Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Ultra Christmas!

And happy holidays to you!

We're off to pick up a Christmas cake just like Booska did. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009, the year that won't stop giving

So, wow, just as we thought 2009 was getting out of here with all its bad luck, I had a Surprise! Emergency Root Canal! which was my worst dental experience of all time, with a good two weeks healing time needed. Horrible pain and followups were included, with Bonus Tooth Grinding thrown in as well.

Then, during Snowpocalypse 2009, a NYC Sanitation truck hit the utility pole across from our house (at 2 am), tearing the power lines off our house and into the street. Yay FDNY who showed up quickly. And the Con Ed guy who stayed in his truck in the freezing cold until he got the lines back up and power on in our house (sometime after 6am, which was when we finally got to sleep). Boo to the surprise expense of having the power line put back up permanently. (I've already started the process of filing a claim against the city, but I hear it's hard to get your money back no matter how totally at fault they are.)

And a few other glitches, like unpacking and testing the tree lights on the 18th only to discover they didn't work; or looking for the snow shovel and realizing -- we don't have one! How did that happen? We have no idea.

But it hasn't all been bad. I won a giveaway on the really awesome craft/storytelling blog Creative Breathing and got this amazing elf girl peg doll and felt tree ornament:

elf girl!

They will be part of our Xmas decor forever! As will this guy:

yeti in the wild

Yup, a Yeti ornament! I got it from the Cryptozoology Museum as a surprise for yeti fan Evan. So cute.

Hopefully the next few days will keep on being more good than bad. And then...2009 will get out of here!

And we did find replacement lights at the last minute, not easy when you have a white tree! It ended up being for the best, because we all love the multi-colored light strand we had to get!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

project princess is complete!

Remember the pattern I posted about a while back, the one Emily wanted for her winter coat? The one I wasn't really sure I could pull off?

princess coat pattern

Well guess what..I decided to go full speed ahead and just do it -- and it's finished!!

emily's coat

The process was some learning curve, I tell you. The amount of redrafting I had to do in order to make it fit her was insane. But, as you can see, it ended up working out! The one big drawback is that because it's fitted closely at the waist there's no way it will fit her next year (I'm just hoping it lasts out the winter!). So I'll be making a new coat next year. I got a really nice wool melton for the body, lined it with a silk twill (in orange, Emily's pick!) and Emily picked out some vintage-y black buttons (she really wanted a vintage set I have but there weren't enough of them).

But what really makes this coat a success is that she loves it. She was asking to wear it the day it was done, and when she's worn it out she's kept it on every second.

dreary day at mitsuwa

This from the girl who last year would drop her coat magically right from her shoulders and take off in short sleeves because she "hates jackets" so much! And while it was a lot of work, I really enjoyed making it (and finishing it!). I even want to make a coat for myself now.

Lots more photos are on flickr if you want to see, and for more detailed sewing info you can check out the write up on Pattern Review.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

eye spy...a christmas wish

I missed last week's theme but didn't want to miss this one, because I wanted to let everyone I haven't spoken to yet know that I already got my Xmas wish -- my biopsies are back and while I am not trouble-free, I am totally cancer-free. Woohoo! So everything else this year will just be a bonus.

My altruistic peace-on-earth type wish is that the bad juju or whatever it was of this whole past decade will fade away and leave everyone I care about -- and everyone, really -- alone from now on. Or at least for a while, I mean really...give us all a break!!

My selfish gift guide wish? Some cool sewing socks...cupcake stuff:


and more sewing patterns, because boy do I need more (sarcasm alert).

What are you wishing for? I hope you get it!

This week's eye spy theme brought to you by Cindy herself!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

what the grown up Pippi might wear


Seriously, how cute is that dress? And I didn't realize it until after I'd bought it but so, totally, grown-up Pippi. I will definitely be needing some stripey tights for that one. I found it at a site I'd never heard of until last week, Tulle -- of all the Black Friday weekend sales I saw promoted they were the only place that looked interesting, and I just remembered to go check them out. And found that dress and had to have it. (Also got some leggings, and a little knit skirt for $4!) Lots of cute stuff, actually -- if the quality is decent, I'll shop there again. They have a men's side too, but the sizing info is useless, and I mean useless. Otherwise I'd have picked up some sweaters for Evan.

I just hope they haven't sold out of everything I ordered already. And now to go looking for some pippi-riffic tights and big shoes!

*oh dear, my search for tights just led me to the most extensive socks/tights site I've ever seen. Send a search party if I don't come back soon!

Friday, November 20, 2009

the panda is back!

Remember the awesome Fry Pan-da that Fred Flare had a year or so ago? (Which, I can testify is actually a pretty awesome pan in daily use.) Well, they've got a Baby Pan-da in stock just in time for the holidays:


Much smaller, just 7" so not as useful. But just as cute! And yes, one is already stashed away in our house for Emily. So, everyone who's been wanting a Pan-da of their very own - now's your chance!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

eye spy...adventure

eye spy adventure

Or an adventurer, anyway. This is Emily on the Giant Wheel ferris wheel in Wildwood this past year. It was her second year riding the giant wheel and her 4th or 5th ride all told. She is fearless! She also begged to go on the flume ride, which was too much for a 4-year old -- she was just too small and I truly feared losing my grip on her on the 2nd (really HUGE) drop, but she was tall enough so they let her ride. And she didn't get off after the first drop either! (you have a spot where you can leave before the big one). Go, little Miss Adventure!

This week's eye spy theme brought to you by Louise!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

how to make a muno dress

One of the most common questions I get is, "how'd you make those Yo Gabba Gabba dresses?" I can't help you with the Brobee dress, that's made from a cast & crew shirt (although you could certainly make a dress out of any cool YGG tee!) But I can help you with the Muno dress (or whatever character you want) -- and here's a little how-to.

muno dress

First you need your dress pattern. Any simple, a-line dress with a one-piece front will work. I used this cute dress pattern, Butterick 3772. Here's another Butterick dress/top pattern, that wraps and ties instead of fastening at the shoulder. The Farbenmix Anna dress would also be perfect, although a little harder to find. And here's a simple McCall's dress with no fasteners at all!

Now for your YGG design -- there are lots of goodies you can work with in Nick jr's YGG papercraft section. They have a full set of iron-ons you can just print out onto transfer paper if you don't feel up to applique -- just pick one, print it and transfer it to your dress front!

If you do want to do an applique, or something else crafty, there are plenty of templates on those printable pages. For full-body images, look for the coloring pages, and for large heads, go for the masks. I used the Muno mask for my applique!

I printed it out at the size I wanted it to be on the dress -- you should be able to print the page larger or smaller when you print it. I actually "printed" the mask as a pdfs using Cute PDF Writer and saved it so I could print it as much as I wanted without going back to the Nick site. I added some more Muno at the bottom and then redrew the mouth, fixing it where it was crooked and adding in the teeth (and yes, his teeth aren't pointy -- anymore. This is how they looked in the pilot, which Emily was used to at the time. Now she thinks it's freaky.)

I cut the pieces out of cotton knit (old t-shirts, actually) -- since knits don't unravel, you don't have to finish the edges of the applique. I assembled the whole thing first using some fusible interfacing (you could also use something like Steam-A-Seam , which I've used on other appliques). If you look close you can see that I overlapped everything -- for example, the teeth are under the upper part of the mouth, and over the bottom part. This made it a lot easier, since I wasn't matching edges up.

Finally, I placed the finished Muno on the dress where I wanted him, and stitched all around. (I assembled the dress most of the way, but did the lining and hem after adding the applique. If I was going to use an iron-on or maybe use fabric paint, I would probably have completely finished the dress first.)

There's only one bad thing about this Muno's too small! But I think a Foofa dress may be in the offing (and I don't mean her costume). We'll see. Who will be on your Yo Gabba Gabba dress?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

halloween was happy!

halloween pics

Emily has been choosing her own costumes since she was 2, and until now it was always simple. Two years ago, after seeing the Halloween episode of Yo Gabba Gabba, she just declared, "I will be a pirate, like Brobee!" After Halloween that year, she told me that the following year she would be a witch like Toodee, then after that, a fairy like Foofa (and then a cat, not sure where she got that from). She stuck to her plan last year and was a witch. But this year, as summer went on, she started wavering...

She wanted to be a fairy. Then, maybe a witch again. Or maybe, Foofa. Then back to the fairy. And so on. Finally, as we got closer and closer to Halloween I sat her down and told her she had to pick one. And finally...Foofa won out. (I admit, I pushed a little for Foofa since I don't know if she'll want to be her when she's much older. You can be a witch or fairy at any age.) And here's the final result:

halloween pics

I went with a dress, kind of interpreting the character a bit. I know my girl, and if she wasn't totally comfortable she wouldn't be happy. This outfit is actually leggings (studio tantrum Laguna), a long-sleeved shirt (farbenmix Zoe), a sleeveless dress (my own pattern) and a vintage hat pattern. I made everything out of pink cotton velour, with flowers out of some cotton, stiffened with this stuff I found called "InnerFuse". We all gave it two thumbs up!

And I got it done just barely in time for the festivities -- we had a decent time at the Zoo Spooktacular (although it poured the whole time, cancelling out some of the fun), a great time at the Museum's free Halloween fest, and then a fantastic time trick-or-treating. And even after tossing out half of it, Emily's got enough candy to last her a month! I hope everyone's Halloween was as much fun!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

cute ikea hack

Saw these totally cute stools on the Brainpop blog:


Looks like they used Frosta stools from Ikea, plus a bunch of Contemporary Home toilet lid covers from Target (which come in a bout a zillion colors). They suggest they'd be great for classrooms - I agree! But also I think they could be pretty cool for your house! They even still stack with the fluffy toppings on!! Super-good idea. Although I'll probably never do it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

project princess coat

So, Emily has this thing about jackets and coats. "Thing" meaning that she hates them. It has to be freezing, literally, for her to even wear long sleeves. This year, I thought that making a coat that she helped me out with might encourage her to wear it, so I asked her what kind of a coat she would like. The answer was that it had to be red (or orange), and "look like a dress". We went through my pattern collection and looked at some patterns online, and here's what she picked out (view B, in a red wool):

princess coat pattern

And all I can say right now is what was I thinking?! Now I understand why the boxy coats have endured in children's wear, because this thing is about to defeat me. I am on the 2nd full muslin and seriously considering throwing in the towel -- the problem being that Emily is the width of a size 2 or 3 but the height of a size 5. So I have lengthened and narrowed and redrafted this pattern like crazy, and it is still too short. (Although, happily, it is still working and makes a very cute coat!)

It has also struck me that there's a good chance that she'll grow out of it before the end of winter if I'm not careful. So I'm looking at some cute raglan-sleeved swing coat patterns and wondering if she would actually wear one of them (since they don't really look like dresses). Now I just have to decide if I should switch to something easier, or if I should just forge ahead and make her the princess coat! (Truthfully...I think she will be much happier with the princess coat, but the selfish lazy part of me is starting to balk.)

In other news -- Happy Halloween!! Emily's costume came out great (panics over the fabric not showing up in time aside) and hopefully I'll get some good pics today.

Also, thanks to everyone for your kind words and thoughts. They are much appreciated!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

a pain in the neck

I have been frozen up the last month and a half, finding it hard to write anything -- a blog post, emails, comments...even on twitter more than half the time I stop typing partway through my 140 characters and close the page. And here's why, because I need to get this over with:

Our luck has been bad this year (two massive basement/storage space floods, appliance fails, and my shoulder maladies* to name a few things) but it took an astounding turn for the worse when, while Evan was away at a signing in September, I found a lump in my neck. Hoping it was just a swollen gland, I gave it a week to get better. But it didn't. The next week I saw my doctor, who noted that the lump was on my thryoid gland and immediately sent me for a scan and an amazing battery of bloodwork. The bloodwork came back fine (in fact I'm astoundingly healthy according to five pages of test results). But the scan found a very large and "complex" nodule in my neck, on my thryoid. Next step was to see a specialist (an otolaryngologist, what a word!) but the wait for that appointment? A month! (And I do have insurance!)

So, we spent a month with all the worst-case scenarios unspooling in our brains, making contingency plans and trying to avoid stressing out the four-year-old any more than we can avoid. In the meantime, I have been stuck between talking about it (because I really didn't want to more than I had to) and avoiding talking about it....which meant saying nothing because "normal" conversations made me feel like a phony.

This week, I saw my specialist, who is great. Statistics are on my side, and he is full of infectious optimism so I am feeling much better. He was able to biopsy me without surgery (I was told that wasn't possible) and while we won't know those results for a few more weeks, even the worst case scenario is not that bad. So, all in all, the stress levels are starting to float back down to their normally heightened levels around here, rather than the state of full-on-panic we've been in.

So finally, I'm getting this monkey off my back so I can write/speak/etc again without feeling like I'm hiding things! Hopefully all will be well -- and to be honest, being forced to wind up loose ends and make contingency plans? Never a bad idea.

*One of the blog entries I never finished/posted was about my shoulder, in fact. Some of you may remember the mystery injury and all the tests I endured earlier this year -- turns out, I have something called "frozen shoulder". No-one knows what causes it, and there is no proven effective treatment for it. It takes a year or two to go away, no matter what you do. Yay!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

my dress is yellow


One of the things that is cool about vintage patterns is that, like cookbooks, they often have notes from former owners on them. Personally, I think they add to the value, although I'm sure "true" collectors would disagree. This pattern I spotted on ebay has, I think, my favorite notes ever! "This one" (I wonder why she picked that one? Maybe she was afraid that the other version would make everyone hunch over like the model.) "My dress is yellow [something, I guess the type of fabric]" (I like the way she underlines "my dress") and finally, "leave all hems for me to do" which tells me that someone else was given this pattern and the yellow fabric to make the dress for our pattern owner. I've often wondered if pattern notes were for the owner or someone else and it's interesting to see one where you can be sure. Anyway, this dress is not for me, but it's available on ebay (ends on the 6th) if you're interested! And I hope that your dress will be yellow, too.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

one day left!

The vintage pattern archive at the University of Rhode Island granted free access to all comers for one week; ending tomorrow unfortunately! I haven't even scratched the surface. Check it out here (you need to use Firefox, everyone says). They've got over 48,000 patterns, dating from 1868 to the present, and you can see details on each including year, cover and construction drawings. If you're super-talented you could probably work out the pattern from the drawings, but for the rest of us it's an amazing reference guide and wish-list producer. Also, loads of fun! I've found lots of patterns I want, but also there's lots of stuff that's just fun to look at. Check out this crazy envelope art from 1966 for aprons:


And this "Yeah Yeah Yeah Jacket" from 1965, with skirt or pants. Hmmm...what could this be referencing?


I could spend days just browsing and writing down pattern numbers. Go check it out while you still can!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009



Emily was thrilled beyond belief to pick (and then eat) her first ripe strawberry. I think this morning she'll have a whole handful! It's amazing to see just how fast they ripen:

watch it ripen

The cherry tomato plant is still producing like gangbusters although nothing is ripe -- her other tomato hasn't yet flowered. And soon we'll see what happened to the radishes -- I'm thinking no radishes, just greens. But we'll see.

Now if it would just cool off enough for me to get back to some sewing!

Monday, August 17, 2009

eye spy...something red

eye's all about the food, apparently! We must have some red things around this house...but food is what comes to mind first.

This week's eye spy theme brought to you by Ellieboo!

Friday, August 14, 2009

some sewing....

Emily after the library

Here's a dress I managed to finish off in between the two MASSIVE FLOODS we just went through (a week apart -- the first was due to a broken washing machine, which was at least easily fixed -- it just flooded out our storage space and caused plenty of grief; the second was our water heater going bad -- which called for a new heater, ouch! But at least we hadn't put anything back into the storage space. And did I mention the mouse that tried to break the refrigerator? My house is trying to kill me, seriously)

Anyway, where was I? This was originally a Hannah blouse I'd cut out in early spring, just from the apple fabric. I never sewed it up because Emily went all-dresses-all-the-time, but finally I converted it into a dress by adding the huge ruffle and changing the sleeves to match. FOE (fold over elastic) trims and gathers the sleeves and neck; I also added a band of FOE across the chest to make it more fitted. It came out very cute, and I would definitely make this dress conversion again!

All accessories by Emily, check out the flickr photo page for notes!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

eye spy...inspiration

A recent inspiration I have found is Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing -- it's the saga of a young New Yorker who is working her way through the 1952 edition of Vogue's Book for Better Sewing, a sort of Julie & Julia for vintage sewing as she reluctantly admits. I don't remember how I first found it, but following Gertie's sewing has re-inspired me to sew more for myself AND to start tackling my vintage patterns again. Here's a recent favorite of mine from her blog:

full skirt 002.jpg

That is her "full, gathered skirt", in a lovely large-scale gingham silk -- a.k.a. project two from VoNBBS, and it's the one that finally pushed me into digging out my patterns (purging over half of them) and picking a few to sew. We'll see how that goes! In the meantime, I'll keep reading Gertie and hopefully she'll keep on blogging!

This week's eye spy theme brought to you by Cindy of Bug and Pop!

Friday, August 7, 2009

in the garden

cherry tomatoes

Things have been doing well in the garden, considering our very late start and sudden adjustment to lots of sun! We've taken advantage of the sun and put in some vegetables (and fruit!) wherever we could squeeze them in. Above, some very quickly-producing cherry tomatoes; below some strawberries beginning to form. We also have larger tomatoes, herbs, lettuce, carrots, radishes and pumpkins; and a butterfly garden taking shape. So far, so fun!

future strawberries

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

crazy doritos

wasabi-mayo doritos

I rarely eat junk food, but maybe once a year there will be a strange flavor of doritos I'll have to try (or, I'll just get the urge to try some anyway) and I'll buy a bag. This time, what called to me were these wasabi-mayonnaisse doritos! I was afraid they would be too wasabi-hot...but actually, they were sickly sweet, I guess for the mayo part of the flavor? Anyway, super-nasty. I barely made a dent in the bag before finally giving up and tossing them. Well, it was fun to try!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

fly, little bird!

We came home a few days ago and Emily and I came in through the garden - she said there was a baby bird, and sure enough, a sparrow fledgling was hiding behind a planter! We retreated and waited to see if parents were around - sure enough, the parents were there, and they fed it constantly over the next several hours as they encouraged it to hop and fly up the terraces. Hopefully they got it home safe!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

behind my house, an alien landscape

This year we are really trying to pull it together and finish up some work on our house that needs to get done. I've managed quite a bit of it myself, but some things you (I) just can't do. One of them was to attend to our trees out back - when we first moved in there were six trees behind our house. And that was in a terraced garden (no yard, no lawn, a 3-level brick and concrete space with some planting beds left) that is maybe 17 feet by 30.

Two went the first year, another went about 5 years ago, but the 3 that were left were way overgrown and tangling into each other. One seemed to have some dead limbs hanging right over where Emily hangs out, another was scraping the roof. Both things I wanted fixed. I also thought both trees could probably stand to be thinned a bit where they were running into each other. So, I called a tree service (I picked one that had a certified arborist, in case you are wondering) and had someone come out and take a look.

He noted that one tree was very off-balance and leaned over the house (a storm had taken part of it down years ago) and suggested "balancing it out" by cutting it back and taking out 2 branches. Another had some dead limbs and needed an old collar removed. And the third was so sickly he suggested removing it entirely. This all made sense to me, so I said yes, and they came back two days later. After about 45 minutes of activity and a crew of 10 men swarming behind my house, I was called to sign and pay....and to my shock, I suddenly had NO TREES. The "balancing" worked out to the tree being cut back to nothing (I found out later this is called "hat-racking" and is actually illegal in some places), and the few dead limbs ended up being 90% of the 2nd tree. (At least that tree has a small section that was left). We went from a woodland-like shaded garden to nearly full sun in less than an hour. And it is still freaking me out. And it's killed most of the (deep shade) plants that we had started. Certified arborists indeed.

On the upside, honeysuckle I planted when we first moved in bloomed for the first time in years, and the sun is helping a lot of the plants. A year for the bricks and stones to dry out probably can't hurt either. Plus, Emily can grow veggies this year (although the weather is making that weird....). We're thinking of starting some fast pumpkins soon, and I'm told that our trees will probably be back by the end of the year, albeit a bit smaller than when they were last seen!

But still....when I look out our kitchen windows I just think "whose yard is that?!" I don't know if I'll ever be able to have my trees "pruned" again!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

recent round-up

With so little time to blog, twitter's become my main brain dump these days -- for anyone's who's not over there, here are some of the tidbits I twittered about this week:

At ikea, a new baking line includes dala horse cake pans! Also, they've got a lamp coming out that looks like a dandelion puff. Emily is obsessed with dandelions...if she spots it we'll be getting one I think!

We got a butterfly kit; the caterpillars arrived within days of ordering and they are growing like crazy! Also, I helped Emily make a pill bug terrarium. As it turns out, there were a few eggs of some sort in there, we've got two inch-long caterpillars in there too!!

Watched Court Jester, which none of us had seen. We all liked it, and it's Emily's 2nd favorite movie night feature, after Singin' in the Rain. Neither Evan nor I are Danny Kaye fans, so we were surprised how much we enjoyed it. (The marvelous Glynis Johns certainly didn't hurt.)

We sorted our huge stash of archived t-shirts and pared it down to just 1 of each (these are our designs on shirts we'd put away when we got them). I did not want to take the giant stack to Mocca to sell, so I got the idea to put them up online. And a few days later they're mostly gone! So that was pretty cool.

I also have been following astronaut Mike Massimo's tweets from SPACE. Really from space. So amazing. They'll be landing tomorrow and I'll miss the reports from orbit!

Finally, after a few weeks of test and dr. visits, the mystery of my shoulder is not solved. It looks like I suffered a serious dislocation at some point, but we don't remember anything happening!! I've got at least one more test and then physical therapy to regain full movement...we'll probably never be sure what really happened there. As long as it works again I won't care though!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

eye spy...something green

garden rainbow

The ferns (or, "gingerbread" as Emily has always called them) looking incredibly green under one of Emily's garden rainbows.

This week's eye spy theme brought to you by Trashalou of Trashcan!

Saturday, May 16, 2009


We have been in search of the perfect brownie recipe for our hosuehold (that would make everyone happy) and nothing has ever really worked out. Until now:

best brownies ever

Want a closer look? Zoom into the chocolateyness here! This is a recipe I found on the King Arthur blog, it's actually a recipe they've published for years, apparently, but this blog post gives you a step-by-step along with some tweaks. I followed the blog post (although I erred and followed the amounts in the original recipe) and the results were amazing. Most importantly, they are still great a day later -- I find that practically any brownie is awesome still warm, but a day later, meh. Not these, they are still going strong. (The next test will be to see how they handle freezing -- since it makes 24 brownies! I froze half and we'll see how that goes.)

Next time, I'll probably use plain dutch cocoa, the addition of the black cocoa wasn't necessary I think. And I added the chips immediately instead of waiting -- and there are still visible chunks of chocolate in the brownies, not quite as much as on their blog but plenty for me. Of course, I will have to actually get more dutch cocoa as I forgot I was almost out when I placed my recent order! And can't afford shipping for one item may be a while before we have these again. Sigh.

Oh, and Evan says they are better this way:

even he approves

Now go fix yourself some brownies!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

what we've been eating...

in all this gloom (a week of rain we're having. and I mean raiiiiin).

Soup and sandwiches!

soup and sammich

some bright and happy orange muffins made with this pulped navel orange:

orange pulp

(I did not make the topping, just made them plain. I was leery of pulping the whole orange, but it really is good.)

and for fun, fiddleheads!! They showed up in our Stop & Shop and I grabbed a bunch. They were as good as everyone says they are (sort of asparagusy). I'll definitely grab them again when I have the chance.


And of course, cupcakes! But more about those later.

What have you been eating?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

tying one on again!

I haven't made an apron for Tie One On in ages (we didn't need any more!) but it's time to make some more -- for the growing creature that is my child, and also eventually for myself as I wear them out. So, I decided to take on the No$$ challenge and make something for Emily that would actually be big enough! And here's the result:

emily's squirrel apron

The front fabric is some Japanese craft canvas I bought maybe a year ago from a seller who neglected to tell me it was it sat and sat. The lining is some leftover white cotton or poly/cotton that I think originally lined a dress. And all the notions came out of my leftover notions bag -- when you make tiny dresses, you never use up the whole pack of rick-rack or ribbon! The colors are so cheery:

emily's squirrel apron

And I love the little squirrels who look like they're running down the paths!!

emily's squirrel apron

When it was done, it was heavier than I expected, but she's worn it a few times with no complaints! Now I just wish I had enough to make one for me!

eye spy...a new favorite blog

A tough one, really! I have many favorites, but none really new. Plus, I always put new blogs in a sort of mental quarantine, to be honest, because more than once a nice little craft or parenting blog has burst into craziness before my eyes, and freaked me out. But one recent addition to my google reader has passed the quarantine and earned a permanent spot, and that is Sharilyn's lovelydesign blog.

Loads of beautiful and inspiring things to look at. And I find it somehow very soothing and relaxing to read! And truly, it is lovely. Look at these address files she sells! This stamp box. This poster -- which is a flyer she made for their playgroup! She also has an adorable little girl, Adelaide. She does have a design shop as well, but I admit I have never looked at it. I just go on enjoying her blog.

In other news, I never have mentioned that I unlocked (and remembered) my twitter account a little while back! If you are a-twitter as well, you can find me here. It works well for me as I often find cool things online or IRL but just don't have time to write a blog post. Recent tweet subjects included:

This amazing photo essay, (via Nancy).

The Urban Garden Project, which I have joined.

Truly cool tiny homes at Tumbleweed Tiny House Co. (via MizK!)

This super-cool life-size dollhouse!

And lots about cupcakes....see you there!

This week's eye spy theme brought to you by Jhoanna of one red robin!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

eye spy...a work in progress

I have works in progress all over my house, heck, my whole house is a work in progress! But here's one that's gong to be fun:

future veggie plot

That's the plot that's going to be veggies this year (we hope, anyway.) Right now it does look a lot like we've buried some very small victims, but actually that's where we've spread the compost we had in the basement and covered it up with soil to finish decomposing in time to plant. The garden has been a real treat so far this year. Lots of green is starting to pop up:

ferns are unfolding

Little visitors are appearing:

hi there

(not to mention we had a record bird-watching day last week with our cardinal pair, four bluejays and a robin, all within an hour or so!) We've gotten to do some outdoor crafts:

pinecone bird feeder

And I even managed to track down a new pink garden hose since last year's didn't survive. (Emily really wanted orange, but the only one I found was way out of my budget)

this year's pink garden hose

The garden is even supplying us with loveliness inside:

blossoming branches

So far, it's shaping up to be a good gardening year.

This week's eye spy theme brought to you by Michelle of Hugo & Elsa!

that's what I call a comic book

hey kids comics!

Emily reading the Walt & Skeezix Sunday collection. It's awesome.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Eye Spy... A Magic Elixir

space glass

The magic elixir that runs our household? Coca-cola, sad but true. It's not as bad as it used to be, but we can't seem to quit it! But hey, it's our only vice (we don't even drink coffee) and fortunately, we have a mutant child who only likes water and occasionally milk (and thinks soda is "disgusting" and yells "soda breath!" at me if I drink any). So it continues to be the fuel that keeps us running...for now anyway!

This week's eye spy theme brought to you by Amy of badskirt!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

eye spy...a discovery

snowdrops with visitor!

Here's something we discovered recently -- a bee nosing around the one small stand of flowers (snowdrops) we've got in the garden right now. I went to take a photo of the flowers, and while snapping...out from one of them popped this little guy! Every little sign of spring is welcome right now.

This week's eye spy theme brought to you by Megan of The Byron Life!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

winter's last hurrah

hot chocolate

There is our last mug of hot chocolate (unless we get some crazy weather!) for the season...and the ultimate mug-full! After a few years of trying various homemade hot cocoa recipes with no success (I mean, they all made hot cocoa, but none of us really liked any of the results) I finally discovered the secret. Don't mess with cocoa! Go for the's so simple, but so much better. Why I never thought of it (and why everyone keeps pushing the cocoa) I do not know. Here's how we like it:

For each mug, put 1 cup of a rich whole milk into a small saucepan (got so-so whole milk? make your cup up out of 2 ounces of cream and 6 ounces of whole milk) and heat until just bubbling. In a larger saucepan, put 1 tablespoon of water and 35 grams of a decent milk chocolate and melt together over low heat. Add heated milk and stir until smooth. Dark chocolate would probably be good too, but milk chocolate works for us. (I use the 99 cent bars from ikea, you need 1/3 of a bar per mug.)

And to top your chocolate? Homemade marshamallows!

freshly cut marshmallows

I have wanted to try making marshmallows for years, and only now finally got around to trying it. So easy -- if you have a candy thermometer, a stand mixer, and the patience to leave the pan of marshmallow along overnight. I used the Alton Brown recipe and they are ridiculously good. (Vegetarians -- from what I have read online, you can sub 1 T of agar-agar for each packet of gelatine.) We'll definitely be trying flavored ones in the future.

And they melt amazingly, witness the result in Emily's favorite dessert, Pixie's Delights (basically, baked s'mores, from a vintage kid's cookbook we have).

pixies' delight

I cannot wait to toast these! And....while I can wait for next winter, when it does come back around I will be well-prepared.

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