Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kitchen Tip - Covering Crockpots

I recently needed to cook a chunk of frozen pork roast in the crockpot. The meat wasn't big enough to necessitate using my large crockpot, but it didn't fit in my small crock with the lid on. My solution? Cover the crock with a bowl!

I used a cereal bowl, and it actually fit perfectly - a seal formed, just like with using the lid. Usually I just put the lid on the best I can and squish things down as they thaw. This day, I was away from the house so it was unattended. The meat was ready to go by the time I got back and it fed our hungry silage crew well! I will be linking to Kitchen Tip Tuesdays over at Tammy's Recipes.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Being an Intentional "Yes Mama"

I've been listening to my blogging friend Amy when she writes about being intentional. I have longed to be more intentional, rather than reactive. Now that my health is getting back on track, I am getting more serious about it, though I'm just taking baby steps. I'm sure I read about being a "yes mama" on Melissa Wiley's blog, though I can't find the specific post now. (I have, however, spent a glorious hour clicking around her archives. Lissa is probably the first blogger I followed!) (Hmm, maybe it was Danielle Bean? No matter, though I wish I had another hour to dig through her archives, too...)

As I remember, being a "yes mama" means that instead of thinking about the mess that will be created, all the setup and cleanup that will be necessary for what will surely be approximately seven minutes of whatever activity and saying "not now" or "maybe later" ... that you say yes, and follow their lead with what they want to do.

Seven minutes of painting, sure, but really, it only takes about three minutes to set it up and two minutes to clean it up (provided there wasn't an oopsie accident, and Goose is really quite careful).

I have been slowly accumulating various art and craft supplies on clearance, from garage sales, at thrift stores, and I'm now realizing that it doesn't make sense to keep saving them for a rainy day - especially when I tend to be a "not now" mama on rainy days, too. So, I pulled them all together and put them in a set of plastic drawers now located in the kitchen:

Yup, stepping around Goose, who was using stencils and colored pencils in the middle of the floor was kind of a pain, and she needed help pulling up and re-taping stencils, but in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't that bad. Plus she really, really enjoyed it. I also discovered that when I am more willing to say yes, she is also more willing to say yes when it is time to clean up (especially if we talk about it beforehand.)

Something that got me to thinking about all this again was when she brought me one of her books and said "can I do dat, Mama?"

I know that if I want HER to be creative, I need to demonstrate creativity myself. So, I said "sure!" and hopped up to make it happen. I was wishing that I'd picked up some crepe paper streamers that I see at thrift stores all the time, but I hadn't done so. (That has since been remedied!) So we got a ribbon from her dress up trunk and some masking tape. I taped the ribbon across the doorway, and showed her how to "ready, set, GO!" and run through to break the ribbon, just like in the picture.

Sure, I had to say "ready, set, GO!" (and then cheer her on) approximately eleventy hundred times, but I showed her how to tape the ribbon back up so she didn't need my physical help until the tape got too crinkled, then I just got her another piece.

As I'm typing this out, it seems so simple. But I hope it represents a shift in my thinking and how I make decisions as a mama. Here's to being intentional!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Daybook for September 25, 2011

Outside my window... still beautiful weather. Nights are quite chilly, which means mornings are quite chilly. This time of year, I tend to not bother getting Goose dressed until about 10AM or so, and then I feel like it's warming up enough for her to wear summerish clothes for the warm afternoon.

I am thinking... that my to-do list isn't getting any shorter, but I know this blog post won't take long. :>)

I am praying for... Hubs's family, still. His dad continues to decline due to Lou Gehrig's disease. Your prayers are appreciated for them as well.

I am thankful for... my dad. He takes SUCH good care of me. It truly is a foretaste of how my Heavenly Father loves me, and I wish every girl in the world were so lucky (on both counts, earthly and Heavenly fathers!)

From the learning rooms... planning. :>) I bought a planner on clearance and am getting ready to fill it up! Problem is, since preschool doesn't need to be particularly planned out, I'm not quite sure where to start or how to coordinate. But I'll figure it out, I'm sure.

From the kitchen... um. Pretty uninspiring. We're due to get a quarter of beef soon, so I'll be frying up hamburger and refreezing to have on hand, plus probably making a big batch of meatloaf and perhaps some porcupine meatballs as well.

I am wearing... black capri pants and a shirt from today's ALS walk.

I am creating... hmm, not much. But lots of ideas, like usual.

I am pondering... how to turn the Family Memories game into something I can put in the craft shop.

I am reading... Cinderella Ate My Daughter and Hold Onto Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. I also recently picked up Mud Pies and Other Recipes: A Cookbook for Dolls, 401 Ways to Get Your Kids to Work at Home: Techniques, tips, tricks, and strategies on how to get your kids to become self-reliant, responsible adults, Getting Your Preschooler Ready for Math, and Jotham's Journey (in preparation for Advent).

I am hoping... that my adrenal glands continue to heal. I was feeling well enough that I backed off the supplements (as recommended by the pharmacist directing my treatment) and as expected, my energy has taken a dip. But I expect that it'll pick back up soon and I'll be able to continue down the path to health!

I am hearing... two cats purring curled up next to and on me, and a baseball game on TV.

Around the house... it's quiet, as Goosie is visiting her cousins for a week again. I have such wonderful memories of playing with my cousins and I want the same for her, even though hers are much farther away.

One of my favorite things... purring cats. Can't help it - I've always loved kitties.

A few plans for the rest of the week... picking up the house, crafting some stuff for the shop, chopping onions from the garden and freezing them, make a carrying case for my phone, bookwork, probably spending a day working in my MIL's quilt shop, a raw milk run, and my parents will be back on Friday with Goose then they'll spend the weekend here.

A picture thought I am sharing... Goose helping me put together sack lunch suppers for the silage crew. She did a great job!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Family Memories Board Game

I mentioned waaaay back in December that I made a Family Memories game for Hubs' cousins Christmas gift swap. I got the idea from here, and THEY got the idea from Family Fun, who provided a convenient cheat sheet PDF here. Admittedly, assembling this took a fair amount of time, and I put myself in a pinch by not really starting it until a week before Christmas or so. (oops.)

If you want to do this for Christmas, I'd suggest getting started now - compiling family trivia for questions and looking for the parts. Since I'm a tightwad, nearly EVERY piece was thrifted, purchased on clearance, or pulled from my random stash. Let me show you what mine looked like:

First, instead of calling the game "Memory Lane", I went with [our last name]~ville. It's kind of a joke, because our extended family has lived more or less in the same area for a hundred plus years, and it's referred to as a "suburb" of our very small town. And it's called just that - [our last name]ville.

I didn't have a whole lot in the way of old pictures scanned, but thankfully I was able to get my hands on enough to cover the box. I used a few duplicates under the name area, where it didn't really matter.

For the game board, I used some of Family Fun's suggestions, and just did what worked for me otherwise. I used some pretty blue paper that I had several sheets of on hand, and if I remember correctly, I think I used mod podge to stick it down. I also measured my board and calculated how big the each space should be so they fit well, and the corners are bigger than the rest.

I really liked the "pick a card" since it meant asking family trivia questions, so I put on five of those. As an afterthought, the Start space seemed a little lonely, so I made that "pick a card" too. I wasn't crazy about the "swipe" spot, where you steal a treasure from an opponent, but I put three of them on there anyway. "Score" spots were just picking a treasure. (See treasures below, by the way.)

If a player lands on a picture space, they are to share a memory of that. There is one space for each of the four brothers and one sister (and their spouses) in my father-in-law's family, and one space for Hubs's grandparents. Other spaces include the school in our small town where all of hubs' uncles and aunt and Hubs and most of his cousins attended plus a space for the school in the nearby town where they graduated; livestock (a cow and a pig), the city name signs from the two nearby big towns, a space for dogs, cats, & chickens; a space for the nearby town where they all went to high school; a space for farming & harvest; a space for holidays; and a space for the church where most of the family was baptized and attended. (I know it's a lotta spaces. whew.)

I provided a notebook and pen to jot down any stories or details that came about as a result of playing the game. For the trivia cards, I used business cards (I think?) and printed them out, including several blank cards to fill out as new stories came to light.

Trivia questions included tidbits such as:
Who was born in a sod house?
How did Great-Grandpa lose his leg?
How many times was the {small town} Bank robbed?
In what year were (each aunt & uncle and grandma & grandpa) married?
What is the age gap between (oldest grandchild) and (youngest grandchild)?
Name at least four of Grandpa's horses.
Who was the first (last name) to graduate from (small town) high school? (a trick question - no one with our last name actually graduated from the school. Either they didn't graduate, graduated before they married into the family, or graduated from another school.)

Aaand finally, the treasurers. I chose an ear of corn (prosperity), a cross (faith), an apple (health), a bell (security), a heart (love & family), and a dove (hope). These items and their meanings were partially chosen based on the items I had on hand. :>) I happened to have some tins to hold the items, so I put labels on them. I let Goose paint the treasures for me, by the way.

I kind of tried uploading the directions to a Google doc, but then figured since they were rather short, it was just as easy to paste them in here. Just know that they were prettied up for the actual game!
{NAME}~VILLE … a walk down Memory Lane

Object of the game: To be the first player to collect all six treasures and make it Home.

Setup: Each player chooses a game piece, and places it at Start. Shuffle the cards and place them face down on the board. Set the treasures off to the side. The oldest player goes first and play proceeds clockwise around the board.

How to play: Each player rolls the die on his or her turn and moves around the board. When you land on a space, follow the instructions.
Picture spaces – share a memory or fact about the people, location, etc. involved. For example, if you land on Grandma and Grandpa, you can either share a memory about one or both of them (it doesn’t even have to involve you), or a memory involving their house or yard.
Pick a card – take the top card from the pile and have another player read the question aloud. If you answer the question correctly, you may pick a treasure.
Score! – pick a treasure.
Swipe! – take a treasure from an opponent.
Start – if you land on Start during the game, pick a card. If you answer the question correctly, you may pick a treasure.

Once you have collected all six treasures, you can make your way towards turning up the path to Home. If someone swipes one of your treasures before you make it Home, you must go back down and continue around the board until your collection is again complete.

The first player to roll the exact number to land on Home wins the game. (Doesn’t everybody win with sharing all the memories, though?)

Blank cards are provided to add more trivia questions, and a notebook is also provided to record random details and memories. Players may also make notes directly on the trivia cards… especially if the answer is incorrect!

Game assembled by Lenetta [name] for the cousin gift swap, Christmas 2010. Treasures were painted by Goose, age 3. Many thanks to Grandma [name], [and other names], and others for helping compile trivia questions.
Let me know if you have any questions in making your own! I'll be linking up at Skip to My Lou and Life as Mom.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Daybook for September 7, 2011

I put a button in my sidebar so you can get to my boards on Pinterest and read the whole internet over there. :>) Oh, and I pinned a post called "And That's Why You Should Learn to Pick Your Battles" - language warning, but I laughed until I cried. And I totally know where to get a five foot metal chicken locally...

Outside my window... it is so beautiful! We're in a spell of jacket weather, and though it probably won't last, it sure puts me in a better mood.

I am thinking... that I forgot to answer the comment from my "favorite uncle" Ray a while back. Yes, I know the stinkin' Yankees are beating the soup out of my beloved Minnesota Twins. :>)

I am thankful for... making decisions that are not life and death. So much of life is serious, but so much more of it is not really as bad as we make it out to be. (see below)

From the learning rooms...ah, how interesting it's been. The pendulum has swung so widely, and interestingly the same day she *started* preschool (of which I hated EVERY SINGLE MINUTE she was gone!), I learned there is a Catholic homeschooling group in one of the nearby big towns. I'm a bit frustrated because I looked and asked around, but I guess I didn't look in the right places and ask the right people the right questions. So I'm seriously considering punting on "real" preschool and doing things at home, where I really feel we belong.

From the kitchen...I'm just finally starting to get inspired there again. Poor Hubs; it seems like I just start to recover from the uncertainty of meals during planting season and then it's irrigating season and he doesn't get home until late again. Then I almost recover from that and get back into the swing of cooking, and it's harvest time. I've recently made chicken spaghetti, chicken and rice, and I have a big hankering for meatloaf.

I am wearing...a shirt in my favorite color of blue and black capris. Since I started taking adrenal supplements almost six weeks ago, I've finally started to feel a bit better! (though I came down with another cold and this one is knocking me for a loop - I didn't realize how good I was feeling until I started feeling lousy!) All this is to say that I've lost a couple of pounds, and I'm hoping as I continue to feel better, that trend will also continue. And since it's cooler (see above!), I know I need to get out and do some walking.

I am creating... fun stuff for the craft shop. I realized I should have been taking pictures of the stuff I've been doing, but I never remember - plus I craft in the basement at night, which doesn't make for the awesomest picture taking. But, here's a short list: Preppy Bibs, Marble Travel Games, Barefoot Baby Bloom Booties, and I tried a Cotton Candy Skirt for Goose, but didn't like it so I put it up for sale. :>) I think my problems were that I tried to make it too wide, so there was too much white space behind the tulle, and I tried to do it in rainbow colors, so it was kinda all over the place. I'm thinking one color would've been better.

Oh, and an update on the rainbow backpack for preschool... another little girl has a PRINCESS backpack, that has a handle that pops out so it becomes a rolling bag. Goose told me she doesn't like rainbows anymore, that she wants one like that. Sigh. I told her I'd put some Care Bears on it or something. Sigh.

I am pondering...SCHOOL! and feeling quite excited about it. :>)

I am reading... Last Child in the Woods, with Cinderella Ate My Daughter on deck, and Choosing to See in the hole.

I am hoping... the adrenal supplements continue to work. I would love for this school year to be a chance for me to get on track with the house and with Goose. Wouldn't that be wonderful!

I am hearing... Bugs buzzing outside - cicadas? I think we've been hearing them for over a month, which means the old wives tale says we'll have a freeze before the end of the month. I hope not, because I haven't done as much picking from my garden as I should have yet.

Around the house... I have actually felt like picking up and doing things! This is HUGE, people! Of course it all came crashing to a halt with this most recent cold, but I feel like there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

One of my favorite things... reading with Goose. I thrifted a fun rhyming book and we've read it a few times today already. I love to see her starting to figure things out!

A few plans for the rest of the week... we're paid up for a month, so there will be preschool tomorrow, then Friday is a big local consignment sale and a small rummage sale. Next week is Husker Harvest Days, a big farm show that we love to attend with Papa, and hopefully more friends coming for a farm tour on Friday.

A picture thought I am sharing...

My best friend from high school visited us again this summer with her two kids, and it was so fun to see them playing with Goose! We did the farm tour again, and just all around had a ball. Next year can't come soon enough!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Crafty Tasks

I miss putting together the "Reading the Whole Internet Posts", but it is much easier using Pinterest. You can find me HERE. As I said previously, it's kinda nice because you can see a picture. If you'd like an invitation to join Pinterest, let me know.

To make a super long story short, Goose starts preschool tomorrow. We aren't doing the co-op again this year (oh, how I wish we were!), and I debated allllll over the place before deciding to enroll her in "real preschool" (as my 6YO niece once put it). Right now, my thinking is to have her get familiar with other kids, learn to "do school" and perhaps next year, we'll stay home. :) But we'll have to see, I guess...

So, one of the things she needs is a backpack. I didn't want to buy her a stinkin' princess backpack (though I know she'd love it) - I wanted to get crafty and keep my mind off the fact that I'm going to have to drop her off tomorrow. So, I made a rainbow backpack! It's one I thrifted, and I wasn't crazy about the primary colors, but it looked kinda rainbow-ish.

I made a scrappy rainbow and hand stitched it on the front. Didn't turn out quite like I thought, but I'm OK with it. I used embroidery floss and stitched Goose's name on the orange ribbon, then sewed it on. I used a piece of rainbow ribbon on the zipper pull.

I took the same rainbow ribbon and stitched it on the top and sides. It was kinda rough sewing around the zipper - and I accidentally stitched it down a few times. Oops. Nothing a seam ripper couldn't handle, though. I was out of rainbow ribbon by this time, so I used rainbow colored embroidery floss and braided it for zipper pulls.

And, of course, since every girl needs a new dress for preschool, I whipped a little something up there.

I used two women's thrifted tank tops. I took the teal one and smocked it with elastic thread - see MADE for some tips on sewing with that stuff, it went a little easier this time than it did last time.

Similar to the patriotic dresses I'd made, I cut the top off another tank top and sewed it to the bottom of the teal one. I then sewed some (also thrifted!) rick rack where the two joined, and made a flower using this method (though I stitched instead of hot glued) and added it to the waist. It's a bit more centered on the dress than I wanted it, but that's OK.

The straps were a bit interesting. I used a piece of the straps from the teal tank top to make loops on the back. Then I stitched the straps from the white top to the front of the blue top, ran them through the loops and brought them to the front. At this point, I tried it on Goose and measured where the straps needed to be and put a loop on the ends. (Are you loopy yet? I am...) The final step was to add some thrifted "ball" buttons - my mom tried to work me through leaving some space so the loops would fit better. Admittedly, the straps are a bit thick to hold well, but it works.

I've also been doing quite a bit of sewing for the craft consignment shop, though last month was the smallest month I've had since it started in May. I'm thinking that Christmas shopping is going to pick up a bit, so I'm not too worried. Plus it's more or less paying for my supplies, so that's about all I can ask!

It's a bit late, but I'm submitting over at Made By You Monday!