Community

It Really IS a Small World After All

moby-wrapOver the last few weeks, I’ve realized just how small the world really is.  Two weeks ago, while having coffee with a dear friend, we got to talking about home birth (well, I talk a lot about this lately).  She was asking me questions and we were talking about squatting for the birth and all kinds of stuff, when the couple in the booth next to us got up to pay their check.

Before they left the man said, “excuse me, we don’t mean to eavesdrop, but are you talking about home birth?”  Why yes.  “That’s so funny,” he said.  “My wife’s in labor right now.  We’re having the baby at  The Birth Center.”  Really, cool!  I had H at the birth center, two years ago.

My friend asked the wife a few more questions and while she was answering, she had a contraction and had to stop and sit down.  It was cool to see such a calm, collected mother just breathe through her contraction, and then when it was over, continue on with the conversation.  We wished them luck with their birth, and they left to walk the few blocks back to the center, I’m sure.

hot-moms-tshirtThen last week I was shopping Craigslist for a Moby Wrap for the new baby.  There was one on there for only $25, and I jumped on it.  I arranged to meet the lady to pick it up.  When I got to her house, she saw me get out of the car and asked “Hey, did you used to work for Tracy?”  Yes, at the birth center?  “Yes, remember me, I had my son there back when you were the receptionist!”  Too weird.

So, I guess it really is a small world, after all.  What are the odds?

I did buy the wrap, and I really like it so far.  Rick gave H a ride around the house in it on his back, and then H had to try it on himself.  It’s super long, so it’s wrapped around him umpteen times.  I might have to make him one of his own to carry his frog around in, while I carry the baby in mine.  :)

There is a picture of Rick, H & I on the birth center’s website.  It was at the six week visit after H was born.  All the pictures on the site have captions with the parents’ and babies’ names on them, except ours… Ours just says :  “Hot Moms T-Shirt.”

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Categories: Childbirth, Community | Leave a comment

Honey-Do Weekends (part 1)

diaper-sprayer-sprayingI’m not sure what it is about being pregnant that makes you want to remodel your whole house, but whatever it is, I have it!  Last time, with H, Rick and I removed carpet and plywood to find the original hardwoods in our bedrooms, and then refinished them.  We also installed a sprinkler system in the front yard ourselves.   This time around, I’ve made an equally challenging Honey-Do list for Rick.

This weekend was the start of, what I’m sure will be a four or five week long, series of projects.  But, despite the rain on Friday and Saturday, we got a lot of the projects crossed off the list, or at the very least, started.   On Thursday, I began pulling weeds and crab-grass from the front flower beds.  The grass invasion was especially bad this year, so this was a big project.  I have five flower beds, and it took me about two hours to get half of the biggest one done.  Rick mowed the lawn and got most of the other beds done on Friday before it rained.   I just have the second half of that big bed left to do this week.

Saturday we went to Englewood’s first Farmers Market (it was small, but you have to start somewhere), and then to Home Depot to get the parts for the other projects on the To-Do list.  Rick got pieces to repair our back yard hose, and a new valve for the sprinkler system, as well as everything we needed for the Diaper Sprayer.  The guy in the plumbing department was really helpful, since we wanted to combine both the tutorials that we looked at.  We wanted that ball-valve, but we wanted to use connections that didn’t involve clamps.

We ended up with something that will be easily detached from the system when the new baby is out of diapers, but it did cost a bit more than we anticipated.  With tax et all, it came to about $32.  We used a gift card, so it was free to us though.  We figure that by the time you buy one online and have it shipped, we still came out about $18 ahead.  Here are the pictures (click for best view, the thumbnail too):

diaper-sprayer-parts  diaper-sprayer-connection

The sprayer has great pressure, and the ball valve is already proving it’s worth, since Henry wants to spray the hose.  It took all of fifteen minutes to install… if that.  All we need now is a hook for the wall next to the toilet to hang the nosle on.  :)

While at the Depot, we finally got two gallons of paint for our living room/dining room.  I’ve been dying to paint in there for over a year.  I did most of the painting yesterday, with another coat to go.  It should be done by the middle of this week, and then I’ll post before and after pictures.  Stay tuned!

Rick also patched several holes in the walls (some from nails, one from a hook, one from moving the thermostat, etc.) with plaster, so we could paint and hang new pictures and shelves.  He caulked around the front porch columns, and plans to get the final coat of paint on them this week as well.

Sunday morning, Rick and our neighbor, “Mr. Mitchell” as Henry calls him, set up H’s new Big Boy Bed.  H was literally jumping up and down with excitement over this event.  he couldn’t wait to see the bed, and helped me fold his new twin-size cowboy sheets.  Once the guys got the bed in, H just had to help with the assembly…

building-the-bed building-the-bed-2 big-boy-bed big-big-bed

The bed is BIG!  Compared to our little guy, it’s ginormous!  Once it was all built, Mr. Mitchell set him up on it and his eyes got so wide.  he couldn’t believe how high up he was!  I couldn’t either!

We really like this bed because of all the storage it has.  But it will be a while before H gets to sleep in it.  We need to get a few items for it first:  a side rail so he doesn’t fall out, a ladder so he can get up himself, and a waterproof mattress pad to protect the awesome mattress.  It is nicer than my and Rick’s mattress, and we are a little jealous!

As if that weren’t enough for the weekend, Rick also managed to get the garden roto-tilled so it will be ready to plant this week!  Hooray!  We’re about a third of the way done with the list, so stay tuned for more updates as we continue to fix up the house.  :)

Categories: Community, DIY | 4 Comments

And the winner is…

p2180007Idon’t have any fancy blog contest software, so I just wrote your names on slips of paper and drew the winner out of a hat, er, um… mitten.  :) 

The winner is… Tracy! 

Indeed the quote on the previous post was by president Jimmy Carter in January of 1977.  Carter famously donned a cardigan sweater for the speech.  Like his sweater, I hope these winter woolies help keep you warm as you “Freeze Yer Buns” this winter by keeping the thermostat low!

winter-woolies

Thanks to everyone who participated in my first ever blog contest.  :)  Tracy, since you just recently sent me your address, I’ll drop these in the mail to you ASAP!  If it’s not clear from the picture, it’s a pair of mittens made from recycled wool sweaters, handmade by me!  Please forgive any imperfections… it’s the first pair I’ve ever made! 

I’m inspired by all of you enduring that 60 degree stuff in your homes during the day…. I really better keep my thermostat turned down now! In fact, I better make another pair for myself!

Categories: Community, Urban Homesteading | 2 Comments

Thrifty Thursday: Inexpensive Entertaining

summer-cropSince my TT theme this month is saving money on the grocery bill, and since I like to entertain friends, I thought I’d share a fun idea about inexpensive entertaining.  Often, the “but what will we fix?” question keeps us from having a group of friends gathered around the table, whether it’s a special occasion or an everyday get together.  This is a fun variation on a pot luck that can easily turn into a tradition or build a great community of friends… without breaking the grocery budget.

You simply serve Stone Soup. 

Have you heard the story of Stone Soup?  Here’s what Wikipedia  says about it (I found it amusing), or Google it to find plenty of versions of the tale.  But the gist is this:  Two travelers come to an impoverished town.  There is nothing the town has to offer them to eat, so the travelers announce they are making stone soup.  They put a stone in a large pot of water and, as it boils, they muse to themselves about how great the soup will be.  The curious villagers listen to the travelers talk about how tasty the soup would be if they just had a bit of cabbage.  Soon a villager comes forth with some cabbage.   Another notices that they have no salt and pepper… every soup needs salt and pepper, so another villager offers the spices.  Before long, the whole village has contributed just a meager ingredient or two.  And there is a large pot of tasty stone soup, with beef, cabbage, onions, potatoes, carrots and spices, ready for the whole village to share.  The moral of the story is that working together, you can create something from “nothing” for the greater good to share. 

So, it’s easy to do for us too.  If you’re hosting, ask each person you invite to bring an ingredient or two for the pot.  You start it off (for us, with onions and beef/venison).  Some ingredient suggestions to go with beef would be:  carrots, potatoes, garlic, beer or red wine (add a little to the broth; use the rest for drinks), dried cherries or cranberries, mushrooms, cabbage, sweet potatoes or winter squash, hardy greens like kale or chard, etc.  Someone can bring a loaf of bread to share as well. 

We save our onions over winter from the garden, and we don’t have to buy red meat often, but I usually see stew beef on sale for under $2/lb (or buy a chuck roast on sale and cut it up yourself!), and Sunflower Market has onions for $.77/lb this week.  So say you buy two pounds of beef and a couple onions to start your soup: that’s what, less than $6.00?? 

This can be done with SO many variations.  A chicken stock with, well, about anything.  A pork based one with fresh chili peppers, or pumpkin.  How about a spicy vegetable stock with canned tomatoes, garlic, and fresh ginger and have guests bring carrots, bell peppers, onions or scallions, celery, green beans, lime or lemon juice, spinach, grated Parmesan cheese and some shrimp to throw in at the last minute.

A fun tradition to start with some friends (why not take turns hosting??), perfect for a game day, or just a simple get together.  (Hey, you could play canasta or Wii while the soup simmers!)

Enjoy, and find more ways to save with Genny, Katie Jean & Tracy.

Categories: Community, Food, Thrift | 3 Comments

Yummy Fun!

cookie-exchange-20081This weekend was the third annual Girl’s Cookie exchange… what fun!  We had a few newbies this year: Michelle, Emily and Terri; as well as old friends: Rach, Genny, and Jenn.  It was a really great time. 

Jenn hosted this year, and made home made eggnog and hot chocolate with all the trimmings, from marshmellows to schnapps and Bailey’s to spike it with.  She had A Christmas Story playing in the background while we all chatted the night away. 

I love this event… a fun tradition.  But after heading to the car at 12:30am, we’ve all decided we need more excuses to get together during the year to catch up!  I really enjoyed the discussion, and gettig to know my friends better and deeper.  It’s a cool, important thing. I love how we were all so comfortable being real and honest and able to share. 

Not to mention the loot I brought home.  In exchange for the pizzelles, I got gingerbread cookies, oatmeal white chocolate chip cookies, peppermint bark, banana bread, friendship tea and tons more.  Delish! 

Then last night, we headed to the Springs to spend time with our close friends, Mark & Kali.  I love getting to hang out with them, and I wish we did it more… I wish we didn’t live an hour apart!  They spoiled us with a gorgeous dinner and we played an early game of canasta… we quit at 11:30pm.  Not bad, considering we’re usually there until the wee hours of the morning. 

Now for the week ahead… CHRISTMAS is upon us!  I have an interview today… I’m nervous and excited.  My in-laws are watching Henry for the day though, so I’ll be able to get a little last minute shopping done fairly quickly too.  Then come the big day.  And yes, I’m going to try to still get that Thrifty Thursday tip up… though it might be a day late or early.  :) 

Cheers!

Categories: Community, Food | 5 Comments

Good Friends, Good Ideas

snowballLast week, while reading through my friends’ blogs, I came across this post by Genny, that was so clever, so ingenious, I simply couldn’t believe that no one I knew has thought of this before!  The idea is called “Thrifty Thursday Tips,” and Genny got the idea from her sister, who was doing this, inspired by an old school mate. 

These women all have two kids (or one with one more on the way), and are trying to make it in this day and age on only one income.  So, like our family, they are always looking for more ways to be frugal, and stretch their family dollars.  After a phone call to Genny to rave about her idea, she told me she wouldn’t mind if I shared the idea of Thrifty Thursdays on my blog too. 

Genny’s first Thrifty Thursday Tip was on making your own liquid laundry detergent.  The cost of making your own deterent is something like $0.007 cents per load.  That means if you typically buy a container that washes 64 loads, you could wash the same amount of clothes for only $0.45.  That’s right, 45 CENTS!  You can bet, I’m going to try the recipe.

I know so many families like ours, trying to cut it on one income, always looking for ways to get just a little more bang for our precious few bucks.  And in this economy, I think all of us, kids or not, married or single, could use a few new ideas to save some cash. 

I started thinking, why not put it out there… what Tips do you have to share?  What does your family do to cut costs?  I will be brainstorming some ideas to share weekly too, but I would LOVE to hear what YOU do to save!

Categories: Community, Recommended Reading, Thrift | 1 Comment

Easy as Pie

Yum!  Earlier this week Rachel shared some delicious home-grown concord grapes with us (be sure to scroll down to see the picture).  They were so sweet and good, I just had to try making this pie with them.  I didn’t have a 4″ grape-leaf cookie cutter as the recipe calls for, so I used many leaves from a small cookie cutter that I had instead.  I only baked them 15 minutes, but they still turned out a little browner then I had intended. 

BUT the pie was delish… like grape jelly only better.  I’m not one who normally takes on big, involved recipes.  Usually I get frustrated or bored, or overwhelmed.  But this pie wasn’t overly difficult or time consuming, and all the required refrigeration during the prep made it easy to work on between nap times and keep the kitchen fairly clean.  I did use a premade Pillsbury pie crust (a rarity, since I actually make pie crusts often for fruit tarts that Rick and I like to have), but as I was getting closer to assembly of the pie I could feel myself wanting to quit, and I could never live with myself if I let the grapes go to waste.  Next time I WILL make the crust myself…homemade is SO much better.  But the short cut paid off, and the pie smelled heavenly every step of the way.

    

Thank you again, Rachel, dear friend, for sharing your crop with us!  We loved it!

Categories: Community, Food | 3 Comments

Popcorn Strings, Paper Chains and Eggnog

be-merry-1207.jpg

Precious pic and layout…. Thanks Rach!!!!!

Ahhhhhhhh!  The Cookie Exchange!

Two years ago, some friends and I from Sports Authority started an annual tradition.  A cookie exchange, where we could gather just us girls, eat, drink & be merry… and go home with dozens of cookies for all the parties to come.  In the past we’ve had Mandelbrots (I *think* that’s how it’s spelled), Buckeyes (to die for), chocolate chip (my sis’ specialty), red and white twisted candy-cane sugar cookies, ginger cookies coated in superfine sugar (yum!) and I always make pitzelles.

This year, the tradition continued, though not one of us works at TSA anymore.  The ranks were smaller… we had a sickie and two people out of town unexpectedly.  But Jenn & Rach, the faithful, came bearing the most delicious goodies.  Jenn made scrumptious snickerdoodles… yum!  And Rach made the most addicting Biscochitos (a traditional Mexican cookie).  Her recipe is on the page… and good thing too.. I’ve been craving them ever since!  Genny (the sickie) dropped off her Cowboy Cookies early, and they were de-lish!

This year, I decided to have an impromptu craft… popcorn & cranberry strings, and paper chains.  I made homemade eggnog that we downed with delight, and we spent the evening chatting away while making patterns we learned in elementary school.  Rach did a FAB blog about this (as usual), and we all had a great time.  My favorite is the paper chain… we each worked on it, and I plan to put it on the tree every year as long as it lasts.  A little friendship chain to commemorate the night.  View the close up pic on Rach’s blog!

I promised to share the eggnog recipe, so here it is… ironically from the Southern Living holiday cook book Jenn gave me at the first cookie exchange.  I guess the chain of friendship comes full circle sometimes!

Holiday Eggnog

2 cups sugar
4 cups half-and-half
1 1/4 cups milk
6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups bourbon, divided
2 cups whipping cream, whipped

Combine first 4 ingredients in a saucepan; cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches 160 degrees.  Stir in 3/4 cup bourbon.  Cool; cover and chill.

Combine chilled mixture and remaining 1/2 cup of bourbon in a punch bowl.  Gently stir in whipped cream; sprinkle with nutmeg if desired.  Serve immediately.  Yield: 14 cups

Categories: Community, Food, Recipes | 4 Comments

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