Friday, January 31, 2014

Castle Cake

I found the recipe online at Baking Bites

I wanted something to help me use up all the applesauce I made last summer from the apples on my tree.

I received a cake pan shaped like a castle from my step mom as a Christmas gift to the household. So in the spirit of giving to everyone, I decided it was time to use it. It was also a bribe of sorts to encourage my three year old to pick up his blocks at a pace slightly faster than a hypothermic slug.

Our standard routine is for him to dance around my feet demanding that he gets to help while I get out all the ingredients. Mind you, this is after I have assured him that he gets to help once I get everything out of the cupboards.

In the interest of trying to do things better, this time I put him up on the counter and handed him the stuff we would need and trusted that he would not drop the 1/3 full bag of flour onto the floor.
We measured things out, followed the directions and a batter came together rather painlessly.
Of course I forgot to pre-heat the oven and only remembered when I was reaching for cupcake wrappers to bake the remaining batter in.

So I portioned out the rest while the oven heated and had a conversation with my son about how it would be much nicer to ask "Why are you putting batter into those?" than yelling "DON'T PUT THAT IN THERE! IT DOESN'T GO IN THERE!" at me.

I put the cake into the oven, set the timer. We licked some spatulas, piled up some bowls to clean later, hugged the baby who had been wanting some Mama love (because of course the 10 minutes that Mama is busy, Dada is no longer good enough).

I sat down to start writing this post, and already the house smells like chocolate cake!

It came out of the pan easily. Yay for Nordicware! A dusting of powdered sugar and I had a cake.

One of the things I look forward to the most is when my children know how to read a recipe and I can just turn them loose in the kitchen with minimal guidance and see what happens.

P.S. the cake tasted fantastic! It stayed moist even two days after baking. This is my new go-to chocolate recipe for as long as I have applesauce!

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Imperfect Source of Perfection

I just recently decided I need to learn how to knit, recent as in about 6 months ago. I have been crocheting since I was 8 or 9, never finished anything until I was 19 though. I had tried knitting a few times but never got the hang of it.

The day before I got married was the first time I met my mother in law. (long story on why it was so fast a marriage, will tell that one later) She was going to perform the wedding. We instantly liked each other and I learned that she was an avid knitter. When my son was born she came out to see him and brought him a blanket she had made. This blanket was my inspiration to try again at knitting, but once more it did not go well. When she was diagnosed with cancer, it lit a fire under my butt to really learn. I wanted to have something to share with her, something in common with her, something of her to carry with me forever.

She bought me some yarn on my trip to Mississippi to see her. I took it home to make a blanket for my daughter who was about 7 months old. I had finally gotten to start on the last of the three colors of yarn when I learned that I had been knitting through the BACK loop, all of my stitches were twisted. I debated finishing it that way, after all, I had put WEEKS of work into this thing as a new knitter working slowly. In the end, I decided that if I was going to learn, I was going to learn RIGHT. So I took the whole thing apart and wound it into a giant ball and started over. I knit the whole thing in  stockinette. This stitch curls, more than Shirley Temple's pigtails, it curls. I was aghast when my simple little border I crocheted onto the blanket did nothing to help this. I stared at my curling blanket and frowned. Should I take it apart again? I spent a day reading online what I had done wrong and how all stockinette stitches would curl due to tension in the yarn. I needed to make a border as part of the blanket that would ease that tension at the ends and stop the curling somewhat. Or I could block it, but as it got used and worn the curls would come back until I blocked it again. I looked at my three shades of pink with their dark purple border and decided to leave it as it was. I would leave it as a reminder to me to always do my research before jumping into a project so that I would be sure to do it right.


My daughter snuggles this blankie and snoozes with it, she drapes it over her head and walks around the living room laughing. She drags it across the floor, the curling edges mean nothing to her, they are just part of the blankie.

Somewhere in this blanket, and all of my worry and struggles with it, I found a lesson about how our children do not see our faults like we do. How they love us with all of our imperfections. They see warmth and comfort, not curling edges and the flaws of a first time project. In a way, our children are a first time project, even our second or third or fourth children, simply because no two children are the same. We make mistakes, we scold at the wrong time, and turn our backs for that second that they end up falling off the chair, we promise ice cream but don't deliver. We are not perfect, we are dragged across the floor and loved, our flaws mean little to them in the end. All they see is love.

The pattern for my Imperfect Love Blankie

Cast on as many stitches as you feel would make a good size blanket in whatever yarn makes you happy with whatever needles feel good in your hand that day.

Knit one row, purl one row. Repeat those rows until the yarn is gone.

Look up a crochet border that you like, Google it if you don't have one memorized, use another yarn that makes you happy to make the border and laugh when you find edge stitches that are too lose or too tight. Enjoy the freedom of accepted imperfection. Rejoice in the curling edges. Learn from it. Love your blankie. Love yourself unconditionally.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

I Don't Want to Write This Post

I thought I would have longer before I had to write this post. I thought I would have another month or two. But life is what it is.

On Monday, January 13th, my mother in law passed away.

Most girls whine about their mother in law, they dislike them, think they are controlling, wish they would keep their opinions to themselves. But this mother in law was not like those mother in laws. She told me something about being a mom that I will keep with me forever. She told me that in any situation, no matter how sensitive, I have the right to do anything I need to do to keep my children safe. I was worried about offending her because I wanted to run the vacuum before I put the baby on the floor at her house. She just welcomed the help in cleaning up and told me I had a job to do, to keep my children safe, and if that meant running the vacuum, then I should do just that.

She was one hell of a special person.

So let me share a little bit about what I learned about Julie in the time I had her in my life.

Julie knit. She made beautiful things out of strings of yarn. She was a Wiccan. She was blindingly intelligent. She gave birth to and raised three boys, of which I married the eldest. She lived in a little house in Mississippi in the time that I knew her.

The rock in Julie's yarn
She had divorced the father of her boys when my husband was in high school, so a while ago. She had since remarried someone else who she loved greatly. She had rescue kitties, and a good dog. She worked for FedEx. She could fly small planes.

She made a blankie that my son loves,

and one for my daughter that she sleeps with every night.  

She came to see Liam when he was born.

And again just after he turned one.

We went to see her when Evie was about 6 months old, after she couldn't travel to us any more. 

She inspired me to learn how to knit.
She is the one who married us.

She battled cancer with good humor and grace. She lost the fight.

She will be missed.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Meet The Family

I debated giving my children nicknames to be used online. Captain Crazy and Princess Puddles, Sir Whines-a-lot and Duchess Droopydrawers, Prince Goober and Queen Climbs-everything-and-scares-the-crap-out-of-me... but I decided that since they each have their own photo blog with their first names in it (for all of our out of state family to keep up on what they are doing), that I may as well use their given names.

Liam is 3.5. He goes to a Montessori school, he loves superheroes, pirates and animals.

Evie is 16 months old. She loves tutus, cars and climbing. She also might have a sleep disorder, which we are working on diagnosing. More on that in another post later on.

Nym is our Mini Aussie from Hilltop Aussies, she is 2.5 years old. She loves bacon, stealing food from the high chair and sleeping on the couch. Her patience and devotion to "her babies" is wonderful to see.

Katchoo is our oldest kitty at 12 years old, she loves pizza crust, licking butter and sleeping on my butt when I am in bed.

Tulip is the middle kitty at 11 years, she loves clean laundry to sleep in and a few pets once a week if the stars have aligned properly

Johnny Rotten is the youngest kitty at 5 years old, he loves sleeping at my feet and clawing me if I happen to move in my sleep. His nickname is Claws of Fury


Our fish tank is full of guppies and snails. The kids love watching the fish and it helps give Liam a calm point to focus on when he is in need of calming down. Sadly, it is nearly impossible to take a good picture of a fish tank for me! Maybe another time I will have one.

The Husband is my guy. He does the things I can not do, like climb up on the roof, or chop a ton of mushrooms in 3 seconds. He mows the lawn with the scary lawn mower and carries all the heavy things. He is a chef, but of course rarely cooks at home. Thankfully he puts up with my cooking and helps me figure out meals.

And I guess I should put up a picture of me. Since this whole thing is all about me. I am always the one taking pictures, rarely in them.

And that is our little family in our little blue house. Now you will know who I am talking about.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Getting Started

Writing this post gave me a flash back to the episode of 7th Heaven where Lucy gives her first sermon. She doesn't see that she has a whole life time to get all the points across that she wants to make and tries to cover it all in one sermon. The people listening to her got confused, no one understood the point she was trying to make and because of this her sermon was unsuccessful.
But I am not a preacher, this is not a sermon. This is a blog post. But all the same, I do not want to confuse you. Or myself, which is easy to do these days.

Who Am I?
I am a 32 year old mama living on the far reaches of Southeast Portland, Oregon. I have two children, a dog, three cats and a fish tank full of guppies and an assassin snail I have named Sneaky McStabbypants.

I have a bachelors degree in graphic design from the Pacific Northwest College of Art, a certification in phlebotomy, a passion for making, a lazy streak, a crazy streak, and sometimes I speak before I think and piss people off. I stay at home with the kids and pretend that I can keep up on the housework in between chasing down a daredevil 16 month old and keeping her out of trouble and keeping the 3 year old from tackling the dog.

I love simple food, complicated cupcakes, coffee and carbonated water. I love yarn, wire, beads and paper.  I dislike fish, pork, bell peppers and diet sodas. I hate fashion, make up and insects.
I take lots of pictures of everything around me.

Why should I write a blog?
I tried blogging once, but it was at a time when I was new to motherhood and every single thing was scary, my baby was terrifyingly strange to me and I knew nothing about what I was doing. I still know nothing about what I am doing, but at least I can do it with style and less whining.

To me, this is a place to write about what I am working on, the latest challenge and bright points of motherhood, the joy of finishing a project, the burnt bottoms of my bread rolls and to hopefully find others to communicate with about all of these things.

I am bad at making friends in person, maybe because I tend to over-share on some things and I have a bad habit of interrupting people (I'm working on that!), but behind my screen I can open up and share with the added bonus of being able to edit things before I say them. Plus I can not interrupt anyone on the internet! Hah!

Things about me you should know
I have suffered from depression of one sort or another for a long time now. I have what my therapist calls "Situational Anxiety" which might be why I over share in a desperate attempt to connect to people on some level. At least in a blog a certain level of over sharing is expected.

I am not on medication for my issues. I control them through positive thinking, choosing happiness, sheer determination and a desire to not let my issues be reasons for not enjoying life how I want to enjoy it.

I am overweight. Fat. Chubby. Chunky. Whatever the hell you want to call it, I am. I am learning to love the body I am in and take good care of it. I have my limitations, both physical and mental, but I am a good, beautiful person, I just happen to be good and beautiful a little bigger than society thinks is normal.