Monday, January 31, 2011

At My House

We've been enjoying....

:: Produce from the garden.  Lettuces, beans, blueberries, cucumbers, tomatoes....Here's Aya eating the first apple off the tree we planted for her when she was born.  (The are 26 more on the little sapling, so we'll all get a chance to sample them in a few weeks time.) ::

:: First forays into preserving and jam making. ::

:: Experimenting with infusions. This one is raw apple cider vinegar with basil -- supposedly a 
natural immune booster.  I've been making "quick pickles" using this as marinade for 
raw veggies like cucumber and beans.  Perfect as a pre-dinner snack. ::

:: Refueling after long weekend runs. ::

And finally....homemade peanut butter.  I found the recipe here, on one of my favorite foodie blogs.  I swear up and down, this peanut butter is the best you'll ever eat.  Instructions are as follows: dump a bunch of quality (roasted, salted) peanuts in your food processor, add a glug of oil (I just use canola) and whizz until it reaches your desired level of chunkiness (2-3 minutes.)  Refrigerate.  I gave jars of this out for Christmas this year; I wish I could have told people I labored away, stomping on peanuts or grinding them with a mortar and pestle -- but truly, it couldn't have been easier.  Our locally-made (albeit very good) peanut butter is up to nearly $20.00 a kilo.  Making our pb at home (and how much more local could you get?) costs about a third of that -- $7.00/kg.  My only problem with this recipe is that if we're in stock, I seem to qualify multiple spoonfuls of the stuff as a meal.  Must work on willpower.

Next up:  homemade crackers.  I'll let you know how it goes.

x Jen

Friday, January 14, 2011

I've been making....

Kat and Margs, stop reading now.  Or at least until your packages arrive.

Loads of "ice cream." Meaning frozen berries, frozen banana and a tiny bit of cream or milk, blended until smooth.  If you happen to be 3 and 1, this is just as good as real ice cream.  If you happen to be (nearly) 31, it's pretty good too.


Some birthday handmades for a nephew about to turn 1.  I love the wool pinstripe on these teeny tiny pants.  This was my first attempt making these (based on the design from Lotta Jansdotter's "Simple Sewing For Baby" but with cuffs turned out rather than in.)  And hey! I followed another pattern!  It gets a little less scary each time.

Some super soft charcoal-grey merino scarves for my sisters, who are in more wintery climes. I love the stretch of this material -- it tucks into itself so nicely, making it extra cozy.

A pillow made from a vintage tea towel.

 And leftover from Christmas, an example of the embroidered bookmarks I made for family (this one is my husband's.)  I had Solomon draw a portrait of each person on fabric and then I embroidered, added interfacing, and stiched them up (this idea is straight out of Amanda Soule's "The Creative Family.")  Some of turned out a bit large, but that's ok, my family reads really big books.

I'm really enjoying spending time out in my studio making just for us -- low-pressure and fun.

xx Jen

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Taking some time..... reflect.  To relax.  To be with family.  Blogging has certainly been on the back burner lately. December was a bit of a whirlwind for us: weekly craft markets, working toward my all-handmade gift goal, school holidays, and a good dose of flu/ear infection/chest infection/broken arm/tummy bug spread liberally amongst our family.  Whew.  When my son's Montessori program ended for the year, and Christmas really got into full swing I decided to take a break from Seedling stuff for a few weeks. In my normal routine, I can get a bit focused on productivity and crossing items off of my list, so it's been good to step back and take time for lots of kid-centered and kid-paced fun.

I just thought I'd stop by to share a few hopes and goals for the coming year.  I think these are a natural progression of where we're already at -- no drastic lifestyle changes here.  All the same, they say accountability helps, so with that in mind....

:: Pay off all of my credit card debt. Groan. Yes, I have some -- unfortunately, that's how we funded part of our travel a few months ago.  I'm used to having a clean slate and I'm eager to get back there....I've set up a plan and I know that I'll be able to realize this goal within the year.  I hate having debt looming over my head.

:: Continue to run; invest in new running shoes.  Since this post a little over a month ago, I've been running five days a week.  My initial expectations were so modest that it was easy to surpass them.  I try to go in the morning to beat the heat -- it's been amazing!  Such a good way to start the day.  I ran on my school teams from when I was 14 through 22, and then for a few years as an adult before letting it slip.  It's great to feel like a runner again.

:: Try craft night at Ka-pie (a local cafe.)  I tend to be a real homebody, especially in the evenings when I'm sleepy and just want to crawl into bed and read.  But...I know I would love this and would glean a lot from a group of like-minded craftsters.  Time to break out of my homebody least once a fortnight or so.  If I were also to make it to a few other evening activities (dance, yoga, rock-climbing, the movies....) that would be a huge extra bonus.

:: Aim for one date-night per season.  Seems doable, right?

:: Get us all sleeping through the night.  Once this one is achieved, I know everything else will go so much more smoothly.

:: Get the house warm for winter.  Mainly, this entails taking off the walls of our coldest room, insulating them, and then putting up new gib.  Also, we'll insulate the entire house underfloor.  Still blows my mind that older houses here were built without insulation.  Kiwis are tough!

:: Grow more food.  Make more of our own food from scratch.  I.e. preserving, jams, making yogurt, attempting cheese, etc.  I've recently begun making my own peanut butter; I'm a huge pb fan, and I can honestly say it's the best I've ever eaten.  More on that later.

:: Work toward finding the right balance between Seedling Clothing and being a full-time mother.  My oldest is about to begin a Montessori program 4 mornings a week (previously, he's been in the less-frequent introductory class), but my youngest is still with me all the time.  This is just how I want it, but I do sometimes feel torn -- when I'm working, I want to be able to have more space and time for that, and simultaneously, I want to give my kids the best grade-A mama attention I can.  I want to be fully present for each of my roles -- I'm sure that balance is something I'll forever be striving toward in this area....

:: Nurture relationships that bring me up, give me energy and a foster sense of true connection.  

:: Invest in our health and boosting our immune systems.  I've always been one of those people that gets a cold once a year.  Suddenly, it seems we're all playing "pass the parcel" with germs (not nearly as fun as with gifts) in spite of stringent hand-washing, healthy eating habits, and drinking tons of water.  This week, our entire family is well, and I'd like to keep it that way (see also: Get us all sleeping through the night....)  I'm not exactly sure how to keep us healthier, but I'm looking into it.  I know quality sleep will help.

That's goals for the foreseeable future, at least.  My mother is here for a visit, and we're continuing with our Montessori break.  I imagine I'll take time away from Seedling for the rest of January -- focusing my energy on summer, the kids, and play.  I'm also looking forward to doing a few experimental projects just for us.  Perhaps I'll check in again and share them here.

Happy New Year to you!

xx Jen