Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Surprise Knitting

I might craft too much.

I just found a 75% complete Baby Sophisticate Sweater in my knitting basket.

The good news is that with a little creative blocking it should still be big enough to at least get my little to Christmas.  How awesome is that?

And in the world of sweaters my Paulie is finally starting to look like a Paulie!

And though I've given up home of completing this by my parents anniversary on the 18th, I'm really excited by the progress.

Speaking of anniversaries I'll be MIA for a few days as we're getting the heck out of dodge to spend a long weekend with my folks to celebrate said anniversary, which just so happens to be their 30th! Fantastic isn't it?

I've got a stack of books ready for the trip and might even let my husband drive the car so I can jump into them.  I just started North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, but have a couple other books fresh from the library that are waiting for attention

I hope everyone has a good and safe labor day weekend!   I'll see you in September!

Linked up to Keep Calm and Craft On and Ginny's Yarn Along!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Getting the Most Out of Your Library

Some of us have it good, some of us not so much, but all of us can agree that a library is an indispensable tool to a community and I stand by that statement even facing the future of digital books.  The right kind of driven and supported library can be more than just place to borrow a book it can be the center of great community life, especially for those of us with young children.

Like anything in life we can be disappointed.  Maybe you hate to see a huge DVD collections of popular movies rather than non-fiction or documentaries, or the latest soft-core "paranormal romance" geared towards adolescents pushing out the classics or maybe your a mother of young children who want a better selection of materials than "Dora" and "Spongebob" or a deal with meager selection of adult fiction or non-fiction.  It can get frustrating when we feel like our needs aren't being met, but there are ways to get the most out of your community Library.

These are a few suggestions of my own; any librarians out there please pipe in if you agree or disagree!

  • Volunteer - This is one of the best ones I can offer, particularly for those of us with children.  Shelving books for an hour or two a week or even a month frees up time for your Librarian to focus on things like book orders and planning activities.  It also helps the Library staff become more knowledgeable about the people they're catering to and is an easy way to gain feedback, criticism and praise.  
  • Make Friends - Not all of us have the time to volunteer, but start getting to know the staff particularly if you're a regular and if they know your name (or your kids) you should know theirs.  Talk to your Librarians!  
  • Share Your Contacts - Does your family know traditional Chinese Dances, or play a the bagpipes; is your office mate a member of the local orchestra ; does your retired father have a selection of vintage trains he'd love to show off?  Do you know someone who was in WWII or met the president or climbed Mt. Everest.  Even if your Librarian politely declines your offer it's worth a shot to say "Hey, I know someone who..."  
  • Use InterLibrary Loan - InterLibrary Loan is an amazing program that most local libraries can participate in.  It's a way for them to give their communities the books they want with out the price tag and a way for you to subtly let them know what the community wants to read.  I have more than a couple ILL books I've requested show up as a "new purchase" the day I went to collect them. 
  • Participate - Go to the book clubs and children's nights.  Even if they don't sound too interesting to begin with bring a friend and go out for coffee later; again, the only way for the Library to met the needs of it's community is to know the needs of it's community.  If the only folks participating in Book club are the little old bluehairs who think enjoy whodunnit's about a very curious cat, then that's all you're going to get!  
  • Make Your Voice Known - Let me first state that this gives no one the right to get nasty; do the following with courtesy and respect.  If there's an issue you just can't solve on your own make your voice known.  There are no guarantees what can come of it, but a nicely worded letter or email to the Director could help change things for the better and you don't know until you try.  On the flip side, they need to know what you like just as much as what you didn't!
  • Use More Than One Library - If your needs still aren't being met at your Local look to near by communities.  If you live in a city with a suburb or vice versa there will often be ways you can get a limited Library Card to a different library.  
  • Ask For The Right Kind of Help- A librarians brain isn't hard wired with the card catalog, take a moment to check on the computer to find out ahead of time if something is in or where it should be located. In fact, many larger libraries have their catalogs online so you can search from home during nap time or bed time.  Our Local even has a reserve system that allows us to put 5 books on hold from our home computers, and then emails us when they have been collected and are ready to be picked up from the front desk.  And do not say to your Librarian "Do you have that one book?  You know about the frog?  I think it had a green cover or maybe it was red."  
  • Ask The Right Questions - The above is the wrong kind of question.  Asking the right questions is often key at getting good help.  Ask for help once you've attempted to find what you're looking for yourself.  Ask for suggestions, but don't expect a miracle.
  • Be Polite - Help your Librarian be the best he or she can be by starting off on the right foot.  Your Librarians are human being who have good days and bad days.  Don't expect them to know everything or be able to keep everyone happy - they have to juggle their own bosses, schedules, budgets and patrons desires and they can't do it all!  Remember that http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=630193682294473340#editor/target=post;postID=1391362974390202943these are people with Masters Degrees who, on average, don't make a lot of money - they've gotten that degree and taken that job out of a love of books and learning and deserve respect.  And we all know just how much a sincere thank you or a little extra patience can turn a day around!

Linking Up with Frugally Sustainable (Wednesday), Your Green Resource (Thursday)and Little House in the Suburbs (Friday)!

And speaking of books don't forget the Simple Living Book List for Kids and it's Pinboard!

Don't forget to Pin this for later!

Friday, August 24, 2012

August is a Strange One

Pardon my absence, but August is a strange one.  August seems to be the month that challenges me the most.  I feel rushed and scatterbrained all month; I still have the twinges of my pregnancy woes that come back to haunt me (August of my pregnancy was one of the most stressful times of my life which only worsened my ante-partum depression - written about HERE).

My baby boy has turn 18 months old, and while I still love motherhood with all my heart and love the ways he's learning independence (he can walk down three stairs unassisted, can help prepare pizza and tacos and his favorite words are now Cow and No) the beginning of the toddler phase is proving a challenge.  There have been moments where I'm not the mother I want to be, mainly because we're in the limbo of wanting to communicate and not being able to.  This will pass and I will learn how to better control my own feelings when things start spiraling down that path.  It feels good just to write that. 

And I can still say while experiencing all the ups and downs I look forward to the day we really start planning for our next child - I know he (maybe she) is there, just a little out of my grasp right.  There are the little, "baby things" that we come across and put behind us that make me pray that this is not the only time I get to experience little clothes, little shoes, little hands needing to be held just so and cuddles in your arms that fit so securely.


But, enough of the mopey stuff.  August is a strange one and apparently so I am.  While discussing family life with a coworker I had quite the reaction when I assert my opinion that I will do all within my power to keep my families schedules and lives from conflicting with things like family dinners and healthy quiet time.   My coworker (who I usually see eye to eye with and who is the mother of two college students and a high schooler) was quick to tell me how this is "against the norm" these days and that I need to be ready to be "different" if this was what I was going to try to do (not to mention it would be darn well impossible).

I ended the conversation around that point the best I could, but wanted to point out that we're already quite different.  We live on lower incomes and tight budgets.  We believe that good food costs good money.  We believe in empty closet space.  We haven't hooked up our TV to even get the local channels yet and are often the only family on the block out in our yard.  We read books that are still printed on paper and few to none of my sons toys run on batteries.  Are we prepared to be "different"?  Yes, I think we are.

While I won't deny my children the chance to explore things that interest them or delve into activities at which they excel I still believe that they don't need to do everything, nor do their parents, just like I don't believe they need every toy or every new outfit.  I don't want to be a chauffeur for their entire lives and I want to give them ample time to unwind and be a kid (or a teenage).

I hope my children experience different sports, clubs and activities (and I will encourage more activities as the child ages and is in more control over their schedule); however, that doesn't mean that their schedules need to be packed from the age of 3 to do so.

So I guess I am different, quite the strange one after all.

Just call me August.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Rule

Really it should be a rule that everyone should have one older relative that brings you a table full of food on just about every visit.  Today we were gifted two bags of peppers, a bag of enormous potatoes, some onions and two boxes of various garden tomatoes "just in case we wanted them".... um, yeah! 

It's a goal in life to become said relative who makes you leave with no less than five pounds of tomatoes, some herbs and at a few potatoes whenever you stop by!


 Along with the heaps of produce came my husbands grandmothers never used Ronco Dehydrator.  Not only do I have all this wonderful gifted produce to can, freeze or dehydrate my local grocery store was having 99 cent/lb sales again so I grabbed another 5 lbs of Colorado peaches and about 5 lbs of California pears (most of the time we can't get pears that aren't from Chile or Argentina!).  They were having the 88 cent/pepper sale so I stocked up on a few more red peppers.

It's amazing how much one little old ladies garden can give - I can't wait to get my garden beds put in this fall and really put my money where my mouth is!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Just Around The Corner

It's almost here, I can feel it:  Fall, my favorite time of year.  I live for cool temperature that call out for you to bundle up at home with a little Prairie Home Companion, hand knit socks and something warm to drink.  The introvert in me loves the days when no one blames you for staying home curled up under a blanket because everyone else is doing the exact same thing.  I've been burning through books recently (anyone who tells you that you can't have kid, do crafts, cook and read books point them my way).  Radical Homemakers, Little Britches and The Art of the Commonplace were all amazing reads and I highly recommend each one.  We've been listening to book Three and Four of the Dresden files at night while the hubs and I play cards (it's our version of date night)

 {I think this "tea mix" in a cup of green tea with milk is going to be my go-to drink of the season}

Of course in all reality Iowa could still give us a month and a half of 90 and 100 degree weather, it's fickle like that, but I'm putting my faith in the Farmer's Almanac this year and believing in cool temperatures and an early winter (no one wants an early, long winter here except that desperately need the moisture in our fields).

My husband now believes I have special powers to call the rain seeing as we've had much need rain every weekend since I completed a novena for rain on the 28th of July.  I just smile and am enjoying the reminder of my beloved Oregon weather, oh how I was made for those cool, dreary days.

Of course it's that time of year to start planning the handmades - this years recipients will be the hubs, the kiddo and two of the kiddo's cousins (one of whom is my adorable Godson).  Ben needs a new pair of THESE (the ones I made in 2009 have been so loved that edges around the worn out holes are felted), Henry will be getting a new SWEATER (if I can size it up) or maybe THIS and the three boys (all born almost exactly three years apart!) will be getting some fun winter hats, probably a version of THESE.

Of course work goes on.  I'm nearing completion of the most complex part of the pattern - the rocks behind the chairs are made up of short bursts of multiple colors so it's slow going.

(p.s. I'm testing out Amazon Affiliate Links on this post - which means I might make a few cents if you click on the links and purchase an item, no more no less).

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Wonderful Weather

 It rained here, and I mean it really rained.  In the last couple of days it's properly rained twice totaling more than 2 and a half inches (which is more than our total rain fall for May, June and July combined I believe)!  My lawn is turning green again and my front porch herbs are going crazy!  Most folk have written off this years corn (we're in the severe drought section of eastern Iowa), but the couple days of rain recently have given us reason to hope that our soybeans aren't done for.

The lack of rain has definitely made it easier to recognize the weather patterns.  I swear I can sense cold front moving in with much more accuracy now that they've been so rare for so many months.  It's also given us some amazing storm fronts that literally roll across the sky.

I think everyone around here is a little more appreciative of the storm clouds this year!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


In the desire to keep thing real, I thought I needed to share that I just checked my oven dried tomatoes.  The cherry tomatoes had already molded. Seems I left a little too much moisture in the middle


The Roma's seem okay, but I'm not getting my hopes up.

I still maintain that oven drying works, so I won't be taking down my instructions, however I think I'll be added an hour or two the next time I do this method.

Good news though is I'm being "gifted" my MIL's dehydrator next week and I'm super excited.  Not that I don't stand behind oven-drying, but it'll be nice not to have to use up the oven for hours.  On top of dehydrating fruit and more tomatoes the hubs has requested that I learn to make jerky... okay... twist my arm.

Oh well, on ward and up ward!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Little Things

First of all thank for the kind words on yesterdays post, it means a lot.  The Dallas Morning News wrote a touching piece on my friend and her work as a therapeutic clown for the children's hospital HERE; may she continue to inspire the world.

Speaking of little things:

I am swimming in Roma's.

and making some progress.


It is the little things isn't it?

Did you see my list of "12 'Girl' Things I Want My So To Do"?

I tried to get some knitting done this week while getting together for a "StitchnBitch" with a friend who was in town *yes I got out of the house alone again, go me!* the talking happened, not so much the knitting, but I'm going to link up with Ginny anyways.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

It's a New Day

For anyone who follows me on Twitter or knows me on Facebook it might come to no surprise that my husband and I received some bad news on Saturday.  At the tail end of our rather terrible July we were heartbroken to be told that a friend of our was killed in a motorcycle accident on Friday night, she was only 25.

As with many people in our lives we grow together, and grow apart in a regular rhythm, but still this hit me hard.  My time spent with this woman was only a total of 6 months over two summers, but those two summers were so definitive in my life and the person I have become that they are a quintessential part of who I am and so I feel as if a piece of my life is gone.  In those two summers I found a community in which I truly felt a sense of belonging and for a true introvert who's biggest challenge is connecting with people the connections I made there were astonishing.

But, this is not a sad post.  I've cried my tears for my friend and now I sit in awe at the outpouring of love that she's left behind.  While the local friends are meeting at our favorite Texas hang out to send her off in still people from around the world (me and Ben included) are taking a moment and taking a picture of the drinks they're toasting in her honor and I've been reading what seems like the same account over and over again; one like mine, an amazing woman touching the lives of people who only knew her for months or even days.

It makes me think of a quote of Mother Theresa's;  I, too, want to be remembered for the small things filled with great love.

It's a new day.

“Death opens a door out of a little, dark room (that's all the life we have known before it) into a great, real place where the true sun shines and we shall meet.” 

-C.S. Lewis

Keep on smiling down on us Sunshine.  =D

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