Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sneak Peek at the Camper

Everywhere I look...snow. Huge piles of it. Last night it was too cold to work on the camper...the shed door is frozen shut by 3 inches of ice and the kerosene can is in there. We can't run the heater in the "Shasta shanty" if we have no kerosene...So we made an igloo instead. More on that later. A few of you may be curious at to what we are up to with this camper...the reason I haven't called you back, answered your e-mails or returned that toy you loaned us for Ava...Let me tell you, it isn't pretty right now, but oh how it will be. Right now it is awful. Really ugly to look at, work on and be in and around, in every sense. And all consuming. Really. I dare say that we may, (just a little bit), be way (entirely) over our heads with this project.
Since October, after we gutted the ruin to the outer walls, my husband and a rotating cast of helpers, have been rebuilding the floor, the frame, and everything structural and I have tended to other departments in our life together. Now I have appointed myself the new project forewoman, as the pace has been, well, um-slow. Too slow for me anyway-I do realize my dear husband has been just toiling away when he works out there...I want this baby to be done and on the road come spring. And I think it will be my wedding planning office when we aren't actually using it for a trip.
Okay, so here is what is going on in our backyard- ugliness abounds-we burn the mid- night oil out here, with Christmas lights and shop lights, in the sub zero temps every night until we can't even move our fingers. We are making considerable progress though, in what has become a complete and total frustration, I mean restoration.
It started a bit like this.
This fall we had to shanty the camper in for the winter or we would not be able to work on it. Thanks to our industrious friend and neighbor for making this plastic workshop possible! Hideous? Yes. Useful? I admit it is.
Inside the staging, it really is a construction zone. I have to keep a picture in my mind of just how cute this thing will be when we are all done and it has a new coat of paint and sweet little curtains...and an interior with cabinets, seating and electricity.
Yes, that is me, hanging off of the roof, installing a sky light at oh, about 10 p.m. one frosty night this week. Look closely, you can see my furry little boots dangling. I have the bruises on my thighs to prove I was up there! The pictures are all terrible as it is very dark and late at night when we are able to clock in at the labor camp(er)-bear with me, better photos will follow on the camper's very own blog...yes another little project that is underway...stay tuned.
And so it goes. I am trying to get myself mentally and physically prepared to go out there tonight. I have a comprehensive construction schedule to follow here. With the baby monitor in my pocket, and the kerosene heater billowing warm air into our shanty, working on this wreck with my husband has become almost romantic...I'll try to remember that as we suit up and trudge out there in the 8 degree frigid air tonight to put in another wee hour work night.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Something Old Becomes Something New

We are now in Operation Baby proofing -Phase 3. Just when we think the house is safe, our child gains a new motor skill, figures out how to pick a baby lock, or otherwise outsmarts us. We should probably grow accustomed to this right now.
Many years ago, long before the concept of a baby was real to us, we found this antique wrought iron baby crib at Brimfield Antiques Show for about $50. It was in rough surface shape, but I had to have it. Maybe it was all the years of trying to have a baby to no avail that pushed me into a little baby- accessory -hoarding phase in my collecting. My husband saw this, I was blissfully ignorant.
I reasoned with him-"if we get pregnant, we can use this, it will be awesome-I can re-paint it, I can see it now, we can put a chandelier in the baby's room..." We stood back from the crib with the dealer next to us, listening to my whole rationale...and listening to my husband's wake up call: "this thing was made in the early 1900s likely, clearly would not pass today's safety standards, and is heavy, large and how does a chandelier have anything to do with an un -usable antique crib anyway?" He had a point, okay a few points-but can't you just see the twinkling chandelier over a restored vintage crib!?!?
I eventually won the case, I think I may have even cried and the dealer put a "sold" sign on the crib, I told him I would be back that afternoon to pick it up with the car, that was now miles away from us. "Please don't sell it to anyone else!" I begged him. "Listen lady, after what I just heard, I wouldn't dare." Sheesh, was I that dramatic?!? And "Lady"? I was a bit young to be called that at the time...
And so the crib has been moved around in our lives, stored mostly in the garage, once for a few months in a storage unit-and moved around and around as we have re-organized and purged. But it never goes away. I just knew it would be useful. Somehow. Someday. Then we actually did have a baby.
When Ava started crawling, it came to me-we could use a side rail of the old crib as a baby gate across the arch way between the living room (Baby Command Central) and the kitchen (Baby Disaster Injury Zone).
It only took my darling husband 7 months to actually make it happen. When he finally got to this project, it only took a few hours to complete, mostly in my time scraping, sanding and sealing the darn thing. We used a gate latch and simple L brackets from the hardware store to rig it up to the wall. I am pleased, it looks so much better than the plastic abominations we have at the stairs, the cats can still Limbo under it to freedom, and my little human remains safely contained in her proper zoning area. For now.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine

I whipped up a double batch of chocolate chip brownies at nap time, for a few Valentines in my life.
I might have indulged in one or two myself, you know, just to make sure they are edible before I give them away.
This is a strict baking policy of mine...perhaps the reason I can't seem to lose these last 10 pounds of baby weight...
But chocolate is so delicious-I think it is worth being a bit more, umm, let's say "well rounded"..Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kimono No-No

I am really trying to stay focused on my goals for 2009. I even checked off "make at least one sweater" in 2 days-about 4 hours of knitting time total. I thought this one would be cute, easy and cozy to go over a long sleeve shirt. And the pattern was free. And I actually had some of this yarn already in my stash. And it didn't quite work.
I left out the ties and added buttons, Ava's one true fastener love.
I mean unless you are a Sherpa in the Peruvian Andes, I am not sure this look will work.
Ava isn't sure either. It is cozy and warm, but too big and the arm holes...I know the pattern is called "Kimono", but the sleeves are a bit bulbous and fluffy, even for a kimono...
I guess I can save it until she graduates from high school. Maybe she will decide to do a year abroad in Peru. I think it should still fit her then.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Winter Blues? What Winter Blues?!?

Another Sunday, another trip to my sister's to burn off some calories. This time, while Ava was snug at home with her Daddy-I actually ran in the snowshoes. Jogged. Laughing all the way. Okay, the actual running only lasted for several bursts, but I ran-don't you see?!? Ran-without another human on my hip, on my back, or breast, in my arms, or being pushed, pulled or carried in a device. It has been a long time since I walked alone.
It has been an even longer time since I carried only myself-2 years, as of next week. Long times to carry someone inside and outside of yourself. Though that little someone is never out of my mind or my heart-physically, I felt a bit lighter today.
I invited a special guest-my pal who just had her big #14. She skied like a gazelle, or prong horn, depending on who you ask-and I trudged along in the snowshoes. Bursting along in a run now and again. After what she witnessed today, my pal just might think her "older" friend is a bit off-that it might not be so cool to grow up and be in your thirties. (Am I really in my thirties?!? No longer just 30!?! Yes, I am. I am almost half way into my thirties-staggering, I know.) I hope that at least she saw you can still have fun and play-even when you are "old".
And you can have fun even if you only on the cusp of 30-I'll give my sister her due last 7 months before she enters her 3rd decade. And fun, even when you have recently waved farewell to your thirties-or even if you are 84-in dog years that is.
I am sure my "goggles" choice could totally embarrass my young friend, if anyone at school ever saw these pictures, but you know, I am trying to protect my eye socket area from the aging effects of squinting and the sun-and I think that is pretty cool.
After our invigorating-or exhausting, again, depending on who you ask, we went out to lunch and had a small shopping excursion. We enjoyed a leisurely drive home, talking about deep things-life, values, personality, popularity, success, awareness, independence, sisters, parents, clothes, sugar scrubs, friends and growing up.
It was a nostalgic day- to spend it with someone 58% younger than me. But guess what? I don't feel 58% older than I did when I was 14-I still feel giddy, curious, enthusiastic, hopeful, confused, scared and confident all at the same time. I am happy and grateful to be in my thirties, I don't think I have the patience to be 14 again. Thirty is the new 14 anyway, haven't you heard?
Winter blues? What winter blues?!?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

14th Birthday Treats

My friend's daughter just turned 14-ahh, I remember that age with a bittersweet taste...
I whipped up some chocolate cupcakes and a wool felt bird pennant for her room. Not the typical gift for a 14 year old, but this 14 year old lady likes to sew, craft and crochet, so I thought it would be safe.
I borrowed a birch branch from a tree outside to give it strength, by threading the branch through 2 tabs I sewed on the front. The birds are simply adhered with double sided interfacing, with a tiny french knot in embroidery floss, for each bird's eye. A hanger of Kelley green ric rac sewn to the back and voila! Fun and fast. That is my kind of project!
The cupcake frosting needed a little pizazz...I looked in the cupboards, the fridge-it hit me! I added a tablespoon of cranberry juice to the vanilla frosting recipe and the most beauteous, sweet and perfect pink frosting resulted. I am sure those in the know have done this for years, I however have been struggling with gel colorants, never quite succeeding in getting the color pink just right. Thankfully no one has ever asked me to make a wedding cake with pale pink frosting! You can barely tell the color in these pictures-it was after dark when this little photo shoot took place, and we all know the horrors of bad flash photography! With a little birthday wish tied on the top, I sent a glass cake stand with my husband, traipsing across the street in the bitter cold to make the delivery. The card invited her to a cross country ski - out to lunch -afterward girls -only date with my sister this weekend. It should be fun. This time little Ava will be staying home with her Daddy so her Mommy can really feel the wind in her hair!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

How to Beat the Winter Blues

It started with a family morning of exercise...Grandpa (my dad), Gran, (dad's wife), my sister, her boyfriend Miles and dog Nuala, Ava and I convened at my sister's house to make use of the nature trails behind her house. Alas, my poor husband was car shopping and could not attend our little family cardio training.
Some of us cross country skied, I donned snowshoes for the first time and, in Iditerod style, dragged Ava in a sled behind me, fastened to my upper body by a custom made rope harness by the one and only, Auntie Poopkins.
Maybe it is the year and a half of relative dormancy, or the cesarean (can I still use that as an excuse?!?), but every fiber of every muscle in my body was put to use on our several mile long haul through the woods. I am not sure it is ladylike to, um, perspire, like that...
Little Ava was pretty tired and looking forward to a meal when we returned, although she spent most of the trip squealing with delight at Miles snow shoeing next to her, Nuala jogging ahead and then back to the sled in her orange dog vest and making engine revving sounds whenever I stopped to rest.
I had to carry her in my arms for the last of it, in the deepest of the snow-I barely made it. Clearly, some sort of regular exercise regime must be employed, and quick, before this little human reaches 30 pounds and I really can't carry her!
We snacked on some Maine blueberries from our family's blueberry land when we got home. I love Ava's little blue lips and stained fingers, how sweet.
You can beat the winter blues, with some outdoor activity, some blueberries and a gathering of your nearest and dearest. Just make sure you stretch afterward. Just for input-what do you think of the collage option of pictures? I like the look, and it is faster, but I feel like I can't see them well enough...Thoughts?