Friday, April 30, 2010

Hanging the Laundry

Today is a perfect laundry day: sunny, dry, windy. I think you already know about my love of clotheslines and hanging my family's clothes outside. I like the whole process, from the pins to the colors to the way everything smells when I take it in at the end of the day. I especially love it when I round the corner on the road and see the clothes on my line flapping there, colorful and cheery. Here's a painting that I love by the artist Edith Vonnegut (yes, daughter of Kurt) called Hanging the Laundry. My mom owns it so I get to admire it when I visit her!

What I really hate is folding a big pile of clothes from the dryer, like this mountain of clothes.
This is unless I have an audio book to listen to on the iPod, which I don't at the moment. Right now I have been listening to this wonderful foodie podcast by Molly Wizenberg, the author of a Homemade Life. It's called Spilled Milk and you can subscribe to it for free! (I am partial to the episode they did on Junk Food. Which is OK, since I am not eating it, just enjoying it vicariously.) The two hosts, Molly and Matthew, are funny, quirky and I feel like I am hanging out with friends in the kitchen, cooking.

Here's another thing I love: Making my own laundry detergent. Sure, as a cost-saving measure, but also to know exactly what goes into cleaning my clothes. I got the recipe from the magazine Mary Jane's Farm, and it is made from a 76 oz. box of Borax, a 55 oz. box of washing soda, 2 lb. box of baking soda, and a 12 oz. bar of soap (grated, I used Tom's of Maine lavender). It makes about 1/3 of a 5-gallon bucket (total cost about $10), which is what I mixed mine in, and get this: you use 2 TABLESPOONS per regular load. Seriously. And when I put it to the test (sweaty work-out clothes, grass stains) the results were fab: clean clothes, no weird chemicals or additives. ***The one thing to note is that this is for cold water washing only, as there is some sort of potential for Borax being partially converted to hydrogen peroxide at warm/hot temps.***
Do you have a clothesline? Do you have a method to your clothes-hanging madness? (Organized by type of clothing, the person who wears it, whatever the heck your hand touches next in the basket, etc.) Do you fold your clothes outside or bring them in to fold? Readers in foreign lands, do please tell us about your clothesline experiences! I would love to know.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Some sewing, some cooking Redux

new bag:
The Multitasker Tote by Anna Maria Horner
Well, it seems that I am up to my old tricks, naming this post almost the same as this one, cooking and sewing in between working and studying and all that. The cooking and sewing looks better on film though.
Sometimes I like to cook with sugar, you know white, refined, and much like cocaine (in terms of how bad it is for your body).

Other times, I like to cook without. And lately, we are also doing wheat-free baking for one family member who is less itchy without it. Here are some sweet potato muffins, Jonas's favorite.

JONAS'S Favorite and Mostly Healthy Muffins
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease your muffin cups or use liners.
  • Into the bowl of a standing mixer, put in:
1 c. cooked sweet potato
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 egg (if you are going for vegan, just substitute a couple of tablespoons of flax meal)
1/2 c. maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener like honey or agave nectar or whatever you have)
1/8-1/4 c. molasses
  • Mix this up.
  • In another small bowl, or if you are a cheater who doesn't like a bunch of dishes, just use your measuring cup:
2 c. flour (wheat or gluten-free or spelt, whatever)
1 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1-2 t. cinnamon (we like it spicy!)
grated nutmeg (as much as you can stand to grate. I usually tire
of it after about 1/4 t., but I am a fan, so do more if you can)
allspice or cloves (a tiny pinch)
  • Add your dry ingredients to your wet in 3 additions or so until
there are no obvious lumps of flour.
  • Throw in a handful of chocolate chips, or raisins if you are
feeling virtuous. Mix.
  • Plop in muffin cups and put in the oven for 20 minutes or so.
Here's my new spring/summer tote! Laminate fabric on the exterior for easy cleaning, nice roomy interior for all the stuff that goes along with me to the beach.
looking inward, from above
These four little exterior pockets, which I am loving, are perfect for your sunglasses and keys, ie. those things that are frequently hard to find in your voluminous pouch.
The little owls on the interior pockets, leftover from the Letter Pouch. I have to say that I really love the Anna Maria Horner pattern because it's written well and easy to understand. I will definitely look for more AMH patterns out there. There were some quirky steps in this bag, but I felt confident because the pattern was so well done. And I am really happy with how it turned out. In fact, last week I was able to go to work with just TWO bags in hand (a record), instead of the usual three.

As you probably already guessed, I had a really nice visit to Alewives Fabrics lately to redeem my Christmas gift certificate! (Can you believe it lasted so long?) So nice to see the lovely ladies there, as always. Rhea, the owner, is wonderful, and she seems to have a knack for hiring helpers who are equally so. This linen with the birds on it is a Japanese fabric and will be a new summer Barcelona skirt; A-line, not tiered this time. Can you tell I am looking ahead to summer sewing projects when I am not in school?
And some more of that owl fabric, to be a new pair of PJs for my very long-legged boy, Jonas. Notice those sweet Matryoshkas? Also a Japanese fabric, it's so so so soft that it is screaming (ever-sweetly) to be a new hankie. I am pondering a giveaway of hankies soon (a Matryoshka one will definitely be in the mix!), just as a thank you for reading gift, so keep checking in.
When she perches up here,
she usually thinks about flying down for some time,
and clucks very loudly while she contemplates
Finally, how is our friend Puffkin doing? The ongoing saga of our sweet hen continues. In the warmer weather, I removed the Chicken Cozy Neckwarmer and upcycled a tee-shirt sleeve (men's) to be a little protective covering that fits under her wings and over her healing parts. She lives in this little box in our woodshed and in the nicer weather we let her free range in the yard. The other chickens are securely in their chicken yard now, since my husby fixed their fence! So no danger of Puffkins being bullied or treated poorly by her feathered colleagues. For now, she seems content to go it alone, and when she's ready, we'll reintroduce her to the flock.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Easter: Part 2

I bet you were feeling cheated out of the pictures you knew that I must have taken of the adorable little girls in their Easter finery. Never fear. This mother of boys won't let you down!

Here's a little flavor of the Easter party we attended.

I had to include my big boy here, so you can see his height! And he was the proud winner of the magic egg! The prize was a terrarium, now filled with grass and sometimes ladybugs. A fly on a leash is another idea Jonas had, but no takers yet.
Wading in the stream? Yes, please!
Two gorgeous bellies on view:
And Z's "widdle chicks:"
Two more favorites of the day:

Easter: Part 1

too late for this year we learned of Peepshi,
Peeps Sushi (thanks, Kerry!)
Where are the Easter pictures, CraftingMama? Yes, yes, finally uploaded. We had a pleasantly gorgeous Easter day this year: the weather was beautiful and even a little HOT (remember last year?? fleece coats, red fingers from the whipping wind?). The hotness meant that I had my bare legs on view, in a skirt no less. This is so so so very rare for Easter in Maine.

We tried a Martha Stewart idea and used electrical tape on our eggs to block out certain areas. It was easy and fun to do. I also lit up a candle and used a wax resist method, making round dots on the eggs. I loved my red mushroom one, but then somehow moisture set in and made it sort of mottly.
a variety of eggs:
felted, sewn of felt, blown out and covered in origami paper, made of soap,
glass, and blown out and dyed with tissue paper
Easter hunt at home, then on to friends' for an idyllic afternoon with kids, stream, trampoline, more egg hunting, great food and hanging out. It's an important holiday in our family because you may remember that it is Jonas's favorite. More to come...

Monday, April 5, 2010

In case you were wondering

Sylvan is fully recovered from his rainy day malaise. This was the hike I forced them into on a beautiful spring day.
As you can see, they were entirely tortured. (It helped that we had a hiking-minded young friend with us; hikes work so much better if you can bring along a spare kid or two. Well also snacks, but that goes without saying.)
We were amused by jumping over puddles and dropping bits of chips in the puddle and seeing if my camera could keep up with the action (above). Look for the yellow chip in the photo of Sylvan; I missed the chip in the photo of Jonas.
I found a perfectly shaped bottom rest, formed out of this natural Maine granite or whatever it is.