Monday, February 23, 2009

Mmmmmm, swoop swap

Yesterday I participated in my first soup swap, or "swoop swap," as my daughter kept referring to it. Six moms from Lillian's school each made a huge batch of homemade, vegetarian soup, enough to fill five 32 oz. containers. I made a Red Rosemary soup with beets and lentils, which has become a staple in our household. Check out the delicious bounty I came home with after swapping soup: vegetarian chili, two-bean soup, fava beans and rice soup, roasted tomatoes (which can be used as a pasta sauce or a soup), and green velvet soup. Yummo! I doubt any of us spent over $15 on our soup and we each got five or six main dishes out of it. Anybody up for a casserole swap?

Friday, February 20, 2009

My, what a little paint can do!

Our kitchen is still tiny, but painting the walls and cabinets has completely transformed the space. As you can see in the before picture, the walls had been long-neglected and looked suspiciously like dingy primer. They're now a lovely, bright, cheerful shade of yellow. The cabinets had previously been painted with garage floor paint and were filthy and roughly textured. Alan and his dad sanded the cabinets, primed them a couple of times, and painted them with three coats of creamy white paint. It was the first time Alan didn't complain about the small size of our kitchen and lack of cabinets.

It took us a few months to finally frame a few photographs and accessorize, but we're finally in the home stretch. My parents are going to buy me a magnetic spice rack for my birthday and I'd like to hang a chalk board for the kids below the photograph of the tomatoes. Next project: the laundry room. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

We miss you, old friend

One year ago today we said goodbye to our sweet dog, Simon. He was 17 years old and had spent 16 of those years with my husband, Alan. When we first met, Al and I would take him on long walks around Candler Park and without fail, Simon would cut in front of me and suddenly stop, apparently trying to trip me. The rivalry grew fierce when he had to give up his spot in the passenger seat of the pickup truck. He didn't hold a grudge for long and we eventually bonded, but Alan would forever remain his favorite.

When I was pregnant with our first child, I heard about a couple who had to find their dog a new home because their baby was allergic to him. I asked Alan what we would do if that happened to us and in a matter-of-fact tone he responded, "I'm sure we'll find a good home for the baby." Lucky for our daughter that wasn't the case and for the next four years Simon and Lilly were like siblings. Sister would pull her big brother's hair and he would take all the blame. Her first word wasn't Dada or Mama, it was Baba, which is apparently baby talk for dog. We, too, started referring to Simon as Baba and he began responding to it. As Lil's speech developed, his nickname changed to Doe Doe, then Dohg Dohg, then Fighme. 

I took the little things for granted. It used to irritate me when he'd rub up against my leg and leave a patch of dog hair on my freshly washed pants. Now I celebrate when I find bits of his hair in unexpected places. It was impossible to cook with him standing right under me in our tiny kitchen, but he was the only one who helped me mop the floor after dinner. I long to hear his footsteps, the way his toe nails would click, click, click on the hardwood floors. I miss knowing there was always someone to come home to. We miss you, old friend, dog hair and all.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why would I want the toy when I can have the box?

Today Lillian announced that she wanted to make a boat. After choosing from the plethora of boxes in our attic, she and her Daddy got down to work. The boat soon morphed into a plane, but in the end they determined that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang would be the ONLY vehicle that could fulfill all their needs.

Boxes are the best!  When I was Lil's age, I made a house out of a refrigerator box, complete with windows and a porch, and spent weeks playing in it. Why Would I Want The Toy, When I Can Have The Box? is one of my favorite parenting books. It outlines 101 ways to spend time with your children without spending any money. The author, Rex Bowlby, describes buying an expensive, flashing, beeping toy for his son's third birthday, only to watch him spend the entire day making a robot out of the box the toy came in. I don't think the book was written with the Voluntary Simplicity movement in mind, but it's the best book I've found about living simply with children. 

I'm so pleased to have a lead on a large wardrobe box. We may be building a bungalow box in the near future, complete with craftsman windows and a cozy front porch. 

Jonathan makes his move.

Last night, my dear friend Kenzi and I went for a walk with the babies. It's so great catching up with mama friends, especially those you were friends with long before either of you had children. Kenzi's beautiful daughter, Millie, was born just a few weeks after Jonathan and we often joke that they're meant for one another. Jonathan seems to have a similar idea. She's also the little sister Lillian still dreams about. 

Our banging wall

The Creative Family, by Amanda Blake Soule, is a beautiful book full of simple, imaginative, thoughtful ways to connect with your children. I first discovered the author when I happened upon her blog last year and it soon became one of my favorite places to visit. Thanks to Mrs. Soule, we now delight in building fairy houses, have a semi-regular family drawing time, and have gone questing through our neighborhood. Our latest endeavor is creating a banging wall, or a wall of sound. Grab a stick or a wooden spoon and either create some music or take your frustrations out on some pans. Mrs. Soule's banging wall is truly a treasure to behold and ours is, well, a little bit white trash, but Lillian really likes it. It's also a great way to reuse pots and pans that are past their prime. Just a warning, if you have crabby neighbors, you may want to build your banging wall in a discreet place so they're left wondering where in the world all the racket is coming from.

Monday, February 9, 2009

My morning gift

Baby Jonathan woke me up before the sun this morning. I guess he didn't want to miss this.

Wannabe crafty

I spend a LOT of time on admiring the lovely, handmade goods artists sell there. For Christmas, I bought Lillian a Rainy Day Art Kit from an artist in Alabama. I just found a Waldorf-inspired, felt tree for the nature table at Lillian's preschool. I've always appreciated miniatures and dollhouse furniture, but have lately found myself searching for gnomes and fairies. Maybe it's the dreariness that January brings to Atlanta, but I find the thought of being a creature small enough to hide in the nook of a tree trunk very appealing. Since I'm too conspicuous for such a life and have far too many responsibilities, I need to find something to do indoors that doesn't involve cleaning products, food, or the television. I wanna be crafty!

I checked a book out of the library for inspiration entitled Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects by Salley Mavor. The author describes her childhood as being filled with art, music, and dance. "In our household it was clear that making art was more important than housework." There it is! Where are my priorities? So, I ordered a Little Felt People Kit and a Knitting Pouch Pals Kit from Both kits are for children ages 7 and up, which is about my skill level. I hope this inspiration carries me through February. It may take me that long to complete, which is fine with me. The dishes can wait.