Saturday, March 29, 2014

Rayon sarongs turned wall hanging

This is my first really serious attempt at weaving. When I was a museum teacher I taught basic weaving to children. During that time I played around with different techniques, and I wove a small piece that I turned into a sewing kit. I never really got serious, although I was always fascinated. Last summer I bought a tabletop loom. At first I thought I wanted to do tapestry style weaving, but in the end decided to weave with rags. I've always loved the freeform weaving of the 1970s. The fabric in this hanging is from sarongs and lounge pants all made of rayon that I bought while traveling in the my early 20's. I cut them all into long strips, and added colors as I worked. This was a big leap for me, as normally I am a planner.

I'm pretty pleased with the results. I managed to keep the width consistent, and I made a mistake on the finishing, but I know what I did, so hopefully it won't happen again.

This is the first time that I've made something purely decorative.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Olivia on gluten

On Saturday I ate at a restaurant with friends. It's a restaurant I've been to before, and they've handled our allergies well. So I told the waitress my allergies, she wrote them down, brought us gluten-free soy sauce and took our orders. I felt suspicious about the sweet potato sushi, but I decided to trust that the waitress had done the right thing (my mistake) and I ate one. Right away I knew that there was a problem. We tried explaining to the waitress that the sweet potato sushi probably had gluten in it. She got annoyed, but finally agreed to exchage it for a different kind of sushi. We spoke to the hostess who was more confused than helpful.

By late afternoon (it only takes a few hours for the gluten to enter my milk) Olivia was in pain. It took us an extra hour to get her to bed and then she woke up once an hour. She was up every two hours the last two nights, and she hasn't napped since Saturday. Her poop is like small pebbles (my husband calls them rabbit poops) and she farts a lot. Her personality is different too. Always a little pushy, she now screams every request, and when denied goes into immediate screaming meltdown mode, which isn't like her at all. She wants to be held and nurse all day long, which is frustrating for Alessia who ends up feeling neglected. Olivia's eating is erratic, and I need to keep her on a very limited bland diet.

It will be about a week before she really starts to feel better.



Monday, March 17, 2014

Pumpkin peanut butter chocolate chip cookies (gf and vegan)

Many gluten-free and vegan cookie recipes involve lots of ingredients and lots of strange ingredients. This is my adaptation of a recipe I found online (here). It uses pretty ordinary ingredients, can be mixed in one bowl, and is relatively low in fat and sugar for a cookie. Most importantly the cookies are delicious and everyone in my house can eat them.


Pumpkin Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (freeze the rest of the can in 1/2 cup containers)

1/2 cup brown sugar

Light dusting each of ginger and nutmeg

Heavy-handed dusting of cinnamon

1 cup oatmeal (preferably quick-cooking, but rolled works as well)

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips


In a large bowl mix everything through the spices. Add the oatmeal, boking powder, and salt. Give the dry ingredients a quick mix and then mix everything together. Add the chocolate chips and gently mix them in. Put scoops of dough on a cookie sheet and gently flatten with your fingers.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.


A note on allergies. My little Olivia is allergic to wheat, eggs, and dairy. So we use certified gf oats from Bob's Red Mill and Enjoy Life chocolate chips. Enjoy Life brand is free of the big eight allergens. This is also why I took the eggs out of the original recipe. We can eat peanut butter (and do almost everyday with our doctor's blessing), buy I would like to try this recipe with sunflower butter for people with peanut allergies.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Conversations with my children

Olivia (20 months old): Milk out of the cage

Me: That's not a cage, Olivia. That's my shirt.

Olivia: Milk in a jug. (Laughs) Not milk in a jug.

Me: No Olivia, that's not a jug, that's mama's breast.

Me: Alessia, where did that knitting needle go?

Alessia (3 years old): It's over there.

Me: Where?

Alessia: There! (Pointing vaguely to the right.)

Me: No it's not. Alessia do you know where it is?

Alessia: Yes.

Me: Where is it then?

Alessia: Ummmmmm


(We have this particular conversation often. At three I believe Alessia is struggling with where authority, in terms of knowledge, comes from. Instead of understanding that I know where something is when I say "it's over there", in her mind I say "it's over there" and ta da! there it is. This is also why she is often contrary and confused when I disagree with her take on something. Up until recently my word was taken as fact. A table is called a table because mom and dad call it that. That person is running and that one walking because mom and dad say so. So in her mind she wonders why isn't something so just because she says it is so?)


Friday, February 28, 2014

Cold Weather Projects with Boxes

I order all of our diapers online, so we often have large cardboard boxes in the house. Our last box we turned into a house. This one I turned on it's side to make a barn. The girls drew on the box with markers and I cut out farm animals and hay. They wanted it to be a nighttime barn, so I cut out stars as well. It was interesting to me that Alessia out all the farm animals on the bottom of the box. The realistic idea of them standing on the floor of the barn was stronger in her mind than the visual appearance of them lying down.


Today we turned a smaller box into an aquarium. We have a membership to the New England Aquarium and went last weekend. We often make art about our adventures. It gives us an opportunity to think and talk about what we saw and did. I cut out fish, seaweed, and coral, and the girls colored the fish. This time I showed Alessia how to glue some to the sides of the box. She got into it once I showed her and we put most of the coral and seaweed on that way. I hung the fish from the roof of the box and showed the girls how to blow on the fish to make them swim.


I asked Alessia what else our aquarium needed. She came up with penguins, rays, turtles, and a diver. The penguings went on the bottom of the inside of the box and the rest on the outside.

I was a little confused when she said the aquarium needed a bus and a train. Then I remembered that due to construction we had to take both a bus and a train to get to the aquarium that day. The trip there and home was obviously an integral part of that trip for her. So we added a bus and a train.


These projects can be a little tough for Olivia. She colors with crayons and will do some glueing, but eventually she gets a little bored. When bored she has a habit of throwing things (note the crayons on the floor) or doing little sassy things to get my attention. I know this will get easier as she gets older. I explain to Alessia that sometimes we need to stop and do something else as the project might be a bit advanced for Olivia. She handles it pretty well. So I'm very lucky there.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Week of Transitions for Two Little Girls

This is a big week for us. The whole house is going gluten-free. We made this decision a couple of weeks ago after Olivia dropped a toy under Alessia's chair and then put it in her mouth. Alessia was eating a whole wheat sandwhich at the time and the crumbs on the floor were enough to put Olivia in screaming pain a few hours later. When she has a gluten attack like this, it takes a week before she starts sleeping normally again. So over the last two weeks we have switched to gf pasta for everyone. Adam finished the last of his crackers, and yesterday we finished the last of the regular bread. Alessia was faced with her first gf sandwhich at lunch today. It went about as well as to be expected.

She protested that she can eat gluten and she likes gluten. This bread's not for me! This bread's for Olivia! She told me that we can buy more regular bread at the store. In the end she had three bites of the sandwhich and then licked as much of the peanut butter as she could out of the middle. It will take a few days but she'll get used to it.

Olivia's on a nap strike. I've decided I don't care if she sleeps or not, as long as she spends some quiet time in her crib as Alessia does in her room. So now I nurse her and then put her in her crib at nap time. She screams as I leave the room, and then after a few minutes plays with her music box. Two days ago she actually fell asleep. So we'll see how all this goes.

Alessia gave up her high chair for a big girl chair with a booster seat on it. As with most things I spent weeks chatting it up and she put up a bit of a fuss, but in the end she embraced it as a big girl thing to do.

Alessia also decided to try undies this morning, which she has done a couple of times now. Generally what happens is she has a rare fit of enthusiasm for trying the potty. She pees a little, puts on undies and then a half hour or so later she pees in her pants, declares she's had an accident, and then goes back into diapers. Unfortunately she wants to wear undies, but doesn't want to use the potty. This morning she went so far as to poop in her undies just to see what I would do. I told her that wearing undies meant pooping in the potty, and that I knew she knew how to hold it. She told me flat out that she didn't want to poop in the potty. So I told her that she couldn't wear undies again until she showed me she could poop in the potty. This tactic might actually work with her, as she really does like being a big girl in undies.

So that's what's going on here...


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Faith and Money (did I really just write that?)

So the two big taboos of faith and money have been much in my mind lately. I know I'm not supposed to talk about them publicly, but I'm not sure how to talk about a whole bunch of other things without talking about them. I'm in the middle of reading a book called "Practicing Our Faith." One of the authors writes about faith and relationships in terms of money. The Christian commandments to love God, ourselves, and our neighbors is for many a commandment to be "in right relationship" with all people (and even beyond people to all of God's creation). Money is at the center of many of our relationships, both with other people and with nature. How we choose to make, spend, donate, and invest money can be seen as how we choose to be in relationship with other people and with God's creation as a whole.
So this year, I am going to try to be more conscious of how I buy stuff. My hope is first to buy only when necessary. This allows me to donate more and spend more on organic and locally produced food. It keeps me from cluttering my house and eventually a landfill with stuff I didn't need in the first place. Second, I am going to try to buy used. Buying used cuts down signifcantly on the environmental cost of buying stuff, and it keeps stuff out of landfills for at least a little longer. Third, I am going to try to buy locally, American-made, and fair trade goods when I do need something and can't get it used. Through this I can support my neighbors near and far.
This isn't a set of rules, but a set of guidelines I've set for myself. I expect to question them and possibly change them as I see how they play out in everyday life. Already I've found myself in situations where once upon a time, my reaction would have been "well I'll just order a __________." I also realize that consuming this way is going to take more time and research, which I will have to balance with the other ways I choose to spend my time. For example do I run all over creation searching for a locally made version of something that I could just order quickly from Amazon for much less? At times the answer may be "just order it", but I'm hoping that at least some of the time the answer will be either yes, it's worth the trip, or no, I actually don't need that at all. We'll see.