Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Last Day Before School

Well, here it is - the last day before school. And, we are ready. Are you?

We've got the backpack clean and spiffy. Clean clothes (even a couple of new outfits). A haircut (that she is starting to like). School supplies (though we are lucky to not have to supply anything but a pocket folder). Lunch makings. And, we've had a few extra jam-packed days of fun, including island camping with Dad and some extra swimming hole dips with Mom.

I thought I'd check back in on two things.

First, lunch stuff update. We did purchase a few of the eco-friendly packing items I referenced the other day. Specifically, we got the LunchSkins, Kid Konserve stainless (and leak-proof) containers, a bamboo spoon, some Kid Konserve sandwich wraps, and a Thermos Foogo insulated thermos. We bought the fabric (some cute lightweight flannel) for the napkins--but, the sewing machine did not get unpacked. The fabric napkins will have to be added in later!

Oh, and for some extra fun, I got some veggie shape cutters (inspired by all the bento box blogs I'm now following - more on this soon!). In addition, my daughter and I brainstormed a "menu" for possible lunch items - then laminated it.

She's pretty excited about the whole thing--including packing her lunches (at least some of the time)--which is a great thing. She's been letting her Dad and I choose from the "menu" for the last couple of days. :) Yippee.

As an addendum--my sister, the ultimate resource, for future stainless water bottle purchases, she recommends getting them at LL Bean where they engrave them -- enough letters for your name and a phone number.

Second, better managing the bus dash. We have a history - a strong history--of dashing out the door (usually a lot of tension in the air!) to barely make (and sometimes miss) the bus. So, after following the lead of my friend Barbara, this year, I'm going to have a few of those last minute necessities in arms reach. I put together a basket which my daughter has aptly-named "The Rapido Basket" (heard Daddy and I yell "Rapido!" a few times, I'm guessing!). It has a hairbrush and accessories, a mirror, tissues and lunch/milk money. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day 5: Switching Gears

So, today is my daughter's half-birthday. Yes, her half birthday.A half birthday?

Many, many years ago, my dear aunt tried to re-channel my sadness that my birthday always fell during school vacation. I was so sad that I never had in-school birthday celebrations. I was sad that we often didn't have a kid birthday party because we were doing something as a family on vacation.And, if I did have a party it seemed that often friends couldn't come because they were on vacation. (Hmm, it just donned on me that maybe that wasn't why...)

In any event, my aunt thought it would fun to celebrate my birthday in the summer - and my half birthday just so happen to fall in August, so a tradition was born. My mom thinks this is utterly ridiculous so has not really embraced this. I've completely abandoned even acknowledging my birthday. But, my aunt continues to recognize my half birthday. And, my little girl caught wind of this (it was a week-ish ago) and embraced it with the utmost enthusiasm (does any 6 year old girl not love the excuse to organize a party?). She told me I got to pick my dinner, pick my dessert and she made me all kinds of presents.

So, today is her day. And, lest you think it slipped her mind, it didn't. So I am completely abandoning back-to-school organizing and concentrated-summer-vacationing to celebrate my little six AND A HALF year old.

Have a great weekend.

PS. I'm thinking half a cake, half a card...but, no chance I'm whipping up a felted birthday crown

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 6: Re-Group

Okay, things are falling apart.

My little one hates the way her haircut turned out. The candy I let her pick out (this is HUGE-I've let her in the candy store twice in her life) was awful (okay, THAT was a little heartbreaking. Imagine, your mean mom never lets you buy candy, you are let into a candy store to pick out whatever you want, and well, it was disgusting. She tried not to cry. And, I slipped her a non-pareil and that seemed to console her.) Her backpack didn't come clean and, in fact, has wierd rust-looking stains all around it and I'm suddenly feeling like a schmuck for not buying her a new one (but, I'm still not going to). She's pretty much grumpy at me all day long. And, now, at this very moment, I'm thinking 6 more days is a really long time. :)

On the upside, we have managed to have some fun (Um, excuse me little miss grumpy...wasn't that nice of Daddy to take you to the theatre today? And how about that cool craft project we worked on together without interruptions from your baby sister?)...and we've managed to get a few things done. We sorted through all the mis-matched storage/plasticware; purchased new school shoes and a couple of  new outfits since my little one grew a whole bunch and there are oddly no hand-me-downs in line; got a haircut (albeit not your choice of a bang trim, but trust me, you need bangs, kiddo); and we brainstormed lunch ideas (stay tuned for the outcome).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 7: It's All About Lunch

{photos via here and here}

Okay, seven more days, and today my to-do item is to think about lunch. I get tired just thinking about it. Honestly, I don't know what to do--my daughter is only in 1st grade and I'm already burnt out on this front. I mean, I happen to think it's really important to pack a healthy lunch. But, that doesn't change the fact that it gets old....so, I'm going to try to get a new attitude by getting organized and taking another step towards a greener lifestyle.

To Do.
  • Inspect lunch box. If it isn't acceptable (they really get nasty, don't they?), I'm going to need to buy a new one. I'm hoping I don't have to. But, I do love this and this. This website, cleverly called Reusit, also has lots of great options.
  • Organize my storage containers. I have a huge number of bottoms that don't appear to have tops. In fact, I'm wondering if I have any complete containers. (Doesn't help that the cupboard that contains these is "free range" for my toddler.)
  • Purchase new containers. I just KNOW I don't have enough (and I do this crazy thing of making individual containers of things like applesauce, grapes, crackers, yogurt, etc. at the beginning of the week for the entire week -- it takes no time and saves a lot of money to buy in bigger containers. But, you've got to have lots of containers!). Since I'm trying to replace icky plastic with other alternatives, I think I will invest in a couple of cool containers from here. And, maybe one or two LunchBots. And, I'm definitely going to get some cloth sandwich and snack sacks -- there a lots of great sources, but I especially love the cool prints at LunchSkins (remember, I'm trying to add spice into my lunchmaking life - so while some of this may be about her - it is a lot about me!). I also really love the idea of these cloth sandwich wraps which doubles as a placemat.
  • Switch to cloth. I'm sure you think I've gone off the deep end now. But, I really hate the idea of paper napkins...and we use cloth exclusively at home. So, why not at school? As a fun mother-daughter bonding thing (and in hopes of inspiring my daughter to take ownership of these and not discard them!) I'm going to attempt to sew napkins with her. So, we'll start by picking out some fabric and dusting off my sewing machine. In case you like the idea, but don't want to sew 'em yourself, check out these lunchbox napkins. (I'm bookmarking, just in case this mother-daughter project doesn't go as planned.)
  • Getting a Grip on the Water Bottle Crisis. Okay, I'm working on this. Two years ago I did away with plastic water bottles. Good move, I know. But, I get infuriated when those awesome stainless steel water bottles go a-missing. So, I'm working on finding a way to increase the likelihood of these bottles staying with us. I'm thinking a more colorful label like those from Mabels Labels or a neoprene sleeve or possibly some kind of customizable sticker/sleeve (I love the design-your-own SiggSkins but we don't have Sigg bottles.). Stay tuned on this one...
  • Find flatware. I'm not sure what I was thinking sending a child to school with some of my flatware. Suffice it to say, I lost some. Lesson learned. Now I have a collection of "random" spoons and forks I've picked up at yard sales and such. This year I'm going to purchase one set of bamboo flatware and either purchase or sew a little storage pouch like this that attaches to the lunchbox.
  • Brainstorm. I'm scheduling a brainstorming session with my daughter. We're going to come up with a list of lunch and snack ideas. Then, I'm going to make this into a pretty laminated list that she (yes, you read that right!) can use when putting together her lunches.
What's your kid's lunch- and how do you stay motivated to pack lunch everyday? 

Have fun.
  • Dad and daughter outing to see Alice in Wonderland at Maine State Music Theatre.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Photo Framing Solution to Get Jazzed About.

I know it comes as no surprise that I love to shoot photos. Lots of 'em, in fact. But, they tend to sit on my computer for a very long time. Getting them printed and framed seems like a daunting task to accomplish between changing diapers! :)

Anyhow, I just learned about this REALLY cool new photo framing and printing technology--it's call Fracture. It is apparently a fast, easy (and affordable!) way to get pictures from my camera to my wall.
Apparently, you print your digital pictures right onto glass. Yup, no paper or film. Just ink and glass.
You upload your photo to www.FractureMe.com, they print it on glass, and send it on it's way with everything you need to mount and display. It's a one-stop, complete photo decor solution. Pretty cool, huh?

Well, here's the really exciting news, if I'm one of the first 100 folks to post it on my blog, I'll get a free chance to try out Fracture. And, if get this freebie, you can bet I'll be reporting back to you all after I've given it a shot.

I wrote this blog post in response to a TwitterMoms RAMBO alert, making me eligible to get a Fracture picture frame for review. You can learn more about Fracture at http://www.fractureme.com. Stay tuned!

Countdown to School

Amidst my lamenting yesterday, I didn't mention that I am one of those people who views the start of school much like some view the start of the new year. It is a chance to get off on the right foot. I'm definitely the person who loves to start things with a new set of sharp pencils and a brand new notebook. Oh, how I remember the days of agonizing over what Trapper Keeper notebook to get (oh, and,by the way, my mother was NOT one of those parents that believed in the new notebooks, etc. so there were usually lots of battles on this front). How this will all play out in my daughters' futures is unclear...will they, too, seek a new notebook and shiny new shoes -- or not? But, for now, they are still under my control - I mean my wing :) -- and so I get to decide.

Since I still plan on getting a lot of summer living in these last eight days, I'm going to pace the "getting ready" piece. So for the next 8 days (I hope I won't drive you away with this), I'm going to focus on making the most of the last few days of summer vacation and getting ready for back to school.

Day 8:

To do.
  • Wash backpack. (Sorry, sweetie, we're not buying you a new one -- and I'm going to do my best to make this one look spiffy -- a good wash, a new name tag, and some cool pin or something.). IF you happen to be in the neighborhood for a new backpack, I highly recommend the backpacks at LL Bean--, they are 20% off right now. One of the things I like best (beyond the LL Bean durability, of course!) is the fact that they make a junior backpack. There is nothing that pains me more than seeing a little child with a very big backpack. And, well, you know the adage "build it and they will come", backpacks work much the same way, "buy it and they will fill it".
  • Schedule haircut.I'm thinking she'll learn better if she can see -- and, I'm not going to make the mistake of waiting until the last second when everyone is getting their "back-to-school-haircut."
Have fun.
  • Take a bike ride
  • Picnic outside for dinner.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Back to School Blues?

This morning it donned on me that there are 9 days left until the 1st day of school.

Okay, I'll admit (I'm not alone here, am I?) there is part of me that is excited about this realization.

At the same time, I feel a little pang of sadness, of panic, of disappointment. I've tried to cram in a lot this summer, including a lot of time with my children "doing summer things". Swimming, trips to the beach, spontaneous ice cream cones, a lemonade stand, dinner picnics, trips to the farm, making popsicles, time at "camp", boat rides, parades, fairs, farmer's market (yes, my daughter loves the farmer's market), art camp, outdoor music at the Gazebo, to name a few.

But, it suddenly doesn't feel like it was enough. Where did those days go -- you know-- the days when...

...I was going to teach her to knit;
...we were going to sit lazily in Adirondack chairs and read all afternoon;
...we were going to swim until our skin was wrinkly;
...we were going to make fish prints of all the fish we caught;
...we were going to attempt to can something together;

etc., etc.

Well, so be it. We've got 9 days left. Nine days more of fun (interspersed with various "getting ready" things and my work, of course!)...here goes!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Picking Up My Sister's Slack

That is such an unfair title (at least on this day!). But, I couldn't resist.

Anyhow, I have had the real hardship (not!) of picking up my sister's CSA farmshare for the last three weeks while she was out west on vacation with her family.

It has been a blast.

While I'm a total believer in CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) - and have participated in the past - we haven't in a few years due to a variety of factors. (Rest assured, we support local farmers via weekly visits to the local farmer's market.).

So for the last three weeks, I've been playing the part of a CSA participant. On Thursday afternoons I load up the girls with cool drinks and head for the farm about 25 minutes from our house. The adorable little farm--with a GREAT name. Laughing Stock Farm. Isn't that SO cute? Sometimes I think I want my own little farm just so I can have a cool farm name.

We've had a ball picking up our (I mean my sister's) share (including weighing the pros and cons of our options--we get to select a handful of items from a list). But, even more, we've loved -- really loved -- picking our own flowers. The girls both help. Well, the big girl does. The little one -- well, we try not to lose her in the sunflowers.

After our trip to the farm, we spend an hour or so sorting through and preparing our goods--and dreaming up recipes (stay tuned for goat cheese and roasted vegetable tart we made tonight!) and arranging flowers. My daughter lines up the little containers --mostly mason jars, of course -- and arranges her bouquet ever so carefully.

Oh how sweet summer can be!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Man Week: Shoes that Make My Knees Weak

Okay, LoveVermont--gotta say, I love your brilliance (and risk-taking!) of going on vacation and leaving the boys in charge of the blog -- aka "Man Week". Not to say that I don't love your posts. But, hey, what a fun way to shake it up! Beer post was fantabulous. And, the Tuesday Shoesday: Man Edition is perfect in every way.

Is it wrong to admit that a guy wearing any of those fantastic styles -- especially Bean Boots (though not necessarily the ones in that photo...)-- makes my knees week?

Monday, August 16, 2010

eat Maine.

While standing in the checkout line at the supermarket (one of my least favorite things to do these days--and, something I try not to do too much with all the locally grown goodness around me), I spied a bright orange, slightly-larger-than-pocket-size magazine entitled eat maine. And, I'm so glad I did.

Compiled by the staff of Maine Magazine, the book is a great guide to on- and off-the-beaten-path places to eat in Maine. It includes "A Lists" for several things, including: lobster rolls, beer, burgers, ice cream, cupcakes and potatoes (Ha! to my husband who denies Maine's rich potato heritage -- he likes to think they all come from Idaho. But, it ain't so.)

Anyhow, if you are a Maine-r or coming to Maine, I highly recommend this guide. I've got some pages turned down of places I plan to hit. And, once you read it, you'll want to become a fan (Eat Maine) --and perhaps even follow these folks on twitter (@eataroundmaine).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Glorious Tribute

Yesterday, I wrote about my friend Kimberly Becker who is an artist that paints every day.

Today, on her blog, she posted a painting inspired by me/MainelyHome. Now, how cool is that!?

It is a wonderful painting of an incredible church in this town -- Bath, Maine. And, the sky that serves as its backdrop is the same glorious one I get to look at today. It is a "chamber of commerce kind of day" here, today.

Okay, but, one thing that donned on me last night was the idea of painting a painting every day!? How does she do that? I think I've had a productive day when I squeeze in a little writing.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Embracing Everyday Projects

{images of Kimberly's work via}

I don't think I'm alone in admitting (though I hear Julia Child was not a fan) that Julie & Julia was a great story.  I think what I liked about it (besides all the cooking) was the idea that a young woman was forcing herself to undertake something challenging everyday for a year.

I think the idea of forcing ourselves to try something, do something or create something everyday is how we grow. It is so easy to live in the status quo. But, when we force ourselves to do something regularly--every day--we have a chance to really grow.

In many ways, this blog (though I can't say I've written every day--but I've written nearly every day) is that for me. Creating Mainelyhome was my way to channel my creativity and my writing. I'll be honest, some days, I have no idea what to say (is it obvious?). But, I sit down in front of my computer and before long, it comes. And, once I start thinking, creating, writing--well, I find myself lost in a new burst of energy and focus. Honestly. I think I've grown a lot...and, well, I'm not done, so stay tuned.

So, I've become a fan of people who embark on these -- what I'm calling 365 day projects. For example, do you know about Project 365? This project challenges folks (yourself included) to take a photo and upload it everyday. Why? Well, for one, it will make you a better photographer. But, in addition, it will give you this amazing documentation of your life. Wouldn't it be cool to look back and see what every day of your life was like for a year? Might you be surprised to see what inspired you each day.

Well, a friend of mine who know longer lives around the corner, has embarked on a similar project -- and, I love it. Kimberly Becker, artist, paints a small oil painting every day. You can follow her (and even purchase her art) on her blog or become a fan. I have thoroughly enjoyed "watching" Kimberly via her blog--it gives me a glimpse into her life. And, the art is awesome. From Brownstones to Hydrangea and everything in between. Log on and be inspired by Kimberly.

Are you embarking on any 365 day projects?

I Got Stung

Don't worry -- I didn't get stung by a bumble bee, I got stung by Green Bee's Lemon Sting soda.

I'm actually not much of a soda drinker. If I want bubbles, I tend to turn to things like seltzer, beer or prosecco.

But, today I was feeling "off" and while in the local natural market and this label (I am such a sucker for labels) caught my eye. Part of it was the pretty label -- and part of it is what the label said -- "Made in Maine. Local honey."

Well, it didn't cure what ails me this afternoon, BUT, it totally hit the spot. Totally light and refreshing. Turns out this soda is handcrafted in the next town over, Brunswick, Maine. So far the company has the one flavor, Lemon Sting which is made with just four ingredients (gotta love that!), including local honey. Rumor has it more flavors might be in the works. The soda is handcrafted and bottled by Christopher Kinkade at his wife's catering copy, Belle Fete. The soda can be found in 12-oz bottles at natural food stores and gourmet shops across the state.

Hat's off to  you Mr. Kinkade -- this is good stuff.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Just Under the Wire, Thanks to Love Vermont

{photo via GroceryMama}

Thank you LoveVermont, for making me aware of this oh so very important holiday--National S'mores Day. My goodness, how could I have missed this? Be sure to check out LoveVermont's awesome collages (yes, plural!) of s'more goodness.

Farmer's Market

Oh, how I love farmers markets!

No matter where I am, I always seek out farmer's markets. (Heck, I even got married in the agricultural hall/barn where one of my other favorite farmer's markets takes place -- on Martha's Vineyard.)

I love buying local, good stuff -- and it is always a fun, local scene.

Gotta say, my very favorite farmer's market (and I've been to farmer's markets in many states and countries!) is the one in Bath, Maine. It has it all -- a great location (on the Kennebec River), wonderful local farmers, and wonderful local stuff. Seems every year, the Bath Farmer's Market adds a little more. This year, in addition to lots of wonderful produce (including lots of organic produce), you can find flowers and plants, baked goods (including an entire booth of gluten-free breads and goodies), fish, cheese, pork, poultry and beef. This weekend's market was hoppin'--even had some live music and a hula hooper there!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

No Calorie Food that is To Die For (Hint: It involves fiber.)

A Sampling of Felted Foods  
{photos via SkiptoMyLou (donut and lunch bag); IkatBag (potato); Bread and Buttons  (strawberries); ShelleyInspired (veggies); JulieKinTaiwan (sushi)}

Do you know about Living Crafts? Well, if you don't, you should. It is a wonderful crafting magazine. If you like to craft with natural things, in particular, I think you'd love it. I keep (unless I pass along to a friend who must have for one reason or another) my back copies and dream of all the projects I want to take on when I have some time. This reminds me, actually, that I believe my subscription has lapsed -- I must get on with renewing!

Anyhow, I do digress.

So, I'm a Fan of Living Crafts. And,today, on their wall, they linked to this amazing collection of felted food tutorials. The Crafty Crow (which is also an amazing source--a children's craft collection) pulled together this collage of felted food photos all with links to how-tos. My daughters love their play kitchen...and could most certainly use some more food!

Now, if I only I could find some time...which should I make first when I'm ready?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How Velcro Has Done Us Wrong

{photo via sneakermestupid.com}
As a crafter, it pains me to bash velcro. It even seems a bit  hypocritical as I've sung your praises oh-so-often.

But, dear velcro, you've done me wrong. Really wrong.

For years, since I purchased my daughter's second pair of shoes, you have been the differentiator. I've literally decided between pairs of shoes based on your presence. Your presence--in the form of little velcro shoe straps--signaled less hectic attempts to get out the door with my child.

You served me well.

But, oh, how, I curse you now.

You have enabled me to ignore teaching my child that ever-so-important-skill - tying her shoes. And, now I am faced with shelf after shelf of tie-only shoes and an independent daughter with perfectionist skills who isn't happy at all with the fact that she doesn't instantly know how to tie her own shoes.

Darn it.

I've always prided myself on teaching the basics...and, somehow I've failed on this. And, now the stakes are high--e.g. my daughter is not always under my wing where I can assist.

I spent a good chunk of last night thinking about this (no comments on this, please)...and remembered quite clearly learning to tie shoes younger than she is. (Not because my mother was a better mother than me - though clearly she ranks high -- we didn't have velcro shoes back then. It all makes sense now -- I remember having a huge collection of very cute shoelaces to spice-up my sneaks.) And, my wonderful Uncle Ed taught me. I remember it vividly. (I wonder if my Mom and Dad had called in reinforcements as I, too, share this perfectionist trait of my daughter...)

Darn you, velcro. Why did you have to go and give me the easy way out...I should've known there would be a hefty price to pay.

So, I'm thinking my daughter needs a weekend with my Uncle Ed -- her Great Uncle Ed--to teach her the ropes. :) 'Cause it's clear she doesn't want to learn from me.

In the meantime, any tips out there!?!?

Monday, August 2, 2010

August: A Planner

Honestly, how did it become August already? For those of us that live in northern climates, the 1st of August is always a wake-up call--the season will be a-changing before we know it. Truth be told, Fall is actually my favorite season -- but, Summer is a close second. And, because it is such a short season in these parts, there is a-whole-lotta-living to be done in a short window.

So, here's what I've got planned (so far) for August:
  • Going to Circus Smirkus. Uncertain about whether to put this on your calendar? Read.
  • Spending time at our family "camp" (that's what Mainers call summer cottages/cabins). Playing games. Harvesting mussels. Picnics on the shore.
  • Checking out the Maine Fiber Arts Tour where I'll no doubt pick up some new fiber for knitting, felting and, well, filling the baskets around my house! :)
  • Taking my little fairy lover to the legendary Maine Fairy Festival.
  • Frequenting Bath Farmer's Market weekly to experience Maine's summer bounty.
  • Grilling with my husband - and friends - on our deck. Must say, I had some of the best tasting grilled haddock ever last weekend. Purchased the haddock from Port Clyde Fresh Catch while they were at the Bath Farmer's Market. Honestly, the best flavored fish ever! It isn't too late to participate in their "farm share". Check it out! Oh, and, if you are in Connecticut or New York, you are in luck - they deliver there, too!
  • Picking and freeze more blueberries so summer's goodness can be had come winter.
  • More visits to Five Islands Lobster Company for steamed lobster and clams.
  • Baking and eating more cupcakes in a mason jar - because my first batch was a huge hit!
  • Taking a Maine Foodie Tour. I was given tickets by 101MaineThingstoDo and am so excited to take my favorite little foodie (my daughter) and experience some of Portland's culinary faves behind-the-scenes.
  • Swimming in our secret and not-so-secret swimming holes.
What's on your planner for the month of August?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

August, By John Updike

In keeping with tradition here at Mainelyhome, here's John Updike's take on August. If you haven't gotten a copy, yet, I highly recommend A Child's Calendar - a beautifully illustrated book (by New Hampshire artist Trina Schart Hyman) which includes a monthly poem by Updike.

The sprinkler twirls.
The summer wanes.
The pavement wears
Popsicle stains.

The playground grass
Is worn to dust.
The weary swings
Creak, creak with rust.

The trees are bored
With being green.
Some people leave
The local scene

And go seaside
And take off nearly
All their clothes.