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Monthly Archives: April 2010

Supernatural portal

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Courtney and I joke about constructing a wormhole between our houses so we could easily visit back and forth.  Now I’m afraid all that joking around has opened a portal not to her yard, but Hades.  There are demon-trees, the likes of which I have never seen anywhere, crawling up through my innocent bushes.  They are frighteningly sinister –  the evil pouring off of them gives me goose bumps.

They grow fast.  Kyle attacked and removed several, but 3 are buried deep inside other bushes.  One is already at least seven. feet. tall.  Is this a new species?  Are they sent from the devil as punishment for trying to kill the old gnarly rose plants that just won’t die?  Courtney suggested they may be a hybrid of those roses and some other tree.  Is this possible??  Are the roses going to devour us for trying to do them in?  Will they envelope the house until we can only escape by wielding axes and flame throwers?  Will my poor bridal wreath bush have to be sacrificed to save us all, or is moving to a new house our only hope of survival?

Does anyone have any idea what this thing is?!?!



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Tea participated in his first organized walk last weekend, although I don’t think his feet hit the ground 12 times.  In every picture we took, he’s riding on someone’s shoulders.  The funniest moment for me was when a photographer from a counrty music radio station ran up and asked to take our picture to post on their website.  She didn’t really give us a chance to respond before snapping away.  The station is a rival of the one Kyle works for.  Hee hee.  We teased him that he’d get in trouble at work for appearing on the competitor’s site.

photo shot by the competitionWe had a fun day, but Tea has got to start pulling his weight – he’s awfully smart to get us to carry him despite the fact that he’s the one with the most energy.

fun from ‘Family Fun’

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I used to get the great magazine “Wondertime” and when it went under (sniff, sniff) they sent us subscribers “Family Fun” magazine instead.  Family Fun seems to be geared to older kids, whereas Wondertime was all about the blissful preschool years. But the May issue of Family Fun had lots of cool, seemingly age-appropriate-for-a-4-year-old craft ideas and we have done a few of them this week.

One of the projects was originally on maya*made, making monsters by blowing paint. Pia, Jim, and I all had fun blowing paint with straws to make cool designs on the paper. Well, I mostly had fun, when I wasn’t watching Pia worrying that she would accidently suck in instead of blow out and end up with a mouth full of paint. Of course she never did end up ingesting paint, instead she ended up with a paint streak across her face which is actually the norm around here. The best part of this project was that it led me to maya*made, which is a fabulous blog and I’m not sure why I wasn’t a follower before.

Another project from Family Fun was pounded flower prints. We did this with our playgroup, inside, on the kitchen table which was loud. But, wow, such a fun thing to do. The kids had a ball pounding away with hammers and at least two of the moms (okay, I was one of the two) ended up doing a little pounding of their own since the effects were so cool. Some of the hammers were too heavy for the kids so they used metal ice cream scoops and metal ladles which worked just as well. And only one child managed to hit herself with a hammer. In the chin no less. We used violets, dandelions and pansies to make our prints. The dandelions basically looked like big yellow smudges, but the violets and pansies (as seen below) turned out very clear. How had I never done this very addictive craft before? (Perhaps because on some level it just feels angry, to be pounding pretty flowers with a hammer.  hmmmm.)

Lastly, Pia and I made birds out of paper circles (curly birds, which now that I looked it up was in the March issue). In theory it seemed simple to do, but ended up being a bit hard for a 4-year-old level of dexterity. I had to assist and explain each step to her which sort of sucks the creativity out of any project. But we did end up with three cute little birds who are now hanging out in our backyard.

next time, remove large plastic items

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I spent the weekend blissfully sewing away on shirts to enter in Made By Rae’s Spring Top Week.  I made three shirts, but only entered two of them as the one I liked the most ended up not photographing well.  This may be because I couldn’t crop out the slide, the compost bins, the compost buckets, the sand box… I seem to have a lot of junk lying around in the backyard.  A simple look around before the photo shoot could have helped this, but I had to have Jim take the pictures before Pia’s bedtime and before the sun went down, and on and on.  So, time was tight, so things like the big blue plastic pool remained.

I have many fun, old patterns sitting around, collecting dust.  Can I call them vintage? How old does something need to be to be vintage? At any rate, I keep them around thinking that someday I might sew something for myself, but that day never seems to come. Until… I found about about Spring Top Week and then suddenly I had an excuse to sew for myself.  So, the two patterns I chose were these, the one on the left from 1976 and the one on the right from 1983.

From the McCalls 5344 from 1976 I chose to sew top B, the one in the lower left corner. It looked all cute and fun and whatnot in the illustration.  But then I decided to leave out the tassels on the front (because, really, tassels?) and then I had to shorten the sleeves because I didn’t have enough fabric and then I ran out of time to do the blanket stitch around the edges, so I ended up with this:

At this point it looks like a scrub top.  I think I will add the blanket stitch at some point. Though as I write those words I know I will never get around to it.  Sigh. Someone needs to run a “Finish Your Unfinished Projects Week”.

Next. The “2 hour sampler” from McCalls has always struck me as intriguing.  It looked so versatile in the picture. And the women in the illustrations look so jaunty and fun-loving. Illustrated women on pattern covers always look so good. But now that I look more closely at the pictures I think these illustrated women in real life would be 9 feet tall. Moving on. This pattern ended up being a total winner and my favorite of the bunch.  I used this great fabric that I got at the University Lake School barn sale last year that has dancing people on it.  This description does not do the fabric justice.  Will have to take a close up of it later. Anyway, I love how I could wear it over a tank top, over a t-shirt or over a long sleeve t-shirt. And the best thing about it is that it is long .  I am a firm believer in six inches of overlap between top and bottom layer. From the back it looks like a skirt:

And then the front looks like an apron (again, this photo is so bad):

I adore aprons, so this being a shirt and apron all wrapped into one is quite perfect.

The last shirt I made was a hodge podge of different elements.  I knew I wanted it to be long (again, six inches of overlap), I knew I wanted cute little sleeves with elastic in them, I knew I wanted it to slip over my head with no need for zippers or buttons, and I knew I wanted to attempt a fun neckline.  I say fun neckline because I think this is called a boat neck, but not sure. Any thoughts on what we would call this? Anyway, proper names aside, all the elements came together to make this:

I’m quite happy with it. It was fun to experiment with putting different ideas together. And since it sort of worked out (in that it fits and I might wear it in public someday) it gives me confidence to sew more things for me in the future.  Now I just need to work through my hand-me-down stash of fabric so that I can justify buying cute new fabric that would make these tops a tad more stylish.

Thank you Rae for organizing such a fun contest!

Vegetarian Kitchen Recipe #5 and #6

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Warm Flageolet Bean Salad with Goat Cheese-Olive Toasts

Maybe this is cheating. Jim made this meal. Can I still count it against my total?

4 stars and Pia ate the bean salad but scraped the goat cheese off the bread. There must be something about the pairing of the bean salad and the olive toasts, because we had just the leftover olive toasts the next night and they weren’t nearly as good. Or maybe it was because we ate the original meal out on the porch and the ambiance enhanced the meal.

Spaghetti with Crispy Browned Artichokes

I now have the deepest respect for the canned artichoke people. They are doing a great, great service for society. Fresh artichokes? Total hassle.

2 stars and Pia didn’t eat any because she fell asleep at 5:00 (!!). My deepest apologies, Mr. Bishop, on the low rating. I am certain it has to do with my own issues and not your recipe. The meal was actually quite delicious, but the labor involved in the peeling and preparing and slicing and lemon juicing and scooping of the choke and rinsing of the fuzzy hairs and on and on of the artichoke took away from the true potential of the meal. Plus, I clearly didn’t peel away enough of the outer layer of the artichoke because many of my artichokes were tough, not crispy. An odd food, the artichoke.


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Today, in a cunning ruse to get some baby face time, Tea and I spent the day “helping” my sister Meredith.  Little Cousin turned one week old while we were visiting, and we marked the occasion with coconut cream pie, courtesy of yesterday’s “baby holder helper”, my dad.  I’m not sure I did much beyond walking the dog and washing a few dishes, but I enjoyed holding Little Cousin, and Tea was sort of agreeable for perhaps half of the day. He kissed her head a bazillion times and pet her with one finger repeatedly.  He also fussed with jealousy, “HOLD me, Mama.  HOLD me.” whenever I could have been of some possible use.

Little Cousin in action

Being wholly new to the teeny tiny baby game, I am amazed at:

  1. How happy and agreeable Little Cousin is
  2. How calm and serene my sister seems on 12 minutes of sleep daily
  3. How squeamish seeing Little Cousin’s umbilical cord stump makes me
  4. How terrifying the seemingly cute fish mobile over Little Cousin’s crib looks from her angle – how does she get any sleep at all?  Those EYES are all STARING at her!

we're WATCHING you...

Unfortunately, Little Cousin just oozes puddles of cuteness all over the place, and I don’t know how Mer and Ewan stand a chance of keeping up with it.  I officially volunteer to mop it up anytime they need a hand.

and there were presents, too

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As a fifth child I am a firm believer that every child, no matter their spot in the birth order, should be given a shower.  Why should only the first child get the fanfare? Don’t the second, third, fourth, and dare I say, even the fifth child deserve a celebration in anticipation of their arrival? And this isn’t about the stuff (though I am a 32-year-old woman who has never owned a bike of her own and is still riding a 1989 World Sport Schwinn hand-me-down bike from my sister, so there may be an element of touchiness about that subject).  It is about that anticipation, that starry time before a child’s birth, that wonder of who this child will be. Of course, I have never actually given birth, so pregnant women might view these weeks before the pain of childbirth to be a time of panic rather than a time of dreamy wonder.

But a shower for a second child is a tricky affair.  Parents already have all the baby stuff they need, even if some of it is stained and worn.  And most parents are constantly fighting back the mounds of stuff that accumulate with kids, so they don’t really want more stuff.  What parents do need is help, because time and sleep always seem to be in short supply. So with each invitation we included a fill-in-the-blank card that each guest was to fill out and bring to the shower.  Here is the what the card looked like:

Guests filled out the cards with promises to make meals, to invite her 3-year-old over for playdates and a bug safari (Robin’s very cool idea which went along perfectly with the bug house she made).  I thought the honoree’s mom’s card was the cutest, which promised to ‘cook, clean, help, and be there’. Of course we’d all probably do these things for her anyway, but having the promise on paper seems to elevate the giving of time to real gift status.  In addition to the gifts of time we also presented her with the artwork the playgroup kids had made (much more on this project here):

So, here I have waxed poetic about the merits of gifts of time and how the last thing parents need is more stuff and what did we do? We showered the big-sister-to-be with gifts.  What were we thinking??!!  The thought was that we could each give her a present that would encourage independent play and therefore allow her mom to lavish attention guilt-free on the new baby. This idea, which made some sense in our adult mom-brains, completely confused the 3-year-old (we didn’t tell her this ulterior motive of the presents, the independent play bit) and she was a bit dazed during the gift opening, not quite understanding why we were giving her gifts. Indeed, in our attempt to honor and give importance to the role of big sister we may have inadvertently caused her to freak out a bit about this baby on the way. Alas, live and learn. On a selfish note, I had a ton of fun making a gift for her, a little fort kit which I hope to post a tutorial on by next week.  So stay tuned for that.

At the end of the party all the kids left with a bubble wand from the guests of honor and a little drawstring bag (one of my all-time favorite things to sew) that I had filled with a mini-notebook (thank you to my lovely niece, Faith, who helped me put these together over Easter), circle crayons, and more candy than is good for them.