Feb 22, 2015

Weekly Goals - February 22

Goals from this Past Week:

  1. Earn $30+ online - done
    Current amount earned: $37
  2. Order Birthing Kit - done
  3. Exercise 4-5 days of the week - not done
    While I tried to make sure I got some mild physical activity in each day, I really didn't do enough to label it "exercising".
  4. "Decorate" diaper bag - not done 
    This ended up getting put on the back burner, but I did sew a pair of baby leggings and another baby sleep gown.  
  5.  Work on adding snaps to 1 or 2 diapers - done
    After adding snaps to one diaper, I realized that a standard snap pattern wasn't going to work due to the long length of the wings.  I might add more snaps later, but I'm going to wait and see how the diapers work in actual use before I started revising them all.
  6. Make and freeze a batch of waffles - done
    Did this, and having waffles on hand was even more useful than I expected - we managed to eat the entire batch during the week.  Freezing them long-term probably isn't going to happen, but I think I'm going to make and store batches more frequently.
  7. Mop all floors in the house - done

Finally, you may have noticed that I left off the item, "Paint office" from this list.  After not getting it done for two weeks in a row I didn't want to set it as a goal again, especially since Dylan's schedule still wasn't set in stone.

Thankfully, however, we did get it done!  Yay!  The room was a drab yellowish-brown, and now it's pale gray.  SO much more cheerful, and the room is better lit now, too.

Goals for this Next Week:

  1. Sew 3 items of baby clothing
    I'm slowing down somewhat when it comes to more physically-demanding household tasks, but sewing is definitely something I can still handle with ease.  Since baby girl's wardrobe is still a bit short on some items, this is the perfect time to add to it.
  2. Exercise 4-5 days of the week
    Yep, re-listing this again with hopes of it actually happening this week...
  3. Earn $35+ this week
    Since I've already managed to hit this number in the past couple weeks, it seems safe to raise my goal up this far.
  4. Tidy & Organize craft & sewing supplies
    As I've gradually accumulated more and more stuff I've also let it get sloppier and disorganized.  Time to remedy that.
  5. Purchase car seat
    I'd rather not put this off until the last moment, as I don't know how much energy I'll have a few weeks from now - and if Nutella decides to make a surprise early arrival, it'll be one less thing to worry about.
  6. Finish reading Economics in One Lesson
    Yes, this is the same book which was on my list to finish the other week.  I completely forgot about it last week, so I'm adding it to the list again so that I'll at least remember its existence.
  7. Clean paint splatters of floor
    While mopping this week I noticed that there were quite a few paint spots on the floors which never got cleaned up.  
  8. Repaint wall in kitchen
    One wall in the kitchen needs a quick second coat of paint.

Feb 15, 2015

Weekly Goals - February 15

Goals from this Past Week:

  1. Paint office - Not done
    Once again, Dylan's schedule just didn't allow for this.  It would be nice to be able to cross this off of the list, but the overtime pay he got for the extra hours put in are nice compensation.
  2. Make and freeze a batch of cookie dough - Done
  3. Shopping trip: spend less than $30 - Done - sort of
    I ended up spending the entire amount of $30, rather than staying under it - but that's okay.  This was more of a want-to than a need-to, anyway.  :)
  4. Finish reading A 50-Year Silence and Economics in One Lesson - Partly done
    A Fifty-Year Silence was finished, and I reviewed it here.  Economics in One Lesson, however, I'm still in the middle of reading.
  5. Finish at least one baby sewing project - Done
    You can see the results here.
  6. Make list of what needs to be bought & packed for birth - Done
    I'm glad to find that much of what we need is already on hand, and the next few weeks I'll work on purchasing the remainder of what is needed.
  7. Earn $30+ online - Done
    This week's earnings are around $35.  Yay!

Goals for this Next Week:

  1. Earn $30+ online 
    I'm tempted to raise this a few dollars, since I've been successful during the last couple weeks.  However, I don't want to set it too high, and I'd rather keep it low enough to be easily reached right now rather than make it too difficult and face burnout.  
  2. Order Birthing Kit
    My midwife technically doesn't require this to be ordered for another few weeks, but I'd rather have it crossed off the list sooner than later.
  3. Exercise 4-5 days of the week
    I didn't do all that well on staying active during this past week, so I'm hoping to improve that this week.
  4. "Decorate" diaper bag"I got a simple black and gray backpack at the Thrift Store last week, and I'm thinking to decorate it a bit and perhaps add an internal pocket or two and call it a diaper bag, rather than trying to make something from scratch or use a traditional ready-made bag.
  5.  Work on adding snaps to 1 or 2 diapers
    The diaper pattern I used is made to be fastened with a safety pin, but I recently bought a snap press and snaps, so I'd like to try to modify one of the diapers I've already made and see if it works well with snaps.  If I really like it I might go ahead and modify all the diapers that way, but right now I'm just going to try it on one or two diapers.
  6. Make and freeze a batch of waffles
    Found a waffle iron on sale the other week, and bought it on an impulse.  I'm glad I did, too - I'd forgotten how much I like waffles.
  7. Mop all floors in the house
    Since our house has hardwood and tile flooring throughout, vacuuming isn't as effective as I'd like. 

Feb 13, 2015

A Fifty-Year Silence {Book Review}

A Fifty-Year Silence - Love, War, and a Ruined House in France
by Miranda Richmond Mouillot

Book Synopsis:
Anna and Armand, the author's grandparents, survived Hitler and the many trials of World War Two through their hard work and perseverance.  They got married before the war's end, and Armand was able to be one of the translators at the Nuremberg Trials after the war.  They were blessed with two children, and their plucky personalities carried them successfully through the remainder of their lives.  But for reasons unknown, their marriage disintegrated after the war's end and they chose to never speak to one another again, living for more than fifty years without a single word passing between the two of them.

Their granddaughter, the book's author, is determined to discover the secret which drove them apart and piece together their experiences during the war.  In her effort to learn their memories and stories, she moves to France and spends extensive amounts of time extracting bits of information from two stubborn people who don't even wish to speak of each other.

My Thoughts:
I've always been very interested in the history and stories of WWII, so when I saw this book was an option for me to review I jumped at the opportunity, finding myself even more curious because of the mysterious element involved.

The book was interesting and held my attention quite well, but I found myself somewhat disappointed to realize that the story focuses far more on the author's personal journey and efforts to discover her grandparents' experiences then it actually does on her grandparents' experiences.

While I don't blame the author for this, as her sources were frustratingly vague, it wasn't exactly what I was expecting either.  Even after finishing the book the story of Anna and Armand remains somewhat disjointed and incomplete in my mind, with vague incidents jumbling themselves together in a timeline that I can't quite grasp.

But in a way, the frustrating aspects of Anna and Armand's story also serves to help the reader sympathize all the more with the frustrations the author herself went through during the years she tried to piece their story together, giving us a better and almost personal glimpse into her story.

Other Notes and Things to be Aware of:
Language - I really didn't notice anything objectionable in the book with the exception of one page which was full of profanity.  The language was used in an effort to shock someone into life-preserving action, and is entirely contained on one page of the book, but I would have preferred that the profanity was simply alluded to instead of directly being quoted.

Superstition & Fortune Telling - The author is Jewish, not Christian, and this is subtly evident throughout the book. There are several mentions of her and her grandmother engaging in fortune-telling and other such superstitions, although how seriously they actually took such things isn't really clear.

My Rating:
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Feb 11, 2015

Little Geranium Baby Dress

Another baby dress, this time using the Little Geranium pattern found here:  http://www.made-by-rae.com/2013/01/free-little-geranium-dress-pattern/

I only altered the pattern in two ways - first, in order to conserve on the pink fabric (which I have very little of) I cut the lining of the pockets out of white fabric.  This created a raw edge not provided for in the pattern, so I made a bit of bias tape out of some medium blue fabric I had on hand and finished the top of the pockets that way.

The other alteration was to make the skirt narrower - 44" of width just didn't seem necessary for a newborn dress.  I think I cut closer to 26" wide, and it seems more than sufficient.

The back closes with two simple buttons - come to think of it, I guess this is another slight deviation from the pattern, which called for three.  Given the tiny size of the dress, three doesn't really seem necessary, and simplicity is something I value when it comes to clothing for babies - merely getting them dressed is already an exercise in patience at times.

Feb 9, 2015

29 Weeks - Maternity Photoshoot

Dylan's sister was in town last week and offered to do a quick maternity photo shoot with Dylan and I.  These are a handful of my favorites.

Cold drinks have been something which I've craved throughout the pregnancy, so this "milkshake" (which was actually just colored milk... shh, don't tell anyone) was included to show that element.  We also did other shots to show things like me sewing baby clothes and such...

Tiny baby shoes... gotta love 'em.  Goodness, baby feet are so adorable.

We tried to avoid doing a ton of cliche photos, but this one was pretty much required, it seems.

Brr, was it cold out there!  We raced back inside after shooting a few photos in the frigid wind, and it was quite a relief to find that despite our haste there were several really nice photos as a result.

There were quite a few other lovely photos as well, but I'm running short on time and other tasks are calling to me, so I'm going to stop here.  :)

Feb 8, 2015

4 Weeks to a More Organized Home | Week 4 Results & Goals for Next Week

Here's my final update for this series!

Goals from this week:

1 - Paint office  -  Not done.
 While I really would have liked for this to get done, Dylan's schedule didn't allow for it and I didn't wish to tackle the project by myself.  The single day Dylan had off of work it was too blithering cold for us to even considered opening windows for ventilation, and painting without fresh air simply isn't something I'd like to experience.

What I did get done instead, however, was a major organization of paperwork which needed to be filed or re-filed.  Not the most enjoyable task in the world, but the office looks so much tidier now than before.  Plus, not having extra papers laying around should make it easier to paint once we do get around to it.

2 - Finish sewing nursing cover - Done.
This was a surprisingly quick and easy project, and I'm glad to be able to check it off of my list.  :)

Organize and clean bathroom cabinets - Done.
This mostly consisted of straightening out the cloth diapering supplies I've accumulated, since the way I'd originally organized them wasn't working once I added a bunch more items to the mix.  I'm sure I'll have to reorganize them again at some point after I start using them daily, but right now they should be fine until after baby arrives.

Vacuum entire house - Done.
Not much to say about this, other than... it's done.  Oh, and I cleaned the vacuum cleaner itself, too... which sounds rather odd to say.

Make 2-3 freezer meals
- Done.
Okay, maybe it would be more accurate to say that I got 2-3 items in the freezer, since rolls and blueberry muffins aren't exactly full meals...

Clean out car
- Done, but not as thoroughly as planned.
I was originally thinking to deep clean the car, but ended up merely tidying and surface cleaning it.  Regardless, it's much better than it was before and so I'm not too annoyed over the fact that it isn't perfect.

Earn at least $30 online
- Done
As I write them I'm *just* over the $30 mark, but I'd like to do some work on Textbroker later today and earn a few more dollars.  Even if that doesn't happen, however, I'm glad to have met this goal. 


Goals for Next Week:
While this is the official end of my 4-Weeks posts, I'm going to keep posting weekly goals and see if that works well to keep me motivated.  If it ends up merely being stressful I'll quit, but I tend to think that as long as I'm fairly realistic in my ambitions it will simply serve to make sure I don't get too lazy.

  1. Paint office
  2. Make and freeze a batch of cookie dough
  3. Shopping trip: spend less than $30
  4. Finish reading A 50-Year Silence and Economics in One Lesson
  5. Finish at least one baby sewing project
  6. Make list of what needs to be bought & packed for birth
  7. Earn $30+ online

Feb 6, 2015

Blueberry Muffins

I've always loved blueberry muffins, and over the years I've made hundreds of muffins using dozens of recipes.  Some turned out well and some not-so-well, but at least they were all edible.  Finding a muffin which was moist yet fluffy, however, was a feat which had managed to elude me.  Some muffins came quite close, but none were perfect.

 So when I opened my email not too long ago and saw a recipe from Yammie's Noshery for "The Best Blueberry Muffins Ever", I was skeptical but definitely willing to give the recipe a chance.

And I'm very glad I did.

These muffins were definitely better than any I've made before.  Incredibly light, not at all dense, moist, and wonderfully flavorful.  Perfection.

So if you've got a hankering for moist, sweet-but-not-too-sweet, fluffy and delicate blueberry muffins, head over to Yammie's and grab your mixing bowl.

Recipe notes:

  • I made 12 muffins, which resulted in the smaller muffins you see here rather than the tall ones featured on YN.  Tall muffins look nicer, short muffins... well, there's more of 'em.
  • I used frozen blueberries in these, and baked them for about 23 minutes.
  • Looking back at Yammie's photos, I'm seeing a lot more blueberries on the tops of her muffins - which is definitely more aesthetically pleasing.  I skipped the putting-blueberries-on-top part this time, but I'll probably go ahead and do it next time I make these.
  • Lacking sour cream, I used yogurt - 1/2 regular and 1/2 greek.  

Feb 3, 2015

4 Weeks to a More Organized Home | Week 4

You may have noticed that I slacked off the last few days on posting daily updates, and as of this morning I've officially decided to give them up.  Posting every day, I've found, takes way too much time for me to do well.  I'd rather post far less frequently with more interesting and well-written posts.

Furthermore, as I mentioned here I already make daily checklists for myself, so that really isn't anything new.  The weekly checklists, however, have been helpful and I want to keep that up.  But coming up with something to say about what I did each day is too taxing, especially on days where I actually did stuff and tired myself out.

Anyway, without any further ado - my checklist for this week.

  1. Paint office
  2. Finish sewing nursing cover
  3. Organize and clean bathroom cabinets
  4. Vacuum entire house
  5. Make 2-3 freezer meals
  6. Clean out car
  7. Earn at least $30 online