Monday, March 28, 2011

Baking bread.

Yesterday, I baked some French rolls for sandwiches. They turned out okay. But the best part was enlisting Joe's help. He proceeded to scoop flour into his mouth and proclaim, "Mmmmmmm." Yummy.


Getting in for a closer look.

Getting up close.

Sniff sniff.

Smelling it.

All done kneading!

Helping Mama make bread.

To be fair, this is pretty much what I look like after baking bread too.

Note to self: Make Joe an apron. Or coveralls.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rain, rain, GO AWAY!

Forget El Niño. Forget La Niña. This was the year of Los Muchos a Munchos Niños. Early rain. Late rain. Rain in-between. Rain. Never-ending rain. More rain. Raaaaaaaaiiin.


I thought I lived in California, where we are in a constant state of drought, and it doesn't rain for nine months of the year??!

I feel like I've been lied to.

The Vernal Equinox came and went last weekend, and I WANT TO BE IN THE GARDEN. Hello!

Ahem. Sorry.

But while it's too muddy and wet to be in the garden, there are signs of Spring all around. The hills are green. The California poppies are in bloom.  It's light when I get off of BART in the evenings. And our baby fig tree is leafing up. Can you see the teeny-weeny baby figs?

Fig leaves and Crouton.
Fig with Crouton.

Fig leaves and Omie.
Fig with Omie. (The neighbor dog was looking at my dogs wrong, apparently.)

Guess what the weather report looks like for this week?

So. Not. Cool.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Look what the mail lady* brought!

*Steve says the politically correct term is "mail carrier."

Early 1960s Pyrex refrigerator dishes! In the Early American series. I chose this series on eBay because it was the cheapest I could find because it's TOTALLY AWESOME! Joe likes that the pattern includes (1) a cat; (2) a rooster. Incentive to make animal sounds is always a plus in Joe's book.

"New" Pyrex

And, what is this? I seem to have bought a matching set of nesting mixing bowls? Ahem. Oops.

"New" Pyrex

Step away from the eBay, Inder. Step away.

Joe's favorite part was the packaging. Which was excellent, by the way. After the mail lady handed me these heavy boxes, I turned around, stepped back into the house, tripped, fell, and ate hardwood. But the Pyrex was fine. Whew!

Joe enjoys the packaging.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

New toys.

Joe loves to make animal noises, and we are working hard to encourage him to make more sounds generally, so I recently ordered some "jumbo" animals for him to play with. Poor kid doesn't have many stuffed animals in his life, because they tend to get eaten by dogs.

They came in the mail yesterday, and ... wow. He loves them. We've spent all morning moving animals around, making animal sounds, and making the animals eat cheerios. Already, Joe is saying a new animal sound - crowing like a rooster - and making the baby sign for monkey for the first time!

I've always been a proponent of "less is more" when it comes to children's toys, but it is amazing what the right toy can do to spark a child's interests. And it's hard to express the feeling of delight I get when I see Joe excited by a new toy. Now I understand why parents shower their children with new toys! I get an even bigger rush than when I buy a new dress for myself!

The herd recently gathered on the computer table to watch some YouTube, eat a snack, and take a few sips from a sippy-cup.

Joe with his new animal toys.

Joe and animals.

This is the face Joe makes when he is meowing like a cat. I guess a "meow" sounds sad to Joe? Like a cry? Because he always makes a sad face when he meows. It's one of those painfully cute things that you know you will feel nostalgic about in about five minutes.

This is the face he makes when he meows like a cat.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sock monkey PJs.

You can tell I'm trying to avoid a heap of unfinished projects right now, because I can't stop starting new projects!

Like, instead of working on one of the two quilts I've started, or working on the dress I planned, or sewing up the tote bag I started six months ago, or even mending Joe's skinny pants, which had a mishap in the dryer (the stitching on the elastic busted open), I made Joe a set of sock monkey pajamas. Because, you know, I just got this sudden notion that my kid needs old man pajamas. In red sock monkey flannel. Of course.

Jogging by in his new pjs.
No time to stop and pose!

It has been a long time since I posted about sock monkeys, but needless to say, my love of these Depression-era "make-do-with-what-you-have-even-if-all-you-have-is-socks" softies has not abated. Sock monkeys have recently had a surge of popularity, and there is a whole line of sock monkey fabric, and it is, um, possible that I have a little bit of every print in the line? Ahem.

For the pants, I used my trusty self-drafted pattern, which recently got a little expert help from my friend Andrea, who actually went to school for this kind of thing. So now they have plenty of room in the bum but aren't the least bit baggy. Sometimes, this whole pattern drafting thing seems almost magic.

Sock monkey pants.
Look at the cute pants, not the grody stairs, please.

For the top, I used a simple camp shirt pattern from Heather Ross' Weekend Sewing (which also provided the original starting point for the self-drafted pants), "Kai's shirt." Here's the photo from the book.

Heather Ross, Weekend Sewing.
"Kai's Shirt."

My experience with this book has been mixed - the ideas are great, but there are lots of errors - so I am thrilled to report that this is a great basic shirt pattern! I made it in size 2, which is plenty roomy on Joe. The only thing I changed was that I lengthened the sleeves to make it a pajama top (oh, and I interfaced the collar, which I would recommend). Other than the lack of interfacing (likely an attempt to make the pattern "easier" to sew, but that's silly, collars should be interfaced), I didn't notice a single issue with the pattern or instructions.

(Hey, look at me and my shirt-making prowess!! I am a fearless button-holer now!)

Completely unprompted by me, Joe found one of his his sock monkey books and posed for this shot. Because Joe is speech-delayed and not as articulate as other kids his age, he sometimes surprises me with his clear grasp of concepts. Like, sock monkey pajamas ... sock monkey book! I'm obviously raising this kid right!

Sock monkey book, pjs.
Sock monkey book.

Everything I used to make these was in my stash already - from fabric to elastic to interfacing to buttons. Which means they were totally free, right? (Ha ha. No.)

Here's where I had Steve grab Joe for a better shot of the front. Joe is not the most cooperative model - he is always on the go. I thought it was funny that Steve was wearing his moose-printed flannel pants.

Trying to get a decent view of the pjs.
Father and son flannel.

(I want moose-printed flannel! Except I need more flannel like I need a hole in my head! Argh! The pain of being a hoarder.)

Edited to add: Joe wore his new PJs all day yesterday, until he got them muddy and we tossed them in the laundry. When I pulled them out of the dryer this morning, he insisted on putting them on again, and is currently wearing them over his green and yellow striped footie pajamas, which frankly, hurts my eyes. But that's okay, because this is the first item of clothing that I have made for Joe that he has expressed a strong preference for and demanded to wear, and that warm fuzzy feeling more than makes up for the visual assault. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

2011: The Year of the Bean.

Farmer Joe waters his crops.
Joe "helps" water the garden.

Spring is on its way! Now that Joe is a little older and enjoys being outdoors and "helping" (read: not helping) us work, I am really excited to put a little more effort into our garden this year. So here's where we are at so far.
  1. I ordered some heirloom vegetable and flower seeds from Seed Savers Exchange. I generally buy my seeds locally, but that website is fun!
  2. In particular, I ordered a couple different kinds of shelling beans, which is my big vegetable-growing project for this year.  Rebecca introduced me to the wonders of fresh (as opposed to dried) shelling beans from the farmers' market a few years ago, and they are scrumptious. So I've decided: If 2010 was the Year of the Pickle, 2011 will be the Year of the Bean.
  3. It is a little difficult to source seeds for  shelling beans as apparently most people want to grow green beans. Seed Savers has a great selection of shelling beans, including several varieties that can be eaten as green beans OR left in the pod for shelling beans ("dual purpose" beans). I randomly selected four kinds: two bush, two pole; two "dual-purpose," one shelling, one green. I used the same method for picking them as I do for many things: The names appealed to me. Hence, we are growing "calypso," "lazy housewife" (hahahaha), "painted pony," and "rattlesnake snap."
  4. I plan to grow some beans in the front yard, along with the tomatoes. Whatever reservations I once had about growing veggies in the front yard have vanished. I might grow other food in the front yard too. No CC&Rs to worry about when you live in an old, run-down Oakland neighborhood. Rather, I can only aspire to grow as many vegetables in my front yard as some of my neighbors do. And we get so much amazing sun out front. 
  5. I need to find some bamboo and make cool-looking tee-pees for my beans. I bet Joe would like that.
  6. Inspired by Meg of Grow & Resist, I opened a Google Docs list of the names of the varieties of plants we grow (and other internet tidbits I found), so that maybe I can actually remember which ones I like next year and not grow things solely on how colorful their names are? Apparently Meg has a spreadsheet? Dude. I am in awe. I am far too lazy and disorganized to create a garden spreadsheet, but after growing a whole different set of totally blah varieties of tomato year after year, I can definitely see the advantages of keeping track of which varieties do well and taste the best.
  7. Last year's potatoes, the ones we missed in the year end harvest, are coming up like crazy. Confession: I have never bought a potato start in my life. I just plant random sprouting potatoes instead. Sometimes I cut them into pieces and let them dry out to make "starts." Sometimes I just plant the whole green, sprouting, no-longer-edible potato. This works great, so I can never understand the recommendation you find in most books to use starts. 
  8. So we have some red waxy potatoes growing in the back yard now, and also some russets. I was going to throw some cute sprouted fingerlings and purple potatoes in the ground this year. Tip for lazy, disorganized gardeners: It's good to strategically avoid harvesting all of your potatoes. I don't know how this would work in colder climates, but here, they just resprout in the spring. Personally, I enjoy being surprised by random vegetables growing around my yard.
  9. Speaking of which, another goal is to re-establish swiss chard as a weed in the garden. For a couple years, I was drowning in chard, and it continued to bolt and self-seed all over the place, but eventually the wild onions staged a coup and ended the reign of chard. As much as I complained about the chard, it turned out I liked having that source of dark leafy greens always available. This is even more true now that a major goal in my life is to get something healthy into my toddler. So the plan is to reinstate chard as top weed. Another tip for lazy, disorganized gardeners: Grow vegetables that grow like weeds.  
  10. Not entirely unrelated to garden produce, I have plans in the works to spend some of our tax return on fixing some wiring issues in our house and then buying a chest freezer so that we can store more produce.
  11. Will we have a pickle patch again this year? Rebecca?
  12. I'm still waiting for your tomato recommendations ....
  13. Please tell how to magically get rid of snails and slugs without using poison. Thanks!