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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cleaning Tip of the Day

Washing your Cabinets


Today when I was on my kitchen floor (I don’t even know why I was on the floor, probably picking up food that my baby was throwing at me, lol) I noticed how gross my cabinets have been looking.

I usually wipe them down weekly or when needed but they were pretty bad today so I got out my Basic H and went to work.  I just sprayed on the all-purpose solution and wiped off. 


2010 08 31_8840


2010 08 31_8847

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How often do you wipe down your cabinets?

What did you clean today?

Bonnie :)

For ordering or  more info, please visit my online Shaklee site.



WHITE WEDNESDAY was near and dear to my heart, but as I suspect many participants did I ran out of fresh things to show you. Alas, I have zhushed things about and have a few images to share. Totally random shots taken throughout the land of Sweet Pea.

PS~~I am totally pouting as Mr. SP passed through the California wine country today on his way to Portland Oregon...

Happy WHITE WEDNESDAY! Go HERE to see all the other participants and thanks as always to KATHLEEN for being the brainchild behind this.

Not Your Grandma’s Quilt


Thanks to our two adoptions, I’ve ventured out of the U.S. on two occasions… Kazakhstan and Poland.  Both countries enlightened us (including our children) as to how the rest of the world lives.  Both trips got me itching for more.  I think I was born a natural gypsy.  I wouldn’t mind visiting (or even living in) a new location every year or two.  Really!


India however, has always been at the top of my list.  I figure if we’re going to spend the money traveling abroad, it might as well be to a country that is completely and utterly different than our own. 


There’s just something about India that intrigues me.  Maybe it’s their food which I could never muster up the effort or know-how to prepare.  I find it absolutely mouth watering.  Or maybe it’s the way the woman dress in their brightly hued saris and kurtis…always so feminine and beautiful. 


Or perhaps the fascination originates from my admiration of their view on families.  They stay so tightly knitted together throughout multiple generations.  Whatever the case, India is on “my top places to visit before I die” lists. 


When I received the new Sundance catalog in the mail today, I was blown away with the splendor of their new line of quilts made by rural Indian woman.  The description says it can take up to a week to craft each one.  They make it sound like that’s  a really long time.  Um, it would take me a year to even attempt the construction of one of these beauties. 

After oohing and ahhing over each and every one of them, I paused to consider what price they would fetch over in the remote villages they came from. 


Yet another reason to make the trip!  I’d love to personally deliver the American price to the woman responsible for creating one of them. 


I have a hunch it would support her family for a whole year or more.  For more info on these quilts, visit Sundance here.


All images courtesy Sundance.

An Unidentified Shrub

UnknownAugust 28, 2010
A few days ago I was on my daily walk when I spotted this gorgeous tree in bloom.  I would have stopped in to ask the owners what it was but the house is their summer cottage so they aren't there very often.  As it was they weren't there that day since the house was all closed up.  I love the whispy look of this shrub.  I would like to identify it so I know what to ask for

Harvesting Basil Seeds

A kind reader pointed out that I glossed over the seed part of basil harvesting, so I thought I'd give you an easy visual. The first photo is a basil spike after the flowers have dried up and the spike itself has turned brown. This will typically occur in the early fall in most plant hardiness zones in the U.S. If you need to check the zone for your area, there's a handy link at the bottom of

Monday, August 30, 2010

More Birthday Treats!

Found on a quick visit to our local charity shop, teacups and a lovely pastel coloured stripey sheet! Then more birthday presents - a 1930's needlework magazine with some fantastic illustrations from Harriet and some beautiful vintage fabric from Janet which led us to emit textile firework noises - oooh aaarggh oh!
(Cherry said that we sound like we're watching fireworks when we're looking at fabric and yarn, the loudest day was Colinette yarn delivery day!)
Then I found this bread 'birthday cake' when I went to feed the chickens, it was from Lisa and David.
I started to make a collage using the teacup pincushion which lovely Beth illustrated for Oh Comely magazine for inspiration...
Here's the original illustration which she very kindly gave to me for my birthday accompanied by some very lovely Aspall's Cyder!
What a great way to spend the Bank Holiday! Thank you all again, Nic x

Harvesting Parsley

Choosing a method for harvesting parsley is always a judgment call. Parsley is the little black dress of the herb patch. It can work with lots and lots of dishes, is a very green, bushy little plant that looks good in the garden and is relatively easy going, as in not fussy. It's also available for snipping all summer long.

It is so ubiquitous, in fact, that around the holidays some grocery

Funnel Spiders

Funnel SpiderAugust 30, 2010

One of the first things we noticed when we moved here were the large funnel spiders (grass spiders).  As spiders go these are about the size of a quarter.  Their webs are a thin whispy sheet with a characteristic funnel shape that the spider hides in.  They were everywhere to the point that we resorted to spraying to knock down their numbers a bit.  The risk to

Chronicling Babywise - Weeks 6 & 7

Phew, time is flying! Trips to the consulate for passports (for Moses and our two oldest sons... I can't believe it's been 5 years since we started this overseas journey) and trying to be more diligent about cleaning the house and such have been stealing the few "extra" bits of time I get these days.

(This is #6 in a series chronicling our Babywise routine with our fifth child. CLICK HERE TO SEE: Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four, Week Five.)

DURING WEEK SIX, things went really well. Moses continued increasing his sleeping hours at night until he was consistently going 6-7 hours between night feeds, which was super nice. One night he even went just half an hour shy of 8 hours. But then towards the end of the week, like I expected, we hit the 6- week growth spurt.

This last week has been more like 4 & 1/2 to 5 & 1/2 hours between night feeds, and he's still eating every 2 & 1/2 to 3 hours during the day. He's chunking up, smiling big (especially in the mornings), wiggling and interacting so much more, talking and cooing to every and any one who happens to be near, and visually tracking people walk across the room. It's fun to see him growing, and yet a bit bittersweet. It's just incredible how quickly they ditch that newborn stage.

A friend of mine with a newborn asked this last week whether or not we start our routine at the same time each day, and at this early stage, we do not. I'm more concerned about keeping up my milk supply and meeting their needs. Once we get to 3-4 months, everything levels out anyway, and we'll be on a basic daily routine just based on their own caloric needs (for example, they may vary by 15 or 30 minutes in either direction, but by that age, my babies tend to wake up at roughly the same time each morning anyhow. If it's normally around 7 that they wake up, let's say, then if they woke up at 6:45, I might go ahead and feed them then. If they sleep a bit longer, I'd wake them up by 7:20 or 7:30 to get the day rolling. That sort of thing.)

But right now, our days look something like this:
  • 6:30- feed, longer waketime, short nap
  • 9-ish- feed, short waketime, longer nap
  • 12 noon-ish- feed, short waketime, longer nap,
  • 2:30/3- feed, short waketime, longer nap,
  • 5:30- feed, longer waketime, short nap
  • 8:30- feed, short waketime, sleep
  • 11-ish- feed, right back to sleep.
But see how, when a baby goes through a growth spurt and cuts back a bit on the nighttime sleep (from 6-7 hours to more like 5 hours), that will lead to a (for us, right now) roughly 4/5am wake up? So then that might lead to a similar schedule the next day, starting around 6:30, or it might lead to something a bit earlier/later.

As you may have picked up on by now, we're more like that laid-back family Ezzo describes early on in Babywise. We aren't (by nature) a clock-driven family. We figure routines are there to serve our family's needs, not the other way around. So for me, in these middle-weeks when we're building up to that 8-hours-a-night sleep pattern, I don't focus on the particular hour that the feedings start. I focus on:
  • still getting regular, full feedings throughout the day
  • making sure wet/dirty diapers are regular and full (if you're concerned on this point, check out the week-appropriate charts @ the back of Babywise that give guidelines for what's healthy & normal)
  • in early weeks: getting at least 8 feedings in a 24-hour period (as you can tell from the times listed above, for me, once they start consistently sleeping through that early morning --4am-- feed, it cuts back to 7 feedings in a day. It is, however, possible to fit in 8 feeds per day even while going longer at night time if you stick to the every-2 & 1/2-hour feed times).
One thing I did face in the last two weeks was concern about my milk supply. About the time he started going 7 hours at night (thus, dropping a nighttime feed), I began feeling like my supply was in jeopardy. This may be the first time I've ever really noticed what I felt like was a drop in supply.

So, why now? Could be I'm older. Could be I've got five kids now and do a lot more than I used to do. Could be I was trying to exercise too much, too fast. Could be I tried to quit drinking sweet tea and forgot to drink enough water some days. Could be a couple days in there where I just got busy and wasn't eating as much as I probably should (reminder: breastfeeding requires about 500 additional calories per day, ladies!). Could be he hit a growth spurt and was really intaking whatever I could make as fast as I could make it.

Whatever the case, here was my response:
  • Be careful to get enough water! And yes, I jumped back into drinking sweet tea more. Interestingly, when I delivered Moses, the hospital cafeteria delivery people brought in a big pitcher of something and said it would be good for "helping me make milk". I'd obviously never used this stuff before so figured I'd be fine without trying some new hospital-created concoction. When my friend, the English-speaking pediatrician, came in to check out Moses, she explained that it is basically a sugar-infused fruit water. She learned I was drinking sweet tea, and said, "oh- that's the same thing. It gives you some extra calories while giving you plenty of fluids. Drink that." So maybe I'll continue on with the sweet tea. Doctors orders and all. :)
  • Nurse longer at each session-- supply keeps up with demand and so by helping him to nurse a few minutes longer on each side at each feeding (even though I felt "empty"), it snowballs over time and causes my body to produce more!
  • Feed him slightly more frequently-- for me, at this age, that means closer to the 2 & 1/2 hour mark -- definitely don't try to stretch feeds farther apart when your supply seems to be dropping!
  • Slow down. Rest more. Maybe it's because I've got more kiddos now, but jumping back into high-energy exercise may not be possible right now. More low-key yoga may be just the thing for this season. Letting my body work the way it's supposed to (by feeding my baby) is WAY more important than getting a size or two smaller. Even though I'd really enjoy being more trim and healthy, right now, top priority is the health and growth of my little man. So, I'm scaling back the exercise a bit.
I know some people also swear by certain herbs and teas to increase milk supply. For us, that would just be too cost-prohibitive (to ship abroad) since generally, my body makes plenty of milk. But if I was struggling more than just what it was, I would look into those things as well. So in my case, just a few tweaks to my norms have gotten things back to where they ought to be (I have noticed things return to a higher level of production since implementing these changes).

So this is roughly how the last two weeks (weeks six and seven with our new son) have gone. He's still working his way back up again, going five or five & a half hours between night time feeds, and is just a little sweet potato. I wish I could share pictures of his sweetness, but the crashing of my computer and busyness as of late have kept me from figuring out how to upload pictures to my husband's Mac. Hopefully I'll learn soon, cause you're missing out on one very precious baby.

[Here are links to this whole Babywise series: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Weeks 6 & 7, Weeks 8-14]

Sunday, August 29, 2010


We enjoyed our first cherry tomato harvest over the weekend! It was a notable moment as the tomatoes got off to a rather slow start due our cool, rainy June.

Most of the heirloom varieties are still quite green. We're hoping that before the fall temperatures settle in, we'll get some more late hot summer days to help them ripen.

As you can see, I'm ripening as well. I'm a little over 23 weeks pregnant now and the babies are growing fast. I'm so excited to say that we've begun working on the nursery. Hubby finished all of the painting in the dining room (photos to soon follow) and has officially begun the painting projects for the nursery.

Once the painting is finished, everything should come together quite quickly as all the furniture and design plans are pretty much complete! Can't wait to share it with you!

Harvesting Basil

Harvesting basil for winter access is fragrant fun.  Your patch of fresh basil, catnip, parsley, oregano and rosemary can be bountiful contributors to your winter herb stash if you have a few hours to spare.

Over the next few weeks, we'll cover some gardening ground as it relates to fall and winter herb harvesting projects, culminating in a step-by-step tutorial for making herb wreaths.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Besides being immersed for almost two weeks in the best antiques and junque you can lay your eyes on, Texas Antique Week is all about the fabulous people you meet. I am so lucky to have met some of the most talented and inspiring bloggers out there. Many of them are now true friends and even though we only see each other in Texas, we chat often and share our lives via text, emails and phone conversations.

I love it when bloggers stop by my booth and introduce themselves.

Sweet SUSIE HARRIS stopped by last show and was nice enough to let me borrow this pic of she and I.

Me on the left, Susie on the right.

Then of course there is my bestie TERESA CANO aka Garden Antiques Vintage.

Sweet T and moi.

Last show we were graced with a booth from GINA GALVIN of Peacock Park Designs and JO PACKHAM of Where Women Create.

Gina and Jo.

I was so happy to meet JODIE LEJEUNE aka Everything Vintage and ANGELIQUE aka Six In One Hand.

Jodie and Angelique.

Always a pleasure to see HEATHER BULLARD in Texas.

Heather and moi.

Oh lawdy there's the divine MISS DEB aka Talking Trash looking fabulous.

Teresa's blogger party is the happening place to rub elbows with some fabulous bloggers.

Theresa aka Time Worn Interiors, moi, Jo Packham, and Lauri from Chippys. Theresa and Lauri are my besties for sure.

Here's sweet ANNE aka Fiona and Twig with TOT and Deb.

And then there's delightful ROBIN BROWN aka Magnolia Pearl... She's just the yummiest.

Me and Robin.

And now for the name dropping...

I don't always get a pic with all the fab bloggers that I see but here's a list of some of them that I've been blessed to meet...















Now I have probably forgotten someone, so please forgive me if I did. The blogger party is such a blur that it is next to impossible to remember everyone. The wine doesn't help either...

If you are coming to Marburger and/or the blogger party please be sure to say hello. I would love to meet you...

Baby Tears

Several people have asked me the name of this plant sitting on our side table.  I hadn't a clue, and the only help I could offer up was that it is very hardy.  The only thing I ever do is give it a little drink when it looks thirsty.  It's lasted over three years, and in this house, that's saying a lot.  I'll never have a gardening blog. 

Brooke from Velvet and Linen has come to the rescue!  She recently included some plants in a dining room makeover, and lo and behold, they were the same plants as mine!  Take a look:

image courtesy: Velvet and Linen

Baby Tears is the name.  What an absolutely sweet and suitable name for a delicate plant such as this.  Knowing the name makes me love it even more.  :)  Thanks Brooke!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Beating Bedbugs Naturally

The admonition ". . .and don’t let the bed bugs bite." was never truer than it is today when super pesticide resistant bedbugs are taking a bite out of a record number of unprotected sleepers. Barring a few super noxious and possibly illegal chemical treatments, bed bugs can be a challenge to get rid of. I wrote a blog about it a while back that you should review if you're having problems.

Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica)

Japanese Beetle
(Popillia japonica) 
Aaugust 26, 2010 
A couple of days ago I posted about velvetleaf that is considered a noxious weed in some locations.  I noticed that despite a bad reputation with reducing yields in cash crops that my peppers didn't seem to be adversely affected by the velvetleaf in the beds.  I have been pulling before the velvetleaf was able to flower.  Upon closer

Country Crafts from the Studio of Halfpenny Home!

Visitors to Halfpenny Home have been inspired by some of the many craft titles that CICO books have produced. In particular, the Cabbages & Roses Home Made Vintage has sparked lots of creative makes at the studio in recent months.
Imagine then, how excited we were when CICO asked us to write a craft book for them! CICO are part of Ryland Peters and Small and produce beautiful craft books with lavish photography. As you can see, we've been enjoying just a small selection of these! Our book is going to be produced under CICO's Green Home series, which sits perfectly with the ethos of Halfpenny Home!
We have been asked to produce 35 projects with step by step instructions. We are very privileged to be working alongside a really great photographer, Gavin Kingcome (, who has provided the photography for a number of the River Cottage Handbooks.

It's been a really brilliant excuse to play with lots of creative supplies and we have also asked some Halfpenny Home friends to help us. Laura, who makes soap and Sam, who every summer becomes Peg the Dyer at Kentwell Hall, Long Melford (
So thank you to all our Halfpenny Home friends and followers for all your enthusiasm, inspiration and support.
Nic & Jacqui x

Birthday blog!

It was my birthday yesterday and all week everyone has been popping into Halfpenny Home to wish me a happy birthday and they have all been so kind and generous. I have met so many new people since the shop opened and as we all know they are all so clever and creative. See the lovely pictures below that Jacqui has printed onto canvas and mounted on frames and the pretty 'handbag' card, she knows how much I love an Efes (turkish beer) also!
Michelle, one of the 'Sew and Crow' ladies bought me this tiny sewing machine that has it's own little carry case. Love the fact that it is called Essex, Michelle and I are both from Essex.
This beautiful knitted necklace and cuff set were made by the wonderful Jane Southgate and I thought Lily and Cherry were going to explode waiting for me to open the parcel that they came in. They also presented me with the retro mug that has 'a balanced diet is a piece of cake in each hand' embazoned on it.
My good friend Kay who has just tackled the tricky task of shortening the sleeves on her denim jacket made us some millionaire's shortbread with rosemary and seasalt. As you can see the container is empty, it was delicious!
Here are they all are, thank you everyone for making it a really lovely day!
Maria M finally caught up with me this morning and presented me with the Aspall's and the fantastic card with balls of yarn, thank you. Nic x

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