Archive for March, 2009

Do you like the new header?  I thought it was time for something a bit more professional looking…you know I didn’t make it!  keep reading… 

Work on the store has taken a fair bit of what free-time I have had this week.  Free-time that seemed to be near nothing with working a couple shifts and a big family get-together.  However, I am hoping for an opening date of April 15th for ready-made designs (though, I can do custom designs at any time.)  I will be starting with the knot apron dresses, a new halter top or dress that I’ve designed myself,  and hopefully some Minnie Mouse-type dresses (working on that one today!)  I am so anxious to be able to have items ready to go as well as beautiful photos to go with them.  Photography for me is not much better than the graphics, but I am learning!

Unfortunately, the couple computer classes I took back in college are, well, nearly useless now.  In doing this venture along with remembering the past blog heading nightmares, I finally decided I needed help, big time, in anything graphic design related.  Enter Jenna at Serendiptiy Designs.  I knew Jenna from our wait for the twins, when she was also waiting to adopt her beautiful daughter.  She has been patiently working with me on a blogheader, store banner, and even little avatars with my new mascot.

Yes, I now have a mascot.  It wasn’t an easy thing to pick, either.  Seriously, I have four little girls, two of which have been talked to about the shop and who would have loved to have been a visual presence (their grand plans involved flowers, castles, fair wings, rope, the ceiling fan, and more.)   So then I went to thinking just words would be fine, maybe a flower, but then what to name the shop.   I got Forest involved in the process, he was quick to eliminate my odd-ball ideas and point me in the right direction.  Round and round I went trying to figure it all out when suddenly it clicked.

I think I am in love, meet iLean:


iLeanis a pesky little pup at times, but so fluffy and full of love. Her name may be a bit of a tease, but with only three legs she does tend to, well, lean.

My poor little dog ends up being an inspiration, big old baby that she is!  She will be a cute little presence for my shop and blog, so if you see her in the comments know that she is there on my behalf.   

I am working right now on a portfolio of sorts.  In the next few days I plan to have styles and pricing all spelled out in black and white on a new tab way at the top.  If you are interested in custom designs let me know as I am flexible, but am not afraid to tell you that my skills are not there yet if you request something outside of my abilities.   My goal is to bring you high-quality, custom creations.  If you want to know more, my etsy store has shop policies in place.  Also, keep looking here as I will be announcing all shop listings here as well.  I am pretty sure you can subscribe to a feed (forgive me if I am saying this wrong, I am still trying to figure out feeds and readers) both here and at iLean.

Phew, lots to do plus still cooking (Vietnamese meatballs this week as well as stew and roasted chicken) and homeschooling.  Multiplication was easy, but division is giving us a few stumbling blocks…pretty soon it will click.


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It is that time of year when the weather breaks.  The girls want to get outdoors, I want to get outdoors. y garden list is growing, their must-do list has grown all winter.    When you homeschool, the draw to get outside is unbelievable!  Don’t get me wrong, we will still likely get our late March and early April snows as far north as we are.  There are days, though, up in the mid-60’s with the sun shining like crazy.  Without herd-mentality to keep the girls at their work (not knocking herd mentality, in this case it is extremely useful) it is hard to keep them on task…especially when I want outside as badly as they do!

My goal every year at the on-set of the school year is to be done at the end of April.  Considering we do phys-ed in the evenings (swim, soccer, etc.), music is done outside of “school” hours, there is no waiting while everyone else finishes a paper, or lines to go potty (these things add up to quite a bit of time a week) we usually are done early…though not by May 1st.  So far, every year that we have school at home, there has been some sort of family event that causes us to put the books away fora  week or two mid-way (adoption, death in family, health issues of parents, etc.)  This is another place that homeschooling is great.  We can do this without falling behind while the rest of the class moves on.  I like that flexibility.

This year, we are already done with two subjects, Science and Art.  Not bad considering it is still March.  History will be done this week (three subjects done in March is a record for us.)  When the girls get excited about a subject, I often times will take it and run.  We will  just keep going until we have finished the unit on it. 

Right now we are finishing up China in the Middle Ages.  They are absolutely devouring it!  I love to see my kids excited about learning.  After this is a short chapter on Japan in the same era.   By Monday only Math, Latin, and Language Arts will be on the schedule.  Math is at 82% so I expect it to be done in a couple weeks.  Latin I haven’t pushed much.  It will be our end of the year, still do some school, but taking it easy course.

Then there is Language Arts, we are behind in Language Arts.  Not so far behind that we won’t move on next year, but far enough that we might be working on it through summer a bit.  Part of this is because the girls are doing the same work, putting Liz a year ahead of her age.  This is not a problem in history, math, or science, but the one subject she has to take her time in or she will not quite get it is Language Arts.  I do not want her just to push through, I want her to get it.  If you can teach a child good reading comprehension and language skills you have given them the tools to learn nearly anything. 

Another part of the delay is that the girls and I do not click on this one…we tend to have words about it and in general it stresses me more than potty-training the twins (just being honest.)   It wasn’t an issue last year, I don’t look for it to be an issue next year…I hope it isn’t an issue next year.

Forest has taken over teaching some of it.  I still do handwritting, reading, and other odds and ends.  He takes on the spelling and grammar.  I know, like he needs more to do.  Since he has took it over, though, the girls have taken off wonderfully in the subject.  Perhaps I just needed to admit defeat in this one?  I do like having him do some schooling though just for that time with the girls.  Any other moms out there feel like they are always the ones saying “please settle down”, “did you do your work”, or my favorite “talk like that again and…” 

Speaking of Forest, he pointed out I have not posted about yogurt, my many explosive sourdough, and other (what he calls) Trying Traditional fundamentals.  I will work on taking some photos of these (except sourdough, I think I have wiped my hands (and kitchen) of that.   I promise this isn’t turning into a sewing blog!

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Has anyone else been absolutely stumped when it comes to what to cook for supper lately?  I think it is all the sewing, but I am beyond un-inspired when it comes to meals as of late.  I did stop sewing this weekend for a much needed home clean-sweep.  Isn’t funny how once you get started it is hard to stop! 

We started cleaning out flower beds, but then cleaned out the garage yesterday.  Oh, our garage gets so very cluttered in the winter.  It is a very small garage.  Forest’s old Toyota Celica would go in, the mini-van I am not fond of…not so much.  If need be the truck would fit in there, though you might have to climb out the window.    During the winter, it is the dumping spot for all sorts of nothingness.  Eight trash bags later, you can walk freely and park the girls’ bikes in there.  Yes, it has been warm enough for them to be out biking! 

In our garage is our beloved freezer.  It is still relatively full and I took a visual inventory while out there.  I was concerned I made too much applesauce last fall, but not so as we still have quite a bit left.   There is still a ton of veggies left out there as well as odds and ends of meat, lots of broth, and a few bags of fruit.

Here’s my list of things I want to use up, we seem to have a surplus of them:

  • broth
  • zucchini
  • rhubarb
  • sour cream (it was on sale, I bought extra, we already had plenty)

To help plan on using some of these things up, I am going to try a loose meal plan for the week.  I used to do a meal plan and it really helped.  It is time to get back into that habit and I am thinking next week will be a no-grocery week so we can eat out of the freezer and save a bit of money for some bedding plants and mulch.   To complicate things, soccer starts this week.  It’s been a blissful two weeks without swimming, now soccer starts.  We have practices Mon and Wed at 4:30 and Forest is going to help coach.  There is no game schedule yet, but if I am remembering right this is a fairly short season.   This week I am also working on Fri and Sat, so that is two meals I do not need to bother with.  My goal for Mon and Wed will be quick and easy meals or (like Sunday lunch) a crockpot meal.

Monday- Oven Fried Shrimp, wild rice, and broccoli

Tuesday- Beef, Pepper, and Mushroom Fajitas

Wednesday-Beef Stew in the crockpot with potatoes, peppers, and onions

Thursday- Sausage Lasagna (with  lots of zucchini in it)

Sunday Lunch- Whole chicken with new potatoes and carrots

While doing at that, I also cleaned out the pantry cupboard and refrigerator.  Next is the rest of the kitchen cupboards.  There is a big yard sale in my near future.  I have quality things I want to get rid of and would like a bit o f cash for an upcoming trip.  Also on my list is a massive sorting of all little girl clothes and toys…the two things that seem to take over my home!

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I love my wife.  With all my heart.  And I want to help her and try to the best I can.  I accomplish this with “Yes, dear” and by doing whatever I’m told.  My first employer once told me “Happy wife, happy life.”  I’ve tried to heed his warning advice.  So, when my wife began talking to me about diet changes, I listened.  And I asked questions when needed.  Some of it made sense, like not eating packaged and processed foods from the grocery because of the chemicals and preservatives.  Some of it was a little harder to swallow (semi-pun intended), like raw milk.  Yeah, she had to do some serious convincing for me to be okay with that.  But she can break me down much the same way my children can (who are also girls):  Repetitive Petitioning.  Yes, that’s right, Chapter 7’s phrase of the week. 


Anybody remember the term “Psy-Op’s” from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?  It’s short for “psychological operations” and had to do with dropping flyers and playing taped messages from speakers on vehicles as they drove through the neighborhoods, etc.  Messing with the enemies mind to help in defeating them.  Here’s an example my elder sibling picked up while over there.



I don’t have a clue what they say, but I can get a good guess from the pictures.  The reason I bring this up is that I feel like “Domestic Psy-Op’s” is being used on me at home.  A lot.  And because I’m pretty simple, it usually works.  I guess Repetitive Petitioning is just one method of Domestic Pys-Op’s.  As soon as I figure out the others, I’ll let you know.  At least, I think I will?  Hmmm.


-So it’s a “starter” for sour-dough bread?  And it’s a “living” organism?  What?

Raw milk?  Alright dear, I can tell you feel strongly about this.  (I won’t drink it, anyway.)

Make our own bread?  Sure, I like fresh, homemade bread.

-Grind our own grain for the bread?  By hand?!!?  Okay, sure, I’d love to turn the crank.

-Make our own yogurt?  Really?  Sure, have fun with that.

-No, I don’t think it’s cool how the sour dough starter “breathes”!

-Frozen, whole chickens?  Uh, okay, let’s get some.

-Join a CSA?  What’s that?

-The electric grain mill costs how much?!  Fine, just as long as we get rid of the hand crank.

-A dehydrator?  For how much?!  For a dehydrator?!?! I don’t think we can…homemade beef jerky?  Oh, okay. 

-Yes, I’d love to build you a Square-Foot Garden.  I’ll go get the wood for that today.

-I hate to tell you this, but I think your “living organism” is dead.

-Dear, what’s in this jar?  I don’t know, it’s white and gooey.  Yogurt or kefir what-ir?  No thanks, you smell them!

Why are we doing all this again?


But, I did reach my limit.  Chickens.  You keep your own chickens for the eggs in your back yard.  You build a movable pen, they eat the grass, lay some eggs, and you move the pen.  But I’m pretty sure chicken manure is the worst smelling manure in existence (excluding a number of fresh diapers I’ve had the honor changing within the last few years).  And we don’t much time left to mess with it.

So, we’ve been doing this for a few years now, and I’ve gotten used to it, to some degree.  I know we’re all healthier in the long run.  The salsa is awesome, too.  Looking back over the list (which doesn’t include everythings that’s been thrown at me), I have to wonder what the next few years will bring.  Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be an Adventure!


I was cleaning up supper, when the twins started shouting at each other.  The older two were already in their room playing.  So, I turned and saw what you’ll see in the videos below. 

Allow me to translate.  Twin on the left is crying like a baby.  Twin on right is yelling, “No, no, no baby!”  Of course, as soon as I shut the camera off, they switch roles.  So I turned it back on. 

In case you’re wondering, Cee-Cee is the one on the right.  She has to be the most giggliest 2 year old girl in the WORLD!  Ahhhhhhh, adorable. 

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(just to calm any fears, joys, etc. that anyone may be having…no we are not adopting again…so far it is just the six of us and one crazy spoiled ShihTzu)

I LOVE my clothesline.  If I only used it for sheets I would still be happy, but it gets more use than that.  My dear, dear friend and I talked forever about getting a clothesline in our yards.  When she called to tell me her husband was making one for both of us, I squealled…and I am not the type to squeal. 

So imagine, the other morning, the neighbors seeing me out putting clothes on the line on a cool winter morning.   But wait, what the heck is their odd neighbor up too?  Those clothes are not wet.  They are bright and springy, fresh and stylish…not her usual  laundry line digs.  Now she is taking pictures, yeah, she’s finally lost it.  All those hours in the winter cooped up with her kids finally did her in.

It was too nice not to.  I put the kids in front of a movie to keep them out of the muddy back yard. (Of course, it didn’t work, they were at the back door wondering why I was allowed to go out in the muddy yard.)  I hung the dresses, fixed the knots just so, and took a few shots in the natural light.  Don’t they look so pretty!  So here is the news:

I am opening a shop on etsy, I have fabric on order, the countdown is on! 

It won’t be hundreds of dresses and tops, but enough to keep me sewing (my new therapy that doesn’t kick my butt like yoga…which I’m still doing and still hurting.)  I will take custom orders for specific pieces.  I will work with farics I love to place ready-to-wear pieces online for sale.  I will work with fabrics you love to make pieces for your loved ones.   It is still in the planning stages, but I have a name (inspired by Ilean the dog) and I will announce here when it is open for business!

Ok, deep-down inside, I am nervous and a bit scared about it.  It’s outside my norm, but I can’t wait to get started!  All that to say, be nice.  I am already doubting myself, but pushing through anyhow.

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I feel bad for reader’s looking for raw milk articles, ferments, and handcrafted butter or bread.  Those posts are there, please search if that is what you are looking for.  As of late, though, I have re-discovered my love of sewing.  It satisfies the creative and practical side of me in one fell swoop.  I can’t help it, I love it.  Before kids I sewed, quilted, painted (oh my poor paints that are likely crusty with my dear brushes at their side), and all sorts of creative endeavors.  No schooling or training on it, just a love for it.  Sorry dear readers, but I promise with spring on the horizon the food related articles will return.  Meanwhile, you have sewing projects, homeschool, and Adventures in Daddyhood to look forward to.

All that to say, I made two more dresses that I LOVE!  The worst of it is that I have to send them away, but I can cope.  The best of it is they are going to the sweetest twins that were adopted the same time my girls.  Really, what are the odds?   We actually met up at the Hanoi Embassy without really knowing each other would be there.  We have kept in contact and it is great to have someone in a similar boat to talk to.  Her girls are a month older than mine so it is like a heads-up on things.  This family has been so gracious to us in the past I wanted to do something for them.  Long story short, she ordering some amazing Heather Bailey Fabric (Pop Garden) and I made these…I hope you like them!

the pics do not do them justice…flash (obviously) and me in a hurry

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It happens to me every spring and fall, for some reason this year is the worst it has been in awhile.  My sinus are on an all-out revolt.  At times this will last a few weeks, but it has now passed a month.  The early thaw, combined with snow afterwards, then warm weather again followed by massive rains, then night time freezes again.  I have had nose-bleeds (I rarely get nose bleeds) and the inside of my head sounds all “snap-crackle-pop” like a bowl of Rice Krispies.  I am ready for the weather to steady out, but know a month from now we could be getting a surprise snow.  Meanwhile, I breath chamomile steam to help soothe and try to keep hydrated.  Enough on that.

Potty training and twins is a real zinger.  Nine times out of ten, the one goes while you are putting the other on the potty.  Nice.   Two potties helps, but having the older girls to help me sit them on the potty at the same time has done the trick.  Who would have though that they would pee at the same time like that so easily?  Anyhow, Brie has it down.  She’s had on trainers (not Pull-Ups) most of the last week.  She rarely has an accident, is excited about the whole deal,  and when out and about will get bothered when she wets her Pull-Up.  CeeCee on the other hand has at least one accident every day and could give a rip about potty training.  If today goes as good as the last few, tomorrow it is big girl underwear for Brie and we’ll slowly keep trying to CeeCee.  I’m hoping when the one gets it the other will get a tad jealous and want to do the same.  At least, that is how everything else around here goes.

Sewing was a “treat” yesterday.  The kids were not cooperative, at all.  The phone was ringing every 10 minutes.  We were at my parent’s restaurant so I felt I had to answer it in case it was someone trying to get ahold of me.  I sewed something wrong, ripped it apart and proceeded to re-sew it wrong.  One of those kind of days.  I did, however finish one of the other twin dresses and the next will be finished after the kids go to bed tonight.  I’m anxious to get those out in the mail with the hopes of bringing a smile to a couple little girls and their mom. 

No photos to share, I feel like my posts are bare without photos..but at least it is a post, right?  I’d dig through and find some, but temps in March reaching well into the 60’s with sun shinning is just too much to pass up!

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