Monday, February 28, 2011

Dirt.




Last night's crazy thunderstorms must be signaling the return of spring! Made good use of yesterday's weather and scraped out the soil from the bottom of the compost bin. I made dirt! Well, the worms did. Good job, worms! Today while the rain lingers and the temps dip outside, Nathan and I set some seeds inside...leeks and brussels sprouts, which are new for us, plus some kitchen herbs and daisies. Hurray for spring!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thrifted Thursday


Although I am trying to avoid the thrifts, I still need to get things for the family. Yesterday I went to my favorite local kids resale shop because I had a store credit for $24 from selling some of their baby things. Happily, I was able to get three pairs of jeans for the younger son (who wears his knees out like nobody's business) and these rain boots for the elder boy, for just a few dollars plus my credit. Now I'm on the lookout for a pair for the younger son, because as the spring showers begin to fall I want them equipped for when I toss them out of the house to blow the stink off. :-)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's awards time...


First I'd like to thank Susan at Practice in Time for nominating me! Check her out for tales of vintage finds, family life, recipes and honest-to-God the best Trashpicked Tuesday finds I've ever heard of.

Now I have to tell you seven things about myself:

1. I love to scrapbook, and I like simple pages best. I kind of get off track when I get into other crafts or overly designed pages. I've kept a chronological scrapbook since I started dating my husband. (I am now a year behind, lol, but I think I'll be catching up soon.)

2. I love hiking and camping. We take our kids at least once a year to stay in a cabin in the Hocking Hills, but this year we are getting a tent! I am hoping in just a couple more years we will be able to do our first real backpacking trip as a family.

3. I wrote a novel last year as part of NaNoWriMo. Just to complete it was a lifelong ambition going back to my days working on my BA in English at The Ohio State University. I have not gone back to edit it yet, but I hope to work on it before gardening season really gets swinging. More than anything, it taught me that if I commit something I can find the time and really get it done!

4. I love my garden. I've only been growing vegetables for three summers, so I consider myself a rookie. I love being able to nourish my family and to teach the kids about the natural world.

5. I love eating (a little too much!) Subsequently, I am constantly trying to find good recipes for healthier fare.

6. I love decorating, entertaining, and all things simple and homespun.

7. I love saving money, thrift store shopping and collecting curiosities. I enjoy going for bits and bobs, craft things and vintage items. That said, I also love simple, empty spaces, and thus end up clearing out my goods from time to time on my little Etsy shop. However, I've officially decided that I don't intend to grow that into a "real" business and will be focusing my time on other things instead.

Bonus: I love these guys too!

Now for my nominations:

Pam at It's Time for More Coffee. Great stories from a busy mom, plus she does her weekly virtual cup of coffee, which don't you just love that?

My friend Sheryl at Just Create! She has lots of crafty things and knitting and spinning going on over there!

Elise at Birds Nest and Paper. She does some really beautiful artwork and photography and has a great little Etsy shop too.

Lisa at Scott's Handmade Crafts. In addition to crafts she puts up some really lovely photography.

Be sure to check them out!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Flirting with vegan food



The husband and I are attempting to incorporate more vegan meals into our lives. It's easier for me than him, though. It's hard for him to conceptualize something like this simple dish of sauteed asparagus and red pepper with quinoa as the "main dish." In fact, I think his comment was "that's great, and you know, if you had some leftover chicken you could chunk it up and put it right in there." Rome wasn't built in a day.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thrifted Thursday

I found these cute bowls and saucers a few weeks ago when I was still allowing myself to go to the thrifts. They looked kind of cool, and I thought what the heck.

I'm having a little trouble figuring out if they are vintage or what. No makers name on the bottom. I immediately become suspicious anymore because I'm noticing that the thrifts around here are starting to peddle these mass produced fake vintage items. And they are sneaky about it too. I've seen things like aprons, linens, coasters and the like, scattered through the store instead of together in a group, so that at first you think, wow this is cool, but on closer inspection you find that they have twenty of the same thing.

Also, they don't have a makers mark on the bottom. I kind of think these are knockoffs of either Knowles or Old Salem china patterns that are very similar. All that said, I like them, they will make great dessert bowls and plates and I like them and will enjoy them.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A day late...

Nine years ago yesterday I said "yes." He did it on the 15th of February because he didn't want to be like everyone else, and he didn't want me to expect it. The next day we left for our vacation in Las Vegas. We joked about popping into a wedding chapel the whole time, but decided it would be better to wait for the church wedding. I'd have done the Vegas thing, I think, but I liked our wedding too. Even better than our wedding, I like being married to this guy. :-)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Feeling Red this Valentine's day













Over the years the husband and I have more or less "phased out" valentine's day from our official events. Part of this is because our "real" day is tomorrow---he proposed to me on February 15th, so as not to be cliche and do it when everyone else was doing it. Also, I had to make him stop ordering $100 bouquets to be sent to me. While this was romantic and swept me off my feet when I was a credit union teller and he was my boyfriend, now that we have college to save for, it is a bit excessive.

Now we go for more homespun things---I made spaghetti for all of us last night, with red velvet cupcakes for dessert. Today Nathan and I will make a few valentines. The boys are happy with their goodies from school. The husband, as a v-day gift, will be arranging babysitting with his ma for sometime next weekend so we can go have a quiet dinner in all the restaurants that aren't packed with cupid's followers. All done without overspending.

Friday, February 11, 2011

My baby is growing up so fast




Signed him up for Kindergarten this week. Wow, that flew. (Um, can I have another baby, please? Just kidding...) *sigh*

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thrifted Thursday

Headed to the thrifts yesterday because I had an hour to kill between signing the "baby" up for kindergarten and picking him up from preschool. Saw these beautiful starburst etched glasses and had to pick them up. Great for Valentine's day, I think! I also found another couple of goodies but I will save those for later.

Now, I realized yesterday was Ash Wednesday (I'm a little behind the times, lol) and decided, after my thrift store trip, that I will give up the thrift store shopping for Lent. I'm doing this because we don't need a thing right now, and so continuing to go on these once and twice a week journeys is really just a way to kill time and have something to do. It's not really any different from the stay at home mom who runs to the mall every day. I don't run to Target for fun the way I used to, and I fear I've just replaced one bad habit with another one. (Additionally, it's pretty schizophrenic that I am trying to declutter the house on one hand, and keep filling it with junk on the other. That doesn't even make any sense!)

Also I'm going to give up using the computer between the hours of 10am and 9pm. My reasoning: I don't want the boys seeing their mother constantly on the computer, especially on facebook. Facebook has been a great tool for communication and for reconnecting with a few good friends, but other than that it is a time waster and a tool of sloth for me.

Wish me luck! The good thing is I do have many blog ideas so I'm going to focus my tiny bit of computer time on that.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Something about kids....

If you've ever seen a spoiled kid and think, wow, what a brat, consider for a moment that for a kid to be "spoiled" they actually had to be spoiled by someone. I was pondering this while playing with my younger son this afternoon. He takes mommy-playtime very seriously. It is the hour or so after lunch but before I start working on projects that we do whatever he wants. Today we played "Star Wars" or an odd variant of it. My boys recently discovered the original trilogy and want to play it all the time.

However unlike a lot of parents, we have yet to run to Target to buy them sets of action figures to play with. For now, Star Wars is played with an odd assortment of their dad's figures they found in Oma's basement: Obiwan (who I think is wearing a piece of old pantyhose for a cape,) an R2D2 from an old Happy Meal, Luke Skywalker, several Rescue People, Wall-E, and Evil Kineval. Truthfully I found it a little hard to follow the progression of the story.

I am proud my little guy's ability to use what he has and a healthy dose of imagination. I recall when my older son was small, and falling in love with Thomas the Tank Engine. He played Thomas with his colored-block train, and was perfectly happy, but of course we and our family eventually got him most of the residents of the island of Sodor. Sure he played with them a lot, but I wonder if he would have been just as happy with that old train.

Hopefully I can remember this when we arrive at the mania of the next birthday...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Swing Time!


Was feeling a bit emotional today. I have finally decided to get rid of 90% of my vintage and retro dresses that I've accumulated over the years. Again, going with the whole idea of only making space in my home for things that serve me NOW. Those were good times, really good times, when I used to dress up and go dancing (had some fab partners too!) But a lot of the clothes I'm hanging on to are either too large or too small, or just generally don't fit my current lifestyle. I guess that's the part that gets emotional, it's missing the things we dearly loved.

However, I have things now that I dearly love, like Mr. Supermergentroid and the Supermergentroid kids. We do new things for fun, like camping and biking. (And yes we still listen to a lot of swing music at home.) Additionally, I have managed to drag the mister to two units of ballroom last year. That is a new world for both of us to discover together. We not only swing, we can cha cha, merengue, rhumba, tango and waltz. The mister is wonderful at the waltz, owing no doubt to his Austrian heritage. We can dance now, though he's totally not a vintage dress-up kind of guy. As for me, I still love vintage, but I think I was wearing a lot of the wrong things. Going forward I vow only to buy a piece if it looks fabulous on me. Vintage is no fun when you look like a bag lady.

I may be moving forward, but this girl will always live in my heart.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fighting the battle of the toy clutter

Inspired today by Peter Walsh I spontaneously decided it was time to tackle the toy clutter.
Years of begging, pleading and whining for them to pick up have taught me that they just have too much stuff. But they are little kids, so either sneaking toys away from them or forcing them to give up toys seems a little cruel. They are not responsible for the mountain of stuff...we, and the other adults in their lives, bought all of it. It is overwhelming for an adult, let alone a little kid, to deal with a glut of things.


So using Mr. Walsh's patented technique, we removed all the toys from their rooms, into one location. Each boy was given a large been and told we're going to play a game. We're going to pretend that the family is moving to a desert island, and we only have space on the plane for one bin of toys each. While I sorted like things together and put together odd pieces-and-parts of toys, it was their job to pick their very most important toys, only what would fit into their bin went back into their rooms.


I selected a very small amount of the things I've noticed them using a lot for the downstairs toybox. The boys had to each take their own box of toys upstairs and organize and store the things they are keeping. It went astonishingly well, and both boys got very excited about arranging their things.

Finally, I took all the untouched toys (this photo is only a fraction, and literally includes several never opened birthday and Christmas gifts) to the basement where they are on shelves called the "toy store." The boys were very reluctant to part with their toys, but seemed okay to have it in storage. They both seem very relieved at having so much less to take care of (over 50% of it is now in the basement.)


Key Points that made the process go well:

1. They made all the decisions. My only involvement was to facilitate the process, not to say "Aw, but uncle so-and-so got you that. Don't you want to keep it?" If I want my kids to be free of irrational attachment to things, I can't teach them to hold on to things irrationally.

2. They had total control of how they stored and organized their toys in their rooms.

3. We made no threats of giving toys away. I made a mild mention that we should throw out broken things, and if anyone wanted to consider donating a toy that would be a good idea.

4. I did not include things like the beloved stuffed animals on their beds or special items that were already being well cared for and frequently played with (Thomas trains, tiny legos.)

5. We set specific limits, and focused on what they get to keep instead of trying to wrestle things away.

6. We made new rules, which include that the "price" of getting something from the basement "toy store" was to take a similar item from the rooms to exchange it with.

7. We have already discussed with them that birthdays going forward will be down-scaled, explaining that big parties where you invite all your classmates are for little kids. They are both happy with this idea, and Zack is already saying he'd like to take one friend out to dinner and to the Lego store for his next birthday, because one great Lego kit is better then 20 random toys.

8. Also we have explained that each time new toys come into the house, old toys need to leave. We have also explained that if someone gets you a gift that really isn't important to you, it is totally okay to donate it!

9. We made it clear to them that it was a fun thing and no one was mad. Big departure from past failed attempts to declutter the toys.

10. Most importantly, husband and I both have spent the last two months decluttering our own things...a total now of 8 large bags and a box have been donated to the thrift store, three bags and a large box of books, movies and music have been sold to Half Price Books, and I personally have sold a dozen of my collectible vintage items on Etsy, and have kept my promise to quit lugging new stuff home. I've even donated lots of unused art and scrapbooking supplies. Buy seeing us do this, the boys are understanding that as a family we are all trying to simplify our lives.

Hopefully this little exercise will help them live a more quality life. Already, the usual Sunday morning fighting has subsided, the boys are content to play with a few choice things, and hopefully when they are done it will not be such a chore to put their toys away.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Candlemas


Just trying to keep warm today, after the ice storm. We got an inch or so of snow on top of the inch of ice that seems to have shut down our whole town. I'm enjoying a nice vanilla candle, hot cup of tea and the good news from our Buckeye Chuck the groundhog predicting an early spring. Also hoping for a return to school for the boys in the morning---two snow days is about enough for all of us. Although I'm eager for relief from the cold, I'm kind of enjoying the warm blankets, mugs of tea, coffee and cocoa, and getting caught up on my reading. Spring will come in due time.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Keep calm and carry on...(plus ice storm pics)

First bit of news in my world...our Nathan had to spend Sunday night in the hospital! He learned the hard way why we don't run about with toys in the mouth. He was chewing on the end of a plastic pipe (a piece of a broken toy that I even went so far as to throw in the trash last week. Big brother dug it out and brought it back into the house!) and fell forward, pushing the sharp edge into the back of his throat. While it wasn't terrible, I could see blood when I looked with a flashlight, so off to the ER we went. He had a 1.5 centimeter laceration to the back of the throat. This necessitated a CT scan, sedation and oxygen to get through the scan, and an overnight at the hospital to monitor him. All's well that ends well---no damage to nerves or major arteries or veins, so now he's on a diet of mushy foods for a few days. Needless to say I feel incredibly grateful that our little anecdote did not end up being much much worse.






We, like 1/3 of you in the United States, had our first round of "the big one" last night. Where we are didn't get it too bad, but they still canceled school. I am glad we can all be home together after our crazy ordeal. I took a bunch of pics because one of my husband's colleagues in Montpelier, France wanted to know what an ice storm looks like. (Must be nice!) When you stand back from it, and don't have to drive in it, it's really very beautiful.

I am relieved that our "sunshine boy" is on the mend, and we are looking forward to better days!