21 December 2007

Toddler Relativity

A1 scoffs at classical mechanics. His spacetime structure gets all screwy when making Christmas sugar cookies. What else could possibly explain why the hour-long wait for the dough to chill feels like foreeeeeever!

I tried to keep his mind off the cookies with some crafts. First, he sparkled up a pine cone.

Christmas cone

Then he decorated a construction paper tree.

3-D tree

And finally he got to bake and frost his cookies. Neon food coloring is courtesy of his dad.

neon frosting

(Sorry for the crappy, out of focus pics!)

02 December 2007

Changing colors

The pomegranate leaves have turned a shade of yellow that perfectly matches the dragonfly wings on our windchime!

pomegranate & windchime

01 December 2007

A history lesson

I just learned some very interesting (to me anyhow) facts about where we live.

We are at the foot of a hill, 347 feet high to be exact, that's eased to the county. It's aptly named Red Hill because of its soil color, which turned red when ancient volcanic activity deposited cinnabarite in the preexisting sandstone. Native American inhabitants called it Katuktu, which roughly translates to Place of Refuge. However, when the Spaniards came in, they dubbed it the less romantic Hill of Frogs!

It's a lovely hill, but it completely blocks our cell phone and television reception. Though this is not such a big deal because we communicate mainly via email/chat and have long since gotten rid of our television. Its true fault is that it makes us a fire hazard which scares off many home owners insurance companies.

Red Hill

That photo really illustrates the fire-prone nature of chaparral ecosystems. Or is it biomes? I can never remember which term is more appropriate!

30 November 2007

Play dough!

1 c. flour
1/2 c. salt
1 T. cream of tartar
1 T. oil
1 c. water + food coloring
(optional: scented essential oil of choice)

Dump ingredients in medium sized pot and stir over heat for about a minute or two until the dough starts to pull away from the sides and the right consistency is reached. Store in sealed bag.

This is one of our favorite activities because it's so quick. And who doesn't love immediate gratification? Here are the two colors we made, shown after some good smooshing.

play dough

Side note: Cream of tartar is the common name for potassium hydrogen tartrate, a precipitate yielded in the fermentation of grape (the only significant natural source of tartaric acid) juice into wine. It prevents candies from crystallizing, stabilizes whipped egg whites, and cleans brass, copper, and aluminum. It's also found in sodas, gelatin desserts, and photo products.

29 November 2007

Garden surprises

welcome bunnies

This garden welcomes all sorts of unplanned events (like the winds in 2003 that felled all those poor conifers) and uninvited visitors (like the multitude of lizards and nocturnal bunnies). Of course, some surprises are more pleasant than others.

The bees have cross pollinated the once crisp white roses flanking the shorter set of steps up the hill. The petals are pink tinged! I'm enjoying the variegated appearance for now, but when they all turn splotchy pink, I'm going to be a little sad.

pink tinged rose

Though I should have expected it sooner or later since the three whites were, at my mother's behest, planted adjacent to these two fuchsia gals:

fuchsia colored neighbor

And another surprise is the way the row of eight hibiscus bushes have turned out. There was originally an even split between 2 cultivars, but now the red flowers have all but disappeared leaving only their peachy cousins.

surviving hibiscus

28 November 2007

Dieting: American-style

A number of years ago, I was shopping with a friend who tried on, but refused to purchase, a gorgeous skirt that fit her perfectly and was of her favorite shade of purple. Her explanation? It was a size 12, and she only owned items up to size 10. I, and apparently clothing manufacturers as well, have come to learn that these sentiments are commonplace. That leads me to this ridiculously large skirt:

Target skirt

The A's are virtually always with me and that can make some things difficult and other things downright impossible--like trying on clothing at the store. I saw that skirt at Target and while I'm normally a size 10, I bought it in size 8 because it seemed a little roomy. Imagine my dismay and annoyance when I got home to find that I could easily jump in and out of it while completely zipped up! So, I grabbed the A's the following day and blindly exchanged it for a size 6. Again, no luck. I went back a final time for a size 4. Surely a 4 would fit. It does not. I got tired of going back so I just ripped off the tags and let the stupid thing dangle below my waist.

Only in American could a size 10 woman become a size 2 without lifting a finger.

24 November 2007

It's about control

I love English cottage gardens with their crowds of flowers and other greenery. Shamelessly overflowing masses of perennial varieties stand tall against the moderation and order of the classic garden structure. Unfortunately, what appears free-flowing and haphazard actually demands A LOT of planning and upkeep! I've abandoned the notion that I can maintain such unbridled gaiety in my garden and embraced the calming effect of structure. I can admit that it feels good to impose on my garden in this way. After all, the human drive to control our environment is what has allowed us, as a species, to thrive.

This morning, A1 and I pruned the topiary near the garage. With its constrained unnatural lines, this poor tortured boxwood is our yard's greatest example of my control.


Then we exercised our power over some honeysuckle. Don't get me wrong, I love those vines up on the hillside where they deter erosion and provide fragrance. But when they encroach upon the beloved camellias, they will be dealt with accordingly! Those gorgeous pink flowers make me wish for a peony in the yard.



And here is a lone flower on the gardenia bush. We did nothing but stand back to take in her simple beauty.


23 November 2007

Thanksgiving report

My mother, J, the A's, and I arrived at my uncle's place (and by place, I mean palace!) with cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole, cheesecake, and a 21.54 lb turkey. All familial grievances, both petty and grand, were set aside and we had a rather pleasant dinner. It's a little strange that so many of us, who sat not so long ago at the kiddie table, came with our own children.

In the chaos of day-to-day hustle and bustle with a toddler and an infant, I often forget how long I waited for these guys to come along. Plus, I have so many friends and family members who are desperately trying to conceive. I sometimes have to remind myself how fortunate I am and not to take the A's presence for granted.

I'm also really thankful to have the experience of being my father's daughter. I aspire to be the person he and my sons think I am.

21 November 2007

Thanksgiving Eve

Up until a few years ago, I cooked the entire Thanksgiving meal. Folks on father's side of the family love to cook but they're almost all vegetarian so we always celebrated with my mother's side. Their idea of potluck involved bringing their appetites! But now we go to my uncle's place and to be honest, it's been difficult relinquishing control. Sure, it's easier not to cook a ten course meal for two dozen people but there's no denying my need to plan the entire menu.

I'm so used to having to pace myself that I engaged in day-before prep work anyhow. A1 and I baked cornbread while A2 napped. It's been cubed and is now awaiting its final fate as dressing...bleh, I hate smooshy stuffing. While I was preparing the green beans for the casserole, A1 slipped away. He came back having yanked all the Black Beauties from the vegetable patch! As you can plainly see, they are still quite green--though there were enough peppers to fill a whole colander. A1 was so proud of himself for having "helped" that I couldn't even get mad. We'll have to think of something creative to do with them.

Bell peppers

Wow, there sure seems to be a lot going on in the garden these days--and very little sewing. Maybe I should have called this blog She SOWS Seashells intead!

14 November 2007

Garden updates

Yesterday, we cleared all five pomegranate trees and gathered what was easily in excess of 200 pieces. Fortunately, we were able to gift a few to a fellow gardener during today's playdate. I may never know what possessed me to plant that many trees in the first place.


All 14 melaleucas are flowering and I love the new creamy bottlebrush sprouts, but so do the bees. Swarms of them zip about, producing a chainsaw buzzing that frightens both children and adults alike!


Here's a photo showing why they're also called paperbarks. Their flexible, spongy feel is a toddler magnet.


When A1 was younger, I would strap him on my back and stand under the loquat tree as though it were our breakfast buffet. I'd pick and peel fruit and hand them back to him. Maybe this year we will make pies or jams out of the fruit as well.

We are eagerly awaiting their return next season so their development is being captured in photos. Here we have the new buds...

loquat bud

...from which the blooms sprang.

loquat bloom

It's exciting to see the teeny tiny beginnings of the fruit once the flowers are spent.

loquat bloom spent

12 November 2007

Yay for circular looms!

The door to yarn crafting is wide open even for needle and hook challenged individuals like myself. This is going to be a hat for A2 to match Kipawa, the wrap that cradles him most days.


10 November 2007

Apples here, there, everywhere

We picked and ate the last of the persimmons yesterday, so now the Fuji is the primary target of our morning harvests. Today's take was baked into muffins for breakfast; I had hoped to start using our new stand mixer but it would have been overkill—we did it all by hand. A1 is becoming quite the baker.


09 November 2007

The cure for solitude

For so many years, I floundered in a bottomless pit of solitude. Regardless of whether I was in the company of others, I felt horribly, inextricably, sorrowfully alone. Fast forward almost a decade and plop the A’s into my life. And now, I’m never alone. In fact, I’ve lost any clear recollection of what it’s like to pee with the door closed or take an uninterrupted shower.

Yesterday, I left the A’s with their grandparents while I ran a 30-minute errand. I wondered if the boys would be able to tolerate my absence*. By the time I hit the first stop sign, not only had my fears subsided, but I began to rejoice! I turned up the volume—the debut Franz Ferdinand CD for those who care—and rolled down the window. I was alone! Not that mournful kind from yesteryear, but the new and improved celebratory kind that involves a lot of off key singing.

So for abolishing the reign of depression, I offer deepest thanks to my munchkins.

*They had a grand ole time without me!

08 November 2007

Fall has fallen

A1 is a quiet and careful observer of his world. He's been noticing seasonal changes so I thought we'd use the deciduous trees out front to fortify his learning. Following is our Autumn collection, which will eventually be joined by Winter, Spring, and Summer photos.

DSC_1287 DSC_1290DSC_1293

07 November 2007

Signing in

It seems my inaugural post should be something spectacular as it dictates the tone and content of all subsequent posts; however, waiting for that rare stroke of genius to emerge has taken much too long. So, I will dive in and hope for the best.

I suppose this will be about my journey as a SAHM. Numerous roads, both smooth and bumpy, have led me here but for the moment, life at home with my boys entirely subsumes who I am. And that is a statement I pronounce with joy, gratitude, and often times disbelief.