23 March 2010

Norman's Birthday

The 13th was my husband Norman's birthday. We keep birthdays fairly low-key around here, but I always like to make them at least a little special. A few presents, a homemade treat of some sort, a whole lot of "Oh, let me do that! It's your birthday!" and "You pick! It's your birthday!" I supposed I do it this way because that's what I want people to do for me on my birthday.

So, Norman's birthday:

It starts withthis book. It's a novel. About steampunk zombies. Steampunk zombies! It's like the author wrote it just for Norman. I read the review on this site. (Side note: Meg Wood is so great. You should subscribe to her movie-and-book-reviewing blog and check her Ex-Boyfriend of the Week site sometimes. Good stuff.)

[Remember Perler beads? Girl scouts? Summer camp? Awanas?]

Then I decided that Norman needed some Tetris magnets. Who doesn't, really? This meant I had to buy Perler beads. I haven't owned Perler beads for a very long time, but now I have... a lot. I need more nerdy/ironic projects to make with them. They're very good for pixelated things.

Lucy gave Norman the magnets. At least that's what the tag said.

I also made these cakes for breakfast. I really made them as a trial run for Lucy's birthday party next month. They turned out so fabulous. I was really quite shocked at how tasty, fluffy, and moist they were. Did you read the recipe? No grains, no processed sugar (just honey). Beans. Oh, and the frosting? It tastes like the inside of the tastiest chocolate truffles I've ever eaten. Canned frosting can suck it from now on.

So -- steampunk zombies, Tetris magnets, bean cake. Yep, that sounds like a pretty standard birthday around here.

19 March 2010

It is your birthday.

It's not anyone's birthday today. Well, not it my family anyway.

Last week I finished the brand new Maynard Family Happy Birthday Banner. It debuts next month at Lucy's first birthday party. The plan is to make a family tradition of putting it up for every birthday in the house.

I made an isosceles triangle pattern, and cut 13 triangles out of different bright colors of felt. I had them in rainbow order, but it looked funny, so I mixed them up.

Then I printed out HAPYBIRTHD in 2.5 inch letters using WordArt. I cut out the letters, traced them onto off-white felt, and cut them out. I pinned the felt letters to the felt triangles and stitched the letters down with a straight stitch.

I had a hard time deciding what to use for the top to string them all together. Then all of the sudden it hit me -- rick rack! What's more festive than rick rack?? Not a whole lot.

I'm really pleased with the way this turned out. It's almost nothing like what I originally envisioned (that was some printed cotton shabby chic thing), but I love it. I think it will serve us well for all ages, genders, and party themes.

I hear you out there saying, "Can't we see a picture of the finished product??" No, no you may not. You'll see it when you see pictures of/are at Lucy's party. Or I guess if you come to my house and ask nicely, I'll show it to you. I guess.

16 March 2010

Garden Update 2010

[Pots of potting soil waiting to be watered.]

Gardening! Gardening is, to me, a very tedious way to get cheap food. Occasionally there are moments of joy and discovery ("Pumpkin flowers are gorgeous!" "Wow, if you plant a strawberry plant, eventually you'll get strawberries! And they're so tasty!"), but mostly I do it to get food. That's why I don't plant flowers or do any... landscaping.

(Although I did totally hack away at my rental-house rose bush this last fall. That thing must not have been pruned in at least 5 years. It's already starting to grow again! AKA, Yay, I didn't kill it!)

This year I bought heirloom seeds off Etsy. Last week I planted 34 little pots of seeds to start my plants indoors. (There's a slight possibility that's way too many.) Sage, basil, tomato, butternut squash, bell pepper, cucumber, and zucchini. The snow peas need to go into the garden yesterday. The green beans and cilantro will wait until it's warmer.

I used pots I found while curb shopping. I had a little problem to overcome (and we'll see if I do yet) -- If I left the pots on my dining room window sill, Babby would be able to get into them, or else I'd have to keep her out of the kitchen all the time.

But hey, my pantry was kind of sparsely populated. Maybe I could move stuff around and fit them in there. Indeed I could. I bought a florescent light and rigged it up with the help of my husband (good thing someone in the house can tell when a power drill is spinning the wrong direction). Lovely.

Oh, and some sage on the sill above the kitchen sink.

And on Saturday I kinda tilled up a small flower bed on the side of the house for herbs later.

I also started a compost heap several months ago. I was very discouraged about it when, after both of this winter's snowfalls, the compost heap didn't seem to be melting the snow on top of it. (Properly-decaying compost heaps are warm.) But when I went out to turn it the other day, I found brown, dirt-looking stuff towards the bottom that smelled all earthy! Hey! That's compost! Cool!

12 March 2010

Brown Rice

Once upon a time, my husband shared his recipe for brown rice on his blog. He worked very hard and did a lot of research to get it just right. Fluffy brown rice -- can you imagine?

Well, although his recipe makes very tasty rice, it takes upwards of an hour to complete. And friends, I just don't want to wait that long for dinner.

So these days, I make brown rice a little differently.

I follow one of the recipes for brown rice from the book Nourishing Traditions, which I've mentioned many times before. It's pretty much the traditional food bible.

You take some brown rice and equal parts butter and olive oil. Cook it until the rice gets creamy.

[bubble bubble]

Then you add chicken stock (and/or water), bring it to a boil, and let it boil until the liquid reduces to the level of the rice (or until you get bored or your baby gets fussy).

Then turn the heat down to the lowest it will go, put the lid on, and leave it there for at least 1.5 hours, up to 3.

When it's done it will look like this:


Now, when I do this, I make sure to make a whooooole bunch at once, because it takes almost the same amount of time to make a lot or a little.

I did some research online and found that you can freeze cooked brown rice successfully if it has oil mixed in with it. Hey! This rice already does! Cool!

I let it cool and measure it into 2 or 3 cup portions, put it in ziplocks, and freeze.

Just pull a bag out to defrost on the counter for a couple hours before you want to use it! Precooked rice and precooked beans mean I can throw together fresh beans and rice for dinner in under 20 minutes!

[The rice is on the bottom.]

09 March 2010

Puzzle Bags

Remember those wooden puzzles I found while curb shopping? And recall how I said I would make each of them a drawstring bag so we could keep the board and the pieces together?

Ta da! (Only 5 months later. That's pretty good, actually.)

[Zippers instead of drawstrings]

[My stop light is upside down. Oops.]

[Remember? There are two number puzzles. One for a boy, one for a girl!]


[This puzzle is weird.]

[This is a set of farm magnets.]

05 March 2010

So... What do you do all day?

My brother was visiting us recently, and he asked me, "So...What do you do all day?" I didn't give him a very good answer. I internalized the skepticism and scorn in his tone. I bought into it -- into the thinking that if you don't have a job, you have it easy, you're lazy, you just lounge around all day. That's wrong.

I was reminded of this reading this blog post by a new friend of mine. I've been where she is (remember this?), and in some sense, even with a baby, I'm still there.

I haven't had a regular paying gig for... a while. I can't remember when I quit my part-time job. I'd check my Facebook profile, but I'm off Facebook for Lent. Anyway, it's been several years, perhaps as many as three.

I really like it that way. I've never liked having to have a job. I have plenty of things to fill up my time without that. (Ha! Doesn't that sound so silly? As if people with jobs don't...) My last job got so unbearable that I quit without having another one lined up. Then I spent a couple months without bringing in income, and we realized we were just fine! Voila! No more jobs.

So here I'd like to give a better answer to the question, "What do you do all day?" I believe that I am called to be with my daughter full-time, and also that my work as a cook/cleaner/all-around home manager helps my husband accomplish his calling more effectively. Unfortunately, I don't always act like it.

Lucy and I usually wake up between 7 and 8 am.


I eat breakfast and start the laundry (diaper laundry) while she plays in the living room and/or kitchen. Sometimes I have some food to prepare (bread, chickens, nuts, rice, beans, broth, etc). There's also plenty of internet-ing (love my laptop!).

Sometimes Lucy takes a nap around 10. Sometimes she just needs to sit with me for a couple minutes and rest.

Round about noon I eat lunch (leftovers, if I'm lucky!). Also, still working on laundry (flipping it or hanging it).

After lunch Lucy will take a nap if she didn't already.

Sometimes we'll go explore in another room in the house. Sometimes we'll sit outside and try to eat leaves. Sometimes we'll go on a bike ride (Craigslist bike trailer -- hollah!). Sometimes we'll turn off all the noise, and I'll sit on the floor and read to myself. Lucy really likes when I do that. She'll climb all over me for a while, but then she'll find stuff to play with and ignore me.

Norman comes home at 5 (ish), and he keeps an eye on Lucy while I make dinner.

The three of us eat dinner together.

After dinner, it's time for a baby bath (twice a week), and then Norman rocks Lucy to sleep and sets her in her pack n play. While he does that, I clean up the mess Lucy made all day, do the dishes, and fold laundry.

Some nights I craft, some nights we watch TV or a movie, some nights we just collapse.

Around 10 or 10:30pm, Lucy wakes up, and the two of us go to bed. Norman the Night Owl follows later.

(I left out the 8-12 diaper changes and the countless nursing sessions for your sake.)

Now, there are days where things are different. There's a grocery store day, an Afternoon of Fun once a week... We like to mix it up.

But for the most part, I spend my days feeding, changing, and entertaining a baby. And that's OK. That's my job right now. I don't always give it my best, but I'm working on it. Aren't we all?