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Book Review: The Prairie Girl’s Guide To Life

The Prairie Girl’s Guide to Life, by Jennifer Worick

I thought this book was cool, mainly because I had already done so many of the 50 projects that the author attempts, and this made me feel like a bad ass.  I don’t really consider myself a PRAIRIE girl, I guess, because that conjures up weird images of flowered calico eighties dresses and those long ribbon barrettes that were hot stuff in the 3rd grade, but I do really love the prairie.  Real prairie is absolutely gorgeous – heck, I got married on the prairie, and it was awesome.  Anyway, I guess you could say that this book was right up my alley.  I love a good old school project.

Also, any author who pretty much just wants to be be Laura Ingalls Wilder can’t go wrong in my book.

Here’s what I’ve already done out of the list of projects in the book:

1. Brine, truss and roast a turkey – for the record, if you’re doing anything besides brining your Thanksgiving turkey, you’re wasting your time.  IMHO.

2.  Create the perfect stew with corn bread – I have killer recipes for both and make them all the time.  Maybe I’ll put them up on Style Lush if I get a chance.

3.  Prepare applesauce.  I usually just make the kind you cook in a saucepan and eat right then, not canned.

4.  Bake a rhubarb pie – even though I don’t really like pie, I do love rhubarb, and I used to make this pie with my grandmother.

5.  Make ice cream – home made peach ice cream might very well be the best thing in the entire world.   I should totally make some more this summer.

6.  Steep the perfect pot tea – I drink an ungodly amount of tea.

7.  Make popcorn balls – for some bizarre reason when I was a kid we did this ALL THE TIME. Now I try to get Mr. E to do this with me and he just gives me a look like I’ve really and truly lost it for good.

8.  Have a tea party.  I’m going to assume the kind with a tea set and dolls counts?

9.  Braid hair and make a bun.  I can french braid my own hair AND someone else’s.  (Not at the same time.)  Obviously this is why God gave me a girl, so I could do the whole two french braids thing for the first day of school.

10.  Bathe a pet. Just last weekend we doused both our animals in some weird lemon water concoction Mr. E found on the internet.  This was in lieu of Frontline, which the internet tells us is going to pickle our brains and make us grow a third arm out of our belly buttons.

11.  Mix a lemon verbena cologne – the directions for this are shockingly similar to making limoncello.  Remind me to dab some of the stuff I have in the fridge on my neck.  I’m counting it.

12.  Take a sponge bath – I find this to be one of the grossest things on earth, but I am saddened to admit I have done it.

13.  Make a drawstring bag.

14.  Make and use rag curlers – I am totally embarrassed that I have done this.  Amusingly, if I remember correctly, I think it was only because Laura once did it. I remember it didn’t work that well, and it was really unpleasant to sleep that way. I have also roasted and eaten a pig’s tail, so you can see my devotion to the Little House books ran disturbingly deep.

15.  Quilt a sampler.

16.  Lace a corset.  Don’t ask.  Frederick’s of Hollywood was involved.

17.  Create a calling card – I have those, I got them for Blogher.  I never use them.  They’re really pretty though. Maybe I’ll bring them to the Blathering!

18.  Discover the art of letter writing.

19.  Learn to waltz. Yeah, I learned this in gym. Thanks for that one, catholic school.

20.  Learn to play jacks – again, even though this is a pretty stupid game, we used to play it all the time when I was a kid.  Would it explain some things if I mentioned we didn’t have a tv and weren’t allowed to listen to “rock” music?

21.  Lay a fire – I can rock a camp fire or start a killer fire in a fireplace.  Except that I have a pillow stuffed up my chimney.  Don’t ask.

22.  Trim a christmas tree with hand strung garland – I have made both popcorn AND cranberry garlands.  AND a peppermint garland.  I really enjoy a good garland.

23.  Go ice fishing – I loved ice fishing even though I caught no fish whatsoever.  It was really cold, but we got to cut a giant hole in the ice with this cool ice auger thing.  Apparently we also should have been drinking like fish, but there’s always next time.

24.  Pan for gold – God, I’m like the Amish or something over here.  Anyway, we live in gold country, so this is like, a total requirement.  It’s also really boring unless you find gold, which I did not.

25.  Groom and saddle a horse – like every other girl in the entire universe, I had a horse phase at the age of 9.  Unfortunately for all involved, my horse was named BUNSY.  Bunsy was, however, short as hell, so I did in fact learn how to saddle her even though I was about two feet tall at the time.

26.  Find a sledding hill.  Sledding is SO INSANELY FUN.  Until you have to walk back up the hill.  I recommend you find a sledding hill with a TOW ROPE.

27.  Plan a vegetable garden.  I did that last year and this year – the tomatoes are coming up on the window sill RIGHT NOW.

28.  Arrange wildflowers.  We did that for our wedding, because I am insane.  But weren’t they pretty?

and here are the projects that I’d like to try:

1.  Make Judy’s Bread and Butter Pickles

2. Make sweet treat cherries – these sound awesome, especially since they use dark sweet cherries and I hate sour or pie cherries

3.  Mix a rosewater spritzer – this sounds fun, I love the smell of roses, and I have seven planted on the side of my house, so I know where I can get some rose petals.

4.  Mix lavender linen waters.

5.  Braid a rag rug – my grandmother used to do this and I would love to try to make one myself.  Except then I’d have a rag rug, which I’m not so into, but I guess I could give it to someone for Christmas or something.

Overall, totally enjoyable, especially if you love a good old fashioned Laura Ingalls Wilder type project.


My dearest Pants,

One of my oldest friends in the world just became a dad, and I’ve gotten some pretty good emails from him over the last few days.  One of them (“he’ll only sleep on us what do we do how long does this last?!”) took me  back, in an instant, to the first few days and weeks after you were born.   YOU were the same way, except you would only sleep on your mom, and only with your head wedged up right up under my neck.  I was sore and tired and covered in breast milk but I was just coherent enough to realize that I needed to try with all my might to preserve every second of your beginnings, that it would fly right by, and as you scootched your tiny little head right up into my neck, I’d hold onto you with my hands and with my heart and my head I’d think, as hard as I possibly could:  “Remember this.  Remember this.  Remember this.”

And still.  As hard as I tried to wrap that moment up into forever, one second, you were tiny, and the next minute, you were a boy.

It’s funny how things work sometime.  Because I have to admit something to you, and that is that I’ve always been terrified of living an ordinary life.  I worried what a mortgage and the suburbs and two point five kids would look like to other people.  The seventeen year old idealist stuck in my head felt like everyone would know I’d sold out, and the Carrie Bradshaw character that shares the other half of my head felt so disappointed that life hadn’t yet delivered me a closet just for my shoe collection.

And in the same breath I’d worry about ordinary, I was always quick to dismiss anyone who described babies as miraculous.  I’d argue that to assign divinity to something so universal was to rob us, all of us, of our humanity, of what makes us truly great.  It wasn’t that I considered the slog of dirty diapers and Sesame Street to be too crappy to ever be considered something special, just that I thought that what makes us special isn’t something someone on high grants us, but just who we are.  To cast childhood as some sort of magical realm seemed like overkill, like missing the point.

But this year something in me changed as I watched you become a person, as you turned into someone I just could not be more crazy about.

Don’t get me wrong.  We are absolutely wrapped in ordinary.  We’re about as average and boring as a tiny family can get, but it doesn’t matter to me at all.  I could care less what other people think. To me, smack dab in the middle of this ordinary world, you are nothing less than extraordinary.  That I got YOU honestly and truly seems nothing short of miraculous.  Things as simple as your eyelashes along the curve of your cheek, your knobby knees, your big blue eyes, these things astonish me a hundred times a day.

You are endlessly fascinating to me.  I could watch the time lapse movie of your little face every day for the rest of my life.  And it doesn’t matter to me that pretty much only one other person on the planet feels that with me.  It is as true for me as the ocean or the tides or the sun in the sky.

I think we know how pathetic we are, but we do it anyway – at night your father and and I lie next to each other before we fall asleep and we whisper to each other all things you’ve done that day, the funny stuff you say, the thousands of ways you’ve astonished us, the stuff we most don’t want to forget.  How you love worms and birds and walks, how you’ll walk out the front door and exclaim “What a bootiful day!”, how you won’t eat french fries but you devour whole cucumbers.  We think it’s amazing that your best friend is a stuffed turtle and that you love the freeway overpass and that you say “Heck yes!” whenever we ask you if you want some melon and that your favorite thing to do in the entire world is to park cars.  And we know that we’re goofy and that everyone else feels just like this about their own children and that no one else thinks these stories are interesting and yet, that just doesn’t matter at all.

The other day you and I were dancing in the living room and you were showing me how to do the robot to Fleetwood Mac and sun was streaming in through the window and I’ve never paid attention to any Fleetwood Mac lyrics before in my life, but somehow these caught me at just the right moment:

I never did believe in miracles,
But I’ve a feeling it’s time to try.
I never did believe in the ways of magic,
But I’m beginning to wonder why.

And I have to tell that when you curl up next to me at the end of the day and in your high squeaky voice you say “I want ta cuddle” and then you snuggle up next to me and whisper “Mama, I love you SO MUCH”, I believe in it all.  In miracles and magic and true love and the absolute wonderfulness of you.  And I’ll never stop believing.

I love you Pants. SO MUCH.  Happy Birthday, you crazy car parker you.

All The Difference In the World

It’s been sunny here for five days IN A ROW.

Pants is sick and it turns out I fubared my daffodils last year and they aren’t going to bloom this year and I am getting more uncomfortabley pregnant by the minute and Old Navy lost my maternity gauchos and the brakes are going on the car and my kitchen is full of dishes AGAIN and I JUST DON’T CARE.

All of a sudden, I feel like I could DO ANYTHING.  I feel like life is worth living and things are going to be ok and everything is going to be all right and I’ve remembered that oh yeah this is why I pay the worlds most overinflated mortgage.

Sun! For five days in a row! Seventy degrees in February!  I am officially putting California back on my good list.

Bright Side, Take One Million

I STILL! feel disgusting, but at least I have plenty to read while I lie around in bed wishing for an Elvis style coma.

Seven Quick Takes – The Monday Edition

1.  I won Swistle’s baby girl clothes giveaway! I could not be more excited about winning this, especially since I’ve been bemoaning never winning ANYTHING ever.  Awesomeness.  I had to bookmark the page so I go back and visit the tiny baby girl dress and the tights and the jeans that MATCH the dress.  Obviously I cannot be trusted on my own in any stores that actually sell baby girl clothes any time soon.

Although I did take a spin through the Target baby girl section the other day and perhaps it’s just a matter of the grass being greener and all that, but while the TODDLER girl clothes were adorable, the baby girl clothes were sort of “meh”. Perhaps they’re just in a down cycle or something over there at the Big T, but I’m not one for pajamas with “Mommy’s Sweetheart” scrawled across the front, so it was sort of a dud of a shopping trip.  This doesn’t mean I won’t be spending an inappropriate amount of money in the Gap Kids Outlet sometime soon though.

Edited to Add:  This is not to say I don’t love me some Target baby clothes, or that you shouldn’t buy baby presents at Target, and also I totally bought four things when I was there and plan to buy many more.  It just wasn’t the baby girls clothing shopping Valhalla that I thought it would be when I was stuck on the boy side of the aisle, if you get what I mean.

2. I asked Twitter the other day if I should order the maternity gaucho pants, or if that was a fashion disaster waiting to happen.  As soon as A’Dell said “they’re like pajamas you can wear in public” I added them to my cart and I feel confident that’s probably one of the better decisions I made last week.

3.  Thank you so much for all of the potty training advice.  We’ve decided to give it a rest for the time being and to try again later, especially after talking to the pediatrician and Emily, both of who put the fear of god in me re:  stubborn children who decide just not to poop at all.  It probably wouldn’t be SUCH a big deal to me anyway except Pants poops A LOT.  Like four times a day.  Which I should probably ask the nutritionist about, because it doesn’t seem super normal to be such a prolific pooper.

4. Amy came over to watch the Super Bowl yesterday and we blathered away over a bowl of man dip for hours and at no point did I actually have to watch any football, which was intensely awesome.  Friends that make you laugh are the best even if you do get them in trouble by telling stories that you aren’t supposed to repeat for which you are VERY SORRY!

5. Two Internet Babies were announced last week – again, AWESOME. I just love internet babies.  I am super happy for both these ladies and I am inappropriately interested in what Janssen names her future progeny because her and all her siblings have some seriously cool names.

6. I had some blood drawn a few weeks ago and it turns out that I have three times the amount of HCG as the average pregnant woman!  (Please note,  I am not outing myself as a Hardcore Christian Gamer, cool as that sounds). No one really knows why this is, and I had a super duper long ultrasound with three doctors and all is well with *Lighting Bacon.  And I feel a strange sense of validation after receiving this news – HCG is the chemical that makes you sick when you’re pregnant, so I’m not just a crazy drama queen, there is a real reason that I’ve been so sick and it’s not because I’m weak and lame and making too big a deal out of things or because I am just not trying hard enough to suck it up or fix it.  It sucks, but at least I know now it’s not just me.

*Pants has named the baby Lightning Bacon.  You have to admit it does have a certain ring to it, no?

7. I did do some shopping, I have to admit.

And Jennie send me Lighting Bacon’s first pair of teeny weeny itty bitty jeans, which are just insanely adorable. And polka dots! You all know about my thing for polka dots.

7a. And finally, the  seeds are started!  Only the things you start indoors, but we’ve got trays full of peppers, way too many kinds of tomatoes, zinnias, and a few melons.  Pants helped.   It’s really nice – on this gray cloudy February day, tomato seeds on my windowsill feel like the very best kind of hope.

Elephant Ears Update

So after a somewhat lengthy morning sickness hiatus, my Etsy shop is back up and running, and I’m going to continue adding stuff whenever I get the time.

Anyway, go check it out if you get a chance and I will be back shortly with more fascinating tales re: poop.