Saturday, January 29, 2011

Promise of Spring

 I had planned to post a Saturday Night Cinema recommendation today but instead I enacted my plan to make everybody in my family hate me.  The kids were set to work cleaning the house and Moose was sent up the neighbor's extension ladder do do some jobs for me.
This was one of the jobs, to extricate the mosses and one fern growing in the window.   The other was to wash those same windows.  When he was done  my mission to be hated was completed and I was left outside holding the squeegee and the window cleaner; it seemed silly NOT to wash the rest of the outside windows. By the time I was done with the windows the sun was shining in a late afternoon manner and I decided to investigate a flower moose found growing in the grass. 
It was one of these.  I don't know what they are do you?  Whatever they are they are pretty, and yellow, and they are flowers and it is January!  They are all over the grounds.
I would say that they are the first flowers but I have had violets (just one at a time) all winter long. 
This pot sits on the porch just where the exhaust from the furnace and the exhaust from the dryer meet.  I assume that this creates a micro climate just right for growing violets.
And this is why I did not rip out all of those heather bushes this summer, 
they might be boring in the summer but look at them now!
These are pretty boring pictures but they might be the happiest.  
The one deficiency at Starling (besides the lack of a good place for a vegetable patch) was that there were no lilacs.  I transplanted some not knowing if such an endeavor would succeed.  All summer I had these sickly wilted lilac sticks along the fence.  It didn't look good.

These photos lead me to believe that they made it!
 This was my favorite discovery, bright green moss everywhere.  Moose got out the moss control but I made him keep it on the grass only.
You just can't make me mad about moss.

Don't hate me because I have flowers.  I still have 4-5 months of clouds and rain ahead of me.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Samurai Mom Guest Stars

I was flattered when Arianne at Still Parenting asked to interview me for her blog.
Of course I said "Yes."  Pop on over there and read about my crafting, knitting and my Great-great-great-great grandma.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On Target

 This is a copy of my post today at Latter-Day Homeschooling.

I am a very reluctant soccer mom.  I really, really hate taking my kids to and from practices. Games are once a week and I can handle that, unless it is really cold and raining which it often is. I was so unbelievably happy when, last season,  my son's team was assigned the practice field right across the street from our house.  All I had to do was hand him a bottle of water on is way out the door.

Soccer season is but a memory now which leaves us time for really COOL ways to develop our bodies, like archery.
I am a closet archer.  I love bows and arrows, I also like them old school, none of these aluminum compound bows with their wheels and carbon arrows. I like wooden arrows and a beautiful wooden recurve bow, like Robin Hood. Now, I don't approve of Robin Hood. Stealing from the rich to give to the poor? What a thug, however; he had some wicked skills with a bow.  But, I digress. I like a little target practice and I am so happy that both of my boys like it as well.

Our local archery store/shooting range holds homeschool lessons twice a month.  The rate includes rental AND instruction and the cost is significantly less than the regular rental rate without instruction.

If you live in the Portland, Oregon area you are in luck and can come join us at our local range, but if not maybe you could call your local range and see if they have a homeschool plan.  If they don't offer a homeschool time perhaps you might suggest one.

Here are some tips for the archery range:

*Leave the little ones at home.  The shooting range is no place for little who want to run about or hang on mom's skirts.  I find a stitter for kids not old enough (in my opinion) to shoot yet.  Sometimes I offer to take the sitter's older children with me in exchange. 

* Never dry fire a bow (pull back and let go of the string without an arrow in it.) You will get yelled at and it will be embarrassing. Ask me how I know this.

* Talk to the kids beforehand about following instructions.  This is not a time to choose not to obey or listen.  Arrows are dangerous and people who don't follow instructions could get killed.

* Join in.  Archery is good for moms too!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Do You Think "They" are Reading Samurai Mom Too?

Have you read this article about women who just can't stop reading Mormon housewife blogs?

I wanted to post about why I think Momon women are such fascinating bloggers and I have my own opinions on feminism. My very first posts were about motherhood vs. feminism.  But alas, today is not that day and this post is not that post.

I just want to affirm that marriage IS wonderful.  Being a mother IS the most important and fulfilling job a woman can have.  That Mormon women DO really do all the tings they blog about.  That for the most part we ARE happy.  In short, we are the real deal.

Sure we clean up before we take a photo of the house and we don't talk much about the kid that has a serious back talking problem as much as the nice things he does because focusing on the positive is just so much more inspiring for the blogger and the reader.

That said, the kids are recovering from our 2 sick days and are FULL of energy.  They just keep making noise and it is driving me nuts.  I am SO glad that Moose and I have a date tonight!

P.S.   Maybe that is why we are so happy, the church advocates making date night a priority!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Making Home, With Love.

Nutmeg wasn't feeling very well last night so today we ware keeping it low. 
I am making chicken noodle soup for dinner and baking fresh breads.   
There is peppermint tea in the pot and hot water in the kettle.  
I am going to tidy up the kitchen and then finish up with some knitting.  It
will be a cozy day, hopefully the sun will keep shining.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Supplemental Income

Many couples are looking for ways to add to the household income in these tough economic times.  Here at Starlings we are no different as evidenced by a recent conversation.

Me: You need to make more money.
Moose: Oh, why?
Me: Because I need a maid and a cook, or maybe just a housekeeper, I think they can do both.  Maybe you should start a crime syndicate.
Moose: Well, I have been watching this Dillinger movie and crime really does pay.
Me: Until you get shot in front of a theater.
Moose: But then Johnny Depp will play me in a movie and we can have the royalties.
Me: Profits.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Stash Bustin'

Saturday, I tackled a project that has been in my "to do" basket for 2 years, a straight skirt made out of pin-tucked wool.  All it needed was a lining, for two years!

Why have I been putting it off for so long? I will try to get a picture of it this week.

Finishing up this project was so satisfying (until I ran out of bobbin thread at the last 2 inches) that I have decided to spend some time in the studio every week day working on all of those half finished projects.

Let me know if you are inspired to do the same.

Wish me luck and Happy Stash Bustin'!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Favorite Spice

I have a serious affection for cayenne pepper.  I like it on everything.  I coat fish and chicken in it and my favorite snack is a homemade bagel with fromage blanc spread on top with a pinch of kosher salt and a dusting of cayenne.  This afternoon I sprinkled cayenne pepper on my mashed potatoes and it was great!

Is this weird?

By the way homemade bagels are really easy and about 5,000 times better that the best bakery bagel you have tried (I am speaking to us regular folks who don't live in New York of course.)

I get my recipe from the book Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day which I have mentioned before.

Highly recommended with fromage blanc, Kosher salt and cayenne pepper.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

My Secrets: A New Series

I really miss being Primary Chorister.

I was the Primary Chorister for the Senior Primary in our ward for just over a year.  I expected to be in for at least another year or more.  I didn't think I would miss it very much because I love Sunday School and Relief Society so much.
But I do.

I miss those sweet voices and I miss feeling the spirit with nearly every song.  I miss singing the praises to the Lord for 25 minutes.  I miss teaching the children the gospel truths through music and tucking it into their hearts.

P.S. I like my calling now just fine so don't go telling the Bishop.  Thanks!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Crock Pot Blues

It is Early Rotation for our ward at church this year.

I really don't do well with early rotation.  It requires more planning beforehand including making sure the kids get bathed on Saturday evening which leads to crazy bed styled hairdos on all 3 of my children.  I can't realize that the boys don't have clean shirts last minute and stuff them in the wash while I make the dutch puff.  Speaking of dutch puff, we have had fun with our dutch puff Sunday brunches this year, now it will have to be dutch puff lunch at 1:00.  Not the same at all.

Sleep is also a problem.  I don't get up early and neither do my kids.  When I was expecting and on early rotation years I think I could have been classified as semi-inactive with all the days I was late, missed sacrament meeting or slept through the whole block altogether.  Happily (or unhappily) I have been getting up earlier for the last 6 months with classes and babysitting, so, while being at church at 9 am will be difficult it won't be a Herculean task this year. But wait, I can't just arrive at 9 am because our chapel is not big enough for our ward and if you aren't there 30 minutes early you don't get a pew.  I NEED a pew, I can not contain my children unless we are in a box with only one exit.

Some of the bright spots of early church are that Sunday afternoon naps can be in the afternoon and not in the early evening, much more effective.  We can go on family walks when the weather is fine.

There is also the crock pot.  I know it makes more sense to use the crock pot  when you get home from church at 4:00 pm  but that isn't how I roll. I want to use it for when I get up from my nap. It makes sense to me so go with it.
The trouble is my family doesn't like crock pot food.  They (including Moose) object to food being mushed up together in a stew type fashion.  I find this really weird because food where the flavors all cook together is my favorite thing.  I know you can just cook sauces and pour them on other foods but that is NOT my reason for crock pot use.  My goal is to throw all the food into the pot, turn a switch, open it hours later, take that same, SINGLE pot to the table and serve from it .  ONE DISH, savvy?  Besides, if I was going to prepare noodles, rice, meat or what have you separately, why wouldn't I just open a can of sauce which is simpler and faster?

I suppose we could do something else for Sunday dinners.  For a while  (back when were renters and our family numbered only 3 three) we made homemade pizzas on Sundays, but that is too much work and too messy, the opposite of crock pot meals.  I also tried Soup Sundays but the peasants rebelled, apparently, I am the only one who likes soup.

I guess you can say that I am looking for ideas, I want something easy, really  easy, sinfully easy, single dirty dish easy. Savvy?  Frozen lasagna easy but not lasagna because I am the only member of the family that likes lasagna (foods mushed up in layers are still mushed up together) and I have very limited freezer space.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Is there A Money Saving App?

Moose and I gave each other in the most unromantic and least secretive way Android phones for Christmas.  By unromantic I mean we dashed into Best Buy on Black Friday and bought them.  By least secretive I mean we bought them together and then I wrapped them, hauled them to Montana, then a week later we unwrapped them.

I didn't think that we could afford them and now looking at my financial planner on my new Android phone I see that I was right.  We should have given each other handmade coupon books and socks and that is it.

The good news is that we are Virgin Mobile customers so we get unlimited web, text and data with an adequate amount of minutes  for $25 a month no contract.  It makes me happy to know that we won't be sinking tons of money into a plan just because we were a little foolish on Black Friday.
I have already strengthened relationships because many of my friends and family members are REALLY happy that they can text me all the time now. And really if you were my sister you would want to tell me things all the time, wouldn't you? I am happy too because I can nag Moose without hearing his annoyed voice on the other end of the phone.  I can also send him lists of things to get at the grocery store all the time.

If only La Keira would figure out texting we could realize the Batphone dream.

I am totally excited to use my scriptures app at church on Sunday and not have to add my heavy quad to the already heavy Keep-the-Kids-Entertained-and-Quiet-During-Sacrament-Meeting bag.

But still I feel guilty that we spent so much money.  In my defense my Mom told me we should do it, and we all know that we should listen to our mothers.

I am hoping that I will be able to use the phone to help me save money like my brother did when we were Christmas shopping.  I have joined Groupon, am working on figuring out the barcode scanner and the aforementioned financial planner will help me feel really guilty and think 5 times before spending ANY money.

Do you have any helpful money saving tips you have realized with your smart phone?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

This is 2011

While some of this year's goals are the same there is a change of focus.  While last year's goals were mainly inward this years goals are all about going outside of myself.

Wish me luck.

Monday, January 03, 2011

2010 Accounting

2010 was a hard year for me.  It wasn't a bad year and I am not complaining, it was just hard.  So many big things happened, little things, emotional things, financial things, happy things, sad things.  I am really looking forward to 2011 a fresh new year with no troubles in it yet.
With a new year comes the time for reflection and goal setting.  I thought I would take a look at last year's goals and see how I did.

Ask Better Questions and Listen More:  still working on these but I think that I am getting better

Hit My Knees: Yes, oh yes.

Hit the Road:  Walking fizzled out early in the year but La Keira and I  took a Zumba class which we really liked but once a week wasn't enough.  We have new plans this year.

Find a Friend for Boba Fett: making good progress on this, moving helped a lot.

Hit the Books:  FAIL!  Unless you count Betty Neels books which I don't.

Connect with Commander C: Just OK on this one.

Rhetoric: attempted and failed

Be Brave: I was not brave - I found it hard to step out of myself this year and made do with a few hours volunteering at phone banks and a yard sign.  Mostly fail.

Be More Present in the Moment and Find Quiet Moments: So-so

Be a Nicer Wife: Nope.  Rolling this one over to the new year.

Considering the circumstances I think that I did OK.  Remember I moved house, dealt with NOT selling our other house, built a business of sorts, worked very
hard and kept the house fairly clean ALL YEAR LONG.  The kids are still alive and homeschooling is doing better.