Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gratitude cleanse

The "Rekindling the Fire" workshop I attended this past weekend was co-led by a wonderful children's author, K.L. Going, and a life-and-wellness coach for moms, Lisa Grace Byrne.  While I most certainly benefitted from the wit and wisdom Kelly shared with and organised for us, it was Lisa's presence that spurred me to enrol.  I have read her blog for years, following along as she has built her business.  I have attended one of her online courses and was a pre-reader for her wonderful book, Replenish*.  I sound well-placed not to need a whole weekend with her, right?  Wrong.

Particularly as an overstretched mother in a time of major life transitions, I know it has been my habit to treat self-care as one more item on the big plate of my responsibilities and obligations--an optional piece that is often neglected.  Meeting Lisa and sharing her wisdom with other fabulous women experiencing similar life patterns and professional longings was balm for my soul and, hopefully, a kickstart to actually using some of the incredible, simple tools Lisa shares.  One key insight she impressed upon us was to approach self-care as a lens through which to view your life.  No matter what else is added or taken away from your plate of responsibilities, the self-care lens remains in place.

Starting tomorrow, Lisa is running a (free!) seven-day Gratitude Cleanse.  Simply commit to 10 minutes each day to refocus that lens of self-care.   You can sign up by clicking through the link, and Lisa will send the daily meditations right to your email inbox.

*I definitely love the feel of a book in my hand, a book I can return to time and again, so I keep a copy of Replenish on my nightstand.  A little secret is I also have it in my car: Lisa read her book in a podcast format.  In this way, she offers her entire book as a free audiobook!  (Didn't I mention how awesome she is?)

Friday, November 14, 2014

A full day



The workshop day started at 6am when my alarm went off in time for a (wonderful)(optional) morning yoga session and concluded after 10pm with a (wonderful)(optional) session about publishing.  It has been a day of fantastic information, learning and inspiration.  Now, my brain is full and I am ready to put this day to bed, but alas, I opted for a coffee after dinner, which means I'm still awake as the hours roll by.
Sigh.  
Will I ever learn? 
(apparently no)
For anyone else up too late and seeking fun finds online...


Have you seen this artist's work?  Incredible.

All right, this just made me happy.

After hearing much hype about this new podcast, the first 5 episodes of Serial made my extra-long drive yesterday very interesting.  I'm not sold on the subject (I don't care for crime stories), but the story-telling is excellent.

This font for dyslexics really impressed me.  I taught dyslexic kids once upon a time, and I do believe this font would be a welcome tool.

I would like to try making these with the girls.

Lasting relationships hinge on kindness and generosity.  The studies analyse couples, but the lessons can be applied to all important personal relationships (with your kids, parents…).

Have a lovely weekend!  Keep warm!

links found via chookooloonks, swiss-miss, naomi bulger, and designmom

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A fresh journey


Today I spent nearly all of the sunlight hours (such as they were) in the car.  After the morning school run, I hastily packed a bag (greatly worrying the cat), tossed things in the car and headed out of town.  For the next three days, I will be attending a writer's retreat at the Highlights Foundation.

Google Maps told me the drive would take around 5 1/2 hours, but that wasn't counting on trucks and snow.  I readily admit I was feeling rather frazzled the last 20 miles or so, and yet somehow that melted away almost the moment I arrived.  I cannot explain it.  One moment, I was in my car wondering how I would ever manage a positive first meeting with the group here, grumbly as I felt, but the next, I felt quite simply here; I felt present right away.  There is a magic here I can feel.  I won't presume to guess what that magic will mean for me, but for now, I am happy to have enjoyed these first hours and am looking forward to the days ahead.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Monuments to learning

Felicia of The Craft Sessions recently wrote a post about ripping out a (beautiful) cardigan she had knitted years before simply because she recognised the inherent waste of that yarn in a form she never wore.  This rang a (loud!) bell with me and my Tea Leaves cardigan.  I love that yarn.  I loved it enough to finish a project I had started two years before…only to discover that the pattern does not suit me at all.  I am not a buttoned-up cardigan wearer on the best of days, and this one had the added dysfunctionality of a boat neck.  The edges of the cardigan sat close to my shoulders, and it simply wasn't my style.  I loved the yarn.  I loved the buttons.  The knitting was beautiful.  The finished project was lovely.  But none of that changed the fact that it was sitting unloved in my drawer.  I couldn't face ripping it out, no matter how much I loved the yarn.  That cardigan was an excellent "monument to learning." I did learn a lot about what I should be knitting for myself as a result of that project.  It deserved my respect; however, it doesn't really deserve a spot in my drawer.  Every time I looked at it, I thought of a dear friend whom both the colour and the style would suit, but I didn't want to give her a "reject" sweater.  Felicia's "Let It Go" challenge spurred me to action.  I would take the sweater to my friend, fess up about the fit issues, and see what she thought.

She swooned over the colour and the style!  She loves it!  She loves that it is handmade.  She loves that I gave it to her.  I love that it has a good home.  So…I didn't rip as per the challenge, but I did "let it go!" and give that cardigan new life, which feels great.  Thanks, Felicia!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Restarting the creative juices

One of the themes I noticed as I was taking stock was all the projects in my mind that I wasn't starting. My creative energy had stalled of late. Stress does that to me, but after a while, not creating becomes a stress too. I feel more like myself when I am creating, but for many weeks, I wasn't writing, journaling, knitting, sewing or even working in art time with the kids. Taking stock made me even more aware of how ready I was to get started again, and really, all I needed to do was start. I had fabric cut for a tunic for my big girl (cut weeks ago!), so I started with that.



The fabric is Liberty of London tana lawn. If you don't sew, you might not know that this fabric is the stuff of heaven. It is gorgeous to the touch, reminiscent of silk, but is cotton. The prints range from traditional to modern, and I've wanted to work with it for years. The hefty price tag left me afraid to cut it. What if I did something wrong? It would be wasted! Well, it was also being wasted sitting in my stash. Now, it is a beautiful tunic.

The pattern is Oliver + S class picnic blouse, lengthened.  It's pink, her favourite color.  It's perfect for the newly changed school dress code, requiring my leggings-lover to wear longer tops.  I'm guessing that means she won't wear it (le sigh), but I am happy to have sewn it.  This morning, I laid out the fabric to cut a flannel Tova dress for myself.  A scroll through the Wiksten flickr pool has changed my thinking towards another Tova top instead (the dress so easily tips into looking like a nightgown, especially in flannel), but I'm ready to sew!

Are you working on anything that makes your heart sing?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Nuggets of wisdom: hitting the gym



Despite a strong gym aversion, I have started attending fitness classes twice a week. It was everything I thought I would hate: blaring music, a peppy instructor in pigtails, steps, weights…but it turns out I need someone to push me towards greater fitness. Said peppy instructor turns out to be very motivating and excellent at understanding how to adapt a (big!) class for various levels. I really like her classes, and I do feel much better (and decidedly hungrier!) after I go. With fitness on the brain, I finally asked my friend Rebecca how she manages to stay so fit and trim.  Once upon a time, she was a professional ballet dancer, and she still looks the part three kids later--all lithe and lean.  Is it all the years of training that her body simply won't forget?  Does she not eat dessert ever?  No glasses of wine or beer?

She blushed as she admitted she doesn't pass up sugar or adult beverages; in fact, she doesn't pay too much attention to what she eats (within reason).  She also admitted she hates going to the gym...yet she goes without fail at least three times a week.  She says the other women who show up as regularly and work out as intensively claim to do it because they love it.  They say they love how it makes them feel.  They love how it burns the stress.  They are addicted.  Rebecca says that's not her.  She hates it.  She always hates it, but she goes because she knows it's healthier than not going and it keeps her metabolism up so she doesn't have to pay too much attention to what she eats and still fit in her clothes.

I love the honesty, and her words sure felt like wisdom to me.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Taking stock



Where did October go?  It's a new month.  Time to take stock!

Making :  lots of long lists (to do, knit, sew, travel, pack, purge…)
Cooking :  cold-weather meals like this and this, and also mini-muffins for my Mini-Muffins
Drinking :  cafe au lait with maple syrup
Reading:  Gone Girl (in two days!), Siblings Without Rivalry and Make It Stick
Wanting:  the sun to stay out and up for more hours
Looking:  through old photos and swooning over our babies' adorableness
Playing:  Mastermind with two awesome 4th graders
Deciding:  women need to ignore cultural messages full of "shoulds", guilt and shame
Wishing:  I could swap pre-winter for spring
Enjoying:  feeling stronger as a develop a better fitness routine
Waiting:  for the powers that be to give us some firm dates
Liking:  the smell of woodsmoke in the cool air
Wondering:  how my girls will approach some big changes ahead
Loving:  meeting up with friends
Pondering:  how to kickstart my creative juices again
Considering:  an upcoming writer's workshop
Watching:  the birds at Hubby's bird feeders 
Hoping:  the upcoming transition will go as smoothly as possible
Marvelling:  at how life turns out sometimes
Needing:  motivation to tackle some big projects in a short timeframe
Smelling:  the membrillo cake fresh from the oven
Wearing:  this dress with jeans or leggings and wool socks as often as I can get away with it
Following:  Aussie instagram feeds to get my sunshine and beach fixes
Noticing:  how much lighter and happier I feel on sunny days than grey ones
Knowing:  all I really need to do is commit and get started for these projects to take off
Thinking:  about what steps to take next
Admiring:  autumn colour in the sunshine
Sorting:  through too much stuff in the basement
Buying:  eggs (my chickens are giving me the finger)
Getting:  hungry
Bookmarking:  this cracker recipe for a delicious cheese board
Disliking:  the unending barrage of paperwork
Opening:  a new packet of my beloved Melbourne Breakfast Tea
Giggling:  while watching Death at a Funeral
Feeling:  stressed but trying to get past it
Snacking:  on more chocolate than is wise (but it's yummy)
Coveting:  a new DSLR camera
Wishing:  for a few more hours of sunshine
Helping:  first graders learn about Claude Monet
Hearing:  my daughter read aloud with increasing confidence
I was surprised at how much time this exercise took me, and even then, I notice some themes running through.  If you'd like to take stock, head over here to copy a list from Pip (thanks, Pip!).

Friday, September 12, 2014

Have a fabulous weekend!

Hi friends!

The dust is settling on the new school year.  What a whirlwind as we got going last week!  School started last Wednesday, and then we had a birthday party on Sunday--a secret agent birthday party for a very special 9 year old girl.  The party was ridiculously fun!  I hope to share more about it soon, and I'm particularly hoping my computer and camera will agree to talk with each other again.

This week was all about settling into routine.  We had homework meltdowns (some from the kids, some from me).  We had schoolwork breakthroughs.  I ran errand after errand solo for the first time in three months.  I even started a Pilates class (only been talking about trying that for about a dozen years or so…but who's counting?).  I went down the rabbit hole of the internet, trying to figure out where in the world my family will live after our next international move, and came out again relatively unscathed (several hours in my day later…).  Tomorrow night, Hubby and I have a fabulous date night planned.  We'll be attending the black tie gala opening of the symphony.  Having never "done" black tie in our lives (no, not even our wedding was black tie), this is a big event for us!

For your weekend fun, I'd love to share…

this perfect comic for procrastinators (like me!).  Hubby saw it, shook his head at me and moaned "Oh, this is so familiar."  I haven't shown him this article yet.

this beyond perfect recipe for brownies.  I may have made them half a dozen times this summer, and I just made them for a school event yesterday.  Do not try to resist.  They are too delicious!  Thanks, Deb, for your culinary wizardry!

a drool-worthy Parisian apartment.  The building.  The parquet floors.  Oh my, yes please.

Have you heard about Rent the Runway?  It's a website that offers dresses, jewellery and handbags for 4- or 8-day rental at surprisingly reasonable prices.  A girlfriend directed me there for my black tie event tomorrow, and the dress choices are so much fun!  For my event, I received my dress of choice in two sizes and a "back-up dress" in a different style in one size for an extra $30.  All told, two gown choices for only a fraction of the cost of a formal gown, and I will only need it this once.  Thank you, Michelle!

Happy weekend to you!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Baby haze



I spent this past weekend in Denver, soaking up the snuggles with this little lovey.  She's just seven weeks old, turning the corner from newborn to baby.  Her mama is a dear friend from college, and we have shared a lot of stories along the way.  Sharing a few sleep-deprived nights, fussy days and peaceful snoozing felt like precious time.  It brought up so many memories for me, and it was exciting to watch new memories being made for her.

There is so much (too much) advice for new parents, so much pressure and judgment and frustration, that I was reminded of the favourite bit of parenting advice Hubby and I were ever given:

With each child, you write your own book.


Try what works for you and your child, and you will know when it is right.  Have faith in your ability to nurture this little person who has been gifted to you, even if it is not what well-meaning (or not-so-well-meaning) strangers, friends or family members suggest is "best."  You can do this.  Congratulations!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

National S'mores Day



Today is National S'mores Day, so enjoy the excuse to break out the graham crackers, chocolate bars and marshmallows!

In addition to traditional campfire enjoyment, you could roast the marshmallows over the grill, toast inside in the oven in case of poor weather, or try the super-cheater, slightly-tacky approach of roasting them over the stove (actually holding them on sticks over a hot stove set on high).  In a pinch, the stove is fast and easy, with no prep or clean-up…not that we have ever tried it (ahem).

Friday, August 8, 2014

Atypical back-to-school supplies



I don't know what it going on with the weather here, but I love it.  The temperature has been stuck in the most gloriously comfortable range of the upper 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit (in the 20s Celsius).  The rain and humidity that marked the early summer have passed for the moment.  I know it's boring to talk about the weather, but I can't help it when it is this gorgeous.  I learned the hard way last winter how quickly weather can affect mood, so it's no wonder we're all feeling rather content these days.

We bought school supplies this week.  The girls don't go back until the first week of September, but that time is approaching so quickly.  My big girl needed a flash drive this year, and of course, she insisted it be cute and fun.  Three big box stores later (sigh), she found and loved this one.  My wise friend skipped that shopping nonsense and went to Amazon for all supplies in one place, where she also found this fantastic selection of flash drives for kids.  Smart cookie.

Our school supply list dictates the kids' pencils should be labeled with their names.  I have seen so many crazy attempts at doing this by hand, usually resulting in parental swearing.  Two years ago, I ordered in bulk personalised pencils for my big girl, and she still hasn't run out.  Even if you only want a dozen or so, this shop is reasonable and ships quickly.

Thinking ahead to school lunches, I've been drawing inspiration and trying recipes from the lovely Kate of Lunch Lady.  Her first post hit rather close to home, and the Can't Be Flapjacked recipe in it is delicious!

Speaking of lunches, our lunch boxes are these (we have the Rover).  This will be year #4 of use, and we still love them!

Still thinking about school lunches and also reminiscing about our camper trip, I had a lightbulb moment and remembered these, which I bookmarked ages ago but never decided how to use until now.  I uploaded 100 photos of the girls and our family from the past year and had them printed on mini cards for $20, giving us 50 lunches with a photo tucked inside for each kid.  The backs of each mini card will be blank for little love notes.  I can hardly wait to see them.  I haven't told the girls.

Compared with some lists I have seen, our required supply lists were quite reasonable, giving us room to splurge on fun stuff here and there.  Sometimes, it's the little things that help get them through the day.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Blue floral Wiksten Tova top



Finally, a bit of selfish sewing for me!  After much waffling, I purchased and traced the Wiksten Tova top pattern…and there I stopped, waiting for a nudge.  That nudge came in June on a weekend trip to Seattle, when I spied two Tova tops in one afternoon while wandering the boutiques of Ballard.  Both Tova sewists were happy to share their process, and suddenly, the pattern seemed accessible.  I let a good week of settling back into routine happen before I sorted through my fabric stash and cut the pieces.  But again, I paused with uncertainty…until I found an old but still-kicking Tova sew-along online.  Woo-hoo!

Thank goodness for that sew-along.  Despite the massive gushing amongst sewists online about the fabulous pattern design and easy instructions, I just squeaked by with a moderate amount of swearing during the bodice assembly.  I really couldn't visualise what should be happening there.  Then, the collar gave me fits and reduced me to tears after ripping it out twice.  I think I was stressed beyond all my skill-set at that point and lost the plot.  Unable to find any tips online for dealing with the collar, I felt like a lonely sewing failure.  Sniff.  I sadly hung up the almost-complete blouse and left it until our California trip was done…only to find I had no trouble at all with the collar when we returned.  Clearly, I just needed to cool down.*

So, was all the hype merited?  Will I make this again?  Definitely.
It's a gorgeous blouse, comfortable and classic, one that merits cutting into the precious Liberty I bought years ago (the highest compliment I can give, actually).  The fabric I used on this first go-round is Japanese, Liberty-like, a solid trial run.  It has a very similar weight and even similar pattern.  I feel I ironed out a few my kinks with the pattern skills, and I am ready to repeat.

I adapted it slightly, using tips from the sew along.  I doubled the fabric on the inset so I wouldn't need to wear a tank top underneath the thin fabric.  I also reduced the hem length by almost 3", which surprised me because I have a long torso (think tunic-length on the pattern and adapt for a blouse).  I almost wish I had understood the proportions better before cutting, because I probably would have gone for dress-length in this fabric and enjoyed a new sundress this summer.  The Liberty will be a blouse, but I'm guessing there will be linen, voile, corduroy and flannel variations in my future (glorious ambition!).  On my arms, the sleeves end up just below my elbows, which I find perfect for summer but I might increase the length in other fabrics.  Now, I just need to try the Wiksten tank, and I will feel fully initiated into the fan club.

*Meg at elsiemarley just shared a bit of her sewing and learning process on her blog.  I have found her site so encouraging and fun for her honesty and her attitude.  She sews awesome clothes for her kids.  It seems (to me) that she's always got something in the works, whereas I have a mountain of intentions (and the fabric stash to prove it)…but she makes it seem doable.  It's not all shiny-happy-people-laughing-at-losers-with-store-bought-clothes; it's about channeling creative energy into the process of making, even when it results in a lot of swearing and some tears (so, so familiar).  Thanks, Meg!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Homemade deodorant



For over a year now, I've been using what we (affectionately) call my Weird Hippie Deodorant.  I started using homemade deodorant out of curiosity.  I had read about the horrible toxic chemical effects of certain components of store-bought deodorant, the concerns of aluminium residues, particularly for women and application near the breast area…and I just wanted to see what the alternative might be.  I tried store-bought "natural" deodorants, all of which (for me) were a colossal fail.  Many bloggers have tried and praised a simple homemade deodorant from this recipe:

2 Tbsp baking soda
2 Tbsp arrowroot
3 Tbsp coconut oil, softened or melted

Stir ingredients together until fully mixed.  Pour into a paper baking cup (I set mine in a muffin tin too) and place in refrigerator until solid.
During the summer months, my Weird Hippie Deodorant lives in the fridge.  At room temperature, it becomes a mushy sludge that seems less effective than when it's a solid (probably because I accidentally apply too much sludge).  Using it as a solid hockey-puck of deodorant is so easy.  Just rub it on like regular deodorant and go.  There is a recipe to make it more temperature-stable, but I haven't tried it yet.

The upside?
It doesn't stain clothes.
It doesn't leave a lingering odour.
Most importantly, I don't leave a lingering odour.
This stuff really works.

Yes, you will sweat (maybe a lot).  Your body is designed to sweat out impurities, and you will do that.  It's not the most comfortable feeling, especially if you are used to wearing super-strength antiperspirants (and sweating anyway).  If you do wear antiperspirant and make the switch, you will sweat even more for a while.  Your body tries even harder to sweat when it is being chemically blocked, and it needs time to readjust once you take the chemical blockers away.

I have used this for a year before sharing because I wanted to give it a go through all the seasons.  Our California camper van trip sealed the deal for me.  My Weird Hippie Deodorant got too hot on the flight to CA and the coconut oil leached out of its container all over our toiletries (thankfully, it doesn't damage anything).  I only had tiny bits of deodorant left.  In the remote spots our first few nights, I actually couldn't find chemical deodorant in shops.  There were only "natural" deodorants (it was California, after all), which I bought and re-confirmed do not work.  I ended up scraping up and using  the tiny bits of my homemade deodorant throughout the trip, and even those bits worked!  I'm sold.

What do you think?  Willing to give it a go?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

On the road



Last month, our little family of four flew out to San Francisco and rented an old VW camper van.  For just over a week, we puttered around to our hearts' content, not having much of a plan or any real notion of what we wanted to do.  Hubby and I agreed in advance it might be a complete blast or a total bust, but either way, it would be a good story.  The verdict:  it was heaven.  Who knew?

At first, the idea was to see the incomparable parks of California: Yosemite, Big Sur, Muir Woods…  Even two months out, it became obvious that everyone else had the same idea.  Campsites were fully booked.  The crowds were tremendous.  It wasn't for us.  Expanding the search showed that nearly every campsite in a four-hour radius from San Francisco was fully booked for weeks to come.  The trip was falling apart two months before it even started.  That's when we threw up our hands, remembered the whole idea of the camper van is to be free birds with no real plan, and decided to see what comes.  Hubby did manage to find a campsite for our first two nights at Lake Sonoma, just so we would have a destination on the first day.  The fates (and the weather, thankfully) colluded to give us the nicest, simplest, easiest family holiday we've had in a long, long time.

That little camper stripped us down to the essentials: each other, a few days' worth of clothing, some basic groceries (hot tea first thing in the morning for Mama!), and freedom.  There was surprisingly little cell phone reception along our route, so we really felt far from reality.  I was amazed at how rural, open and undeveloped most of the areas were along Route 1.  The scenery was fantastic.  Our girls were awesome, listening to music and audiobooks/stories on their noise-cancelling headphones as we drove (a must, we admit in that old VW).  Wading in the crystal-clear Russian River.  Sea-kayaking near Mendocino.  Camping on a horse ranch and enjoying a little horseback introduction in Bodega Bay.  Did I mention the amazing food everywhere we went?  We all want to go back, preferably now.

Get thee an old camper, friends.  Off you go!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Checking in



Here we are, nearly six weeks into summer vacation.  I can hardly believe it.  It is going by so quickly.  This afternoon, a good friend with bad allergies came for a visit, and her presence made me aware of all the dust in my home.  Dust, cat hair, general untidiness (no funk, I assure you…the bathrooms and kitchen are not unclean!) and I realised how long it has been since I did much other than soak up summer with these two little girls and a lack of schedule.  Hallelujah for that!  How blessed and lucky!

For our fun craft project, we dove into marbleized paper à la Artful Parent with shaving foam and liquid watercolours.  This is an excellent, satisfying summer project!  I highly recommend you set it up outside with a ready hose to wash off all the extra shaving foam the kids cannot resist.  Clean-up of the table and trays was simple too.  The results: awesome.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Happy Homemade Sew-along





Success!  This may be the first sew-along I have actually completed in the history of me trying to sew.  Woo-hoo!

The hoodie is pattern S from Happy Homemade Vol 2, a Japanese sewing book (now available in English).  I have sewn pants and tops from this book, but the hoodie stayed off my list 1) because my girls aren't big hoodie wearers and 2) (more importantly) the pattern made no obvious sense to me whatsoever.  Japanese pattern books have illustrations for the major steps involved in each garment, but I couldn't make heads nor tails of the hood attachment.  Enter Meg of elsiemarley and her wonderful photo tutorial, and voila--two completed and completely adorable hoodies!

Modifications: lined hood with contrast fabric, added kangaroo pockets (inside matches hood lining), and simply hemmed the bottom (no drawstring or elastic).
Withstands constant motion with ease.


I think these would be great in knit fabric or fleece.  The arms are a bit small and tight-fitting for the quilting cotton I chose.  This is more noticeable for my big 8 year old girl, who is at the top end of the pattern fit spectrum.  Hers--the pink polka dot--is a bit too small, if we're honest, but bless her, she said it was totally fine, though she didn't keep it on long enough for a picture.  We may need to pass it on to a friend or save it for her little sister.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Craft for craft's sake

This week, I'm participating in the Happy Homemade Sew-along with elsiemarley and you and mie.  We're making the hoodie (pattern s) from Happy Homemade Vol 2, a Japanese pattern book I have used before and enjoy.  While I suspect neither of my girls is particularly interested in wearing a hoodie, I'm sewing them up anyway.  I can tell there is a fiddly bit to this pattern, so why not sew along with others who know what they are doing and can give some pointers?  I already followed their lead on lining the hood with a contrast fabric and adding a kangaroo pocket on the front.  I'm enjoying developing my sewing skills, and, whether they want a hoodie or not, both girls seem eager for me to finish their new tops.  Win.

I've been reflecting on craft lately, how much and when to do and why.  The other night, I read a scathing review of a publication I truly enjoy, a cause for more reflection.  The criticism attacked the publication as elitist and anti-feminist (racist, hetero-centric…the list was long and unhappy), which made me feel more than a bit uncomfortable because I could see the point.  If I still enjoy the publication, indeed I hope to successfully submit work there, what does that say about me and the values I promote?  This morning, it seems clearer.  It says simply that I don't see it that way.  While one can read in those criticisms, one also cannot.  Taken at face value, I find enjoyment and relaxation there, plain and simple.

I see the same attacks focused on particular blogs, on certain bloggers, criticisms for portraying their lives in a way others find threatening or showy or elitist or wholier-than-thou (yes, misspelling intended).  At times, I have felt that way myself.  During those times, I simply tune out.  Honestly, those moments are more about my own insecurities than anything those bloggers portray.  I don't think any of them intend to show how morally-, environmentally-, socially-, what-have-you-superior they are to the rest of us.  They are sharing what they do because they enjoy it.

Which brings me back to craft.  Strangely enough, craft for craft's sake can easily be seen as an elitist endeavour.  In an age when buying ready-made clothing can be so cheap, when even high-quality goods can be less expensive than a similar handmade item, there may no reason left than the joy found in doing.  At the end of the day, haters gonna hate, but I can find enjoyment where I may (seems more appealing than the alternative).

Where are you finding joy these days?  In a good read, in craft, in downtime or uptime or out-time or in-time…I hope you are finding some moments for yourself that make you smile.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Catching my breath

Months ago, I signed up for an online Squam course for the month of May (Pitch Perfect, which I highly recommend to anyone wondering how to start a writing career path for print media).  I remember the final months of school seeming to drag on and on last year, for the kids and for me, and I was excited to have a month of good work just for myself.  The reality was, as usual, slightly different.



Perhaps because the winter dragged on into April this year, the spring term felt rather whirlwind.  The girls being older meant bigger, longer term projects that all came to a head in the final weeks of school. My volunteering as kindergarten room mom took on new dimensions of engagement, as I attended various functions to round out the year and worked several late nights (hello, procrastination!) to finish personalised memory books for each child in the class.



It all might have been fine, though a bit manic, if Hubby hadn't broken a bone in his leg during that last week of school.  Did I mention the flood in the kitchen the same morning of the painful bone break?

Whew.



Now, summer vacation is upon us.  In the US, that means three months of no school.  I can hardly believe we're here already!  Like last year, we will use this time as a mini-homeschooling session, working on our reading, writing, math, science and even history this year.  And of course, art.  There must always be art.  Creating too often fell to the wayside this year, and we all miss it.  As for the writing, I hope to get back to that, too.

What has kept you busy lately?  I hope you find a way back to something you enjoy and currently miss.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pushing past fear

I'd like to talk to you for a moment about fear.  I don't mean fear experienced as terror or a phobia; I want to talk about more everyday fear that goes unrecognised, sneaking into our minds and hearts as procrastination, perfectionism, and self-reproach.



What started this morning as a dig through my fabric stash became a full-on frustrated guilt binge as I was forced to confront the mountain of my good intentions gone to waste.  I own so much fabric that it is truly unreasonable, because all that gorgeousness is doing no one any good packed away unused.  One find in particular pushed me over the edge from "should" to action: the simple Anna Maria Horner voile pictured above.  I bought it years ago with the express intention of creating this simple dress for myself, just perfect for Australian summers that were my reality at the time.  The fabric I found is washed and even cut into four strips, and thus it remained, packed away out of sight.  Seeing it today, I remembered how reluctant I was to start it, waiting until I had more time, until I understood sewing better, knew better seaming, had any idea how to sew voile as opposed to quilting cotton.  Exactly when did I think I might magically be granted more time and experience without working to make that happen (and probably stumbling along the way)?

It was fear, plain and simple.
Fear of making a mistake, but who doesn't make those?
Fear of wasting the material, as if its current state is anything less than waste.
Fear of it not turning out perfectly, which is crazy because I am not a professional seamstress.

Recognizing that fear for what it is made action obvious.  Not wanting to waste another minute*, I marched right out of the basement and started to work, complete with French seams that I have never tried before.  What's the worst that can happen?  Surely whatever I do will be better than this lovely material languishing in a box in the basement.  Even if it comes out a mess, I might learn something.  It's a small thing, but it is time to move on from fear.

If the notion of fear holding you back resonates with you but you aren't sure where to start, I highly recommend the Buddhism for Mothers series of books by Sarah Napthali.  Another regular dose of mindfulness can be found on Zen Habits.  This month, he is running a self-compassion module in the Sea Change program.  Warmest wishes to you.

*and yes, I know it's all well and good to say so while you actually have a minute to spare…and which mothers among us have that?  Choosing to conquer this today meant my to-do list went neglected.  Tough luck.  It's one day.  Attacking this fear head on while the motivation was fresh felt worth it.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Pondering Twitter

I'm making a concerted effort to be more open-minded about social media.  My instinctive reaction to most of them is wariness, and thus far I've opted out because I simply don't need them.  Two pivotal conversations this morning have me reevaluating my position.  Pondering Twitter, I looked into the feed of a few bloggers I admire to see how they are using it, and I found this gem:




Tee hee hee!

May I ask...
Do you use Twitter?
How do you use it?
Any recommendations or tips for a beginner?
Thus far, I have completely avoided it, but I would like to be more open-minded and better-informed about it. I'd love any feedback you would like to share!

Happy weekend, y'all!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Broody hen: the epilogue



It seems that old-fashioned butt dip in cool water did the trick!  Miss Broody Chicken has gotten (at least part of) the message.  She has been out motoring around with the other chookies both yesterday afternoon and this morning, though she still likes to sit an extra long while.  Yesterday, she laid the strangest egg we've ever seen.  It looked like a normal egg (light brown, correct shape), but when we picked it up, there was no hard shell.  It felt almost rubbery and had no yolk.  Crazy.  Her body is out of practice.  Naturally, our intensely curious six-year-old wants to keep this egg forever.

Random aside: Did you notice the huge difference in photo quality yesterday of my broody chicken (DSLR) versus the photo from the day before (iPhone)?  Wow.  I need to use the big camera more often!

Even more random: have you ever tried to take a chicken's portrait?  They. Don't. Stop. Moving. Ever. A bit like sweetly endearing little kids…with pea-sized brains.  Hee-hee.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Broody hen: part 2



Since my last post, I have read more about broody chickens.  It seems the most determined brooders won't get up to eat or drink (or poop) for weeks, so they can get sick and weak or worse.  I can tell Penny is a determined brooder.  Fortunately, I'm determined too.

After 3 hours on the cold cement floor of the garage, Penny was all pooped out (literally, not figuratively), had eaten her food and enjoyed her water.  Ready to reclaim the garage, I put her back in the chicken run with the other hens.  She scratched in the dirt and motored around.  Triumphantly, I went back inside to clean up the garage. Penny giggled to herself at my gullibility and went right back to her sitting spot in the coop to resume her broody posture.  See what I mean?  Determined.

Penny's extended absence from the coop gave Sheila the courage to settle into a nesting box to lay.  I don't want to disturb her, and I'm surprised that Penny hasn't objected either.  Otherwise, the garage internment was a fail.  She probably needs more than 3 hours (most recommendations say overnight and up to 5 days).  I have remembered that our cat carrier has a hinged wire lid, so I could put her in that upside-down (so she sits on the wire) overnight in the center of the run, but I'd like to save chicken jail for a last resort.  Next up: a cold bucket bath for her butt and general internment with the other hens in the run, no daytime access to the coop.

It's a warm sunny day.  She won't love me for the dip, but we just can't go on this way.
Sorry, Penny, but it's for your own good.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Broody hen



Don't tell my husband: there's a chicken in my garage.

For the past week, Penny has been broody.  At first, I thought it was a bit cute and funny.  After all, we have no rooster.  She can sit on those eggs for 20 years, and they are never going to hatch.  Our Buff Orpington chickens are so sweet-natured that she doesn't really mind when I open up the coop and harass her off of whichever eggs she is hoarding.  I have unceremoniously pulled her out of there and dumped her on the grass a few times a day, hoping she will get the message.  She hasn't.

A week into this thing, her broodiness is becoming less cute.  The other two chickens are not allowed into the coop during the day, which means they aren't really laying now either.  Rather than 2-3 eggs a day, we are getting 2 or 3 every 2 or 3 days.  Yesterday, I had to buy a dozen eggs from the shop, so it was time to give Penny a bigger hint.

This online forum suggested placing the broody hen in a cage lifted from the ground so she could feel the air beneath her bum, a sure sign that sitting around won't warm any eggs.  Hoping to avoid a cage purchase, I set up the Peck N Play in the garage.  The cement floor is plenty cold to deter broody sitting, and it should be easy to clean after she decorates as chickens do.  Let's hope this helps!  If not, she might get a cold water bottle to sit on or a quick dip in cold water bath.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sewing until midnight


Last Friday was Grandparents' and Special Friends' Day at my girls' school.  Without visitors, Hubby and I were our girls' special friends, a role I relish but hardly novel for the kids.  I wanted them to have a special day, so we made extra effort to take them out to a yummy lunch in the city afterwards and I sewed them each a new dress for the occasion.

Me being me, I offered to sew just days before the event.  Them being them, they accepted with enthusiasm, filling me with pride as they scoured my patterns for the perfect one, finally selecting the Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress.  For the first time ever, I could see they had their own visions of how their dresses should look.  Stephanie took inspiration from this dress, and Ellie found inspiration here.  I was thrilled until I realised it was Tuesday, I had to find and purchase the requested fabric, and I had only one full and one half school day to sew both.  Eep! Midnight sewing was required on the last night, but the pride in their faces Friday morning made it completely worthwhile.  Yawn.  Happy.

 

*The fabric is Michael Miller quilting cotton purchased at Wexford Dry Goods, a lovely local shop that sadly will soon close its doors.  She has a wonderfully curated collection, and everything is on sale now.  My sizeable stash means I shouldn't go on a stocking-up spree, but maybe you should!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Big meanies

It's my fault for being soft, but this morning I was reduced to tears (for the second time this week!) by rudeness.  I can often shrug it off, but it's gotten to critical mass lately and I'm feeling all done with other people's bad behaviour.  Crying doesn't make me feel better, though, so next time, I'm going to hum this little tune.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

And, bing! It's Spring!

Five months of winter, folks.  Five!  The first snow was mid-November, and the last (we hope!) was a week ago today (stupid cold snap killed the gorgeous magnolia tree about to bloom out back--boo!).  I had the wood stove going as the flakes fell and the temperature hovered around 30°F.  So crazy for so long!  But now, ba-da-bing!  Spring!








Just in time for Earth Day!
Today, we'll be dodging the raindrops and occasional thundering skies, but we are so happy it's finally Spring!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Crazy chicken lady


Just to prove I still own my Crazy Chicken Lady status, I gave Sheila a bath this weekend.  I hope she won't be too embarrassed when I announce on the internet that her butt was rather poopy.  It needed a good clean, and it was too hard for her to do on her own.  Hubby shook his head at my crazy, but he did help hold her down when I needed an extra pair of hands.


He drew the line at helping blow-dry her feathers.  Apparently, there's crazy, and then there's just plain nuts.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A day in our nation's capitol



Hi friends!  Did you enjoy your weekend?  Did the Easter bunny find your house?

We drove to visit family in Northern Virginia, and we spent a fun, full day in Washington DC.  I am a dedicated Metro rider, but Hubby insisted we drive in and park the car so we could bring the girls' scooters.  I (loudly) questioned his judgment as we circled for nearly 30 minutes looking for a parking spot, but a very chance moment landed us a spot and from then on, I had to admit he was right.  Having those scooters kept us going far longer than the girls would have lasted without them.

We parked near Printing and Engraving, went around the Washington Monument, waved to the White House, meandered through the World War II Memorial, snacked along the Reflecting Pool, and finally rested at the Lincoln Memorial, where the girls used the huge steps as a fabulous climbing frame, scampering up and down like monkeys while their mama fretted they would fall and crack their bones on the marble (I was overruled).  Whew!  From there, we scooted over to Georgetown for lunch.  On the way, Obama passed overhead in his helicopter (with escort-copter).  Stephanie insisted that he saw and waved to her because he knows he is her favourite president.  To my great surprise, we made it all the way back to the car again without catching a taxi.  I get tired just thinking about all that time and distance on foot with two kids, but it was a great day!


We had hoped to see the Cherry Blossoms, but alas, they were almost completely gone.  We missed them by one week.  Fortunately, we found three trees still in bloom behind the Kennedy Center, so we did enjoy a small glimpse of what must have been a spectacular sight.

Did you get up to anything fun this weekend?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Director of Operations

I had seen a link to this video floating around on Facebook in recent days, but I wasn't overly motivated to open it until a particular friend shared it.  She finds the good stuff, so I decided to watch.  Curious?




I so needed this today!
Yesterday, my Junior Associate had a minor chest cold, keeping her away from her usual workplace and colleagues (kindergarten) and thus with me, active but insistent upon constant interaction.  I did take a 1.5 hour break in the late evening after the Junior Associate had gone to bed, but she awoke within minutes of me settling into my own bed.  Her cough disturbed her sleep, and then she couldn't get back to sleep once it subsided.  She felt that the silence of the night provided an excellent opportunity for me to improve my oral presentation skills (i.e., read her chapter books) until I could no longer function.  At 2am, Hubby was booted to the guest room so my Junior Associate could monitor my attempts to sleep from the next pillow, ensuring a very short night.  This morning was a prolonged attempt to suppress an epic meltdown (mine) while the Slightly-More-Senior Associate refused to be a team player during morning routines.  Slightly-More-Senior Associate is now active in her workplace (3rd grade), and I am again at the mercy of my Junior Associate, who no longer has much of a chest cold and is ready for another full day of interaction.
Director of Operations indeed.
I'm brewing some coffee and heading into another (blessed) day on the job!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Down the sewing rabbit hole

Once I have sewing on the brain, inspiration comes from everywhere.  This past weekend, I popped into a local (expensive!) boutique to browse just for kicks, and I spied a dress I cannot forget.  It was a little black dress with a very simple shape, but it wasn't pure black.  There were little spots of colour all over it.  Up close, I could see the fabric was a digital photography print of distant galaxies.  I loved it!  I can't stop thinking about that fabric.  My daughter loves space.  How much would she love a dress in fabric like that?!

This morning, I remembered Spoonflower, a site where you can design your own fabric…and look what I found:

Star Field


That is the fabric!  Awesome, no?  It gets better.  I also found these:


Space...

Eagle Nebula

Purple Space Stars

Talk about inspiration!  I want to sew a space wardrobe for my girl!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

KCW Days 2 + 3

I need to get sewing.  I got so lost in inspiration that no sewing has happened!  After reading a few posts from awesome sewists, I want to change it all.  I want new patterns, new fabrics, a different approach!  Crazy.  Nothing like a little sewing ADD to hold me up.  Silly, because when I actually started, the work resulted in this:


How cute is that?!

This is the Suzanne in tunic length, size 6.  I bought the fabric a couple of years ago when I had grand (naive) intentions of sewing most of my girls' clothing (and have a fabric stash to back that up).  Alas, kids grow, and they grow quickly.  The cuts in that stash are on the verge of not being quite long enough for their ever-lengthening torsos.  Thankfully, I planned for dresses, so I can still make tops.  Whew.

I have yet to try this on my little monkey girl, so the jury is still out on the width of this pattern.  It is my only sticking point, and I'm still not convinced.  That neck just seems too wide.  I assumed in previous attempts that I had misinterpreted the pattern (in French, which I do not speak), so I splurged and bought an English version...and don't you know I didn't need it.  Apparently, I was following it just fine on a wing and a prayer.  That placket piece is just a bit too wide in my opinion (unless you layer something under the top/dress).  I made space to feed elastic along the shoulders if needed, but I may have to take it in and then trim the others accordingly before I start to sew.  I'll let you know.

Update: She likes the width, and it looks so adorable on her!  I did run elastic through the shoulder casings to pull it up a bit (maybe by an 1" or so).  Definitely recommend the elastic.

Monday, April 7, 2014

KCW Day One



Today is the first day of Kids Clothes Week, the quarterly challenge to sew (or prep to sew) clothes for children at least one hour per day all week.  The theme is "Mini Me", and I'm excited about the idea of new spring clothes for myself and the girls!  After getting the challenge off to my traditional start--wasting copious amounts of time on the internet in the name of inspiration--I dug right in.  First up, Citronille's Suzanne for each of us, and one for a friend too!  Aim high, I say.  The patterns are cut, the fabric is washed and ironed, and the last fabric pieces were cut this morning.  Now, I just need to get sewing!

Before I get started, I have to sing the praises of this gorgeous fabric.



The design--from the Briar Rose series by Heather Ross--is so darling that I took a leap of faith, ordering it online, envisaging a fun little top or dress for my 6 year old.  What a wonderful surprise to find that the fabric quality is absolutely beautiful!  It might be the nicest quilting cotton I've had my hands on.  It is so soft and drapes rather beautifully.  My hands want to make it into a delicate blouse with ruffly shoulders, which seems rather silly since it is, after all, covered in picnicking frogs.  I will use it for a simple Suzanne dress for our friend.  Such a tactile pleasure.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Have a wonderful weekend!



How was your weekend?  I've been taking a walk down Memory Lane, scrolling through our digital photos stored on my computer.  The machine is close to implosion under the burden of the 25,000+ pictures I have kept (ahem).  Time to delete a few, perhaps?  I seem to have finally reached enough emotional distance from those baby years that I can cull the countless images a bit (a wee bit).  So far, I've only made it through June 2007.  This picture was taken in Cinque Terre, Italy, the day after our friends' wedding there (Hubby and my big girl are bottom right--she's the wee one in the pink sunsuit) Awww.

Here's a little link list.  I hope you discover something fun.  Happy weekend to you!

Just finished reading this book, right after reading this one.  Neither was what I expected.

Warning: this 30-minute (or less, really) meal produces strong cravings and delicious foodie satisfaction.  We've made it twice in two weeks.

Although I haven't blogged about it in a while, my knitting needles have been happily busy.  At the moment, I'm working on a Milo vest for a special friend of ours Down Under…and maybe one for her brother too.

Gearing up for KCW.  Are you in?

Do you watch Call the Midwife?  Season 3 started up last week!  Watching this makes me want to become a midwife.  I also want Chummy to be my friend.

Have you seen the latest ad from HoneyMaid about wholesome families?
The company's response to the hate mail this ad provoked is even better.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

No spring chicken

The great news is my little one rode her big girl bike without training wheels all the way to school and back this morning for the first time without any trouble.

The not-so-great news is I didn't achieve the same.  I rode along on Hubby's grown-up scooter.  When I lifted one hand to gesture a driver to hold up, I survived a spectacular wipe-out in the school parking lot, ripping my favourite blouse, my elbow and greatly bruising my right leg and knee.  I hopped up and shrugged it off for the kids, but I admit I'm rather stiff and sore now.

Lesson: both hands required for scooter balance.  Demonstration provided free of charge.

Excellent.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A week in Maui

Years ago, Hubby and I (and Ellie as a baby bump) took a "baby moon" trip to Maui.  At the time, a dear friend lived there.  She pointed us to all the best spots at the perfect times to enjoy an incredible trip well off the tourist trail, which we loved.  We have held that trip in memory as such an amazing, relaxing time that we have talked about going back ever since.

Alas, my dear friend does not live there anymore, but we are finally close enough (relatively) to consider a trip once more.  On a whim, we looked up vacation rentals and found one during the first week of our Spring Break, a little cottage right on the beach in a quiet, residential area of Makena.  Swoon.  Feeling crazy, we nabbed it (Hawaii $$ = eep!), booked flights (12+ hours!), and wondered just what we had gotten ourselves into.

Quite simply, we got ourselves into this:




The temperature was absolutely perfect: not hot and only cool late at night, warming quickly with the sun each morning.  Sunshine blessed us every day but one.  The sound of the waves lulled us to sleep each night.  Our internal clocks reset so that we all woke early to greet the day and closed the evenings watching the constellations rotate through the skies until we sought our beds far earlier than we could have expected.  It was a rhythm of waking and munching, snorkelling and water play, out for big breakfast, downtime during midday sun and later back to the beach for more playtime, more munching and happy exhaustion.

Aaaaaaahhhhhh.

We returned as jet-lag-wearied-but-oh-so-contented travellers to a forecast of snow and temperatures hovering around zero.  Spring is coming to our neck of the woods, but it has not arrived yet.  Until it does, I am trying to hold the sound of the ocean in my ears and the memory of sun on my skin.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Whew

I've been wanting to blog today, but instead I have been creating and recreating a photo book on Shutterfly for the past two hours (Hello, perfectionism.  I remember you.).  I spotted an email with a last minute photo book sale promotion code*.  Last week, our family made the trek to Maui, and our Eleanor discovered she loves to snorkel.  We wanted to make a book of photos for her as a remembrance.  What a trip it was.



*you have 1 hour to save a bundle with the code "STORYTIME" or if you miss that, you can go for "SHIP30" for free shipping when you spend over $30.  The first one just saved me $30, so be speedy if you can!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Finding inspiration



I find myself milling around on blogs more than I have in a long while, and I often come up short on satisfaction.  I haven't found my peeps in Blogland.  When I was the stay-at-home mother of tiny people, finding my online peeps was so much easier.  Mothering school-age children changes my focus quite a bit.  At this point, I find myself returning most often to the bloggers who post daily simply because I know they will be there with something new to share (like a friend) except they are often the mega-successful bloggers who really don't need me or notice I'm visiting (not like a friend).  Le sigh.

Up late in the night with jet lag (when all the best thoughts come, yes?), I realised that my own blog isn't particularly what I would want to read either…but it could be.

Years ago when I started blogging to connect with family and friends, I felt such a passion for it.  I couldn't wait to share.  Time passed, things changed, and public readers gave me concerns about my children's privacy.  I switched to more general topics, less personal posts…and the passion waned.  I haven't given up.  I still blog, though rather infrequently.

These days, I am in need of a new project.  I always wanted to recreate my blog, buy a domain name, run the hosting, learn coding to make it look absolutely perfect…and then crash and burn with the realities.  It simply isn't going to happen that way, but it doesn't have to be all or nothing.  I'm going to start making small changes and see where that leads, finding and indulging inspiration along the way.  I hope you'll come along!



image source

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sewing projects to welcome in Spring

In just over a week, our school will be out for Spring Break!  Yes, Spring!  Pay no attention to the freezing temperatures and snow on the ground.  Who cares that there is an icy bite in the air when you can see light in the sky before 7am these days?  The birds are singing, the chickens are laying eggs again, and Spring is definitely coming.  Hooray!


Yesterday, I went through the girls' summer things to see what we would need for our upcoming warm-weather get-away.  I was happy to see they needed very little, just some new swim, sandals and summer pjs.  A search of my usual sites offered up $30 cotton pjs on a 3-week delay.  No thank you on both counts.  Time to sew!  I found two men's large organic cotton t-shirts that I will cut and sew into simple pillowcase nightgowns.

Thinking about Spring drew me back once again to my beloved Liberty Tana Lawn.  Oh, how I long to sew with this gorgeous stuff, but the price makes it scary for me to cut.  After five years of waffling, I  finally jumped in and made a purchase.  The theme of the Spring Kids' Clothes Week is "Mini Me".  I plan to make Citronille's Suzanne (now available in English!) for myself and both girls (I was very tempted by this for my dress, but I just couldn't face the price tag).  I also want to sew more Oliver + S class picnic blouses for them and a Shearwater Kaftan for me.  Whew.  I better start tracing and cutting patterns now…

What creative projects are you working on?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Happy Mardi Gras, y'all!







Today is Fat Tuesday!  If you happen to live in a part of the country (world?) where this has no meaning, it's the last, biggest day to indulge before the start of Lent tomorrow, Ash Wednesday.  In New Orleans, parades will roll all day long as locals and tourists revel until they can't revel no mo'.  Those in the know might tell you the party really gets started the Thursday before Mardi Gras, when the Krewe of MUSES rolls through the streets of New Orleans.

I've been a lucky member of this krewe for almost ten years.  When I was first up for a coveted rider spot on the floats, I thought it would be an incredible once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list opportunity…and it still is, every year when I return to the fabulous group of women on my float and the city that still pulls our heart strings.  See the woman on the light blue float looking directly into the camera with a deliriously happy look in her eyes?  That would be me.  Oh, I know what it means to miss New Orleans!  I feel blessed each time I return for a visit that I once called that place home and even more blessed that some of its residents still claim me too.

Wishing you a day of indulgence in what makes your heart happy!
Happy Mardi Gras, y'all!

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Gap

An incredible video about the gap between taste and ability and the encouragement we need to push through until the two meet.  Happy weekend, y'all!



THE GAP by Ira Glass from frohlocke on Vimeo.

found via One Claire Day

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dry ice is cool






What you see here is the end of the day fun with dry ice leftover from school experiments.  Our big girl gave a fantastic report in her science class and used dry ice to demonstrate condensation and--more memorably--the fact that fog is captured inside the bubbles when you add dish soap to the warm water.  Her classmates went crazy for this fun fact, as did our wee girl's class when we showed them too.  We played with dry ice at a friend's house in the afternoon, and we had to bring it out again at home before bed.  Silly me didn't think to record the hilarity until kiddos were almost out of steam themselves, but ooo, dry ice is fun!  We bought ours at Butler Gas in McKees Rocks; it was less than $25 for 10 lbs (the minimum sold).  Worth every penny.