Monday, May 27, 2013

Cookbook Club

I read an article in the Journal the other day and have been thinking about it ever since.

It is all about the latest fad in book clubs is to do a cook book club.  I love this idea.  So I have been thinking about how to go about starting such a club.  I read this blog post and that gave me some good info.

At first, I was thinking of just doing that with my neighbors, but I get to hang out with a lot of them often anyway.  So perhaps, I will branch out to include different people - like local friends and colleagues.  They are a group of interesting people that I genuinely like and this could be a fun way to get to know them better and actually hang out with them periodically.  Any suggestions on good cookbooks to consider for the club?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Homemade soap

I like homemade soaps and I usually purchase it at craft shows in scents that I like. I have even ordered it online a couple of time.  However, I really want to try to make my own homemade soap.  I have been hoping to try it for a while.  Rhonda has several good tutorials and it seems simple and straight forward enough.  I finally have gathered all the supplies - goggles, a kitchen scale, lye, and some good fats.

So next time that I have an evening to myself, I will try it.  My plan is to try to make a couple of different types of soaps.  1) I would like a nice creamy soap - maybe with some coconut oil and a bit of superfatting (where you have a slightly higher ratio of fats to lye for the extra creaminess).  2) I would also like to try to make a practical kitchen sink type of soap - I have been saving bacon grease for this purpose.  And if that works out well, I would like to try using my kitchen sink soap in homemade laundry soap. 

The scale and the lye were the only real new expenses.  The scale is a one time ever sort of purchase and it was $15. The lye was $8 for a good sized container that should last me through years of soap making.  All in all not too expensive for a fun and productive project.  I will be back with an update on how it goes - hopefully in the near future. :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Making of a homemaker

I feel like I have three full-time jobs.

1)  Taking care of me and my immediate environment - my house, cars, yard, etc.
2)  Being a Mama - taking care of my two wonderful ladies - Audrey and Meredith
3)  Work - my job and career

Jobs 2 and 3 really get my full focus right now.  However, I would really like to make it so that jobs 1 and 2 get my full focus.

Also, I have been thinking, it is a little crazy that we women grow up helping out and doing a few chores, taking care of siblings, etc., but aside from that minimal training, we spend most of our focus and learning capabilities on academics and then career work.  So when a woman decides to stay home and take care of a baby, there is not only the new mother stuff to learn, but there is also the homemaking stuff to learn.  We think because we have a quarter of a century experience with life that it will be easy, that all of a sudden we will be able to do the meal planning, using leftovers, budgeting and stretching funds, decorating, organizing, party planning, growing food, keeping a house clean and maintained, raising happy healthy productive children, and coming up with an elegant system to accomplish it all.  But there are some real skill involved in each of these things that take time to learn.  I think when I first stayed home with Audrey, I did not really think about how to continually improve the work I was doing. Truly, I don't think I appreciated the entire scope of what a homemaking career could be.  I tried new recipes and such, but I didn't try to learn to make soap or can food.  I kind of caught the homemaking bug after I left to go back to work.

Here we are now, with a sweet baby (who is really a sweet toddler at this point, but she will always be my sweet baby) and a daycare issue.  We are considering having me quit my job (or at least drastically reduce my hours) to be with my littles and raise them and take care of the family.  This time around, I think I appreciate the scope of the task of homemaking a little more and I am super excited for the challenge.

So perhaps the making of a homemaker is not always a linear path straight from babies to homemaker.  Sometimes it takes a few tries to figure these things out.  Life isn't meant to be lived linearly anyway, right?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Dear Family,

I miss you.  Please come and visit me soon.  I just took a few minutes to read my sisters' blogs.  That was so much fun.  I wish we had the means to all visit each other more often.  I miss having family around. I would love to have my girls grow up around cousins. I would love to get to hang out with my family on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.

I am lucky to have wonderful neighbors and we have a lovely community with them, but it sure would be nice to have family close too.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Progress in the garden

While I really enjoy gardening, I think it is safe to say that I find I am a bit of a haphazard gardener.  I just don't necessarily get around to doing all the right things at the right times.  This weekend I was productive. I pulled out the old kale that had flowered and then gone to seed.  
I harvested some surprise parsnips - who knew parsnips grew the following spring.
Then I weeded a bit and planted some cucumbers, lettuce and carrots.  This time I even labeled my squares, how novel. I hope that my cucumber plants will be more productive than last year.  We harvested enough cucumbers to eat, but not enough to pickle and this year I really want to try making my own dill pickles!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Amish Coffee N Cake

I love coffee cake and I love coffee, so what could be better than a cake with coffee in it?  I found a recipe for Amish Coffee N Cake here.

I substituted butter for shortening, but otherwise followed the recipe.  The cake turned out a little wonky looking, but tasted delicious.  It went especially well with my unsweetened coffee in the morning as a mid-morning snack.  Next time I will add a bit of salt, because I like salt too.

Monday, May 06, 2013

New Wheels

Meredith and I got new wheels this week.  I put both bike and trike together on Saturday.  Sunday afternoon we went to an empty commuter parking lot for bike time.  Audrey and Meredith rode in the car with the bikes in back.  I rode my bike to meet them.  It was the perfect place to let Audrey practice her bike.  Ryan walked Meredith around on her tricycle.  Even though she can reach the pedals, she is extremely content to just let her parents do that work for her.  Side note: I love the way her hair is doing that sweet little baby curls thing at the bottom edges right now.

My bike is awesome.  I got it at Costco, because I get everything at Costco.  The seat is nice and squishy and the frame is surprisingly light.  I did a couple of little rides over the weekend, a mile or so each.  I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that I am terribly out of shape.  We have a lot of hills around us and it was hard to get to the top of them.  But it was also super fun.  It is funny there is something about a bike that gives you a sense of freedom that I don't even feel with my cars.  And I loved getting to smell the flowers and hear the birds while I was riding.  Even though my legs and my rear-end are sore, I can't wait to get back out and take another little ride.

As for accessories, the bike is in desperate need of a basket or rack.  I think I will have to get a rack because I bought a toddler seat for the front.  I am waiting to install that until I have just a touch more strength in my legs. Meredith is nearly 30lbs of toddler love. And we only have a hand-pump, so I think we will eventually need to get a better pump too.

Here she is on her new tricycle right in front of my new bike.  Pretty sweet rides for both of us. :)