Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Family Worms

Our family has expanded, and it's not in the way you might think. We are now the proud owners of a tote full of worms-- compost worms, to be specific. Hidden away in a forsaken part of the yard (close to our raised bed) is this:

A bin full of little worker worms whose job it is to make beautiful compost.

Here's how it works: we give them our fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells (no meat or dairy!). We water them from time to time and give them a shady place to live. Then we cover them up with some newspaper, a plastic top, and let them do their work. Their home is just that plastic tote, which has little holes punched in the bottom.

(right now they're actually covered with an empty tote that has a top and some holes punched in the bottom... which apparently means that in the future we can lure them into the top bin with fresh food scraps in order to harvest the compost from the bottom bin).

In exchange for our kind services, these worms make beautiful compost (and when it rains or we over-water them, there is compost tea that collects in the bin top we keep underneath their home). As you can imagine, it's a huge hit with the little ones and their friends, who think it is *so* cool to have worms. So far, so good. We've composed before, but eventually gave up the habit after attracting our old city neighborhood rats. As of yet, we don't have a rodent problem, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Any tips from others out there who compost with worms? How are we doing, Irene?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Farmers Market Dresses

Finally: a finished project! Two little pillowcase dresses made from a thrifted bedsheet for my two sweet girls. I actually used a pattern, but this tutorial pretty much sums up the project, and it's easy as can be and super cute (the only difference is that I used ribbon instead of elastic at the top).

It's so nice to have a Friday morning farmer's market in the area: our local farmers market is amazing, but super busy on Saturday morning, and Friday morning feels like just the right time to go down and find some treats.

Of course I have two helpers that guide me in my selection process.

And help carry the loot.
Somehow, the bakery stand seems to be a favorite. Strawberry rhubarb pie, anyone?

And this little Lily has a way of finding every single sample basket. I think I caught her taking two!

I must say, a little effort goes a long way with these girls of mine: whenever I make them anything, they treasure it, no matter how elementary my endeavor. A squeal of delight upon waking up to a newly sewn dress is just the encouragement I need.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gluten Free Apple Crisp

There are many reasons I bake, but by far the biggest is that it makes Ben happy. These days he's trying to avoid gluten-- nothing too strict or legalistic, but just generally trying to keep away from it. So I adapted an old family favorite with some gluten free substitutes, and the result is all together yummy, whether you're gluten free or not!

Gluten Free Apple Crisp

6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (these really are the best!)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon gluten free flour (rice flour?)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Crisp Topping
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup oats (we do just regular oats, but for stricter gluten free people, "gluten free" oats)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon. Put apple mixture into your baking pan (we use 9X9")
2. Combine topping ingredients together and mix with spoon or fingertips until crumbly.
3. Place topping over apple mixture and bake for 45 minutes.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Yarn Along

More baby knitting in these parts: although this week, I am becoming slightly more pragmatic, working on a short sleeved Rhino Romper in cotton, so hopefully the little one can wear some hand-knit items in the summer.

And, in another change of pace, I am actually reading a book for myself (along, of course, with several books to the littles): a hand me down copy of One Thousand Gifts. This book is absolutely beautiful: not only is it filled with spiritual insight and wisdom, but it is done so through the metaphors of life at home with children, with utmost humility and honesty. My days have been filled with little gratitude pauses, and those of you who have embarked upon a practice of gratitude know how transformational it can be!

I'm playing along with Ginny and friends again this week-- I'm looking forward to gathering up some knitting and reading inspiration.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

In Progress

If I had to describe life in these parts, that would be it. In progress.

A quilt for Lily that needs to be assembled.

Numerous little knit projects for the button on the way (We have a name! We have a name (unless Ben changes his mind, but I think this is it)! Top secret until delivery date, of course, but what fun to actually know).

Which I generally am working on from a blanket next to the (quite possibly best hand-me-down ever) swing set because this child of mind has learned how to pump, which has basically revolutionized her world. If you need to find her, she'll be on the swing. And if she's not, then she'll be wishing she were.

A baby that is getting to be quite well cooked, but happy to hang out in mama's tummy for a little while longer.

Eating strawberries-- er, making strawberry ice cream-- with Aunt Irene. It would have been perfect had we frozen the insert to the ice cream machine long enough.

As it turned out, we had strawberry smoothie followed by real ice cream today after giving it a second try.

And painted toddler nails and muddy knees. Quite the combination, don't you think?

One of these days it will feel so nice to post something about a complete, truly complete project, but until then, we're just in that in-between time, enjoying every second of it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

In Which I Dye Yarn

A couple of months ago, I found many bags of plain white wool yarn at the thrift store. There were bags and bags of it for 99 cents each, so I figured, "why not?" and stocked up on white yarn. I've used a bit of it here and there, but for the most part it's remained unused, untouched, in my craft cabinet. At the end of the day, I am a pragmatist with two free range kids who come home with some major stains. I've been working on my laundry skills, but I don't know if I'm ready for white wool.

I was thrilled to stumble upon this tutorial for dying wool with easter egg dyes A) because it is written for children, which means I am more likely to be able to follow it and B) because we just happen to have some leftover easter egg dyes in the kitchen. I was a little skeptical about dying yarn, because it sounds like something that is just a bit too far out there for me to actually try (along the lines of making my own vanilla extract or something), so I gave it a try all by myself this first time around.

And? I am happy to report that it was easy, not very messy, and quite gratifying. You mix a few simple ingredients, microwave them with the yarn, and then rinse and dry. The color even turned out just about how I had imagined it, and with some luck will be turned into some baby booties in the coming week. My next project: dying yarn with the kids in the kitchen. We'll see how that one goes (and they will not be wearing anything made from white wool while doing it, thank you very much).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Yarn Along

Last week seems to have kick started my knitting urge. These days, there is little to make me feel more productive than sitting down with some needles in hand (and with a curious almost-4 year old at my side with her "needles," which, these days, are a set of colored pencils). This week I just finished up a puerperium cardigan for the new baby. All it needs to be done is some wooden buttons and a darning needle (and some blocking!). I used a slightly heavier weight yarn, and my guage was running a bit big, so as it turns out, this cardigan will probably be just perfect for the fall... Those summer babies are hard to knit for!

These are also the days when two sweet little girls will cuddle in next to me with books in hand, requesting story after story, which I happily read aloud. My "free reading" has mainly consisted of some birth practitioner reading. I never seem to get tired of it!

Looking forward to seeing what everyone else is up to at Ginny's yarn along!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Forgive my relative silence in this space. There have been art projects, lovely gatherings with friends, cooking endeavors and the like, but my energy is just about right to sit down and absorb it all as it happens. Documenting each beautiful experience will have to wait for zippier days.

So today I give just a few little snapshots into our days. Art projects for the littles.

A sister who has a way of swooping in and tending to new growth while I am busy tending to new growth of my own in the final days of pregnancy. Tomato plants are now in the ground, and just as those plants come to full yield this summer, that dear sister of mine will be flying off for a two-year Hatian adventure. We are letting her go somewhat reluctantly (how can we do it any other way?), but are excited to live out this journey with her family.

Two sisters who have truly discovered one another in play. There has always been play, but these days it is more often involved, attentive, gentle play, and that is a beautiful thing. Above: a little love lick (which my pregnant tummy is often lucky enough to receive as well!).

And some spring colors gracing the inside of the house.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Yarn Along

Just as abruptly as it started, my nesting seems to have run its course. There are still things to get done around here, but all in all, I have the feeling that were the baby to come today, it would be fine. With every passing day my body is simply telling me that it's time to settle in, to rest, to enjoy this special time with our family.We have a place for this little one to sleep (even if that's our bed), clothing thanks to the generosity of many friends, and so many loving arms to be passed between. What more does a baby need?

One of the absolute highlights of my day has been settling in for some special time with Zosia every afternoon or evening for some read aloud time. We've been thinking about the possibility of homeschooling in the future, and I love methods that are read aloud based-- partly because I have such fond memories of my mom reading books aloud to me when I was growing up. We just finished up Charlotte's Web, and it was a hit all around. I am so tickled by the fact that I get to re-read all of this amazing children's literature! Are there any recommendations for a second book?

Yesterday during Lily's "nap" (this child of mine hasn't napped in weeks, possibly even months, but spends an hour or so quietly playing in her crib), I realized we don't have any hats for this little one, and so I whipped up an Isaac Hat, which seemed appropriate not only because it's just adorable, but because Zosia has been lobbying hard for this baby to be named Isaac (note: while an adorable name, Ben and I have a favorite name of the hour of our own!). I grew up crocheting and haven't done a crochet project in years, but I loved it-- I love the flexibility of crocheting, and the fact that crocheting a hat somehow seems easier than knitting one on double pointed needles. And even though this is a summer baby who probably won't wear his hat for utility purposes until October (I sized it just a bit big), there is just nothing cuter than a newborn in a hat.

Be sure to check out Ginny's page for more yarn along! Such fun reading.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Day

A large bouquet that Ben jokes represents all the future members of the family. If that includes future grandkids and great-grandkids, I'll take it.

Remnants of breakfast in bed, proudly paraded in not once, but twice, after mama groggily asked for just a few more minutes of sleep.

A beautiful book to help prepare our babies for a homebirth. I had two girls in bed with me who asked to read it "one more time" for a grand total of five readings, squealing in delight each time that the baby is actually born. And I don't think I would mind reading it a hundred more times. Ben said he would help me edit out the few passages that seem to diverge from our birth experience (who says there needs to be yelling and screaming at a birth?). When we're through with it, this will truly be a hypnobirthing baby prep book.

And one little baby that is getting closer to being with us day by day. What a lovely day to enjoy being a mother, but I must confess, motherhood is a job that comes with such celebration each day. Sending wishes of love and warmth to all of the mothers out there. This really is holy, beautiful work that we're doing.