Showing posts with label Doing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Doing. Show all posts

October 4, 2023

On the Occassion of My Favorite Poet Coming to Town

(If that isn't a pretentious title for you, I don't know what is).

Compromise. Disappointment.  It's all in that package called "parenthood."

I was aware that when one decides to become a breeder (oh, that snarky pre-kids word I loved using to label parents), one accepts that one's body, one's life, one's sleep will be forever changed.

The constant interruption---

N'other Bite of Yogurt! More!!

---is hard to accept, but you get used to it, mostly.  Just like you get used to most things, or so you think.

Believe it or not, I had a life, a pretty nice one before starting a family.  There's no regrets there, but sometimes it feels good to reconnect with that former self.  Once in a while, I'd like a quiet dinner out with my husband, or to take a walk with him around town without having to travel a certain way to avoid too many unsloped curbs where strollers are not welcome, or even dabble in something creative.

In my undergrad days, I considered myself a writer.  Well, more of someone who loved the idea of being a writer.  I did write, sometimes, and I think I was pretty good at it.  The work ethic and motivation wasn't always there (I struggle a lot with that aspect of myself in all areas), but I knew a good poem when I saw one.  This was one of those poems, that still sticks with me.

The One Girl at the Boys Party by Sharon Olds, (1983)

When I take my girl to the swimming party
I set her down among the boys. They tower and
bristle, she stands there smooth and sleek,
her math scores unfolding in the air around her.
They will strip to their suits, her body hard and
indivisible as a prime number,
they'll plunge in the deep end, she'll subtract
her height from ten feet, divide it into
hundreds of gallons of water, the numbers
bouncing in her mind like molecules of chlorine
in the bright blue pool. When they climb out,
her ponytail will hang its pencil lead
down her back, her narrow silk suit
with hamburgers and french fries printed on it
will glisten in the brilliant air, and they will
see her sweet face, solemn and
sealed, a factor of one, and she will
see their eyes, two each,
their legs, two each, and the curves of their sexes,
one each, and in her head she'll be doing her
sparkle and fall to the power of a thousand from her body. 
Now I don't consider myself much of a poet or writer (this blog is really just dabbling, nothing writer-ly) but every now and then I get the urge to visit that old self, just for kicks.  I blame Chris this time, for having his own, self-discovered love of poetry, for bothering that writer-on-holiday who doesn't want to be bothered with kids (but would have no problem using them as poem fodder!).

Just this morning, before Chris left for work, we talked about engaging in a collaborative writing activity, maybe a conversational poem or something that would make our former selves feel less comatose.  Then, about a half an hour later, he texted me saying Sharon Olds, author of above poem, was coming to the university.  Squeee! I had waited my entire 20s to hear her read her work, and here she was, coming to my little hick town.

I frantically checked the calendar.  And my enthusiasm sank.

Ding, dong. Trick-or-Treat night.  Certainly this was a trick.  But as with most things now, it's a disappointing compromise between kid-world and my own desires.  And of course in the name of all that is good and right, the kids' needs (usually) come first.  To be fair though, I do love Halloween, and am looking forward to making up for last year's disaster, so this decision won't be made lightly.

The ability to be two places at once, or namely, two people at once, just can't be.  It's a bitter pill to swallow sometimes, but as the years go on, it does get easier.  Please tell me it does.

April 17, 2023

Shower Salad

No, I haven't started a Kramer tradition from Seinfeld, saving time by preparing salad while showering.  I'm back to the no 'poo experiment, which I tried unsuccessfully two years ago.  Despite its unfortunate name, it's an interesting method of ridding shampoo from your shower routine and scalp. Let's take a look at the method below:

When I shower, I pour a solution of 1 cup water +1 tbsp baking soda over my hair and let it sit for at least a minute.  Then I rinse it out and pour a mixture of 1 cup water + 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar over my hair and let that sit for a minute.  I keep these solutions in two squeeze bottles in the shower.  It's like my very own salad bar, since there is also an olive oil mixture in the bottle on the far left (more on that later in the post).
Last time I had success with the method, but then went on a trip to Florida and was lazy about packing my supplies.  Plus I had gotten a haircut and the stylist had used shampoo on my hair, thus upsetting the PH balance on my scalp.  I just didn't want to invest the time in retraining my scalp with this method (it took about 3 weeks total for me to have hair I liked).

Back to the drawing board.  I wanted to revisit this method again, not because I'm against the harshness of shampoo, but I felt my hair was looking dull and I was tired of washing it every other day because it was greasy.  I liked how it looked when I tried the method years ago, and thought that I could muddle through the first few weeks to get that soft, silky hair I once had.

Here's my head, 10 days into the treatment.  I'm pleased with the results (despite the bad iPhone photo).
It was much easier this time around 1). because my hair is shorter and 2.) I'm not dealing with that mass of thick pregnancy hair.

My hair gets extra curly and the roots are no longer greasy, though I think that I still need to work some of the oiliness out of the rest of my hair.  Using a boar bristle brush helps.
It will most likely look better in another week or so, and I won't have to wash it as frequently (right now I'm at every other day with the no 'poo method).

In addition to the no 'poo method, I thought I'd give the oil cleansing method a try.  You can find a lot of info via an online search.  I think I may have come across this at some point on Pinterest.  Essentially you use oil to clean and soften the skin on your face.

I use a blend of olive and castor oil, but I must say the results have been much less pleasing than the no 'poo experiment.  My combination skin did not like this, despite trying it for 10 days.  It broke out, and just never felt great.  It might be that I need to experiment with the blend of oils.

One other issue I had was that I think it was allowing me to get sunburned.  We've had some nice days here, and despite using SPF on my face, or only being outdoors without a hat or sunscreen for 20 minutes I was still getting red. I wonder if it was acting like a baby oil suntan method (yikes!).

Hence I've given up on the oil cleansing method and am back to my usual baking soda wash, which has been good for my face (you can see my cheese sprinkler of baking soda in the shower rack in the photo above).  I still don't use soap on it, and usually just wash my face with water before bed.

So that's my shower salad, which is more than you've probably wanted to know about my showering habits.  Have you ever tried these methods?  How did they turn out for you?

February 1, 2024

Inspiring New Books from Roost: Imagine Childhood and I Love Dirt {Giveaways}

Do you get as excited as I am when a new book comes out from one of your favorite blogs or bloggers?  I recently bought and devoured the Young House Love book this month, but also got to peruse a copy of Imagine Childhood: Exploring the World through Nature, Imagination and Play by Sarah Olmsted.
It's pretty incredible how in this day and age, one can pour their creativity and talent into a blog, and then turn it into a book, and Sarah Olmsted did just that.  Well, actually, her Imagine Childhood website is part shop/part blog/ part community forum, but regardless, it's inspired parents and kids everywhere to explore their natural surroundings and their imagination. 

The book is a perfect complement to the online Imagine Childhood site.  It's filled with open-ended projects like creating outdoor houses out of dirt or leaves (both for big kids and little dolls/figures), making boats out of simple materials like newspaper, and sparking one's imagination through activities like nature walks, costumes, and creating play forts and magical spaces.  Quite a testament to hands-on learning, for sure.

I love this quote from the book's introduction.  I think it sums up the book perfectly.
Nature teaches us how the world works.
Imagination teaches us how to dream.
Play teaches us how to make our dreams real.
                               --Sarah Olmsted.

Imagine Childhood would make a wonderful addition to your home library or a friend's.  I think it would encourage not only children to explore the world of imagination and play, but adults as well.

Speaking of play and nature, I Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature by Jennifer Ward is another fun new release from Roost.
I can't wait to get this book dirty when using it on walks and trips to the park.  I Love Dirt contains 52 short but inspiring ways to immerse your kids and yourself in playful yet dirty activities.

It's divided into seasonal sections, all of which have ways to explore nature through art, science, writing, and simple observation.   It's really applicable to country-dwellers who live in climates with dramatic seasons, like myself, however anyone can use this book, no matter where you live.  Those living in warm locations will probably not be able to do any of the snow-related activities, however there are suggestions for other ways to get the most out of the seasons.

I want to raise my boys with a close connection to nature, and I Love Dirt is a creative catalyst for getting us outside to explore the world, no matter the season or weather. 


One lucky reader will win a copy of Imagine Childhood and another lucky reader will win a copy of I Love Dirt!  Please enter via the Rafflecopter widgets below (you can leave one comment in the post for both giveaways; no need to duplicate).
a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received copies of the books reviewed here.  All opinions are my own.

October 11, 2023

Updating the Bathroom {and an Uncommon Goods Giveaway}

We've been enjoying our upstairs bathroom for a few months now, having had it gutted and renovated over the summer.  It's so nice not to cringe when taking a shower and having to avoid touching the walls.
However, our downstairs bathroom was feeling a bit left out.  While we don't have the budget to do a complete renovation right now (which like its upstairs sibling prior to the summer, it desperately needs), I do like to update it now and then with fabric and accessories (and paint, if I'm feeling especially ambitious).  I might have even mentioned in a past post the I covered up its ugly yellow tiles with contact paper. 
To spruce up this bath, I made a simple pleated sink skirt for our lovely old sink (it really isn't so lovely underneath it), and actually gave the basin a good cleaning with Bon Ami.
I found the fabric a while ago at Joann and it's been waiting to be put to use.  There was enough to make a simple no-sew valance too.  Stitch witchery is your friend.
As usual, I shop around the house changing out wall art and other things when I feel the urge to feather the nest.  I scavenged the Ikea tray and tin animals that hang on either side of the mirror from Jude's nursery.
Rather than the usual cardboard box of tissues, I decided to forgo the patterns (tissue boxes really have come a long way design-wise, huh?) and use a neat-o modern Paper Pot from Uncommon Goods.
Have you ever checked out their website or catalog?  It's pretty incredible, the unique and useful things they carry.

The Paper Pot is a contraption that holds your tissues or toilet paper inside a funky ball.  You unscrew the two parts, then lay your tissues on top of the roller bar or slide the bar through your toilet paper roll.  Then out pops your paper.
It comes in five colors (I really should have chosen blue or orange, but thought that white would go with anything) and is really eye-catching in its minimal design.  I hope the manufacturer adds some more colors, like yellow or grey to the mix.
It's also functional in that when I pull out a tissue, the pot doesn't move like tissue boxes often do.  And so far I haven't had any clumps of tissues come out the way I often do with the paper boxes.  But mostly, it's just looks really cool in the bathroom.  I'd love a few more throughout the house.  It would actually make a great Christmas gift for me (hint hint), as would many of the other items that I found here.

Uncommon Goods has so many other home, office and personal goods.  I'm eager to check out some ideas for Christmas gifts too, which you can find HERE.  I always have trouble picking out items for girls, like friends' daughters and nieces, so I'll definitely be checking out the suggestions for girls that at Uncommon Goods.  Uncommon Goods is a website you could browse for a long time and still have trouble picking a favorite item.

One lucky reader will win their own Paper Pot!  Please enter via Rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received an item of my choice from Uncommon Goods for review.

July 24, 2023

Bathroom Renovation: Mission Complete!

Well friends, we've been living with our completed bathroom for a week now, our contractor having finished last Monday.  I was lax about posting photos because there were a few touch-ups to finish, but I'm very pleased to present it to you.  Drumroll.....
If you haven't been following along, this is what the space used to look like.  A monstrosity to say the least (minus that sweet little baby head peeking out of the corner).
Cramped, awkward, dingy, dirty and filled with too many crevices and unmatched surfaces to clean.
The Psycho bathroom looks like a spa, relative to this one.  Enough hyperbole, and onto some more pics.
We're very much enjoying this space, though it is hard not to tiptoe through it, worried that we're going to muss it up.
Though we didn't do any of the work, Chris and I decided upon the look and style of the room, which was then implemented by those much more capable and time-abundant than ourselves.  Well worth the chunk of change that drained our poor savings account.
We did end up getting that claw foot tub that we dreamed of.  It's gorgeous!
Admittedly, it's taking some time to get used to showering in.  But I knew it wasn't going to be smooth soaking.  Surprisingly, it's easy to bathe the kids in.  The high walls keep splashes inside of the tub.
As I said, showering is a little awkward, with the shower plumbing being exposed and the tub being freestanding.  I worry about water trickling out the back, but so far we haven't had any wet floors.
We love the old-fashioned feel of the room, which is in keeping with our 100+ year old house.  Subway tile on the walls, hex tiles on the floor, chrome details and a train rack for storing towels on the wall.
The Schoolhouse light in the ceiling was bookmarked on my laptop for almost a year.  It really set the tone for the style I wanted the room to look like.
The sole piece of artwork in the room is this vintage map of Spain, found on Etsy ,which is quite charming.  It appealed to me since we honeymooned there.
Because the room is so small (9'x5'), it lacked a steam radiator like the rooms in the rest of the house.  Rather than install a baseboard, we chose radiant floor heating, which should be really nice when taking a hot winter bath.
It's a pleasure and a relief to finally have this bathroom as we hoped it would be.  When we bought our house, we knew one day this space would have to be gutted, and that day finally has come and gone.
We're utterly spoiled and supremely thankful for such a bright, relaxing area to retreat to in our busy home. Baths are on us if you come visit!
Curious about where the goods came from?  Here's the rundown:
  • Lighting: Rejeuvenation
  • Sink/Toiler: Memoires by Kohler
  • Faucet: Devonshire by Kohler
  • Subway and Hex tile: Datile
  • Tub and fixtures: Vintage Tub and Bath
  • Paint: Watery by Sherwin Williams
  • Towel bar and holder, robe hook, glass shelf: Inspirations by Moen
  • Train rack:
  • Shower curtain and striped hand towels: West Elm
  • Bath rugs: World Market (no longer available in yellow)
  • Medicine cabinet: Restoration Hardware
  • Artwork: Etsy
  • Soap dispenser, cup: Kohls?? Leftover from the bathroom's previous incarnation.
  • Towels: Home Goods
  • Trash can, toilet brush, and yellow lidded can (which holds the kids' shampoos and cleaning supplies): IKEA

March 28, 2023

Robot Birthday Party

I've spent snippets of evenings and weekends during the last few weeks getting ready for Soren's 4th birthday party, held last Sunday, and in my mind, a successful fete!
While most of our friends and relatives probably think I'm nuts putting so much time and effort into a kids' birthday party, I assure you all that I really really just enjoy creating these kinds of events.  More than one person has said that I should go into business as a party planner, and I've definitely given it some thought.  Maybe once Jude is a little older and I have more time to devote to such employment.
Rather than having our small house destroyed by a stampede of kids, we opted to have our party at a local community space.  This gave the kiddos plenty of room to spread out and run around, and also came with both and art room and a bounce house that we set up in the larger room.
Bouncing and painting certainly occupied the kids for the majority of the time.  Hopefully parents appreciated the opportunity for their children to burn off all that sugar via jumping.

My mother-in-law made this fabulous robot cake and cupcakes for the party.  It turned out so cool, and you can find out how to make it Betty Crocker (it even includes an instructional video).
Though it was a little tricky finding robot-themed items, I managed to pull it off by making some homemade stuff like the banner (which is a little hard to read here, since it kept saggin in the middle).  You can find my tutorial for a similar banner here.
Using decorative paper and cardstock, I made some cutesy signs like "battery cells" for drinks
"Cheese Ball Bearings", "Nuts and Bolts" and "Computer Chips."
I served the snacks in aluminum tins to give it more of a metal robot look. 
I found the treat bags in the dollar section of either Walmart or Target way back during the back-to-school shopping season.  They're actually reusable (the orange ones) and paper lunch bags.
It's great to have a theme way ahead of time so you can scout out supplies months before the event rather than scrambling to find them at the last minute.

I stuffed the goodie bags with some snacks and robot t-shirts that I had screen printed for the kids.
I like that it was something non-junky to include in the bags and that they'd definitely use instead of ending in the trash. You can find my screen printing tutorial for them HERE.

Another fun thing I made was a cardboard robot with a cutout in the head for the kids to pose in. I used boxes, electrical tape, and other stuff we had around the house. Soren enjoyed helping me with this.
I downloaded the Pocketbooth app for the iPhone and had the kids pose, photobooth-style. Fun stuff!
I wanted to take advantage of the art room in the space, as well as my art teacher skills, so for the creative part, I found these cool paint-able ceramic robot banks online (cheap too, under 20 bucks for a dozen) and had the kids paint them. They loved it!
Soren said painting the robot was his favorite part of the party.  That melts my heart.
I bought some special paints for glass and ceramic, which should hold up well on these ceramic banks.
We had the usual birthday fare, pizza, cake and ice cream, and FOUR candles this year.
What a happy happy birthday for my robot boy!
If you'd like to use make your own banner and tags, I used the free Tombots and Homemade Robot fonts. Here are the images I designed for the food tags, which you can right click and save, then mount onto colored paper or cardstock:
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