7 Quick Takes: Summer Travel, Gardening, and Reading

— 1 —

Well, I’m back home after a last-minute roadtrip/vacation to Minnesota and parts beyond. Two flights to Minnesota, a roadtrip to Kentucky and back, and then a week in MN was precisely what the doctor ordered (not literally) for Maddy and me. She was a real champ on the planes, we got to go to the ordination and first Mass of a good friend, and then we spent lots of time with family.
Thanks to another family that preferred to cram into one row together, Maddy and I ended up with three seats to ourselves.  Super Tripper slept for all but ten minutes of our return flights, which meant that I got to watch most of the Captain America sequel.  US Air, you may not provide snacks, but a choice of free movies is good consolation.

Also, TSA Precheck? A godsend for parents travelling solo. I didn’t have to take my shoes or belt off, my liquids got to stay stowed, and we were able to skip past an insane holiday weekend line at the airport.

— 2 —

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I thought it would be a lot longer before my large “Too Small for Madeleine” box filled up with clothes. At this rate, she’s going to get a storage unit for her first birthday.

— 3 —

This year’s attempt at a garden is making good progress. I decided to drastically lower my expectations from where they were last year, and only planted herbs and flowers, no vegetables. I didn’t get around to doing anything with it until after Mother’s Day, when I went to Home Depot, picked up some promising seeds, and planted them somewhat randomly. It’s possible that the “drought-loving” California Poppies shouldn’t have gone in with the basil. We’ll see how that ends up. The planter that looks thought-out and well cared for was a birthday present from my sister, who took the time to make sure everything was alive and thriving before she gave it to me. The red geraniums were a Mother’s Day gift from Maddy, and I love them. (No kidding, though – bright red is an impossible color to photograph well. Leave those scarlet dresses on the rack at David’s, bridesmaids.)

My gardening buddy is certainly enjoying her time outside, too.

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— 4 —

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Anyone who’s seen me in the last few weeks has had the privilege of hearing me rave about our new diaper covers, but in case you missed out, here it is:

Our size one Thirsties covers were too small, so I ordered new covers from Assunta Store. They only come in one size (with extra snaps to make them really adjustable), they cost half of what we had been paying, and they’re extremely well constructed and durable. Already, they’ve contained several hazardous waste situations. The best part of all is that they’re made in China…by Little Flower Projects, a group that provides care to medically challenging orphans. It’s an organization that we’ve supported for the last couple years, and I’m thrilled to be able to support them in this way as well. Cloth diaper users, this is the best there is.

— 5 —

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I finished a book! Deadlines + library due dates have not worked in my favor lately, but I was bound and determined to finish this one. I’ve been a lifelong fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and have read the Little House series more times than I can count. I currently have three full sets of the books at home. I’ve been to nearly all of the historical sites associated with the series (Lake Pepin, Walnut Grove, De Smet, Mansfield…what am I missing?). To say that the books played a part in my childhood would be an understatement.

When I first heard about the publication of Pioneer Girl, Laura’s briefer and more accurate memoir, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it. Sure, I knew that she had omitted some things from the Little House books, but I didn’t know if I wanted my Little bubble burst. I had lots of time to think about it, anyway, because when I requested the book from the library in November, I was 113th on the wait list. It showed up a few weeks ago, and I jumped in.

In the end, I do highly recommend it. There are lots of interesting stories that didn’t make it into the series (usually for obvious reasons: violent drinkers, serial killers, and some stories with questionable morals would’ve been out of place). The character development and backstory about the publication were fascinating as well. Now that I’ve finished the true version, I’m putting the whole series on my list for a reread.

— 6 —

Enough said.

— 7 —

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Here’s the Weekly Maddy. She really wants to be crawling, but given her total inability to lift her gut off the ground, I’m guessing we’ve got quite a while. She does pivot pretty effectively, anyway. In the meantime, I don’t mind looking at the dimple of concentration.

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7 Quick Takes: Unsolicited Relics, Sunshine, and Talking to Herself

— 1 —

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Finished! The maniturgium I blogged about last week is done, in plenty of time to put in the mail to the Father-to-be. I finished the embroidery on Wednesday night, ironed it late into the night (and ironed and ironed…), and then sewed it up. In the end, it was a fun project and I was pleased with how it turned out. It made me want to do more embroidery, once I clear some other things off my craft docket. It was also the last thing on my to-do list that had a real deadline, so now I can focus on some more open-ended projects like decluttering and a long-standing knitting project.

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— 2 —

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At least one of us needs sunglasses.

In the space of a week, the weather went from “chilly spring” to “crank the AC.” Between that and some rapid clothing-size changes for Maddy and I (in opposite directions, thankfully), we're doing a lot of wardrobe shifting. Maddy and I walked our package to the post office yesterday, and it was a warm trek. Naturally, she took a much-needed nap on the way there, so I was loath to go home and wake her up. We stopped for an iced coffee, and then continued on to the library. It was a good 2-mile stretch of the legs for me, and a good nap for her, but the heat had pretty well fused us together by the time we got home.

— 3 —

IMG_1338We also walked past a rummage sale where this was for sale. Any guesses as to what it is? It was about 3-4″ high, and pretty heavy. A bookend for very small books? I didn't get it, so the question is totally theoretical.

— 4 —

Speaking of mysterious religious goods: I've gotten some unsolicited and not entirely welcome things in the mail lately. Somehow, I ended up on the mailing lists of random Catholic non-profits who fundraise by sending “gifts” in the mail. When I was a kid, they just sent things like address labels and greeting cards – things we had no qualms about throwing away. The envelope I got a few weeks ago raised the stakes: it contained a relic of Padre Pio. The letter didn't identify what class or kind of relic, so our guess is that it was once touched to something that was touched to something from Pietrelcina. Regardless, it seems highly sketchy to mail an unsolicited relic (or “relic”) to a large mailing list. We're a little stumped on what to do with it, since we can't really get rid of it but don't have a place to put it.
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— 5 —

My favorite time of the day has become the three minutes in the evening when the light comes through the windows and illuminates the Pieta on the bookshelf. It usually coincides with the evening Baby Meltdown, and it's a nice reminder to take a quiet minute to myself.
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— 6 —

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Maddy and I got outside this afternoon to do a little gardening. We planted some basil and mixed in some California Poppy seeds (“drought-resistant” means “hard to kill,” right?). We'll get some Morning Glories in the ground tomorrow. Last summer's garden suffered a mortal blow at the hands of morning sickness and exhaustion, and I'm hoping for better this year. Now that the garden is planted, it might be time to take down the Christmas lights.

— 7 —

Finally, your weekly installment of “Only a Grandmother Will Watch,” with love from Maddy.

https://vimeo.com/127290071

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7 Quick Takes: Cocktails, Embroidery, and a Cake

Thanks to the miracles of planning ahead a little and a baby who’s happy in a bouncy chair, I actually have 7 quick takes today!

— 1 —

We bought a bag of spinach earlier this week, with this recipe in mind.  Unfortunately, we were at Costco, so the bag is big enough that Maddy could live in it (except for that whole thing about babies and plastic bags, of course).

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It was a great deal, but now there are two problems: first, we’ve got a lot of spinach to eat.  Second, I somehow got it in my head that there’s probably a giant spider hiding deep in that jungle of a bag, waiting for me to reach in up to my elbow.  Totally rational.  The options, as I see them, are to shake it out gingerly at arm’s length, or make Johnny do it when he gets home.  Or set it in the kitchen sink and light it on fire, just to be safe.

— 2 —

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I made my own birthday cake again this year, but unlike last year, it was a huge hit.  I used this Strawberry Icebox Cake recipe, which seemed too good to be true, but it did not disappoint.  I was able to do it in about 20 minutes, one-handed while holding a baby, and it still turned out well (and pretty, if I do say so).  I imagine that it’d be ridiculously easy to make gluten-free, too, for those who care about that sort of thing.

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— 3 —

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I made a baby dress earlier this week, for a grand total of 15 minutes, $1.50 for the onesie (thank you, Once Upon a Child), and a t-shirt that I was going to give to Goodwill anyway.  I was so easy, I’ll probably make many more (and I did take pictures of the process, so I’ll post a step-by-step at some point).

— 4 —

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Now that the weather is pleasant, Maddy and I have been running pretty consistently the last few weeks.  We’re on week 3 of the trusty Couch to 5K program.  I just calculated that she + stroller adds 50 pounds to my load, so I’m pretty pleased with the fact that it’s still going well.  I realized last year that running with music is less distracting than running with talking, and since being distracted is the name of the game, I’ve been loading up on the podcasts.  Between Fountains of Carrots and Stuff You Missed In History Class, I’m getting my introvert social fix, and learning obscure facts.

I’m also glad to have the opportunity to get out and enjoy the spring sights:
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— 5 —

IMG_1292 Johnny and I made it out of the house last night for our first date night sans baby (thanks, Katie, for babysitting!).  I wore a dress that wasn’t nursing-friendly, had free use of my arms for the whole time, and ordered a real cocktail (the first time I’ve done that in almost a year!).  I was going to get an Irish Coffee, but we were at a fancypants restaurant with a real cocktail menu, so I decided to step out of my usual rut and ordered a Rickson (well, I ordered the Dark and Stormy first, but they were out of ginger beer.  Outrage).  It was a little girly (see the fruit), but definitely packed a punch.  I’ll have to try to duplicate it at home, but I can’t find recipes online, so I’ll have to do it soon before I forget it.  Darn.

Also to duplicate at home: the fried Brussels Sprouts we had as an appetizer.  Mind-blowing.

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— 6 —

Instead of blogging, I should be spending all my free time working on embroidering this maniturgium for a friend’s ordination.  The due date is coming up (it’s hard to forget, since it’s literally right in front of me), but I got a late start on it due to some supply problems.  Luckily, it’s going quickly and I’m really pleased with it.  The idea of making something that his mother will take with her to heaven adds a little pressure, but I’m honored to have been asked, and I can’t wait for the finished product.

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— 7 —

And finally, because people demand it one with every post, a photo of the blue-eyed bath lover:

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