November 30, 2010

Gifts For Dad

Jesse is so hard to shop for.  Luckily, this year he shopped for himself, for the next umpteen birthdays and Christmases.  If he hadn't, I would have been tempted to buy him one of these.
USB Cufflinks
Antiquey Gameboard

Vintagey Watch

Recycled Bike Tire Wallet

Failed FHE

I had the brilliant idea to have the kids write their portion of the Christmas letter last night for FHE.  Here's what they came up with.
"Der EvreBate
I strtid scorl
my vere best
frend hr nam
is Ady!
I hop you
are booing
grd love gwyn
I slep in the adic it is fun"

"Dear, everybody
in Maine
we ate a Lobster dinner
We moved to indanana!
it's suppposd to snow
in the winter
but so far it has been
we got a christmas
tree.  I'm in third Grade with the best teacher in the world. Yea."

Jesse's letter is all about anything fun he's done in the past year; hikes, kayak trips, exercise.  My portion is the least exciting with a list of what I like and what I don't like.  Hm.  I think the editing fairy
needs to make a visit to our home and whip us up a decent letter. 

November 29, 2010

November 25, 2010

A Day for Family

Me, Pete, and Dan.  Ben was probably too little to come with us.
This week on NPR, Morning Edition has run a series on siblings.  I'm the third of four kids, but the only girl.  I'm glad I have them.  I'm so glad that my girls have each other. 
I wish I could spend the day with my extended family.  I'll just enjoy being with my little family in our little car.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  See you on Monday!

November 23, 2010

Early Thanksgving

Martha's recipe for cream pie from Baking Secrets
Such great plans to craft and work on Christmas gifts.  But the family put in a request for a Thanksgiving meal.  How could I refuse? 
I'm frantically shopping, cleaning, cooking, packing for vacation.  Chili for the trip, fruit salad and pumpkin pie for our early Thanksgiving dinner.  I hope the pie tastes better than it looks.  Would it be too much to make that chocolate cream pie?  Will you take shortcuts this Thanksgiving?  Ready made pie crust? Stuffing mix?  I should have made a couple of batches of pate brisee last week and frozen them. 

November 22, 2010

Craft Crazy Week

I'm going craft crazy this week.  I have all sorts of ideas of projects that I'm seeing online.

*Perhaps this oil cloth messenger bag from Martha.
*Or an oil cloth tote from write mama.
*Oil cloth lunch tote from Skip to My Lou.
*An Oil cloth grocery tote from the purlbee.

Can you tell that I'm finally ready to do something with my Japanese oil cloth? 

image from The Purl Bee

November 19, 2010

Felted Wool Mittens

I just had to post these before the week is over.  I found a pattern here, and cut it down for a small child.  There's even a video that helps a bit.  Both are lined with fleece I had from crafts that never materialized.  My girls really want me to make them a pair.  I can't wait until the next 75 cent day at the thrift store.  I'm going to be the first one there!

Turkey Day Crafts, For Kids

You know how the Thanksgiving feast magically appears and the children have been quietly entertaining themselves for the past 4 hours, and everything is beautiful, perfect, and lovely? 

Oh.  Wait.  That's not what happens.  The meal always takes longer to prepare than you think it will, kids are starving and cranky because they're off their eating schedule, and there's the 5 last minute trips to the grocery.  

I can't help you with much, but I can help with the kids.  Last year before the Thanksgiving meal, by some miraculous fluke, Miriam asked Amy if she could have the package of pipe cleaners in the attic.  Suddenly, it was all work in the kitchen.  No kids screaming.  Just bracelets and crowns.  Necklaces and badges.  They were happy.  They were doing a novel, no parent needed craft.  Hallelujah!

I want this for you.  If you are hosting Thanksgiving, you deserve this hour or two of quiet.  All these crafts are great with an adult or older child to help.  Most of the items needed can be found at the dollar store or a craft store for sure.

The pipe cleaners, by themselves, are pretty fun.  Add some beads, and they're magical.  Letter beads, and you've even got educational.  Have the kids make napkin rings with everyone's name.  A necklace that's also a love note for mom or dad or favorite cousin. 

Use this site to make cornhusk dolls.  If you have fresh corn this week, save the husks.  If not, just get tamale wrappers.  They work great.  Twine or raffia works well to tie.

And don't forget the turkey.  Two circles on a cardboard background and feathers from the dollar store.  Placemats, perhaps?

November 18, 2010

Holiday Decorating

Garnet Hill crocheted advent calendar
Moving so often makes holiday decorating a little difficult.  I've squashed all holiday cheer, except for Christmas.  I'm limited to one box of decorations.  But if I could have two, here's what would be inside.
A sweet creche
Mini felted stockings from Etsy
Vibrant non-traditional holiday wreath

November 17, 2010


I am so proud of this girl.  I want to be like her when I grow up.  Even more, I want her to stay this resilient and amazing forever.

Someone at school says mean things to her.  She says "I am not that way!  You are wrong!" 
Someone at school writes a mean note.  She says, "That made me feel sad.  But I'm not fat.  Actually, I'm quite skinny.  I'm not ugly.  I'm pretty cute.  I'm not mean.  I can be bossy.  But not mean."
I say, "You are slightly above average in regards to your height.  So technically,  you could be considered big for your age."
We giggle.
She says, "I suppose you're right!"

And I'm so proud of the kids in her class.
One says, "She is nice and pretty.  Whoever wrote that note is wrong."
A Quiet One says, "Here is my phone number.  Let's play this Saturday."
A Boy says to a girl, "You have the same color paper!  I think you wrote that note!"
Mermaid says, "Please don't argue about the note.  It doesn't bother me anymore."

I spent today worrying about Mermaid.  But I won't anymore.  At least, not about this.  She is a Mermaid in the middle of a cornfield.  But she can swim anywhere.

My Feet Are Falling

I love my Chucks.  I bought them a couple of years ago.  They're velvet.  Which means they match everything, including evening dresses (which I don't own).

Unfortunately, I am getting slightly longer in the tooth than I once was.  So last month I bought some arch supports for my Chucks.  Inserts.  That I love.

Don't worry.  Just because I am old, does not mean that you are old.  Just don't try to figure out how long we've known each other.  Or you might realize that your arches are falling, too. 

November 16, 2010


Image from here.  Don't you wish Claire invited you to breakfast?
Just got a little nicer. 

"Come down all dressed, with socks and shoes.  There's hot cocoa, eggs, and bacon for you."

With the help of my trusty Presto Electric Grill (They're not paying me, promise.) I can makes pancakes in a flash, eggs and bacon, or french toast.  Somedays I just make oatmeal. 

But something hot and tasty brings them downstairs so quickly.  (And no food if you're not all dressed!)  It's worth the little bit of work on my part.  It's so much more pleasant in the morning lately.  And it smells so yummy, too.

Here's the waffle/pancake recipe we use.

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp Sugar
1Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2-4 Tbsp melted butter or canola oil (more for waffles, less for pancakes)
1-1/2 to 2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla

Whisk the dry ingredients together.  Add eggs, butter (or oil), and 1-1/2 cups of the milk.  Beat until smooth.  Add more milk as needed.  More for pancakes, less for waffles.  This recipe makes just enough for our family of four.

November 15, 2010

Giving Thanks

I don't mean to entirely skip the holiday.  I feel like I've gone straight to Christmas on this blog.  I have wonderful memories of Thanksgiving Day, and there is nothing I would love more than to spend it with family and friends.  But this year, we're doing things a little differently.  We're taking the family on a trip to Nauvoo.  This is my first visit to any church history site, so I'm really excited. 

So forgive my Christmas excitement. I have so little to plan for Thanksgiving, I feel kind of off the hook.

photo from here

The Cutest Paper Dolls, Ever

The Fairy Tale Line

Fall 2010, Back to School
Saturday was rainy, blah, nasty weather.  The kids and I were cooped up in the house which was not a good idea.  Mermaid wanted me to print up some paper dolls.  I was chatting online with a friend and she suggested I check out her friend Hannah Stevenson's Mini Me Paper Dolls.  I am so glad we did.  Hannah has a few samples that I could download immediately.  And when I have some kid-free time later, I can go back and order dolls that look exactly like my own Monkey and Mermaid.  Who else thinks this is an amazing birthday/Christmas/anything present? 

Which boy or girl on your list would love to play with these sweet dolls?

Images from LilyandThistle

November 13, 2010

Goopy Blogs

Are you a Goop fan?   Do you love Gwyneth?  (I know you love mine, but the taller, blonder one.  Paltrow.)

I follow Madquilter because she's Australian, has a slew of kids, and spins her own yarn.  Impressive.
And of course Designmom since we now own one of the U2 screened t-shirts she made for her son. (long hand me down story)
J loves Grist for his eco fix.

Besides friends and family blogs, which blogs do you follow?

November 12, 2010

Card Me!

I LOVE Christmas cards!  I love when you send me Christmas cards!  I love reading about my friends and their kids.   I LOVE Christmas letters in Christmas cards.

I need to start writing ours.  I feel like it's the funnest creative writing assignment of the year.  It has to be succinct, informative, and if there's a theme, even better!  Mine tend to be silly, a little tongue in cheek.  One year I had the kids tell me what they wanted to say.  That one turned out pretty well.

Do you love receiving Christmas cards?  Do you love sending them?  Will you add a letter?  Will you add a picture?  Will you send me one?
image from here

Doing Something for Haiti

Did you see Designmom today?  Aren't you impressed with people who do more than talk and commiserate?  I like donating to specific causes where the money goes straight to the people who need it.  So I'm donating for some great kids to have a great place to play.  Because that's what kids are supposed to do.   And because every child deserves a safe, fun, loving home.

Christmasy Excitement

Are you thinking about Christmas?  Is it just me?

Jesse wants us to send cards this year.  Really send them.  (And the two boxes of Christmas cards, unsent, unwritten, from the previous two years means we're only out postage!)

I want to create beautiful, thoughtful, memorable gifts for family.

I've already made my neighbor gifts, well, the hard part.  I'll give out apple butter, pomegranate jelly, and apple preserves with some home baked good. 

I also have the two birthdays to think of.  The Monkey turns 6 Dec. 29, and The Daddy's b-day is Jan 1.

And how will I help Santa stuff stockings?  I always like to add a thing or two, something especially special that he may not have time to find.

Why is it that this year, I'm utterly thrilled, stress free, and excited for the holidays?  Could it be that they are far away?  And that I'm not hosting?

image from here

November 11, 2010


Jesse and I both read the NYTimes online.  We hardly ever read the same articles and this is probably one of them.  It's about palliative care and how patients and caregivers create a home for them to die in.

One of the most amazing experiences of my life was helping my grandmother her last month of life.  We listened to soft music.  We looked at pictures.  We fed her Haagen Dazs, because when you're dying, who cares about fat.  We visited with all the great people who dropped food by the house.

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to be surrounded by alien heads, but a warm beach, a beautiful garden, lots of kids and grandkids someday.

For now, making our home beautiful still weighs on my mind.  I had kind of given up on this house because it has so many problems.  But maybe I need to give it another chance.  Put a little elbow grease into it.  Get the scary places organized.  A few more plants.  A few more pictures.  I don't want to wait until I die to have my dream home.
This was taken at the cemetery in Maine.  It overlooks the river.  Not a bad view for a final resting place.

November 10, 2010

Dinner for You, and You, and You

Some Pyrex I picked up at the antiques store for dinner delivery.  Might as well look nice, eh?
How do I get so lucky?  A friend of mine asked if I wanted to be part of a dinner co-op.  Um.  YES!  Here's how it works.
-One person cooks enough food for all three families once a week.
-The dinners should be healthy.
-Dessert is optional.
-Dinner is delivered by 5:30.

I love it!  Once a week I get to spend hours planning and preparing.  Twice a week I get amazing meals delivered to my front door.

Our group is working really well for a couple of reasons.  We're all quasi vegetarians.  Our families are about the same size.  No one is afraid of quinoa, kale, arugula, etc.  My kids are by far the pickiest eaters of the bunch, but nothing has totally flopped.  I love that they are trying new foods.  I also love that if they don't love it, I'm not that put out because either I didn't make it or if I did, someone else will eat it.

Have you ever been part of a dinner co-op?  Would you try it with some friends?  What would you make for your day?

November 9, 2010

An Iris for My Pocket

I picked up this handkerchief at the same thriftstore I got the sweaters at.  I'm not sure what I will use it for.  Probably a handkerchief.  It's tissue thin and worn in a few spots, but I loved the irises which reminded me of our community garden in Irvine.  The garden was bulldozed yesterday to make way for more housing, so it will be good to have a piece of it in my pocket.

November 8, 2010

Monday, felted Monday

I have no complaints about my Monday, especially reading about my poor twin wife's.  Boos and Hisses to all stealers out there!  Da is definitely on my list to receive something made of these. 

Saturday was 75 cents day at the thrift store.  Just in time to do some felting crafts for Christmas!  I'm imagining some fleece lined mittens for my niece and a few bags for my cool sisters-in-law. 

Have you seen any great felted crafts lately?

November 5, 2010

DIY Friday-Water Saver

In honor of the upcoming weekend, I wanted to highlight two little projects I completed about a month ago.  They are super easy and need approximately 1 tool, a wrench.

Our water bill was $100 last month which got me moving on these two projects.  I'd been hearing the toilet run, but what was once a minor annoyance became money down the drain.  There's a simple test to tell if your tank water is leaking into the bowl.  Take of the lid and drop some food coloring in.  If the bowl water becomes colored, you're leaking.  (I told you this was easy!)

A trip to Home Depot had me looking for a new stopper.  It was about $5, and I was on my way to pay when I noticed this.  For $20, who wouldn't want a two way flusher?  I believed them when they said it was easy to install.  And get this, they were right!  I needed the wrench to remove the old handle, but everything else just slid into place.

The second DIY project I did was to replace the shower head.  Our old one was pouring out water in copious amounts.  I love a long shower, so something had to be done.  I found a low flow shower head at Home Depot, but then on the way out I found a super low flow at 1-1.5 gallons a minute.  This shower head is for the long showerer and those who suffer green guilt.  Most shower heads let 2.5 gallons out per minute and they are great water savers compared to the old shower heads.  I needed a wrench to remove the old one and the new one screwed on just with my weak hands twisting it.  Easy Peasy.

Both of these projects are super easy no brainer water savers.  They are relatively cheap, and as a renter, I can actually take them with me to wherever we go next.  I kept the old parts for both the shower and the toilet.

Now I can't wait to get the next water bill.  I'm dying to see if we've cut down on our water consumption significantly.  It will probably take awhile to make my money back on these improvements, but I think it's worth it.

November 4, 2010

Photo Books

It's 12:30 here.  I haven't taken a shower yet.  I've been working on a project.  Three photo books for the price of one on Snapfish, code1Book2Free at checkout and you can have buggy eyes, too. 

Compiling all the good photos from the last two years into three separate folders.  I'm about 2/3 of the way done.  I still need to go through all the pictures from Yosemite and pick out a few there.  Then lay everything out.  Busy, but fun.  (the coupon is only good until Nov 4)  Will you make photo books, too?

Send me an email if you'd like me to forward you the email I got. 

Photog Answers

For all my non family readers (I think there are a few of you!), go look at my brother-in-law Adam's blog.  He is an amazing wedding photographer.  And his last two posts are about buying a camera and taking great wedding shots.  Also, you can download this picture or tomorrow's (or the day after's) at this link for your wallpaper.  Plus he does amazing family photos, and he's super cool. 

November 3, 2010

Chore Chart

This is the embarrassingly easy job chart I created for the kids.  Being a stay at home mom to two kids means that they think I'm in charge of their lives.  This chart is slowly weaning them off of me, I hope.  They don't have daily chores, but this way I can get some work out of them before they can go play with the neighbors.  Anything from putting toys away, or clothes, or taking out the recycling.  Also, I don't have to keep reminding them that homework needs to be done, etc.  They put a clip next to the job they've finished.

I love my kids.  I also love a simple system.  It may not last long, but we might learn something from it.

November 2, 2010

TeleQuest Graham Phone

I found this lovely piece of design at the Goodwill last week.  We just need a land line and a few cords and we're set.  I love how the numbers are in two rows.  I hope it works!

I'm a big fan of corded, non electric phones.  Because sometimes it's great just to sit down in one place and talk on the phone. 

My original thought was to sell it on ebay, but I'm smitten.  And I can't find a comparable, just on this Japanese website from the Space Age Design Museum

Is it just me that loves thriftstore design?

November 1, 2010

The Secret Awesomeness of PBS

I've been looking for a new tv show that's on PBS or BBC about a detective.  It got good reviews, but now I can't remember what it's called or where it's showing. (if you know, comment)

What I did find is this hilarious series, The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers.  I wish I had seen it when I was a kid.  My favorites are Rachel Collins the microbiologist/professional wrestler, Mollie Woodworth the neuroscientist/MIT cheerleader (yes, they exist), and Erika Ebbel the biochemist/beauty queen. 

Hallowen 2010

Mermaid and Monkey had free access to the dress up box this year.  They also made some purchases at the dollar store.  I got a Cleopatra costume and spent an hour putting the make up on both Friday and Saturday.  It took an hour to take the stuff off, as well.  How do you do it you make up wearing people? 

We were invited to a pre-trick or treating party on Saturday.  I thought, "I'm usually so boring.  I'm going to dress up this year!  That will be fun!"  After the makeup and  Jesse's last minute ninja costume, we were late arriving.  Only to find a house full of people I've never met and not one adult in costume.  J quickly removed his mask and looked normal.  I was so uncomfortable I didn't know what to do.  I made an effort to dress down by taking off my headpiece, but I still had 1 hours worth of makeup around my eyes.  It's just hard to fit in when you're the queen of the Nile, y'know?
We had fun trick or treating on main street along with the rest of the town.  We brought over our extra candy to one of Jesse's colleauge's homes to give out, then made our way to another friend's home where all the adults were dressed up.  I could really get into Halloween here. 
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