Thursday, December 24, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Recent Happenings


I would like to give some excuse for not posting in so long (almost a month!) but I have none. Everything is going relatively smoothly-- this has still been my easiest pregnancy. There are days when I feel less able to move around comfortably (today, for one..) but I can never seem to figure out why. Eight more weeks. I am starting to get stressed out a little bit about that. I'm realizing now that I'll never get all that house organizing done. I wanted to go through each closet, each drawer, each tiny space and get rid of everything I own. Maybe I need to watch an episode of Hoarders each day-- that does get me motivated! Instead I'm sidetracked by the everyday organizing and cleaning (that damn mudroom full of snowboots and snowsuits and school bags and lunchboxes and coats and groceries and...) and rarely get that enough under control to move on to organizing what is hidden away in the closets. I did get to organizing the kids' old clothes and ended up with about 12 huge bins that are organized by size. (Note that I have given away all of Alex's clothes under size 18 months and all of Talia's clothes under 4T so this sadly represents only a year or two. Must watch Hoarders more often!) I still have to go through their more current clothes and lots of miscellaneous shoes and winter gear that are just thrown on the floor in our storage room.

I bought a new point and shoot digital camera, which explains why I haven't been taking many photos (the LCD screen on my old one broke) and so I have some new pictures. I'm actually returning the new camera (too slow to respond...) and trying a different one but that's another story. The pix in the above collage represent the past week or so-- Talia and I went to see the Nutcracker. See how I'm hiding my pregnant self behind my kid? Nice. Hanukkah came and went with big gifts of an American Girl doll for Talia and the Playmobil airplane AND airport terminal for Alex (if we have to play with him we may as well make it fun for ourselves...) and many many many many smaller presents for each. Talia had her first ski lesson and was AMAZING! After an hour-long private lesson she was able to ski down the slope, get on the rope tow, come up, ski down, come up etc. She is even able to stop, troubleshoot, fall and get up. She loved it. I've been on and off with cooking lately but this past week I cooked a bunch of meals (butternut squash risotto, middle eastern chickpeas and spinach with yogurt sauce, orchiette with broccolini, chickpea and bread soup, cauliflower with panko). Last week I picked out a month's worth of recipes and that seems to have worked out pretty well. All the clean up is really too much for me though and keeps me from those other organizing projects (see paragraph number one!).

The kids are now off from school for TWO WEEKS. I'm really excited about not having to get them out of the house in the morning (though now they are used to getting up at 7am so I suspect I won't get to sleep in at all...) but not excited about entertaining them for so many days. I need to force myself to take them out for an activity each day. They don't really want to go (they are pajama homebodies like me) but it will give structure to the day. Tomorrow we are getting a HUGE delivery of a bunk bed for Talia's room. I guess that means that we are finally going to get Alex out of the crib. I wonder how that will go, since it seems like he couldn't care less about it. He's been crying at bedtime (and naptime too sometimes) lately so I can't imagine it will go well. He's welcome to sleep in Talia's room on the bottom bunk but who knows how that will be? Talia is such a light sleeper. If he cries she will certainly wake up and if I spend time cuddling him and trying to get him back to sleep she gets jealous. ("You love him more than me" is a popular phrase in our house; a topic for another day). I guess that's what winter break is for-- to try new sleeping arrangements out! We have no idea where to put the new baby-- not that it will matter for a few months, she'll just stay in our room-- but if Talia and Alex did want to room together it would solve some problems... We have an upcoming vacation as well so don't feel *too* sorry for me having the kids home for two weeks.

That's all for now. I get my new new new camera tomorrow or the next day so I guess I will be taking lots more pictures and perhaps will post a little more frequently... Happy holidays to all.
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Monday, November 30, 2009

Library Book Bin


The Hanukkah Helper has been creating some mischief in our house each night. Last night he emptied the library book bin and climbed up a fairy tent vine. I'm actually running out of ideas about where to put him. The kids love it and it's actually easier for me to get Talia downstairs on school mornings because she wants to see what he's done. On the other hand, she's waking up earlier on weekends too...

Actually I'm writing this post to show off the Library Book Bin. I've been using it for a while but finally got around to decorating it. I matched the fabric to the colors in the fairy tent, used fusible web and just ironed on the letters and some cute birdcages (no sewing). Every week or two I go to the library and literally just sweep an entire shelf of books into my bag. I barely look at them. There always ends up being a mix of books for Talia and Alex to look through. If they don't like them they get new ones in a week or so anyway (not that it's ever happened!) At Alex's age Talia was still ripping books up but I've been able to get Alex library books for months now. It's so refreshing to have new things to read! We also check out DVD's and many many audiobooks for the car. I've noticed that Talia will listen to some books that are slightly above her level (Little House, the original Peter Pan, today we started The Borrowers) and her comprehension is great. We have the best library in the world. Have I mentioned that they don't charge for late items? Ever?
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Spy Quilt




Delivered this new I Spy quilt to a baby boy in our neighborhood today. This was definitely a more traditional pattern than I'm used to making and I enjoyed following someone else's math for a change! (Can't find a link to the quilt pattern, I'll try to add it later...) Amazingly, all of these "boy" fabrics came from my stash. There are lots of rockets, robots, cars and planes. For the back I used more of that Ikea fabric-- the one I handquilted for my nephew. I quilted this with a square spiral that was super simple. It was a continuous line so it took no time at all. I drew on the quilt top with Crayols washable marker again. I was nervous because there was a lot of white but... it came out in the wash, no problem. Of course, I was so nervous about it that the amount of time between marking the quilt up, quilting it AND hand sewing the binding was ONE DAY. Talk about a catalyst for getting a quilt finished!

For a big sister gift I made a little coloring book bag / crayon roll. Next time, more interfacing (a recent theme, perhaps?) and shorter rows for the crayons.
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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hanukkah Garland


Talia is so jealous of all the Christmas decorations she sees in our neighborhood so I try to make her feel special by putting up Hanukkah decorations in our home. When I was growing up you couldn't GET Hanukkah decorations anywhere so ours were all homemade-- even though we weren't such a crafty family (well, I always was but certainly no one else...). Now you can Hanukkah decorations at Bed Bath and Beyond, Party City, Target and certainly online. I even bought some strings of lights with dreidels on them for this year. I wouldn't want them to be mistaken as Christmas lights, so I think I'll keep them inside.

I've been collecting Hanukkah fabric for a few years now. I wasn't sure what I'd do with it. I still might make a quick quilt but it would suck to work on something you can only use for a few weeks out of the year. I ended up making a Hanukkah Garland to hang in the house. I just looked at different garlands on flickr and came up with the concept. I made a dreidel template, cut them out of each fabric and appliqued the letters for "Happy Hanukkah" on it. I used a Jewish star to separate the two words, tucked it all into some navy bias tape and hung it up. I added silver, gold and blue ribbon in between the letters "for fancy" as Talia would say. I wish I used some interfacing to stiffen up the pieces. I knew I should but I was lazy as usual. It only took two or three days and interfacing would certainly have slowed me down. I'm always in too much of a hurry-- especially when the project is not a gift... A lesson learned, I suppose.
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Recent Happenings...


We've had a very busy few weeks here at the Dolin household. I took a trip to New York - alone! while the kids went to visit their aunt Lisa in Pensacola with Ron. Last weekend Ron and I took a trip to Puerto Rico, just the two of us. We figured no one is ever going to offer to watch our THREE kids so we may as well leave while we still have two! As far as I can tell, the kids were great and had fun with their grandparents. Then my parents came to visit after we returned from PR. (Didn't I say it's been busy!?) For Halloween, Talia was Cinderella (AGAIN) and Alex was a rock star at one point and trick-or-treated as a fireman. We've been enjoying some warm weather here in Wisconsin-- soon to turn cold again. We have nothing major going on in the next two months, just a few little weekend trips before winter break.

I've been doing some quilting and sewing but I can't share until I give everything away as gifts. I haven't planned out a baby quilt for our new addition yet but I feel like I have time for that (even though it's only three months away!). This has been my easiest pregnancy so far and I have my fingers crossed that it stays that way. I never realized how stressed out I must have been while I was pregnant with Alex until I felt how NOT stressed out am I this time. Does that make sense? I wonder if that's why he turned out to be such a shitty baby! Then again, I would absolutely again take those terrible 6 months for the sweetness he is now.

Talia has adjusted really well to Kindergarten. I still can't believe how little time I have to myself even though T is in school 5 full days a week and Alex is in school 3 full days a week. I definitely feel like a chauffeur these days. Knock on wood, no one in my house has been hit with H1N1 or any other major illnesses. So we'll just try to keep warm and healthy and hopefully I'll be able to share some sewing projects soon!
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Baby Kimono Set


I made this cute little outfit for a recent baby shower. The kimono is from the Martha Stewart website pattern, which I do not recommend. The pattern is a pain to print and tape together and is missing some crucial markings! I couldn't find a 3-6 mo (or 6-12 mo for that matter) pair of pants to use as a patterns for these so I just made them up on the spot. I think they are more 12 mo pants but... oh well. I repurposed an Old Navy T-shirt of mine for the pants fabric and added some applique to tie the outfit together. As for the baby shoes, they came out great! I need to make them in batches because they just take so damn long and would be amenable to assembly line construction. I used the Kaffe Fassett fabric from the "Dahlia Quilt" and the shoe pattern is from Michael Miller online.
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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Quilty Playmat for Baby Jeremy


I must have entered the creativity stage of pregnancy because I've been sewing like crazy and coming up with lots of new ideas for quilts and sewing projects. So many projects, in fact, that I'll never get to half of them in the next 4 months before this baby makes her appearance. My new sewing frenzy might also have come about from the liberating feeling I had finally finishing the baby quilt for little Benjamin. Whatever the reason, I'm happy to have my creative energy back!

This was a nice quick little sew for a baby in DC who is the fourth (!) child of a friend of Ron's and mine. It's a little too small to be considered a baby quilt, but is intended to be a playmat for Jeremy to drive his cars and trains over when he's big enough. I had hoped that the border would look more like a highway but it doesn't really. Those yellow lines are single fold bias tape, which was quite easy to sew on. I plan on making a number of similar quilts as many people seem to having boys these days. I'm going to try to piece a road border but that sounds a bit labor intensive, doesn't it!? Maybe I'll look online for some road fabric... Yeah, that's what I'll do...
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Friday, October 09, 2009

Blogger's Quilt Festival, Fall 2009



Above: finished quilt


Above: Inspiration from a vintage craft book




Above: Sketch of quilt idea



Above: back of finished quilt


This is my entry for the Blogger's Quilt Festival hosted by parkcitygirl. I made this for the Four Seasons Quilt Swap last spring (2008) and it is a favorite of mine. I was inspired by a headboard I saw in a vintage (60's? 70's?) craft book I found. After I sketched it I drew out the shapes on freezer paper and used them as templates for the individual pieces. I then used double sided fusible web to adhere the pieces to the background (a patterned white on white fabric). I sewed it all down as raw-edge applique, machine quilted it every 1/3 inch or so in an echo design and then added some beads and buttons for fun. It was a quilt very different from anything I've done before or since!

Another quilt I thought about showcasing would be this one I just finished, so check that one out too! Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Free at last


This is THE quilt I've been alluding to for such a long time. My best friend from childhood had a baby this summer and I really wanted to make her a special quilt. I worked on this for months and months. I put it down frequently because each time I came to a new step I stressed over how to proceed. The design was stolen from April at by small means. I loved the quilt and actually emailed her to get some ideas on how to construct it. I probably would have gone about it a whole different way if I had not communicated with her first (thank you)! I used the fabric Katie Jump Rope by Denyse Schmidt. I was holding onto it for a long time and since my friend's name is Katie, it just seemed perfect. I enjoyed making the top, as I always do and then I just got STUCK. I never know how to "quilt" a quilt. So I put it off and probably didn't work on it for 6 weeks. Then I finally kicked myself in the butt and got going. Basting is my least favorite aspect of quilting and this is a bigger quilt than I'm used to so that was one of the things that kept me away. My second least favorite part of quilting is choosing a quilt design and thread color. I have no confidence when it comes to that. I ended up finally choosing an all-over zig-zag design that I used once before. I actually used a Crayola Washable Marker to mark the quilt design. I did that once before too (same quilt) and it came out in the wash but I ended up having major anxiety dreams about it last night! Once I marked the top I wanted to get it in the wash as soon as I could so it only took two days to quilt it and two days to do the binding. Into the wash last night and here is the final product. I still have to clip some threads and add a label. I know it's going to be appreciated and I'm very proud of it.
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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Quilt for Baby Sarita


This was a fun quilt to make. I'm stuck on another quilt (but just starting to make progress on the next step!) so it was refreshing to take a break and sew up this quick little one in the meantime. I used a charm pack of Andalucia fabric and cut them in half, sewed them into strips and made this nice coin quilt. I enjoyed it so much that I'm on the lookout for other charm packs for future baby quilts. I guess I would have liked to do some more quilting on it. I really need to start practicing more with free-motion quilting. I finally have the right sewing machine but I need some guidance. I bought a book but would like to take a class. Anyone know of any classes or local teachers in Madison? Forgive the picture-- I took it with my phone!
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Boden dress hack




I made this dress for Talia. It's similar to a dress I made way back when but without the twirly component. This is a total Boden hack-- see picture below. That dress is $44, mine is about $12 plus two hours time. I used a t-shirt top from Target and some light cord fabric from Joann's. The only problem is that Talia is so picky about what she wears that I have to buy everything super big so it doesn't "bother" her. The T-shirt is a medium from Target so the arms are going to be waaaaaaaaay long but she doesn't seem to care about that. I really did think I would have so much more time to blog and sew since the kids started school but that doesn't seem to be the case just yet. Life should slow down a little soon (I hope). More to come...
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Friday, September 04, 2009

My first laptop lunch


I've made a few laptop lunches for the kids this week but their lunches are rather boring and certainly not worth sharing! This one is for Ron. All he wants is for me to make him lunch every day and I refuse. It's that last thing that makes me feel like housewife (you're standing right next to me-- make your own lunch!). Now that I'm making Talia lunch everyday and Alex lunch three times a week I'm trying to be a little more prepared. Plus I often made lunches in the morning but obviously I have to do it at night now. With all of this going on, I decided to make Ron a lunch last night.

I bought these laptop lunchboxes online and they are super cute. Besides helping reduce waste by providing easy-to-clean reusable containers and real silverware, they also force you to rethink portion control and focus on healthy eating. I stumbled upon a laptop lunch flickr group and was stunned at the effort people put into their lunches. I could look at those pictures for hours!

So, as I said, I finally gave in and decided to make Ron's lunch for today. The conditions were right-- we had the right amount of leftovers, the house was all cleaned up and the kids were at the park. I have to say it took me way longer than it should have but it was kind of fun. There isn't, in my opinion, room enough in the laptop lunch for a real adult size main course so I added an extra tupperware. I filled that with leftover spinach mozzarella ravioli with herbs, parmesan and slightly cooked cherry tomatoes from my garden. Israeli salad with feta and zataar filled one big container and pita crisps and purple carrots filled the other. Hummus went into a small container and homemade zucchini bread went into the last one. Only one of the larger containers has a lid, which is kind of weird. I had to cover the hummus with tin foil. The outer plastic container of the laptop lunchbox fits snugly to the tops of the containers but I wouldn't trust it with wet ingredients. I threw a cloth napkin in with the silverware. A balanced, healthy meal with portion control and almost nothing to throw away.

When I have made Ron lunch in the past he complained that I gave him too much food. I used to work 12 hour nursing shifts where I really looked forward to my 20 minute lunch. I used to bring lots of little snacks to sneak in during the day for energy. I think that's why I would give Ron lots of different things. In this case, I gave him lots of things but the portions are soooo small (that's three small carrots!) that I think he'll eat it all. Now he'll complain that I don't make him lunch every day. He'll say, "You did it once so now I know you can do it again!"

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

First Day of Kindergarten!


I was definitely stressed about getting the kids up, clean, fed and all of us out the door. I guess I'm going to get a lot of practice. Talia has a "staggered start" meaning she only goes Tues and Thurs this week and then starts full time after Labor Day. I think that's good for us! Today I'm still going to wake her up but at 7:30 instead of 7. Mostly just so she will go to bed early. Interestingly enough it was Alex who was melting down yesterday morning. A fly was in the kitchen and he was in tears! He was so offended-- it landed on his placemat! He really doesn't like bugs-- I wonder who he gets that from?! (me!)

I couldn't predict if Talia was going to come home from Kindergarten happy or crying. The first thing she said was "I love Kindergarten!" so we'll see how it goes tomorrow!
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Friday, August 28, 2009

Farewell Summer, Hello Fall

Summer is ending and I'm fine with that. I've discovered I'm not really a summer person. While I am NOT looking forward to buckling the kids in their car seats with bulky winter coats for 6 months, I think I'm ok with the other aspects of winter. My garden was slightly disappointing-- I was very lazy about it. I think next year I'm scaling back to tomatoes and herbs only. It's too much with the CSA produce delivery. I didn't enjoy going to the pool much and all our traveling happened so early in the summer it is now a distant memory. I'm alternately excited and nervous about the upcoming school year. Excited to get a new schedule underway already, hoping Talia will genuinely like Kindergarten and have a smooth transition, nervous that I'll never get her to school on time and she'll still "hate school" and not want to go and we'll struggle 5 days a week instead of the current 3. Lots of little things coming up in the next two months-- school, the Jewish holidays, a visit from my sister, a solo visit home to NJ/NY for a quick weekend, a solo trip with Ron to Puerto Rico, Halloween, etc.

This was a summer of milestones for Alex-- starting school, potty training and a full vocabulary. What a difference from June! I'm looking forward to spending some quality alone time with him once Talia is in school. I'm also looking forward to spending a little quality alone time with myself! I haven't spent any time in my sewing room this summer. Once again I'm backlogged with baby quilts (2 babies already born, one coming any moment, at least one other this fall and no quilts finished-- only two started) and I have a huge pile of ideas for clothes and home decorations that just gathers cobwebs in my mind. So, Farewell Summer and Hello Fall-- I'm ready for you!
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Giada's Rigatoni with Vegetable Bolognese


Um hmmmm. A nice red wine-y taste. Very filling. It's made with carrots, onion, red bell pepper, garlic/thyme/oregano, mushrooms (regular and dried-- important!), tomato paste, red wine and the trick is a little mascapone cheese mixed in. And parm of course. Here's the recipe...
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Monday, August 17, 2009

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

If you are a dedicated reader of my blog (all 3 of you) you will remember that I hate potatoes (here too). That's not exactly true. I like potatoes somewhat, I just don't consider them healthy nor do I think of them as a vegetable. As a vegetarian, most of my main dishes either contain a grain- such as pasta, or are served over grains- such as couscous or rice. I don't, therefore, have any room on my plate for potatoes. That being said, if someone is going to serve me fries or mashed potatoes I'm not going to turn them down. I just wouldn't ever choose to make them. I do really like potato salad and I make it every so often but then I eat the whole thing and don't feel very good about myself. So far this summer we have gotten two bags of potatoes from the CSA. At this point they are pretty much still a novelty. If I am accurately remembering the amount of potatoes we got last year, they are soon to become loathsome.

The first batch of potatoes were made into "Burg's Potato Salad" from Orangette's book. I can't remember what was different about it from my own recipe but that's probably because Ron ate most of it before I could my hands on it. I do remember thinking it was a little labor intensive compared to my own which I love and can't stop eating, which is why I never make it (cook the shit out of the potatoes, mix it with mayo and hard-boiled eggs, mash it all up until it's the consistency of mashed potatoes and add lots of salt and fresh dill-- eat it while it's WARM!).

The second batch of potatoes got roasted with olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary. It's not difficult but it takes an hour to cook and that seems like a silly amount of time to wait for breakfast. The key to roasted potatoes (or any roasted vegetable in my opinion) is to mix the vegetable with olive oil and seasonings in a big bowl BEFORE you put it in your roasting pan. If you do it straight on the roasting sheet you are missing out on really coating the potatoes well. You might have one less dish to clean but you'll miss out completely on flavor and crunchiness. I used my convection oven for this one, setting it to 400 (so it cooked at 375) and cooking them undisturbed for 20 minutes. Then I tossed them every 10 minutes for another 30 minutes (so, 50 minutes all together). Amazingly enough, EVERYONE in my family enjoyed them and begged for more. I don't think there is another food we have ever all eaten at the same time except pizza, which I don't love anyway. Even better, I sat on the back deck with the kids looking at books while we ate the potatoes and it seemed almost relaxing. Imagine that!
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Pretty Local

We had an almost completely local (and delicious) dinner:

- tomato basil mozzarella salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar: tomatoes and basil from my garden
-asian slaw: cabbage and carrot from our CSA, mint and cilantro from my garden
-green beans with lemon parsley gremolata: green beans from the CSA, parsley from the garden and local parmesan cheese (actually I used the recipe from How to Eat Supper but this one seems almost the same)
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Most delicious fennel beet salad

While trying to get through my CSA produce last week I searched for a fennel salad recipe online. Usually I just slice it thinly and serve it raw with some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. One of the first hits I got was for this fennel beet salad. I decided to kill two birds with one stone (fennel and beets) and make it. I had very low expectations but it was EXCELLENT! Really tangy and delicious. I won't post the recipe here but I'll send you over to the website. The only change I made was that I didn't serve it over greens because I didn't have any. I would probably serve it without greens again. It was so simple and easy and yummy. And it used up my beets-- I like beets but they are such a pain to cook that I usually don't bother with them. Now I'm hoping to get some more fennel AND beets in my CSA box. Enjoy!
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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Look who wore underpants all day!

This morning was rainy and this afternoon was hot. We had no plans to do anything so... to change things up a bit we put Alex in underpants! He did great! I don't know if I'm ready to make the commitment. I should probably wait until winter, won't that be so much easier? Or is it easier now? He doesn't like the "little potty" so he pretty much needs me to help him get on the big potty. I rewarded him with a sticker if he tries and two M&M's if he actually goes. In order to see if he goes, I need to be in the room with him. Not that he would lie, but his reporting isn't that accurate. Talia didn't complain TOO MUCH about all the attention he was getting-- she was very supportive and she got two M&M's if he went also. Then again, Ron was around to help too. We'll see how things go today. It's nice to know that it IS possible!
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