Thursday, July 31, 2008

a handmade birthday: tutu

Here's what my eldest just got for her birthday:

and to go with the tutu, a matching headband:

I used this tutorial for the tutu, and the headband is the same concept, just on a smaller scale. It worked up quickly and easily - and the results are just glorious.

(The rainbow colors were the birthday girl's choice. And a much better choice than the dull pinks and purples I was contemplating.)

Anyway, I recommend this if there's a little girl in your life you want to make something for. I'm contemplating making mini ones and sewing them onto onsies for the twins.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

on various projects

Thanks for all the great comments lately, folks!

I wanted to write a post answering some of the questions in them, and updating y'all on how all the projects are going.

On crocheting with wire: I don't find it very hard on my hands, but then, I'm not doing a lot of it at once. I think if I did it for a very long time, the tips of my fingers would get sore.

I got the idea for doing it from this set of pattern cards, but it's really pretty simple, and you can find a basic tutorial online like this. The biggest difference between crocheting with wire and with yarn is that the wire doesn't have any give to it.

I haven't touched most of my projects this week, because we've been out and about every day this week (to the store, to lunch with my husband, to the library, to the park), but I'm hoping to get some work in on stuff today, because today we have nowhere to go! I'm glad. I like getting the kids out of the house, but I also really like staying at home with them, and having a slower-paced day.

On the star blanket, for Rachel: the pattern isn't written very well. I recommend reading through the craftster thread I linked to in my post, because they do a good job explaining the gaps in the pattern.

I also thought it was cool that two different folks are making play food for their kids: Amie with felt and Kat with knitting and crochet.

Speaking of Amie, who has an awesome Etsy store, I wanted to point out that if you want a meitai and don't want to make it yourself, you can buy really pretty ones at Emily's Etsy store. Check out the close-up of the rose and paisley fabric on this one. Lovely!

Also, I have a question for Kathy: where did you find your Morning Prayer podcast? That sounds really cool!

Okay, I'm off to try to actually get something done now. Have another wonderful Ordinary day. :)

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Saturday, July 26, 2008

a second mei-tai!

Now I can carry both babies at once!

Here's the post
where I wrote about making the first one, for our son, Gamgee. Now I have one for the front and one for the back!

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

strawberry sundae cake

Bess just had her fourth birthday, and she requested a strawberry ice cream cake.

Now, in my opinion, ice cream cakes ought always to involve chocolate, toffee, caramel and Oreo cookies.

But, it was not my birthday.

And, I have to say, the creation I came up with turned out rather well.

So, if you have a little girl (or boy) much given to strawberries and ice cream, here is a rather delicious cake you might make:

1) Take about 1 lb. of vanilla sandwich cookies and process them in a food processor with about 1/4 c. soft butter.
2) Pat the resulting crumbs into the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch pan.
3) Meanwhile, have one regular container of strawberry ice cream (a quart? a gallon? you know, those cylindrical containers that are much bigger than a pint?) softening on the counter.
4) Spread the softened strawberry ice cream over the cookie crust.
5) Cover the ice cream layer with one big box of strawberry milkshake Whoppers, all Whoppers having been cut in half (this doesn't take as long as it sounds).
6) Cover the Whoppers with Cool Whip (one normal container's worth).
7) Cover the whole cake and stick back into the freezer to harden.
8) After hardened, take out and serve. You might want a hot table knife to cut the pieces.
9) If desired, top with fresh, sliced strawberries.

I'm sorry about the measurements - I was throwing the whole thing together without taking notes!

My favorite part is that the chopped Whopper layer gets chewy and crunchy at the same time. Yum.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

prayer and sleep

When I most need sleep is when I have the hardest time going to bed. I'm so tired that I can't make myself go to bed. I tell myself that I could if only I didn't have to brush my teeth, floss my teeth, wash my contacts, take out my hair stuff, change into a nightie, and nurse the babies one more time - if I could just fall into bed - but I think it's more that when I'm very tired I'm convinced that unless I have fun right now, I'm never going to have fun again. Tomorrow's going to be another day of hard work, so unless I spend an hour reading right now, I'm never going to get a chance to sit down and read again.

But there's no real fun after a certain state of sleep deprivation, and I really should just go to bed.

And prayer is similar. If I don't take the opportunity right now to read blogs while my coffee is hot, I'm never going to get another chance to read and drink coffee at the same time. Why waste the coffee on Morning Prayer?

(Gosh, I feel awful just typing that out. Confessing in actual words does make you see your sins more clearly.)

But it's not true. My body needs sleep to function. My heart needs prayer to function.

Prayer is many, many things, but at the very least, it is necessary to virtue.

And virtue is necessary to any sort of good life.

I need prayer. I need sleep.

I want fun.

There is no true fun without prayer and sleep. Because there is no true health without prayer and sleep. There is no true fun when I am heartsick.

That's muddled, and not thought-through entirely, but I wanted to get it out so I could ponder it more.

Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

wire crochet with beads

Take one. Isn't it pretty?

Before making gifts for unsuspecting female relatives, I decided to do a practice piece for me.

I used beads from a bracelet my sister gave me years ago that had come unstrung.

It took a few false tries at the chaining, but I caught onto a good technique fairly quickly. It's got a few flaws, but it's certainly wearable.

What do you think?

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Saturday, July 19, 2008

handmade holidays

We're not going entirely handmade this year, but my husband and I really like the idea of going partly handmade this Christmas. (Christmas! Hey, I'm blogging about the church year again!)

So, this morning I've been looking through my bookmarks, supplies, craft books, etc, trying to find the perfect items to create for family and friends. Here are some of the things I'm looking at:

-wire crochet jewelry, something like this.

-a "Do Not Cross - Crime Scene" scarf. Isn't that a hoot?

-I love the mosiac scarves on this post. (I love the pillow too - but I'd only commit to making something that big if I knew someone wanted it.)

-My oldest daughter has decided that instead of a star blanket, she wants a flower blanket. She's already picking out yarn.

-And my son wants a variation on the star blanket: a Spiderman blanket - look at Reply #118 on that post. (No, he's never seen Spiderman, but he has Spiderman sandels, and he thinks spiders are fascinating.)

-Tutus, anyone?

-What about this granny square bag?

-And these vintage-y Christmas ornaments?

-pressed flower art is another idea.

I don't know how far we'll get, or what I'll actually end up producing, but I'm excited about starting the projects.

Is anyone else doing a full or partially handmade Christmas? I'd love to see what you're working on, and I'd love to see links to your ideas . . . especially if you've got any brilliant ideas for the men. (I am thinking about a knit newsboy cap - like a tuk (beanie) with a brim out of grey wool . . . but it's in a book, I have no link.)

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Friday, July 18, 2008

a star baby blanket

There are some boys coming along, and this is for one of them - the baby girl hanging out on it is for scale:

I got the bug to make this pattern after reading this thread on craftster. Yes, it's an 80+ page thread, but I was nursing, and it got me itching to make one of my own, so it ended up as a productive read. And now I want to make another one; this blanket pattern is lovely, and does a great job showing off the odd ends of blue yarn I've collected over the years. I think the white cotton is what really makes the colors pop.

I really, really want to do another one. And my older two kids are each bugging me for a star blanket of their own, so I think there are more of these in my future.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Asian Spaghetti

I had a question about the Asian Spaghetti on my menu plan; I didn't post a link because I couldn't find one, but my note in my cookbook says I got it from Good Housekeeping and then altered it.

It's not anything authentic, but it's yummy! Here it is:

-1 lb. spaghetti
-1 t. veg. oil
-2 bunches green onions, chopped
-1 lb. ground beef (or chicken, or turkey)
-2 T. fresh, minced ginger
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-12-16 oz. shredded broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and/or cabbage (your choice)
-1 3/4 c. chicken broth
-1/3 c. hoisin sauce
-1/4 cup peanut butter
-red pepper flakes for garnish, optional

1) Cook spaghetti according to package directions; drain.
2) Meanwhile, heat oil in skillet over high heat. Add green onions and cook 1-2 min, or until wilted, stirring; transfer to bowl.
3) In same skillet over high heat, cook beef, ginger and garlic 3 min or till no longer pink, stirring to break up beef.
4) Stir in veg. mix, broth, hoisin sauce, pb and grn. onions; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium, or till beg. are tender-crisp and sauce thickens slightly, stirring.
5) Drain spaghetti; return to saucepan. Add chicken mixture and toss to combine. Garnish with red pepper, if desired.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, July 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I'm a bit late, but I thought it'd be fun to join in anyway. So, here's what we're eating this week!

Monday: ham-and-cheese turnovers (from freezer), and gala melon
Tuesday: quesadillas w/ refried beans, and canary melon
Wednesday: huevos rancheros tostados, and gala melon
Thursday: dinner with extended family?
Friday: Asian spaghetti (double for freezer)
Saturday: moo-shu pork (double for freezer)

I'm loving the cheap summer melons at my local independant produce market. 50 cents each and SOOO sweet and ripe.

And I recommend using Trader Joe's garlic and herb pizza dough for the ham and cheese turnovers. Yum.

Here's the moo-shu pork recipe - I'm afraid I don't remember where I got it; maybe Family Circle or Woman's Day?

-Put 2 lb. pork (boneless) in crockpot w/ 1 cup hoisin sauce and 2 tablespoons fresh, grated gingeroot. Mix. Cook on low about 8 hours. Shred. Serve in flour tortillas with shredded carrots.

I know that sounds way too simple to be good, but oh my, it's delicious.

For more great menus, check out Menu Plan Monday at Org Junkie.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Sunday, July 13, 2008

a few numbers

So, I'm a bit of a nerd. I embrace that though. :)

Anyway, I've been noticing recently that I drink a LOT of water. I have a 32 oz. Nalgene bottle that I just keep refilling all day long. Why? Because as soon as I sit down and latch Lucy and Anna on, and they start nursing, I get really thirsty. Really, really, really thirsty. Instantly. It's very weird.

So I got curious enough about it that I decided yesterday to keep track of how much liquid I drink in a day. The answer?


But wait! I have a reason to do it!

I don't know exactly how much milk I'm making a day, but I estimated based on the girls' weights, and came to the conclusion that I'm making about a half gallon of milk a day! Or about a quart per baby. That's a lot.

And just to add (ha!) one more set of numbers to that:

When I cut my kids' fingernails and toenails, it takes awhile. When I stopped and thought about it, I realized that's because I have to cut EIGHTY nails before I'm done. (And if I do mine too, that's 100.)

Okay. Nerdiness done for now. I'll go back to qualifying rather than quantifying my maternity.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Saturday, July 12, 2008


This is just amazing. I showed it to my husband, and he just sat there, laughing in amazement.

Here's an article on homemade weed killers. Boiling water is number one. I guess that makes sense!

Theological Saint-Watching.
This article starts: "Advice to anybody who wants to think well about theology: Find a holy person and watch them closely." Good stuff.

I love this rambling blog post by Melissa Wiley about her indoor garden over the years.

Just How Great Are Wesley's Hymns?

Right now we're planning on public schooling our kids, but I'm open to the idea of homeschooling, and even if we don't officially homeschool, I certainly believe in home education (of course you are your child's first teacher), and posts like these are an encouragement, I think, to either the homeschooling or the public-schooling parent: Considering the Home-School Kindergarten. (And the Bob Books rock!)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

the adults they will be and the kids that they are

I've been thinking about how you cannot deal with your children simply as they are, you also have to think of them as the adults you hope they'll be.

My husband and I often encourage each other, when we're dealing with bratty toddler and preschooler behavior, that it is worth it to persevere, because we'd rather deal with it now than when they're thirteen. Better to nip things in the bud when the worst they can do is throw a tantrum, rather than let undesirable character qualities continue until they're of an age to beat someone up, knock someone up, crash a car, commit a felony. You know?

(I realize our children have free will and could do all of these things regardless of how we parent. But I think, hope and pray we can influence the odds.)

Anyway, it's the hope of the person we want each child to become that makes us frown instead of laugh when our child does something naughty-yet-hilarious (we laugh later, behind closed doors). If we didn't think of how bad that behavior would look in a thirty year old, we'd coo, "oh, she's just a kid" right along with those annoying people who scold you for scolding your child for doing something she shouldn't ("oh, it's okay, she's just having fun!") I can't look at my three year old and see just my three year old. I see that my three year old will be four soon, and then five . . . and then fifteen, and these behaviors just won't do later in life.

This is all true. Yet I also have to school myself to see my children as the kids they are. Especially my oldest. The pressure of younger children, and her own articulate self, often influence me to see her as a ten year old, rather than a not-yet-four year old. But then I tell myself, "what if she were my only child? what if there was no comparison of two year old brother and infant twins?" and then I see her as the still very little girl she is, and I relax, and enjoy her and am a better mom to her.

It's funny how it takes both parts. I'd be a bad mom if I just treated my three year old as a three year old, if I didn't realize that I have to help her grow up. But I'd also be a bad mom if I didn't remember that she really is just three (for a few more weeks!) and that she still needs to be talked to tenderly, listened to intently and even, occasionally (like last night) be cuddled and sung to sleep. (It was so sweet to hold her, all long limbs now, and sing to her the hymn that got her to sleep when she was still too little to walk.)

Parenting is such a balancing act. Lord, help me keep my feet steady under me, and my eyes fixed straight ahead, on you.