Thank you for visiting my blog; it is an exciting venture for me and I hope this will become a forum for moms and homemakers of all types to share stories, frustrations, and triumphs. There will be recipes, pictures of my latest and greatest soap creations, and anything I think will be interesting to Enthusiastic Homemakers.....

Friday, December 31, 2010

All those wasted years when I could have been practicing hopscotch.....

I am an extremely clumsy Mama. Extremely. I have tripped and fallen at car washes, in parking lots, in parks, at home, and ironically; after I left a doctors appointment. When I was younger, this was mostly due to the 5 inch heels I wore as casually as tennis shoes; then becoming a Mama changed my center of gravity and I became able to trip and fall at the slightest provocation, or on nothing at all (or maybe I've just been truly clumsy all along?). So today started out much the same as any busy weekday, and I was zipping along, hopped up on black coffee and ambition, preparing for a visit from my little sister, when I hurriedly rushed across the living room and found myself sprawled across the floor in a most undignified manner. One of the ever-present toys on the floor was hiding underneath a pillow, and when I tried to step over it, I miscalculated and slipped. I ended up with a cruelly wrenched ankle, that looks absolutely fine while still throbbing in staccato. James came home early after I discovered it's all but impossible to carry on as usual with a baby on my hip, hopping on one foot, while trying not to say bad words. After three ibuprofen and a glass of wine, the throbbing eased sufficiently to allow me to give my sister a lesson on making espresso, then James took four of our five boys to the store; allowing me to sit and pore over vintage patterns on etsy and ebay, which has become my favorite pastime lately!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Let the Planning Begin.....

I made the final, final, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die reservations for our vacation today! Four days in Disneyland, three days in San Diego, 16 hours in the car with five boys, and lots and lots of Starbucks double shot + energy. Not in that order. I'm already plotting ways to outfit five boys for Spring in Southern California in Winter in Idaho. Fortunately, my favorite consignment store; Kidz Again, turns over their inventory at the end of January, which I always have marked on my calender anyway, since the cream-of-the-crop summer items are gone by February! I also have Donna from Vintage Treasure Huntn on the, well hunt, for vintage beachwear patterns suitable to my age, budget, and waistline, I'm excited to see what she turns up. I also received in the mail today my order from her, my wonderful vintage dress pattern, with the lovely 5 yards of black and white check material, and am itching to get started! It will be quite a challenge to outfit everybody in style on such a tight budget, but this is the kind of challenge I live for; I love regaling my family with tales of my $5 brand-new dress and .68 sweater! So I have three months in which to wallow in sewing,  plotting to overthrow retail stores, and strategising packing methods! Such fun!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

drumroll please.....VACATION!

I have very, very exciting news...at long last, after nearly seven years and three boys....we have made the decision to make the long and arduous drive to go to San Diego, James' hometown, and then spend three glorious days at "The Land" as his stepfather calls it! That's right, Disneyland with five boys ten and under by ourselves. Undoubtedly it will be difficult, expensive, and tiring, but it will also be a special family vacation that our boys will remember for the rest of their lives. We can only hope that the very fact that vacations are so infrequent for us will mean that they will be all the more memorable. I can't wait to see the look on the faces of the younger three when they see the magnificent Pacific ocean for the first time; and really, Bentley was only 9 months old the last time we were there, so it's the first time for him as well. Also, the looks on the faces of their Grandparents, both of whom have yet to see Elvis, and haven't seen the older boys for over a year, will be priceless. It will be a very special time! Now, I only have less than three months to figure out how to fit five boys, plus all their goodies in one car...hmmm. I also have been browsing vintage patterns sites (again) for swimwear patterns and cute shorts and dresses that will be breezy and comfy for our trip. I have a little "mad money" set aside (a very little), but if I'm careful, I should be able to find what I want at my favorite consignment store and make the rest! Oh for my sister's hairdressing skills! Alas, she is too far away to help my poor, drab hair! She's also forbidden me to touch it myself, and since I don't have the budget to have it done professionally, I may just have to figure out some cute ways to do my hair the way it is now....I really should do a wet-set more often, but I really dislike sleeping on pin-curls and curlers. I'll have to browse some how-to tutorials. However my hair looks, it will be so, so sweet to see my boys enjoying a vacation, I'm really looking forward to a whole ten day adventure with lots of wonderful family time!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Glasses are just an excuse to wear rhinestones....

I've been complaining for weeks now about the headaches I've been getting from staring at my computer screen too much. I actually am supposed to wear glasses, but a certain Dorian I know broke my glasses about two years ago, and I've been waiting until I was "qualified" by my insurance to get a new pair of frames. My philosophy is that is you're going to wear glasses, you should wear glasses, so I've been looking around for a pair to make me feel less blah about wearing them. I just haven't found anything unblah-worthy. I have a picture in my head of what I want, but finding them in my price range has been impossible. I was chatting with my cousin today about her awesome vintage-y glasses; that she got at SEARS, no less! and she suggested buying vintage frames. Honestly, it never occurred to me! I knew, of course, that people buy and sell vintage frames all the time, but assumed that since obviously my insurance won't cover them, that it would be impossible for me. Well, I was looking on etsy, and lo and behold found the perfect, beautiful, MAUVE frames WITH RHINESTONES, at such a reasonable price! I still have to check with my eye doctor to see if he's willing to put insurance-covered lenses in 55 year old frames...trifles! I'm so thrilled, I get to have my cake and eat it too! Rhinestones and good vision! What a lucky gal!http://www.etsy.com/listing/37714989/vintage-eye-glasses-1950s-horn-rimmed?utm_source=Facebook

Pretty little houses all in a row....

Today I finally did a little project with my boys that I have been putting off for way, way, too long. I am ashamed to admit I bought these darling little birdhouses and the paint while I was still pregnant with Elvis, thinking it would be a great little project to do during the summer. I had this idyllic vision of myself in postpartum splendor, with my perfect sleeping angel in his bassinet, serenely painting birdhouses with my, of course, calm and non-fighting older boys. It must have been some kind of pregnancy-induced delusion of grandeur. I soon realized that simply getting everyone dressed in the morning was a struggle at first, never mind doing arts & crafts! I had forgotten how exhausting it is to give birth, and how much care a newborn required. I also had never fathomed what taking care of five boys entailed, never having done it before. So this, along with many of my other lofty ambitions, was postponed...indefinitely. So much so, that in the intervening six months, Dorian turned from a babyish 2 year old who had no interest in crafts, to a little 2 and half year old man, who is potty-trained, and loves to play Play-Doh, color, paint, and use copious amounts of Elmer's glue to stick papers to each other. This meant that the fourth birdhouse, which I had picked out for myself, turned into Dorian's very own creation, despite the heart-shaped doorway! I do wish I hadn't kept procrastinating about this project, it turned out to be surprisingly un-messy and was over in a blink. I hope this will teach me to embrace these little projects; I want these precious times to be what my boys remember when they grown up, hopefully it won't be overshadowed by all the times I said "no" because I imagined what they were asking to be too much trouble.

Monday, December 27, 2010

My 1951 Betty Crocker cookbook never fails me!

One of my absolute favorite cookbooks is a complete reprint, down to the colorful cover, of the 1951 edition of the Betty Crocker cookbook. Tonight I made one of the go-to recipes: it is on a page called "Supper Breads", which I think is a novel idea for today's lifestyle; who knew there were breads meant to be had at supper, or that one was expected to have bread at supper, or even that there was such a thing as supper. The bread I made tonight was oatmeal bread. It is a nice soft bread with a nice crust, and is very quickly mixed up. I find that I can start it at about 3pm and still have it out of the oven for a 6pm dinner. One of the other great things about this book, is that the recipes tend to be healthier, not laden with butter or cream, quite by accident. It was important for homemakers in that day and age (much like the one we find ourselves in) to serve meals that were easy on the pocketbook, and simply by virtue of thriftiness ends up being better for our health. I love that word thriftiness, it is so seldom used these days. I enjoy the sections in this book devoted to helping the homemaker be thrifty; even trying out the meal plan charmingly titled. "Purse-String Supper". I keep this cookbook near at hand in my kitchen, and pull it out whenever all the recipes jumbling about in my head fail me.   

Dutch Delight!

My mother came over yesterday, and along with a snack for my boys (she knows them well), she brought me this wonderful, colorful blue cast-iron Dutch Oven! What a surprise! I have been wanting one of these for years, since I love cooking with cast-iron, and have always admired the enameled ones, it makes the cast-iron even more practical, and of course, much more beautiful. She also told me about a Dutch recipe she has, which she calls "Dutch Delight", which is a much better name than the real name, "Mustard Soup". On her side of the family, our ancestors are Dutch, so she has learned to cook some wonderful Dutch dishes. Now all I have to do is decide what to make in my lovely new Dutch oven, which matches my kitchen, and is so pretty I want to just display it! Maybe beef stew, or a soup of some kind......

Can I just start over today?

I woke up this morning feeling very excited about the week ahead, and wanting a "do-over". We had several not-so-great things happen this weekend, along with a very sad thing; which of course, made me sad; but also impressed on me the preciousness of life and the importance of living every day, not just to its fullest, but living up to our best self every day. I feel that I haven't been doing that lately, that although I have been waking up every morning giving it my all, there are several very important areas that I have fallen down quite severely in. I hope that all the yucky things that made this weekend, well, not great; will be a catalyst for improving those areas. I'm determined to make this week better, by being more present and patient for my children, and making my currently messy house neat and peaceful. I also need to take better care of myself, allowing myself the time to; imagine this...sit down?! In that spirit, I will be posting some items and pictures today, on a much lighter note, I promise! Ok, now that I'm done being Debbie Downer, onward and upward!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My new splurge! Lovely mad-men era sewing pattern, and vintage fabric!

After spending two late nights looking at thousands of vintage sewing patterns until the wee hours (and wanting them all). I found one that fits my body, budget, and imagination. It is a lovely full-skirted dress from the 1960's, and the same wonderful shop also had 5 yards of vintage black-and-white check fabric for an extraordinarily reasonable price. This shop has some of the most reasonably priced vintage patterns I have seen, since many of the ones I find are too expensive to buy when you consider the cost of the materials added in, and this has prevented me from indulging my love of vintage up to now, leaving me to settle with reproductions that can sometimes be found for a dollar at certain times of the year. The shop owner Donna, is also a lovely woman who discounted the shipping costs and even reduced the cost of the fabric when learning of my interest! Thanks, Donna! If any of you are vintage sew-y types, be sure to check out her shop, she has the best selection of 50's and 60's items. I look forward to posting pictures of my marvelous new purchase when it arrives, as well as the finished product, which I hope will do it justice! http://www.etsy.com/shop/VintageTreasureHuntn

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Another day; another lesson learned

Well, I was quite proud of myself and feeling very smug today when I posted last; all about homemade ricotta, soap, lotion, etc. So, I made ricotta; not very sucessfully, I think I got overconfident and need to take a look at the recipe again. The lotion making went better, I was afraid to try, I mean, who makes their own lotion; and isn't this why they can charge so much for a bottle of lotion? It was absurdly easy. The only drawback is that the average person is not likely to have emulsifying wax and a block of shea butter on hand, nor an immersion blender they're willing to devote entirely to the task; whereas, since I am a soapmaker, such things are easily obtained. So that was the major success of my day. The low point? Realizing I had failed to use tags for my lovely, thoughtful, last post (at least I thought it was). Oh well, live and learn. And I spent entirely too long today immersed in looking at vintage patterns on etsy; dreaming of seeing myself in one of those creations. I might as well just go ahead and add sewing back into my list of "crazes"; why not? I did learn, to my relief; that indeed, women who wore my size not only existed in the 1960's, they appeared to be hale and hearty and wearing pretty dresses just the same as the women with 24-inch waistlines. What a relief!

''Sucess is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm"~ Winston Churchill

This is a quote I've been thinking about lately; it seems Winston Churchill was channelling a stay-at-home-mother in this. Being a mother is constantly feeling on the brink of disaster; and there are contant "failures" big and small. If I've failed to finish the laundry, clean the kitchen before the next meal, failed to finally get my bed made before my husband gets home, these all seem like "failures". The biggest FAILURE, and the one I seem to struggle with most, is the failure to keep that enthusiasm. That's why I titled my blog the way I did, because really, staying enthusiastic makes all the little annoyances and failures of every day seem meaningless. An enthusiastic Mama makes her family happy, and that's what I'm here for. So, even though I may be far from perfect in this, the ability to realize my errors and get back on that proverbial horse, and stay passionate and enthusiastic about what I do, regardless of how today or yesterday or next Thursday went, is what Winston Churchill meant. So as I sip my strong black coffee, I'm already plotting what I will be doing today, soapmaking, lotion making, homemade lasagna with homemade ricotta, and heck, I may even finish one of my 84,000 unfinished crocheting projects!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My First Ever Blog Post!

This is a momenteous occasion. The confirmed Luddite, the technology phobe; the girl who swore she would never, ever, ever have a computer, so help me God, unless it were to save the life of my own son.....is now blogging on a COMPUTER.....It may have taken 57 times longer than it should have, it may have required a glass of wine, and caused a headache; but....IT IS DONE. I hope that I will actually write some things that are of interest, but if not, I have no problem speaking to myself, every day, for the rest of my life. I hope to have many posts about the trials and tribulations (and successes) of being a thrifty mama, a soapmaker, and the "good wife" sung about in the 1978 hit "Brandy", for which I was named....(my parents deny it, but COME ON).