Saturday, November 15, 2008

the kids

crafting together for the holidays

i was reading back over some of my old entries and i realize, as we creep closer to finn's first birthday, that part of me is in shock a whole year has nearly passed, yet i realize also, how much i have changed. my early, post-partum entries are so filled with angst of various kinds. i won't lie and hide all the sketchy moments from you all now, but it has all gotten easier. we have gotten used to each other. gotten used to being home. gotten into a rhythm. here is a current entry from my "mamma musings," my personal journal i keep for my kids, about my kids.


I keep meaning to write in here and haven’t. During the last 2 or 3 months, I feel as though I need to start every entry by saying “these two are changing so quickly.” I keep writing entries in my head and haven’t gotten to the computer! I wonder if it is time to take this offline, to paper and pen, so I can write little bits as they pop into my head. For now, I know I have forgotten much of what I want to say.

I want to remember things like:

  • Lala has been night time potty training over the last few weeks, with little pushing from us. On Wednesday, she woke with a dry diaper for the first time ever (in her whole life).
  • She knows how to spell her first name and both her predominant nicknames. And she can write all three versions as well. I have to credit preschool for this.
  • We are teaching her a little about emergencies, what they are, and what to do. So far, it hasn’t seemed to scare her.
  • As much as she loves cats, she is obsessively concerned one will come into our house.
  • She must have her hands absolutely and completely dry after washing them.
  • Finnian is popping his 5th tooth.
  • He crawls very quickly with his head tucked down, and runs into things with his head!
  • He walked on his own, with a push toy, for the first time today.
  • He whines for attention, whether it is because he is hungry or awake and wanting me to collect him from his crib. He only cries when he is hurt or really very upset. Or when he sees someone else cry. When he isn’t getting attention by whining, he throws himself on the floor, and rolls around. At this little age, that mini “tantrum” is darn funny.
  • Between his teeth and his long hair and his recent growth spurt (length, not weight…his weight has been stable for 3 months now!), he looks like he is closer to 15 months than 11 months!

And perhaps most importantly, I have almost a week under my belt of handling the kids better (Lala especially) with no escalated fussies (from any of us). That feels good.

Friday, November 14, 2008

frugal friday:: 4:: the frugal home

frugal friday:: our frugal home

first, don't forget to comment to this post if you want a chance to win a free reader's digest frugalizing book!

one thing i love online are photos of people's homes. i love gleaning ideas from how other decorate creatively and inexpensively.
i had always been one for white walls, but when we began fixing all the walls and repainting our interior a few years ago, we picked color. (and don't ask us the names, because we frugally came upon our colors by mixing reduced price miss-mixes together until we came up with pleasant colors.) so here is a tour of our home.

my sewing nook. the file cabinet and rush woven chair you see were free from my parents. the sewing table chair and table were sidewalk finds. the sewing machine was a $10 thrift store purchase (time for a new one!) and the serger was new, but bought "used."

below are four links to the tour i gave of our home a year and a half ago, from a frugal perspective. below these four links are links to newer photos, as we have continued to work on our home, we added a child(!), and we have been purging "stuff." i would still estimate the over 90% of our home contents (furniture, decor, clothes, toys, etc.) were free, either given to us as gifts or as freecycle.
two of the four corners of our dining room, which house a computer station, office supplies, some vintage books from my great aunt, and good dishes (wedding gifts).

our living room photo wall.

our deck, although this was before the railing was painted and the house priming was done. this is the most unfrugal re-do of our house. we did it for pleasure, not necessity, and so far, it was worth every penny.

the kids' room.

the kids' room and S' room. S' room is not so much a room as it is a walk-through space (although less so now that we have a door and deck to the back, off the kitchen). we go through it to access the garage (laundry) and it is the catch-all for my bike trainer (when it is up!) and my sewing nook (photo above). the captain's chairs in S' room, the futon frame, the wooden file cabinet night table, and the book shelves were all free. i bought the futon mattress when i moved into my own apartment after college, before we were married.

the living room we have now moved the couch, so it faces the front window, at an L to the fireplace, offering the kids more play space. (historically, we have moved the couch around by season, with it facing the fireplace during cooler weather.) the rush woven chair that was in the living room is now in S' room and i was given a long coveted rocking chair for christmas last year (unfrugal). both the standing lamps you see in various pictures are gone. the bassinet crib is now gone, passed to G&T for baby "alfy."

our kitchen is 1940s style, with a portable dishwasher bought used, and complete with free stove from our neighbor friend, a vast improvement on the one it replaced.

i maintain that accepting almost anything anyone has to offer, freecycle, craigslist, the penny saver, and any other local free/buy/sell sources you have are the way to go. you can nicely furnish a home with funky style this way. we have!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

status check

i have been getting some questions, both through my blog and through my email about various things, so here is a status check on us!

  • property: yes, we have identified a chunk of land we would love to buy, but have not yet made a move to purchase it because 1) it is hard to buy property with someone working at a station in antarctica, but primarily, 2) this economy has rocked us, just like the rest of the world, and we are a bit concerned about the stability of M's job. without it, we need that money for basics. we had thought 'worst case, we sell our house and camp on our land.' that doesn't sound too bad! but the reality is selling would be hard and we aren't sure we are ready for that huge a lifestyle change yet. (there is no house/building on the property. no power, no water, no septic.)
  • my mom: she is doing fabulously. i can tell she still needs naps (i.e., she tires more easily than she did) and she sometimes has pain, but in general, we have been so so so so so lucky. she seems to be cancer free, but will be spending next week with a specialist out of state to confirm her diagnoses and recommended treatments.
  • our craft business: i still want to do it, and am so proud of how crafty we have been leading up to the upcoming holidays, but we don't have anything worthy of sale yet, hence the delay on choosing a name and opening an etsy or big cartel store. this is how you all voted. so interesting to me. M and i are partial to "echo crafts" or, simply for ease (lack of change), "which name." nicola & company just sounded cute. my name was the unique of the two of us and i will be handling the businessy end of it all. but it does seem a bit selfish. the two that got the big hits: mikola (sorry, S, i am so-so on this. not different enough from nicola. and i have been called micola enough times to turn me off, i guess.) and why not? so cute, but we have no connection to it at all.
echo crafts
3 (13%)
8 (34%)
nicola & company
5 (21%)
sierra hand crafts
1 (4%)
ciao, luna (or other italian name)
1 (4%)
homemade granola
4 (17%)
why not?
5 (21%)
which name
3 (13%)

  • the kids: man, they are changing so quickly! both of them. pardon any my future absences, but we are entering the thick of elementary school hunting for lala. i can't believe my babe will be in kindergarten next autumn and i can't believe we have to go through this torture for public school. potentially mediocre public school at that. and in such an expensive, affluent area, nothing should be mediocre! anyway, lala still loves art and music. she loves pretend play with her dolls. she loves to help me cook. she is growing like bamboo now. and so is finn, who has noticeably leaned out weighs the same as 2 months ago), but is tall and in 18mo clothes. we are rounding the bend on his first birthday, counting down, now. he make two-syllable sounds, crawls really quickly, pulls up, cruises on furniture, and has just begun letting go for several seconds at a time. he will be walking soon and we'll have to buy big ol' shoes for his mongo feet!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

the wooden blocks

about that pile of wood...what a fun activity and lesson for lala! and we now have a sack of blocks for finn's holiday gift.

(and no, she didn't help sand the whole pile. it was too big to hand sand. she hand sanded a few, supervised me, and then when the house was empty for a bit, i took the power sander to the rest of the pile. but she helped enough to understand and be part of making something special for her little brother.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

on the internet:: in time for the holidays

Monday, November 10, 2008

happy anniversary, baby!

M and i are celebrating our wedding anniversary today. we have been together, well, forever. i am so lucky to be married to my best friend. i love you, M!

we have been married so long, i don't have any digital wedding photos to upload, but here is the song we used as our processional. (we tromped out to led zepplin!)

I'll Back You Up, by The Dave Matthews Band
I remember thinking
I'll go on forever only knowing
I'll see you again
But I know
The touch of you is hard to remember
But like that touch I know no other
And for sure we have danced
In the risk of each other
Would you like to dance
Around the world with me

I'll be falling all about my own thing
And I know you're the heaviest weight
When you're not here that's hung
Around my head

And your lips burn wild
Thrown from the face of a child
And in your eyes
The seeing of the greatest view
Do what you will, always
Walk where you like, your steps
Do as you please, I'll back you up

I remember thinking
Sometimes we walk
Sometimes we run away
But I know
No matter how fast we are running
Somehow we keep
Somehow we keep up with each other

I'll be falling all about my own thing
And I know you're the heaviest weight
When you're not here that's hung
Around my head

And your lips burn wild
Thrown from the face of a child
And in your eyes
The seeing of the greatest view
Do what you will, always
Walk where you like, your steps
Do as you please, I'll back you up

Sunday, November 9, 2008


i tried crochet, but i just couldn't get my fingers to work correctly. (i am sorry, RGW!) so after a brief consultation with TLM and encouragement to try, i picked up a knitting book from the library, a freecycle ball of yarn, and my $2 thrift store needles. and i tried to knit. and you know what? i learned the initial stitch (is that what it is called?) on the very first try and my fingers moved as if they knew the dance already.

what am i making? nothing in particular. am i any good? not really. my rows are all wonky.

but you know what? for some odd reason, the knitting (which i can do while sitting and chatting with lala while she draws) and the sewing are filling some missing pieces for me. of me.

i don't really think i can knit or sew my way out of a funk. or can i?

i will i pass my first anniversary as a full time mamma, i step outside myself and realize how much i have changed, how much i have learned, how much i have yet to learn, and how much harder this has been than i expected.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

the REAL happy list

15 years ago (oy!), SMK and i started a happy list. i've done my own little gratitudes and happy lists here on my blog, but nothing compares to the real thing, a tattered spiral bound notebook, the cover now taped on with medical tape (thanks, mollie!), with nothing but words, begun before the internet even existed. and it arrived on my porch yesterday.

so much has happened since i had the list in my hands. SMK's daughter, mollie, was diagnosed with cancer. my mom was diagnosed with cancer. but there are so many things to be grateful for.

i see recent entries include:
health insurance
the arrival of mollie's little sister
ice cream

you name it, it is on the list. probably at least twice.

what a piece of our history and friendship. i bet you are wondering what the very first entry is. sunshine. yep, sunshine. how simple and lovely is that?

Friday, November 7, 2008

frugal friday:: 3:: frugal book give-away

frugal friday

this week, a give away! add a comment (and email address) to this post and i will randomly choose someone to send this book to!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

creativity:: holidays:: natural toys

M and i have been trying to be less consumeristic (so hard!) and bring our lives back to basics. at the same time, we have been trying to fix up our home and purge our excess, so that we are left with things we love and use. and we would like for the items we love and use to be as natural as possible, especially when it comes to our kids.

with this in mind, we are going through the kids' toys (again) with a critical eye, removing more of the plastics (we already removed the ones known to be hazardous), and allowing in those that we are okay with.

this year, M and i are giving the kids basic, natural, and homemade toys and books. and we are involving lala in the process of creating finn's gift. the above photo is a pile of scrap wood from M's shop, soon to become a sack of blocks for finn, from lala. the simple process of it has been so fun for all of us!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


happy first birthday little SKM!

(and happy 11 mo to my little guy. 11 mo!)

cloth diapers:: punkin-butt

a favorite sight: a pile of clean cloth diapers.
these are waiting to be stacked and put away on our free changing table.

i have posted about cloth diapers before (here and here). and i have even mentioned my favorite cloth diaper online store, punkin butt. i'm not sure how i found my way to them. i am not even sure what makes them my favorite. (there are a lot of great stores out there, but i have found what i wanted from them, with fabulous, personal, responsive customer service. they are a small, family/friend business.)

anyway, they are now offering a referral discount program. it works like this: i refer you to them. you make a purchase and you give them my code name. (post a reply with your email if you would like my code name.) you receive 10% off and i receive a 10% credit.

so, please, given that punkin-butt gift credit is on my holiday wish list, let's both save a little money! ask for my referral code name if you are a cloth diaper user or know someone who is!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


hope remains.....

here in california, proposition 8 was on on our ballot. prop 8, if a yes passes, would ammend our constitution so that marriage is only between a man and a woman. as of this morning, the votes are still being counted, but the current count is just around 52% in favor of yes.

that means our constitution currently allows same sex marriage and a yes vote would mean you want to take away someone's constitutional right to be married. (meaning, this takes away a right that already exists, which is several steps beyond saying you just don't want that right to exist in the first place.)

a marriage is a legal contract between two people who love and care for each other. it affects no-one but that couple. (unless you count the children that that couple might have.)

it is beyond me why anyone would feel the need to control this. how does it affect my marriage if my gay friends want to get married? it doesn't!

and the argument that voting yes is "for our children" so they don't learn in school that gay marriage is okay? a family is any group of people who love each and want to call each other such. and voting yes and taking away someone's legal right doesn't make gay couples go away. it doesn't make their children go away. so those kids will be in school sitting next to your kids. and your kids will learn all about gay marriage and gay families anyway.

this got on our ballot.
this appears to be passing.
this hurts my heart.
and i have no idea what to say to my friends whom this directly affects. i am so sympathetic.

hope:: it changes nothing if nothing changes

please find your way to a voting booth today.
and no matter who you vote for, if you live in california, please vote NO on prop 8.

this obama mamma, hoping for change for the better

here is a joke, to keep you in good political humor, sent to me by MN via email:


You have two cows.
Your neighbor has none.
You feel guilty for being successful.

You push for higher taxes so the government can provide cows for


You have two cows.
Your neighbor has none.


You have two cows.
The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.
You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.


You have two cows.
The government seizes both and provides you with milk.
You wait in line for hours to get it.
It is expensive and sour.


You have two cows.
You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.


You have two cows.
Under the new farm program the government pays you to shoot one, milk
the other, and then pours the milk down the drain.


You have two cows.
You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one.
You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are
surprised when one cow drops dead. You spin an announcement to the
analysts stating you have downsized and are reducing expenses.
Your stock goes up.


You have two cows.
You go on strike because you want three cows.
You go to lunch and drink wine.
Life is good.


You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and
produce twenty times the milk.
They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains.
Most are at the top of their class at cow school.


You have two cows.
You engineer them so they are all blond, drink lots of beer, give
excellent quality milk, and run a hundred miles an hour.
Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year.


You have two cows but you don't know where they are.
You break for lunch.
Life is good.


You have two cows.
You have some vodka.
You count them and learn you have five cows.
You have some more vodka.
You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
The Mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.


You have all the cows in Afghanistan , which are two.
You don't milk them because you cannot touch any creature's private
You get a $40 million grant from the US government to find alternatives
to milk production but use the money to buy weapons.


You have two cows.
They go into hiding.
They send radio tapes of their mooing.


You have two bulls.
Employees are regularly maimed and killed attempting to milk them.


You have one cow.
The cow is schizophrenic.
Sometimes the cow thinks he's French, other times he's Flemish.
The Flemish cow won't share with the French cow.
The French cow wants control of the Flemish cow's milk.
The cow asks permission to be cut in half.
The cow dies happy.


You have a black cow and a brown cow.
Everyone votes for the best looking one.
Some of the people who actually like the brown one best accidentally
vote for the black one.
Some people vote for both.
Some people vote for neither.
Some people can't figure out how to vote at all.
Finally, a bunch of guys from out-of-state tell you which one you think
is the best-looking cow.


You have millions of cows.
They make real California cheese.
Only five speak English.
Most are illegal.
Arnold likes the ones with the big udders.

Monday, November 3, 2008

craving creation:: a mini blog and book review

i have been craving the feeling of making things, lately. anything. and with that has come a bit of a fascination with (a like/envy of, truthfully) the blog, soule mama. now, here is a woman who homeschools 3 children (i.e. they are with her all the time, no preschool breaks), is pregnant with number 4, yet still finds time (makes time) to not only make gorgeous things, but to also take gorgeous photos of these things, blog beautifully about it all, make enough crafts to sell, sell a lot, and write a book about it.

the envy part of my relationship with this blog?
ummm, did you read the above paragraph? seriously, though, a desire to understand, through at least a few of her tough moments (which she does not generally blog about), how she manages to do it all, and quite honestly, what steps she took to make her small business so successful.
i have read several comments in which she says her children work with her or alongside her, but i am still so curious, as we try this too, but my 4 year old really just wants my attention. on her. now. always.
i would love to feel the same level of calm soule mama portrays to her readers, always enjoy my kids as much as she seems to enjoy hers, and make a bit of money doing things i love, as she does! (and i don't. yet?)

the like part of my relationship with this blog?
it is a pleasant bit of eye candy for my day. i share a similar decorating style and love of nature and old things. i want to make the most of these brief moments with my children, both for my children and myself. and my envy has acted as motivation for me to make time (if nothing else) to be a little more creative, but mostly, has made me recognize just how creative we already are. i think i actually prefer the words inventive and resourceful (if i have choose!). i keep reading along, thinking, "hey, we do that, too!"
and in the same way i have to credit amy dacyczyn's the complete tightwad gazette in helping motivate me to thrift more, i have to credit soule mama with motivating me to pay closer attention to and emphasize a bit more focus on crafting for all of us.

so my fascination (and a bookstore gift card) led me to the purchase of amanda blake soule's book, the creative family. and honestly, i am digging it. that is, when i can get it away from lala. apparently, it is eye candy for preschoolers, too.

~please read comments for my clarification about this post not being a comparison of my blog to soule mama!
also, read this post.

~also, after i posted this, i had my daily visit to soule mama only to read amanda blake soule has launched a new website, mama to mama, which begins with a request for knit hats to be added to kits for new mothers and babies in northern haiti. read more at mama to mama.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

happy list

things that i am grateful for and getting pleasure from right now:

first rain of the season. i love the smell. i love the sound. i love every drop that helps relieve our drought. and i keep every homeless person close in my thoughts as i am so grateful for the roof over our heads.

the rain dance to accompany the first rains. and the happy girl doing the dance.

the hand knit sleep gown my mom made for my older brother when he was a baby. that it is still in the family. and my adorable baby boy who is currently wearing it.

my serger!

purging. i would love for our home to to finally hold only items we love and find useful.

the kick-off of the season of holidays. i love this time of year. it means family, celebration, traditions, festivity, warmth, coziness, giving, baking (YUM!), and so many more things to me.

already november?

today is the day of the dead! my mom took a cooking class with her friend in celebration and these are some of her creations.

halloween opens the door to the autumn/winter chain of holidays. halloween, thanksgiving, and christmas (the winter holiday that we celebrate) are all favorites for different reasons. i love the plain old fun of halloween, but the candy is a bit much for the mamma part of me (although the sweet tooth part loves it!). we gave away mini tubs of play dough this year. thanksgiving is one of the best simply because it is about gratitude and i am grateful for so many people and things in my life. i love the decorations, the colors, and the simple joy of togetherness. i am not big on the food, though. and my family, we have some lovely, basic holiday traditions, which i love, love, love. i could happily skip the mass materialism, though. and when we now see christmas themed, well, everything, in the stores in october, one knows the materialism has gone too far.

so this year, i am determined that halloween has kicked off pleasure in all my favorite things about the holidays ahead and i will simply let myself (and our children) be as ignorant as possible to the materialistic parts.

Friday, October 31, 2008

happy halloween!

making ghosts


our haunted home- grave yard fence and grave markers (free scraps given a new use), ghosts, cobwebs = M loves halloween!

and of course, our little gobblins.
lala is a cat and finn will be dressed as a bumble bee later in the day!

note: that roll of butcher paper was ~$30 at costco. the last roll lasted nearly 4 years and was $15. it has had so many amazing uses!

frugal friday:: 2:: october grocery spending

frugal friday

the ever challenged grocery budget. perhaps not a page turner for most of you, but i am a fairly frugal person and i am struggling with this, so if you are challenging yourself to economize your budget in any way, this might be an interesting comparison for you. if you have any suggestions for me, please comment! i would also love to know the size of your family and what you usually spend per month (and on what items). i generally followed the EWG's list for organic produce and i was wishy-washy about organic milk this month.

my october budget was $400.
my goal was $300.
the thrifty plan for an american family of our size is over $500.
this month was for 2 adults (it varies, actually) and 2 kids and included all household and health products and food.

i spent $425 even.

i am really disappointed that i didn't even meet my budget. we set that for a reason, so i need to be averaging the $400 on a regular basis. our overall spending in other categories was much lower, however, and part of the grocery money spent went to some health products that are healthier for us and the environment, will last a long time, and were a part of our budget i previously never spent money on due to free-after-rebate and coupon deals.

i learned a lot about myself this month. i really tried this time and really did challenge myself, even though i didn't meet my goals. i tried new recipes from scratch with foods on hand and i really needed to shop for produce earlier in the week put if off, simply because i wanted to meet my budget. so, clearly i need to be limiting more. i skipped temptations, so what you see listed below, even if many items don't strike you as necessary, are our basics (plus wine!). we ate out once as a family, which itself was very unusual, and i went out once with mamma friends. generally, any "special" meals generally come from our basic grocery budget as well.

listing out what we bought allowed me to mentally highlight the items that we could do without and all the items we should do without. although several of the items jump out as uneconomical (walnuts, wine, 7th generation diapers (we generally use cloth and could buy target brand for half the price), for example), i realize most of what we buy is extremely healthy and close to its original form. the most processed food we buy tends to be Os cereal. the most convenience foods we tend to buy are freshly frozen fruits and vegetables (with no additives).

going into november, my budget is now $375 (to compensate for the $25 overage) and my goal is still $300. i am less confident that i can meet this and some of the people in my life are quite doubtful, which, of course, only makes me more determined to meet it at least once! (insert a big stubborn grin, here!) i am now out of dry milk powder (first time since we married), and although i now know it is cheaper to buy fresh milk, quite a few recipes i use call for milk powder and it is good for shelf life, so i need to stock up. i ran out of fresh produce and and have a growing costco list....again.

$425 bought:
2 bars glycerin soap, tube unpetroleum jelly, tub oxo brite, large dr. bronners, 32oz lotion, 32oz shower gel, 19oz organic kids shampoo, 4 'green' lunch sacks, whole wheat tortillas, flour tortillas, 5 gallons milk, #10 can tomato sauce, 10lb sugar, 10lb carrots, 3 canteloupe, 3lb walnuts, 2lb organic spinach, 1lb blue cheese, 6lb mozzarella, 5lb monterey jack cheese, 2lb pecorino romano, 2lb cheddar, 4lb butter, 2 loaves whole grain bread, 6 brita water filters, 2lb frozen peas, 2lb frozen pineapple, 1 lb frozen mango chunks, 2lb organic tomatoes, 2 cans OJ concentrate, 4pk avocados, 11 bottles wine, boxes Os cereal, 40 bananas, container curry paste, 5 packages tofu, 1lb organic mixed lettuce, 1 large and 4 small pumpkins, 6+lb brown rice, 4 onions, sack organic apples, 6 organic potatoes, 1 bagel, 1lb organic strawberries, 10 dozen eggs, 1 pack lasagna noodles, 3 packs rotelle, 4 jars natural peanut butter, 1 sack rice crackers, 20lb whole wheat flour, 6 kiwi, 20 rolls toilet paper, 60 seventh generation diapers, 2 packages of lunch containers, fish tank filter, and ??? (i am missing a couple receipts detailing about $45 of the $425 that i spent!)

next step: update my price list to reflect the foods and products i like to buy now. (we buy more unprocessed, more wholesome, and more organic products than we used to.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


okay, RGW tagged me, which means i have to share 7 things about myself you might not know:
  1. i want a tattoo. at first, i thought it should say "b!t(h," but now i am thinking maybe a dragon fly. or something to do with our kids. eeyore and tigger? (okay, mom, take a deep breath, i know they are permanent!)
  2. i hate that i talk too much. and i hate the word hate. (i love the word free, though.)
  3. i absolutely adore milk chocolate hobnobs (what can i say? one nibble and you're nobbled) and am selfishly thrilled S is dating a native brit, who has kept my habit right on the edge. of course, any chocolatey cookie will do. i have a sweet tooth!
  4. i am horribly indecisive. (but always well-meaning!)
  5. it is a huge huge effort to practice what i preach.
  6. i was a biology major in college, yet i can't remember science worth a crap and struggle to keep my garden going. (if only i had given myself time to choose a major that fit me instead of one that fell in line with the skills of the men in my family! ask me about money or home ec and i am your girl!)
  7. i have been "planning to go back to school" for 8 years now. "soon."
i packed a few two or mores in one there. did ya catch that?

i now tag: welcome to our nest , jack, sara, and carocoknits. everyone else i know who reads my blog has been tagged already!


There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf.
~Albert Schweitzer

recycling for refashioning

i learned a new environmental R word recently: refashion. my definition is the re-use of some fashion item for a new fashion purpose. i know the concept personally, but the term was new to me.

i love this concept. i have previously linked to making kids' pants from an adult t-shirt and from adult sweaters. i have made shirts for myself from men's dress shirts.

carocoknits talks about deconstructing thrift store sweaters for "new" yarn to knit or crochet into something else

make a girls' dress from an adult shirt , a post from simple/green/frugal/co-op. here is the tutorial she used.

make a baby diaper cover from an old sweater

how about a softie friend from a lonely glove?

the possibilities are endless!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

on being a mom:: take 2

lala wanting to hold finn and make him feel better, but he just wanted mamma.

this weekend, i was scrolling back through old posts, looking for a particular post to link to. instead, i forgot what i was looking for, audibly began sighing at the sight of "older" photos of my kids, M scooted over to look, and we took a mini scroll down memory lane together.

generally, life is feeling more positive for me these days, but i admit that the improvements (noted below) around here haven't come naturally. they have been through my own efforts to be increasingly aware of my own fatigue, my kids' needs, and frequent reminders that i am the adult (despite my vow never to grow up, really).

in march, i posted about being a mom. my march mom post was only 7 months ago, but that is a long time in baby lives. in march, finn was 3 months old and lala was 3.5 yrs. now, we are rounding the bend on finn's first birthday, lala is now 4 yrs, and we are a week away from my first anniversary as a full time mamma. (and 'they' weren't clear in the job description that full time really meant 24/7!)

fundamentally, what i said back in march all holds true today. except one thing. i'm there.

i can count time-outs on one hand now and the hugs and kisses are free flowing.

Monday, October 27, 2008

around the 'net

Sunday, October 26, 2008

project scrapbook

i keep a scrapbook of, well, all sorts of things. i have hardcover lined book that came to me free due to the liquidation of office supplies from a business changing hands. and for several years now, i have pasted cut out photos and quotes from magazines, catalogs, and websites. the pictures are of rooms i like the style or look of, details i want to recreate, gardens i like, projects i want to try myself. my notes are everything from decorating ideas, to lists of things i could sew, crafty gift ideas, to plants i want to try in the garden. the only thing it doesn't include are meal recipes, which get cut and added to my recipe binder, preferably with photos to match!

i may never do many of these things, but just flipping through the scrapbook is somehow soothing. it is little pieces that reflect all the material things i find most pleasurable.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


simplify-look around-observe nature. see in nature the source of art, of craftsmanship of truth, of the beautiful.
~henry david thoreau

Friday, October 24, 2008

frugal friday:: 1

i have a had chance this week to just sit on the couch and think a bit. it has been so necessary just to slow down.

i have been thinking a weekly series of posts might be fun, so i am beginning with what i know and love and what might serve all of us best in this sad economy:

frugal fridays

i am going to begin by sharing today just some of the things we actively did this week that have saved us money.
  • we baked (two types of cookies and 4 loaves of bread), made yogurt, and made meals from scratch, trying 2 new recipes using ingredients we already had.
  • completed 3 more DIY projects for the house.
  • i joined e-rewards through an invitation from upromise, and i completed several surveys for gift card rewards.
  • we went out to a group family dinner, using a gift certificate from
  • we called to cancel one of our cell phones and instead, we were offered a buy-one-get-one-free (b1g1f) deal, so we still have our two phones, but at the cost of one (savings of $25/month).
  • we worked on some homemade holiday gifts.
  • we did some mending.
  • we hung all of our laundry to dry.
  • we accepted from others...we received a box of yarn, a tortilla press, and a pair of used robeez shoes for free on freecycle. we received a baby gate on loan.
  • we used the library.
  • we remembered to make coffee at home and bring it, instead of treating ourselves to a cup at the coffee shop.
  • we made the coffee using our reusable coffee filter.
  • we washed and vacuumed the car at home.
  • M biked part way to work part of the week.
  • we bathed the kids every other day, together.
in general, we have been brainstorming together how we can use less, make more for ourselves, and use what we already. you know that quote? use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without.

and how about we end the week with some freebies?

Thursday, October 23, 2008


coloring cards for friends. note the recycled-dada-shirt smock. the cards are from the stubby pencil studio.

i just had the best date i have had in ages. with my daughter. (sorry, baby, but it was the best date, since it has been awhile since you and i had a date!)

thanks to an offer by L, J, and L to watch finn, lala and i had some much needed mamma-lala time. i took her to the dentist and then out to lunch.

the dentist, you ask? yes, her first visit, and given her personality, one i expected to go somewhat poorly. i give her too little credit. she was a star! and it did help to be finn-less, as she sat in my lap, in the dentist chair. (hence, i have no photos of the big event, but they took a grinning photo of the two of us for her office chart!)

and on to lunch...her choice. she behaved like such a big girl, and when she asked where the crayons were to draw with, i told her she didn't need them, since she and i were having a conversation, just the two of us. she beamed!

yesterday, well after i posted my self-depricating lament about, well, life, lala had 2 massive tantrums. one on the walk home and one in the middle of quiet time. to give you an idea of their painfulness, there is a woman who walks her dog on the route we walk home and twice now, she has turned around or moved to avoid us, because lala seems to have a reputation for melt down at about the same spot on a semi-regular basis. (if only i would remember eeyore and i were strong enough to carry 2 kids at once, we might head it off. yeah, right.)

the tantrum during quiet time was unescapable. she followed me out of her room, wailing. and i knew i needed to be away from her.

so, thinking back on our lovely tuesday and following it with a clingy wednesday, it was perfect to give myself to just her for a bit today. how do parents with large families give more of themselves, individually, to each child?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


i woke to the wonderful sound of wind. you know that gusty, warm, october wind, that makes the dry leaves in the trees crackle? the sunrise turned the sky pink and the day dawned to blue skies and that soft autumn light.


and a perfect way to settle the crazies in my head that are restlessly rattling around. i have been feeling ambitious and thrilled by the challenges in my life right now: being a better mamma, economizing more, being more creative, learning new skills, caring better for my loved ones. i have been excited at all the things that come with autumn...preparing for cooler, wetter weather, but enjoying the "indian summers" we get in our area of the country.

but with all ambition, for me, comes the unsettling realization that i am not really good at any one thing. i do a lot, but i don't have even a single skill in which i excel. i have envy and admiration for several women (odd that they are all women?) touching my life right now, who are all at a similar place in their lives, with young children of their own. all of them are talented or educated in some way that makes them stand out. one is extremely smart and well spoken, one practices what she preaches and doesn't seem to have a care for what others think of her (and as a result, they only think highly of her, i am sure), one is artistic in so many ways, and so on. and all express themselves only gently with their children.

i don't like that when i reach the end of a day, it has been a good day if my tones and expressions have remained even throughout the day. shouldn't they be that way all the time? especially with my children.

wednesdays are my chore day, but here i sit, sharing this with you. i am now off to put clean sheets on our bed, because, really, there aren't many things nicer than crawling into a bed with crisp, clean, sheets, that smell as though they have been dried in the sun?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

i forgot my camera

today, the kids and i were invited to a local state park for a grand adventure. it felt more like a vacation. this park is close and easy to access, but once in it, you feel like you are somewhere else. and although we didn't, i learned we could put our kayaks in for a paddle there. it was lovely. my dad rode his bike, while the kids, my mom, and i walked a bit. we then had a picnic by the water. lala tried skipping stones and we learned that finn has no fear and brimming with curiosity. he would have crawled right into the water, if given half a chance. even his big sister called for help, leaned her leg out to block him, and put her hand on his back. very sweet and mature for a 4 year old.

we got some adorable photos, but none on my camera because i left it sitting on the table! so, i share this one with dad made a latte macchiato for me last week, which was so gorgeous, i had to photograph it. it tasted as good as it looked. it must be is la pavoni!

Monday, October 20, 2008

we need a name

M and i are thinking to join the ranks of etsy. we have often talked about trying to promote his woodworking and my eclectic crafts and develop a small business, but we are now feeling motivated to actually try.

would you help us come up with a name for ourselves? (a fictitious name for our business, that is.) we have a list of ideas, but want to hear what your ideas are!

we hope you will support us in this endeavor!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

M's handiwork

i wanted to highlight just the tip of some of M's amazing handiwork. since we have owned this house, the only things we have hired out were 1) termite and dry rot repair work inside the walls, and 2) our deck,which was done by our friend (a contractor) and my brother, with some assistance by M. and those tasks were due to M's time limitation, not a lack of skills. i say that both to exemplify M's plethora of talents and to share the pride i have in how much we do ourselves. (i say we, because i help a lot. and while the DIY could be a frugal post in itself, this post is about M.)

perhaps in another post, i might go on a bit about all the construction/house work we have done, but as i say, this post is about M, so i wanted to share a bit of his woodworking.

he has turned bowls, made cutting boards, sushi sets, music stands, a bed, and endless tables of various types. shown above is our couch side table, made from an old wine barrel. his recycled wood crafts are by far my favorites. i have posted previously about the computer unit he made, the pottery barn style bookcase he made, and the barrister bookcases he refinished. you are one talented guy, M!

Friday, October 17, 2008

from my grandma

yes! this one is from my grandma! and just that fact makes that much more amusing to me. (and no, i am not mad at M. i rarely am. but i am learning to crochet!)

A man and woman had been married for more than 60 years. They had shared everything.

They had talked about everything. They had kept no secrets from each other except that the

little old woman had a shoe box in the top of her closet that she had cautioned her husband

never to open or ask her about.

For all of these years, he had never thought about the box,

but one day the little old woman got very sick and the doctor said she would not recover.

In trying to sort out their affairs, the little old man took down the shoe box and took it to his wife's bedside.

She agreed that it was time that he should know what was in the box.

When he opened it, he found two crocheted dolls and a stack of money totaling $95,000.

He asked her about the contents. "When we were to be married," she said, "

my grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue.

She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doll."

The little old man was so moved; he had to fight back tears. Only two precious dolls were in the box.

She had only been angry with him two times in all those years of living and loving.

He almost burst with happiness.

"Honey," he said, "that explains the doll, but what about all of this money?
Where did it come from?"

"Oh," she said. "That's the money I made from selling all the dolls."

a week in the life

back when i participated in online forums, one of my silliest posts was my day in emoticons. the forum i loved most had a huge selection of smiley faces and so i posted all about my day using smilies. how about a more mature form of this? ali edwards proposes a week in the photos. my version isn't quite what she suggests, but the idea is lovely.

these are snippets of our life from last week...

sunday: lala declared it tigger's (finn's "lovey")birthday. she even made him a rack of "cupcakes."

monday: we said a sad, slightly grumpy goodbye to S and finn helped me with the laundry. well, actually, he climbed into the laundry basket.

tuesday: i did some sewing today, and this time, lala asked me if she could sew too. here she is sewing a button onto some fabric.

thursday: miss now-one-year-old LMH joined us for some lunch and play time.

friday: the final weekday of a very quiet, at-home week. lala played doctor, i got a lot of "pokes" and i got "band-aids" to prove it.

saturday: we joined LMH's first birthday celebration at the pumpkin patch.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

world food day

today is world food day. in a time when food prices are rising, incomes are steady or falling, and the economy is flailing, it seems particularly important to take notice.


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