Monthly Archives: October 2014

living life

It’s so hard to believe Briony has been in my life for more than 2 months.  Her arrival coincided with a huge change – working to not working, pregnant to not pregnant.  Pregnancy is such a miserable experience for me, just eight months of blackness, and since then I’ve been in this crazy place that alternates between blissed out happiness and losing my mind, aka infancy and the newborn period.  Of course, B is no longer a newborn.  Unlike L, she’s a fabulous sleeper and sleeps 3 to 4 or even 5 hours at a stretch.  My guess is that she’ll be sleeping through the night within a month or two.

Finally caught a smile on camera:

The days are filled with firsts.  We imposed our own self-quarantine until recently.  Basically, with both L and B, we kept them out of grocery stores and basically any indoor place with lots of people for the first couple months of their lives.  We went to outdoor places like playgrounds and had one-on-one play dates, but we just avoided large congregations of people, especially toddlers.  Anyway, two months are up, and we’ve been emerging from our cocoon.  I took B on her first trip to the grocery store yesterday and on her first trip to the mall today.  She was so amazed at the sights and sounds, she forgot to fuss, cry, and scream, as she usually does in the Ergo or stroller after any length of time.  It was great!  I was, however, disappointed in our mall’s Halloween showing.  I guess it’s not really a retail holiday.  They had trick-or-treating planned for 4 pm, but I took L and B earlier as J (new word for B since we have a conflict with the little one’s initial) and I wanted to take L around the neighborhood at a fairly early hour.  You would not have known it was Halloween.

We stopped at’s to say high to N, our nanny.  She works in the make-up area with the women who do makeovers and sell fragrances.  She is kind of special, as evidenced today by the fact she was the only one in full costume, looking much like a fairy straight out of Ava.tar.  (I have never seen that movie, but based on the clips and trailers, that was what I thought of.)  The costume was so complete, I wasn’t sure that it was her, and L refused to greet or hug her as she completely couldn’t grasp who it was.

While I was pregnant, I really didn’t feel like doing anything.  After the worst part of morning sickness, I felt up to knitting and a bit of reading but not much more.  Now that I feel like myself again, there are so many little things I want to do.  Just the normal parts of life I put on hold for the better part of a year – outings to the park, cooking, sewing, going to the mall, visiting some of the stunning scenery we have here in the Pacific NW.  It’s obviously tough to do these things with an infant, but I am making some headway.  L and I have been cooking a lot lately, and I’ve been meaning to post about our attempts.

I primarily use recipes from Smitten Kitchen and from Pioneer Woman.  The former can be a bit unnecessarily complicated, so I often try to simplify her recipes.  The latter can be a bit unhealthy, so I omit butter or replace with olive oil, and double and triple veggie quantities.

1.) Grapefruit cake – absolutely delicious, not too hard to make and to too unhealthy.  What’s not to like?  I made this one basically as written.  I eat a grapefruit almost daily these days, so this recipe was right up my alley, but my husband who is not a grapefruit fan liked it as well.

2.) The image above is from making peanut butter balls.  There are numerous recipes out there for making these.  The chocolate covering is completely unnecessary.  The result is delicious, and I suspect it’s almost impossible to screw them up no matter what recipe you choose.  They are, however, unbelievably unhealthy.  You might as well eat sugar by the spoonful.

3.) Carrot cake  Oh my goodness – LOVE this recipe.  So easy to make, so toddler friendly, so tasty, and not that unhealthy.  Could it possibly be better?  I think not.  It’s considerably simpler than the grapefruit cake listed above.  I think I will have to make another one, and soon.  I made this one as written, no icing.

4.) I can’t remember what we were making in the picture above, but it must have been tasty if it included cocoa, right?  So, I’ve been making my way through Pioneer Woman’s 16 minute meals.  Her Shrimp Scampi is delicious and requires little modification, though if you can make it from start to finish in 16 minutes, I’ll eat my socks.  It is quick and easy, but more like 30 minutes quick and easy.  To be more healthy, obviously, use less butter and more olive oil.  It still tastes fabulous.

We look so happy in this picture.  But really, every day was a struggle at that point.

5.) Chicken and rice soup  Love.  This one is more work to make – probably the better part of an hour by the time you clean up – but it will easily last two nights, and since it’s got meat, starch and veggies, it’s really all you need.  Maybe a bit of bread on the side.

I suggest using low sodium chicken stock instead of water and bouillon cubes.  It’s just as easy, looks a bit better (omit the food coloring), and is healthier.  Triple the recommended vegetable quantities.  Use butter for the roux, but use olive oil to saute the veggies.   The result is unbelievably tasty, not super unhealthy, and passes the toddler test.

Ah, toddler art projects.  So much fun!  So much mess.

going to the library

I used to love to go to the library.  Well, first of all, I haven’t been finding the time to read lately.  I obviously could if I prioritized it higher, but I don’t have time for multiple hobbies right now, and it hasn’t been making the cut.  So, I sadly walk past the “new fiction” shelves, Isla in tow.  But wait, by the time I even get to new fiction, Briony, who doesn’t like the carrier (yet – I hope!) is full-out crying.  Our library is on the second floor and getting Isla up the cement stairs with the too-high hand-rails is an ordeal in and of itself.  Then comes returning the books to the ridiculously slow book-return machine.  (How I miss the days when you could just dump them in the slot.)  Now, we’ve finally made it to walk by new fiction.  These days I put books on hold since with Briony crying browsing is an exercise in torture.  I pick up our holds.  It’s inevitably feast or famine in terms of what comes in.  Today it was feast meaning I could barely carry them.  Then it’s off to the children’s section where Isla wants everything she picks up and with Briony crying and hauling the hold books, I just do not have the strength to negotiate with a 2-year-old.  Therefore, I end up with way more books than I can really carry.  I try to sit down to sort through them and put a few back, and Briony goes into tantrum mode, so I give up and check them all out.  Isla can’t make it down the stairs on her own (or won’t, anyway), and I can’t help because of Briony and all the books, so we struggle down step by agonizing step until finally a random stranger takes pity on me and carries the books.  *sigh*

Yes, I used to enjoy trips to the library.

But sometimes my children are little angels.  On Friday, I was sick as a dog with some horrible cold, and Isla entertained herself from 7:30 in the morning until lunch time – reading and quietly playing with her toys – with no intervention from me whatsoever so I could rest and just take care of Briony.  Given how I was feeling, it was wonderful.   Isla really is such a very good child so much of the time.  It makes me feel bad when I give her a hard time when she is not.  But maybe all parents feel that their children are little angels while the rest of the world looks on in horror.

I really hope Briony starts to tolerate the carrier soon.  She is not a fan of the stroller either, and going places is just really not fun right now.

From Facebook, this seriously speaks to me right now.

this and that

While I was waiting for quilt batting to show up, I made a quick drawstring bag for Isla.  The pattern is here.  I made a mistake and ended up with an ugly seam on the bottom, but since it’s on the bottom, it’s really not noticeable.

It reminds me a lot of the drawstring purse I used to carry in college.  I’d forgotten about that little purse.  It was just like this – fabric, with a drawstring.  I’ve half a mind to make another for myself.  The methodology was very similar to the previous bag I made, and without the interfacing mistake I made on the last one, it was quick and easy.


My batting came, and I did a couple practice runs this morning.  I want to quilt the quilt using a spiral pattern like this: (Click image to go to the Etsy store of the woman who created the pillow.)

However, my initial attempts have not been terribly successful.  My lines are very wavy instead of smooth, and I’m prone to random excursions every time I start or stop.

I guess I’m going to do several more practice runs, and then I’ll just go for it.  I won’t get any better without practice, right?  I remember the first thing I knit, this rectangle that I called a shawl.  I started with 80 stitches and unintentionally ended up with 120.  But I learned so much hacking my way through that thing.  Hopefully it’s similar with quilting.

We lost power for a spell last night.  I wasn’t thrilled given I rely on power for entertainment during my middle of the night wake-ups, and I’m still feeling sick.  However, it came back on shortly and did give us a chance to test our preparedness.  Our yard was filled with leaves from the wind this morning.


I seem to have come down with the cold from hell.  I cannot sleep, and I can’t take Nyquil to help me sleep because of breastfeeding.  My nose is like Niagara Falls.   I am terrified of B catching this, but it seems inevitable since she is practically bathing in my germs.  I wash my hands constantly, but I doubt that will make a difference in this case.  You always hear about nursing and antibodies, but I have always been a skeptic that it makes much difference.

Being sick when you have a small baby to take care of just sucks so much.

blue quilt in progress

In addition to looking at other people’s quilts, I’m making (very) slow progress on my own.

Laying out the squares:

Sewing squares into rows:

Laying out the completed rows:

Sewing the rows together:

The completed quilt top:


Inspired by Sarah’s post, my own quilt inspiration.

McKenna Ryan.  The cool thing about these quilts is that the designer sells the pattern, so it’s potentially DIYable with a lot of patience . Not happening with a baby, though.  Click on the photo to go to where you can buy the quilt pattern.


I love this cute little mini quilt.  Once again, the designer sells the pattern.  This one looks much more doable than the Ryan quilts.


One of the blogging quilters I’ve been most inspired by is Red Pepper Quilts.  I love all her patchwork quilts made out of just squares and rectangles.  The beautiful colors make the quilts.  Click on the picture to see the blog entry on her site with lots of photos, or to the Etsy listing.


Hard to believe this art quilt is actually a quilt.  Wow – so beautiful.  I would love to have it hanging on my wall.  (The quilter is very successful and sells her quilts for thousands, if you’re interested.)



I love this seaglass quilt.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a link to the original designer.   It’s simple, yet beautiful, and I love spiral quilting.


This heart quilt is beautiful, and also looks very doable.  Click on the photo for a link with lots of photos and details about making the quilt.

Finally, I own one quilting book full of Christmas quilts.  I would love to start with this quilt.  However, I think I will have to wait until Bri is a bit older before I even think about it.

And a gratuitous baby picture.


I’m loving my new camera.  It is basically the same as the Rebel in a different package, with a few minor upgrades, but wow, I just like it so much more for some reason.

Part of it is my 60 mm macro lens, which I also love.

Even poor neglected Penske was subjected to the photo session.


My only complaint is that it is ridiculously hard to change between video mode and aperture priority mode.  I knew this going in, but it is still infuriating.  Terrible design on someone’s part!