Herbal arrangement

Last night I was tired. But I knew I'd be happier in the morning if I did some dishes, so I did . . . and then I cleaned the stove and sink, swept and mopped, picked up, vacuumed, and pretty much got the kitchen and living room spotless. I wasn't planning on all that when I started the dishes, but I have no regrets. Things haven't been too tidy around here since summer started.

And cut some flowers. I can't clean everything without wanting to set out flowers. My garden had two sorts to offer: black-eyed susans (seen above) and hundreds of bachelor's buttons, which look like a bunch of weeds when I bring them inside even though they're beautiful in the garden.

So I left the bachelor's buttons for the bees and cut some oregano and parsley flowers and some sage leaves instead. I like the way it turned out.


Pacifier cup

I wasn't really sure what I would do with this double-handled milk glass cup when I saw it at the thrift store, but when I got it home and washed up, I knew: binkies!


A sun hat

Baby needs a sun hat for our upcoming vacation. The stores yielded nothing appropriate that would fit his cute gigantic head.

So I made the Oliver + S reversible bucket hat. I used two thrifted sheets that I've used in other projects before. The fabric isn't exactly what I love for this project, but using it saved me both money and a trip to the fabric store. I think it still turned out pretty well.

I'm thinking of adding an elastic chin strap. To keep the hat reversible, I would put in two buttonholes on the sides of the hat, then sew some buttons to the ends of a piece of elastic. I think it would work. He keeps the hat on pretty well for now, but I could see him flinging it along the way somewhere. We tend to lose hats on vacation.

I'm excited to go on vacation, but it's going to be very, very hot, and we will be two nights without air conditioning. Any tips for keeping babies cool in the heat?


Busy scary week

Things got interesting at our house this week when Baby got sick over the weekend and had two febrile seizures (I'm linking you to the most reassuring of the articles I found). It was very scary for my husband and me, and miserable for poor Baby.

I've noticed, though, that God always gives us a way to bear our trials. A few years ago, Tiger Lily needed stitches when my husband and Red Chief were gone camping. We owned one car at the time. God showed me his mercy by making sure my husband carpooled so I would have a car. That was not something he generally did, and I know that it was a blessing from God.

This time, God sent me a friend. A college friend was staying with me this week as she worked on some medical training. I woke her up when Baby started twitching, and she was able to tell me what was happening. Just having her tell me what was going on was a great reassurance to me. Also, because she was staying with us, my husband and I were both able to take Baby to the hospital without waking the children or finding someone else to stay with them. I was glad to be able to ride next to Baby in the car; I didn't want to take my eyes off him!

It was a rough few days. I'm grateful that febrile seizures are generally not damaging or life-threatening, but they still scared me! I gave Baby medicine around the clock to keep his fever down, slept in his room, and took his temperature a ridiculous number of times. (Another unexpected mercy from God: Red Chief broke our thermometer, so I bought a new non-contact thermometer (which I didn't even know existed until I got to the store) that allowed me to indulge my paranoia and take Baby's temperature 100 times a day without bothering him.)

Baby seems to be doing better now. He has only needed one dose of ibuprofen in the last 24 hours, and his fever hasn't come back up again since.

I know that God didn't send me here to have an easy life (although sometimes I marvel that things go so well), but I'm grateful to Him for showing me his love even at hard times. I know that He remembers me and is constantly aware of what is happening in my life.
We should not underestimate or overlook the power of the Lord’s tender mercies. The simpleness, the sweetness, and the constancy of the tender mercies of the Lord will do much to fortify and protect us in the troubled times in which we do now and will yet live. When words cannot provide the solace we need or express the joy we feel, when it is simply futile to attempt to explain that which is unexplainable, when logic and reason cannot yield adequate understanding about the injustices and inequities of life, when mortal experience and evaluation are insufficient to produce a desired outcome, and when it seems that perhaps we are so totally alone, truly we are blessed by the tender mercies of the Lord and made mighty even unto the power of deliverance. —David A. Bednar


Tiger Lily's birthday

Tiger Lily had a lovely birthday. I hate doing parties, but I promised both the older kids that they could have one this year (I must really love them).

I always feel crazy when ten excited children are hopping up and down in my house. I felt that this year's party came off pretty well, though.

I have a hard time coming up with activities, so I planned the party around dinner. Discovery 1: kids don't like toppings on their pizza. Who knew? Next time I will only get cheese pizza. Discovery 2: also, kids don't like cupcakes that much, just the frosting. Whatever. They are free to lick the frosting off and throw away the cake.

One sanity-saver of mine is planning the party for 90 minutes instead of 2 hours or longer. I know that's shorter than everyone else's parties, and I hope people don't feel cheated, but for me that's the difference between sane and crazy so I just go with it.

In any case, we had dinner and did a few simple activities (pin the tail on the leopard, operated by Red Chief; leapfrog; decorating favor bags; opening gifts; dancing and playing with balloons). It went well.


Fast pizza

We used to make pizza once a week, a tradition that started when we lived near a cheese factory where we could buy mozzarella for $1.50/pound. After Tiger Lily was born, I switched to frozen and haven't gone back.

But I've been trying to eat healthier. So on Friday I made up a batch of whole-grain dough for artisan bread in five minutes, and on Saturday I used it to make some quick pizzas. The kids loved having their own little pizzas and choosing what went on them. I vastly preferred the flavor of homemade pizza over storebought. And Red Chief, who actually remembers when we used to make pizza every week, was content. He's been asking me for years when we can make pizza again.

Notes to self for making this work every week:
  • Keep pre-shredded cheese on hand
  • Mix up the dough the day before and keep in fridge
  • Prepare toppings earlier in the day or the day before
  • A small can of plain tomato sauce works just fine (barbecue sauce is nice too, or alfredo, or pesto, or roasted garlic . . .)
  • No need to bother with peels and baking stones; ours turned out just lovely on regular baking sheets
  • Slice veggies as thinly as possible
If everything is ready ahead of time, it takes about the same amount of time to make these as cooking a frozen pizza, or going out and picking one up. And the advance preparation only takes five minutes here and there if I think about it the day before.

I think I will still keep a frozen pizza on hand, though, just in case.


Good sewing week

This week I sewed a pair of lined curtains for Tiger Lily and cut off four pairs of pants and pajama pants and hemmed them into shorts for the kids to wear this summer.

The curtains didn't turn out as I hoped; I used too cheap a fabric for the front and they don't hang beautifully. They're also crooked, despite my best efforts. Why do my large projects never turn out square? The curtains are fine, though, and they look better in daylight. Tiger Lily is happy to have them; her blinds were broken and she needed help to open and close them. These curtains she can operate by herself. Soon I will make curtains for Red Chief's and Baby's rooms, too.

I still have some more cutting off and mending to do, then I want to make a wrap skirt for myself. I already bought the fabric. I'm trying to decide whether to make a practice version out of a sheet first before I cut into the beautiful linen/rayon blend (and lining!).

I want to make this skirt eventually, but I thought the wrap skirt would be better for now with my changing waistline, since I had a baby seven months ago. I am trying to pay better attention to my wardrobe lately, and I have been feeling the lack of a black skirt. I have three black skirts right now: one is too small, one is worn, and one is both. I am looking forward to having a new one.

Sewing is not too hard right now: baby can roll and squirm around, but he can't crawl yet. I'm sure that will change in the next few months, so I should try to get my sewing time in while I can.


Collecting new pots

Since my marriage, I've been using a set of old copper-bottom pots that my parents used to use for camping, plus a couple of cheap ones we got for a wedding present.

A few of them have started rocking as they heat. Obviously a warped pot bottom isn't going to give me maximum conductivity, and I worry about the pots falling off the stove. They sometimes travel several inches! Another pot always scorches when I make a sauce in it, no matter how careful I am.

I want to replace them with something nice, and I finally settled on the Cuisinart Multi-Clad Pro line. We use a credit card for convenience (we pay the bill in full every month), and it gives us cash back. I've decided to use the cash back to collect new pots (1.5, 2, 3, and 4 quarts). I'm collecting them one at a time instead of getting a set because all the sets come with frying pans and I don't need any (I love my cast iron).

Last week I got the first one, a 3-quart pot. I made pasta for lunch just to try it out. It is so quiet! I didn't realize how much noise my others make as they heat up. I wonder why that is?

I know I could get a whole new set of cookware for the price of one pot, but I enjoy having high-quality tools to work with and I'm willing to save for them. I don't want to get something that I'm going to have to replace in ten years again.

When we were first married, we got along with whatever we had, and we were grateful for it. Now, as things break and wear out and as we can afford it, I'm enjoying replacing them with higher-quality items. I try to pick items that I will never have to replace again, if possible. This cookware is solid and I can see it lasting fifty years, if I don't do something featherbrained like leaving it empty on a hot burner (which is entirely possible, but I will try not to do).

Three weeks in

I haven't talked much about it here, but I've been toying around with the idea of plant-based eating this year after having read The China Study, which claims (and is backed by mountains of research and clinical success) that animal protein is the cause of many of our biggest health problems today (heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, etc.) and that eating a whole foods, plant-based diet is the solution.

It is hard to say I'm going to give up animal products and processed foods forever, but it's easy to say I'll do it for a week, so I'm doing it for a week at a time. This is take two: I did it for several weeks earlier this year but had to stop due to the food prep being overwhelming with the new baby. It seems easier this time around: the baby is older, I've recovered better, and I've had more practice.

Thoughts from week three of this round of plant-based eating:
  • Saffron costs $17 for one teaspoon? Not going to happen.
  • There is so much amazing food you can make from plants.
  • My shopping list is divided into 15 sections according to the aisles where items are found. I had to divide the produce section into four more sections because I kept losing track of fruits and veggies.
  • I feel really full after a good meal.
  • I feel more alert in the mornings.
  • I will never give up sour cream on my baked potatoes.
  • I kind of miss sugar, but I feel so much better without it.
  • My pants are falling down.