Monday, June 30, 2008

Tomato Cage Trellis


An upside down tomato cage makes a great trellis for climbing plants. We have always used these in our garden for things like peas and pole beans, but recently I decided to try one on a potted mandevilla. Turned upside down and legs tied together with garden twine, it looks great (and is way cheaper than those fancy trellises). Make sure you bury the base of the cage (which is actually the top) in the dirt to make it steady, and place your plant in the center of the cage.
A great new use for an old garden item!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Three is a magic number

Last night I had a mommy's time out with several friends. We get together once a month and it is always fun and interesting. The topic o'the evening last night was predominantly kids; specifically the number of kids people have. We talked about this person who has five and is wanting at least seven, and another person who had three kids already then got pregnant with twins at 40 - willingly (go figure). It seemed to be the general consensus that big families are the norm and something everyone should experience.
Then there's me. I am the only one in our group who has one child and is shockingly happy with one. I don't find this fact shocking, but many others do. I actually teetered back and forth on even wanting kids for the first three years of my marriage; I had a successful career and filled my spare time with traveling, cooking, gardening, reading, or whatever made me happy. Then my biological clock started haunting me at the ripe old age of 35, so Great White Hunter (who has two children from a previous marriage) and I decided we would try. On our third attempt we were blessed with a pregnancy. When my beautiful son was born, I knew my life would never be the same but I didn't care. He is absolutely the greatest gift I have ever received and I wouldn't change a thing. We seem to be the odd man out, being just we three, but we are so happy and the closeness we share is amazing. Another important thing for me is that with one child, I'm able to hang on to a tiny bit of myself. If that makes me selfish then so be it. I prefer to think it just makes me happy, and when mommy's happy, life is good. Three is a magic number.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Beach Baby


About 4 years ago, I started a small baby business as a means to unleash some energy from my crafty curse. Yes, I'd just had a baby and yes, I was overwhelmed, and yes, I'm a glutton. Over the last year, Up To The Moon (the biz name) has definitely taken a back seat, due to a super busy kid's schedule and me trying to get my priorities straight. When I received an order yesterday from a client in California, I just couldn't turn it down. Sure it took time out of our day to crank some things out, but for me it was worth it (despite the guilt I feel when child o'mine peeks his head in my sewing room every five seconds and gives me that pouty "you're ignoring me again" look). Let me just say it now, I LOVE TO CREATE THINGS! I cannot deny myself this pleasure (or sickness, depending on how you look at it). So one slightly neglected child and a bit of a mess later, we have our surfboard changing pads and matching bibs on their way to California. I love this on-the-go changing pad; it's cute and pretty practical for that matter (find out more about it here).

Living deepinahearta I have done many western themed baby items, which are great, but I am a beach girl at heart. I guess it just proves you can take the girl out of California, but you can't take California out of the girl.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It's all worth it

A few nights ago during dinner, my sweet boy and I had the following conversation:

child: "Mommy, I am going to live with you forever!"

me: "Oh God please no
Someday you will be all grown up and have a house and family of your own, but maybe you will still live close to me."

child: "When I grow up, I am going to have my house right next to yours and build a bridge from my house to your house so I can visit you every day."

me: (can hardly see the child anymore because my eyes are welled up with tears. THIS is what makes all the hard stuff so totally worth it!) "That would be so nice, baby. That would be so nice."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A greener way to wrap



I have fabric coming out the wazoo, so when I read about furoshiki, I was so excited (doesn't take much these days). Not only is using fabric as wrapping paper cool, but it means less paper in the landfills - hooray!

There are many different techniques, so be sure to use this link for a great diagram and have fun with furoshiki!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A new use for some old cloth


I finally finished this blanket today (ordered by a friend for her new baby girl), and I have to say while I did not truly enjoy the process, I love the outcome. This baby blanket is made from 4-inch squares of feed sack cloth sewn in a quilt-like pattern, then backed with a soft pink minky dot chenille. The feed sack prints give this blanket a vintage look, which is great in my opinion because I am not a traditionalist when it comes to baby things. I have collected vintage feed sack prints for a few years now, I simply love them and I hope my friend loves this blanket!
"What a better world it would be if we all had cookies and milk about 3 o'clock every afternoon, then lay down on our blankets for a nap."
Barbara Jordan

Did you want your squirrel bbq'd or fried?

The Texas Hill Country is a beautiful place to live, but certain things here are a challenge. Take gardening, for instance. We share our home not only with volatile weather, but also with deer and other creatures who make gardening a bit tough. We have learned to peacefully coexist with the deer and they generally don't destroy our landscaping. Our problem is a bit smaller and much more destructive. Our problem is squirrels. I used to think they were cute, especially since we have a family of three living among us and I would tease they're a mini version of we three. Then they began to eat everything, and I mean everything. They attacked every bird feeder I put out and left nothing for our fine feathered friends. Every plant I stuck in the ground they either nibbled away or dug up trying to bury their finds from the bird feeder. Now they even relax on my front porch like it's freaking Club Med (my chocolate lab is absolutely no help in deterring them-she prefers chewing shoes over chasing squirrels). Their cuteness slowly turned to annoyance, and the battle between human and squirrel began.

I've tried everything to humanely get our squirrel family to move (mind you, I would be happy to peacefully coexist with these critters, they just don't understand boundaries.) They could care less if my lovely petunias taste like Tabasco or if the soil reeks of blood meal or big cat pee (don't ask). I constantly complained to Great White Hunter about their little shenanigans, and expected him to relish the fact he was being asked to join the fight. Shockingly, GWH doesn't seem to mind and would only reply, "They're so cute!" To which I would retort, "That's because they're not bothering your vegetable garden." Well, about two weeks ago the squirrels moved in to the garden and in a matter of days everything except our jalapeƱos was gone. We think the squirrels invited all their furry friends and had quite the fiesta in el jardin.

To say GWH was a bit upset is an understatement. He now felt my pain, and headed straight to our local garden center for
laughter help. GWH came home with an arsenal of have-a-heart products humanely designed to help our situation. Nothing worked. When the last ripe juicy tomato was gone and all our corn was reduced to cobs, the hunter in my husband reared its ugly head. "Did you want your squirrel bar-b-qued or fried?" I heard him ask my sweet little boy. The problem here is that hubby is not joking. The next time I return home after running errands, it won't be the smell of canning peppers that greets me. Now I have no choice but to cross over battle lines and join the squirrels. If I don't, our family will be the next subject of Jeff Foxworthy's bit "You Might Be A Redneck..."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Mummy Tummy

I was chatting with my sister who just had her first baby 2 months ago, and she asked me how long it takes for your uterus to shrink back down and your stomach to look normal again. I looked down at my mummy tummy, realized that it's been almost five years since I gave birth, and decided to change the subject. After the phone call, I got out a bag of chips and tried to drown my sorrows (yeah, chips will help!) Not to make this all about me, but seriously, this little pouch that goes everywhere I do is kind of mortifying. I saw a picture of myself at the beach last weekend and it wasn't pretty. I milked the "I just had a baby" excuse for as long as I could, then I tried every ab exercise known to man, but the dang thing won't go away. So then I tried ignoring the mummy tummy, thinking if I did it would once again return to it's normal state (whatever that was, I don't remember). A friend of mine once suggested I get a tummy tuck, but I simply refuse to alter my body in that way.

So, my answer now is: learn to love my mummy tummy! I have never been perfect and don't believe anyone on earth is. What I do believe is the people who are the happiest with their lives are those who can learn to love themselves just the way they are. Since I'll undoubtedly need some guidance down this path, here are a few tips:

  • Pay yourself a compliment each day.
  • Do simple daily exercises to boost your bloodstream. You will feel better, your mood will be more positive, and the more congenial you will be with other people. If you give out positive energy, the more beautiful you become - and the more people will be inclined to return positive vibes to you, too.
  • If there's something about your body that you dislike, find out what's causing you to smirk at it. Chances are, the reasons are very shallow and superficial. The realization of this will help you attain a better self-image and teach you to appreciate yourself more.
  • Set aside time once a week to do something just for you. It could be anything from watching a cheesy movie to walking your dog in the park. As long as it's time for you in doing what you want to do.
  • Wear nice underwear. This sounds silly, but it works! Wearing really cute knickers does make you feel better and a lot more confident about facing others. Don't believe this? Try it!
  • Get away from people who put you down. You know these kinds of people. They simply can't stand the fact that you're okay with your life and will always try to dampen your mood. Avoid them at all cost, because they'll never make you feel good about yourself.
  • Do something good for someone else. You will find that things like volunteering at a homeless shelter or even a simple thing like helping somebody who is lost by giving proper directions will make you feel good for the rest of the day. You will be doing something worthwhile and when you see how badly off some people are, you will start to appreciate your life more and be grateful for what you have.
tips adapted from http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Michael_Lee

Decide you do not want to live with your mummy tummy? Click here to find out how about weight loss after pregnancy

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Put a little lavender in your life

Wednesday is vacuum day around here, so this morning I reluctantly drug out the big Kirby G6 (I have a love/hate relationship with my vacuum) and when I turned it on, my sense of smell was assaulted! I quickly ran to the cupboard and grabbed a bottle of Lavender essential oil, doused a couple of cotton balls and added them to the vacuum bag. Ah, peace was restored.

Here are some other great ways to add a little lavender to your life:
  • For a peaceful night's sleep, put a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow (not the pillowcase). Or, wrap a handful of the dried flowers in a cheesecloth sachet, tie and throw in your pillowcase.
  • To soothe a sunburn, add a few drops of the essential oil to water in a spray bottle, and mist sunburned skin.
  • Add several drops of lavender oil to your bath for a soothing soak, or just add a generous handful of the fresh or dried flowers.
  • Sew together some old fabric scraps and fill with dried lavender for drawer sachets.
  • Wrap a handful of lavender flowers in a square of cheesecloth and tie with a string. Drip a few drops of lavender oil onto the sachet, then throw the sachet in your dryer to make your clothes smell great. This will freshen up to 25 dryer loads!
  • Pulverized fresh lavender flowers add a unique flavor to custards, salads, and sugar cookies.
  • Garnish your desserts by placing a few fresh lavender flowers on top.
tips adapted from healthmad.com

Monday, June 16, 2008

Spice up your "S" life


Today was hot- very, very hot - and this heat has caused my culinary thinking to shift towards salads. Great White Hunter husband is never thrilled when I announce "It's Salad Night!", so I can't serve the basic lettuce tomato thing; I've got to get a little creative.

Tonight's "salad" was grilled red snapper (caught during our beach trip) served over a Beetroot and Mint Salad from one of my favorite cookbooks,
Flavours, by Donna Hay. The salad was scrumptious.
(
Normally I would include a finished product photo with my post, however, child-o-mine dropped our camera off the second-story deck at our beach abode, so stock photography is all you get today!)

Since the heat is definitely here to stay, it's all about salads for us. Some great ones to try:
  • Vietnamese mint noodle salad with Gulf Shrimp (from Flavours)
  • Whole wheat pasta salad with basil, tomatoes and mint (from Flavours)
Have a favorite salad recipe you'd like to share? Please do, and try one of these. They're bound to spice up your "S" life!

Chow!


Beach Therapy


Life is just better at the beach; at least it is for me. There is something so relaxing about vacationing near the water, with mother nature as your theme park. Having just spent the last four days at the beach, and despite four kids under the age of 5 surrounding us at all times, things didn't seem hectic or chaotic or stressful. The beach brought peace to us all. Kids played happily in the sand and sea for hours, then rested their tired heads in the shade of our beach umbrella, the sound of the waves lulling them to sleep. Moms and Dads selflessly took turns entertaining the kids to give each other a break, being grateful that the beach did most of the entertaining.

I am so thankful for the beach; the beautiful grass and flower-covered dunes, the soft sand under my toes, the sound of the waves, the cool ocean breeze that makes even the hottest days tolerable, and the look of wonder and amazement on my child's face as he finds treasures from the sea. It is the combination of all these things that create an incredible sense of peace and calm for me.

As Monday hits me like a ton of bricks and I'm thrown back into reality, I hope I find a moment to close my eyes and recapture the gifts of the beach.


Every good and perfect gift comes from above.
James 1:17

Monday, June 9, 2008

Dollville

For absolutely no logical reason at all, I've started making vintage rag dolls. I certainly do not have the time, and it would make more sense if I was getting more sleep or catching up on a good book, but I was born with the crafty curse. When I am creating something, I'm just happier (i.e., not as bitchy). Even having a baby hasn't stopped the curse from plaguing me. About a month ago I got the itch to try my hand at doll making, found a fabulous website for doll patterns, and I've been hooked ever since. I can't explain the thrill I get out of taking a piece of muslin, some yarn, paint, and fabric scraps and creating something that makes me smile just looking at it!
If you think about it, creating anything makes life more beautiful. It makes your world a better place. When you become a Mom, it is so easy to lose your sense of self. You become consumed with all things child, and rightly so because raising your children is one of the most important jobs you will every have the privilege of holding. However, we will all be better Moms if we hang on to what makes us happy, take some time to do what we enjoy (and wake up those mushy mommy brain cells!). For me, that "thing" is creating something out of nothing and brightening my corner of the world one project at a time.

The creative person is both more primitive and more cultivated, more destructive, a lot madder and a lot saner, than the average person.
~Frank Barron

Monday, Monday

Good Lord I loath Mondays. I cringe to get out of bed on Mondays because I know what's waiting for me (cue the theme from Psycho now)...dishes in the sink, piles and piles of laundry, no food in the house, dirty little foot and paw prints on the floor, and a schedule that would drive anyone crazy. (Today: Get Jaden to VBS by 9, make a made dash to the grocery store, pick up the dry cleaning, race home to put groceries away [while, of course, not exceeding the speed limit], clean the house, pick Jaden up by 12, probably feed him something, back home to attempt "rest time," off to Karate at 3, then head straight to swim lessons at 4:30)

So what am I doing at this early hour to tackle my Monday? Besides praying for the tiny little maid fairies to whip this place into shape, I'm sitting here with my ginormous cup of joe and blogging. Maybe if I write about it, all the icky Monday stuff will magically go away. I started this blog as a way to give my Mommy brain a break and write about things I love, but now I'm just wasting time in denial land. Oh well. I need something to do while waiting for the maid fairies, right?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Yes he can can

My husband has his moments. Moments where I'm standing there staring at him thinking, "who is this person I married?" Most of the time he's doing manly man things, but then there's days like yesterday. After schlepping Jaden to yet another birthday party, hubby took the child out for a trip to Bass Pro Shop (see, manly man things) and I ran some errands. When I returned home, I found my husband in the kitchen canning banana peppers. Yes, that's right - HE WAS CANNING! Before I offend anyone, I'm not saying canning isn't a manly man thing to do, but let's be real here. Great White Hunter (as hubby is affectionately known) is usually off hunting Bambi or gutting fish or something along those lines, so you can understand why I was taken aback.

The end result of his canning adventure (a major mess in the kitchen and four broken jars due to the water being too hot) was three beautiful jars of peppers. He even got creative and added jalapeƱos, carrots, onions and squash making for some pretty little jars. So the moral of this story is, after 12 years of marriage, Great White Hunter husband still holds the element of surprise. Now, if I could just get some roses with those peppers...

One should never know too precisely whom one has married.
~Friedrich Nietzsch

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Poo, Potatoes and Corn, oh my!

I had quite the day yesterday in terms of cool new eco-friendly finds. First off, while visiting my favorite Little Nature Store here in Boerne, I discovered poo paper; paper made from poo (panda poo to be exact). Of course, I immediately picked it up and smelled it and was relieved to find out it smelled like paper. Then I thought, you know your diet is rich in fiber if you're poopin' paper! Apparently in China there is a surplus of fiber-rich panda excrement and they're looking for ways to use it. So now I'm thinking, whose job is that - to keep track of the panda poop supply? Anyway, The Chiang Mai Zoo in northern Thailand already sells multicolored paper made from the excrement produced by its two resident pandas. Making paper there involves a daylong process of cleaning, boiling it in a soda solution, bleaching it with chlorine and drying it under the sun. So while it may not be totally organic, it's still a great way to save trees.
adapted from msnbc.msn.com

Even cooler was my discovery last night while enjoying a little happy hour with the Hot Tamommies (what I affectionately call my circle of friends). Adorable Lindsay whips out these disposable plates made from limestone, corn and potatoes. Yea! Guilt free disposable stuff! The plates seemed very sturdy, are microwavable and heat/moisture and cut-resistant. You can even add them to your compost pile instead of your trash can, as they are totally biodegradable. Best of all, they're easy to find (Target and WalMart carry them) and cheap; around $2.99 for a package of 25 plates.

Not that I need another excuse to go to Target, but I'm on my way now to stock up on these plates. See, it really is easy being green!

Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees.
Revelations 7:3


Friday, June 6, 2008

I'll gladly pay you Tuesday if you'll stop whining today!

It's official, I'm desperate. As desperate to stop the whining as Wimpy was to get a hamburger now. What IS it with kids and whining? It drives me crazy and I cringe every time I hear it. Today, Jaden whined about everything (well, almost everything). I’m racking my brain trying to figure out why my child whines so much. Do I reward whining? Do I respond by giving in when my child whines? Do I whine when I talk? (depends on who you ask, I guess.) Seriously, what makes kids think if they whine they will get what they want?

No more pondering the situation, I’ve got to nip it in the bud. If I don’t do it now, I'm afraid Jaden will grow up to be one of those whiny men (and we all know what they’re like). The whole "I can't understand you when you whine" approach does not work for me. When I say, 'I'm sorry, but I don’t understand whining. Use your normal voice and I’ll listen,’ Jaden goes from whining to attitude. So, here is my plan of attack:

  • Whine my response right back (in hopes of getting a laugh and changing the mood)
  • Immediately start looking for "the real Jaden." i.e., "Who's child are you and what did you do with the real Jaden who speaks so nicely?"
  • If all else fails, completely ignore the child until he realizes he's not getting anywhere and gets it together.

Wish me luck, and if anyone has any successfully whine-stoppers, do share. Now, will someone pleeeze get me some wine? I’m a bit stressed…

Until next time,

Nicole

Mom love

How cool is it when your Mom is your biggest fan? In an e-mail Friday a.m., mine wrote:
Nicole, you are the most amazing and creative and energetic person I know. I can't believe I gave birth to someone with so many talents. I guess I deserve a little credit for the person you are today.*
I'm definitely going to try the steak salad!

I love you,
Mom
*of course you do, Mom. I love you, too!






Steak Salad, Yummy Yummy




O.K., I need to get that dang Wiggles song out of my head because now everything coming out of my mouth is sung to the tune of "Fruit Salad, Yummy Yummy." (Note to self, no more Wiggles watching for Jaden over the next few days. )

Anyway, last night hubby and I had the best steak salad - it was my take on Tyler Florence's Steak Salad with Texas Peaches, Pecans, and Limes. Our peach tree has produced a bumper crop this year, so I've been on the hunt for any recipe that uses peaches (last weekend's fresh peach pie was so very good!). The peaches were grilled with a touch of EVOO and s&p, and they were fabulous. I used almonds b/c I didn't have any pecans (child is allergic), which I roasted in the oven with lime juice and chili powder. I also used a smokey ranch dressing and added fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers from the garden. The bread in the photo is a slice of George's yummy rye Jaden and I made, with a smear of herb butter. A glass of Sauvignon Blanc and I was happy...

till next time,
-Nicole

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Bake Away...

Summer has just begun and I'm already desperate for fun and enriching activities to do with my child. So after one very long round of "Chutes & Ladders" (the boy refuses to go down the chute) and two rounds of "Don't Break The Ice," we strapped on our baking gear and knocked out some fabulous bread (thank you, George!)


If you're reading this and saying, "Bake with my kids, are you crazy?" then consider this: in addition to filling your home with the awesome scent of fresh baked goods, you'll score major mommy points with what a little baking session teaches:
  • Fosters reading skills by encouraging your children to read instructions.
  • Exercises math skills by measuring ingredients.
  • Setting a timer helps with the concept of time (well, sort of. Developing the virtue of patience is probably more accurate, especially when cookies or other yummy treats are in the oven.)
  • Creating something is important for boosting self confidence.
  • Pride comes from a job well done.
  • Cleaning up is an important life skill (break out that annoying clean up song if you have to!)
  • And nothing is more important than spending quality time with your children. Seriously!
adapted from kidscentralkitchen.com



I hope this will inspire many of you to make some yummy memories with your kids. Happy baking, or whatever you do together, and please share your stories and recipes with us!

Kids spell love T-I-M-E. ~John Crudele

The Blog starts here...


I've been thinking about starting a blog for several weeks now, and this morning I figured there's no time like the present...I'm getting started while things are still calm and quiet around mi casa (my four-year old son is watching The Wiggles and singing happily along to "Fruit Salad.")

I just took a pan of orange muffins out of the oven to gobble up with the orange mint butter I made yesterday (flavored butters - yummy yummy!) What I hope to share with y'all through my blog is my love of :
  • Being a Mom (the good, the bad, and the downright ugly)
  • Cooking (share my recipe favs)
  • Baking (because life's just better with pie!)
  • Sewing (re-introduce my baby business, Up To The Moon, and my newest venture, Dollville, vintage handmade rag dolls)
  • Knitting (everyone needs their daily fiber!)
  • Gardening (only organic, please)
  • Being Green (no, not Kermit)
  • Reading (currently reading "The Friday Night Knitting Club" by Kate Jacobs)
Well, the muffins are a callin' and my child and I have got to get started baking George's Light Rye Bread so I'll leave you with a quote appropriate for today:

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.
~Harriet van Horne