Garden update

I think it’s fair to say that we haven’t had a lot of time to work on the garden this year, but we’re finally getting around to making some progress. We did plant a lot of vegetables earlier this year, and they are really thriving now. Not surprisingly, the tomatoes have gone NUTS.

The red cherry tomato plant got so heavy it toppled the cage and I’ve had to cut it back several times.

The orange one spread out a lot, but hasn’t gone quite as crazy. It makes these huge bundles of tomatoes.

Then we had this volunteer pop up next to my pot of lavender. I probably should have pulled it out, but I just left it, and now it needs its own cage.

It kills me that Harper pulled all the blooms off that orchid (above left) since it only blooms once a year. It looks healthy enough to come back next year though. 

I’m not really sure what kind of tomato this is.

The tomatoes are medium-sized and kind of orange-red in color, so it’s hard to tell when they’re ripe.

The sauce tomatoes are looking good. Hopefully I’ll have my first batch ready to roast soon.

And then we have these regular round tomatoes that should be ripe soon. I see a lot of caprese salads in our future!

This is the first time I’ve really successfully grown bell peppers. This one plant produced a bunch of good-sized green ones, so I’m leaving them on there in hopes that they’ll turn red.

We also have some jalapenos that I used in tortilla soup last night. I’m not sure why they’re turning black, but they taste good.

I also had a purple kale plant that did really well, but I just cut it down because it was overtaken with bugs. Does anyone have a good remedy for that?

One new addition this year is rhubarb! Mike got this plant from a neighbor and it seems to be happy.

We bought 2 other baby plants at the garden store, but only one has survived so far.

Our berry patch is not faring as well as the veggie patches.

We have three raspberry plants that have produced a few berries, but the blueberries are mostly dead. I think the soil pH is off, so I will work on that.

The strawberries have done well and I think they are coming to the end of their season. I froze a bunch to make jam or some kind of dessert later. Maybe something strawberry-rhubarb if the rhubarb gets tall enough?

The orange tree has some oranges starting to turn yellow, but overall it seems to have a lot fewer than last year. Since the tree looks very lush and healthy, I think it just might be cyclical.

Our neighbor’s apple tree is full of yummy looking apples right now. Hopefully some fall into our yard!

This area is kind of a work in progress. The flower bushes took a big hit during the drought last summer, and never really recovered. Basically, they dry out and then become vulnerable to fungus. By fall they look like they’re dying, but then with winter rain they come back.

I really want to save this one because it has such pretty flowers and smells like lemon when you touch it.

And of course I love my red and white fuchsia.

I bought another hanging planter with fuchsia and it got fried in the sun. But I moved it to a shadier place and it’s coming back now. I feel like our yard needs more shade generally. Even with our moderate temperatures, things get fried in the full sun.

One bright spot is our hydrangea (two actually). They were looking pretty bad last year, but with some pruning and extra water they filled out this year and they’re looking great.

And then there’s this amaryllis my mom planted forever ago. It finally shot up into this brilliant bloom.

And now it is blooming again.

We have a plan to completely redo our front yard and make it into a succulent garden with a citrus tree, but we’re waiting until we get some rain so the ground isn’t so tough to dig into. Mike also wants to build a little fence for it. I’ll update when we get to it!

My first class on Skillshare!

I feel like my personal motto these last few years has been “be brave.” So when I’m afraid to do something I try to keep that in my head. And so even though the idea of filming myself teaching a crafts class was a little overwhelming, I decided to do it anyway!

I recently published my first class on Skillshare. If you’re not familiar, Skillshare is an online platform where you can pay a monthly fee to take as many video classes as you want. A lot of them are crafts/DIY related (knitting, calligraphy, drawing, etc.), but a lot of them are things like editing in Photoshop or getting more followers on Instagram. Good stuff!

One of my most popular patterns on Etsy and Ravelry is for a rope basket, so I decided to flesh that one out and explain in more detail for my first class. I really think it helps to see someone knitting the stitches and doing all the different steps in real time. 

So, if you want to take my class, you can enroll here. You should be able to use that link to get your first 3 months of Skillshare for $.99. BONUS: The first 25 students can take the class for free! 

As intimidating as this was, I still really enjoyed it and am already thinking about what classes I can teach next. :)

Max, 5 and 6 months

OK, get ready for cute overload because I have SO MANY good pics of my kids this summer.

I can’t believe Max is 6 months old, but it’s true. Here he is at 5 months.

And then at 6 months.

He is still our Mr. Smiley Guy.

If you tickle him or do a high-pitched sneeze, he has the cutest giggle.

He’s had a pretty big couple of weeks. First, we started him on solid foods.

I decided to skip the rice cereal this time and just do purees.

Then he got two teeth! So we’ve also given him some mum-mums and crusty bread to chew on.

Obviously the Bumbo is getting a lot of use since he’s still a little tippy.

He loves playing with Tupperware containers and various other things that are not toys.

I have even put him in a laundry basket with some toys, since it is sort of like a mini playpen.

Other times I kind of prop him up in the Boppy so I can play with him.

The teething has definitely affected his sleep, although I would still say he is a much more consistent sleeper than Harper was at his age.

Occasionally he takes a long nap, but his are usually only half an hour. So I am struggling to get much of anything done during the days I’m home with him. But I feel like the alternative is having him sleep less at night, and I don’t want that either.

He has also become really grabby and interested in rolling or lurching for things, so I really have to watch him closely.

He likes to grab his feet, and he can get his toes in his mouth.

He still has really bad cradle cap, so sometimes I put lotion on his head and it makes his hair stick up.

He was 18.5 pounds at his last appointment and pretty tall.

I’m looking forward to what the next few months will bring. Before we know it he will be walking and talking!

Harper has been a handful and a half, but she is also progressing so much.

Her teachers tell us she has completely come out of her shell at daycare, and now she plays with other groups of kids, no problem.

She tells me about her day now, and has gotten a lot better at asking for what she needs.

What’s hard is that she has both an immense amount of energy and a LOT of feelings.

We took a trip to the petrified forest in Calistoga, and without a nap that day she whined/cried/yelled the whole ride home.

So I’m a little nervous about traveling with two little kids for a whole week, but I think the key is not trying to do too much. And snacks. So many snacks.


She calls this her swimming costume. 

Harper started playing soccer at school and I think she would like swimming lessons too. Although I think she would be really great at tumbling.


Toddler lunch of champions. 

She has a great sense of style (hat tip to Grammie!) and she is an amazing artist. I love seeing her creativity shine through.

There are still a lot of kids activities in the Bay Area that we need to explore, so hopefully we’ll get to do some of those things soon. We’re still finding our new rhythm without Grammie and with me working 2 days a week, but we’re getting the hang of it.

More pictures soon of Max’s finished room and our solar panels!

*I also wanted to mention that you can follow me on Instagram. I wish I had more time to blog, but since I don’t I try to at least keep the photos coming.

Master bedroom makeover

When we bought our house, I never actually thought about living in the master bedroom, since it was always going to be mom’s space. But since she left, we have the opportunity to change rooms and give the kids their own bedrooms. So of course we couldn’t just move the furniture. We had to make a few upgrades. 

We started by taking out the dated light fixture and replacing it with one that is more modern, but still gives a nod to the house’s midcentury style.  Then Mike painted the walls a nice neutral color and updated all the baseboard trim. 

The curtains and rods were OK, but we wanted some that made the super short windows look bigger. So we got some floor-length curtains and put them high and wide over the windows.

I think the result of all that is a bedroom that looks a lot brighter. But we also got some light-blocking roller shades to help us sleep at night. 

It’s funny — when we first looked at this house it was so dark. But it actually has incredible natural light. The window coverings make such a big difference. I’m having trouble finding any pictures of the original bedroom, but I did find one of the horrible vertical blinds.


Eww!

Our old bedding was pretty gross after a few years of use by us, babies and dogs. So we just threw it away and got new bedding. The next phase will be painting our old room the same neutral color and then moving Max’s crib in there. It will also double as a guest room since it will have a full-sized bed in it.


Blank-slate bedroom.

And, super awesome bonus, we will have a whole extra closet to use for storage. Lack of storage space has been one of my only complaints about this house. 

We can also move a lot of toys out of the living room and into the kids’ rooms. We may have to buy one more dresser, but other than we shouldn’t have to do anything to Harper’s room (whew). 

We’ve been doing a lot of work on the yard and gardens, and I will share that in another post.

The tomato plants have gone even crazier than last year!

It’s nice to finally feel like we’ve completed most of the projects we wanted to do on the house and can just enjoy them. One kind of crazy thing — we’re actually thinking about getting solar panels and an electric car. We have so much sun and utilities and gas are so expensive, it just makes sense. 

OK, two crazy things. Now that the rest of the house looks so good, the kitchen is really starting to bother me. All I really need are better cabinets. But once we got started on that I know we would want to redo the whole thing.

Sigh. For now it’s just a very expensive thought. 

Also, next month we are finally going on a family vacation!  Mike has a conference in Portland with free childcare, so we decided to make a trip out of it. It kills me that we have lived on the west coast this long without having been there, so we’re doing it. 

Max: 3 and 4 months

These last two months have flown by. All the sudden Max is a plump, drool-y baby who can almost sit up and grasp toys in his chubby hands. Looking back at those 2-month photos, he looks so skinny!

Here he is at 3 months.

And then at 4 months.

I just took him to the doctor and he was a little over 16 pounds. Pretty much right down the middle as far as height, weight, and head size. For comparison, Harper was 14 pounds, 10 ounces at her 4-month appointment.

Just like Harper at that age, Max went bald in some spots, but had a swirl of hair in the middle.

He also screams now, for no apparent reason. Can’t wait to see how that goes over in public!

Generally, though, he is sweet and so smiley and giggly. He’s started responding to toy squeaks and peekaboo. So cute.

Last month, Grandad and GB were here, and they got to see what a smiley, happy baby he is.

We took him on all kinds of outings and he was as sweet as can be. I think it helped that he would fall asleep in the car and then be really well rested wherever we went.

We stopped letting him nap in the carrier, and so he switched to taking 4 or 5 shorter naps throughout the day. Much like Harper, he only stays asleep for about half an hour at a time. I’ve basically decided not to fight it. Harper would only take about 2 of those naps a day, which was brutal. At least he gets enough rest in total.

His funny thing lately is falling asleep in the jumparoo. He’ll be bouncing in there and then I’ll look over and he’ll be asleep!

We still have him sleeping in the rock ‘n play at night, but he is going to outgrow it soon. At the end of this month, my mom will be moving back to Kansas (sniff…) so we will move into her room and then move Max into his own room. At that point we can put him in the crib without worrying about him waking up Harper.

We sure will miss our Grammie!

Harper still likes to entertain Max while he lays in the crib, and he likes to watch her, too.

She is still pretty good with him, but I see some jealousy creeping in. Age 3.5 seems filled with whining and tantrums, so we are just trying to power through it.

It is also filled with pink. So much pink. All the sudden every outfit has to be pink, head to toe. She’s big into the princess thing, too, although her version might include cowboy boots and binoculars.

Harper’s diet pretty much consists of cereal, ketchup, and whatever else she feels like eating at any given time.

And it has to be served in the bunny bowl, with the yellow cup and the purple spoon. OK?!

I can’t believe Max will be eating solids soon. I really feel like he is growing up too fast, but what can I do? I just love ‘em both and try to appreciate the cuddles when I get them.

Max has been making this face a lot lately.

Talk about a flashback – here’s Harper making the same face.

I have thought for months that it seemed like his bottom teeth might be coming in early, but they never do.

I guess babies are just orally fixated and drool-y in general.

I just started working some short shifts at the store in Sausalito this week. Harper is in daycare full time and I’ll have to find a nanny for Max soon. We’re shifting into a new normal. It’s a little scary, but also good. I just don’t feel like myself unless I’m working, and I really did miss it.

Spring show!

I haven’t done a show for a while, so I thought it was about time I signed up for one again. Shows aren’t really my bread and butter anymore, but I love doing them because they kind of energize you in a way that online sales can’t. You get to meet and talk to your customers and fellow vendors and see what else is out there in the handmade community. 

Having recently joined the SF Etsy team (which numbers 1,800!), I’m excited to be vending at their spring indie emporium in San Francisco. Here are the details. If you’re in the area, I hope you can make it!

Grandma’s potato salad

I finally did it. I took a stab at making my grandma’s famous potato salad, and I think I nailed it. Her recipe is legendary in our family. And while I could never make it as well as she did, I couldn’t imagine not having it anymore. So I dug out her handwritten recipe and tried it.

I’m going to share it here because I love the way she wrote it with such detailed and funny notes. It cracks me up that she referred to the cost of the celery seed, because her thriftiness is one of the things I loved most about her.


I remember watching Grandma cut ingredients into the tiniest pieces without even looking. She was a pro!

Really the only thing I changed was to use real mayonnaise instead of Miracle Whip. I wasn’t sure if she used regular mustard or mustard powder, but I used powder and I think regular mustard would work just fine.

I always thought it was the pickle juice that was the secret ingredient. But now I think it’s the egg-to-potato ratio, which makes her recipe like a combination of egg salad and potato salad. When I took the bowl out of the fridge after mixing it up, the smell made me tear up. It was just like hers. I love how a recipe can do that for you.

Here’s another kind of unusual thing — have you ever boiled whole russet potatoes with the skins on? I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get the potatoes cooked without being too mushy, but it worked just fine. I tested them with a fork a few times until they seemed soft. Actually one potato completely fell apart, so I just tossed it and used one less egg.

I like that you can adjust the recipe for how many people you’re feeding. Grandma always had a HUGE bowl of potato salad in her fridge, but we didn’t need quite that much. I’m excited to make it again for our next potluck or family gathering!

Grandma's potato salad
Serves 12
Our family recipe is like a combination of egg salad and potato salad. Perfect for picnics and family gatherings!
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Ingredients
  1. 8-10 medium-sized russet potatoes
  2. 8-10 hard boiled eggs
  3. 1/4 cup green onions, or 1/2 cup white onion, finely chopped
  4. 2-3 tablespoons sweet gherkins, chopped (about 1 or 2 pickles)
  5. 2 tablespoons pickle juice
  6. 1.5-2 cups mayonnaise
  7. 2 teaspoons dried mustard
  8. 1 teaspoon celery seed
  9. 1 teaspoon salt
  10. 1 teaspoon sugar
Instructions
  1. Boil potatoes with the skin on until they are soft when you poke them with a fork. Make sure you season your water with a little salt.
  2. When your potatoes are cool, chop them into small pieces. Peel and chop your hard boiled eggs into small pieces, too.
  3. Add onions, pickles, and pickle juice. Then mix in your mayonnaise. Add enough so it's moist but not soupy.
  4. Add seasonings and stir to combine. Taste the potato salad, and if it needs a little more of anything, now's the time to add it!
  5. Cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hours before serving.
Cara Corey http://www.caracorey.com/

Max: 2 months

I’m almost a month late posting this, so I guess that tells you what kind of month it’s been. Max has been doing really well, but we’ve been working on some improvements to the house and Mike was gone for a few days for work, so we’ve been really busy.

Thankfully auntie Megan was here for a few days. She is so good with Max.

Harper has also been playing with Max a lot. She likes to lay in the bed and pretend to be him. He loves to watch her.

Right around 10 weeks, Max started getting really fussy. I wasn’t sure why, but then I remembered that Harper also had a really difficult time around then. It’s a “wonder week” with lots of brain development, so that makes sleep and everything else more intense. He also got another cold, poor thing, so I’m sure that didn’t feel good.

One thing that has been great about this month is all the smiles. Those baby grins are just the best.

We’ve had fun dressing him in all his little outfits, too. He has quite the wardrobe!

Sometimes he outgrows things after only wearing them once, so we have to keep rotating in new things. I’ve had the hardest time finding socks that fit him, so now he is in a 6-12 month sock. He still likes to be cozy warm all the time.

Sleep also got better this month. I was starting to get pretty fried from all the night feedings, but he has been going longer and longer stretches. Similar to Harper at this age, he sleeps most of the night until an early morning feeding. Sometimes there’s a second one. Once he even slept the whole night!

Naps have been a lot tougher. He will take a long nap, thank goodness. But most of the time we have to resort to wearing him in the carrier. My neck got so strained at one point I could barely move it, so I have been trying not to rely on that too much. But it’s hard. Trying to put him to sleep in his crib does not work at all.

I shouldn’t say he doesn’t nap outside the carrier. It’s more of a battle to keep him asleep. I’m just trying to take that one day at a time. He still seems a little young for a strict routine.

This month he’s been trying really hard to get his hand in his mouth. Two cheers for self soothing!

He also seems a lot more alert and interested in toys. We have what seems like millions, so we’re trying to keep him entertained. Bath time has gotten a lot better, too.

We’ve got him in cloth diapers, although they don’t fit as well after going through another kid. I’m willing to deal with it though after seeing how much money we spent on diapers, sheesh!

I’m looking forward to Max being able to sit up better and maybe hang out in the jumper or some of the other toys we have. He is doing more every day, and it’s fun to watch.

I pulled out the only KU onesie I have because he needs to cheer for the Jayhawks. So far it’s working!

Saying goodbye to Charlotte

Yesterday we had to say goodbye to mom’s dog, Charlotte. I feel like she’s partially mine, too, since we got her the summer I was living at home after college. That summer we lost our childhood dog, Sammie, and decided we wanted a Boston terrier for our next companion. When we found Charlotte, in a small town in Missouri, she was the runt of the litter. They called her Piggie because she had a curly tail. She only weighed a pound, and we loved her instantly.

Charlotte has always been such a sweet sidekick — social, cuddly, with a great zest for life chasing her tire toy. So when she went blind a few months ago and couldn’t do much anymore, she just didn’t seem like the same dog. I will miss her snuggles in the “butt hut” as we call it. She was an important member of our family, and it just won’t be the same without her.

Easy enchiladas

Now that we have two kids, it’s even harder to find time to cook weeknight dinners, so we’ve had to find recipes that come together really quickly. And we’re finding that the secret is tacos! Actually, any kind of variation on a meat that you can put on corn tortillas, so we’ve had a lot of enchiladas, too.

I’ve been making this recipe for green chile enchiladas with the leftovers from a roast chicken — something we also have a lot because it’s easy.

You take all the meat that’s left on the chicken and shred it. I would say it’s about 2 cups.

Then saute some sliced onions and mix it with the chicken. Then you add about half a jar of roasted salsa verde (I really like the Archer Farms version from Target).

That’s your filling. Roll it up inside corn tortillas, adding a little shredded Monterrey Jack cheese to each one.

Spread some salsa verde in the bottom of your baking dish, then add the enchiladas. Pour a little more salsa verde on top and sprinkle with a little more cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and you’re done!

You can also make a sort of free-form enchilada casserole by layering tortillas with salsa verde and whatever other toppings you like. I made this one with black beans, sweet potatoes, and then some crema and feta cheese on top.

On the taco front, we’ve made a lot of crock pot shredded pork, which is great with pickled red onions.

Or, you can saute some pork tenderloin slices and then cut them up into chunks to put on tacos (hat tip to Real Simple for this one). I made some with pineapple, and they were so good! Super easy because the thin pork slices only take a few minutes to cook.

When all else fails, we just hit up the neighborhood taco trucks. Their al pastor is so good!