Winter Surprises

I took a little walk down by the creek today, in the late afternoon sunshine.

The pine trees are dripping with pine cones!
And the creek was frozen over, although upstream a little, where the sun had shone during the day, water was trickling through, clear and icy cold.

It has been so very cold, so I was thankful that today warmed a little, and, most of all, that it was sunny.What are these buds? On the tree near the garage since fall. The foliage, in fall, turned bright bronze brown, and fell off the tree. But, these little fuzzy buds appeared, and over the winter have grown larger.

Somebody, please tell me this is a magnolia tree. Oh, please.

Down the back of the property, near a patch of woods, I spotted this little nest in a hedge bush. I like the almost cornucopia-like shape.

Ah, and here was a surprise on a bright, early, winter morning. Two little imps found the stash of leftover Christmas chocolate. One to unwrap, two to gobble.

Schedules and Budgets and Other Life Changing Events

I know, I know, it's been forever. I need to update you all now, before the list of things to tell you gets too long and I forget it all.

I'll start with the present, and then go backwards into more ancient history, okay?

In the present, I am working on budgets, recipes, and scheduling. I am almost there. Almost. Now that our lives have some sort of a daily rhythm, it has become easier to plan a schedule. That is nearly completed, and has been done MOTH-style.

Recipes, I decided on a 2-month rotation. I used to have a one-month recipe rotation, but we have so many favorite meals, that I found that one month's worth of recipes just didn't have enough variety. Off the top of my head last night, I listed 56 favorite meals. That is enough for 2 4-week rotations. I will expand on that more later, when I have it all written down in order and also explain the reasons why I do this.

Budgeting will follow after the recipes. I know that seems backwards, but I am a plain kind of gal when it comes to cooking, and my favorite recipes tend to be low-cost anyway. I will try to put the recipes in the rotation so that the cost evens out weekly. Hubby takes care of all the bills now anyway, but I like to give him a little bit of behind-the-scenes help so he thinks he is doing a Good Job managing the money (wink).

The kids have been catching up on schoolwork with a little extra help from me. They are working too late into the afternoon for my liking, but they do tend to dawdle so it's mostly their own fault. The schedule will help that.

Baby is still a bitty bitty thing. Still wearing size 00's and 0's for you Aussies. He is still army-crawling and at almost 15mths shows no sign of readiness to walk, except for a bit of cruising around the furniture. However, he can zoom up the two flights of stairs faster than anything. We plan to invest in a couple more gates this weekend. Almost all the rooms can be closed, but unfortunately when I shut the dining room folding door, to keep baby out of the kitchen, I can't supervise him while schooling the olders. So we need a BIG gate to go across the kitchen entrance.

Jr Spragus was potty-trained last week. He had no accidents the first day, a couple the second day, and none since then. Well done, Jr!

This coming week we plan for Miss Rose and Joman to begin taking art classes and gym classes at a nearby community center. I'll let you know how that goes. It will be nice for us all to get out.

We also plan, very, very soon to do some painting in the main living areas. The outside of the house is so big and gracious, and very pretty. The inside of the house reminds me of a trailer home. Not that that is BAD exactly, it's just such a contrast with the outside. I think a little paint and some new floor coverings could make the inside suit the outside much better. We need to warm and lighten it up in here.

I purchased some fabric to make a tablecloth, and then, through freecycle, got a BIG bag full of free fabric for clothing or crafts or whatever. So our fabric stock has greatly grown. Also, recently, I found craft felt on sale for $1.99 / yard and bought many yards of various colors. It's not lovely wool felt, but nevertheless it is pretty and will be fun for crafts and decorations.

Daddy got his first bonus from work this week. It was better than he had expected, and this weekend we plan to purchase a Yamaha YDP-223 digital piano. We'll be looking at a few other instruments too, as it's a secret dream of Mamma's to have our own little bluegrass band.

I dunno, gospel bluegrass just does something to me. I know, I know.

I would also like to purchase a breadmaker (thanks Deb) and a blender this weekend.

Now, in more non-recent history, a week ago I received in the post a doppler stethoscope to listen to the baby's heartbeat. I did find it on the first day, when I was 9 wks 6 days. I found it again the next day and haven't listened since then. I don't really obsess over it I guess. I ought to listen again soon though, I've had a bit of spotting and my pg symptoms are very mild this time compared to what they usually are, so it's probably best to check every now and again.

I'm trying to think of things to make for a farmers market stall a friend is looking to supply this spring and summer. I might be too busy right now, with everything going on, but it's kind of a little secret dream of mine, to make pretty, useful things to sell.

I guess I better run for now. I got some new photo processing software, so as soon as I figure out what I'm doing with that, and take some more photos, I'll have more to share with you.

love you all!


For Wammy

Wammy, who commented on the previous post about the felted baby shoes , asked a good question about using sweaters as construction materials.

I will admit right up front that I am no expert at all in this area. I saw it done somewhere on the web, I thought about it for a long time, I went to my favorite thrift store and found some wool sweaters, purchased them and then they sat around for quite awhile waiting for inspiration to strike.

You must use wool sweaters for felt. Wool is a springy fiber which hooks and intertwines together when wet and heated. So, a knitted wool item, after being wet, heated and agitated, becomes a felted wool item. Because the fibers are interlocked with each other after the felting process, they no longer unravel.

The very pleasant thing about purchasing wool sweaters from a thrift store, is that they are usually cheap because the owner has inadvertently, at least partially, pre-felted the sweaters for you. The poor sweaters are usually hanging askew, looking a bit sad and shrunken. Bad for the fashionista; good for the crafty mamma.

I threw the sweaters in the laundry with other like-colored clothes and ran them through a long hot cycle. Then into the dryer to dry them on hot. Voila, they came out as teeny tiny sweater-shaped pieces of felt. :-)

When making up the shoes, I found that the striped felt I used for the toe-piece of the shoes was not probably as densely felted as it could have been. I went ahead and made them anyway, because I know by now that if I get the bug to do something, I better go ahead and do it or I'll never get back to it.

The pattern for the shoes calls for lining pieces -- the small little thin bits that line the shoelace area and the heel. I wanted those lining pieces to be sturdy, soft, and unable to ravel. So I used a felt square from my kids' stash -- yes, that ubiquitous synthetic craft felt-- as material for the lining.

Once the sweaters are felted and you have a suitable lining, the rest of the make-up is just like sewing anything else. I opted to sew the little shoes by hand, because they were fiddly.

Baby is still wearing the shoes, and I have found that not re-felting the stripey sweater has caused wear in the toe area because of his crawling. But they are still awfully cute.

I hope that helps, Wammy! Thanks for commenting.


I have no photos today. Just writing.

Last night I read the most delightful book, Hannah Hinchman's A Life In Hand. I love journaling, and I've tried my hand at several different styles; but never an artist's journal. Being too lazy to give a full description, I will just briefly say that if you like to draw, and you like to write, but do not intend to do anything with these skills except to enjoy them yourself; this is a wonderful how-to and skill-developing book to own.

It is expensive on Amazon, but I purchased my copy for less than $5 on ebay.

Today has been a stunningly dull day, which is good. I am entering the stage of pregnancy where all I want to do is sleep and/or eat and/or throw up. All the excitement of Christmas has left me drained.

Baby has been crying all day and refusing to drink anything. I don't know what he is upset over; he is eating normally, but just does not want a drink. Not plain milk, not chocolate milk, not milk with brown sugar (a former favorite) and not coca-cola (can you tell this is the fourth child, and not the first?)

I am working on a new recipe rotation. I am pleased that I have come so far mentally and emotionally that I feel ready to work on this. Yes, I realize that orchestrating a recipe rotation is NOT a big deal -- which makes my complete inability to deal with planning such a thing in the previous weeks such a stark illustration of how completely undone I have been by our move.

Last night I put together a tentative schedule for this coming "school" term. Again, something that was totally beyond my capabilities just a few short weeks ago.

We've been attending our own church, the one we left almost six years ago to move to Australia; and I have not been emotionally disintegrating upon arrival nor departure; I can almost give coherent replies to colossally stupid questions without breaking down; I feel confident enough to not put my babies in the nursery, and to do as I and hubby think best with regards to any sort of commitment at all, and I am beginning to cope without feeling resentful and wishing with all my heart I were somewhere else, where people really knew what to expect from me -- rather than what they think they recall.

Today, being the dull day that it was, dawned cold and damp; snow was blowing but not sticking to the ground -- just blowing aimlessly, around and around and around. Cloudy, dull and gray.

The temperature is dropping faster than the heat can catch up; it's barely 60 degrees in the house and we are all chilly. Hubby built a fire, which is half-heartedly burning in the fireplace and the stingy heat it is putting off barely touches the chill. Never mind; jeans, a sweater, a robe, sheepskin boots and a quilt ought to keep the cold away, even for the most frosty Mamma.

Taco Bell for dinner tonight. Mamma's pregnancy cravings are returning with their usual unconventional desires: in the previous pregnancies it was Chinese spring rolls for breakfast; Soya chicken at any time of the day or night; and never never never anything sugary or sweet. So, Taco Bell three times this week already. Always the same thing: the lovely little Beef Meximelts --taco beef, salsa and cheese in a soft tortilla. I'll have three, thanks.

Of course the alternating cravings and aversions of pregnancy have made the menu planning rather interesting: most of the recipes have a Mexican twist; and not a one of them includes ham. Just walking past the cold meat section at the store turns my stomach. No, no, no ham.

I made 6 pounds of fudge and 5 different kinds of cookies, including my most favorite crispy, vanilla-y sweet icing-decorated sugar cookies, for Christmas. Of which, since their production, I have eaten: 3 or so pieces of fudge, two sugar cookies and one of each of the other varieties. A mere taste test. I regretted each one. I guess they tasted fine, but oh -- so very unappealing. The cream cheese and sweet chili sauce with crackers, though -- hold me back, I can't get enough.

Most of the cookies are still up in the mudroom freezer; however the ones that I made up into a cookie tray sat, and sat, and sat -- until today, finally Daddy put the cookies on the dining table and said to kids: eat as many as you want because they are going in the trash.

Well, besides unpregnant Mamma, we only have one other sweet tooth in this house; and so Jr Spragus ate 15 or so of the decorated sugar cookies; and everyone else, looking without interest at the plate, regarded the disposal of the cookies as rather less than a tragedy.

Ah, it is strange to be one of the "others" in the family -- one of the ones to whom cookies and chocolate and desserts are mere incidentals.

Miss Rose sat down with her new sewing machine this afternoon. If I were to start an illustrated journal, I would have had to sketch the scene: Miss Rose at the tiny machine, Joman at her shoulder and Jr Spragus with nose above table repeating various phrases, such as "DON'T BWEAK IT!" and "CAN I TWY IT?"

Miss Rose is stitching paper. She has done well so far, working now for several hours. She is learning step-by-step from the book Sewing Machine Fun for Kids. Joman, intrigued by the operation of a real machine, has joined in this venture, and while Miss Rose takes her turn, he is in the sunroom, spraypainting his model Jumbo Jet. So, apart from the Silly String fiasco in the yard today, they are being productive, and Jr Spragus is entertained by alternately watching the process, and falling dramatically off chairs.

Daddy has given me the news that Baby has managed to successfully down a cup of chocolate milk. Yay, Baby.

Just now, the boys are layering on sweaters, coats, hats and shoes for a trip outside. It is absolutely frigid out there: but Baby is afraid of the remote control truck in the hallway; and move it outside they must. At 9pm. In the freezing, freezing cold.

Yes, Daddy is in charge tonight.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...