Sew little time…

Em & Renaissance with Nathaniel after his band concert! (Rachel was at her own rehearsal and had to miss it.)

Last week was a doozy! Nathaniel had his first band concert and Rachel was in four showings of our school district’s drama production, complete with rehearsals from 4:00-7:30 pm on the days leading up to the shows, and then she had to be at the theatre from 5:30-10:00 pm Thursday and Friday for their first two shows, and from 12:30-10:00 pm on Saturday because they did a matinee and evening show. I drove back and forth from the school 3-5 times each day! But she had a blast and it was a great show, and hey, that’s parenting.

Which meant not a lot of crafty times, but I did finish the Fresh Cut Pines quilt, label and all. I don’t have pictures of it yet because it’s been really rainy and a disc in my upper back went out Saturday morning, which incapacitated me for the entire weekend. Sigh. I have plans to take the quilt’s beauty shots over Thanksgiving Break while I have helpers available during the day.

I pulled out the Yuletide Botanica orange peel quilt this morning to start working on it, and after having a bit of a lazy crafter hesitation, decided to go forward with attaching a border because it will look better with a border, even though I didn’t want to take the time to do it. (And yes, I’m glad I did…it really does look better with the border…) I also basted this bad boy and now have the aching back to prove it. I’m hoping to get going on the quilting tomorrow, as long as everything goes as it should during the day.

I am so ready for the Thanksgiving holiday. Hopefully I don’t have to go anywhere Friday and Saturday so I can just plough through all my wonderful Christmas prep activities! I just want to be at home, sewing all the Christmas things!

Meal Planning and Sharing Cooking Responsibilities with Teenagers

I’ve noticed an uptick in views on my two autumn meal planning posts in the past couple of weeks, and I thought I’d take a moment to write about how we’re doing dinner in our home these days with four relatively kitchen-ready kids. Quarantine really had the kids baking and cooking a lot out of sheer boredom, and I’ve had a lot of back and foot pain for the past year, so we’ve morphed into a more “all hands on deck” meal preparation group.

Summer Recipe Master List

As summer was beginning this year, I put in three zucchini plants in the garden because our one zucchini plant in 2020 failed and I didn’t want to run that risk again. I then decided to go through all my cookbooks and find every zucchini recipe I could so that I’d have an arsenal of ideas for dealing with the very likely avalanche of zucchini we’d encounter. Whilst perusing zucchini recipes, I noticed a lot of fantastic vegetable recipes that I’d always wanted to try every summer but had never gotten around to preparing, so I decided to make a giant master list of summery recipes in my bullet journal. I tried to choose as many recipes from this master list over the summer, and the kids got caught up in the novelty of it and started helping me prepare dishes. By the end of the summer, we often had four different people working in the kitchen at once and could get a full, vegetables-included dinner on the table in about forty minutes.

Another recently-added consideration is that I’ve developed a soy allergy, which means I can eat very little processed foods anymore. Soy is in freakin’ EVERYTHING, people, UGH! So we’ve had to start making a lot of stuff from scratch, which means more cooking and time in the kitchen.

I decided to invest in a 24″x36″ whiteboard at the beginning of autumn and drew in gridlines. With school and after school activities returning to something resembling normal, I knew I was going to become very busy very quickly and that we were going to need a dinner command center that the kids could consult if I wasn’t home when it was time to start cooking dinner.

I went through my cookbooks again, this time for autumny recipe goodness, and now I spend a little time each Saturday morning while Michael and I are catching up and planning out the next week to write down each day’s activities in the top boxes on the meal plan board, and then I use my autumn recipe master list to plug in some dishes in black ink. (Or, for busy weeks, we just have easy-to-make foods, obviously.) As the kids wake up, they come along and write a star in their personal color next to the dishes they’re going to make, keeping in mind what they’re going to be up to that particular day in regards to music lessons and the like. (Don’t volunteer to make anything if you’re not even going to be home at dinner!) It’s been a godsend with my foot surgery recovery…very little standing in the kitchen for me anymore.

Last week’s meal plan, with activities blurred out because it’s a bad idea to post your kids’ schedules on that internet.

It’s interesting to read through the many iterations of meal planning that I’ve done over the years. It just goes to show that we’re always adapting to new circumstances and abilities, and if it works for you in that moment, then it’s the right choice. I used to get critical of myself for not doing things the way I saw other adults doing things in their homes, and it’s only been recently that I’ve really figured out that it’s ok to change the way you do things and it’s ok to not take another person’s advice if you have a pretty solid expectation it will not work for you. You do you, and I’ll do me. But share what you’re doing so I can steal the ideas that will help me out, and I’ll keep sharing what I’m doing in case you want to steal some of my ideas, too.

Happy eating!

The 2021 Halloween Costume Chronicles: Rachel

Me: “What do you want to be for Halloween, Rachel?”

Rachel: “I don’t know.”

Me: “I honestly didn’t think I’d get that answer from you, of all people.”

Rachel: “Probably some sort of witch.”

Me: “OK, well, Ren’s going to be a 1950s witch; what kind of witch do you want to be?”

Rachel: “Maybe something along the lines of an Instagram influencer witch aesthetic?”

Me: [raises eyebrow] “Okaaaaay…and what does that look like?”

Rachel: [brow furrows] “It’s hard to explain.”

Me: “Well, let’s search a witch hashtag on Instagram and you tell me which ones look like what you’re thinking of.”

[We look at witch hashtags. Rachel says nothing.]

Me: “Any of these what you’re thinking?”

Rachel: “No. There’s too many crystals and too much eyeliner.”

Me: “Well, that’s kind of what the Instagram witch aesthetic is.”

Rachel: “…”

Me: “How about we look on Amazon for costume ideas?”

Rachel: [shrugs shoulders] “OK.”

[We pull up Amazon and start to scroll through costumes]

Rachel: “Ooooh, Katniss Everdeen!”

Me: [adds to cart]

The 2021 Halloween Costume Chronicles: Emms

Me: “Emms, what do you want to be for Halloween?”

Emms: “The same thing I always am.”

Me: “Do you want me to make any extra accessories for your costume?”

Emms: [left the room while I was talking]

The 2021 Halloween Costume Chronicles: Renaissance, Part 1

Me: “Ren, what do you want to be for Halloween?”

Renaissance: [shrugs shoulders] “Meh.”

Me: “Does that mean you don’t want to dress up for Halloween?”

Renaissance: “Meh.”

Me: [inhales and exhales slowly] “Please use English words to convey what thoughts are going through your brain right now regarding this year’s Halloween costume.”

Renaissance: “I don’t know. Maybe a witch?”

Me: “I can do witch. What kind of witch?”

Renaissance: “Meh.”

Me: [has an aneurysm explode in my brain] “I’m going to restate my request for actual words.”

Renaissance: “How about a 1950s witch?”

Me: [heart skips a beat as ears perk up] “That’s…oddly specific? What’s the vision?”

Renaissance: “Meh.”

Me: [death glare]

Renaissance: “How about a cat or a pumpkin on a circle skirt?”

Me: “I can do that.”

Cobwebs

I’ve wanted to sit and type out a post for months, but I’ve entered this weird realm where it feels like I don’t have anything worth saying–quilty advice is easy to Google, I’m careful about what I share about my kids online, and my personal thoughts on a million subjects are too precious to cast out into the world to be trolled. But, oh, I miss writing and I miss reading blog posts.

I’m thinking I’ve just gotten out of the habit and everything feels scary because everything feels unfamiliar now.

So let’s clear some cobwebs and make way for some new and shiny posts, yes?

  • I don’t think I’ve worked on a single quilt since before Christmas. Last year was A LOT of quilts, and I am burned out on them for the time being. The tops and their backings are sitting in a huge pile in my craft room, waiting for me to save up funds to send them out to the quilter, or get so tired of them that I take on the onerous task of quilting them myself.
  • I have been knitting a lot, and, weirdly, it’s almost ALL UFOs, which is awesome because the more in-progress projects I wrap up, the less pressure/guilt I experience. For the amount of unfinished projects I have, you’d think it wouldn’t bother me, but the guilt piles up and causes me anxiety some days. The UFO I’m working on now has been in the works for years, and it’s been one of the biggest guilt-inducers in the collection, so I’m really glad that I’m putting in the time to get it to the finish line.
  • I’ve also been sewing some clothes. I was starting to get going with that right before I got chosen for the Blank Quilting ambassador thing, and clothing-making went into the freezer for all of last year as a result. There’s something about a change in the seasons that always has me wanting to make clothing, and with spring singing its lovely tune outside my window each morning, I am in full-on spring sewing mode.
  • 2020 caused some major shifts in my perspectives on life. As we slowly move back towards a feeling of normalcy, I am not sure how to reconcile a lot of my newly-forming conclusions with the vestiges of what my life revolved around before the pandemic. I’m not ready to talk about these thoughts and feelings in a public setting as of yet, but I figured just mentioning that I’m experiencing this might bring some comfort to anyone out there in the world who may be feeling lost in regards to how they’re going to run their lives once things get going again, now that they’ve been deeply disturbed by the behavior of people (they once thought they respected) during the course of the last year. It’s unfortunate that so many of us are looking to revamp our social circles during a time where we literally cannot meet new people. But I am optimistic that, once things really get going good again, I will be able to find my tribe without sacrificing my personal integrity to fit in.
  • Y’all…raising teenagers kind of sucks. I don’t even think my kids are particularly troublesome, either. I hypothesize that most mid-life crises happen whilst parenting teenagers–you’ve dumped the last 10-15 years of your life into nurturing toddlers/preschoolers/kids who think you are amazing, and then suddenly they think you’re the lamest person in the room and they do a really poor job of hiding the body language that says exactly that. What do you do with that message?!?! I know–you question just what the heck have you done with your life all this time and was it worth it because these people that you created can’t stand you, yet still need instructing because they absolutely cannot adult. Doesn’t feel good. But you know it’s a phase and it will pass, but it still feels like crap to experience it and calmly instruct said grumpfaces about the civil ways to disagree, the civil ways to live with people who are annoying you that day, how to extricate yourself from a family activity without being a snot, and how to communicate why in the world you think not doing your chores is a valid option (because sometimes it is, but if you don’t communicate it BEFOREHAND, I guarantee you that we are going to have problems).
  • I cannot stop thinking about pretty spring dresses. I need them all.
  • I’m going to make myself a dress for my birthday and I am ecstatic about it.
  • I made a pencil skirt for Emms and it’s adorable and now I need one for myself as well.
  • I have a lot of emotional baggage when it comes to clothing and fashion. The messages in my head about clothing and dressing well…they are unkind. Especially when you consider that you wear clothes every day of your life. Why do we make each other feel bad about the clothes we wear if they’re not hurting anyone? The more I untangle this convoluted argument in my head, the sadder I get over all the joy I’ve denied myself over the years because of messages that I “couldn’t” wear something, or “shouldn’t” wear something because of someone else’s opinion. No more, my friends. No more.
  • We get this one life. And I am sick of procrastinating my own joy so that I can better hold myself to distorted views of what a woman should be, what a woman should look like, what a woman should act like, what a woman should allow into her life. I’ve been shoulding myself to death for ideals that I no longer find valid.
  • There’s something about having teenaged daughters and knowing that they’re getting ready to head out into the world, and looking around and realizing that the culture they’re surrounded by just isn’t good enough for them. And that you cannot stomach raising your son to perpetuate those harmful philosophies on other girls. I didn’t see it when I was young because I was the frog in the water that was slowly reaching boiling, but I’m now the chef with the frogs in my hand and there is no way I’m going to throw them into the pot and allow them to slowly boil to death.
  • And I guess I’ll stop there. Dentist appointments and all. Drastic philosophical reversals still demand sound teeth.