Friday, August 14, 2009

Letting go of perfection...

All my life, I've been a perfectionist. I'm not sure if it's genetic or environmental (my mom is the queen perfectionist), but it came through in so many ways. If I was going to do something, I worked out the steps in my head to get the best results in the least amount of time. My room was a mess, but I got straight A's. If I found out I wasn't naturally gifted in a certain area, I just avoided it. Therefore, I didn't play sports at all and was content to be considered a 'nerd' in school. I worked a part time job or three all through high school and always made sure my boss considered me the best worker he or she had. When I made a pizza, all toppings were precisely distributed so that each bite was consistent. It was a bit obsessive.

It struck me today that I've changed. Years ago, as a young mom with 4 little girls under the age of 4, I struggled to keep that perfectionistic side of me. I worked so hard to keep my house clean, which we all know is futile--especially with babies and toddlers. I was constantly cleaning kids, doing dishes, folding laundry and trying to do each job just right. Over the years, my kids worked on me. Guilt over yelling at little ones to leave me alone while I was trying to perfectly decorate their birthday cake. Saying 'no' to playing a game with the sweet girl I was cooking dinner for. What would my kids remember about growing up? What would it matter if dinner was perfect if all my kids remember is that mom was always too busy for them?

Well, my oldest son (fifth child) turns 6 today. His dad has been planning a fun campout with friends, complete with a bonfire, fun games, and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. Instead of the 'perfect' cake, this year the birthday boy helped me frost a plain 9x13 cake with orange frosting, which we then crowned with a paper cutout of the emblem for his favorite football team. He helped me choose the clipart and cut it out, and he was SO proud to be the one to carefully place it on his cake. It ain't pretty, let me tell you--the me of 5 or 8 years ago would be mortified to serve such a thing on an important occasion (with company!) But he is so happy and we've made memories this morning. I'm learning to be content with what is really important, instead of what is just 'perfect'.

Friday, August 7, 2009

14 pints and counting...

Salsa, that is. I love homemade salsa. I love trying new recipes, though I won't try them without the recipe meeting a few conditions.
  • Not too much cumin.
  • Cilantro is wonderful.
  • Not too spicy--a few jalapenos are fine, but nothing hotter than that.
Boring, maybe. But I love it. Here's the fabulous new recipe I found a couple weeks ago. Wonderful Salsa

The first batch I made as written, but with about half the amount of jalapenos. Very good--a tad spicy for my sensitive tastebuds, but I think it was actually the ton of black pepper rather than the jalapeno peppers. I made a second batch today with some modifications. My local grocery had fresh cilantro on sale, so I bought a couple packages and used some in the salsa, omitting the cumin and black pepper (wasn't sure how those flavors would work together). I LOVE it, it's just perfect. Oh, and I also used fewer jalapenos than called for, but made up the difference with extra green bell peppers (had a ton from the garden).

Also, I used to dread all the chopping that salsa required, but I got the grinder attachment for my KitchenAid mixer a couple months ago, and it makes the PERFECT salsa! It's the same consistency that they have in the Mexican restaurants around here. SO easy, just peel/cut into chunks/shove it in the grinder.

I've also got about a quart of salsa in the freezer. Now this is a different recipe: Tomato Freezer Salsa. I love the fresh lime juice and cilantro. So tasty and easy to fix. You can have a little bit of summer in the middle of winter, it tastes so fresh!

Still stalking twitter for Sock Summit details. I'm such a dork. But I've got about 5" knitted on my sock!

Tomorrow: Family Fun night with our church family. A bounce house, other inflatables/games, and free school supplies for community kids. It's going to be awesome. Especially if the heat index doesn't get to 107 as predicted, ugh.

Off to bed, have a great weekend where you are!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sock Summit Envy

I should knit socks non-stop the whole time Sock Summit is happening. You should, too!

I just joined Twitter. Follow me @many2knit4 . Or just join me in reading all the tweets about said international sock-knitting conference. Amazing history-making coolness. *sigh* My family is starting to worry.....

And yes, I will finally upload current knitting photos and share them with you. Eventually.

I have the feeling I'll need coffee in the morning.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cooties, CraftLit, and Canning

Some random thoughts...

We've been sick. Some kind of virus-plus-strep throat (for at least one of us). Doc put the whole lot of us on antibiotics which has helped the strep-py kid. The dh and I though? Not so much. Still have sore throats and dh has been very achy and tired. Better today, though--finally! Really not looking forward to winter sickness. We've stayed pretty healthy this summer, but it seems like when the cold weather hits we're sick a lot. And of course, we pass everything around to the whole house, so. Fun. Last winter wasn't as bad as usual, though. Don't know if it's because the older kids have learned to wash their hands more (cutting down the cooties brought into the house) or if it was all the Emergen-C we took. (You can get it at your local health food store or wal-mart.) Anytime we went somewhere, we all took some. Anytime one of us started feeling bad, we all took some. And I think it really helped. Not terribly expensive compared to a trip to the dr. and subsequent prescriptions.

Do you listen to CraftLit? It's an amazing podcast that I started listening to about a year and a half ago. It's done by an English professor, who taught high school for years in New York before moving to Arizona. She does some crafty talk--she knits, spins, draws, paints, etc. Then she teaches about the chapter(s) of the book for that show which is just SO wonderful. I've learned sooo much, which has been an incredible blessing for my dormant-bookworm brain. I used to read ALL.THE.TIME. before I started having baby after baby. I let the urgent everyday stuff fill in all that time that I should have been keeping my brain sharp. Anyway. Gift this podcast a listen. It's a good thing. OH, and she's got CD compilations off all the podcasts, divided by book, in case you've got dial-up or can't otherwise listen to the downloads. You may need to e-mail her for those--I know she's taking some to SOCK SUMMIT (where she's teaching a heel techniques class and a couple podcasting classes). BONUS for listening--her gramma's banana bread recipe. Oh yeah. Made two loaves last night. Let's just say it's a hit for breakfast.

Also, Librivox. In case you want MORE BOOKS! (Sometimes one or two chapters a week on CraftLit just isn't enough.) All public domain, recorded by volunteers. Some good readers, some not so good. But FREE!

Now, canning. I've only canned a few pints of salsa a couple years back. I always think I'm going to do it, I'll can whatever produce I can find good deals on. But I never do it. I chicken out. Right now I've got pint and quart jars that I bought, lids, rings, canning salt, vinegar, a pickling mix, tons of tomatoes and cucumbers exploding all over the vines, freezer salsa recipe that I've already made two batches of. What's my deal? I think it's the intimidation of cooking all the salsa/slicing the cucumbers, then trying to get everything hot at the same time, jar it up without burning myself, and the really scary part? Thinking that I have to keep things STERILE in MY HOUSE. I just don't think it can be done. Too many littles. Too many older kids who like to stick their fingers in things for a taste. I dunno. Maybe I'll get the salsa all ready today, put it in a pot in the fridge, then cook and can after bedtime. Think that would work? We'll see.

In other news? A knitting-related post--coming soon!