Saturday, May 10, 2008

Love You, Mom!

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I am continually learning (through the two small goobers below---not the dancing goobers) exactly how hard being a Mother can be. The more I learn (and the more grief the two goobers below give me), the more I appreciate all you did and are doing for me.

You are one of the most generous people I know. And let's face it, you always knew how to have a good time.

I know you are going to want to wring my neck for this picture. I am ok with that.

For your present we finished your quilt top. Eowyn helped. Ok, so you paid me to make it for you. But still.

We love you and wish you a Happy, happy day.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I'm content

Just in case you're like me and you struggle with contentment, especially over how big your space isn't....(I feel claustrophobic just watching this video).

My questions:

1. If you're that concerned about greenhouse gases, why not live in a tent? Or a spacious igloo? Or a tepee?

2. Why must you use the word "tiny" so often?

3. Do you have a wife, and, if so, is she tiny? Because, seriously, two people would not be able to maintain their sanity if they spent all day in that...ahem, tiny house.

4. So, do you hunt for your food? Because with your tiny fridge, I'd think you'd be running to the grocery store twice a week just to feed yourself. That's not very energy efficient, is it?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sweet spring

April has been a beautiful month. On top of the blessings of singing birds, yellow tulips, and 70 degree weather, I've had two weekends with road trips! Visiting Jenny in Indianapolis without kids was wonderfully refreshing. One double cheeseburger in my lap, a CD of Sherlock Holmes stories in the stereo, and a sunny open road. I was trembling with happiness. We visited the art museum, went out for dinner, went to the Feist concert. The concert was absolutely perfect---Feist was better in person than on CD, and it was delicious to just relax and listen.

A couple from church gave us their bike trailer, and the girls love to ride around in the "carriage". It's nice to be able to get out without our klunky double stroller. Phoebe's mickey mouse helmet does strange things to me. You know that feeling you get when your child cannot possibly get any cuter? That violent I'm-going-to-EAT-you feeling? I have to stop myself from totally smothering her.

Last weekend we went to Grammie and Poppie's to collect the rest of the bunk beds and see Aunt Kim's high school's musical. Eowyn decided to accessorize from the dress up trunk before we left. The nice thing about Phoebe is that she doesn't mind being attacked with love when she's being cute. Eowyn no longer appreciates this. So here she is, looking smashingly cute and funny, and I'm supposed to act totally normal about it. I guess I'm going to have to learn some motherly self control.

Favorite recent website finds: Because I have a lot of work on the computer, I listen to a lot of music. We try not to download music illegally....(I say *try* just because I cannot be absolutely certain that there isn't some unpaid-for mp3 floating around here). I listen to music a lot, and yet the last time we actually bought music was...a very long time ago. It's just not in our budget right now. This site lets you create your own "radio station." You pick the artists you want to listen to. The more you've picked, the less it plays its own "recommendations." You can rate songs, and if you give it a song a bad rating, it will stop playing it. I have about 10 artists picked out, and it now rarely plays anything I haven't picked.

Hayden He opened for Feist. He played the harmonica. He won my heart....or at least my listening ear. Help me, I like indie folk rock.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

1, 2, 3, 4

I have anticipated Friday for a long, long time. On Friday I am going to be free of younglings. On Friday I am finally visiting my sister in law. On Friday we are going to a Fiest concert. I am so, so psyched. (!!!!!!!!!)

In celebration of the event I made myself and my sister in law new purses. This is the second and third purse I've ever made.

I really like the pattern (found on the sidebar); each purse only took an afternoon to make. I had to claim the first one as mine (pink). It had all the mistakes (top stitching isn't as easy as it looks, and, since it's the last step, I went way too quickly). Hers is prettier. Sigh. It seems like you have to do every project twice to learn from all the dumb mistakes you did on the first. Oh well. Feist, here I come!

And I am so excited to report that making your own laundry detergent truly works! My dad bought me eight bars of Fels Naptha, and now we have sweet, thick, CHEAP, detergent that seems to be doing a good job. New purse. Cheap laundry detergent. Life is good.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

My Secret Weapon

A cheery spring hello to my five faithful readers. May you be blessed for stopping by to read the bits and pieces of my life that randomly happen to land on this page. A brief review of the last month: we all got sick, we had a lovely Easter, I painted the kitchen for the third time. Oh! And my wonderful brother in law just happened to have a genuine copy of Photoshop CS2 that he lovingly sent my way. Good thing he didn't hand deliver it or I may have had to kiss him, and we all know that kissing brothers in law can make for a real awkward moment. I think it's a necessity that everyone have a bonafide techie in their lives. It makes for great hand-me-downs to those of us who have not been to Circuit City in the last decade.

One of my one good ideas recently (unlike the first two kitchen colors) included this handy thing, and I pass it on to you aspiring Proverbs-31-like-a-merchant-ship-ladies like myself.

This notebook is like 3 by 4 inches and is now an indispensable part of the pit I carry around with me, also known as a purse. It's really a mini address book I bought for $3 at Wal-Mart. If your house is like mine, every room is slowly evolving into something that you actually really like. One day it may look like Pottery Barn, but, ahem, not today. When I am out and about, I tend to forget things. I find a fabric on sale that I like, but have no idea if it would look nice with the wall color, nor how many yards I would need to make curtains. This is my solution. Each little divider has each room's information on it---a paint chip that matches the wall color(s), measurements of each window and how much yardage I'd need for a new treatment, and other information. The page above has fabric scraps from the s' quilts so I can whip out the color scheme.

Of course it helps to have pages of other things I will never be able to remember, like my husband's shirt size, what clothing we need, how big our table is and what size tablecloth it takes.

Doesn't resourcefulness just make you happy?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

4 Score and 7 years ago I took this Picture

Whenever someone has an old, overdeveloped, grainy photograph on the wall, don't you just have to go look at it? There's something about not only the age, but the non-perfection of it that makes it captivating. Old pictures are just life. Aunt Ethel is not looking at the camera, the baby started to cry, Dad didn't bother to smile. It's not "Pose for the twentieth time, kids, because I didn't get the perfect shot yet." Unedited life is usually much more interesting than staged pseudo pictures. But while I'm sure I'll never give up getting it just right, I found a way to mess up the newness of them. Did I convince you on the Gimp? Here's stage two: vintage pictures. I'm not going to go into detail here, but viola, my latest messings around:

Why do I love this picture of Phoebe so much? It's just so...Phoebe. From the chubby wrist wrinkles, to the can't-make-her-smile-for-anything look on her face. Brief, hardly in-depth instructions to vintage your photos, although there's probably an easier way and I hardly know what I'm doing to begin with:

1. Get the GIMP. It won't kill you. It's free. Remember? Truth be told, you can do this with pretty much any photo editing program. But those aren't free. So get the GIMP.

2. Pick your photo. I think the un-perfect shots look the most convincing, although we all know the picture of the ballerina above is, indeed, perfect to begin with.

3. Open your photo. If I have to explain how to do this, really, just forget it.

4. Convert your photo to grayscale. Image > Mode > Grayscale

5. Download these two photos to use as additional textures:
Right click, save photo as in a place where you can actually remember.

6. With your original photo selected, create a new layer. Layer > New Layer. Bring up the Layers dialog box: Dialogs > Layers. Layers are your friends. It took me a long time to figure this out. Basically you're going to layer these files over your picture and make them transparent so you can see the picture on the bottom. Open both of the textures you saved to your computer.

7. Copy and paste the black border texture into the new layer on your photo. Resize it to fit your picture. To resize, select the tool with the square with the arrow pointing up.
Mess with the transparency so you can see your original through it. To do this, select the new layer in the layers dialog and move the slider under "Opacity." You may also want to mess with the brightness and contrast for your original and the black border texture. To do this, select either layer and click Colors > Brightness & Contrast.

8. Once you're happy with it, create a third layer. Copy and paste the yellow texture onto the new layer. Size it to fit. Make sure this layer's function is not on grayscale. Image > Mode > RGB. Once again mess with the transparency and brightness & contrast.

9. To add a sepia hue (or any other color you may desire), choose your picture or the yellow layer (I messed with the yellow layer). Colors > Color Balance. Add a combination of yellow and red.

10. Mess with your picture until you like it, or until your children start begging you for some food and a fresh diaper. Save your picture with whatever file extension you prefer (I did .jpg). Impress your technologically illiterate friends.

Dad with his baby.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Gimping it up with the Next Picasso

I am in love with the GIMP. No, I'm not referring to Husband, though I guess he is pretty great too. I mean the totally free graphics program. I have been lusting after Photoshop for a while now. I'm learning how to take better photos and post-shooting computer editing seems to be an important part of the process. Plus, the program is just plain cool. However, I do not have a free limb to sell in order to afford it. But the more I use the Gimp, the more I'm convinced that I don't need Photoshop. Whew. If it's free, it's for me.

A few nights ago I was messing around with the Gimp (hmmm...) and discovered the Filters menu. I tried out turning my photos to black and white, then using the "Photocopy" option...and viola, awesomely (is a word, like, totally) personalized coloring pages! I really like the look of these, like someone hand drew them. Eowyn has been going through a coloring obsession lately, sometimes spending an entire hour with crayons, and she was most excited to color a picture of our cat.

Eowyn is quite over the top with the cat lately. Whenever she walks by Lancelot, she has to pet him and talk to him in the following fashion: "Oh hi, Lancey Pantsy Poo!! How are you? Yes, ooooo, Lancey, you like that don't you? I love you so much, Lancey Pantsy Poo...." you get the gist. Before she leaves the house she must hug and maul the cat. Before going to her cousins' house the other day she rushed up to Lance and said, "Oh, Lance, you don't think I should go, do you? You think I should stay home with you! But I have to go!" Sometimes I think it's really funny and slightly endearing. Other times it's, "Oh please, will you just leave the cat alone?!"

Directions to convert your pictures:

1. Download the GIMP.
2. Open your picture.
3. Convert to grayscale. Image ----Mode----Grayscale.
4. Photocopy. Filters---Artistic----Photocopy. Mess around with it until it looks good.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Outside the Box

What's up, bloggity family of mine? We got a minuscule taste of the spring to come last week, and even though we're now buried in a foot of snow, it seemed to kick my winter blues. "This is the last snow I have to get through," I tell myself. I fully realize this may be a total lie, but hey, whatever it takes.

Number of times I've taken the kids outside to play in the snow this winter: once. Once! No wonder why I was shriveled up in a corner, pale and depressed, wallowing in fantasies of beaches and sweaty summers, gollum, gollum (although, truth be told, I blamed it on the hormones). So because this is the last of the snow (shut up, groundhog), I have been forcing myself outside. It is painful. I am lazy.

We made a snow fort, but I have girls who have no concept of anything masculine (I teach them how to properly whine when Husband starts wrestling with them), so it got dubbed a snow house. It was a hit. It brought back memories of the best winter day of my childhood---the day school was canceled because of two feet of snow and my sweet mother broke her back making us an igloo. I'm talking a real life Eskimo igloo, complete with rugs on the floor. Mom, if you would have just let us sleep in it, that would have been the best day of my life. But I digress...

Our latest adventures included making our own laundry detergent. As far as I can tell it didn't work. I didn't use Fels Naptha, which is apparently the crucial ingredient (leave it to me to try to screw with the crucial ingredient). I'm going to try again after our batch of watery sludge is used up. Other highlights include trying nasal irrigation (verdict is undecided), a nasty man cold, and plenty of Kool-aid mustaches.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Whistle While You Work

Sewing machine is still in hiding. It came out for a brief romp when I made one of these, then I locked it away again. Don't worry; I'm not yet one of those Moms who gets that whistful look in her eye and says, "Oh yes, sewing...I used to have time for that..." One thing I know I've given up on is exercise. I've decided that I just don't care. And I don't really care if I'm supposed to care, either, so don't tell me I should care! I'm to the point where thirty minutes of me not having to do anything is much more beneficial than thirty minutes of exercise. Now will you excuse me while I wipe the donut grease off of the computer....

The rice pillow is for sure worth the one dollar and ten minutes it takes to make it. Eowyn kept stealing it from me and got out of bed twice to ask if she could sleep with it. Then the cat thought it was his long-lost mother and starting nursing it (he's from the shelter. he has issues).

Happy Friday. Treat yourself to one of my current musical obsessions and have a great weekend:
Joshua Radin
Jack Johnson
The Weepies
Laura Jansen

Friday, February 8, 2008

Speech Ferapy

We're working hard over here. Our latest project is daily speech THerapy. Older child has always replaced th with f. A week ago I heard her singing Frosty the Snowman in her room: "Fumpity, fump, fump, Fumpity, fump, fump, Look at Frosty go!" Oh dear, we have got to do something about that.

It's almost painful to watch her have to relearn where her tongue is supposed to be. No, it's not "Fank you," and we're not going to take a "baff." After we go through 100 "th" combinations younger child always wants her turn with Mom-turned-Speech-Therapist, so she sits on the chair in front of me swinging her thick little legs and looking at me expectantly. Can you say Dada? Baby? Please? Shoes? Socks?
Mama? Didn't think so. You're done.

I am burnt (or is it burned?) out on all things crafty. Loyal sewing machine, a regular fixture in out living room, is put away. I realized that in three weeks I had basted and quilted Phoebe's entire quilt, made 3 1/2 quilted couch pillows (one isn't finished yet), repainted the kitchen, helped with making curtains---all this on top of everything else wife and mom. No wonder I felt crabby. Lord, teach me to let it go.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Sink with a View

Wishy washy winter rages on. One day I have mini frost drifts on my dining room carpet (no kidding), the next day swells the yard into a mini marsh. Check out our neighbor's yard (you have to look
straight down to see ours...ha!). The sitting lakes, the bare trees, the overall grayness, and (my favorite part) the upside-down trampoline.

But look! New curtains thanks to generous Mother-in-law! Happy-ness.

New curtains called for new paint. We picked out "rhubarb leaf green." Can I just say here that whomever is responsible for naming these colors,
I want your job. Warm scones, Mint Julep, June Lake, Crabapple Blossom. The perfect blend of words, warm associations, and color, making me want to buy paint that has nothing to do with what I set out for. Am I alone in remembering the names of every gallon of paint I used?

I am obsessive compulsive about picking paint colors, but a horrible visionary when it comes to paint, so I usually obsess myself into disappointment. Rhubarb green felt more like Jolly Green Giant green for a while. But now that it's finished it's kind of growing on me. We'll see.

Amazon's super saver shipping finally delivered a month later, and I have my very own copy of Kristin Lavransdatter. The modern translation, all 1100 pages of it, all mine! Putting the kids to bed early won't kill them, will it?!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Scrap Therapy

I finally finished quilting Phoebe's quilt. I'm trying not to have guilty mother syndrome. Hers ended up with two puckers on the back. Two tiny, little puckers. Eowyn's was pucker-free. Hopefully she won't compare and add the two wrinkles to her second-child syndrome. Now for my favorite, favorite part: binding. All that I need is a good movie and it will make for one snuggly evening.

I pulled out all the stops today and organized my fabric stash. I've heard interior decorators say that if you're not sure what colors you really like, you should look at what colors you tend to wear. Once I brought home a sea green sweater from the thrift store and happily proceeded to hang it in the closet. Husband looked at my recent purchase and said, "Don't you already own two sweaters that color?" Well, yes, but this one is different, dear.

My fabric stash is as severely lopsided as my clothing: Tons of greens, blues, pinks and reds. A handful of purple. And about six pieces of orange. Apparently I am not a fan of orange. When we moved in to our current home, the dining room was pumpkin orange. "Good," I thought to myself, "I'd never pick it. I'm broadening my horizons." But the orange and I just couldn't handle each other and I ended up painting it.

While I was folding and refolding, Husband was standing over me asking me the whys and wherefores of the collection. Finally it was, "Which do you like better? Fabric or books?"

I told him that was like asking me to choose between my children.

Friday, January 25, 2008


I'm afraid I'm going to go a bit crazy if Spring does not come, say, in February. My beloved 88 Corsica currently has no breaks, leaving us totally homebound after Husband goes to work. I try to tell myself peppy things about hibernation: "Just think, Self, of all the work you're going to have to do outside when Spring rolls around. You might as well hunker down and do all your inside projects. Yay." However, mid-January, I somehow lose the ability to listen to this chipper voice, promptly tell it to SHUT-IT, and mope about until it gets warmer. I even give my winter decorations the evil eye.

On the cheerful side of things, I finally finished the top of my scrap quilt. 3.5 years later. You can have a glimpse of the back and hear the full story when it's complete.

This week I started quilting Phoebe's quilt, which is a green version of Eowyn's quilt. In the spring (dear, sweet spring) we're going to combine the girls' rooms and bunk up the beds. This is the second round of identical quilts I've made. Making two nearly-the-same quilts is rather brutal; you can imagine why: quilting the second one is a total bore. No creative decisions to be made, same old, same old, just gettin' her done. While I quilt I dream about that tiny nursery room turned into my own little sewing nook.

Well, this was a totally depressing post; forgive me. I think I need to force myself outside for some fresh zero-degree air.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Hey there

So we decided to quit Xanga, but have taken our dear sweet time doing it. Here we are at Blogger. Here's to another year of the delightful mix of wonderful inspiration and wasting time, dosed up with a few of my "I'm going to quit blogging" threats. Cheers.

I finished Eowyn's quilt a while ago. She got it around Christmas time without a lot of fanfare. I thought about wrapping it, but couldn't find the point. After all, it's not like she hadn't seen me sewing it every day and stopped by to confirm that yes, it was hers, and yes, it would be done soon.

I am a fan of cotton batting, stippling, and crinkly vintage. I put several surprise messages in the quilting which I suppose she'll find once I get around to teaching her how to read :).

I'm happy with it. She is too. What more could you ask for?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

$6 Later

Two $3 frames from Wal-Mart, fourty-five minutes, and viola. Eowyn saw hers and giggled, "That's a picture of my crazy hair!" Phoebe's looks a little less recognizable, plus I added a little hair in an attempt to make her look like a girl. Maybe in six months I'll update hers.

1. Have your kids stand sideways with good posture and take a few pictures. I had Eowyn talk to Phoebe while I took her picture, but after I traced it, it looked more alien-ish than like a baby, so I ended up using a different side pose that I had.

2. On your computer turn the pictures black and white.

3. Size them so that their heads are similar in size and print them out to match the size of your frame.
4. Put the picture against a bright window, put a piece of white paper over it and trace the profile.
5. Cut out the tracing, then using it as a template, trace it on whatever color you want the final silhouette to be.
6. Cut out the final silhouette, then use a glue stick to glue it to a white piece of paper. Put it in the frame. You're done.

I was thinking about doing the whole family, but, quite frankly, I'd rather not see what my face looks like from the side. I think these could be the start to a very cute wall. You could add monograms, do Grandpas and Grandmas...

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