playing without a full deck offers to bring you over some hostas from his own garden and then feels so bad for you that he plants them for you too.  

I took this book out from the library.  It has good ideas for ways to encourage children’s play outdoors.  The book has just been re-released with a few updates but the pictures scream I’m from the original publication!  A lot of the featured gardens are from the mid-atlantic region which makes is that much more useful and interesting.  I’m reading and thinking about how to interpret some of the ideas for our postage stamp yard.  We’re trying to think of ways to maximize the use of our space.  Ben built a door to cover the steps down to the basement that is not pitched so that it also serves as a little deck for the grill that freed up a lot of space and also provided a place to store our table when not in use.  I planted ferns underneath our plant beds.  I put some stones in around them and I’m hoping that they naturalize a little.  

We’re trying a new composting experiment.  We were on the verge of shelling out for a system when we found this.  

All of our hard work is finally paying off.  We’re having a lot of fun kicking around outside.  

Oh, and Pile of Craft.  I hardly slept last night, tossing and turning and trying to figure out what order to tackle the walk to the farmer’s market, block yard sale and craft fair in.  For fear of being run out of town I’ll keep my opinion to a minimum but I’ll tell you that I just don’t ‘get’ the whole hipster scene.  Craft is craft regardless of how ‘cool’ you are, where’s the craft love people?  I did buy one thing from one booth because the vendor was the nicest, most genuine person.  She had a truly warm smile and was so nice not to mention that her wares were super cute.  Only a super nice person selling super cute stuff could get me to spend 40 bucks on a child’s t-shirt, sheesh.  Don’t hold this against me when I’m calling asking you to borrow money.  Chase has a kitty t-shirt and kitty says MOW that’s m-ow not, mow.  

The cat is from a recycled T and the rest of the shirt is organic cotton.  The whole thing is ridiculously soft and beautiful… I want it.  Plus it looks like a cat I had once.  

Summer means it’s almost Chase’s half-birthday.  She’s having a little bit of a language explosion that results in more than a little verbal diarrhea.  I catch some of it that gets repeated, bug bite, Chase got socks, go outside, truck, chalk, toot toot!  and a lot of new animal sounds and actions.  A lot of it sounds the same but I’m fluent in Chase-ease.  She is also finally saying mummy and mom.  Of course it’s while she’s trailing behind me demanding to be carried.  I had to bust out the Ergo my back is killing me.  

The bad: 

Chase is being eaten alive by mosquitos and I haven’t had time to figure out how to effectively combat the buggers.  I finally went around today and put a few drops of citronella essential oil around where we sit and it seemed to work.  It’s cost effective until the bottle runs out because I already had it on hand but I’m reasonably certain that pouring essential oils around in the great outdoors isn’t the most effective way to fend off mosquitos.  

Must you play your music so loud?  Seriously, are you going to die if you turn it down a notch or two?  One day I’ll just snap. 

What will the kids DO all summer?  

It will be hot soon and the craziness that is summer in the city will hit hard.  

Have a good weekend!

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Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Fresh From the Farm

A belated happy father’s day to all.  What can I say?  I know it’s Tuesday but in in my defense I thought it was Monday all day to the point where I found myself standing in the Red Canoe asking what happened to story time.  The weekend as uneventful and quiet, perfect for us homebodies.  On Saturday we visited Shaw Orchards to to pick your own strawberries.  Doing some quick research I found that there is a pick your own that’s closer but the Shaw website promised a tractor ride and they did not disappoint.  The tractor ride was THE highlight of the day for Chase.  I picked a flat of strawberries which is way too many for the three of us.  I made one batch of freezer jam and since I don’t have any other bright ideas it looks like another batch of freezer jam it is assuming that I can find enough containers.  Somewhere in here a case of canning jars is hiding and laughing at me.  Here are a couple of pics from the day.  

It took us about an hour to get there but it was a straight shot from the city and very scenic once we turned exited off of 83.  We plan on going back to cherries, blackberries and blueberries as soon as they are ready, which they promise will be soon.  

I did some checking in the garden today and everything seems to be in full swing!  There are tiny little veggies on all the plants.  I can’t wait to eat a tomato.  I’m lying, I can’t wait to eat a BLT.  I bought about 10 pounds of bacon on Sunday in preparation.  

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Saturday, June 14th, 2008

Girl’s All-In-One Bandeau top Jumper Tutorial

Inspired by the halter top jumper I made last week I spent many restless nights thinking this project through.  It took me a trip to baby gap plus another 5 days to actually put pencil to paper on it.  The finished product isn’t exactly how I envisioned it but once I started to really think about it it took on a life of its own.  I liked the really soft knit style that I saw in the stores and I might give one like that a try next.  Here’s how it all started:

You could trace a pair of your child’s shorts but I played it safe and started with the shorts pattern from Butterick 4503.  An even simpler short pattern, i.e. 4 identical pieces for front and back, would be even easier.  Come to think of it, you could even eliminate one set of seams if you did it that way.  The project requires astoundingly little fabric, about a half a yard is enough to make the jumper and the belt.  

Read the rest of this entry »

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Thursday, June 12th, 2008

We All Scream For Ice Cream

There’s no better night to support local business than Thursday night.  The dinner planned for tonight will just have to wait patiently in the fridge until tomorrow.  I was not about to pass on the offer of Donna’s and a pitcher of sangria.  After dinner we crossed the street to Dominion Ice Cream.  Our neighbors have been telling us about Dominion for a while now but we hadn’t gotten around to trying it yet.  Especially since Ben is always sucked in by the Cold Stone vortex that shoots out and sucks people in every time the door opens.  

The thing about Dominion is the homemade vegetable ice cream.  I know, it sounds crazy but when you think about it, why not slip in a serving of spinach with dessert?  I ordered a kiddie scoop of sweet potato for Chase.  I tasted a blast of sweet potato in the first bite but on the second and third all I tasted was rich creamy ice cream.  Honestly, I had to help her with the cone before her scoop fell off.  She loved every bite of it.. and then she got down to the cone.  I should preface this by saying that she had a piece of pizza at dinner that she ate crust first, so it should be no surprise that the very first thing she did with the cone was to bite the tip off.  I wonder what that means about her personality.  More crappy phone pictures:

 

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Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Earthquake!

Sorry the quality is so crappy, I took it with my phone but you get the picture. I love the expressions on their faces, priceless.  What happened to the audio!?  Oh well, it was nothing worth listening to. 

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