Sweater Stone!



I’m usually pretty leery of ad campaigns that offer you free product if you mail them a check for shipping and handling. To me, they just scream “Gimmick,” but when I came across an offer for a free Sweater Stone, I thought twice. The Sweater Stone company claims that their product “has the unique ability to remove pilling from knits,” and since I have several relatively new sweaters that already look a little tattered, I decided I’d take a chance. I figured that $4.99 in shipping and handling is much less than I would spend replacing my sweaters, and if it was a bust, I only cost me five bucks.

Well, my sweater stone arrived this week (several weeks sooner than their obligatory 4-6 week estimate.), and HOLY SMOKES this thing works. It was able to revive one of my favorite sweaters that I had given up on because it had millions of little pills all over the breast area. (Why do pills always show up on the boobs first? Do I just run into things with my girls or does the shirt feel it needs its own nipples?) The Sweater Stone company is still offering free stones if you send a check for $4.99. I’d highly recommend taking them up on their offer.

Seven Months

Categories: Cecilia | 1 Comment


blue-pj-toe-grab

Cecilia,

You turned seven months old this week, and this past month has ushered in big changes, both in your life and in the history of our country. The world is a much better place than it was several months ago, and I’m so excited to see what the future holds.

On the 20th of January, we saw the first African American being sworn in as President of the United States. I don’t think you’ll ever understand the magnitude of that day, and I hope you never will. I feel like each generation overcomes a little more than their parents as we slowly strip away the hatred and callousness of our past. The election of Barack Obama shows that our society believes in equality for all humanity. The country and the world are better than they once were. I hope we never forget where we came from, but I hope we can forget the intensity of the pain and anger.

bw-belly

You spent quite a bit of time refining your mobility skills this month. You’ve gotten very speedy with your crab crawl and rolling combination and need constant supervision. This has inspired me and your daddy to install bumper pads on our fireplace hearth. You’re also backing yourself into a sitting position and pulling up. One day you even tried to pull up on the puppy! There have been several falls and bumped heads in the process, but you settle down quickly with a comforting nursing session.

purple-shirt-belly

I’ve also made you several flavors of baby food this month, including sweet potatoes, peas, and pears. Surprisingly, you haven’t showed much interest in eating the food. (Playing with it is a different story!) We also mashed up a banana for you, and though you enjoyed it, it made you a little constipated. You didn’t mind, but since I’m the one that had to change your diaper when you finally did poop, I decided we should wait a little while before you eat banana again. I’m okay with you taking your time to eat solid foods. To be honest, I was a little disappointed that I would no longer be providing all of your nutrition. It feels good to know that my body can take care of you, and it feels even better to know that you prefer momma’s milk over sweet potatoes.

This month we’ve gone out and met lots of new people. You even met your wild Uncle Curtis. He lives in San Francisco, California and doesn’t get to visit very often. I know you won’t see him as often as your Uncle Jonathan and you won’t know him as well as your Uncle Bill, but he loves you very much and thinks the world of you.

overall

Your daddy and I also went on several dates while you stayed home with your grandparents. You did great while we were gone, even when we stayed out until 1:00 am on New Year’s Eve. I really had a good time with your daddy. It’s very important that he and I reconnect and spend quality alone time together. However, it feels so good to walk through the front door and see your face light up at the sight of your momma. You automatically reach out for me, and once you’re in my arms, you hold on tight. Moments like that remind me that we’ve got a special connection and make me fall even deeper in love with you.

Love,
Momma

green-stripe-boost

Postpartum Product Recommedations

I have several pregnant readers that will soon become first time moms.  A couple of them have asked me for product recommendations for their baby registry, and that got me thinking about what I wanted and needed during those first few weeks of motherhood.  I think too often the focus is on the baby and making sure she has the right clothing, bedding, and diapering and not enough attention is given to the postpartum mother.  If we ever have another child (if is key), here are a few items that I’ll have around.



Washlet by Toto (starts around $400).

When Chris went to Japan, he fell in love with having his bum sprayed with warm water, and he’s been petitioning for a washlet ever since.  In his words, “If you got crap on your hand, you’d wash it with water.  You wouldn’t just wipe it off.”  Well, the whole thing seemed a bit extravagant to me.  Then I had a baby, and pain in my nethers kept me from pooping for three days.  A washlet is much easier than a peri-bottle and more dignified than a sitz bath.  Plus it would fulfill Chris’s dream.



Adjustable Shower Nozzle by Gaiam ($10)

I’ve written about this shower head before, praising it’s earth-friendly low flow and adjustable valve that allows you to take navy showers.  I thought I loved it before, but I think I was just infatuated.  I discovered a deep love and appreciation for that valve when my newly lactating boobs turned into ultra sensitive boulders.  (Not that I’ve mentioned that before.) The ability to dial down the pressure and apply warm water to my aching breasts was a God sent.  Oh, Gaiam shower nozzle, how I love thy gentle touch…



Angelcare Deluxe Movement Monitor ($140)

Technically this is a baby item, but it’s for your peace of mind.  The first night of Cecilia’s life, I laid awake in our hospital room staring at her while Chris snored.  I was scared out of my mind that she’d stop breathing if I fell asleep.  This monitor detects the tiniest movement, even small breaths, and if doesn’t pick anything up for 20 seconds, it sets off a loud alert.  It’s hard to catch some zzz’s those first few weeks;  the last thing you need is your crazy postpartum hormonal paranoia keeping you up.



Step Stool  ($25)

We have a tall bed, and when I was pregnant, I had a hard time climbing into it.  However, I couldn’t justify spending money on a stool when I only needed it for a few months.  Then an internal battle took place between my body and my uterus, and I needed help getting out of my adjustable hospital bed.  My sweet brother-in-law bought this stool for me the day before we got home (bless him), and it help me crawl slowly into bed.  Thankfully it’s a practical thing to have around the house to this day.  I mean, it’s a stool.   Everyone can use a stool!  Right now it’s functioning as a place for Chris to sit while giving Cecilia a bath.

Alright, that’s all the not-so-obvious products that I can think of.  I’d also recommend preparing some make-ahead meals during your 8th month, sending your pups to doggy daycare that first week, and having the name and number of a local lactation consultant in your dayplanner. What do all you experienced mothers out there recommend?

I realized I was a grown-up

Categories: Plinky | No Comments

when I was standing in front of a judge at divorce court. Any kid over 18 (sometimes younger in the South) can get married. Divorce really puts the wrinkles on.

FRS - SC WIRE - Pumpkin Bread

Categories: FRS | 3 Comments

Remember how I said that I have several cookbooks that belonged to my late grandmother?  Some of these are real gems, like the classic Betty Crocker cookbook, and some are strange fundraiser cookbooks, like this one from the South Carolina Women Involved in Rural Electrification (WIRE).  It was published in 1982, and it completely baffles me that parts of South Carolina lived without electricity during the 198o’s.  Hell, I was born in 1982 and my family’s trailer in the Ozark mountains of Arkansas had power.  To say this cookbook is a bit outdated is an understatement.  It’s a lot outdated, and unless I wanted to cook casseroles with lots of shortening, bullion cubes, and Ritz crackers (as opposed to olive oil, free-range low sodium chicken broth, and homemade seasoned breadcrumbs), it’s going to be a challenge to find a recipe I’m willing to make, let alone call a favorite.

I decided to go with a classic, pumpkin bread.  I thought about doing a banana bread, but I already have a favorite banana bread recipe.   Like the cranberry muffins for Thanksgiving, I made these early, froze them, and served them Christmas morning.  The recipes in this cookbook were submitted by the WIRE members, and I doubt Mrs. Pauline Carmichael of Hemingeway, South Carolina minds me sharing with my readers.  (After all, it’s not a secret recipe - she did submit it so she could keep her lard beef-powder cracker casserole fresh.)

Pumpkin Bread

  • 3 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup nuts, chopped
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 2 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup salad oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups pumpkin (cooked or canned)
  • 2/3 cup water

Sift flour and measure.  Add baking powder, soda, salt, and spices.  Toss nuts and raisins lightly into flour mixture.  Beat sugar and oil at low speed with electric mixer.  Add eggs, one at a time.  Add pumpkin, flour mixture, and water.  Beat until thoroughly mixed.  Pour batter into one large or two small loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until done.

So here’s the cast of characters.

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There are a few changes.  The yellow lid behind the bag of pecans belongs to a jar of applesauce.  The recipe calls for a large amount of “salad oil”, which is any kind of vegetable oil, and that’s just too much unnecessary fat in my opinion.  (Also in my opinion, “salad oil” is olive oil, but that’s a bit to fancy for rural un-electrified South Carolina.)  Applesauce is a great substitute for oil in a recipe.  However, I made a little mistake, but I’ll get to that.  Also, I ended up using a wayward bag of walnuts that I found in the bottom of the deep freezer after  I took the photo.  Walnuts just seemed more fitting than pecans.  You’ll also notice that I have pumpkin spice instead of the long list of ingredients and golden raisins instead of the regular raisins (that look a little too much like little rodent turds).

Pauline tells us to sift and measure the flour.  I’m glad I listened to her.  I’ve always measured then sifted, and I think I’ve been using too much flour.  Given most flour comes somewhat “pre-sifted”, I cram as much as possible into my containers.

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Remember in my last FRS, when I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of my new sifter? It’s awesome, and it only requires one hand, which is, um, handy when you’re taking pictures of yourself. (Currently, it’s unavailable from Tupperware. Boo!)


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Here are the all the dry ingredients mixed together.  I didn’t have ground cloves in my pantry (shame!), but I did have pumpkin spice.  Pumpkin spice is a yummy mixture of cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger, and nutmeg.  I used 2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.

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And now for the wet…I got a little over exited about substituting applesauce for some of the oil, and I ended up using 2/3 cup of sauce and 1/3 cup of oil.  That’s a full cup of liquid when it should have been just 2/3 cup.  Oops.

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Hey! There are my legs!

Wet ingredients meet the dry ingredients (with raisins and nuts already included).

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Here’s the batter poured into a mini-loaf pan.  This pan belonged to Chris’s late Aunt Edith, and I think she’d be happy to know that I’m using it.  I never had the opportunity to meet her, but I’ve heard great stories about her homemaking skills and her love for Chris.  There’s something special about using old family cookbooks and kitchenware.  It makes me feel connected to my heritage.

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The recipe, as printed, bakes for at least an hour.  Of course, I added extra liquid by mistake so my bread took extra long to bake.  In the mean time, I whipped up Halibut with Lentils and Mustard Sauce for dinner.  Poor Chris, his life  is so hard…

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Here’s the final product:

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This recipes makes A LOT of bread so here’s the muffin version too:


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Final Verdict: This recipe is AWESOME!  Despite my goof with the extra liquid, it was absolutely delicious (just a little sticky), but then again, it would be hard for it to taste bad with nearly 3 cups of sugar.  Nevertheless, I think this easily qualifies as my favorite recipe from this cookbook.  Since I’m not into casseroles laced with cheez-whiz, I don’t think I’ll be using this cookbook often.  However, there is a zucchini nut bread recipe that might come in handy if I have a bountiful squash harvest from my garden this summer.

Photoshop Actions

Categories: Photography | No Comments

I’ve recently downloaded some new Photoshop Actions, and there are a couple that I’m not sure about.  Tell me what you think.

Here’s the original photo:

1.17.09 090

Here’s the photo with the 70s action:

1.17.09-70s

Here’s it is with the Soft and Faded action:

1.17.09-soft-faded

And with the Boost action:

1.17.09-boost

What do you think?  I think with the right photo, they all would be handy to have around.   However, I’m not sure if Cecilia is the best subject for them.

Book Review: Never Say Diet

Categories: Picklings | No Comments



Growing up, I remember hating it when people said things such as, “I’m a Christian, but I hate organized religion,” or, “I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious.” In my mind, there really isn’t a way to separate the two. Of course, now that I’ve only stepped into a church a handful of times in the past ten years, I’m really at no place to judge. It’s not that I hate church - I really don’t. I hate Christians. I say that as a bitter, angry Christian.
With that explained, you can see the irony that I’m part of a book review mailing list from a Christian publisher. A couple times a month they email me a title and subject of a book, and I can opt-in to the blog tour. It’s why I reviewed Matthew Paul Turner’s Churched and why I’m writing this review. Despite the appeal of free books, I have turned down several offers. It’s not that I’m unwilling to soften my callous soul to read a Jesus book. It’s just that some subjects are not ones that I necessarily want to broach on a blog that my father reads, like books about my marriage’s sexual relationship. But when an opportunity to review a book about one of my passions, diet and exercise, comes along, I’ll definitely take that carrot.

Chantel Hobbs wrote Never Say Diet based on her experience losing 200lbs. She believes she was able to accomplish her goal and keep the weight off because five “Brain-Change” decisions. These “Brain-Changes” allow a person to shift to a healthy lifestyle without dieting. Hobbs also lays out a 17-week plan to slowly ease the reader into a healthy lifestyle to avoid burnout or binging. In addition to her story and plan, she provides scientific reasoning behind various exercises, helpful tips, and a chapter on getting your family on board with a healthy lifestyle.
Chantel’s story is inspirational. She truthfully tells of her highs and lows, and how she finds enlightenment along the way. There were moments that I found myself nodding along with her insightful thoughts, and when she described eating an indulgent meal, her thoughts really struck home with me:

“At the time I was so concerned and aggravated that I thought about skipping breakfast. No, that would just make me hungrier later. Then I thought about doing an extra hour of cardio to punish myself. Finally I got a grip. This was not a race. I didn’t need to redouble the speed of my progress, because there was no finish line! Since I wasn’t on a diet, I couldn’t have cheated; therefore I didn’t need to be punished.”

This is a Christian book, but it’s not an overly Christian book. One of the five “Brain-Change” decisions is to surrender, which includes surrendering yourself to God. You start off every day with a “Surrender Statement” (basically a prayer), but Hobbs is quick to point out that prayer is not going to make you thin. She repeats throughout the book that God wants you to be the best that you can be, and she’s very blunt in saying that requires hard work on your behalf.

Though I enjoyed reading her book, I can’t say I learned anything new. I’ve focused on healthy living for several years now so it’s rare that books teach me something when based on someone’s personal experience. There are moments when she seems to be contradicting herself. For example, in weeks 9-12, your goal is to make food boring and, thus, making food a less desirable reward. She believes you can accomplish this by eating a limited variety of foods for four weeks, and she provides a list of acceptable foods. Though it’s just four weeks of a 17 week program, that sounds pretty much like a diet, which goes against the whole premise behind Never Say Diet. My only other complaint is one that I often have when reading books written by non-professionals. She spends the first portion of her book hyping up her “Five Brain-Change Decisions” without telling the reader what they are. In fact, she doesn’t disclose them until page 75! If I hadn’t committed to read her book for the blog tour, I probably would have tossed it to the side by page 40.

Overall, I think it’s a good book. Her story is definitely inspiring, and I agree with pretty much everything she says. Her program is long and requires dedication, but as she points out in the book, it’s about a lifestyle change. It’s not a short diet where someone tells you what to eat and when they stop, you gain your weight back. I’d recommend it to someone who has 50lbs or more to lose. If you had less than that, the program would probably be too long to keep your attention.

Like my last review, I have a copy of Never Say Diet to give away, which comes with the Never Say Diet Personal Fitness Trainer. (I checked it out - it’s not a bible study. It is a workout and food journal.) If you’d like to win it, email me at sleepingKelly@sleepingKelly.com. I’ll have Chris pick a random number on Wednesday night after the baby goes down.

Bounce!

Categories: video , Cecilia | No Comments


Cecilia Bounces from sleepingKelly on Vimeo.

Great Protector

Categories: Cecilia , Lucy , Photography | 1 Comment

I’m so thankful for digital cameras.  How awesome is it that we can now snap away without worrying about the cost of film and development?  You never have to worry about losing the pictures of your vacation because you accidentally opened the back of your camera or because you misplaced that roll of film in your luggage.  We no longer have to keep up with negatives or print that obligatory picture that you took of Aunt Sarah opening her Christmas gift.  As long as you upload to your pictures to photo sharing site, like Flickr or Snapfish, you won’t even need to worry about your hard drive crashing.  And Aunt Sarah?  You can delete her from your camera’s memory card when she’s not looking.

Of all the digital camera functions, the quick delete is probably my favorite, or at least, it comes in super handy, especially when my dog is around.  You see, Lucy has a strange fear of cameras.  I’m not sure why; my camera doesn’t even make any noise.  Maybe she picked up the behavior from me. (See #74.) Regardless of where she learned it, she’s scared of them, and for the last few months, she’s been putting herself between the camera and the baby.  I assume she’s being protective.  However, she’s not aggressive about it and to a certain degree, it’s cute.  But only to a certain degree.  She has ruined countless shots over the past six months, and if I had been working with a traditional 35mm that used costly film, I’d be more than just irritated.


Lucy's Nose


Lucy's Nose

Lucy's Nose

Number 69, Check

69. Habitually apply moisturizer with SPF to my face daily

I have a routine when I get out of the shower: Q-tip ears, apply deodorant, comb hair, in that order.  In fact, I’m a little OCD about it.  One time I went out of town and forgot to bring Q-tips, and I freaked out a little.  Over the past couple months, I’ve incorporate moisturizing my face to the routine.  Given I usually shower at night, I figure applying it at any time during the day is better than none at all.  I’ve also started using it before applying make-up, but that’s a surprising rare occassion.