Monthly Archives: July 2012

Mama’s got a (staple) gun. The mailman. And other tidbits.

  • I love having a mailman.  We are “recovering” from living for the last nearly-13 years in planned subdivisions whose mailboxes were in kiosks, not adjacent to our actual home.  Our mailman’s name is Tom, a slightly grizzled man with a ponytail who appears to be in his late 50s.  My six-year-old, Audrey, and I spent about ten minutes talking with him yesterday.  I found out that he retired from the Air Force in 1996, was stationed at Luke AFB, lives in Goodyear, and has a dim view of mail carriers who are contractors, instead of actual USPS employees.  We talked about me having five children, him having five dogs, me homeschooling, his misconceptions about homeschooling, and a bit about the folks who used to live in our home.  He also noticed straightaway that Audrey is a girly-girl and Fiala is a tomboy.  🙂  At one point, Audrey looked up at him with some confusion and asked, “Who delivers your mail?”  My fifteen-year-old Ethan removed and repainted our mailbox, and he can’t reinstall it until the second coat of glossy black dries… so I guess we’ll be seeing Tom at our door, come mail time.
  • The day before yesterday, I sewed four panels for the two five-foot windows in our family room which faces the street.  I decided to skimp, somewhat, on the fullness of the panels to allow for enough fabric to recover my dining room chairs, too.  That was a good choice, as the dining room chairs were only briefly ivory-colored.  I scrubbed them thoroughly every 3-6 months, but they were perpetually dingy.  Yesterday, after my ten-year-old, Wesley, removed the seats from the eight chairs, I recovered them, staple-gunning the fabric in place.  It makes such a huge difference.
  • Before and after. Quick! We need to have someone over for dinner while the seats still look nice! Seriously. They were previously in such bad condition it gave me pause, thinking about others having to sit on them.

    • While E and W were at their tasks yesterday, my nearly-thirteen-year-old son Grant was assembling a large, 5-shelf storage unit for my spacious (but unshelved) laundry room.  For each job, at some point, each boy needed my assistance, but by and large, they did the projects by themselves.  I keep thinking, “I knew this day would come…  Or, at least, I hoped this day would come!”  I mean… when your children are all small, and the day is spent investing and teaching and correcting and “helpers” are actually a subtraction to the process, it’s hard to envision a day when you can say, “Here.  Do this task,” and they can actually DO it, and accomplish it well.  I am really pleased to have sons who are at an age that they can REALLY help.  They are each making a significant difference in the repair and move-in process in our new home.
    • Lastly is a picture taken by Audrey this morning.  One of the things I love about homeschooling (not that we’re currently in the school year, as yet) is that our mornings are rarely hurried.  Virtually every morning, I spend a good 15-30 minutes “snugging” Fiala, and often, other children drift in and snug for a few minutes, as well.  Fiala is the best cuddler, though.  🙂  She always brings her green blanket, and usually an assortment of “buddies”.  And, yes, she is nearly four years old and still uses a binky.  Don’t judge.

      This morning, Wesley joined us for a bit… He got a bit rambunctious, though, and I had to shoo him away. Only Fiala has mastered the art of snuggling for closeness’ sake. I love every minute of it.


What I made yesterday

Confession:  If one claims to really detest Walmart, then moves about, oh, 1/3 mile away from a “Super Center”, one might find oneself there, oh, daily.

Seriously.  In my “normal” life, I go to Walmart maybe 3-4 times yearly, and then only for a specific item or two that can’t be found locally anywhere else.  It’s a black hole of plastic and other cheaply-made goods, full of surly employees, and altogether dingy.  I still feel like that.  But, darn it!  It sure is convenient to our our new home.

Speaking of, our new home — for those who didn’t see it on Facebook — is perfect in many regards.  It is a larger house (we moved up from 2111 s.f. to 2380 s.f.) on a much larger property (we moved from a lot size of 7,900 s.f. to 0.37 acres — more than double);  we are 0.9 miles from our church;  we are about 2.5 miles from my mom’s house;  there is an RV gate and a concrete pad where my mother-in-law can park her movable home and stay ALL WINTER, if she’d like (I’d surely like it);  the new home’s location cuts ten-fifteen minutes off of my hubby’s commute;  the house has a pool — which, when the water is finally clear, we will greatly enjoy.  (And, by the way, it is significantly less expensive than the home which we just sold.  So, in the “posh” factor, we’ve moved down.  But in every other regard, we’ve moved up.)

In addition to being 1/3 of a mile from Wally World, we’re about 1/4 mile away from my favorite grocery store, Sprouts.  (A fact that is really unconnected to the rest of this post, except to demonstrate how perfect it is.  My pastor’s wife was helping to clean the house, before we moved in, and she stopped, midway up a flight of stairs.  “You know what I was thinking?  The closest grocery store is Sprouts.  Is that God, or what?  How perfect is that?”  Agreed.  God shows His love, even in the proximity of beloved grocery stores.)

Structurally and mechanically, for a 38-year-old place, the home is in good condition.  The interior needs desperate help, which we are slowly and steadily providing.

One thing that the interior needs is CURTAINS.  Draperies.  Window coverings.  It came with none.  That’s right:  If you drive by our home in the evening, you can see right into our family room, because absolutely nothing is covering those windows.  Not yet, anyway.  I’m working on it.

I made curtains for the bedroom shared by my sons, Wesley and Grant.  I’m not taking any pictures of those yet because I need to add some rings to the top, which droops far too much.  That means taking the curtains back down and sewing 12 more button-holes, and adding rings to them.  I’m just not up for that, yet.

But, yesterday, I made these, with which I am inordinately pleased:

They go over the kitchen sink, which is very inconveniently located in the corner of the kitchen. There is something quite charming about washing dishes and looking out the front windows. Logistically, though, it’s difficult. And the sink basins are perhaps the smallest known to mankind, which really doesn’t work for a family of seven. In the kitchen remodel, the sink will NOT be here.  Hopefully, though, the curtains WILL be, because I love them.  I’m already dreaming of a sea-green, aqua, and chocolate tile backsplash, hoping that such a thing exists.  And light aqua paint for the wall.  In my nearly 17 years as a homeowner, I can safely say that I have never painted a room anywhere close to any shade of blue.

We can easily close them at night. 🙂

Close up of the tie-backs, where you can see that one doesn’t need to sew perfectly straight in order to make cute curtains. Screwed into the window frame is a hook-thingie where one would wind excess string from a Roman shade or something like that. On tie-backs, I sewed elastic loops that fit securely over the hooks. I made a large, fabric-covered button for each of the tie-backs, under which are Velcro closures. So, at night, we just pop open the Velcro and pull the curtain over a bit to close it completely.

I used a kit like this to make the buttons.  I would have preferred the buttons to be metal, but Joann Etc only had the nylon kind:

By the way…  From where did the really lovely, 54″, thickish, blue, green, and chocolate paisley home dec fabric come???


Don’t tell anyone.


Few things lately have made me as giddily elated as this:

A while back, when I embarked on a no-sugar Paleo-ish diet, I looked high and low for honey-sweetened chocolate for an occasional treat.  I was pretty aghast to find that the prices of such chocolate are typically around $3-4 for a one-ounce bar.  ONE OUNCE.  Plus shipping.  I couldn’t find any locally.  That was a no-go.  $64 a pound doesn’t work on this budget.

At Trader Joe’s on Thursday night, I stopped by their “new products” display and I think I gasped aloud when I saw the above package.  Then, I started to hyperventilate.  Well, not really, but I was really excited.

When I got to the car, I sampled.  These Dark Chocolate Honey Mints are SO GOOD.  They’re like junk-free peppermint patties, and an absolute dream for anyone who loves dark chocolate.  They’re $3.99 for a 7 ounce package, which isn’t cheap, but compared to all other honey-sweetened chocolate, and many chocolates in general, not unreasonable.  That works out to $9.14 per pound.  I can work with that.

My package contained 16 good-sized candies.  Per the nutrition info, there are 21 g carbs (17 g sugar, 2 g fiber) in three chocolates.  Not hyper-low-carb, but definitely workable for any reduced-calorie or reduced-carb diet.

As the package front proclaims, they have only three ingredients:  honey, chocolate liquor, and oil of peppermint.  The inside is a creamed honey flavored with peppermint.  This means that whether you’re gluten-free, dairy-free*, vegan*, vegetarian, refined-sugar-free, or on just about any hyper-restrictive diet, you can eat these.  In fact, one of my first thoughts was for a dear friend:  one of her daughters is on the Feingold diet, another is gluten-free and dairy-free.  I stopped by her home with the world’s smallest gift:  Five candies, one for each family member.  🙂  I should have purchased a whole package for her;  I was kicking myself for not doing so.  But, knowing that candy that fits the diets of her daughters has been really tough to find, I had to share, at least a little.  The look on the face of her oldest daughter — the one on Feingold — is imprinted on my memory.  She was SO THRILLED.  For someone who normally can’t have candy, these chocolates are like GOLD.

Another thought was for my Paleo-inspiration, Kim.  I sent her a text and a pic, and she was excited too — she shops at Trader Joe’s all the time and hadn’t seen them before!  Having Paleo-friendly chocolate is a rare, rare treat.

The only drawback is that the chocolate itself is wholly unsweetened.  It’s plain, pure, dark chocolate, and all the sweetness comes from the creamed honey center.  So, you really have to chew these to eat them, or it tastes like you’re licking a square of baking chocolate.  I prefer to savor my chocolate slowly, and don’t usually chew.  But… I kind of have to make an exception here.  Small quibble.

I had planned on eating one a day, but here it is, about 48 hours after I purchased the bag, and they’re all gone.  Now, I did share with my friend, and gave one to my hubby, and one to Fiala…  But, uh, that means I ate nine of them in two days.  That’s not sustainable — too much sugar for me, even if it’s sugar from honey.  So, the next package I buy, I’ll have to ration it more carefully.

So, y’all go out and buy some, so Trader Joe’s will keep this product on their shelves forever.

Here’s another review, with a bit more info.


*the package does warn “may contain traces of milk”.

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