Family Dinner Traditions

Family dinner is a fantastic thing. Unfortunately (brace yourself, I'm about to let you down) we don't sit at the table and have them very often. Um, actually never. We did for a while, but for whatever reason we haven't found a dining table set up that keeps that role. Instead it's covered in fabric or another project. Right now it's just sitting in a room that doesn't heat very well, so that room stays blocked off through the winter. I know, weird. Whatever.

But the past 2 nights we've made dinner as a family. That, my friends, makes for some spectacular fun while working the kid's brain and forcing C and I to maintain a steady and heaping helping of patience.

Some ground rules: Mabel isn't allowed to get near the stove. She's not allowed to use knives, either. She's a great helper with stirring, kneading dough, and, when all else fails, sweeping the floor. Inviting a toddler in the kitchen makes for messy cooking--none of that clean-as-you-go stuff. The extra bits of time go into engaging her young, active mind.

Sunday we spent the day being lazy and doing whatever we wanted,randomly convening in the kitchen to work on the simmering from-scratch chicken noodle soup. Mabel's job? Take the pasta dough and roll it into little balls, then help roll it out through the pasta roller.

So she's 2 and she's already helped Mama make buttermilk biscuits, egg pasta, and turned masa into tortillas. Now that's a family dinner tradition I think we can keep.

Not too shabby chic

Several weekends ago we trekked to Cabarrus County to pick up some rough cut lumber that was listed on Craigslist. What an adventure it turned out to be--we ended up at a farm of horses, cows and chickens, the hosts were a middle aged farming couple who raise cattle. Mabel, as you can imagine, loved the cows...but from a distance. The couple also had a few horses, all but one were rescues. Mabel and I petted horses and watched chickens while Charlie went through the attic of one of the barns picking lumber: air dried, locally milled walnut. Plank after plank of beautiful wood, thick, unplaned planks full of potential.

Not too shabby, huh?

Pretty Green

The Mr. knows the way to my heart better than any other--for mother's day he gave me a greenhouse, and for our 6th anniversary he gave me shelves for the greenhouse!

The greenhouse is much prettier when surrounded by green trees.

We took a romantic anniversary trip to Ikea for 4 Molger benches. I thought they'd work stacked 2 high and be an absolutely beautiful substitute for the more widely available metal storage shelves. In my mind 4 benches, 2 sets of 2 stacked high, would be ample work space for the greenhouse, but when I saw them in person the benches were smaller than I'd imagined. It would take 8 to fill the space rather than 4. Instead I decided Gorm would be a much better solution and that's what Sugar Daddy bought me.

Ikea had a 30" tall unit on display, but when we got to the aisle to load them up they were sold out of that size. In it's place we bought the 68" tall unit and Charlie cut the legs in half and it actually turned out to be a better working height.

After a few seasons, some design adjustments were made, including the addition of
actual greenhouse poly-tape and poly to wood tape.

The shelves need an oil finish to get them ready to stand up to the humidity of a greenhouse, but I'm ready to do a little bit of rubbing on them.  Mr Sugar Daddy also bought me a metal pail with lid so I can put my dirt in it and keep the greenhouse all matchy matchy pretty and Martha'd out. I'm thinking some baking sheets with low lips will polish up the look even more, but maybe enameled ones so they don't scorch  the tender seedling roots. 

I've got my soil blocker ready, will pick up a few bags of seed starting medium (peat free, please) and will have my act together just in time to start my summer loving plants.

sentimental me

I'm feeling especially sentimental this holiday season, but haven't done much in the way of setting the mood around the house to be very Christmas-y. I have been on the look out for things that would convey the magic of the season to Mabel...and not by way of over-the-top piles of gift wrapped toys. One fine bit of magic comes from the pop-up book Follow the Star. Since M loves to find stars in the sky, I knew the silver stars would grab her attention and the modern graphics and intricate pop-ups would appeal to both C and me.

The message is religious (Christmas...duh) but not literally so, it's more a spiritual reflection. And you know what? M does love it! We read it twice yesterday and once this morning before work. It's finally beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!