Hi there! Mama here.

So I'm officially one fifth of the way through my "30 Weeks" goals! This week, my goal was to learn to play "When Irish Eyes Are Smilin'" on a harmonicaThis may not sound like a lot, but I have a spotty history with musical instruments...

At five, my mom and dad signed me up for violin lessons, which I apparently didn't like and gave up immediately. When I was twelve, Dad got me private piano lessons and I never got the hang of practicing or reading music, and after a few months (and one fairly decent rendition of "My Heart Will Go On") I gave up. (Dad later bought a family keyboard with a bunch of sound effects that I took to college with me, but it was really more of a novelty. I lent it to a friend for his band for the better part of a year.) When I was fifteen, after expressing interest at the Michigan Renaissance Festival, Dad tried a different approach and bought me a Celtic folk harp with a copy of "Teach Yourself to Play the Folk Harp" by Sylvia Woods. Fourteen years later, it's sitting in front of my bedroom window with the original set of strings. His last try was on my eighteenth birthday; he gave me an acoustic guitar. At the time I had a boyfriend who played, but as the relationship waned, so did my interest (and don't get me started on the Strat I bought a few months later with my graduation money...the plastic is still on the pickguard and in a few years it'll be vintage). At some point, I don't remember when, I taught myself "Silent Night" on a toy accordian...

Dad passed on two years and a month after he gave me the guitar, and then it was on to my own musical endeavors.  My last run-in was with a clay ocarina purchased on a whim in South Korea. I got it from a crowded, seedy little music shop and there was dust on the box, but it was the prettiest color of pale sky blue, the same faded hue as my Strat. I played a few Christmas songs with it, but then realized the tuning was off and it ended up in a basket with my music books. Eventually it busted.

Which brings us to now. The best way I can explain why I want to learn the harmonica is that it's cheap, it's portable, and it doesn't require a lot of extra gear or maintenance. (Wiping the spit off once in a while, maybe?) So using a toy harmonica that belongs to my son, I attempted to play the first line in the chorus of "When Irish Eyes Are Smilin'" by ear. It's a little tricky because you don't just go up and down the soundboard like you would on a piano--breathe in and you've got one note, exhale in the same spot and you've got a lower note. After a few attempts (and figuring out how the notes actually work), it actually sounded recognizable! I did a quick online search for the sheet music--and what I found was even better: AN ENTIRE WEBSITE devoted to harmonica tabs! And even better, they had tabs for the song

I am so glad I made this a goal, because I have a fresh love of learning music and it has resurrected my hope that I'll learn to play an instrument well (and by "well" I mean "more than once" and "people aren't crinkling up their faces and leaving the room"). And on that note...(good pun, eh?)

I don't know if I'll continue on with this blog. I'm trying to be genuine here, but I guess that's the problem--I'm trying. When I just write about things, like I did in this entry, I feel good about what I've written. This wasn't just about me learning to play the harmonica, it was about how good it feels to be making music again. I don't have to try to make it mean something, and that feels good--but this blog isn't the place for it. 

I'll probably update from time to time with a new recipe or news about the biz (because I just can't seem to stop myself!), but probably not too often, at least not for now. ;)

Thank you for reading.

-- Daria

Hi there. Mama here.
So here I am, relaxing in my living room, feeling pretty good about all I've accomplished today...but then there's this nagging feeling like something's not right, like I'm forgetting something, but what? ... ... ... Ah! I was supposed to make a potholder for Week 5 of my "30 Weeks" series and I've only got three hours before the midnight deadline! 

Now I have to either pull myself together and make that darn potholder or finish my lazy evening and endure the icky feeling of being a total slacker, thus causing me to fall behind and leak over into time already slotted for Week 6. The thing that makes this decision so difficult is that I knew this wouldn't just be a quick cut-and-sew project because my goal was to make a potholder with pockets. So I can't just make a regular square or quilted or even just a flat, heart-shaped potholder, no sirree. It has to have pocketses, Precious! 

So what am I going to do? Well, if you know me at all (and if you can see the potholder at the top of this post), it should be fairly easy for you to guess what I've decided: it's POTHOLDER TIME!

[3 hours later]

Done! You can click "Read More" below to see the full photo tutorial. The pictures are dark and shadowy because I was doing this at night and most of the time I try to avoid using the flash at all costs. But flashy or not, making the tutorial took a whole lot of time and energy. And you know what? I've realized something: 

I do not like making photo tutorials.

There. I said it.

In real life, I am a really good teacher. But this photo tutorial thing is really time-consuming for me because naturally I'm more of a writer than a photographer, and I become really long-winded when I try to write out all the steps I took to do something. I honestly think the tutorials I find and use do a better job of explaining the steps than I do, so this might be the last time I chronicle my goals with a myriad of step-by-step photos and complicated explanations. I hope you're not too crushed. ;)

For Week 6, I'm going to learn "When Irish Eyes Are Smilin'" on my son's harmonica (granted, that's if I can find it in the toy-laden abyss that we lovingly call his room). Yes, you read that right. I'm not sure if I'll post a picture of myself playing it and you'll just have to take my word for it, or if I'll be brave and post a video, but either way, this is happening. 

Do you have any harmonica-playing tips? Or are you brave enough to make your own pocketed potholder? If so, leave a comment below with advice or a link to your finished piece--I'd love to hear from you!

-- Mama

This post is #5/30 in my "30 Goals In 30 Weeks" series. I'm working on one goal a week for the 30 weeks leading up to my 30th birthday. Join me by setting goals of your own! You don't need to have a special theme or specific time frame in mind, just choose something simple that you think will make you happy, and go for it!

Hi there! Mama here.
You want to know the truth? Based on my track record with goal-setting, I really thought I'd be behind in my "30 Weeks" goals by now, but here I am, finished with week 4!

For this week's goal, I wanted to make homemade baby food for my 5-month-old. For both cheapness and goodness sake I make most of the food in my home from scratch--bread, pizza, biscuits, teething biscuits, smoothies, bran muffins, Goldfish, granola, Oreos--so why I never tried to make homemade baby food before now, I'll never know...because seriously, it is so easy. 

I found a recipe in my acquired-last-summer-but-didn't-get-around-to-reading-it-until-now copy of Start Fresh by Tyler Florence, famous chef and father of three. Basic recipes with minimal ingredients and simple instructions make this book super easy to use, even for the most  inexperienced cook (I mean come on, can you really call steaming a vegetable and then mashing it up a recipe?). 

For my baby, I decided to start with sweet potatoes mixed with golden potatoes. If you want to see what I did (and also see some seriously cute baby pics), follow the "Read More" link below!