trouble in paradise...

when people ask me (or jeremy) about cloth diapering, i can go on and on and on, gushing about how easy it is, how fun it is, how cute it is, etc. until now. there's trouble in the land of cloth diapers, my friends, and this trouble is stinky. like, really stinky. i won't go into details but this is not your average, run-of-the-mill ammonia stink. this is old food, body odor, musty fish, smell-up-the-entire-room kind of stink. oops, i guess i just went into details. gross. 

only lucy's nighttime diapers were affected by this horrible smell. why? i don't know. we use swaddlebees organic velour fitteds (made of cotton velour) with a wool cover. she typically only pees in these diapers, so i knew i wasn't battling any kind of residual bacteria from poo. stink arises from 2 sources: diapers not getting clean enough (not enough detergent) or diapers not rinsing clean enough (too much detergent). it's much more common for synthetic diapering fabrics (such as microfiber) to harbor smells than natural fibers such as cotton and bamboo. 

i've stripped entire loads of diapers before as a preventative measure, adding 1 small squirt of original blue dawn to the water at the beginning of the wash cycle. dawn works by dissolving detergent residues that may be left on the diapers--it is this residue that causes an ammonia smell when it comes in contact with urine. technically, after adding dawn, you are supposed to check the rinse cycle--if there are still bubbles in the rinse water, you must rinse again, until the water is clear of bubbles. i have never done this--we are in a drought and try to conserve water as much as possible to avoid upcharges by our water company. 

this time was different. i meant business--if i couldn't rid these diapers of the smell, i seriously intended on cutting them loose. the smell at night was so horrendous, it would actually wake me up while lucy slept beside me. i started by separating out all of the nighttime diapers from the others, to focus directly on the key offenders. i set the load size on small--after all i was washing only 5 diapers. i added only a tablespoon-sized squirt of blue dawn to the water--no detergent. washed on hot, rinsed on cold. at the additional rinse, i saw bubbles, so i set the wash for yet another rinse, this time adding a cup of vinegar to the water (vinegar is supposed to help the dawn rinse clear). peeked into the machine--still bubbles, though markedly less. i added another cup of vinegar, and also around a cup of bleach--i didn't measure. as i poured in the bleach, a little voice in the back of my head said, "hmm, i don't think you're supposed to mix vinegar and bleach. something about a toxic gas that could result." oops. 

it's true, you aren't supposed to mix these 2 household cleaners--the result is chlorine gas, which can cause anything from a headache to death, depending on the quantities in which you mix it and how much you inhale. but i was in full-blown attack mode, not thinking clearly. we use bleach so rarely these days (only on whites with otherwise untreatable stains), and never on diapers (it eats the elastic). and yet i grabbed for it without thought and poured it in, all in an attempt to save myself from the stink. 

of course, after reading that i had created a noxious chemical compound on something intended for my baby's bottom, i had to do an additional rinse. final score: 1 squirt of dawn, 2 cups of vinegar, a large pour of the aforementioned bleach, and probably around 120 gallons of water--it pains me to admit this, but it's the truth. the diapers were hung to dry. lucy wore one last night. and i am happy to report that my efforts were not in vain--the smell is 100% gone. even a big, close-up whiff resulted in zero odor. which actually makes me realize that the rest of my diapers may need to be stripped as well, in a manner similar to that listed above (minus the washing machine chemistry lab). they're not nearly as bad as the nighttime diapers were, but they do have some odor when wet that i just chalked up as normal, until this morning when i took a big sniff of a pee-drenched diaper and finally smelled--nothing. 


farm box wednesday...

this week's box included a big bunch of long-stemmed spinach, a bag of delicious and perfectly ripe bing cherries, a pound of red potatoes, super-fragrant cilantro, a container of beautiful strawberries (which i am eating right now with freshly-whipped cream... yum!), and a half-pound of walnuts. 

our notes from the farmer this week were of major interest to me. he wrote about the difficulties that come with running a farm during the unpredictable season of spring--and the battle that arises in growing fragile crops such as strawberries, cherries, peas and salad greens. apparently crops such as these cannot be harvested in temperatures over 95 degrees without spoiling quite quickly. it seems other members of our CSA were also a bit disappointed with the quality of their box last week--our cherries last week were certainly a bit worse for the wear, and a few were inedible. 

our bay area weather has recently been all over the place, with the mercury swinging from the low 100's to the low 50's, all within a matter of weeks, and sometimes days.  we have had freezing wind rolling off of the bay, only to find ourselves sleeping with the bedroom windows open a couple of nights later. we watched as it poured for 3 days straight during the first few days of may--lucy's birthday party would have been quite soggy had she not gotten sick and forced us to postpone. what we don't think about, while we zag up and down the aisles of the grocery store, is how directly this weather affects our food. 

here's an excerpt from our farm letter that i found particularly interesting: 

"five days of 105 degree heat will render lettuce inedible, cook strawberry plants along with their fruit, and shrivel pea plants and pods both. that's why, when last week's weather forecast called for a major heatwave, we assumed the worst and tried to harvest some lettuce before it burned up. in order to do so, we picked it 2 days before your boxes were packed. instead, we simply should have let the weather play itself out. the salad mix we picked for the wednesday CSA ended up breaking down quickly after we shipped it to you. meanwhile, the hot weather only lasted 2 dyas or so, and only some of the lettuce in the field turned bitter. most of the salad greens pulled through and we were able to harvest them in much cooler conditions for the thursday and friday CSA boxes. 

in the strawberry field, the heat cooked thousands of berries which we had to pick and throw on the ground. but there were also plenty of berries that seemed to have survived the heat and tasted great. unfortunately, these berries had an extremely short shelf life and several subscribers informed us that they were mostly or totally unusable. we should have maybe guessed that this might happen, and simply not sent any berries to you last week. 

heat damage to cherries, however is a new one for us. we are accustomed to losing cherries to the rain--as we did a few weeks back at the start of the season. however, it is now clear that 105 degree temperatures are almost as bad. the cherries we harvested monday and tuesday for your boxes looked good and tasted fine when we packed them. but after just a few days, the apparently got quite soft and some became moldy. 

harvesting the multiple crops that we grow requires dozens of decisions every day; what day and what time to harvest; how often and how much; what size, shape, color and ripeness. time is always an issue, and when it's hot we are running not just against the clock but against the thermometer. we start the day at 6 a.m. this time of year, but during a heatwave it will be 90 degrees by 10 a.m.--basically too late to harvest salad greens or strawberries. on these days we wish we had 100 people working for us instead of 30, and that we could send them all home once the mercury hits 95 degrees. there are few crops that should really be harvested when it is 100 degrees, but sometimes we don't have a choice. we triage the situation as best we can."

as a subscriber, i wasn't too ticked by a few moldy cherries. our berries and greens were fine--jeremy commented the other night the the spinach, which was a much thicker variety than we are used to, was quite tasty. but the above excerpt notes certainly gave me some insight into the challenges faced by my local farm operators. even at the farmer's market, i rarely give too much thought into what goes on behind the scenes--i just sniff and squeeze and sample and toss stuff into my bag--pretty much indifferent to the whole thing.  i'm happy to say that my CSA membership may be changing my mindset!

back in the game...

i hung out all of lucy's diapers today (27 of them, to be exact). let me tell you what--prefolds are the way to go. you know, those uber-basic, old-fashioned diapers that many people (including myself) have a tendency to turn their nose up at, not for lack of function but for lack of cuteness? we've got at least a dozen of them, and somehow they rarely get used. they're our "in case of" diapers, as in "in case there's a 6-day power outage and we actually run out of diapers." or other near-impossible emergencies. 

well. let me state a few great things about prefolds. the lone prefold in this particular load of laundry dried as fast as the pockets, and much faster than the fitteds which are now sitting damp in my living room (it didn't get very warm today). the prefold also did not require any stuffing or snapping. just a quick fold and it's ready to go again. saving time where i can is going to be key in these next few weeks and months. and, i suppose, in these next few years as well. prefolds it is. unless we're going somewhere fancy.



i have GOT to get motivated...

to start hanging the laundry again. the weather here has been perfect--warm with a good breeze to help get the wrinkles out. last summer, i committed the entire month of july to exclusive hang drying. july turned into august, august melted into september. before i knew it, we'd gone a quarter of a year without turning on the dryer at all. hanging the laundry became a way of life, and i sincerely didn't mind. this year, things feel different. it may have something to do with an into-everything lucy, or perhaps the fact that i am pregnant with valley-baby #2 (for those of you that didn't already know--lucy will be a big sister in early november!). but i suspect it's more of just a laziness on my part--pushing a pile of wet laundry into the dryer is just toooo easy. and lucy loves to help me in this chore, which is adorable in itself. 

well, she'll just have to get used to handing me clothespins instead--i hearby commit myself to hanging all diaper laundry for the last few days of this month, along with the entire month of june. i'm hoping that it'll be the kick-start i need to get going on hanging all of our laundry again. 

i will, of course, report back on any and all of my shortcomings. not that there will be any, right?


life with chickies...

here's a post inspired by a request by one of you lovely readers... we've got chickens, here's how we do it! 

our flock is pretty mini. we started out with 3 hens, 3 years ago--mikey was the blonde, cee-cee was the black and white (like cookies and cream, hence the name), and plum was an arucauna that laid the prettiest blue-green eggs (totally martha stewart-esque). jeremy built them a small coop using plywood, chicken wire and a metal sheeting roof--it's really nothing fancy but it does get the job done, keeping them out of the rain and giving them a safe place to rest. the coop has 2 nesting boxes, which go mostly unused, and a wide branch at the very top of the coop where the girls like to roost. 

first lesson learned about chickens: they poop. a LOT. i was aghast when jeremy brought them home (already fully grown) and the girls popped out of their box, strutting around their fenced-in area. depositing massive piles of "fertilizer" behind them. it's big. it can be stinky. there's lots and lots and lots of it. after 2 years of letting them roam freely around our yard (after their initial fencing in to get us all acclimated--including our dog) the girls now have a chicken run (an area about 30' x 8' ) and are only rarely let out into our finished yard. lots of this had to do with the birth lucy--best to keep crawlers out of the poopies, don't you think?

second lesson learned about chickens: poop attracts flies. hay, grass trimmings and sprays of water help keep them at bay, but now that the girls are fenced in, so are their droppings. i didn't notice flies nearly as much as i do now, but i've heard planting geraniums can be a deterrent to flies. no idea if the chickens would feast upon the geraniums, though. oh wait, they probably would. 

third lesson learned about chickens: they are easy prey. after nearly a year of incident-free hen ownership (and lots of omelets) we woke in the early morning to hear horrible sounds coming from the backyard. our lovable mikey had fallen prey to a raccoon. the worst part? it was completely our fault. we had neglected for months to close the coop at night, and finally our luck ran out. in our defense, we sincerely had never thought that something so horrible could happen (call us 100% naive). now we (jeremy) closes the coop shortly after dusk (the chickens go in on their own when the sun begins to set). which means jeremy also must rise with the sun to let the chickens out--they are quite loud with their cackling and we have neighbors on both sides of our house. rural farm this isn't. the good news it that jeremy now has an excitable cohort to join him in his task--that little lucy is as reliable as any chicken when it comes to waking early. when we go on vacations, we must now find someone to come let the chickens in and out of their coop. footloose & fancy free is not the life of a farmer. 

fourth lesson learned about chickens: they come when called, and are extremely motivated by food. a simple "deet-deet-deet-deet-deeeeeeet!" will send them into a running frenzy, wings flapping the whole way. 

fifth lesson learned about chickens: they lay eggs where they want. when they want. if they want. chickens are like all females, they eventually go through menopause (henopause, ha). since the average life span of a chicken is 7 years, they can stop laying around 3-4 years--halfway through their life. we named our chickens, so we're stuck with them, even if they don't lay. right now we have 2 layers and one who seems to have given up. we get 1 egg per day, usually, and sometimes 2. the hens opt not to lay in their coop, they prefer to hide them from us, under bushes and most currently, in a small woodpile. now that they are fenced in, this isn't much of an issue. when they had full run of the yard, it was quite the adventure. jeremy once found a clutch of 23 eggs tucked away under my sewing studio. 

after mikey died, we adopted 2 more fully grown chickens--foster, another blond (who had been robbed of most of her feathers by mean pecks from the chickens she had been living with), and dark brown porter, who had also been pecked over, though not as badly. the pair has since regained their feathers--our girls are nice enough to get along and not engage in the whole "pecking order" thing. a few months later, plum was found dead on the floor of the coop, and our flock was again numbered at 3. i think plum had a sickness of some sort--for nearly a year she couldn't cluck, didn't lay eggs, and kind of separated herself from the rest of the flock in general. we were very sad to see her go. 

we feed the girls hen food from the semi-local feed store. it seems to meet all of their needs--occasionally they'll begin eating their own eggs, which supposedly means they need calcium. crushed oyster shells can be bought for 25 cents a pound (best deal ever, right? a pound of something for a quarter?) and is supposed to help. they love treats of birdseed, old bread, some fruits, cracker crumbs, granola, and try their best to get at lucy's toes and fingers when she's standing near their fence. of course, they're mistaking these for worms--there is nothing that makes turning soil more fun that having a few chickens delighting in the path behind you. they eat bugs with such gusto--it really is amazing. and gross. 

this spring i happened to be picking up a sack of feed and a few bags of hay at the feed store, when the ups guy came in and dropped off a few boxes of baby chicks! lucy squealed, i cooed, and i was *thisclose* to calling jeremy and talking him into a few new friends. but i didn't. i'm not sure if we will get more chickens--at least, not until the ones we have are buried alongside mikey and plum. like any animal, there is a high level of commitment involved, and life with lucy has proven itself chock-full of commitments of every kind. we'll see, as i also can't imagine having just one chicken, either. how sad for the last one standing, to be all alone at night in the roost. 

last lesson learned about having chickens (at least for now!): when placed in a bowl full of water, a rotten egg will float, while a good egg will sink. eggs are designed to stay good for long periods of time without refrigeration when freshly laid--this is because a mother hen waits until she has a clutch of 5-10 eggs before she decides to sit on them. shells are airtight--keeping the egg from spoiling even in hot weather. over time, the shell will begin to break down. air gets into the egg and causes spoilage. 

this lesson is important to us mainly b/c in the past, when we came across a grouping of eggs, we had no idea how old they were--2 days, 2 months--there's really no telling without the water trick. in over 3 years of chicken raising, we've only come across 2 bad eggs, and i have never had the experience of cracking one in the bowl and finding it rotten. however, in my last box of trader joe's eggs, 6 out of the 12 had double yolks! what's that all about?

want more on life with chickies? check out this blog--i was seriously addicted to it when we first got our girls. these are chicken farmers who do it right--don't forget to check out the "hen cam!"


great gift #5

still going with the great gifts.. there are a few left to share!

check out lucy's new sandbox toys (to go with her brand-new sandbox): 

this set is by green toys, a great company that make toys for kids out of recycled milk jugs. lucy already has the tea set, kitchen set and indoor gardening kit--can you tell we are a fan of this brand?

the toys have a great, heavy-duty feel to them, much unlike the typical plastic sand toys that can be bought at target or the dollar store. i came across a bunch of cheap toys stashed in my garage from my days as a nanny, and they have such a crappy feel to them when compared with the green toys set. lucy loves the rope handle on the sand bucket--i guess it's the little things!


farm box wednesday...

this was our 3rd week picking up our local csa farm box. so far we are pretty happy, with only a couple minor issues--the main one being that "picked at the peak of freshness" can sometimes = "eat it NOW, before it goes bad." more an adjustment on our part than anything else, i think, so long as stuff is not coming to us already spoiled. so far this hasn't happened, except jeremy did report a few sad-looking cherries after picking up our box today. 

this week's box included a large bag of spinach, the aforementioned cherries, 3 varieties of summer squash (one piece of each kind), a yummy bag of salted pistachios, a bag of carrots and a container of strawberries. all great stuff. last week were were surprised with a cabbage, which is still sitting in the fridge. i have no idea what to do with cabbage, and haven't taken the time to research any recipes. i don't think i actually like cabbage, except in cole slaw (anyone have a recipe for cole slaw?) the last experience i've actually had with the stuff was using chilled leaves to help with engorgement when my milk came in with lucy (it works like a charm!)

one of my favorite things about the box is not what's inside, but the flier that comes along with everything. it includes a recipe idea, facts about the food included, notes from the farmer, and a list of what made it into larger boxes (this week, salad mix, snap peas and peaches in the medium and large boxes, plus english shelling peas and baby arugula in the largest box). 

i made the recipe included with last week's box, and was pleased with how it came out so i though i would share. i like getting so many different veggies into one meal--it feels super healthy and is a great switch-up from our go-to greens: salad. 

farm box frittata

1-2 spring onions, sliced
zuchinni or other summer squash, sliced into 2 inch pieces
1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and sliced lengthwise, then cut into 2 inch pieces
1 cup of shelled english peas
6 eggs, beaten and seasoned with salt, pepper & cayenne to your liking ( i used a few drops of hot sauce)
1 cup grated fontina cheese (we used provelone b/c we had it on hand)
3 tablespoons minced green garlic

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary 

saute onion in a 12-inch cast iron pan, with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. add rosemary. when onion is soft, add asperagus and raise heat. cook until bright green, then add all other veggies. cook on high for 3-5 minutes. 

empty pan into bowl of eggs, mix until well incorporated. add another drizzle of olive oil to thoroughly coat cast iron pan, pour the eggs and veggies in. bake at 350 degrees until eggs set and begin to brown. top with more grated cheese and broil to melt. serve warm or cold. 

i really like recipes such as this since it seems you can easily adapt the ingredients list according to what you've got on hand. it's a great way to use up stuff in the fridge or freezer that is just sitting around, uneaten, taken up space before it starts to get gross. 

i forgot to mention that i have never before shelled peas! this was a new experience for me, and not as time-consuming as i thought it would be when i first got started. lucy even helped a little with the ones that rolled astray--that girl really knows how to earn her keep!


a trip to the cherry farm...

what a fabulous day. cherry season has just hit california, and lucy and i (along with our good friends molly and rain) made sure to take full advantage. we hit up one of the earliest open u-pick cherry farms located just a 35-minute drive from home. the girls had a blast--we were all pleasantly surprised to see that the fruit was low-hanging enough for them to pick a good deal of cherries all on their own. the weather seemed to grow hotter with each passing moment, so we couldn't stay out too long, but we managed to pick ourselves 10 pounds of beautiful, just ripe cherries. it felt like a great deal at $25, too (2.50/pound). i plan to get back once more before the season ends later in the month. this was just too fun, and of course, it's great to experience plucking your own food straight from the tree. it doesn't get much more local than that!

"i wonder why the mommies are doing all that hard work when there's lots of cherries to eat right here in this bucket!"

"hmmm. what do i want to do right this minute?"

"try to eat 4 cherries at once, that's what!"

"friend, all this cherry-picking is hard work. you need a snack. rice cake?"

tuckered out with bellies full of cherries... all babies should have it this good!


i have to admit...

we've lost track of the paper towel count. i know you're all heartbroken! i blame it on the party last weekend--a big rush and whir of people in the kitchen and next thing you know, the tally just stopped being tallied. we've got at least half a roll left, so it's not like they were just flying off without purpose or anything, but we've certainly lost count of how many we've used. paper towel watch stops here, people. now on to the good news--what we learned!

i really see no need for paper towels anymore. it's hard to believe, as at one point i'd estimate we went through a roll per week. they're certainly convenient--especially for draining bacon and other greasy foods. you all left great suggestions on replacements for paper towels in greasy situations, which are all going to be tried as soon as we go on another BLT kick around here. but other than possibly being helpful for bacon and the like, i really see no use for paper towels any longer. that's a great feeling--and another thing i don't have to spend money on! 


great gift #4...

sometimes the best gifts are little packages. case in point: this capri sun container, upcycled into the cutest little pouch i have ever seen, complete with velcro closure. i say it's the perfect size for my alba lip gloss. lucy says it's the perfect size for holding a handful of her annie's white cheddar bunny crackers. wonder who will win out on this great debate? only time will tell...


great gift #3...

lucy didn't get too much from us for her birthday (her big gift was a sandbox built by jeremy) but we did buy her a few small presents--one of which we we found at home depot. what can you get a one-year old at home depot? take a look!

how about a pair of miniature table legs? these legs make great little clacking stick instruments, just like the ones i've seen at upscale toy stores, but were actually super cheap--i think we paid around $5 for both. lucy seems to enjoy them, doesn't she? (lucy enjoys anything that makes a lot of noise.) i imagine they'd be fun to gnaw on for a teething baby, too. as an extra eco-friendly bonus, the sticks are made from fsc-certified wood. rock on, lucy!


great gift #2...

a brand-new table, sized just right for little lucy. this table was built by her loving nonno (italian for grandfather) out of redwood, and she's taken to it right away. so much, in fact, that she spent a good 25 minutes during her party just sitting at her table with a small plate of food, watching her guests go about the yard. i think she prefers it much more than her high chair. fine by me--i am always up for a picnic. i have semi-immediate plans of whipping up a couple of tablecloths, one in oilcloth that will be a snap to wipe down and another one with a fancier feel (for all of her fine-dining events). we will also probably see about getting a mini-umbrella to fit the table and keep her protected from the sun while she eats and plays. as for the table itself, we haven't decided whether to paint it or stain it to help prevent it from weathering. we'll see. 
"thank you nonno! for the table AND the cherries!"


a party was had...

we are still coming down off of our birthday party high--lucy's first party party was an absolute blast and i am thrilled with how it all turned out. over the next week, i'll be sorting though pictures to post (we're waiting to get over 1,000 photos back from our wonderful photographer--yikes, i see a lot of scrapbooking in my near future). 

we made it clear on lucy's invites that we did not expect gifts, but of course received a few presents here and there that were greatly appreciated. i'll be posting our favorites over the next few days as i sort though photos, just to keep you all entertained in the meantime. thanks for hanging in while we were so busy with party planning!

here's an amazing gift from my brother's super talented girlfriend jaime:  

a set of 10 alphabet blocks, knitted from wool and then felted. i cannot imagine the time and effort that must have gone into this project. i was literally astounded to hold this set in my hands. that little lucy is a very lucky girl! she enjoys stacking (and knocking over) her brand-new blocks. i just like looking and them and marveling over jamie's ambition!


our farm box came!

i picked up our first-ever farm box yesterday, from terra firma farms. the pickup was in a residential neighborhood not to far from my home (a 15-minute drive). in our box were the following items: a bag of salad greens, 2 oranges, 2 leeks, a container of strawberries, a 1-meal sized bunch of asparagus, a bag of snap peas and a small bunch of carrots. my first impression is that we're going to need a bigger box--there's no way that this would be enough produce to satisfy us for a week. i visited the farm website to look at pricing for a larger box and saw that, indeed, the small box is designated for "snackers" and people who only eat at home a few nights per week. there's a considerable jump in pricing--from $59 to $98 per month. still, i think that $98 is an okay price, as long as it is really enough to get our family by without having to purchase many extras. i typically spend around $25 to $30 per week when i am shopping solely at the farmer's market for our fruits and veggies. we're going to try one or two more rounds of the small box before we decide whether or not to make the switch, keeping in mind that soon we'll soon be growing our own veggies in our garden here at home. 

on to the good news: the strawberries were pretty much the best that i have ever tasted. i've been buying organic strawberries from trader joe's, and lucy won't touch them with a 10-ft. pole. she devoured quite a healthy portion of our farm box strawberries once we got home (along with nearly a whole banana), and i don't blame her. they were super sweet and perfectly ripe. i only wish there were more in the box, as now they're nearly gone!

"local strawberries + non-local bananas = my new favorite snack, mommy!"

signing for MORE strawberries!

"hello, friends. you have bedhead like me!"

oh, and if you're wondering--yes, she totally wore the overalls for the first farm box excursion! 


how long it all takes...

i found this article while browsing around on the internet--it gives estimates on how long everyday items take to break down in an average landfill. i'll list them out, but the actual article provides extra information if you're interested... 

glass bottles: 1 million years
plastic bags: ~500 years
plastic beverage bottles: ~500 years
aluminum cans: 80-200 years
cigarette butts: 1-5 years
newspapers: 2-4 weeks, though landfill studies have found legible newspapers dating back 15 years
apple cores: 1-2 months, though, like all things, can be much slower in airless conditions. 


tried it--korres natural eyeliner pencil

i kept intending to buy the honeybee gardens natural eyeliner after i ran out of my clinique, but never actually got around to it--most sites charged a ridiculous shipping amount, which kind of turned me off to making a purchase altogether. i started looking for something i could get locally, and popped into a sephora while shopping one day. the very helpful salesperson recommended korres eyeliner pencil, which, like the honeybee gardens, has jojoba oil as a main ingredient. i've been using the korres for over a month, and am quite happy with the results. it goes on smoothly and blends a bit for a softer look. it is, however, pricey at $16 a pop, though, and i think i'll try the honeybee gardens next despite high shipping costs, as these pencils are only $7 each. the ingredient lists are similar, but honeybee gardens does seem to be a bit more "whole." i'll let you know how it all shakes out--you know your loyal blogger would never let you down!


new uses for old things...

we've been hard at work getting our backyard party-ready for lucy's upcoming bash. after living here for nearly 5 years, i was finally able to plant a bunch of flowers in the yard, knowing that it's finally at the point where it will be fun to maintain it, instead of a massive, never-ending chore. i had a great time planting up various containers that we've collected through the years. most were purchased at antique fairs and flea markets. here are a few of my favorites (and forgive me for not recalling all of the names of the flowers--expert botanist i certainly am not!): 

daises in an old mop bucket (we painted over the galvanized finish)

it's really fun turning old "junk" into planting containers. most needed holes drilled into the bottom to provide drainage, which was no big deal. i can't say it was any cheaper than buying new containers at a place like target or home depot, but i think that the end result has tons more charm, don't you?


can you believe it? lucy is ONE!!!

lucy's actual birthday was spent at one of our favorite places--a river not too far from our home. we didn't get the best weather for lounging on the beach, but lucy didn't seem to mind at all. a leisurely picnic, a long wagon ride, and a few good-luck sprinkles... what more could a birthday girl want?

newest achievements include: 

~ standing unassisted for longer periods of time
~ signing "more," "kitty," "finished," "chicken," "nurse," "ball," and getting the hang of several others
~ saying "diaper!" (di-da)
~ climbing on nearly everything that she sees (with or without mommy's approval)
~ helping mommy push the wet clothes from the washing machine into the dryer
~ unloading the silverware from the dishwasher and handing it over to be put away
~ eating half of mommy's meal on a regular basis

wow. us new parents are often told that baby and toddler-hood go incredibly fast. what they don't say is that there should be a new term for this phenomenon altogether--fast doesn't begin to describe it. and yet despite this, jeremy and i were just commenting to each other that life before lucy seems like some sort of strange, fictional tale--was there really life before lucy? it seems that she's always been here, crawling around at our feet, giving us kisses and cuddles, standing on the bed between us and banging on the bedroom window while we try to catch a few more zzz's before sunrise. 

i hoped to be able to post pictures of lucy's long-awaited party this weekend, but we've had to postpone because our little birthday girl is sick. nothing too serious, but she wasn't much in the party sprit. we're looking forward to next weekend!

i almost forgot to mention--the party hats pictured above were handmade by us, but lucy's gorgeous, fluffy tutu (also handcrafted) can be purchased here