30 June 2010

Project diaper bag

I am in desperate need of a new diaper bag/purse. Mine is dingy, too small, and I've been carrying it for 13 months now--Henry's whole life. His life seems to be going by very quickly, as babies' lives do. The bag on the other hand?--should have been laid to rest a long time ago.

After searching around this internet trying to get ideas and inspiration for what to make, this bag just blew me away. And it is only $44. I mean, for the amount of work it takes to craft this bag, she is practically giving it away, I swear.

I'm going to try and make my own version--it won't have those amazing snap pockets on the front because those are very difficult to make look good. And I'm only going to include one handle. But of all the bags I found, this one was the most inspiring. And man, are there a lot of ugly ones out there.

I found some fabric today but now I'm not sure if I can pull it off. It is dark purple and not something I would normally choose. I want this bag to be done before I leave in two weeks for North Carolina, so I'll report back.

If you need a bag, you should check out her shop. The bags are made in and shipped from Thailand, so shipping is a little pricey, but the bag prices are so reasonable it seems worth it.

29 June 2010

What took so long?

Jeff and I just returned from our first trip without children in our almost 10 years of marriage. For the past four years now, he has taken a group of eighth graders to Washington D.C. for a 5-day whirlwind tour of the all the historical sites there, in Gettysburg, and Philadelphia. It has taken him this long to convince me to come, and now, as the title says, I really wish I wouldn't have waited so long.

I've visited many of these sites before, but this time around, being at historical sites such as Mount Vernon, Gettysburg, The Capitol and Independence Hall had a very spiritual effect on me. Because I had no children to worry about, I was able to wander the museums and soak in the history at my own pace and it was awesome.

My parents came and stayed with our boys and I will never be able to convey how grateful I am for the peace of mind that provided me, which only aided in the enjoyment factor of this trip.

Being with all those eighth graders and watching awkward flirting had an interesting effect on me. I kept feeling like I was, like them, fourteen again, and trying to impress and flirt with Jeff. I kept having to remind myself that, oh yeah, he already likes me. Ha.

28 June 2010

Berry Season is Here. . .

. . .and we are super excited. I wish I had a bigger freezer for all the berries we want to pick and freeze, but it just makes for more creative arranging and re-arranging in our tiny one.

First ripe are always the strawberries. Gma and Opa joined us at Harry's Berries when they came into town last week and we were delighted with our spoils.

Father's Day dessert, indeed. This pie served with locally made bratwurst, spinach strawberry salad (thx 4 the recipe, Chelsea), and this artisan bread made the two celebrated fathers in our house full and happy.

27 June 2010

I love free stuff especially when it is useful

Just another couple of great freecycle items to share:

These were notebooks from a U of Oregon student. He had used a little paper from every section, and there was plenty left. In our house I can't keep up with all the requests for new drawing notebooks because theirs are full, so I think this guy's free item was meant just for me. It was a happy day in the Fuller house when these came home.

Also, I was the happy recipient of a bag full of free zippers and other sewing notions. Some of them are vintage zippers with funny packaging and price tags of 25 cents and such. Love.

If you don't know about freecycle, you can remind yourself what it is here.

17 June 2010


Just a few more thoughts about the pomodoro technique:

**In my last post I listed playing with my kids as one of my pomodoros, and it seemed like it got lumped in with all the other annoying/mundane tasks. Sad. So I just wanted to say that I do enjoy playing with them and don't consider it an annoying/mundane task, but sadly, sometimes I actually have to schedule a chunk of time just for them where I promise not to be interrupted or get distracted. That's why I think making it a pomodoro and doing it at least once, and hopefully several times throughout the day will be better for all of us.

**If you read the actual technique, you know that it is recommended that once the timer goes off, the task should be abandoned completely for a 5 minute break. This, to me, is why this technique is the opposite of overwhelming. It makes things so manageable.

"When the Pomodoro rings, this signals that the current activity is peremptorily (though temporarily) finished. You’re not allowed to keep on working “just for a few more minutes”,even if you’re convinced that in those few minutes you could complete the task at hand.The 3-5 minute break gives you the time you need to “disconnect” from your work.This allows the mind to assimilate what’s been learned in the last 25 minutes, and also provides you with the chance to do something good for your health, which will help you to do your best during the next Pomodoro."

**It will definitely take some creative application to make this work in a home setting, as all the suggestions and examples given seem to be geared toward making employees more productive in their full-time jobs. It is not unrealistic to expect someone who is at work, getting paid for doing their job to be more productive and try to minimize interruptions. It is a bit unrealistic to expect a mother with small children to work hard on tasks all day long, ignoring the interruptions, i mean children, who need her attention at random times throughout the day.

**What I'm going to try and do each day is make a list of tasks I want done. Then, instead of doing them here and there and half-heartedly all day long, which is what I have been doing, I will make each one a pomodoro to get them done efficiently and quickly. This will hopefully eliminate the guilt and feelings of unproductivity that I feel most days, because I will see things getting accomplished, and all the other time can be focused on taking care of the needs of the children, and my own needs, you know, like blogging & reading blogs, sewing, reading books, napping, cooking.

**This might not be the last post about this whole concept. Can you tell I'm really excited about it?

16 June 2010

The Pomodoro Technique

Having just read this blog post today, I am now so interested in this idea of measuring time in "pomodoros" to become more efficient and productive. What is a pomodoro? In a nutshell, it is a 25 minute block of time, marked by an actual timer, in which you commit to do one specific task without interruption until said timer rings. Then you abandon that task, take a five minute break and move on to the next pomodoro.

I have previously confessed what a terrible housekeeper I am, and have been searching for a system of daily organizing and tidying that doesn't overwhelm me after one day. I have tried several and abandoned them all, mostly because I just don't like to become a slave to a specific schedule of cleaning.

But at the same time, I know that when my house is tidy, I feel more calm, content, and am less likely to lose my temper with my children and husband. They certainly deserve that on a daily basis.

That's why I went out today and bought myself a portable timer. I first began using the timer on my microwave, but couldn't hear it beep at the other end of my small house, go figure. Just today alone I finished 5 different planned pomodoros including 25 minutes each of laundry, kitchen detail, playing with my kids, and general tidying up and removing household clutter.

After just one day, I already feel more productive. I think even the most mundane and annoying tasks are better handled when there is a visible end. I look forward to implementing this even more in the coming weeks.

Check out the whole program here. It is a free download, and very helpful.

08 June 2010

Dear America

I am just loving this Dear America book series. Each book is written in the form of a diary of a young woman's life during an important event or time period in American history (wikipedia)

When I look for books to read, historical fiction is always my genre of choice. This particular series in this genre appeals to me because each book gives interesting details about daily life during the span of one year in these young womens' lives. They are written like diaries, but are works of fiction. However, they are always based on true events and circumstances and often about people who really lived during these these periods of time.

These are three that I have read so far, but I hope to work my way through the whole series.

Because this is a series written for young adults, they are generally quick reads, and so far it has been my experience that I just can't put them down. Each one has a different author, but I have been impressed with all the writing.

More than anything, these kinds of books make me realize how difficult and not always pleasant were womens' lives in previous generations. The daily tasks and responsibility of feeding large families, sewing and washing clothing, growing and preserving food for winter months, birthing children, and trying to keep warm and healthy required constant attention and left little time for pleasure.

When I get little glimpses into the lives and situations of women and men who blazed trails and settled America; suffering through flu epidemics, Indian attacks, arranged and often abusive marriages, and extreme poverty, I am amazed and thankful for the comfort and ease of our contemporary lives.

02 June 2010

Rows and rows of big dark clouds

In May we had an unbelievable amount of rain, even for here--almost 4 inches--and now it's continuing into June. At first it didn't seem that bad because we had such a dry, mild winter. But now, it's just too much. You can sense all over town that people are just sick of it and on the verge of insanity.

My house seems messier when the weather is like this, and I feel lazy and sluggish; therefore I eat too much, have no patience with my children, and want to crawl in my bed and take a nap all day long until the sun comes back.

Oh, Oregon.