I Need Some Summer

Snow, cold.

Ok, Polar Vortex sums it up better. 

I'm longing for summer. For 95 degree days, biking, kiddie pools, shorts, tank tops, flip flops, bare feet.

There's only so much winter one can take.

So I'm plotting my gardens.

Take out half of the yellow daylillies
Split and take out half of the asiatic lillies
Pull out all the dead and brown green stuff that sits on the concrete blocks
Pull out the box hedges
Plant vines in the boxes
Plant broccoli, cauliflower, sage, cilantro, and lavender to attract bees
Pull out half the bee balm

New mulch
Figure out how to get dog not to pee on my flowers
Find a spot for 3 anemones
Plant tomatoes, basil, squash, possibly peas
Move 4 hostas to hide A/C unit
Get rid of fire pit
Make lawn games

Another Craft Fair

February 22 in Brooklyn Park.

This time I'm much more relaxed. I haven't felt the need to whip out 15 hats in 4 weeks or make a new pattern 10 times over.

I have made 2 hats, 2 blankets and a ton of crochet star and flower garlands though. Just simple stuff.

Since this venue gives us a 10x10 area I can be more creative with my goods. 

I'll have a table, a clothes rack to hang wreaths and I think I'm going to bring my drying rack and clothespins to pin wristwarmers and hats to free up space on the table for scarves.

I have to hang the garlands somehow, so maybe I'll rig up something between the drying rack and clothes rack.

Oh, creativity... I hope it doesn't allude me the week of so I can come up with some fun display ideas!


Clearing Out the Crap

I just started reading Simplicity Parenting. And I want to clear out the crap.

We have a lot of toys - but not nearly as many as other people have. And I need to cull them out even further.

Last night I cut the books in the book shelf by half. Yes, I decreased the amount of books. Ouch, right? Well, no, not really. I pulled out all the books that were age inappropriate, the ones that were too young and the ones that she wasn't interested in. What's left? Only the ones she likes - Curious George, Christmas books, one Berenstein Bear, Clifford, simple french books, and the Story Reader.

During naptime today I will pull out the three puzzles she doesn't do, the toys missing pieces and all the stuffed animals. Oy, luckily we have a few boxes so I can store stuff!

Some things I will move to the basement, others to her room, and some things I might put on Craigslist. We'll see.

I want her toys to be back to the basics - the play kitchen, musical instruments, puppets, stringing toys, building blocks, etc... According to the book it makes kids more focused, more imaginative, more focused on play - which is what childhood should be! 

Wish me luck. I'm going to organize our office at some point too.


Crochet Wristwarmers Pattern

All have been super easy crochet patterns.

In general - 

You'll be working in length.

Row 1. Chain 28. Turn.

Row 2. DC in 4th chain from hook. DC in all chains across. Turn.

Row 3. Skip 1st stitch. DC in each stitch across. Turn. Repeat.

Rows 4-12 (or 15, depending on fit!!). Repeat Row 3.

Fold in half so the row you just finished is lined up with the foundation row.

Slip stitch the first 6 stitches together.

Slip stitch back loop only through the next 7 stitches of one side only.

Slip stitch evenly through the last 15+ stitches.

Fasten off.

Weave in ends.


To Do List for the Week

Since The Monkey has been better at playing on her own lately, I've discovered that I can get a few things done. Ok, maybe not finished completely but started.

Yesterday I organized my closet a little bit. I pushed my old work clothes to the back, pulled stuff off of hangers that aren't supposed to be there (like my Gopher sweatpants! No wonder I couldn't find them for a year!!!), pulled out the hangers from the drycleaners that I hate and made some room for some new stuff.

I'm still at a loss for what to do with some things - like my Gopher shirts, sweatshirts, etc... I don't wear some of that stuff except for once a year so I need some sort of a catch all bin to toss it into and put it in the back of the closet when I need it. 

At some point today, tomorrow or Friday afternoon I need to go through my dresser and pull out stuff to donate. I have lots of things I don't wear much or forgot to switch out when it started to get cold. I've lost some weight and certain jeans, shorts, pants don't fit anymore that I need to get rid of.

And yesterday I found a pair of pants with a hole in the crotch. I seriously kept them. Why???? WHY??? 

Oy, I need to learn to let go of old clothes...

Kitchen Organization

Blerg. My kitchen is SOOOOO disorganized.

I've got first world problems. Not enough storage. Not enough drawers. Not enough cupboards. Just not enough of anything to store all my kitchen crap.

I'm showing you pictures of the WORST day.

And I mean the WORST day.

So judge all you want to....

 Notice the crockpot, paint, goldfish, papers, pens, etc...
The dog, goldfish crackers, full cupboards under the counter....
Dinner on the stove, the counter is too tiny for my awesome cutting board...
The markers on the counter... Flour isn't in the right spot...
Cereal and snacks on top of the fridge...
And our recycling problem. Our kitchen is too small for built in recycling bins so it goes in front of our side door. Which we never use anyway because it's just a pain in the ass. No room for shoes!!
Have I mentioned how short I am? I have to stand on my tip toes to get pots and pans back onto the pot rack. I wish it were lower but it looks like the shelf isn't wide enough to lower so I'm just going to have to deal with it.

In any case, these pictures were taken a few weeks ago and we've already made improvements, which I'll have to update you.

Bimmer Man will be putting a shelf above the kitchen sink (I'm going to rip out the blinds because we don't close them anyway, so what's the point of having them if we don't use them???), where I'll have a winter herb garden - basil, sage, I'll try growing oregano and maybe a few others. I'll see how many pots I can fit on an 8 inch wide shelf.

I bought a cart from Ikea - I put that where the garbage can is, moved the garbage over, pulled the organic waste out of the entry and put that next to the garbage can so it's easier to drop organic waste into the bin when I'm cooking. On the cart I pulled out the most used items from under the counter - mixing bowls, lids, etc... and then I also put on it kitchen cloths, dish cloths, garbage bags, organic waste bags, storage bags and then I think I can also fit the aluminum foil on it.

Bimmer Man is also going to run lighting on the inside of the lower cabinets so I can push The Beast (my mixer) back into the cupboard and we don't have to pull everything out to look for just one thing.

In the next few weeks I'm going to go through every single kitchen item and PURGE. I mean really PURGE. Donate what I don't use or I've used only once. My goal is to have an organized kitchen by Spring so when our CSA starts, I'm not wasting food because I'm too lazy to look for a kitchen gadget to cook.

Bye-bye clutter. Hello, happy McTatty!

Wordless Wednesday


Toddler Activity - Family Book

I have a HUGE family. I mean HUGE. There's about 25 of us???? Maybe more, maybe less. I don't keep track anymore.

But since we don't see everyone all the time, I want The Monkey to know her family. So I compiled pictures of everyone, cut them down to 4x4, glued them to 5x8 cardstock, hole punched the top, added a book ring, labeled everyone (just first names and their family "title").

I was going to laminate them but I didn't have a laminator at the time. Now I do. So I'm thinking I might laminate them...


Why I Don't Baby Proof

There's no point to it.

At least not that I can see.

I've been in other parents homes where EVERYTHING is baby proofed and it's fine.

However, if I did that in my home and then brought The Monkey to a home where nothing was baby proofed all I would be doing was saying, "Non, ce n'est pas pour toi!" Or the english translation - No, that is not for you!

So, I don't baby proof. I don't do it because I want her to learn how to behave not only at home, but also in public.

We have gates because she's not great at going DOWN stairs by herself (but the gates aren't up, they're just sitting by the staircases).

Oh, and I like saying NO.

I think it's great for children to hear. No, you can't do that. No, you can't do this. Well, actually in french it's "No, ce n'est pas permis!" which is "no, that is not allowed!" It teaches boundaries, limitations, and also - expectations.

But in other words, it also means that she waits until I'm not looking and grabs something she shouldn't have - like my crochet hooks, scissors, pens, pencils, glue, touches lamps, glass vases, keyboards, etc... And how do I deal with that?

I ask her for them. And she gives them to me. Instead of freaking out over scissors and objects she shouldn't have, I have her hand them to me like it's her job and guess what, she does it. Phew. That took a few days of practice and quite a few sticky crochet hooks but we've got it down. And now instead of grabbing stuff she points and says either MAMA or DADA which means she knows objects belong to someone else besides her.

But I've lost two kitchen drawers (out of 4 drawers total!) to things that she can play with and grab while I'm cooking. There's still a battle going with a third drawer that has items like the wine corker, pizza cutters, cookie cutters and a few other objects she shouldn't be touching. I WILL WIN. I WILL PREVAIL AND KEEP MY DRAWER.

Blerg. It's a battle between and almost-two-year-old vs. the adults.

But it's parenthood. It's teaching, it's learning (for me too!), it's about shaping behavior.

And I feel like this is really applying my dog-training skills to children (like teaching Rusty to LEAVE IT).






In The Monkey's ECFE class, our instructor recommends all toys that do not limit creativity - so anything where kids can be creative and explore their imaginations. Art projects, blocks, Legos, music toys, books, a box of recycling, etc... Less of the toys that limit imaginations like a princess Wheelie set or a Princess set of dolls. We do puppets in class and The Monkey really enjoys them (plus there's a song to sing with them and she LOVES music and singing, did I mention that she jams along to Tom Petty, Hugo, and Britney???).

The puppets below were like $12 from Amazon - I think they're sold by the Oriental Trading Company though. Cheap, good old, imaginary fun. I did buy one expensive one from Lake Shore Learning (it was $12) but it's large and fits my hands better than the Oriental Trading Company ones.

The general idea: play pretend with puppets, make up stupid songs, make the same animal noises over and over and over and over again to learn different animals (which I do in French and English)