Monday, November 28, 2011

Book Review: Silmarillion


The SilmarillionThe Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a must read. For everyone. Even if you don't generally like "fantasy". Because this is not fantasy... this is art.


This book documents the creation of middle earth and the years leading up to the war of the rings (which is known Lord of the Rings Trilogy). The characters are so real, the stories amazingly engaging.


Be prepared to work for it, though. This is not written at the "popular" level, and if you read it as if it is at that level, you will be quickly lost and bored. This book requires you to really pay attention to what you are reading, and give it the time it deserves. I took nearly 2 weeks to read it, when I would normally read a book this size in a few days.  And it is worth every minute.






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Sunday, November 27, 2011

More on "Growing Up Sew Liberated"

As I stated before, I like this book. But, more recently, I've found a few things that have caused me to like it a little less. None are issues that can't be overcome, though.

First, it seems all her patterns are sized very small. I know my little Peanut is big for his age (he's extra long, though of average weight -- long and skinny he is). But when I make an 18 to 24 month top, I expect it to fit okay. Second, the clothes need to be appropriate for that age.

About a month ago I made the reversible baby sweatshirt. Its very cute and looks very cute on Peanut. I even made the 18 to 24 month size to allow it to fit well over a layer or two of clothes if needed, and to account for his extra length.

See how cute this sweatshirt is!

I more made it "lined" rather than reversible. And Peanut looked so cute in it, too.
I love those green striped pants. And doesn't it look like Peanut and Hank are imitating each other?
The ties were an issue though. Peanut *loved* to chew on them, which untied them, and they are long. I was worried he would swallow it and I'd have to pull it out... oh, that sounds just horrible!

The body fits nicely and is big enough that Peanut can wear a layer or two underneath and have room to grow into it. That seems important at this stage in the game.

The sleeves, however, are quite snug. I think the author must assume that babies are big bodied and skinny armed, as those sleeves are a tight fit, even with only 1 tee shirt underneath.

I can change the sleeves on this sweat shirt, so I'll just adjust the pattern for the next one. But the straps came off and I put on snaps. I love snaps... bang, bang and they are attached. Good for getting out aggression, too.  It not quite as cute any more, but now I'm not worried about sweet little boy chocking on the ties.

As a seamstress, I'm still learning how to cut the fabric such that I can trust the seam allowances. But that is another story of Rachael learning to follow instructions and color inside the lines.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

unbelievable timing

Kids have crazy timing, I'm sure any parent will agree. It was Friday afternoon a week ago that I realized Peanut must  be feeling pretty crappy for some reason, and, luckily, was able to get a late afternoon appointment with the pediatrician. Yep, it was an ear infection.

He finished the round of antibiotic on Tuesday morning, but then Wednesday morning started grabbing his ears, crying and had a low-grade fever. Drat, we thought. Is this a resistant strain? When he started the antibiotic, he improved quite visibly within a day -- as expected. And here we were suspecting another or continued ear infection... right before Thanksgiving. I was able to chat briefly with the pediatrician Wednesday afternoon, who said waiting till Friday or Saturday didn't make me a horrible parent. Kids survived just fine many an ear infection for many a year before doctors and antibiotics, he said. Just keep an eye on him and if his fever spikes or he stops eating, then be worried.

Thursday was actually a good day. Plenty of people around to entertain the extroverted Peanut, including Granddad, Grandmom, Aunt, Uncle and Cousin. And Daddy was home and not working, so that was 6 adults to 2 children. A good ratio, really.

Then it's Friday. Oh, a cranky-cranky day was Friday. Peanut is grabbing both ears, and crying, and being miserable. Until, that is, that Grandad and Grandmom take him and play. Oh, tickles and laughs can make anyone feel better, yes? Low-grade fever continues, and I am feeling quite confident that its a double-wammy ear infection. An hour after he goes down for bed, he is up to nurse (not normal). I finally put him into the swing to sleep, and later into the bouncy. I administer the wonderful and amazing off-brand Tylenol faithfully, and Peanut is able to sleep through the night.

This morning, Saturday, I find 2 new teeth. (sorry, no picture, Peanut is quite adamant that we don't mess with is mouth right now)

Yep -- teeth. 2 of them. at once. and evidence of 2 more ready to erupt. no wonder Peanut was cranky. He's gone from being Peanut 2 tooth, to Peanut 4 tooth over night and well on his to way to being Peanut 6 tooth. I think he likes being an even-number tooth kid.

So now, I wonder. The pediatrician is willing to take a look this afternoon at the ears to be sure about an ear infection. But all the symptoms are also explained by the teeth cutting through. Am I a horrible mother to say "we see the pediatrician on Tuesday anyways..." and put off the ear check? No, I don't think that's true, but it does nag me.

And how is that Peanut knows the weekend or the holiday is upon us, and that is the time to get sick or demonstrate miserableness that his mother feels compelled to figure out the source of?

He also launched himself from the bumpo this morning, which means that is out as a seating option. And he is quite mobile, even if not crawling yet.  Oh, my baby is growing up!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sweet Finds

We live in a mid-sized town that is rather mired in limited options. We are half-way between two other large metropolises, so there isn't that much here. Sure, we have the one Target, the one Best Buy, the two Wal-marts, but there isn't as much beyond that. No World Market, and few nice thrift stores. Its either "boutiques" -- which tend to be more expensive -- or its Goodwill, which can be rather expensive for the quality of goods one finds there. I've heard good things about the "as is" lot at Goodwill and I hope to try that out some time soon.

To my great surprise, yesterday I found the neatest little grocery store. Its called "Frugal's Groceries". I had stopped in to Hobby Lobby (you are learning all the places I shop...) and noticed it as I was leaving the store (empty handed, no less). The name caught me eye, and I had to check it out. So, slightly-fussy Peanut and I sauntered over and entered the store.

It felt like one of those little, local groceries back in La Habra (a suburb of Los Angeles). Its a wide assortment of goods, all at amazing discounts. I figured out that they grab various deals on seconds, imperfects and out-of-date goods to see at some deep discount. Some of the herbs were a year beyond their stamped "use by" date, but others weren't. I found a container of coconut oil* that was 60% of the grocery store price because the lid was cracked. They had various baby items, such as pack-n-plays (which we don't need) to diapers (which we don't need) to shelf-stable food goods (which I will buy happily) to cosmetics and medicines. The overhead speakers occasionally moved from music to advertising and it said that if the customer buys something that they then deem unsafe, bring the item and your receipt and they will refund your money.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) the stock changes regularly, as it depends on what kinds of deals have come along recently, which means one must stop in regularly. Which I plan to do. If you live in Waco, and you are a thrifty tightwad as I am, you have got to check this place out. Its right next door to Hobby Lobby. Here's a link to the google map street view. Frugal's is the white-lit, completely unreadable sign. Yeah, you can tell by the lack of focus that the Google team wasn't so concerned about this area. If you check it out, tell me what you think.

*coconut oil is used on Peanut's bum, as its cloth diaper safe and has, as I've read, some amazing anti-microbial properties. And Peanut's bum always looks so nice and soft after shmearing the oil over his slightly irritated bum, whatever it might be from.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Day in My Life, by Peanut


Hi everybody. Mommy is drinking her coffee, and I've got the laptop, so I'm going to write a post today!

Mommy told me the other day that not everyone has the same kind of day that I have. I thought, "WHAT!!! Not everyone is just like me?" I found myself wanting to tell everyone what my day is like, so they can tell me how their day is different from mine.

I've been told the day actually starts at midnight, but I'm not usually awake till 4 or 5 am. But that is only for a meal to tide me over till breakfast at 7 am. Honestly, I like to eat, and I will eat any chance Mommy gives me.

Once I'm dressed, I like to play. Oh, yes, I love to play. I roll around, push up with my arms, grab stuff to chew on, feel the different textures, and generally have a blast. I got Mommy to take some pictures to give you an idea of my play time, since its so much fun, and pictures are so much better than words!

Can you see me kicking my legs? I love to kick.

Roll, roll, roll. Grab toy, stuff toy in mouth!
I will even gather all my toys about me, just to make sure I can grab the one I want, when I want it.

Move, move, move. Oh, look, something new to kick!

Roll, back. Eat bear.

Mommy! Look at me pushing up!

Wa-ha-ha. This is fun.

Sometimes, Mommy will get Hank to come and play where I can see him. I love Hank, but I don't think he likes me. I'm not sure why, though.  (Mommy note: Hank doesn't like Peanut so much because of the loud noises Peanut makes and his tendency to grab Hank's fur if Hank gets too close.)

The kitty is so much fun to watch. I always stop to watch him if he is around.
Of course, I stop to eat regularly. And if Mommy makes me, I'll take a nap. But I don't like naps, at least not when the sun is up. I can't imagine what Mommy is doing while I nap, so I don't know why she makes me take naps.

Just recently, Mommy has started giving me food other than milk. I like getting to eat stuff, but sometimes it tastes funny and it's so different from milk. But I love the spoon. Spoons are fun to chew on.


This week, I've had to take this nasty tasting pink stuff. I'm not sure why, but Mommy gives it to me three times each day! I spit it out if I can, but she is getting crafty at making me swallow it. Why would she ever give me such nasty stuff?


Finally, after a fun day of playing, eating, and diaper changes, its time for bed. I don't mind going to bed. The sun is gone, and its dark out, so I figure now is the time to sleep. Some nights I get to take a bath, then Mommy puts me in my jammies. On cool nights, I get to wear my dinosaur jammies, that have a hood, spines down the back and a tail!

My monkey, sea horse and turtle sleep with me. I like to chew on monkey and sea horse will light up and play music. Sometimes, Mommy will turn on the turtle and I get to look at stars that the turtle shines on the ceiling and walls.



Sometimes we read a book, but most often I'm so tired by that time, I just want to go to sleep. Daddy says I'm turning into a pumpkin when I get so tired, but I just don't like to sleep when the sun is up. So, pumpkin it is.

I sleep and sleep, with 1 or 2 breaks for a snack. And then my day starts over!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Book review: Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts


Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts: Basic Techniques and 150 Inspired Ideas for Sewing, Embroidery, Applique, Quilting, Dyeing, and PrintingMartha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts: Basic Techniques and 150 Inspired Ideas for Sewing, Embroidery, Applique, Quilting, Dyeing, and Printing by Martha Stewart Living
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I grabbed this book from the library and I think I'll actually buy it.  She's got good information on the various ways of using fabric and the things you can make from fabric. If you've read her magazine, many of these projects will seem familiar -- I think all the projects were originally presented in the magazine. I am one who will tear out the projects I like and save them in a binder. This book allows me to toss out all those pages and have one book with the ideas. Plus, its got a CD of all the templates used in the various projects, so no more going to look online for them. The book came out in 2010, so likely projects in the magazine from 2009 and on aren't in this book. And there are likely projects from the magazine that didn't make the book.


The pictures are all in color, and she explains different kinds of fabrics and their uses. There is a section for the various sewing notions and tools one might find and use.


This book only teaches the most basic of sewing skills -- basic hand sewing stitches, machine stitches, some embroidery stitches.  But she does not discuss or attempt to teach more advanced sewing techniques -- some I can think of are darts, gussets, making pleats and such. I guess these are used mostly in clothes and she discusses a great deal more than clothes.


Conclusion: it's worth the $22 on amazon if you enjoy M.S. style projects.



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Thursday, November 17, 2011

In a week...

We ordered a new wireless router on Sunday evening. The current one died Monday morning. What timing!

Peanut is feeling better from his ear infection (antibiotics are amazing). I start feeling crappy on Tuesday. Either a cold or allergies. Either way, its miserable.

Peanut will sit long enough to get a picture!
He in the process of pushing/falling backwards. 

I think he's having fun!
And even though Peanut isn't crawling (not that he isn't trying), he still gets around. Check out these time elapsed photos (I didn't move anything between, I promise).
When I first put him down to play. I offered tiger, elephant, book and bumblebee. He chose bumblebee.

You notice where gorilla started out. He's wearing the blue hat in the above picture.

Now notice that gorilla has moved again.
As of this evening, the red bear has lost his sweater, and zebra is missing a few tail hairs. I know this because I found them on Peanut.

It is so much fun watching him grow and develop. I'm so excited to see him crawl and yet I'm dreading it. Gone will be the days when I can set him down and know he will be in about the same spot when I come back!

PS. I'd said I'd donate half my net profits from Saturday to COTA for Leah Grace. I netted about $100, so that $50 more to be matched!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday, after a busy weekend

This weekend was a bit crazy. I spent Wednesday, Thursday and Friday getting ready for the craft fair Saturday. Friday afternoon, I got Peanut in to see the doc, as I though he was sick. He was diagnosed with a mild ear infection, but we were told to wait and see. Many ear infections are viral, so that would clear up on its own. If it was bacterial, we'd know by Sunday. And we were graciously given a paper prescription, just in case.

Saturday was spent selling various canned goods (we did good!).

Sunday we chilled at home, to see how the Peanut was doing, and we were exhausted anyways. By Sunday afternoon, we figured out that the ear infection was not viral, so we got the prescription filled.

Today has been filled with laundry mostly. I can tell Peanut is feeling better after a day's worth of amoxicillian doses. For the past week, he's been taking looooonnnnngggg naps, twice a day. Today, however, he's slept for 30 minutes about noon. His norm is about 3 30 minute naps a day. And he's been playing hard in the living room. All over the small play area I've created.  Take a look at this....


Peanut started out on the quilt. He moved himself (not crawling, yet, though) to grab the gorilla (its the black fuzzy animal), which was sitting next to the red bear originally, dragged the gorilla around, chewing on it. Then he found the white basket, and moved it around while chewing on it. He's ruffled the quilt, pulled the hat off of Yurtle the Turtle (that's the blue thing under Peanut's left arm) and just seems to be having a great time.  For not crawling, he sure can get around. And he must be feeling better. And not really wanting to be held. My little boy is sure growing up.

He must get his energy level from me. Great, I'm doomed!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sacrifices

I am a librophile. I love books. And because of this love, I've been reluctant to let Peanut "play" with the board books if we aren't reading together. Why? Because his form of "play" is to chew on the book. It does make me sad to see a spit-soaked book with the corners coming apart.

But because I don't want to set a precedence, I'm letting Peanut play with the board books. Yes, I'm limiting it to only 1 or 2, so that only those 1 or 2 are chewed to pieces at a time.

:::sigh::: those poor books.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Entrepreneurship, enter stage right!

Gosh, had to look that word up to make sure I spelled it right!

Yep, I'm trying out being an entrepreneur. I think it might be in my blood, as I'm always thinking about how I can make some extra money. I've had all sorts of ideas, from sewing things to knitting things to crocheting things to growing things. Until now, I've not had the confidence to follow through on the ideas, though.

But now, thanks to Hubby's encouragement, I'm ready to announce... my very own... what to call it... shop? business? no -- none of that is right. Anyhoo, Rachael's Homemade Goodies is now open! And I've got canned goods to sell!

This Saturday is an Arts and Craft Fair to raise money for Leah Grace to help pay for the meds she will need for the rest of her life (see http://parkerlife04.blogspot.com/ for the most recent update). Leah had a heart transplant several months ago, and she's doing quite well.

I purchased a table, as a vendor, to sell my goods on Saturday. I will have apple butter, candied jalapenos, pickled jalapenos and dill pickles. Yes, you will have the opportunity to taste my goods before buying, if you come on Saturday, between 10 and 3, to Fellowship Bible Church in Waco, Texas.

I will donate half of my net profits to COTA for Leah of anything sold through Saturday evening.

Should you not be able to make it Saturday, due to time, location, etc, you are welcome to still purchase these goods. Please email rachaelshomemadegoodies@gmail.com, and we can arrange shipping. (Shipping will cost extra; should there be interest, I will figure that out.)

Here's what I got:
Apple Butter -- All natural
contains apples, sugar, spices and water


4 oz jar -- $4
8 oz jar -- $6
16 oz jar -- $10

Dill Pickles & Pickled Jalapenos -- All natural and mostly organic (explanation following)
Pickled jalapenos contain jalapenos, water, vinegar, salt and spices

Dill pickles contain cucumbers, water, vinegar, salt, dill seeds, and mustard seeds


16 oz jar -- $10

Candied Jalapenos -- All natural and mostly organic (explanation following)
contains jalapenos, sugar, vinegar, spices
Not my picture, borrowed from tastykitchen.com. I will post a picture of my product as soon as I can!

16 oz jar -- $10

What does "mostly organic" mean? Both the jalapenos and the cucumbers for these items were grown in my backyard. I did not use any pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertilizer on them. However, we have only been in this house for 2 years, and I didn't use specially marked organic sugar, vinegar or spices. 

I hope to see you Saturday. Those who come to my table on Saturday and can tell me what my most common tag is will receive a small gift of appreciation. 

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

How I waste money

Ya wanna know how I waste money? Yes, I do waste some of our hard earned cash at times. I don't mean it, and I don't do it purposely. But, due to neglect, sometimes I do. Here is it, its gross, so be prepared...


I made the picture as small as I could. In addition to this head of lettuce, I had to put 3 tomatoes in the compost pile. Luckily, even rotting veggies will nourish the garden. At least something good comes from my neglect.

Yes, sometimes I buy veggies and they end up rotting in the fridge. This head of lettuce was intended to be salads with spaghetti, and pizza, and some other meal. Perhaps the unfried chicken from last night?

I'm getting better at using the veggies before they go bad. Much better than even a year ago.

Hi, my name is Rachael, and I let veggies rot in the fridge.

In other news, I totally blew the October food budget. Yep, blew it out of the water. Good thing my Hubby is really smart and said I should work to *average* $200 a month. But even then, between September and October, I'm on a average of $370 a month. Ouch. Perhaps my $200 a month is unreasonable. Though I think I'll need November (a big month with Thanksgiving), December (a low month as we are at Hubby's family for the holiday), January (a more normal month) and February (a short month) to really see what a reasonable average is. Wait. Let me revise that statement. I will need April, May, June and July as well, as those are garden produce months (if I don't let the garden produce rot in the fridge). Alas, I think I need a year's of receipts to know what a reasonable month's food budget is.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Pintrest and such sites

I really enjoy sites that allow you to track what you like. For example, when amazon put out their universal wish list button, I grabbed it. I'm regularly adding things to my amazon wish list from other sites. And then I also use diigo to bookmark web pages with tags. Much better than just using the bookmark folder in chrome, I think.

Recently, I also signed up for Pintrest. At this site, one can keep track of stuff they like by "pinning" pictures of liked things to topical boards.  Here is my set of "boards":  http://pinterest.com/mama_rachael/

I see an interesting trend. I have 6 boards: "Products I love", "Favorite Places & Spaces", "Entertainment", "For the Home", "Food", and "My Style". Only 3 actually have anything pinned to them! Can you guess which ones? Yes, "For the Home" is one. And... yep, "Food" is one. You got it, "Entertainment" is the third.  Can you tell what is important to me?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Book Review: Board Books of Various Types

We were given a slew of board books as baby gifts. I was so excited to see my basket of books grow and expand. Here are some of our favorites. The opinions presented are merely my observations of Peanut and Little Bobble as they "read" the books.

Hubby's cousin gave us a stack of Sandra Boynton books.  My favorite is Belly Button Book


But Snuggle Puppy is also loved. This one is apart of our nightly routine. 

Little Bobble loves Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can you? 

and The Shape of Me 

Some friends gave us My World, which Little Bobble loves. But I can't find it on Amazon.

Both Peanut and Little Bobble love Peek-A-Boo
 The words describing the faces are in both Spanish and English.

Perhaps Peanut's favorite is a fabric book that has cellophane in the pages, so it crinkles. Its called Where is my Belly Button?, by Jelly Cat. But I can't find it on Amazon to get a picture.

We have a slew more Dr. Suess board books, and several more Boynton books (I think Hubby likes Hippos Go Berserk 
 the best. They count the hippos and add them up; correctly.)We have more than can be appreciated at this point by an almost 6 month old and a 18 month old.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Book Review: Taking Charge of Your Fertility


Recently, a blog I read was discussing birth control options. I love this book, and so had to write up a review of it!

Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive HealthTaking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health by Toni Weschler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Hubby and I were engaged, we decided to wait at least a year before trying for children. Thus, we discussed our birth control options. We believe that life begins at conception, therefore, we wanted to be sure that whatever we did was preventing conception, not implantation. Plus, we wanted something simple and easy.  Many of the options were just not tasteful to us. Then a good friend recommended this book.

This book taught me a great deal about how a woman's body works. Weschler walks the reader through the changes that occur in a woman's body each month and how to figure out where you are at in the cycle. She discusses both the rules for how to prevent pregnancy and how to achieve pregnancy. Some might find her discussion too technical, but I really enjoyed it. It didn't feel like a textbook, but she doesn't talk down to her audience.

I was able to track my cycle and determine that the pill was preventing ovulation (sometimes it doesn't, and we wanted to know if that happened). Then, when I went off the pill, I was able to figure out what was wonky in my cycle and why I wasn't getting pregnant. When I finally did get pregnant, because of my charting, I can tell you the day I conceived (plus or minus 1 day). Because of what I learned in Weschler's book, I should be able to tell when my fertility returns (I'm currently nursing).

Ladies, don't be squimish. This is your body. Know what's going on.



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