Monday, November 23, 2009

Projectile Vomit

Three more sleeps has become my mantra over the last 24 hours or so. J will return from China late Wednesday night.

I had two fears while he was gone. My No. 1 concern was a big snow storm would hit and I'd have to plow out the yard. My second concern was that the kids would get sick. It happened.

We were 35 miles from home after spending the weekend at Gramma Caela's when Edie started complaining her tummy hurt. Then she proceeded to projectile vomit throughout the entire car.

We stopped and I mopped it up best I could, changed her clothes and we got on the road again. I think I got the car cleaned out (although I fear opening the door to see if the smell is gone). I think her seat is clean, too. I think this afternoon I'll reinstall her car seat.

So far, no barf today. I think she's over it, and will be able to go to day care tomorrow and I can go back to work.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Precious Gem

When I bought my spinning wheel earlier this year from a fiber friend who discovered she didn't really like spinning, I volunteered to spin her some roving she purchased with intentions of spinning.

I recently got the guts enough to declare I was decent enough in spinning to tackle making yarn for someone else. Let me tell you a plastic bag identifying it as a 1/2 pound garnet, and nothing else. I took to spinning it.

I haven't been spinning long, but I realize this spun like butter. Nice long fibers, soft and a beautiful color. For some reason, it also has a wonderful cinnamon smell, too.

I finished spinning it a week ago Friday, and began plying Saturday evening while I placated the kids with a movie. I spun two bobbins, but obviously didn't get an even amount on both. I plied what I had, and then attempted to unwind what was left on two into a center pull ball so I could ply from that -- something I've managed to do in the past. Apparently it wasn't meant to be.

I created, what I think, was muppet fur [which I regrettably did not take a picture of] It was a nightmare. At least I did end up with a fair amount of yarn.

Fiber: Wool -- something with a long staple length and quite soft
WPI: 13 or so. That makes it slightly finer than a worsted weight wool
Yards: 330 yards.

I told Ellen that I needed to know what it was and where she got it, so I can procure some for my own use, as it was a dream to spin.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Goddess Improvises

For the last several days I-minion has been begging me to make "Oatmeal Cookies." I finally relented on Sunday and we mixed a batch of Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies courtesy of Grandma Caela.

This is the only chocolate chip cookie recipe my mother ever made when I was growing up. I must clarify, that by the time I could make my way around the kitchen my mother declared "Making pie is against her religion." and I'm pretty sure that making cookies would also nominate her as heretic of the year.

If you notice the chips in these cookies are not quite "chocolate" in color. You see, this wannabe domestic goddess got everything mixed up before she realized there were NO chocolate chips in her house. This shocked me, as I usually have a stockpile of chips of the chocolate variety in my cupboard. I'd picked up a package of vanilla chips for a recipe I had intended to try out. For the record -- the cookies are quite tasty with vanilla chips.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup shortening
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp hot water
1 tsp vanilla
1 12oz package of chocolate chips
2 cups oatmeal

Cream sugar and shortening well. Add eggs and mix. Combine baking soda and hot water and add to mixture. Mix in remaining ingredients, the chocolate chips last. Drop by spoonfuls on cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees until brown. In my oven it was about 13 minutes. Let the cookies cool, and store in a air-tight container.

If you are like this wannabe domestic goddess, you'll use a fancy cookie jar. In my house, you can see it is a pretty sweet container.

Under typical baking situations at our house, I mix the cookies -- often with help from the minions. Then J actually bakes the buggers. It's part of our teamwork. We both like cookies. I like to mix them up, but hate baking. He hates mixing but enjoys baking. This time around the kids and I mixed cookies, and I ended up baking them while they went outside and built a fence out of posts they discovered behind the chicken coop.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Self Portrait

Up until recently I used our small Canon point and shoot camera for my photographic needs. I have a old-school film SLR that was rarely used. Since my bills aren't paid by my picture taking skills, I never upgraded to a digital version of my film camera. Until now.

For those interested (and for those not, just scroll down) it is a Canon XSi with an 18-50 mm f2.8 lens. I think I've found a new love.

May I present a rare self portrait I took with the new camera.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Far East

From now until Thanksgiving the minions and I are holding the fort down while my husband is exploring the Far East. Well, maybe not the entire country, but the Eastern coast and Shanghai area. J's job is one where he works with engineers and suppliers who are based in China. He is on his annual trip across the Pacific.

We've spent the previous couple weeks getting the minions ready for the trip. We've made paper chains to count the number of sleeps until Dad comes home (13 as of today, Friday, Nov. 13). The kids cut and taped/glued them together. When I-minion finished his chain he commented on its length. "This is really long, that means Dad is going to be gone a long time." He started to cry. "There is water coming out of my eyes and I can't stop it."

The kids have been asking a lot of questions about China and where it is in relationship to where we live. After lunch on Sunday J broke out my globe circa 1918 (a antique store find more than a decade ago). Normally it sits on my cabinet in my dining room looking scholarly.

J pointed out where we live, and how far away China is and pointed out some of the different cities they'll be visiting.

Last time J was in China the kids were just about ready to turn 2. This time they know what's going on. Multiple times a day I hear: "I'm sad because my dad is gone" or "I miss daddy."

We'll be talking to J via skype a couple times. The kids' stuffed dogs that look like their real dogs are with him in China. I expect checking e-mail regularly with the kids so they can see what type of adventures the puppies have.

This is of course difficult for me, too. J and I are partners in everything in life. J and I split cooking, cleaning and parental duties. I'll be honest when I say it is intimidating to be doing this alone right now. It's also unusual for me to take over some of the duties that J just normally handles -- like loading and unloading the dishwasher and putting the dogs in the kennel in the morning.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I was raised by Muppets

I learned about life by watching Sesame Street. So many life lessons were learned on the street: Making friends, compromising, and counting in Spanish. Gordon was the first black man I'd ever encountered. Kermit the roving reporter inspired me to become a journalist.

We lived in the country. After my brother hopped on the bus, I would eat breakfast and Mom and I would head outside to do chores or other tasks of farm life. But mostly, I played with the sheep and chased the cats.

By 11:30 we'd be back inside and my mother would let me turn on the television. South Dakota Public Television was one of three channels that came in clearly. The first notes of the theme and seeing the kids and Big Bird walking through the grass would send me running to my mother urging her to start the water for macaroni and cheese.

As the water boiled and the noodles cooked I watched Kermit, Grover, Oscar and Cookie Monster learned about a world that seemed so foreign to a preschooler living in rural western South Dakota. I admit "Monster Piece Theatre" scared me, and I giggled madly when they decided they needed to count all thieves from "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves."

The life events that happened on Sesame Street seemed to mirror what was happening in my own life. Maria and Louis had Gabby about the same time my little brother was born. Mr. Hooper died shortly before my grandmother did. Seeing how the Muppets coped with life somehow made it OK for me to be worried if my parents would have time for me after the baby was born and to be sad about Grandma Edie dying.

As I've grown up I realized the skits, parodies and events at 123 Sesame Street mirrored pop culture, great literature and world events. Looking back, I think the combination of Sesame Street and my parents' influence played a critical role in developing my love of literature and learning.

I'm now the parent of 3-year-old twins. As cliche as it sounds as much as things change, they stay the same. I still live in the country. It's western Iowa instead of South Dakota. We get four television channels over the air and one of them happens to be Iowa Public Broadcasting. Sesame Street is a big part of my children's lives.

The format has changed a bit. The theme has a hip-hop bend. The Muppets are still there, so are the lessons. Interestingly enough I find the show draws me in much like it did when I was a child. Perhaps not quite to the extent of E-minion and I-minion are. They are exploring their world via the same street I did. Unfortunately the worlds are completely different. I am comforted that the kind words of Maria and the rest of the Muppets (including one of my favorites, Grover) are there to guide my babies as they grow up.

Today marks the premier of the 40th Season of Sesame Street. The Minions and I will be watching at 5:30 p.m., when it airs on IPTV. So in honor of the anniversary I am providing a couple of videos marking some of the best of the best. One old school clip -- Kermit the Frog, roving reporter -- and one that the minions and I both love -- Murray Had a Little Lamb.