on the mend, again

Another calming (and spotty - sorry about that) water picture for you, from a couple of summers ago.

Things are looking up - thanks for all of your well-wishes. The small boys both had a great day, and Adam is feeling much better this evening. I've still managed to avoid the sick, and finished up my end-of-year reports this afternoon, which is nothing short of amazing. Just one more day, and then I'll be off for the summer! I've been too busy to be really beside-myself excited for it, but I'm hoping that will come tomorrow as I'm leaving my office!

The house is quiet. I'm going to make a cup of tea, ignore the laundry and toys everywhere, and go to bed early. Good night!


deja vu

You're going to think that I'm making this up. Because there is no possible way that one little family can get so many ailments in the course of nine months. No single family would get pneumonia, strep throat, and no less than five versions of the flu (possibly one or two more - I actually lost count), along with assorted colds and ear infections scattered in there. All between October and June. But we're sick again - Thomas Sunday night, Adam last night, and Phillip tonight. I'm at a loss - I try to do my best at just about everything, and I feel like there must be something that I'm missing.

I try to always look on the bright side, and I am really thankful that it's not a serious illness. And I don't gag as much when cleaning up anymore, so I guess that's good. That said, it would be really, really nice to have all four of us healthy for a stretch of longer than eight days.

Two more days of work for the year. Two more days in which I *need* to get things wrapped up. My fingers are crossed that Adam will be well enough to keep track of at least one boy tomorrow. And a giant thank-you to my mom and sister who had the boys today (before P came down with it) and is who offered to take Thomas for the night - he's over it now and is right as rain. I just don't feel up to taking care of three wonderful people when 2/3 are sick.

And so, I'm signing off for a couple more days - I'll be back when we're healthy and the school year is done. I'm looking forward to a relaxing summer in which I hope to take and share lots of pictures and spend lots of time outside. Enjoy these last days of June!


man on fire

Abby (who makes beautiful things and has great taste) shared this video today, and I'm so glad that she did! Love, love, love. So much so that I promptly bought the album. Thanks, Abby!


porch swing


A lovely, summery visit with a friend last evening involved dinner outside, double pansies, a porch swing, loons calling, a long talk by the lake and arriving home past midnight. I don't think it gets much better. I love you, C!


to market, to market

In point form, today:
- I'm super excited for some special company tomorrow, coming all the way from the exotic land of Tor-on-to.
- Speaking of which, I should be doing some serious tidying right now.
- And I have some food planning to do (fun!).
- Ack! It's also Father's Day tomorrow. Need to do something about that, too.
- But I bought these at the market this morning and had to share, first.

I hope you have a lovely weekend.


highway robbery

Once again today, I pulled over on the side of the highway, grabbed the pruners from the trunk, and cut some beautiful flowers to bring home. They were sad, droopy, and hastily plunked in a vase when I came home, and there they sit.

There were important things to be done after supper, like going to the closest beach we could (all of two minutes from here) and playing in that amazing salty summer air and the (surprisingly warm) water. A certain small someone sort of fell in and was stripped down to his diaper, and a certain someone else had a great time dodging the waves. I'm planning on a lot more of that in the next few months.

Happy Thursday!


biscuits make anything better

I had no idea that having kids would involve this amount of being sick. Really, it's starting to get a bit ridiculous.

Phillip started feeling terrible on Thursday. He was throwing up (that's done now), has a fever, chills, headache, is dizzy and can't walk unassisted as he's still too unsteady on his little feet. When I started to get really concerned yesterday, I called 811, which is a way to speak with a nurse here in Nova Scotia who can advise whether a trip to see a doctor is warranted. After her assessment, she told us to go right to the hospital and she would send her information to them. Off we went, and it turned out that Phillip was dehydrated enough that he needed an IV. The nurses were wonderful and explained everything that they were doing; he was a champ and didn't mind much at all, probably partially because he felt so terrible. As long as he knows exactly what's going on, he's usually fine. (And surprisingly, I was fine, too.) After that was done last night, he felt quite a bit better. Today, he's still feverish and really dizzy, with the chills; I had to carry him from place to place around the house. He did keep a little bit of food down, though, and drank enough to pee several times. The poor kid started to fall asleep in his chair when he was at the table having some toast this afternoon, and he asked to go to bed at 6. He's been sleeping since, the poor little guy. The most pitiful thing he said was after a particularly vicious bout of vomiting yesterday: "But Mama, I wash my hands! And I still got sick."

So this afternoon, I made Nana's biscuits. She raised a pile of children, and I know that she would have some wonderful, time-tested advice. And a big hug, of course.

Oh, and this is the rhubarb jelly that I made from Marisa's book - isn't it beautiful? (And sooooo tasty.) Perfect on a biscuit.

I'm going to head up and check on everyone and give P some Tylenol and try to get him to drink a bit. Hopefully he'll be a new boy tomorrow.


*Edited to add: I just went up to check on everyone, and Phillip's temperature is finally good! He needed to pee, had a little drink and is settled in for the night. I think he's through the worst of it now. It was so nice to kiss his sweet little forehead and it wasn't scorching hot.*


homemade deodorant recipe

This may change your life. Well, it might make you a lot less stinky, anyway.

It's a homemade deodorant recipe which is simple, inexpensive, smells great and leaves not a hint of stink after a day of sweating. (Ask Adam - he's my in-house sniffer.)

If you don't make your own deodorant already and are wondering about the whys of making your own, there are several. First, it's fun to do it just because you can. Second, you know and control exactly what's in it. Third, it works like nobody's business. (Just Google it - you'll find dozens of other people singing the praises of similar recipes, too. It's not just me!) Fourth, this is not anti-perspirant, so it doesn't plug up your pores. (This means that you still sweat, but without the stink. I don't know about you, but I don't really want sweat (which my body's trying to get rid of) trapped, you know? It just doesn't make sense to me.) Extra bonus: the coconut oil is a lovely moisturizer, so it leaves your skin soft and smooth, and not caked up with antiperspirant crud.

I've tried making several versions of deodorant, none of them blog-worthy, and all of them had something about them that I didn't love. One left my underarms kind of tender after a few days of use, so I would have to alternate it with a deodorant crystal. (Which was fine, but I found the crystal was a bit less effective than the deodorant.) One which contains lots of expensive oils just didn't work at all for me. (Sorry, Adam.) One separated and went all melty when it was at room temperature. So when I finally found this one, I gave it a good try, and I'm giving it my stamp of approval.

And here's the other thing - what works for me might not work for you. You might find that another recipe works better for you. And that's great! But this one's so inexpensive and easy, you should give it a try. If you have the ingredients already, you can make it in under two minutes. That's my kind of recipe!
In case you can't decode the recipe in the picture (I wrote it on the lids so I wouldn't get it mixed up with any of my other, failed experiments), here it is:

1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot flour (available at bulk and health food stores)
5 tbsp coconut oil
9 drops essential oil 

Mix everything together in a bowl. I found that massaging it together with my hands was the best way to make sure it was thoroughly blended.

To use, scoop out a small-pea-sized amount on your finger and rub it in until it disappears. It will melt right in without leaving you with greasy underarms.

This recipe makes 1/2 cup of deodorant, which will last you a very, very long time. Scoop it into two small jars and give one to a stinky friend!

Notes: I chose lavender essential oil for its antibacterial properties and I love the scent, but you could use any. The scent isn't really strong enough to notice once it's on.

This recipe seems to be all over the internet, which a) makes me wonder why I didn't find it sooner, and b) means that I have no idea where the original is from.

Let me know how you like it!

**Edited to add:
When I made the deodorant (and posted the recipe) it wasn't terribly hot here. And then it got hot. And the deodorant got soft and kind of runny. Mine is still apply-able, but if it was any warmer, I would probably add in a teeny bit at a time of a mix of equal parts arrowroot powder and baking soda to thicken it up. It can be stored in the fridge, but unless your kitchen is close to your bathroom, that's kind of a pain.

Also, after continuing to use this for another week or so, I found that this irritated my underarms a bit. Nothing too serious, the skin was just a bit less smooth. I think that I'll try making another batch with a teeny bit less baking soda. I think the trick is to get the right balance that will keep away the stink and not be irritating.

And just for your information, I read somewhere that spritzing vodka or other alcohol works amazingly well - it certainly didn't for me. I tried it for a few days. Peeeee-yew!


food in jars

Thanks for all of your sweet comments about Phillip's birthday and my shoulder. It's much, much better now - back to normal, even. Lest I write a post without some sort of ailment, though, I'll tell you that this morning I took Phillip to school and went to work as usual, all the while feeling not quite right. I'll spare you the details, but I came home, slept away the morning, and rested in bed all afternoon, and am feeling much better tonight.

Since I was in bed all day, it was the perfect day for Issue 2 of Taproot to arrive! I've given it a skim and read a bit, and it looks great, just as I anticipated.

But the book that I spent most of my time with today was Food in Jars, Marisa McClellan's first book which came out recently. (Brace yourselves: I'm going to gush, with lots of italics.)

I'm a huge fan (dorkily so) of Marisa's blog of the same name, and pre-ordered the book months ago. To say that I wasn't disappointed is a huge understatement. Food in Jars far surpassed any expectations I had. This book is beautiful. The photography, by Steve Legato, is perfect. The size of the book is perfect (small enough to have out on the counter while making the recipes, but not too small). The layout and design is, well, perfectly perfect. It is the prettiest cookbook that I own, and I have waaay too many. The recipes all look amazing, but simple and do-able. The recipes go beyond the jams and jellies one would expect (although there are ample jams and jellies, fear not.) There are instructions for freezing fruit in jars, pantry recipes (the Rosemary Salt looks divine and I'm planning to make some for Christmas gifts) and granolas. The nut butter section has me swooning, and I'm especially excited about the Chocolate Hazelnut Butter, part of the recipe is pictured above. I have never purchased a jar of Nutella because palm oil and sugar are two of the first ingredients. But this recipe, sugar and all, I would happily make. And I'm planning to, as soon as I can get myself to the bulk store to buy some hazelnuts.

Marisa's stories and introductions to the recipes are entertaining, the recipes are clearly written and have detailed instructions (nary a typo to be found!), and I love it.

*Edited to add: I was so excited as I was writing this that I forgot a couple of very important things that I love, and thought that this paragraph might be your swing vote, especially if you haven't canned before. Marisa's descriptions of the stages that the goods go through as you're making them are clear, descriptive, and super helpful. For example, I just made the Rhubarb Jelly tonight (pop, pop, pop!) and the description "It should look thick and syrupy and the bubbles should look glossy" was spot on. Also, her explanation of the saucer/freezer jelly set method is so seemingly obvious, but I didn't realize until I read it today that it's done to essentially speed up the cooling process to check out how it will set. Also, all of the recipes are for small batches, which means that they're not terribly time consuming, and there are recipes that can be made throughout the year - they're not all summer fruit ones. And lastly (I promise!) there's a recipe for cultured butter! Yahooooooo!)*

How's that for a rave review? *rave! rave!* *Just so it's clear, I bought my own copy with my own hard-earned pay, and no one paid me or coerced me into writing this. Marisa's too sweet for that, anyway - she's proven it by patiently answering more than one canning question I've asked via Twitter!*

Bonne nuit!



june 2

Five years ago today, my generous, kind, sweet, funny, and smart Phillip was born. That was a Saturday, too, and probably the single most intense day of my life. I could write all night about him and how great he is, but I'll try to keep it brief.

One of his latest Phillipisms: "Cigaretting isn't a good idea." This was after we saw a construction worker smoking on the back of a truck on our way to school last week.

He is such a fun kid, and completely his own little self. He wants to learn every single thing in the world. He's incredibly excited about a microscope that we gave him, and spent at least an hour before bed reading a terrific book called Why? that he received as a gift today. He loved when I didn't know the answers and he could read them to me. He had a perfect day, and was happy and cooperative - apparently being the birthday boy agrees with him. He also didn't stop talking from the minute he woke up until I left the room after tucking him in while he was still talking.

That's his cake, above - he wanted a bug / insect / creepy crawly things theme, and since my original plan fell apart (literally, the cupcakes fell apart) I drew on my inner Martha and changed plans. And I think that the vermiculture cake turned out kind of awesome.
 The season's first strawberries were at the market this morning. They were sweet and perfect.
Speaking of perfect things at the market, this adorable bunch of radishes also fits the description. They are so tender and crunchy that I had to stop myself after eating several of them whole.
Instead of the usual treat bags, Phillip helped to make some caramel popcorn to give to his friends. He decorated the (waxed paper, compostable) bags, too. Check out that heart! He drew it himself! That picture of the bug is a pea weevil - isn't it kind of beautiful? So symetrical. The recipe wasn't amazing enough to share, but now I have a hankering for some amazing homemade caramel corn, with no corn syrup in the recipe. Anyone have a recommendation?

I fell down yesterday. (Damp grass + low-traction Birkenstocks + Sherrie-in-a-hurry + small hill). It feels so insulting for gravity to take over like that. Tonight my shoulder is s.o.r.e. It was one of those slow-motion falls where my feet stayed up the hill while my top half went down, and I landed mostly on my right arm. Sheesh.

I hope that you're enjoying a lovely weekend!