Friday, November 13, 2009

just a quick post to share my latest examiner article before the weekend. for the locals, frugal acitivities with kids - part 2.


as i mentioned on tuesday, mike and i celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary this week. (thank you for all the sweet greetings and comments!) there isn't anything extra special about 8, but this year, our parents gifted us the most wonderful, touching gifts. tomorrow morning, mike, the kids, and i are headed for a weekend away, courtesy of mike's mom ("grannie annie"). she knows us well, and although we haven't been to this destination before, i know it is one we will enjoy very much as a family. in fact, i have visions of beach side wandering just as we did when we headed south to the yurts. (i don't know why this imagery feels special, since we live on the coast and the beach is an easy outing, but it does. perhaps it is because there is a different beach in my mind!) i am sure i will have many pictures to share next week.

and my parents, knowing how much mike and i love old things, particularly family things, knowing how much i love fabrics and linens, and knowing that the 8th anniversary is "linen," gifted us table linens that belonged to my great-grandmother and were likely embroidered by her for her hope chest as a young woman. the card my parents included (with some history and explanation) was almost more touching than the gift itself.

ending the week feeling a little lighter than when i started the week, we are off for a little, much needed time, just the four of us.

i hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

the music stand

i can't share much in the way of my current crafting, because most of it is for gifts, so i am using this as an opportunity to show off some more of mike's handiwork, especially since several people asked yesterday to see more. i wish he had more time to woodwork. he is really talented. (most of his talent goes into home repairs these days.)

this is a music stand he made for my dad for christmas several years ago. i believe there is a second one, in pieces, in his workshop. with lala now at a music school, perhaps it will make its way into a whole stand for her for christmas next year.

mike is extremely good with reclaimed materials. most of the pieces he has made are made of mostly or entirely repurposed materials. this music stand is a mix.

just seeing past projects has me inspired. what is inspiring you today?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

corner view: favorite dish

this week's corner view theme is: favorite dish

i decided to take it literally and show you one of my favorite bowls.
mike (my husband!) turned this bowl. he is a woodworker (for love, not profession) and it was one of his first bowls, made from a chunk of wood from a neighbor's pruned tree.

(edited to add: for those of you asking to see some more of mike's work, click here. you'll see some of his pieces mingled into those posts. i actually have a post ready to share tomorrow or the next day about more of his woodworking, as well. thanks for your interest. it is always nice to receive crafty compliments and he reads my blog!)

for more favorite dishes, visit:
jane, ladybug-zen, ian, bonnie, esti, sophie, cele, modsquad, caitlin, joyce, ani, kim, natsumi, epe, kaylovesvintage, trinsch, c.t., jeannette, outi, ritva, francesca, state of bliss, jennifer, dana, denise, cabrizette, bohemia girl, isabelle, amber, a girl in the yellow shoes, mister e, janis, kari, jgy, skymring, elizabeth, allison, lise, cate, crescent moon, erin, otli, ida, caroline, lisa, dorte, kimmie, la lune dans le ciel, nicola, malo, vanessa, britta, april, b, kyndale samantha, karen, kristina, goldensunfamily, sophie, janet, mcgillicutty, aimee, sunnymama, jenell, britta, juanita, pamela, inna, daan, myrtille, cris, ibb, jodi, gillian, travelingmama, athena, pienduzz, latisha, clairette, kelleyn, iris, demara, mus, ninja, guusje, di, sammi, theresa, cherry b, victoria, kathryn , lisa, liza, juliette, braja, mulot, anne, lucy, leonor, elizabeth, helene, dominique, shokoofeh, cole, jenna, podane, grey-lemon, line, nihal, urbaNiche, inner toddler, puna, lucylaine, adrienne, emily, lynn, skywriting, eliane, the wanderer´s daughter

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

13 years, 8 years

thank you for all the comments and emails on yesterday's post. selected #12 and #8 for the pumpkin seed give-away. that would be kmw and liz. i happen to know these two people in my real life and i can't think of two more appropriate recipients! these seeds have a shot at actually being planted! thanks for all the fun comments!

today marks the 8th anniversary of mike's and my wedding. we've been together for 13 years. he's my best friend and the most patient person i know and an amazing father to our children. this last year has been one of huge changes and growth for us, in the best possible way. i am so glad to be with someone so in tune with me, even though we are quite different. i love you, mike!

Monday, November 9, 2009

these days...

two things:
1) i will draw names for the pumpkin seed give away tonight, so please leave a comment today on that post if you are interested and haven't already.
2) a new examiner article is up: frugal activities to do with kids, part 1

lala's school campus. isn't it beautifully hidden in the trees?

recently, i wound my way back through my own blog and was touched by how much has changed and how glad i felt to have little and big life happenings documented here. with that in mind, i decided that, today, i feel like sharing a little bit more of what is going on in this world of mine. i would love to hear what's going on in your world and welcome any thoughts or experiences you care to share about what's going on in mine.

while nothing in our world has been life threatening, and i think daily of the people in my life who are struggling with far more serious issues, these past months (i can't even put my finger on how many....a lot of them) have been shaken by several issues that had just worn me down by the time i decided to take blog break a couple of weeks ago.

the pinecones little finnian collected on our latest walk

at the moment, finn and mike are fine. this is a relief so huge, i cannot express it well in words, so i won't try. i am elated by finn's excitement and wonder and developments these past few weeks. he has started potty training all on his own, sometimes using his potty without telling me he needs to or that he already did! he's following the family trend of being a nature lover and has begun collecting little bits of his own when we go out for walks.

finn is using the potty! we have several. this one is in the kids' room

isabella and i? we are making progress. while lala is in good health, she has been challenging us with her at-home behavior. she is a sweet, loving, smart girl who has a few quirky tendencies that most 5 year olds i know don't have. i have had many moments of worry in my 5 years as a mamma. somehow, in the last few weeks, some of those worries struck me very hard as being recurrent. over and over i have worried, been frustrated with, empathetic to, embarrassed by, and exhausted by a little trio of behaviors from lala. behaviors she doesn't seem to display at school. but it wasn't until about a month ago, within a span of several days, three people whose opinions mean the world to me and whose experiences give them credibility, expressed concern about these same behaviors.

flowers mike brought to me after a very, very rough day

it felt like our little parenting world became very shaky. is she "normal?" is she stressed? depressed? does she have ODD? sensory integration disorder? is it just a parenting problem? somehow, i went from 'this is just a phase' into a consuming worry about where she is developmentally, that she needs help beyond us, that we should have done something differently early on to prevent issues we are having now.

i've read A LOT in the last couple of weeks. i have read about typical 5 year olds, behavioral and mental health issues, other parents' experiences, about various parenting and teaching styles, and more. i've talked A LOT in the last couple of weeks. i've talk with parent friends, social workers, pediatricians, family, and with a consultant at the natural parenting center. (this last one was a serendipitous win of a give-away on soule mama.)

reading everything we can get our hands on

i am still reading, talking, processing, learning, and yes, worrying. but all of these things are leading me to changes in myself, my behavior, my parenting, my communication with mike, our approaches with lala, and in turn, i am seeing little shifts in her. her outbursts aren't daily anymore. she calms more quickly. she's conquered a couple of fears. she seems a little happier. and she does communicate her feelings, even if her style is a bit rough around the edges.
and that reassures me and gives me a boost as i continue to explore how to connect and support both of our children and their very unique personalities.

these parenting worries are what have been weighing most heavily on me, but they have been compounded by a series of staph infections i have had. i seem to be the only one around here affected, apparently because of my eczema (which, while horrid in the past, is only mild right now). so to tackle staph, i went on an extensive round of antibiotics.

during this, i had a spell of feeling horrible pain and achiness head-to-toe, so i took myself into the doctor, where i was tested for a number of things, and....i have lyme disease. it is early stage, so treatable, however, lyme requires a different antibiotic. so here i am again, on a month long course of another antibiotic. and this one is just kicking my butt. (sarah, mollie is one tough cookie.) i spent the first day on it, sick. since then, i have noticed a huge mood shift. i cannot seem to shake the grouchies, which has, in turn, affected my ability to be the zen mamma i need to be to continue supporting lala's (and finn's, of course) positive developments.

lala thoroughly enjoying hi-ho cherry-o (thanks, lisa h!), which she chose from the reward box after a stretch of really great behavior

so this is where i am, today. if you read this far, you are a star. mostly, though, this post is a document for myself, so a year from now, i remember where i was and can see how far i have come. because some days, it feels like weeks pass and i have made no movement at all....

Friday, November 6, 2009

harvesting our pumpkin (and a mini give-away)

this year, we grew our own mini pumpkin patch in our front garden. on halloween, the kids and i trailed outside, shears in hand, climbed over our ghoulish graveyard markers, and cut our pumpkins from the vines. we didn't carve our largest pumpkin until halloween day, with the thought that it would stay fresh enough to cut, cook, and puree for homemade pumpkin goodies all winter.

and we made the right choice! when we carved into the largest, it was clear that this variety (sorry to say i have no clue what type it is) was made to be eaten. the seeds were few and the flesh of the pumpkin was several inches thick. it carved beautifully, though, so the kids were able to do a large portion of it themselves and enjoy their jack-o-lantern, first.

a couple of weeks ago, i wrote an examiner article on how to make the most of your seasonal pumpkin. in the article, i explain how to cook up a large squash like this to puree for baking and soups.

the quantity of seeds from this pumpkin were limited, so we harvested all of them to plant next year, instead of baking some seeds to snack on now. i do have enough, however, to share the homegrown pumpkin wealth. leave a comment and i will pack a homemade envelope of pumpkin seeds for 2 of you. i'll pick randomly from the replies, sometime after the weekend.

have a lovely autumn weekend!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


happy 2nd birthday, sasha!

It is difficult to realize how great a part of all that is cheerful and delightful in the recollections of our own life is associated with trees. ~Wilson Flagg

our neighbors have a hawthorn tree (right, above) that overhangs into our yard, and when we moved into the house 9 years ago, i noticed as it went through its seasonal changes. i don't know what it has been for me, with that particular tree, but it is one of the tokens that touches our yard that i notice the most as time passes.

quite honestly, i would probably never plant a hawthorn myself. it isn't my favorite kind of deciduous tree, nor do i appreciate the poisonous red berries that fall into our yard, tempting toddlers, but that tree is so dramatic in how it changes from season to season, that one cannot help to appreciate its beauty.

this tree is the one that, despite all my photographing of people, places, things, and nature, i have never managed to capture in each of its stages of splendor. it's a shame, given that i have captured it in so many photos i have already shared, but never with the tree itself as the subject of the photo, from the same angle.

i so wish i "gotten around to it" at some point years ago.

because today, as i sit on our deck, i feel like i am sitting at the bedside of a sick friend. you see, my tree did not fare well in the storms a couple weeks ago, and so our neighbors called the gardener and had all the broken limbs removed, as well as many healthy ones, to balance the tree out.

i take solace that the tree wasn't damaged so much that it had to be removed completely, but i already miss its fullness.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

corner view: contrasts

i have a new article up at the examiner: when DIY is not frugal.

this week, the weekly photo theme for corner view is contrasts.

another theme that could be photographed in so many different ways. shades of light, colors, time of day, seasons, etc.

but right now, in my little world, mindful parenting dominates. so my contrast is my wonder at how this:

has so quickly become this:

the contrast of my girl as a baby and my girl as a unique, growing individual. such a plethora of emotions for me right now as a mamma, but one that pulls so strongly is my desire to instill the best in her that i can, while she is still young enough to soak it in with wonder, acceptance, excitement, love, and curiosity.

for more contrasts from around the world:
jane, ladybug-zen, ian, bonnie, esti, sophie, cele, modsquad, caitlin, joyce, ani, kim, natsumi, epe, kaylovesvintage, trinsch, c.t., jeannette, outi, ritva, francesca, state of bliss, jennifer, dana, denise, cabrizette, bohemia girl, isabelle, amber, a girl in the yellow shoes, mister e, janis, kari, jgy, skymring, elizabeth, allison, lise, cate, crescent moon, erin, otli, ida, caroline, lisa, dorte, kimmie, la lune dans le ciel, nicola, malo, vanessa, britta, april, b, kyndale samantha, karen, kristina, goldensunfamily, sophie, janet, mcgillicutty, aimee, sunnymama, jenell, britta, juanita, pamela, inna, daan, myrtille, cris, ibb, jodi, gillian, travelingmama, athena, pienduzz, latisha, clairette, kelleyn, iris, demara, mus, ninja, guusje, di, sammi, theresa, cherry b, victoria, kathryn , lisa, liza, juliette, braja, mulot, anne, lucy, leonor, elizabeth, helene, dominique, shokoofeh, cole, jenna, podane, grey-lemon, line, nihal, urbaNiche, inner toddler, puna, lucylaine, adrienne, emily, lynn, skywriting, eliane, the wanderer´s daughter

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

the book quilt

in the little community of bloggers i mingle in, i am continually inspired and amazed by all the fiber arts. i am continually challenged to improve my own fabric crafting skills as i read my way around the blog world, but perhaps two of the most inspiring crafters i know are my parents. my dad is the computer savvy photographer and my mom (best known for being the librarian), gave me memories of wool dying, spinning, weaving, and more. she sewed clothes for my jenny doll (who now belongs to lala) and my wedding dress. and as i read through blogs sharing new and creative projects with fabric, my mind drifts into my kids' room, straight to the quilt hanging on lala and finn's wall.

before isabella was born, my parents asked us (mike, my brother, my brother and sister in law, and me) which books we most remembered from our childhood. we thought it was a standard pre-baby question, coming from the librarian, but we learned later that it was research.

research for the book quilt. with our list of remembered books in hand, my parents set about purchasing used copies of those books (later gifted to isabella, post birth, at a "book shower" thrown by family friends from the babysitting co-op my brother and i were part of as a kid!) and my dad transferred images from those books onto fabric, which my mom sewed into a quilt.

the quilt hangs on their wall and is something i treasure. i enjoy each time lala points at a picture and exclaims "hey! we just read that book!"

what's a bookish post without books? finn (not yet 2) took this photo. one of a number he took. i love the low (short person) angle in his whole series.

Monday, November 2, 2009


welcome, november. i am not sure how we have reached you so quickly! we are in the year's home stretch now, which is such a time of celebration. i am laying low on the computer today to focus on a couple of kid-related mamma appointments today, so i am kicking off the week with photos of our wonderful weekend.

was your weekend fun?

carving our homegrown pumpkin

grandma witch does fairy lala's hair

hippie-meets-yuppie nonno snapping pictures of fairy lala and alligator finn

granny annie takes the fairy and the alligator trick or treating. the biggest hit of the loot? pretzels!

the first real bunch of lemons ever from our tree!

always, art. this one is: "julia on the left, then me, then you (mamma), then our cat and our dog (neither of which we have in real life). below is finn's balloon from trader joe's and finn in our grocery cart with my balloon attached to the cart." what i want to know is where is all my hair?

baking. bread making and granola.

cooking. so much cooking.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

october, in review

not too much exciting to report this month. i have been crafting a bit this month. i am determined we will have a home made christmas this year. we did last year, for the most part, and i would like this year to be a quality improvement on last year. i think my skills have improved and expanded, so i am hopeful.

below, i fear i am missing a few things. my apologies to the givers!

gifts received/acquired/bought used: (i paid less than $20 for the first 7 bullets below)
  • for a friend: toddler parenting book, board book, finger puppets,
  • 2 sacks of wooden dollhouse furniture (only 1 piece duplicates what we have)
  • melissa & doug calendar for lala and latches board for finn
  • kiddopotamus washable portable placemat
  • wooden whistle
  • brand new ecojot notebook
  • brand new gift book
  • stack of halloween books (thanks, mom!)
  • more clothes for finn (thanks, karen!)
  • fabric, books, and a beautiful puzzle for the kids and me (thanks, genevieve!)
  • beautiful stationary, coffee, and t-shirts for the kids, brought from italy (thanks, mom and dad!)
  • bag of buttons and beautiful note card set. won from give-away on glimpses into the life of an adirondack mama (thanks, julia! see below)
  • a doll accessory and a boat, belated birthday presents (thanks, layal!)
  • a stack of shirts, dresses, and a swim suit for lala (thanks, annie!)
  • fruit and flowers (thanks, annie!)
  • homemade polenta (thanks, mom!)
  • stack of gorgeous fabric scarps from a giveaway at lala...a mountain mama (thanks, laura! see above)

bought new:
  • some sewing notions and supplies
  • stainless steel tiffin lunch box/container
  • wooden boat (shouldn't have bought this, but finn loves boats and i couldn't resist. isn't that the way with unnecessary purchases? we battle temptation. i lost.)
  • lidded glass food containers
  • handmade silver earrings. been wanting forever. found what i wanted. bought from individual artist.
groceries: we spent $467.66. stian was only with us a small portion of the month. i have been buying more organically and trying some additional and different grains and sweetners. the biggest addition to our budget was consistent purchases of organic milk and cage free organic eggs. previously, i have been inconsistent with these.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

inspired internet :: october

for the locals, a posting about dia de los muertos is up at the examiner.

happy halloween!

last month, i decided to limit my linky love to once monthly, collecting links of interest to me, thoughout the month, and posting at the end of each month. below is what i've bookmarked for october's inspired internet collection.

the photos in this post? almost self-explanatory, i imagine, given it is halloween! our front yard spooktacular graveyard (mike loves decorating for halloween. it is our sole exterior decor holiday) and photos from the halloween party mike's work hosted for employees' kids yesterday evening.

the costumes? well, i admit, as much as i love sewing and would love to boast homemade costumes, i am not sure it is likely to happen often. isabella happens to be wearing a crown and cape that were mamma made (as a fairy, can't you tell?) because her lighthouse keeper costume (thanks eph!) was too hot. (those of you in colder climates, please don't hate me for saying that.) finn's costume had no chance of being mamma made because the adorable alligator costume (thanks, karen!) you see him in was one of four given to us as hand me downs. as for me? i took one step into mike's workshop and grabbed a few things to create a frugal construction chick costume.

as for the guess is both kids will be dressed in entirely different costumes tomorrow. that's what being a kid is (almost) all about....imagination and limitless fun.

october's inspired internet:

needle crafts

simple living

Friday, October 30, 2009

the little table

for locals, a boo at the zoo post at the examiner.

this seems like an appropriate post today to round out the kid projects i shared this week.

at the risk of coming across as if i am telling other parents what to do, i've come to the conclusion that every house should have a little table. whether it is inside or outside, if the house has little people, it should have a little table.

lala, making her own book

even if you are a believer that kids should always been integrated into big people activities, having some things made just their size, just for them, is such a wonderful way to support their learning and creativity.

play dough (both homemade and gifted store bought) and french toast on a rainy day. perfect combination

i have often said that there are two big items in our house that have had incredible "staying" power with our kids, the little cook set and their easel, but i have neglected to consider their little table (which once belonged to mike's late cousin) as belonging to them and to the list of young child must-haves.

working on their leaf rubbing project

ours, which once lived in the kids' bedroom and now happily resides next to the windows in our small kitchen, sees a tremendous amount of use.

what big items are on your kid-must-have list?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

fall leaf project

last year, for lala's (autumn) birthday, her friend, reilly, gifted her a couple of autumn-themed books, including this ready-to-read book, fall leaf project. lala loved the book and it was a favorite for awhile.

now that it is autumn again, we picked it up again and then decided to do an autumn leaf project of our own.

so off we went to collect leaves. she insisted on a paper sack "so the leaves don't get smashed."

leaf collecting. behind her, finnian pointing at an airplane. "airmay! airmay!"

i admit, i was mildly surprised at how many trees are still holding onto their leaves and even more surprised at how few leaves have even turned color yet on. our weather has fluctuated tremendously, and i suppose these trees are a bit confused!

we brought them home, she picked some of her favorites, and we did some crayon rubbings.

and then i made some books (inspired by stitching under oaks), because what better to hold leaf rubbings than a twig book?

a fun, engaging outing and activity for all of us!

here are a few other books in our autumn reading stash.

what is in your seasonal kid library right now?


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