Sunday, February 27, 2011

Buckle Up!

This doesn't have anything to do with going for a drive or seat belts. It does have to do with blueberries and a fantastic (and fantastically easy) recipe from Mom.

Here's how our blueberries started last spring:

And this is how they ended up:

Recipe to get from A to Blueberry Buckle:

2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg
2 cups blueberries (fresh or if they are frozen, thawed and drained)

Thawing and draining

Crumb Topping: Mix 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 cup soft butter.

One day, I will remember to soften my butter ahead of time...
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a baking pan 9x9x2 or a layer pan 9x1 1/2. (I actually used an 8x8 glass dish). Blend flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, shortening, milk, and egg. Beat for half a minute. Carefully stir in blueberries.

Gotta love a recipe that all goes in one bowl!

Spread in pan and sprinkle crumb topping on the batter. Bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. (Mine baked for about 55 minutes because it was thicker with the smaller baking dish.)

The house smelled heavenly all afternoon! Perfect for breakfast. Or dessert. Or afternoon tea. Or late-night cravings.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's A...

Today was the twenty week ultrasound and we decided to find out the gender. As it turns out, Bert is in fact a Bert, not a Bertha or Beatrice or anything. We would be excited either way, but it is just so much fun to know that we're having a boy! We're even more excited that he appears healthy and to be developing as he should, all 11 ounces of him.

He also appears to be a very active little boy. He was grabbing his toes and had his knee to his nose at one point. Ancient yoga scriptures say that babies perform all 108 postures of yoga while in the womb. He's working on them!

I was sure the ultrasound technician was going to tell us we were looking at a little girl because she pointed out how the baby's legs were crossed (very proper and lady-like) but then said, "And there are the boy parts!"

Here are the ultrasound images of our mini yogi:

And now I have to admit that I had a total spaz attack while trying to find a parking spot at the hospital. The lot where I normally park was full, the adjoining parking garage was full, and then I had to drive around the whole hospital looking for a spot because all the other lots were designated for staff parking only (and not just with signs, because I would have parked anyway; they were gated with ID card access only). I was in tears and yelling as Keith very calmly directed me into another parking garage on the opposite side of the hospital. Then I had to call the office and tell them we were there, but it would be about another ten minutes before we got to the office because we had to walk so far. Which I tried to have Keith do but he called the wrong office and thoroughly confused the receptionist there, which initiated another round of tears and yelling (from me, not the receptionist). I was so looking forward to this and was afraid that if I wasn't on time, they would give my appointment time away. Not to worry, we got there and there was only one other woman in the office so it wasn't a problem at all. It's a good thing they didn't take my blood pressure because I was pretty worked up and had hiked half way across the county by the time we got in there. So thanks to Keith for maintaining his calm during what was likely the first of many pregnancy melt-downs. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

First Signs of Spring

On Friday, two things made me realize spring is closer than we think.

#1: My daffodils are starting to poke through!

#2: It was light enough outside that when Keith got home around 5:30, the motion light didn't even come on!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Let There Be Light

So while Mocha's been doing this:

Keith's been pretty busy. Last Friday, we headed to the Home Depot in search of a new light for Bert's room. Because the existing one was, to be nice, dated. And kind of naked looking. We pretty quickly found one that we both liked, was a reasonable price, and had the same aged-bronze look as the curtain rod we bought for the room. So we pulled it off the shelf, bought it, and brought it home.

On Saturday, Keith began the tedious process of installing the new fixture. Normally, this wouldn't be so difficult (at least it doesn't seem like it should) but because the house was built in 1923, the metal ceiling mount and junction box don't fit standard modern light fixtures. We ran into this with the new lights we installed in the kitchen, dining room, and living room shortly after moving in and it can be done with a little creative engineering.

After several hours of tinkering and a trip to the hardware store, Keith came downstairs. And here's how that conversation went:

K: We can't use this light.
T: Why, did you break it?
K: No, it doesn't have a chain.
T: I know. Why would we want a chain?
K: No, not a chain to hang it from, a pull chain.
T: Oooohhhh. Well that was stupid.

In our excitement over our next home project, we had completely forgotten that all the bedroom lights upstairs turn on and off with a pull chain. No light switches in the bedrooms. (Envision much fumbling in the dark, hand outstretched, looking for small dangling chains.) So, our choices either became head back out and shop for a light with a pull chain (do they even still make them?) or  Keith could install a light switch. We opted for the switch. Two reasons behind this: who wants to fumble around looking for the pull chain with a baby in hand, and if we ever sell the house, light switches might be appreciated.

At this point, the project had to be put on hold until Sunday because the hardware store was already closed and we had plans to go to dinner with friends that night. We were telling them this story and they had a great suggestion: a dimmer switch. They have a new baby and said it was really nice to have that dimmer for checking on him in the middle of the night and not have bright lights (thanks guys!).

Like a trooper, Keith went out Sunday for conduit and brackets, junction boxes, dimmer switch, and non-metallic Romex wire. Luckily, the wall where we wanted the switch is shared with a closet so instead of having to run wire down inside our plaster-and-lathe walls, he was able to install a junction box in the attic crawlspace,

run the wire down inside the closet (inside the conduit), drill through the wall and cut out for the switch box,

put in the switch box,

and install a dimmer switch.

He did reference the handy Reader's Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual for some drawings that described how his switches needed to be wired (page 143 if you really want to know). His only other electric experience is working for the electric company. Well, that's not quite true. He did help my dad install an outlet for our freezer in the basement. 

Here's the final results:

I have to tell you, neither of us can keep our hands of that fancy little dimmer switch.

My honey's no dim bulb, now is he?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Reusable Wipes

So, here it is: the much anticipated post on making reusable wipes. We are planning on using cloth diapers and a friend suggested reusable cloth wipes as well. My first thought was, "Eww," but I've warmed up to the idea and decided to forge ahead out of respect for Mother Earth and the bank account. After reading about how a few other people made them, this is how we decided to do it (we = Mommy and I; Keith is rather unconcerned about how the kid's butt gets wiped, as long as it gets done).

Step 1: Round up old flannel sheets, shirts, or scraps leftover from other sewing projects. I read that flannel works best so we have a lot of that, but we also used a t-shirt knit sheet. Give old flannel a new life, because if you go out and buy new flannel, it cuts into your earth- and money-saving mojo.

Step 2: We hemmed (haha) and hawed over what size to start with and finally lit upon the idea of finding the containers the wipes would be stored in before we started cutting. We found these at Walmart for about $5 each and thought they would be perfect for at-home wipe storage. Still on the lookout for a flatter container for diaper bag use.

Step 3: Once we bought the containers, we determined that cutting 7" squares and stitching them 1/4" in from the edge would give us a finished size of 6 1/2", which folds in half and fits perfectly in the container. Also a nice size to keep your hands from getting poopy. Using a rotary cutter, mat and straight edge, we cut all our gathered flannel into 7" squares.

Step 4: Match right sides of fabric together and stitch 1/4" from edge. Be sure to leave about a 2" gap on one side to be able to turn the wipes right-side out.

Sew with one hand, take picture with the other. Now that's multi-tasking.
Step 5: Snip the corners diagonally, taking some of the bulk out (this will make them easier to top stitch). Then, turn right-side out. Use a pencil eraser, blunted dowel rod, or a bone folder (a college art major relic) to push the corners out, making them as square as possible.

Snip, turn, push corners.  

Step 6: Iron the wipes, being sure to flatten the area you left open so that it is easy to stitch closed.

Step 7: Top stitch the wipe. I made my stitch about 1/8" from the edge. I found it was easiest to start in the middle of my opening and then, when I got all the way around, do a little back stitch over top to knot it all. I also used a colored thread to top stitch for a little added pizazz. Because the baby will definitely notice and appreciate the extra color-coordinating effort.

Step 8: Wet wipe and clean a baby butt. There's lots of suggestions on homemade solutions that you can either pour over your stack of wipes or keep in a spray bottle and wet them one at a time. I'll figure that out as we get some hands-on experience. And I'm sure we'll get all the hands-on experience we can take.

We started out with 1 flat twin knit sheet, 1 fitted twin flannel sheet, and a handful of odds and ends leftover from Mommy's projects. This is is going to make 80 to 90 wipes. I think that should do the job.

Just so you know, you don't have to be a sewing expert for this project. In fact, if you mess up, the end product is still usable because you're just wiping baby bums.
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