Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ups and Downs

The Fail:  

I scurry over to the salon during the munchkins' nap time to get a quick pedicure on Sunday.

(Note:  Even when pursuing a frugal mindset, in a climate where one wears flip-flops 10 months out of the year at least, it is imperative, I believe, to budget in a pedicure once or twice a month.  FYI.)

So anyway, I get there, and I'm feeling pretty groovy because I've remembered to bring some crochet to work on and was making great gains in it and completely falling into a wonderful and productive comfortable pampered zone.  I picked out a beautiful, bright, ever-so-slightly bluish green color for my oh-so cute toes, which my awesome pedicurist applies expertly.

Feeling like a normal, put together, lady-like human being.

Then she goes to put on my shoes.

Sigh.  Normal, put together, lady-like human being feeling gone.

Friends, I'm wearing two non-matching flip-flops to the salon, and I'm once again in frazzled-mom zone.

Oh, well.  At least my toes look snappy.

The Score:

These came in the mail last week.  

Ever since I was a little girl with an Australian pen pal, I've had a thing for getting mail/packages from other countries.  So cool!  Am I the only one?

So I was pretty psyched when these arrived from Ukraine.  I mean, I have to even study the packaging for a bit before I can even open it.  Maybe I should get out more.  But I love these earrings from Lepun and the sweet wrapping they came in.  I've been wearing them for the past three days, and I think they look neat with my pixie hairdo.

Anything interesting happen to you over the weekend?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Birthday Time

Well, it's that time again.  Birthday time.  Which means birthday planning time.  Leif's birthday is coming up soon, and he'll be four!

He used to look like this:

But now he looks like this:

I've been working on other projects seeing his birthday as some hazy event in the distant future, but egad!  It's nearly here!  There's so much to do:  Spray painting, sewing, baking, balloon buying, snack making, gluing, decorating, wrapping, and there's still another present I want to get him.  And that's the easy part.  Mostly I need to sit down and write out what to do and when to do it.

Rose's birthday went over pretty well.  She had a mermaid theme, and I like how it came together.  


The best and funniest thing about her party was the way the pink octopus candies came out.  They look positively terrified.

Which, if you had seen the massacre that followed, was quite apropos.  

Here's a peek into the pre-massacre.

I still laugh when I see these.

Run, Octopus, run!!!  Oh, nooooo....

I'm hoping my kids won't completely inherit my twisted sense of humor.  

Leif has requested an airplane birthday.  I've been collecting ideas on Pinterest for his party that I'll post soon.  I'll try to keep you up to speed on the preparation projects if I don't get too overwhelmed.

Like when does that ever happen?


(For instructions on how to make those fun octopus treats see:  Octopus Marshmallow Pops by Wants & Wishes.)

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Have I mentioned I have the attention span of a fruit fly?

Well, that's not completely true.  What would be a good way to put it?  I mean, I can focus on something for a good while, but there are just so many somethings to focus on.  There is so much I want to try to do, that I have a hard time getting to do anything, because it never actually works out to actually finish something or master it.  Because if I spend all my time on this one thing, how will I fit in everything else?

(Boy, this blog is such a voyage of self discovery.  Of course, that doesn't help you much, reader, since you are not my self.  So I won't feel bad if you stop here.

I'll wait until you've had time to move onto a more productive website.

Go ahead.

Hum, hum, hum.)

So anyway, this explains, of course, why I can start a conversation in Spanish and French, say hello, please, count to 10 in German, and greet people, say excuse me, and I love you in Russian, Chinese, and Romanian.  But please don't go any further, because to me, it will be embarrassingly incoherent.  It's also why I've been an environmental science major, a photography major, a studio art major, an art history major -- sidetrack to get an A.A.S. in computer animation -- an international studies major, and back to a B.A. in art history.

It's also why I know the basics of so many arts and crafts type things but am nowhere near the skill level of some of my favorite people and inspirers (I love making up words; I'm going to write a dictionary someday.  You'll be able to find it in your local bookstore in the fiction section.) who have been able to really hone in on something they love and work at it.  I have a lot of family that falls into this category.

It explains why in an actual family and a global family of so many perfectly fried eggs, I feel like the one that went in funny during the cooking process, and so you simply decide, "Well, I guess this one's gonna be scrambled eggs instead."

I am scrambled eggs.

But optimistic scrambled eggs.  And as an scrambled optimist egg, I'm hoping my interest in pretty much everything will help me be a great encourager (another entry for my dictionary) to four kids who will probably have extremely different interests -- or at least drive them into therapy trying to incorporate them into all of mine.

In the meantime, I'm going to have to embrace who I am and stop trying to find that one thing.  I just have to try to find ways to work in everything I can't stop thinking about trying or doing -- (not in any particular order) -- design, crochet, sewing, Bible studying, cooking, baking, developing bookworm kids, encouraging Christ-loving kids, blogging, vintage finding, learning new arts (hand lettering, art journaling, craft designing), photographing, reading, friend visiting, family history tracing, etc.  But I think I should do it in a way that's a bit organized, planning ahead, and deciding which things are most important.

I think most people knew to do that already.  I'm catching up.

It's a work in progress.  Probably will be till I move onto glory.

So I'd like to know:  Any other lovely scrambled eggs there?  

Monday, June 4, 2012

Real-Life Handmade

Confession time.

I have an oddly-shaped head.  At least I assume I do.  It would explain my headband issues.  There are two kinds of headbands in this world.  The kind that wiggle off my oddly-shaped head or the ones that hurt like the dickens behind my ears and give me splitting headaches.  Elastic, plastic, metal, doesn't matter.

Until now.

Enter Sunshine and Carousels.

This beautiful, green headband is the most comfy, stay-put, cutest headband I have ever, ever owned, and I've tried a few.  Granted, this photo was taken pre-irrationally-last-minute pixie cut.  But I have a few ideas on styling my new do with this headband.  There's no way I'm letting this total awsomeness go unworn, and I'm wayyyy too selfish to give it to somebody else.

Fortunately, my girls are still a bit too small to start swiping my stuff -- well, my accessories, I think.  Though I keep finding my red crystal flower pin curiously in their possession.  I have no idea how that keeps happening.


But cute miscreants.  So I'll keep them.

But this post isn't so much about hair accessories as it is about my love of handmade things.  I know.  It's been like five seconds since I mentioned it.  But is there anything better having something that someone has obviously put real care into, someone you can believe truly loves what they do?  I could be reaching, but it makes me feel connected just a little more to real people, and real people with real skill and beautiful minds.

I am a big thrower-outer.  (Yeah.  That's a word.  Would I have typed it if it wasn't?  Okay.  Probably.)  My answer to clutter is to give it away or throw it out.  Ask my kids.  They just lost about half their toys to a recent purge.  Rose thought it was traumatic whereas Leif was helping me fill the bags for the Salvation Army.  But four kids with birthdays and Christmas tend to rack up a lot of stuff that doesn't necessarily get played with.

But things I would never get rid of?  I love the blankets my grandmother lovingly crafted for my kids, gorgeous knitted and quilted ones.  There's the display case my great-grandfather made for my great-grandmother that I'm using to hold my plethora of books.  I have articles of clothing that my mom made/designed that I haven't worn in ages.  She even made my wedding dress, which, though the marriage turned out badly, is a work of art and will be precious to me forever, as will the veil my grandmother stitched with her glorious hands.

Don't even get me started on the funny clothespin people my kids make.

It's not even just things made by family and friends.  It's jewelry and paper things and wooden toys purchased from true craftspeople.  These are the things that will still be here when I've clocked my 100th Goodwill run.

It's why I'm able lately to talk myself out of getting clothes or other make-able from corporate superstores.  I mean, do I really need what I sometimes think I do from there?

(I do realize, however, that we're probably destined to start wearing holes in our outgrown clothing if I can't find more time for the sewing machine soon... or at least more time for the thrift stores... or I'll have to cave.  I did just get the twins some shorts recently from Target.  It's Florida for crying out loud, and they didn't have any.  But I digress.

These arguments with myself can be so tiring, not to mention psychoanalytically scary.)

Because, money aside, it seems, at least for me, to be better to have less that means more in life, to be focused on making and salvaging and saving things that matter, and then to actually have things that matter to save.

I know I'm not who feels this way lately.  There are so many people jumping on this train, and I actually feel like I'm behind.  I follow so many charming and brilliant blogs from the U.S., UK, Australia, Norway, Romania, Ireland, et cetera, lately about people who have these awesome ideas along these handmade lines and who actually share them, passing ideas onto others who come up with their own neat things to do with them and pass those on.

In a brief but lovely conversation I had with Nicky Walsh of Nicky & Max, I think she put it well:

"The world financial crisis is changing everyones mindset…here to. Money is no longer the goal, less material living is. Homegrown, homecooked, enjoyed with friends, family, keep it cheap, support local producers, get a more wholesome hobby, learn a craft, make it yourself, old and secondhand, heritage and vintage, back to basics, experimentation and re learning and got to be cheap."

And that's really it, isn't it?  It is to me.  What do you think?

So I really like my headband, and I can't wait to find more creative people to talk about and, of course, shop from.  Because... well... that's the fun part.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Priorities or Something Else

Man, this morning was hectic, and not because it had to be.  I got the absolute most laziest start this morning, and of course after all the GET YOUR SHOES ON WE HAVE TO GO!!! for the 47th time, we did finally make it to the car, and I did apologize for the yelling and the reason for the yelling, which was I just wanted to do nothing all day.  But being who I am, I also had to squeeze in a tiny lecture on working together to get things done, including getting ready to go somewhere.  Don't judge me; two year-olds, almost-four-year-olds, and five-year-olds understand more than you think.

At least that's what I tell myself. 

But church was fantastic, and I'm now ready for the week, if not really so much ready for the cleaning I need to catch up.  Well, it's better than I was when I got up.  That's for sure.   But I really need to still my mind (enormous feat actually), and while the kids are napping, it seems like a good time to do it.  Time to get ready for the week, make some plans, and wish to high heaven there was a fence up in the backyard, so the kids could play out there and I could tidy up and plan a bit longer.  But a trip to the playground should be fun, too.

Things to accomplish today (some of which aren't going to happen; let's be honest):

Blog Plan for Week (As opposed to my usual by-the-seat-of-my-pants approach.)
Clean Kitchen & Bathrooms
Meal Plan for Week
Have Rose & Leif Tested for Anti-Nap Virus (Just kidding. They're just driving me crackers in their room playing at the moment.)
Bake Bacon and Pecorino Scones by Gabriela at What Liberty Ate (Recipe:  Scones with Bacon and Pecorino)  
Take Kids Out for Serious Playtime (If they ever actually nap, but alas, they are still talking, and Leif actually came in crying to me a minute ago, because he'd apparently fallen out of the top bunk goofing off, and after confirming nothing was seriously injured, I got to balance kissing and cuddling with I TOLD YOU SO.  It's one of the perks of being a parent -- countless allowable I TOLD YOU SOs)
Choose Cookie Recipe (because gasp! we're almost out of cookies)
And Whatever Else I Can Think Of In the Meantime

Okay.  I need to stop myself.  I always plan too much.  And how many hours are left in this day.  Jeepers.  And I'm sitting here, typing away like it's the only thing I wanted to do today.  It's like, if I had half the brain God gave a goose, I'd stop and get stuff done.  But am I?  No.  

Still going...

Yep, still typing.  

Okay.  I'm going now.  

Nope still here.  

All right.  Really now.  


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Farmer's Market Saturday

Oh, how I love you, local farmer's market.  A quick trip to over there after a breakfast at the nearby French bakery, then an annoyed zip to the bank after I realized that I'd decided to skip the long line at the bank on Friday, then back to the farmer's market.  (Thank heavens I only had 50 percent of my youngins, which made it a mite easier.)

I always look for the local stuff, which means from Florida or Georgia.  One of the honey farmers had honeycomb today (score!), and I love how the twins say YEAH! to everything I ask them about getting.  I don't think they really pay attention to what I'm really saying.  Otherwise, I don't think I'd have gotten such an enthusiastic response to the veggies.  But they were eating their weight in apricot cookies, so they were in a pretty good mood anyway.

Portobello mushrooms, yellow squash, blackberries, and blueberries, fresh rustic German bread, blue cheese, horseradish cheddar, and pretty sunflowers to brighten up the house.  I regret not picking up eggs from Lake Meadow Naturals.  I used to love going over to their farm to get them with the kids.  Maybe next time.  But I was sneaky and snagged a rum truffle at the bakery that I'm going to enjoy after the kids are in bed.  So all in all a good trip.

Did you go to your local farmer's market today?  Whadja get?

Friday, June 1, 2012

I Heart Cookbooks

From Nigella.com

I used to have quite a collection of cookbooks.  Not like Nigella Lawson's up above, but a nice size for a beginner.

I love seeing glimpses of her collection, though, and day dreaming of the day she'll let me sit on the floor for hours in there surrounded by them and looking through them.  

I would my cookbooks, when I got them, like novels.  To me it's a window into someone else's beautiful world, especially these days, when there's so much personality in them -- the books and the people.

Sadly, I had to give away/sell many of them when I moved up north since we were going to be sharing a small place with my parents when the transition to single momhood began.  It was rough-going getting rid of all some things, but especially books (and my lovely college SLR camera).  I still go to my book shelf wanting to reread something by Frank Peretti or Nathaniel Philbrick, etc., and am a little disheartened to find it gone.  But life goes on, and I've gained so much more in the meantime.

It was a little bit funny, though, trying to pack up and get rid of things, because every time I'd pass the pile of cookbooks destined for the yard sale, I'd think, "Oh, no, not that one," and grab it and throw it in a moving box.  So I'm not completely cookbook destitute.  But it's not what it was...


The silver lining -- there's always one of those, isn't there? -- is that while I unfortunately got rid of a couple of good ones, most of them were probably only so-so, and therefore their departure has made room for some better choices that I may find in used bookstores, in moments of weakness on Amazon, or receive on (ahem) birthdays and such.  And there are so many wonderful recipes online these days.  At this very moment, my home is filled with the delicious smells of Bourbon Brown Sugar Chicken, a recipe by Meg at Sweet on You.

And here are some cookbooks from my wishlist to soon replace the old:

This is one is being released in October and was written by Rohan Anderson at Whole Larder Love.  I love how he leans toward more rustic foods, and using what's local taking it a step further by hunting, growing, and gathering for himself.  And his photos are just inspiring.  It's probably a good thing he and his family live 15,000 miles or so away, or else they'd be incredibly creeped out when the five of us just popped over unannounced for dinner.  Instead, I'm getting this book one way or another when it comes out.

Interesting side note:  I checked out of curiosity, and Google Maps' suggestion for getting from California to Hawaii, Hawaii to Japan, and Japan to Australia is by kayak.  Yes, by kayak.  I think they're a little optimistic, however, in estimating it taking 56 days or so to get there.  I'm actually an experienced sea kayaker (though it's been a little while), and I'm still pretty sure I'd never make it.  So my estimated time should read something like:  Never, ever in a million years.

Hardee har har, Google people.

I love pie.  

True story:  I spent a decent chunk of my growing-up years living near Apple Hill, California.  And my mom and her grandmother would spend a decent chunk of time each year getting together and turning out batch after batch after batch of delicious variations of apple pie.  Some of these were given away as gifts, some of these were eaten at Thanksgiving, some were frozen baked and unbaked to be revived in all their original glory at a later time.  Then comes summer vacation with my brother and me spending the day alone in the house with a stand-alone freezer in the garage full of apple turnovers.  Oh, dear.  Picture me hanging over the side of the freezer rearranging items to hide my theft.  

Of course, now as a parent myself, I don't doubt for a minute that mom knew.

Bless you, Mom, for all the things you let go...

Then there was that Scottish bakery in Maryland... but I could go on forever.  Anyway, I was delighted to find Handheld Pies by Sarah Billingsly and Rachel Wharton.  And thank heaven for brilliant food photographers.

One day, Lily and I will go traveling around the world looking for good things to eat.  I have a two-year-old who will try anything.  She loves food.  I have three horrible picky children and one delightfully adventurous one.  Well, not horrible, but more than once I've cried out woefully, "Well, fine.  If you're not even going to try anything, I'll just make whatever I want!"  But I do love them all immensely in case you wondered.  But when it comes to food, Lily wants to help make it and help eat it, grin, and say, "I like it!"  It's a blessing to have a person to cook for who loves to eat.

So I'm going to grab Lily, and we'll start making things out of this French food cookbook.

And I want this one, because I, too, love butter and sugar.... and tattoos.  You can see some of Joy Wilson's creative genius, too, on her blog, Joy the Baker.

And this one, because it will look totally rad on my bookshelf.  

Ha!  Just kidding.  But the pictures are so beautiful, and it will take me a couple of visits within its pages to work up the courage to start cooking from it.

So now I'm off to surf more food blogs (Oh, my goodness!  I just found i am a food blog, and where has it been all my life.  I have a sticky note on my computer screen with the words "Pulled Pork Pancakes with Bourbon Syrup" on it, and now I'll never be the same.)

Or maybe I'll be responsible and clean house a little.

Or surf food blogs.

What are some of the cookbooks on your wishlist?  And what are some of the favorites you have?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Blog Remodel

I'm working on this blog.

Ummm... duh.

No, what I mean this blog isn't quite what I've envisioned yet.  But mostly because I'm not done envisioning yet.  What has started out as a random way to maybe share funny stories and pictures and interests... well, unfortunately it's stayed just that.  Which is not bad, but something inside tells me it should be something more.  So I'm barnstorming.... or brainstorming...

Probably more brainstorming than barnstorming.  I don't think I was meant to be a stunt pilot in the 1920s.  Or was I?

See, I really need to plan this out.

What I'd really like to do is focus it and organize it to be the little world I'm imagining in my head.  So I'm filling a notebook with ideas and doodles and questions and reading some of my favorite bloggers to get inspiration, while trying to come up with a unique perspective.

I would love to hear suggestions, things you like, maybe would like to see, what is maybe missing, etc.  Feel free to leave your comments!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


My, my, my.  What a handsome young man.

Leif is going to be four years old in a couple of weeks.  I love who he's become this year.  He's started being very talkative, and I love that.  He hardly ever let me know what he was thinking before, but over the last few months, he'll just talk and talk.  It's wonderful.  He has the most beautiful thoughts in his head.  He's gotten into the habit recently of just being really cheerful and generous and gracious.

And what an imagination he's got.

And what a blessing he is.

My, my, my.  What a handsome young man.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sleepy Tuesdays

As usual, our get-it-done day turns into my where's-my-pillow evening.  Except that more than usual, the kids were more like four individual fussy, rambunctious, screaming cyclones of whirling preschool-toddlerness melding into one perfect storm of chaos.  Even now after they'd seemingly settled into bed, I hear the patter of Leif's feet as he attempts one of the most dangerous stunts of his 3-year-old life in sneaking up behind this tired mama bear.  Fortunately for him, a mild threat and a low growl sends him scampering back.


Time to wind down, settle into bed, and dream of the day when I have the time, space, and mental freedom to make this Ollalieberry Ice Cream Quilt by Alison Paulson.

Actually, to be more accurate, I'm dreaming of snuggling under it some weekend morning and hearing the silence generated by kids who sleep in

But for tonight...

Place:  Snuggly bed.
Project:  Finishing up crocheted flower project.  (Can't wait to show you when it's done!)
Entertainment:  Eureka
Drink:  Hot Cocoa
Reading:  Favorite bloggers.  (See that way under Neat Blogs --->)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Handmade Things

I was a studio art major for two years of college.  I loved it.  Absolutely loved it.  But in the second semester of that second year, I kinda chickened out -- or as I prefer to think of it, made a more practical choice.  See, the way I saw it, while I may have had some God-given creativity, I never saw myself as having much in the way of talent.

Useful thing, talent... for the artist at least.

It worked out that as I was deciding that being an artist wasn't for me, that cathedrals came into my life while working on a research paper.  French, English, and German Gothic cathedrals to be more specific, and art history became my new love and focus.  And it worked out, really.  I have no idea how I would have been able to pick a studio major.  I want to do everything.  Then I loved that, because I got so much out of seeing other people's ideas and the things in design, printmaking, sculpting, painting, and so on.

Every once in a while, I regret not being able to make things for a living.  I mean, the rare times I still get to walk into a craftsman's or artist's studio, I still get a little weak in the knees.  I absolutely love the creative environment and inspiring potential of it.  I love to see what people are making and what ideas they come up with.  I love things that people can do with their hands, with art, science, and design and making something beautiful, taking that passion that God gave you and fashioning something really well done out of it.

It's why I go to the farmer's market, seek out craft entrepreneurs, look for ideas, and try to learn to make things and do things on my own.

These guys are cool.  They remind me of what I'm talking about.  And they have rad facial hair.

I think it's so great that there seems to be this new movement -- or a revitalized one to less mass market and more handmade.  Don't get me wrong.  One day I would love to be able to make almost all things myself or get them from small business and local makers, but unfortunately I often don't have the money, but mostly the time to do this.  As a single mom of four kids with a full-time job, I'm a regular at the local Super Target.

And there is something to be said for supporting big businesses that you know provide jobs, though it always turns my stomach to think that my ability to buy $4 shirts for my kids reinforces the view that certain large companies have of it being in their interests to short-change their factory employees in other countries.

The war within continues, and I hate that I cannot always afford my principles, but I digress.

Stepping down from soap box now.  Anyway...

I'm trying to instill a little bit of this into my kids.  I mean, they can be whatever they want to be, and only God knows what it is for each of them -- plumber, astronomer, homemaker, teacher, accountant, forest ranger, writer; the list goes on -- but I'd really like to encourage their creativity.

At the moment, they are in the midst of making clothespin people.  I think they really, really like making these, because they're toys, too.  I got inspired by Nicole at Making It Lovely.  And I love how my kids' version of these people look so diverse.

And how this picture looks like the clothespin person version of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Anybody else feel like making a monumental object out of mashed potatoes?  Just me?   Mmmkay.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Etsy Love

I need a doorstop.  And I can't just get any old doorstop.  I need an awesome doorstop.  I love when I feel I have to buy some piece of clothing or a household item, because then I have the freedom to choose something unique, even if it's something seemingly inconsequential.

This item, however, is crucial.  I have a bathroom door off balance.  If that doorknob nails me in the arm again while I'm helping a toddler wash her hands, I'm going to have a psychotic break.  So you can see the how urgent this particular purchase is, can't you?  Of course you can.

So of course I went to Etsy, because, as I've mentioned before, I have a problem.  An Etsy addiction problem.  They say admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, but unfortunately, this is as far as I'm willing to go on this road to recovery.

I love seeing what people make, and I like to support them when I can.

So here is my new doorstop:

I'm so excited.  I wanted to take a picture of it after it came, but I'm in a hurry to share my new nautical coolness with you.  I ordered this from Next Door to Heaven.  They make rustic and homey things from burlap, which I can't wait to get in the mail.  

I love getting things in the mail.

Ordering this got me in a nautical frame of mind.  So I started looking for other things seaworthy.

This bracelet is so simple and whimsical from GreenDuckWeed.  I imagine wearing it out and about on Saturdays.  My kids would love to see this in my jewelry drawer, which they love to investigate from time to time.

I love the freshness of blue and white alone.  This would look amazing with Lily's untamed curls.  I'm going to have to make something similar for her soon, but I'm not sure it would look as adorable as this one from Chocolatine.

Can anyone else smell the saltwater?  Concertina Press.

Lepun is one of my favorite shops.  Her stuff is so sweet and fun.  I have my eye on some red and white stud earrings from here.  

I've moved a lot.  But there's a reason I always end up in a coastal state.  Give me a quiet beach on an overcast day, and I'm in paradise.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Tales from the Toddler Side

So I've been mulling over Ivy's transition from pahlah at bedtime to no pahlah at bedtime.

Oh, sorry.  Pahlah = pacifier in Ivy-ese.

It was around this time that Leif was transitioned from his pacifier, so on a whim, Wednesday night when Ivy asked for her pahlah, I said, "No more pahlah.  You're a big girl."  Of course, since I am a horrible mother, this induced a rather large, hearty cry from Ivy.  So I picked her up and held her while she cried, but I do try to be firm (pause here for possible ironic foreshadowing, please), which is most of the time rather easy with Ivy, because she's a practical girl at heart.  

Ivy's actually pretty amazing.  I mean, they all are, but we're talking about Ivy now.  Her practicality wars against her extremely determined sense of independence and knowing what she wants.  It's actually made her, so far, into a wonderfully challenging person to deal with, but fun and reasonable to work with at the same time.  

I see that I'm explaining myself with my usual muddy clarity.  You're welcome.

For example, she'll cry when not getting her way or getting into trouble, and then mid-cry, I'll ask her if she's done, and she'll stop and say, "Yes."  Then she'll get up to, most of the time, hug me, and say, "Sorry, Mommy," (if she's not decided to hold a grudge that time and therefore seek out Nana to tell her how cruel her mommy has been), and all is well.

So she has her cry out over her pahlah and her lost childhood and so forth, and then stops, gets down from my lap, lays on her pillow, and decides she wants her bear, who is normally bear non grata at bedtime since Ivy likes her space. (Isn't my Latin impressive?  Don't gush.  It's embarrassing.)  But then she gets up and decides she needs to go potty, which is what she usually does over and over each night until she gets too sleepy.

The problem this night is she doesn't gets sleepy.  The pahlah is apparently toddler-grade Ambien.  I mean, she's Ivy, so she's completely game to give up the pahlah to be a big girl now, but now she can't sleep.  She can't even get sleepy.  I figured she naps without it, so that wouldn't be an issue.  But I was wrong.  Very wrong.

Frustration met hilarity that evening.  Ivy's a good sport, and I'm feeling gracious and good-sporty, too, since I knew it would be a tough transition, and I feel for her.  Nana offers to rock her to sleep, which she agrees to for about half a minute.  But she's wired for sound without her pahlah, so then she's ready to visit me in my room.  She wants to lay in my bed.  I'm cool with that.  I figure it will last about a minute since she really, really does like her space, unlike Lily, who always opts to sleep with me if she can.  

Ivy likes her own bed.  

But we're in pahlah-free wonderland now, and everything is on its head.  She's up, she's down, she's bouncing round.  Now, two things that tend to work individually around here are, one, lying down with a spastic child so they can calm down, or, two, watching late TV a little (rare thing in these parts) to focus the kid, keep them still, so their sleepy brains take over their bodies.  So I decided to employ both, and since Ivy's such a good sleeper, we'll hang out, enjoy each other's company, and she'll eventually go to sleep, right?  RIGHT???


I'm laying on the bed next to her, and for a little bit we're watching The Sorcerer's Apprentice, because how could an action movie not do the trick?  I'm saavy that way.  But of course, Ivy lays down, she's up, she's gotta go potty, she's down, she's sitting on my belly bouncing and laughing hysterically, then she's smooshing her face onto my face saying, "I want to look at your EYE!"  What are you doing, Ivy?  "Looking at your FACE!"  Ivy, you can't see my face like that.  "YES, I CAN!  I want to go potty."

By this time, we're both laughing hysterically.  Good for a school/daycare night.

We're doing this till about 11 o'clock, by which time she's flopped down again and said for the 50th time that she has to go potty, to which I reply, "Fine.  Go.  I'm going to sleep."  

But then I turn to her, look her in the eye and say, "Ivy, do you want your pahlah?"  

To which she replies, "I want to get in my bed."  

"Okay, we'll try again in a month or two," I say as I tuck her in to her bed.  She's asleep in about a minute.

Did I lose this battle in the parenting war of attrition?  Not really.  Ivy was a completely good sport and wasn't trying to get her way.  She just didn't know what to do with herself, and I get that.  If my kids are throwing fits or crying, I do stand firm.  I tell them they can never get what they want by whining.  Never.  So if they're going to change my mind, they'll have to do it another way..

Which brings me to this thought:  

I mean, I always have known that Ivy is very clever.  But is it possible that she's really criminal mastermind?   An strategic genius perhaps?  

I'm beginning to think it's possible.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sleepy Tuesdays

Well, I was all set to do some serious sewing this evening, but after a long after-work slog of running errands and getting the kids in bed and taking Ivy to pee-pee for the skiddillionth time, I'm about done in.

Heretofore, I present a simple synopsis of tonight's events:

Place:  Warm, cozy bed.
Project:  Crocheted flower gift for certain favorite person.
Entertainment:  Latest installment of absolute favorite series of the moment, BBC's Sherlock. 
Drink:  A little Kentucky bourbon.
Book To Fall Asleep Reading:  Amy Tan's The Bonesetter's Daughter

Until we meet again...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Time for Doing Things

I always overbook my week.  I think the reason might be that I like to have lots of to-dos to choose from.  I'm able to weigh priorities along with just doing whatever suits my fancy that day/evening.  And after years of trying different planners and lists, I've finally found a personal to-do system that works!  Huzzah!

This one actually works a little more like my brain works, and it's snappy, too.  And I can just take goals down as they're completed and replace them with new ones.  I got the idea from Rachel at Cornflower Blue Studio.  I had a few different ideas for the little decoration in the header, but her idea was so simple and pretty, I just had to use it.  I figure I may eventually need a few variations of these lists hanging up as life continues to vary.    You can get instructions to make your own version of Rachel's DIY Rotating Goal List here.

I was using bigger sticky notes, but they were some odd brand that didn't stay put.  So I decided to use the little Post-It ones until grocery day when I could pick up some proper large ones.  But now I think I like these better.  You can fit more in, and therefore they cater to my delusions of free time.

I plan to invest a lot of time in making things this week, so what to do when the munchkins are around?  Why, have them make things, too, of course.  They love it.  Then they love playing with the things they make.  So I decided maybe it would be more fun to have it tie into what my mom and I are working on, too.  So the kids made clothes for paper dolls.  They had so much fun, and it's fun to see how they interpret these things with loose guidelines.  I pretty much just gave them the supplies and gave them the okay to have at it.

The Supplies:  

First I cut out four naked little people and drew on faces.  I made their faces resemble the kids because they really like their own stuff.  My kids don't really look like these dolls, though; that would be weird.  But it was easy to make them recognizable, though, since I have four kids with very different hair.  I so love my kids' differences -- personality-wise and every other way.  Then my mom cut out little bits of fabric so the kids could collage them however they wanted onto their dolls.

The Process:

Next I threw a blanket on the floor so that it would be protected from stray bits of glue stick and fabric.  It's so cool that they're all old enough to do a lot of the same things now.  Some said I was crazy for having these guys so close together (I believe the polite way of alluding to this is, "Boy, you sure have your hands full."  If I had a quarter for every time I heard that one, uh.... I'd have a heck of a lot of quarters.)  But it's so cool that they like to play together.  Who's laughing now?  Huh?  Huh?  

It's possible I'm paranoid as well as delusional.  Please don't lock me up just yet.

The Results:

I love how Leif picked the the more manly fabrics, and actually those are bits of the shirts that are being made for him presently.  And I love that his is wearing a tie.  Rose's is wearing the most lovely maxi dress.  Lily and Ivy made sure to glue bits of fabric to the back of them, too, which of course is so practical.  Who wears clothes just on their front?  Nobody I want to hang out with; that's for sure.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Day for Two Mamas

Happy Mother's Day!  I sure hope you're enjoying a beautiful day celebrating with your mom, calling your mom, remembering your mom or whoever might have filled that special role in your life.  I know I've been blessed by mine.

This is my mom back in the day shortly after I was born.  Such a sweet picture, I think.  Brand new mom.  Now, I'm going to point out something weird that kind of makes me wonder.  Ummm... was I kidnapped?  Because she does not look like a woman who's recently given birth.  Very Twilight Zone if you ask me or maybe America's Most Wanted.  Who looks like that bringing a newborn home?  Seriously.  Did I look like that after having my first child?  Uhhh, no.  

True story:  Upon visiting Rose in the NICU about a week after she was born, I was in an elevator with a lovely older woman and her granddaughter.  The little girl must have pointed at me, because her grandmother explained lovingly, "She's going in to have a baby."  


Genetics, ya done me wrong on this one.

Now, when I was growing up, my mom's favorite thing to do for Mother's Day was hang out with her kids.  She's a pretty fun person and usually picked something awesome to do.  She's like that... kind of hobbity in that she, like Tolkien's hobbits, like to have everybody have fun and feel loved on her day.

I'm a teensy weensy bit more selfish myself.  I do love hanging out with my kids, especially on Mother's Day.  In fact, I have some crafting with the kids and a lovely, tickle-y dog pile scheduled for sometime after the kids wake up from their nap.

There is nothing like being at the bottom of a squirmy, lovely, tickle-y, four-kid, one mom dog pile for remembering you're totally blessed.  There are lots of ways to feel blessed, but it's easily one of the best.

However, I also will greedily snatch up and enjoy some well-needed grown-up time for regathering whatever tiny scraps of sanity I have left whenever I can, especially since they're rare as hen's teeth -- both the grown-up time and the scraps of sanity.  So since my kids were elsewhere engaged on Saturday, my mom and I got to hang out and do grown-up stuff all day.  It went beautifully.  We didn't even have a real plan, but it just developed into one of the best mother-daughter days ever.

First order of business:  Visit local awesome coffee shop and get french press to share of darkest french roast imaginable.  This was a tiny bit of a mess-up since french press was not nearly as tasty as our usual pour-over choice where the hot water is slowly and deliciously seeping through ground coffee.  But it was still good.  My mom and I got to browse The Wall Street Journal at a leisurely place, which was very relaxing, though we ended up talking most of the time.  See my section?  I don't go for the shallow and silly world news or business reports.  It's all book, food, and art reviews for me.  It's the weekend.  That's how I roll.

This is my mom talking about IPOs.  I'm serious.  Once again, I have to question our related-ness.  What you can't see is me with my huh? okay... face.  She couldn't either I hope.  I was hiding behind my camera phone.  She's got a math-y brain like I think Rose does.

I hope they're very happy together.

We did eventually get around to talking about concepts I more readily grasp, which I was thankful for.

Notice anything weird in this one?  She looks almost the same.  Look at the first picture and then look at this one.  People always ask if we're sisters... actually, twins lately.  At this rate, I'll look older than her in a decade.

Then we browsed the farmer's market, which I intend to do a post on in the next few weeks.  We visited our favorite honey guys, produce guys, and cheese guys (Ooh, I love the cheese guys.  For one thing I love good cheese.  But for another, I'm pretty sure they know I've already tried every cheese, but they always let me try everything again.  And I'm only too happy to.)  Unfortunately, we forgot to visit our flower guy.  Sorry, flower guy.  But we've resolved to grab twice our usual flower bunches next week to make up for it.

Then being famished, we headed over to our local French-inspired cafe-bistro-bakery for lunch.  I'd have taken a picture of eating there, but I was so hungry, my food disappeared rather rapidly, and I don't think you need a picture of my piggy face inhaling a sandwich and a piece of cake.  I'm sure it wasn't pretty.

Really hoping my possible future husband wasn't sitting anywhere nearby.  Pretty sure he's scared away now if he was.  

Oh, well.  Who needs him anyway... 

Pedicures!  I'll let you guess who's who.  Sorry for the weird, grainy picture.  It looks like someone just left some feet lying around.

This was the delicious sangria we made out of some terrible wine.  It's really good now, all lemony and limey and orangey and refreshing.  We sat out on the lanai talking about all the projects we wanted to take on in the near future. 

These are the rosemary gin and tonics we made a little later.  Oh, my goodness.  Soooooo good!  Please try these.  Just muddle a a sprig of rosemary with some gin at the bottom of your glass, fill with ice and tonic water and enjoy.  Lemon wedge optional, but much more complementary than lime I think.

We couldn't possibly pass up the opportunity to visit the craft store.  Can't wait to use these new supplies!  There are actually parts of about five projects here.

You may notice that I'm wildly delusional about the amount of crafting time I have.  Feel free to keep it to yourself.  I'm enjoying the delusion.

Once reunited with my beautiful monsters, I found that they, too, had been busy in a craft-minded kind of way.  I now have two new jewelry boxes and two new frames!  I love the use of color.  And Lily and Ivy actually created art for the frames.  So cool!

Sunday, of course, is church and hanging out with the kiddos.  Best Mother's Day yet and they keep getting better.  I hope yours is going just as well, and that you're feeling very blessed today.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

May Flowers

I'm going to have to hijack my parents' camera soon.

But for now my trusty camera phone will do.

I'm making a present for someone.  I don't know why I didn't start doing this sooner, but I'm thinking that since I love for people to make me pretty homemade things, maybe my loved ones feel the same way.  We'll see...  So I'm making these pretty crocheted flowers, pattern courtesy of Rose Hip.  I really like making granny squares, so I was pretty excited to see this neat spin.  

(On a side note, I've also been inspired by these,which she sells on Etsy, and which also remind me of these found on Posie Gets Cozy.  Whenever I get the chance to get at my pillowcases, that'll be it.  I don't think I'll ever be able to have a plain pillowcase in my life ever again.  Bless you lovely dears and all my other favorite craft bloggers for giving me constant inspiration.)

I actually had nine flowers completed, but Lily, who loves the be around the process of things homemade, and all things pretty and cozy for that matter... well, the lovely child snaked one of them.  And now apparently it's her flower.  I try not to argue with Lily if I can help it.  She's tough, cute, and, of course, I'm flattered that she carries it around with her along with her beloved bear.

I also tried to use the yarn I had on hand and embrace frugality and practicality all at once, but alas, it's all so wintery and deep and dark for this spring/summer flower project.  So I gave myself some leeway to go (yay!) yarn shopping.  I found these opposite-of-dull bright colors by Caron called Sheep(ish).  This may end up being my go-to for my home, non-kitchen projects.  It's so soft and fun.  

I'm also super excited because my beautiful friend, Bubbles, gave me a Mother's Day present!  Aren't Amazon gift cards wonderful?  I thought I'd add some fiction to my collection (Frank Peretti has a new book!), but I had so many crafting books and cookbooks on my wish list on Amazon, I couldn't resist, and it took me all of about three minutes to spend my present.  So now I've got two books coming:

This one's for me, of course.  Tanya Whelan is an amazing fabric designer and the author of the blog, Grand Revival Designs.  Man, oh, man, if I wasn't committed to using up our fabric stash before getting any more, I'd go bananas stocking up on her beautiful designs.  

This is for as soon as Rose is ready.  My mom is a master seamstress among other things, so she'll do the initial teaching in her own way (the best way I happen to know from experience).  After she gets the basics, though, this is for Rose and whoever else gets the bug.

God bless my crafty family and the friends who enable us.  

Unfortunately, these books will be on the slow boat, since I'm too cheap to pay for shipping.  But that will make the anticipation all the sweeter.

I'll let you know how the "flowers" grow.

Have a beautiful day.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


My kids come from a good line of crafty and creative people.  My great grandfather was a carpenter.  My great grandmother sewed her own clothes, crocheted, quilted, and painted.  My grandmother knits, cross-stitches, and quilts.  My mother has a degree in fashion design, sews, and crochets.

Thankfully for a person as focus-challenged as me, this gave me the resources and foundation to be able to be crafty and creative later myself.  And though, as a kid, I often lost interest in a hobby shortly after I learned the basics, I still learned the basics.  And my family's encouragement of my creative pursuits allowed me to dabble in drawing, painting, jewelry making, et cetera.  

In college, after starting out as an environmental science major, I gravitated back to the arts only to decide I did not have the talent to take my show on the road, so to speak.  So I took my love for art and history and combined them to result in the bachelor's in art history I have today.  Sometimes I wonder if I should have tried harder, since working with my hands fills me with joy, and am exhilarated merely stepping into a studio or a workshop... or the Home Depot for that matter.  (Is that normal?)  But I have found a new outlet and purpose for my artsy background and have begun to notice bits of creativity on the parts of my kids that I'd like to encourage.  

It's not just the gluing, painting, drawing, play-doh sculpting, beading, lego building stuff I'm talking about when I get their supplies out.  Though the stuff they make, I think, is pretty rad.  Rather it's the things that they do when they have other options.

The twins have it, too, but since Rose and Leif are older, and I see it in them more.  And I'm surely not going to count two-year-old Ivy's pen drawing on my wallet.  Mostly because I really like that wallet and am not completely pleased with the finished product. 

When playing outside, this is the kind of stuff they do.  

Rose has a mathematical, methodical, and legalistic mind.  I don't.  So I like to see the kinds of things she comes up with just having goofing around on her own.  I think she got the idea of plant collages on the driveway from Lief, though.  She likes to hijack good ideas.  That's kinda smart, too, I think.

This is Leif's bed -- the upper bunk.  You may also see a lemur hanging from the tail and a blanket tied under as well.  You can't see the rest, because today, I thought Woody was the most interesting part.  None of it is accidental.  He spends about half and hour or so working on making his bed.  No two days' creations are ever the same.  He actually has the mind of a sculptor I've found.  He arranges things in ways that remind me of artists I admired in school, only with his own three-year-old flare.

Exciting stuff, I think.  Subtle, but exciting.  I'm definitely going to praise this kind of stuff when I see it barring any involvement of destruction of property.  (Ahem... Ivy.)  Because even if this is just the uninhibited natural creativity of preschoolers, I don't want it to fade away.  Ever.  

Rosemary Round-Up #1

Rosemarypalooza has begun.  

I hope you like rosemary.  I do.  It's delightful.  I'm so glad there's an enormous bush of rosemary we need to consume rather than a giant cilantro plant.  I may be a quarter Mexican, but that's not enough, apparently, to conquer the blech I have for cilantro.

But rosemary... ah, rosemary is lovely.  So since we have now been challenged to find things to make with this delicious plant, it's on.  And here is our first -- Rosemary Batter Bread.  It's so good, we're actually fighting over who it really belongs to and who may be eating more than their fair share of it (ahem... certain mothers of certain blog authors).  We used the Williams-Sonoma recipe, but if you Google "rosemary batter bread," you can certainly find a comparable recipe.  It goes really well with cheese and cold grilled chicken or salami as you can see here.

In case your wondering -- yes, that is (clockwise from the top) hard salami, doux de montagne, some herb wine cheese I can't remember the name of, and emmentaler.  Glad you asked.  We have a great cheese supplier at our farmer's market.

Also, we prefer using a mixture of whole wheat flour and all purpose flour as well as olive oil in place of shortening.  (Actually, I'll use olive oil in place of just about everything.)  And online recipes for batter bread use a mixture of herbs (preposterous) whereas we just used a mess of rosemary.  Mmmm...

Yesterday, we made popcorn with rosemary infused oil from Giada di Laurentiis.  It was one of my favorite recipes long ago when I was a single gal.  It's sooo good.  That and a bottle of chilled dry white wine... magnifique.

This is after infusing the olive oil with rosemary.  I didn't get a picture of the popcorn.  I was too busy eating it.  And you don't need to see a picture of me stuffing my piggy face with mounds of delicious rosemary popcorn, do you?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sticks and Acorns

I'm going to be doing this Instagram thing for a while.  As a former photography major, (one of my many experimental paths) I really appreciate the casual irreverence and simple fun of just snapping a picture this way without all the technical stuff.  It feels more real somehow, but then also a little more charming.  

It also helps because I don't have a fancy camera at the moment, and I tend to always have my phone on me.  No more running to find the camera and hoping time (or more impossibly, my kids) stood still.  

I was watching the kids in the backyard and they were, of course, "making plants," seeking out lizards and ladybugs to play with, and birds to feed without any actual food.  It's really no wonder the birds don't actually show up.  

My daughter came up to me and sighed heavily -- the only way she really knows how to sigh -- about how she didn't have any food for the birds.  Leif suggested she feed them the small stick she was holding.  I advised that the birds would more likely want to use the stick for a nest rather than lunch.  Birds are picky that way, aren't they?  Rose's face lit up and decided that, yes, she would like to donate the stick to the birds' nest-making endeavors.  So of course, she would have to throw it for them.  I'm not sure how this was supposed to help or where the stick was supposed to end up that it would be more convenient for the birds, but nevertheless, there she is giving it a second try since the first one didn't achieve the desired result, whatever that was.

This brief scene reminded me of being a kid and believing that the world pretty much revolved around whatever was in my wee head at the time -- not so much believing that I was so important, but believing that if I left a small pile of neatly gathered acorns, absolutely some fortunate squirrel would come upon them and be delighted even if it were under an oak tree with thousands more acorns lying all around.  I meant it for good and it would be received because it was significant to me.  

You know what I mean?  

It's okay if you don't.  

Anyway, I think this is how God sees us, as His kids.  Though, some of us tend to believe that God doesn't have time for our small joys or disappointments or the small things that are important to us, He's actually able to care about those things and everything else in the world.  And deeply, too.  That's what makes Him God.  We are significant, our thoughts are significant, our ups and downs are significant, our plans are significant because we are significant to Him. We're his greatest love and greatest joy no matter what, and I think that's breathtaking.

Maybe I'm reaching with that parallel.  

Oh, well.  If you're befuddled, it's your fault for reading this far.  But I love that you did.

That's all.  Have a lovely Monday.