Sunday, November 29, 2009

More Stuff My Husband Says 3

I've been spending a lot of down time around the house picking up the various books we have on tables and bookshelves and nightstands about pregnancy and birth and early childhood development. I often dip into them haphazardly, pulling out tidbits about what causes stretch marks, about how big our baby should be by now, about postures and ways to breath during labor. Every so often, I'll come across something that involves the birthing woman's "partner" and the role they play during the birth.

As I peer up over the edge of a book at my husband, I'll often ask "Do you think you can do this during labor?" Sometimes I'll show him an awkward-looking posture that involves him holding up most of my weight while the baby is born. Sometimes it's something simpler, like wiping my brow. Other times we'll be lying in bed together or hugging each other in the dining room and he'll be rubbing my back or my arm or my belly. "Do you think you can do this during labor?" I'll ask. Or he'll rub my shoulders while I'm seated at the computer. "Do you think you can do this during labor?" It has become something of a mantra. Fortunately, most of the time, the answer is yes -- other than the one time I asked if he'd be able to pick up my entire (large) pregnant body off the floor and heft me into a supported squat should this be required. He wasn't so sure his back would take such a maneuver and I'm still hoping that I don't require such assistance.

My husband has a big final due on Tuesday and he's been spending a lot of time in front of the computer, typing away with shoulders hunched over the keyboard. This evening, I stood behind him and rubbed his shoulders, working out some of the tension in his upper back. "Ahh....." he sighed. "That feels really good."

His sighs stopped for a moment before he asked, "Do you think you can do this in labor?"

He says that when the doula comes over after labor starts, he wants her to find me rubbing his back, giving him water and snacks while he rotates his hips on the birth ball just so he can tell her: "The information that you gave us is SO helpful. I feel great!"

I am left wondering: at what stage of labor is my husband's sense of humor going to make me want to hit him?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

And the winner is....!

Tara M.!

Congratulations, you've just won the first Lars and Addie Blog Giveaway with a surprise prize!

The prize is....

(drum roll please)

... a felted soap of your choice.

Blog Readers, read until the end of this post for a special one-time offer for you loyal followers!

Why Felted Soap?

- It looks beautiful!

- No washcloth required.

- Exfoliate as you cleanse.

- Keep it dry between uses, and it will last longer than an unfelted soap.

- The wool will shrink as you use it. You’ll be left with a deliciously scented piece of wool that you can stash in a drawer to keep your clothes smelling lovely.

Lars and Addie felted soaps are lovingly felted using pure, soft merino wool in a variety of colors and designs. I felt soaps from Lusa Organics in a variety of scents.

Here are the ones you can choose from:.

The first is the blue, light pink, and deep pink marble in Tofani, which is warm soap scented with Vetiver and Patchouli. (value $10)

The next is a pale blue green Lullaby soap with the outline of a winter tree needle felted on to the front of the soap. Lullaby is a relaxing combination of lavender and chamomile. (value $12)

Third, is a yellow, green, and purple pastel marble felted over Gitchigumee, which is an invigorating combination of eucalyptus and mint. (value $10)

Next is a light blue soap with white snowflakes needle felted onto the front. This soap comes in Lullaby, which is lavender and chamomile. (value $12)

Last is a dark purple and light purple felted soap on a rope in the Sweet Soul Sister scent which is an uplifting combination of Tangerine and Peppermint, perfect for a morning pick me up. The rope allows you to hang the soap over a shampoo bottle or shower handle for quick and easy drying between uses. A dry soap is a longer lasting soap! (value $12)

For those of you who read the blog or participated in the giveaway, many thanks for your enthusiasm! If you're interested in any of the soaps listed here, I'm offering FREE SHIPPING for blog readers only on these soaps! This will be available on a first come, first served basis (after Tara picks her prize, of course) until Monday, November 18th. Just send me your desires and address to larsandaddie at gmail dot com.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

First Lars and Addie Giveaway: How well do you know your handmade?

Welcome to my first giveaway! What's in it for you? The chance to win a surprising new Lars and Addie product. I'm introducing a new line of products that I've dropped a few clues about over the past few weeks here on my blog. You will receive one of these items (you'll be able to choose from a few) valued at $10-$12. You can enter up to three times:

1. Leave a comment on this post. (But, shhhhhh... don't leave a comment about what the new product will be.)
2. Become a follower. (Followers will be automatically signed up for this and future giveaways.)
3. Send me an e-mail at larsandaddie [at] gmail [dot] com with your guess as to what this new product line is going to be. Hint: check back over old blog posts for hints about supplies I've been stocking up on lately.

Enter before next Tuesday November 10th!

If you're super curious, you live in the Twin Cities area, and you want to get a jump on the competition, visit Lars and Addie at the Oakwood Bazaar this weekend where I'll be selling these new items.

Friday, November 6th 3 pm- 8 pm
Saturday, November 7th 9 am - 5 pm
1388 Point Douglas Rd.
Saint Paul, MN 55119

Make sure that either your profile includes a way to get in touch with you or check back here next Wednesday (Nov 11th) to see if you won!

Good luck to all and check back for more future giveaways!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More Things My Husband Says 2

Eric usually wears contact lenses, but first thing in the morning and last thing at night, he wears his glasses. Eric has had the same pair of glasses since the 8th grade. Not just the same thin, wire tortoise-shell frames with dull gold accents but the same lenses too. And no, he's not blessed with the eyesight of an 8th grader. He has become more myopic, but he still wears these glasses so that even with them on he can barely see five feet in front of his face. His eyewear situation is not helped by the fact that he hasn't cleaned those glasses since the 8th grade.

At some point the left arm of his frames fell off and he lost the pin. In a rare MacGyver moment, he repaired them with a straight pin. He clipped the pointy tip off and curled it up so that it would stay in place, but needless to say, it is still pokey and threatening. When I lean over to kiss him in the morning, there's always the risk that, in some Twilight Zone version of The Gift of the Magi, I will suffer permanent ocular injury inflicted by my husband's 8th grade glasses.

The other morning, we were lying around in bed enjoying the fact that we didn't have anywhere to be and don't (yet) have a child/ baby demanding our weekend morning attention. Eric was, of course, wearing his 8th grade glasses and staring at me lovingly.

"Do you think the baby will have your mouth and nose?" he asked.

"I don't know. Why?" I was setting him up for a gracious compliment about the beauty and fullness of my lips and the aquiline slope of my nose. No such comment was forthcoming.

In fact, the conversation from there spiraled into unloving comments about the attributes we wish our baby would inherent from ourselves -- thereby pointing out the other person's shortcomings.

"I hope the baby has my eyelashes," Eric commented before noting how difficult life would be for the baby if it had my short, sparse eyelashes.

"I hope the baby has my personality," I retorted.

"I hope the baby has my SMARTS!" Eric followed his come-back with an "Ooooooo!" to increase its potency.

"I hope the baby has my non-prematurely grey hair."

This, of course, lead to a discussion about what I would think if Eric came home one day and he had dyed his hair entirely black using "Just For Men" to cover up the grey around his temples, which he knows that I find debonair.

There was a silence as we both sat there thinking about "Just For Men" and other artifacts of our 1980's upbringing.

And, finally, Eric:

"I hope the baby has my 8th grade glasses."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lars and Addie This Fall

Just completed an order to stock a brand new Minneapolis shop with fabric bowls. Shoppe Local is the brainchild of the owners of Patina and features exclusively local Minnesota artists. The new store is located at the intersection of 50th St and Bryant Ave -- just a few doors down from the Patina location there.

Some of the bowls that are available only at Shoppe Local:

Eric asked if we could keep this one:

He sometimes asks "Why can't we keep any of the stuff you make?" Sometimes he asks while he's wearing the sweater I knitted him. He's kind of greedy.

My apologies for the sub-par photos; I was eager to get these sent off.

I'm hoping that my sewing machine, which started acting up last week, is in working order in time for my next craft fair so I can stock up on these one of a kind bowls in time. In the meantime, I working on other, non-sewing projects that are keeping my hands wrinkly with water and my kitchen smelling quite nice. More on that to come...!

Two weeks until my first show of the fall!

1st Annual Oakwood Bazaar
Friday, November 6th 3 pm - 8 pm
Saturday, November 7th 9 am - 5 pm

There will be food and live music. Shop handmade this holiday season!

1388 Point Douglas Road South, Saint Paul, MN 55119 (yes, I'm crossing the river!)
If you need more information, you can contact Cheri Brown at lovealwaysxox at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More Things My Husband Says

"I wonder if after you give birth, you'll suddenly feel lighter... like when you get your haircut in the summer. Yeah. That's probably what it's like. Giving birth is like getting your haircut. I've basically given birth."

Friday, October 9, 2009


I just received 40 bars of this delicious soap in the mail from LuSa Organics.

If you could smell and touch these, you'd be very jealous. But instead you'll just have to be very jealous of how luscious they look.

I received five scents (Tofani, Sweet Soul Sister, Lullaby, Gitchigumee, and Gaia's Garden) and wish I could just luxuriate in a warm bath enjoying these little gems. BUT I've got plans for them... and I've got to get working!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Things My Husband Says

My husband,
on when I give birth to our first child:
"It's going to be fun!"

Monday, September 21, 2009

On Happiness

Aside from fame and copious dollar bills, one of the perks of writing the occasional A-List for the local alt-weekly, City Pages, is that I can occasionally get free tickets to events. Sometimes those are even events I want to attend. Thursday night the husband and I went to the Policy and a Pint event at the UBC forum at Minnesota Public Radio. Policy and a Pint is an event put on by MPR and the Citizen's League in which attendees listen to (and partake in) a discussion about a policy-related topic and drinks pints of beer. Well, a pint each - so things don't get rowdy.

Thursday's event featured Colin Beavan, author of No Impact Man, a book which started as a blog in which he chronicled his and his family's attempt to live one year having zero environmental impact. Beavan, his wife, and his toddler went to fairly extreme measures from foregoing NYC's mass transit in favor of bicycles to turning off the power supply in their apartment and relying on a single solar panel for their computer, candles for light, and elbow grease to clean their clothes. What was, perhaps, most surprising about the experiment is that sacrificing take-out and store-bought bread, TV and electric lights actually made their lives, well, better. In spite of the fact that he was baking his own bread daily, Beavan found that he seemed to have more time in the day. There was less running around, fewer late nights at work, more time spent playing games with his family and friends.

One of the things that Beavan touched upon in his talk at Policy and a Pint is that there was, however, a limit to the improvements that came from these sacrifices. There was a point at which too much sacrifice, too many limitations on resources, merely lead to misery. He pointed to the night that his daughter got sick, threw up on the bedsheets, and then threw up again on the second pair of clean bedsheets that he'd replaced the first set with. He caved. He used the washing machine in the basement of their apartment. Having to do laundry by hand was one of the greatest hardships during this experiment.

One of the points that Beavan has been using his experiment to make is that doing away with wasteful consumption made him and his family happier. On his blog he wrote, "I believe, as Professor Tim Jackson of the University of Surrey discussed in his 2005 paper "Live Better by Consuming Less?," that there is a "double-dividend" to reduced consumption. One dividend is that it helps maintain our health, happiness and security as it depends on our planetary habitat and the other is the increase of happiness that can come with a lesser emphasis on accumulating stuff."

In his talk at Policy and a Pint, he suggested that this idea that less consumption can lead to greater happiness is a selling point for people not already part of the environmental movement. And to a certain degree, I buy this. Sure. Tell people that using less resources will make them happy and they just might sign on.

The problem I have, however, is using this notion of "happiness" as a selling point. The word happy is two-dimensional and superficial. "Happy" lacks depth in the same way as other words that have gotten into this global warming situation to begin with: convenience, money, status. Happy seems unsubstantial.

And being "happy" can mean so many different things to so many different people. For Beavan, playing cards with his wife by candlelight made him happy. For some, driving a large SUV makes them happy. Roasting marshmallows around a backyard fire with my family makes me happy but so does a long, hot (water wasting) shower. This difference is that one leaves me feeling fulfilled and the other makes me feel fuzzy and relaxed.

It strikes me as oddly lacking in depth that our founding fathers included the phrase "pursuit of happiness" as among our inalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence (and that Will Smith made a movie by the same name. C'mon, Will!). Surely there are words and pursuits that get at a greater depth of human complexity and emotion and that would convey something more permanent, less transitory: contentment, joy, satisfaction, fulfillment.

Beavan pointed to the ways in which increased access to and use of resources can increase happiness for those at the other end of the spectrum. A father in a developing country who is finally able to access enough coal energy to hang a lightbulb for his student daughter is, according to Beavan, happier for it. But he's much more than just "happy" -- he's fulfilling a biological imperative to take care of and improve the lives of our children.

The resource that my husband and I use that is perhaps the most contentious in our household is the air conditioner. After listening to Beavan, my husband noted that doing away with air conditioning would make him very, very unhappy. In this way, he tried to justify using it. He's (mostly) joking, but I think he found the point at which the whole "living an eco-friendly life will make you happy" sales tactic falls apart. Happiness is something of a selfish emotion. I do this because it makes me happy (because I feel cool or warm and relaxed) right now. I don't do this because it makes me unhappy (sweaty or shivery). Asking people (and corporations and manufacturers) to be thoughtful of the environment is going to take a lot more than telling them, "It will make you happy!" It will require more self reflection than that. It will require that we ask ourselves the question that Beavan opened his talk with: "Have I lived a life where I've done more good than harm?" Sometimes doing good is about making tough choices, making sacrifices and sometimes it leads to a sense of satisfaction that is much longer lasting than mere happiness.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Eat Your Curds and Whey

After living in virtually dairy-free Thailand for three years, I returned Stateside to find that I was utterly intolerant. Intolerant of lactose, that is. Eating dairy left me doubled over with cramps. I soldiered on, vowing to make myself, well, less intolerant.

Six years on, I can eat most cheeses and even some ice creams sans problems. Milk? Bad idea. When I found out I was knocked up this past spring, I amped up the calcium supplement. Still, I was worried that this little bugger was sapping all the calcium I was ingesting and then some.

And so began the yogurt experiments. I'd had bad experiences eating yogurt in the past so I was reluctant to try again. But after making it through a few small, handy containers of the good stuff without any problems, I decided yogurt was safe. Perhaps I'd just had bad yogurt (i.e. that with milk solids in it) in the past or maybe my bad reactions had been coincidental... or psychological.

Since spring the old man and I have been plowing through containers and containers of yogurt like nobody's business. I was making trips to the co-op just to buy yogurt: large tubs of vanilla for my morning cereal and a variety of smaller, fruit-bottomed ones for our snack through the day. Unfortunately, this was costing not just us but the environment. The number 5 on the bottoms of the white plastic might have been "666": the mark of the unrecyclable.

Just as I was beginning to lose faith that we'd never find a way to feed our craving in an eco-friendly way, my mother-in-law brought a copy of the Star Tribune with an article about making your own yogurt. After I let the article float around from pile to pile of junk in our house and to appropriately needle my guilty conscience, I pulled it out, checked the directions and bought the two ingredients I needed for yogurt: milk and a small container of plain, sweetener, and stabilizer-free yogurt.

I opted for the unhomogenized milk in the glass bottles and "Cultural Revolution" yogurt. My first batches, I've made with whole milk because it seems to be the easiest. Well, turns out making yogurt is pretty easy in general.

I boiled a quart of the milk in a saucepan until bubbles began to form (about 180 to 190 degrees). Then I waited. And waited. I needed the milk to cool to about 115 to 200 degrees -- or, as some recipes indicate, until I was able to stick my little finger in there for ten seconds without burning it. Since I only have two pinky fingers, I prefer to use a candy thermometer.

(You might be able to see the bubbles forming in this picture if you look closely.)

Once cooled, I removed about 1/2 cup (I used one ladle full) of the warm milk to a bowl and stirred in about 1/2 cup of the yogurt (some recipes suggest only a few tablespoons are needed). I mixed well and then slowly added it back into the saucepan of warm milk, combining well.

I poured the milk/ yogurt combo into a large quart glass container (there was a little left for one smaller pint container), covered, and set it on top of my fridge wrapped in dishtowels. No need for a fancy yogurt incubator! I left it there overnight and in the morning: voila! Yogurt. I poured off the whey and put the containers in the fridge. The longer it sits in there, the more tart it becomes. Now that I have my own yogurt, I can just set aside a little bit each time to use to make the next batch -- so they only thing I have to buy is the milk. I've done two batches now and both have worked out great -- perfect with granola and fresh fruit in the morning and now that my yogurt is in handy glass containers, I don't have to worry about the waste! For the husband, I mixed some up with some berries and some honey for a little container on the go. (Although fresh fruit does make homemade yogurt a little runny.)

Next up: experimenting with lower fat content milk and making strawberry-flavored kefir (a yogurt drink) for my husband.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

If this doesn't excite you, you might need to check your pulse...

... or you just might not be a wool nerd like I am.

Just got a big bundle of wool from Blue Goose Glen. It's super soft and colorful merino that I'm testing out for some upcoming projects. I usually use and rougher roving for felting, but this is so nice to touch and work with that I might have to start using this softer stuff.

These guys flew over just as I was outside taking the pictures of the Blue Goose Glen wool. It seemed auspicious somehow.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Minnesota State Fair Redux

I stuck to my State Fair plan and (at least of the first visit) only ate the one thing at the fair that stands out above all else (and that is hard to come by outside of those two weeks): pork chop on a stick. I don't have a picture of that. But I do have this:

and this:

and Eric eating a corn dog on a stick (he's decided to go with the pronto pup in future years):

We also have Conan on a stick made from seeds (perhaps you have to be a Minnesotan or a Minnesota State Fair attendee to really appreciate what's going on here):

I'm not sure if this was what the seed artist was referencing...

Lastly, and certainly the best part of the State Fair this year was stumbling across this guy playing Dance Dance Revolution at the arcade. It will take a moment to "buffer" but it's well worth it. (S0rry for the pretty low quality.)

What you might not be able to tell is that this guy was getting perfect scores -- even when he had his back to the screen. SOMEONE's put A LOT of time into practicing DDR.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Curtains: The Symbol of My Reintroduction into the World of Selfish Crafting

It's often said that when your "art" or "craft" becomes your living, you no longer do that art or craft for fun. There are the cliches of the carpenter with the crumbling house, the plumber with the leaky faucets, the chef who's dinner consists of canned ravioli and iceberg lettuce eaten leaning over the kitchen sink. Try as I might, I cannot avoid this cliche. My husband's clothes sit un-mended and the parts of various textile-related household projects (like making covers for pillow forms) are shoved into a corner while I sew products for my shop and gifts for other people.

No longer!

I am turning over a new leaf and giving just as much priority to those incomplete household tasks. Just this weekend I finally completed the curtains for our second floor bathroom (the one that looks directly into our neighbor's house).

The "before" picture might be some indication of why it was one of the more pressing projects.

I even used some of the left-over material to fashion a panel curtain for our backdoor and to replace the unfortunate floral one that was, I think, slowly driving my husband mad. But I'm digressing into another post. (In an upcoming post I'll give a quick tutorial for making a super easy panel curtain for a door.)

In the meantime more pictures of the completed curtains.

Please pardon the lack of trim on the window. Thankfully, my husband is a scientist, not a carpenter and that project should be complete before the turn of the next century!

Friday, August 28, 2009

What's that smell?

... That's something that my two year old niece says every so often when she encounters something olafactorily offensive.

With this new deodorant that I found on etsy, she'll hopefully be less inclined to say it around me. I know, I already posted about etsy deodorant, but it turns out I have sensitive pits (or maybe it's just pregnancy hormones) and I was itching up a storm.

So I tried some of the "No Offense Deodorant" from Mum Mum's Crafts in the plumeria scent. This stuff smells delicious. Seriously. Every so often since I've started using it, I'll think, "What's that lovely smell?" And, well, it's me! The plumeria is gently floral, clean, and a little tropical. And in the past week since I started wearing it, my husband has not once said "You kind of stink," as we've climbed into bed. Either we're really making progress in our relationship or this stuff really works. The only downside I've come across is the one day that I put it on with a black tank top -- some of the white stuff showed up. But I'm also pretty careless about that sort of thing -- and, besides, tank top season is almost over. At $7 for 3 oz, it's quite a bit pricier than any store bought stuff, but I don't mind paying extra for handmade and the stuff is so thick that I'm confident it will last me a while. Although, I might be buying before I run out just so I can check out some of the other scents!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fence Building 201

The adage (or perhaps it's just a poem) goes "good fences make good neighbors." Our last couple of weekends of working on the fence beg me to ask "do fences make good families?"

Unfortunately, I only have pics from a few weekends ago when our mission was to finish getting the rails up and start placing the pickets on the first panels. Since then, we've (by which I, once again, mean "Eric's family") finished all the pickets and the three gates.

It basically went something like this:

Eric and his dad discussed the plan of attack: a conversation which I'm sure involved Loren offering all sorts of sage advice but then reassuring Eric that "it's his house" and that they should do it the way he wanted to. At which point Eric mulled it over for about two seconds before agreeing with his father. (Although to be fair, Eric did pretty much all the designing.)

Eric did most of the measuring and the math because he's supposed to be good with numbers, although, honestly, the calculator his mom carries in her purse (and gets teased for doing so) came in handy.

Dane did lots of cutting because he's meticulous.

Lu and Loren put the pickets up. I hope this fence didn't come between them.

That's supposedly that guy's middle name, but....
... it was Loren who was taking the real risks by ripping boards so that they would fit precisely at either side of each panel using a guard-less table saw.

But not to worry, the only major injury was incurred when Loren drilled into his own thumb.

A few weeks later, the crew reunited along with youngest brother, Tyler, who took on much of the drilling because, well, he's tall. Sorry, Ty, no pictures from this weekend. Loren's thumb had healed quite nicely.

I did a little measuring here and there, since I do so much when I'm sewing anyway, but mostly I found inventive ways to use my pregnancy as an excuse to not do much of anything at all. Or, as my five year old nephew pointed out his weekend when he dropped by with his mom and siblings to see the fence, "Let's leave the men to the work and go inside where the ladies are lounging." 'Twas true. We were lounging.

I'm still not entirely sure that good fences make good families. At least one member of my family is already jealous that I married into a family that is so handy, not to mention a little obsessive compulsive when it comes to home renovation. So I guess at the very least "good families make good fences."

Next time in the fences trilogy: pictures of the final product (we still have a few more finishing touches to put on) and the pros and cons of having a puppy running wild in the backyard.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pardon the absence, but the beach comes before bloggin

Sorry for the long silence. I was busy doing this:

Which is to say, posing for photos with my family on the front steps of beach houses. Not really. Mostly we were:

Hanging out with family at the beach house. (Lest you feel like you might nee to call child protective services, that's a mosquito bite over Addie's eye.)

Picking (and eating) A LOT of Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab. We are probably mostly responsible for the decline in the population. Sorry, crab lovers. (Also, turns out that sitting in a chair picking crab for three hours is NOT a great activity for a pregnant lady's feet.)

Laughing with our siblings. (Most likely at the expense of another sibling.)

Hanging out in the water.

And learning to boogie board (and how to dodge jelly fish).

Taking lessons on how to make a train whistle sound from Granny.

"Reading" on the beach. (And, yes, Ladies, he's single.)

Trying to look glamorous in the sand.

Lying around with siblings (and looking wistful).

And spending a lot of time "upseedown."

I spent a good portion of each day enjoying being buoyant in the salt water and eating ice cream.