Category Archives: housekeeping

Some wearables

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Happy birthday to my sweet niece!  I can’t believe it was two years ago that I videotaped her amazing and beautiful birth at the home of my brother and sister-in-law.  I crocheted the flutter sweater as a gift for Maggie, and it looks completely adorable on her.  The bottom and front edges curl up on purpose in a really cute way. The pattern was easy, but it was such a start-and-stop project for me that it took forever.  I’d intended to give it to her for Christmas but couldn’t find my hooks in the move, so it became a birthday gift instead.  I did it in a lightweight organic cotton yarn so hopefully she can wear it on in to warm weather.

I mentioned in my last post that I got some new tees to craft up for summer.  A friend pointed out that they are also very nice plain–which they totally are. These two shirts remained plain (and nice) all winter while I meant to do something to them but never got around to it.  These came from Target months ago. I finally took some time to embellish them this week, and here are the results.  On this green one I appliqued some owls on a branch by using fusible web and the zig-zag stitch. 

This one I was especially pleased with.  I used acrylic yarn left over from another project and machine stitched it to my shirt using a wide zig-zag, three bands around the neck, bottom edge, and each arm hole. Then I washed it, just to make sure nothing terrible would happen to it before I blogged about it.  🙂

And while I was doing that–just so no one thinks I have more hours in my day than any one else–my house descended into utter chaos.  The kitchen came to look like it had never been cleaned, the girl fed yogurt to the boy in a messy and indiscriminate manner, and the boy “painted” my sofa with his yogurty hands.  There is, um, no place like homemade!

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Chair pads again

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I recovered the seats of our dining room chairs last spring, and it was basically an exercise in uselessness.  The medium-weight upholstery fabric I’d used bunched over the decrepit old foam (I’d not bothered to replace it), and something about the nap of that particular fabric just seemed to attract cat hair even worse than what had been on there before.  The new dining room is headed for a different set of colors, too, so the orange hue wasn’t going to work.  This time I went out and bought brand new foam and I’m using a laminated cotton fabric, which is similar to oilcloth but lighter weight and more stretchy.  I don’t think cat hair will stay on it at all, and most spills should wipe up easily (here’s hoping), but I am a little concerned about the durability, given children with forks and cats with claws.  We’ll see.  In the meantime, I really love the Amy Butler fabric and I can’t wait to see it with the blue we’re going to paint the walls in this room.  (Note on that:  you can see the wallpaper in here. There is a certain vintage appeal to this paper, I guess, but I’m way too fickle about prints to have them pasted on the wall.  I need a clean, solid backdrop on the walls so I can choose other prints at will!  Besides, you can’t have flocked wallpaper and cats who rub up against walls.  Ick.)

Yesterday was a special day here.  We celebrated Rob’s birthday in the dining room, in full view of the kitchen through the new pass-through!  I still need to paint it (along with all the other surfaces in the rooms it joins–oy), but I already love it.  It’s amazing how much it changed our house!  Now I can see the sunlight from windows in every room of the first floor while I have breakfast at my kitchen table.  Dorothy made a paper chain for our birthday celebration and I hung it in the opening.  I can tell I’m going to need a couple nails, or maybe a tension rod, to hold this sort of temporary (yet eternal, ha ha) decoration.

My house is a mess and the newspaper pissed me off

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The stomach virus is gone, but we’re not fully operational around here.  Everyone is still tired and we’ve all just lost a little momentum.  The house is a mess and we have a real estate open house tomorrow–yikes.  The table I photographed happens to be covered with 4-year-old girl ephemera, but my own desk is just as overflowing, with mail, stamps and a stamp pad from an old paper project, a shirt that needs mending, and three different yarn projects in various stages of completion.  Somehow we will get all this cleaned up and the Halloween decorations put away by tomorrow midday.  (So this morning blogging takes the form of procrastination.)

I also just have to comment on this ugly article that met me at the breakfast table this morning.  I don’t understand the so-called “mommy wars” at all.  It seems to me that some people take others’ strong commitments to a parenting philosophy personally, and feel indicted if they don’t share one, whereas the focus of most parenting philosophies is actually on children, not other mommies.  If a mother doesn’t like a particular philosophy, perhaps she should just avoid using it, instead of suggesting that its existence is undermining decades of progress in women’s liberation.  Jong seems to miss the point that if a woman disagrees with a philosophy (in this case, attachment parenting), then she is free to ignore it and move on.  It is only if she actually finds it compelling and thinks in her heart that she should be following it (or doing something differently) that it has any sway over her at all.  If she does not find a philosophy compelling, then the fact that other mothers practice it should not even be on her radar–parenting is a very personal quest, not a contest, and mothers do not have to register their commitment to any particular set of values anywhere.

I am grateful for a community that allows me to parent the way I feel is right.  Sometimes that is an accord with one particular parenting book or another, and sometimes it is not.  I know women who largely share my parenting views and work full-time at demanding jobs. I know others who stay home and share none of my philosophies.  I am glad that in this garbled world of feminism, post-feminism, and feminism-yet-to-come that I can stay home and tend my family’s metaphorical fires without feeling like I have something to prove.  I stay home because that is what feels right to me.  I enjoy contributing to my family’s economy in the kitchen, at my sewing machine, and out of my crochet bag.  I hold a masters degree from a prestigious university and if I felt like that piece of paper forced me out of the spot that makes me happy, then that would be enslavement.  To each her own.  I can’t imagine any child would be better off staying home with a mother who felt stranded in the role.  Nor do I think women should work outside the home just because that’s what they thought they would do when they were 22 and made expensive educational choices.  It’s a big world–can’t we make room for all the choices that are as varied and ever-changing as the individuals who make up our current generation of mothers?

For the freezer

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Our carefree days of summer are coming to a close. Rob and I attend preschool orientation tomorrow and Dorothy begins next Tuesday. Today the girl spent all day with my husband’s parents swimming in their neighborhood pool, which will close after this weekend. She told me emphatically she was not planning on doing flips in the water today because she has a runny nose. Somehow I doubt she maintained her position on that issue. I spent most of the day in the kitchen getting ready for our new routine. I made some chicken tortilla soup for the freezer, for heat-and-eat lunches at the weather gets cooler. I love soup for lunch in the fall, but I have never found any canned soup worth eating that doesn’t have tons of sodium, MSG, or both. (If you know of one, leave me a comment!) So homemade soup in freezer jars it is.

Then I spent some time sprucing up Dorothy’s room, since though she won’t take it with her, it seemed like a nice thing to give her a pleasant and orderly jumping-off-spot. I laundered, pressed and rehung her curtains, washed her bed quilt, and tidied up her space a bit. Then I made a double batch of oatmeal pancakes for the freezer so I can feed her breakfast quickly without resorting to packaged food. I put freezer paper slips between them so they won’t become one solid pancake brick in the freezer–it will be easy to grab just one or two.

I’ve prepped a Moroccan-style stew for tonight, with bread from the bread machine on the side, and I when I went to pre-cook my chickpeas I realized, ugh, that my pressure cooker was among the things I had to pack away when we put stuff in storage a couple weeks ago. Bummer. Fortunately I had canned chickpeas in the pantry, since you never know when you’ll need an emergency batch of hummus, but it’s rather frustrating. We did have a showing last weekend, but the prospective buyers claimed disappointment regarding our lack of a garage. And I have to say this is a bit confusing to me, since it states very clearly in our listing that the house has no garage. Maybe they thought we didn’t mean it?

A jar cozy

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This isn’t a new project, but just one I was using and enjoying. Last summer I crocheted cozies for the repurposed glass juice jars we use for water. I put little handles on them and they are very cute and portable, and they both insulate the jar and keep it from getting broken if I want to grab one on the go. It felt like a nice way to use up (gifted) scratchy acrylic yarn I wouldn’t want to wear or put on my babies. I just crocheted a little mat the size of the bottom of the bottles, then did double crochets in a round all the way up the side. I used several stands of yarn together so it would be extra bulky.

In other news, we’re really enjoying our hiatus from house-selling. Our goal is to have it back on the market in two weeks, but in the meantime it’s nice to not have the constant threat of a showing hanging over our heads. In a funny turn of events, however, the house is actually pretty clean right now because I just bought a steam mop and Dorothy and I are both so charmed by it that we keep using it. I love the idea of being able to keep the floor clean and chemical-free as our little wee one becomes more mobile and has the floor as his new realm. We’ll just hope the charm of using the mop doesn’t wear off in a couple months. (Ha!)

Holidaze

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Two days of painting by my Dad and one late night (pictured) from my husband later, and we now have an extremely attractive newly exposed front porch that in no way resembles the screened-in haven of tea party dishes, half-burnt candles and caked-on playdough we had before. Although I have to admit I was rather fond of my dusty old front porch playroom, this one should look much better to potential buyers.

With the house all cleaned up for the open house, my little family skedaddled out of town to a lovely outdoor wedding picnic and a day at Holiday World. The park was just right for us–I couldn’t believe how family friendly the whole place was! From the clean, safe rides for the four-year-old to the pleasant, air-conditioned space with stacks of clean towels and comfy gliders for nursing moms (hell yeah!), we all had a really terrific day. Dorothy rode the canoe ride (above) so many times that when Rob finally went to drag her off the friendly ride operator told him “Dorothy is a very polite girl.” Apparently they’d developed a relationship and exchanged names during her multiple trips through the start!

Our only unpleasant moment at the park was right after Dorothy and Rob exited the log flume–soaking wet. We hadn’t prepped her that she’d get wet on the ride, oops! She recovered (and dried off) pretty quickly though.

After we arrived back home, however, our little happy holiday was over. We realized we’d left an big wet bag of dirty cloth diapers back at the hotel room. Ick! Cloth diapering only saves money if you wash and reuse–not if you leave them at hotel rooms to get pitched out by horrified cleaning staff. Darn. So I made a little trip to Mama’s Hip today and did some diaper shopping. Luckily, my little chunk is now big enough for the next size up, so although it hurt to replace the wet bag, at least I was able to buy some diaper covers we’d have ended up needing anyway.

A deer and more house effort

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Given that we live on a busy street in a fairly large city, it was quite surprising on Tuesday morning when Dorothy and I looked out our window and saw a deer in our side yard. Rob phoned animal control, but they said they do not deal with “indigenous wildlife.” (Which is cool, I guess, except isn’t it a little dangerous to have deer near busy streets and the nearby airport runway?) We left for a playdate and some errands, and he was still there when we came home six hours later, just bedded down and looking more comfortable. We watched him for a long time–we had a great view! Dorothy felt a little frightened of him and was resistant to taking her nap, and although I was not scared of the deer, it did feel really odd and alternative-universey to be staring at it out of my own window. The animal left maybe thirty minutes after we came home. I guess our presence back in the house made our side yard less comfortable for him.


Meanwhile, inside the house. We’re still preparing in a fast and furious way for Sunday’s open house. My brother and mother came over yesterday to help, and we (meaning actually my brother and a friend) took down the entire screened-in front porch. I hate to lose that indoor/outdoor space, but the front of the house looks much nicer now, since the screens and frames were really not in very good condition. Tomorrow we will repaint the newly exposed porch. I’ve been working on taking down and laundering curtains, and I also made a little skirt and tablecloth (above) for the kitchen microwave cart, which was also looking pretty shabby. It looks nicer now, and I think sewing the skirt was much easier than trying to scrub up the grimy toaster oven that is now well-hidden!