Friday, November 15, 2013

Getting Saucy

Every year I try to get better at putting food by for the winter. 

We preserve what is in season for when it’s not, and let me tell you, pulling a jar of peaches out in the middle of winter is heavenly. This process is trail an error and each year I learn more. 

We are not big tomato sauce eaters, so that I buy sparingly by the jar from the store. Applesauce on the other hand is a hot ticket item. We all love it and Robert can punish a quart in one sitting.  This year I canned 11 pints and froze 4 quarts. Not nearly enough, but it will do and now I know next year that I should put up more. 

I have a love, hate relationship with canning. I love those gleaming jars on the shelf but hate my glass top stove. So this year the canning was done on the side burner of the propane grill we parked in the front yard for the day. 

I am sure that got my neighbors to speculating. And now that I have the heat source worked out for future endeavors I need to invest in a taller pot, hence the canned pints and frozen quarts. Give me a shout out if you come across one in your thrifting adventures. I know here in Maryland, home of the crab and accompanying giant crap pot there must be one out there for a steal. 

See, every year really is a learning experience.  I hope you are all getting saucy this fall too. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Full Fall

This fall has been filled to the brim with wonderful family fun time. 

Robert came home from an extended work trip and we have packed together time into every minute since he has been home. 

First he had to shave off that nasty beard. 

Then we spent and entire free day at Kings Dominion courtesy of my moms work. Thanks mom and Mary Pat for riding the rides 389762 times with Lenora. 

Then we went to the Maryland Renaissance festival on my birthday. This is a yearly tradition that we love. I bought the best hair combs ever from these lovely folks as a birthday present to myself. 

Then it was off to the pumpkin patch. 

And brunch with the family on the water, then Nebraska game watching with matching outfits. 

I am tired just thinking about all that fun. Now we are in slowdown mode, spending more time indoors, cleaning corners and getting ready for winter. I hope your fall was as fun filled as ours was. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Because I Can

I saw this pattern on the Pink Chalk blog and knew I had to make it. 

Its not like I have copious amounts of time on my hands for projects like this. 

Its just that they were so darn cute, and small, and I figured I could knock them out in no time.


So I did. 

Now I want some for myself. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Plastic Free Toilet Paper

I always thought I was uber crunchy. 

Compared to most folks I know I take it to another level. I only wash my hair once a week and make my own soap for goodness sakes. 

Then my mom got me this book, which lead me to this blog, and I was floored. I had nothing on these ladies. Both the blog and the book really had an impact on me and opened my eyes to how much waste there really is out there, and both offered some great solutions for doing your own little part to reduce it. 

Hint...recycling isn't the answer. 

I now bring my own jars to the grocery store for olives and bulk items and am always on the lookout for minimal and plastic free packaging. 

The wide mouth quart mason jar with plastic cap weighs exactly a pound,
making it super easy for sales clerks to  take off the tare weight. 

The other day we headed to Sams for toilet paper (sometimes frugality wins) and imagine my surprise when I found this. 

Plastic free toilet paper made from 80% recycled material. GOOOOOO Sams. I was impressed, so impressed I felt the need to blog about it. 

What can you do to reduce your impact on the earth? I challenge you to read the book, peruse the blog and take away a few good tips. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Dumpster Diving

I am a shameless dumpster diver. They just call my name to take a peek inside and see what kinds of treasures lurk within. 

Future Dumpster Diver

Because you know, it really chaps my ass when people throw things away they could easily recycle back into their community. Especially when there are so many great resources like Freecycle, Craigslist, and online Facebook community yard sale pages. Or you could just leave the goods on your porch with a free sign. 

So when my community HOA put out the yearly dumpster for bulk pickup I did a couple of hooray fist pumps. This year I pulled out 3 perfect terra cotta pots and a set of plain pine Ikea bed slats.


Robert and Lenora got to work building me a new planter for my back porch container garden with the bed slats. Just look at that team work. Arent they lovely. I can't wait to fill that planter with some good eats next summer. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Green Johanna

I would like to introduce the newest member of our family....The Green Johanna.

Isn't she swell. I had been on the hunt for the perfect urban composter and I think I finally found it. Since our entire back yard is deck, she is currently living 4 doors down at my moms, but still close enough that I just walk over once or twice a week to drop off my scraps. She is a hot composter, rodent proof and can eat anything, meat and dairy included.

So far I love her, but since this is my first attempt at composting, I am still working on striking the right balance of greens and browns. I think we are low on browns so I have been stalking my neighbors tree, waiting for those leaves to fall. 

I will admit, it is a little nastier than I anticipated but its working and I was even excited to see some black soldier flies living in it. Apparently they are food garbage eating machines. 

Now if only I had some chickens to eat those fly grubs.......Wonder if my mom would let me keep a few of those in her yard also? 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Blueberry Love

I’m baaaack. We have been battling the mother of all stomach virus’s in this house the past week or so. It was bad, very, very bad. First Lenora, then me and then Grandma JoJo. It just knocks you down, but I am happy to say I can now leave the house without fear, and that is a good thing, a very, very good thing.

Summer is in full force here on the sweltering hot muggy east coast. And when summer rolls around I get food on the brain. I start plotting what farmers markets and farms I want to visit and what delicious meals I want to cook.

Delmarva watermelons and tomatoes, it makes me giddy.

So, when the local you pick family owned organic blueberry patch announced open picking we were on it. You have to strike while the fruit is ripe so to say, for you never know when a dry spell or too many fruit stalkers like myself will wipe out the crop. 

I think we hauled in 20lbs this year. Lenora had a blast emptying my berries into her bucket and then into Roberts bucket. There have been lots of blueberry pancakes for breakfast and lots of bags going into the freezer. There may be a crumble in my future, perhaps a paleo version, since I have a stash of almond flour I need to dig into.  

Happy summer picking everyone. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Flannel Pants and Summer Heat

I am way behind on projects and even further behind on blogging about them. 

I do have good reason though. My goal lately is to spend all free time with Lenora and Robert mindfully doing things as a family and being outside. I guess its working because my sewing machine is silent save for a few pairs of pants I hemmed last week for my dear grams and this blog has been rather quiet. 

I did make these sweet jammie pants for Lenora few weeks ago. It was horribly timed as they are flannel and its hot and humid as out there as Maryland summers always are. 

But I bought the fabric for a specific pattern and the pattern only went to a certain size so I just had to make them, no matter how little use she really got out of them. We cant always be practical can we? 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Boys Like Fairies Too

My neighbor has a huge tree with a couple of nice knotholes perfect for a secret garden. We decided this summer to plant a little fairy garden in the holes for kids. It started out as a girls project but was quickly hijacked by a couple of grown men with tools and shovels, intent on making the best damn fairy garden this side of the mason dixon. 

You best not mess with boys and their fairy gardens. 

It turned out great and the plants have really taken off. All the neighborhood kids love checking in on the fairies and Lenora likes to pay them a visit on her way to school in the morning. 

Im in love with them too and one day we will finally have those 40 acres I have been dreaming of, complete with a couple of little fairy villages...and a pond...and a house...and a fire pit. Man those fairy gardens are addicting. 

Have you seen any fairies in your neck of the woods lately? 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Strawberry Season

I almost missed the strawberry picking season this year. A short two weeks and its gone. 

As luck would have it we came home from vacation and I was able to squeeze in a few hours of hard core picking on Memorial Day Monday with my neighbor. Robert was the lucky sitter of 4 kids while we did some serious squatting between the rows. My glutes still hurt.

Mount Airy You Pick is 5 minutes from my house and a wonderful family run operation. I was disappointed to hear that next year would probably be the last as they are ready to retire and have no one to take over. It just makes me sad and further fuels my dream of a little plot of land with a garden, some chicks and a safe place for Lenora to run wild in the wild.

Between the 2 of us we picked 36 lbs. Nothing tastes as good as a fresh vine ripe sun warmed strawberry. You just can’t beat it.

I froze most to use through the year and made a bowl of homemade whipped cream for topping the rest.

What a perfect day, great company and strawberries. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


This past Sunday was International Bereaved Mothers Day. It got me thinking about the timeline of grief and how long it lasts.

I am a list checker. I write things down, then cross them off. It helps me to remember what I need to focus on and gives me a sense of accomplishment when I complete the task.

The tricky thing with grieving is that it isn’t something you can just “do” then cross off the list. There is this unspoken (and often times spoken) idea that you will be better after a few months or a year. That could not be further from the truth.

There is no timeline, no date when it ends and no gold star on the calendar. It’s a forever process. I will never fully move on from the death of my sweet boy, or ever get over it, or ever forget. I will always be a bereaved mother. 

There are good days, ok days and then days where that nasty grief reaches up and bitch slaps me right in the face. It is tough work, this grief business, but I keep on working through it. One day at a time, one minute at a time and sometimes one second at a time. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Retail Therapy

While I was off convalescing I indulged in quite a bit of retail therapy. Thankfully for our family budget my version of retail therapy usually involves the local thrift store and no more than 5 or 10$. I picked up a few treasures I thought I would share. 

I love wooden toys, especially old wooden toys. This little highchair is so sweet and lovely.  

Happy little Noah's Arc. Is it just me or does that giraffe look like a dog with a really long neck? 

I also love dish towels. Paper towels are a sin in our house (except for bacon and barf, we do have one emergency roll). Can you believe this was only a dollar? I just imagine the little lady that sat and made this for her family.

Even though I have a bazillion pyrex bowls I could not pass up this complete mixing set. A gift maybe? 

I hope you find a few gems on your thrifting adventures. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Can Caddy

I am still sewing/crafting. That and reading are the only things that stop the insane wasp nest of anxiety inside my brian. 

But in no way can I take credit for this project. The idea is a shameless rip off from Sandi Henderson, Robert did most of the work and a friend even provided the freshly washed cans. 

We had everything but the knob feet which set us back a whopping two dollars at the local home improvement store. The only thing I did was decoupage the old maps onto the cans. I will say I did a right nice job of picking local maps. 

Decoupaging is relaxing and therapeutic. I need to do more of that. Glue stuff onto other stuff. 

I love this caddy. Its perfect to store all the markers and pens that Lenora loves to color with and easy to carry around. So get on out there and get yourself a handy husband, some cans and have at it. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Cracked Egg

We had an impromptu easter egg dying get together courtesy of Grandma JoJo. 

These traditional holiday things slip my mind these days. Im sure it will get better but we just kinda go with it, whatever happens. 

It was nice, really nice. I need to be better at remembering to do this, making more happy memories and messes, lots of happy messes. 

Maybe we are like this egg. Cracked but beautiful. And man is that one beautiful egg. Tasty with salt too. 

Hope you all had a nice Easter, Spring Equinox or whatever celebration it is that brings you joy. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Great Expectations

A family we know experiencing their own devastating loss gave Robert and I one of the best pieces of advice to navigate the sea of grief we live in these days. They told us to give up the expectations we have of those around us.

I had to mull this one over for a bit because I generally have high expectations; of those around me and of myself. I am a do more, do better, love fiercely, be your best, be there for your friends and family, put it all on the table kind of gal.

But I have found in the face of major life altering event two things will happen:

  1. You will be disappointed and heartbroken by those you had high expectations of. People we have known for years, who I thought would be there to hold our hands, send a text or a card, or words of support, weren’t. Regardless of the reason it stings. My hospice counselor said it best when she told me not only was I mourning for the loss of my son I was also mourning the loss of relationships I really valued.          
  2. You will be incredibly amazed by the support you receive from places you didn’t expect it. My coworker who didn’t have the words slipped a Hershey bar on my desk every few days, friends of friends sent emails and asked how we were doing, Amish women worked endlessly to finish a quilt in record time. It came from people and places we could not have imagined. It lifted us up when we couldn’t lift ourselves.
And I haven’t even touched on the support from our parents, close family or other special people because there isn’t enough bandwidth on the internet to say thank you for all they did. One day I will try but it will probably never measure up. 

My goal for 2013 is to let my expectations go, of others and myself. I am giving them up and moving on. 

It’s hard as hell. I am not going to lie; sometimes I want to cling to them fiercely.  But I have found that when I do incredible things begin to happen. Relationships come easier, I am gentler on myself and others, and I feel lighter. Those damn expectations weigh a ton. It’s like my instructor says in yoga class: “Leave what does not serve you outside your mat”. They were not serving me so I am checking them at the door. 

Here is to a brighter and lighter 2013. 

Just because she is the reason I get up every morning. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Winslow Tote

This is the last of the Christmas projects I have to share. Man am I behind. 

I made this tote before for Lenora's daycare teachers but my sister in law requested one ages ago. I surprised her with one for Christmas. 

She loves the color green so I based my fabric choices on that. I love the combination of polka dolts and geometric prints. 

This pattern is easy to follow, its free and its a great way to use lots of amazing fabrics in one project. What more can you ask for? Plus its all square pieces and straight seams, which makes it great for beginners. Try it out, you won't be disappointed.