Saturday, January 30, 2010

They Nest!

Sometimes, I'll come across a blog that details in photographs a grand haul from a thriftstore, and it's always the same thing....
It will start off with something I always need and/or totally these storage jars I can't seem to get enough of for everything from lentils to buttons, or these ridiculous ceramic bowls.

Did I mention the bowls?  They nest.  And pour.  Swoon!

Then there will be a stack of sheets, perfect for backing pieced blankets or to turn into a shirt or two.  Maybe even a big, perfect, king-sized  crisp white sheet, that can be dyed any color under the sun!  The photo will include a small (but necessary) stack of melamine plates, which I personally love to keep on hand for kid-meals.

A stack of vintage linens will follow.  So many of these are hand embroidered or edged with the most delicate of crocheting and tatting, and I always shake my head in wonder at how fantastically undervalued these items are on the second-hand market!

Same goes for a few dozen linen cloth napkins, or these handmade braided potholders that are so tight and thick and lovely they make me want to weep. 

Then the parade of vintage aprons (and it's always the same "picked up a dozen of these for $3.00!").
And then the next picture will undoubtedly be some handwork detailing on the vintage aprons that were practically free....

And the final picture, with the MOUNTAIN of useful, vintage, and/or precious-to-me haul, will invariable end with "and all this cost $11.00!!"

And I'm here to tell you, that is not how this story ends. I don't live in the Land of Nod, where somebody's grandma is selling aprons for a quarter.  I live in the SF Bay Area, where things cost money.  Did I mention the seven million people?  Yeah, it's crowded here.  So whatever it is, that you're looking for at  a thrift store or as a second-hand bargain, it's likely that about a hojillion other people are scouting out the exact same thing.  And some of those people (read:  most of them) will have a lot more money than you do, so they'll be willing to pay a lot more than a quarter for an apron.   Frankly,  it's rare that I even find this much wonderful all at one time.

I felt lucky to have found all this, and I even felt luckier that it "only" cost me $35.  The aprons were $2 each, and those bowls were a king's ransom in thrift money at $9 for the pair. 

But you saw the bowls, right?   *cute*

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I was taking Scotty to my mom's house this morning, before heading over to work, and I was just totally reveling in my fantastically unrestrained good mood, when I realized that there was blue sky! And that the sun was shining!  My eyes!  My eyes!  I felt like a mole, blinking into the bright light.  It was so GLORIOUS!  Right up until I drove into a fog bank that lasted all the way to my mom's house.  Dannick!  (This, by the way, is how Scotty swears.  He thinks he's saying "dammit"!  In fact, tonight, while preparing tacos for dinner, I dropped something and said, "dammit!" and he was standing right next to me, but didn't even blink.  Then I smiled and said, "dannick!" and he gasped and said, "Mom!  Don't say those words!"  ha!  haha!  Okay!)

It really was such a nice, crisp, dry wintery day.  And as a teacher, can I just say?  Outdoor recess rules! 

I woke up early this morning (falling asleep, again, at 9pm will do that!) and enjoyed some quiet time alone.  A whole 20 minutes!  Apparently the faint whispering of my socked feet against the hardwood floor in the living room alerted Scotty to my presence.  Dannick!

So, we were up, and we did one of my favorite weekday morning rituals...pancakes!  It feels so decadent, before the hustle and bustle of carpools and lost shoes and can't-find-my-keys, to sit down at a fresh, warm, made-from-scratch family breakfast of pancakes.  It makes any day feel like a weekend!  Try it sometime, seriously, it's awesome!

It takes just a minute or two...I make my own pancake mix, and keep the dry ingredients mixed here on the counter.

I add the milk, eggs, and oil when I'm ready for batter.  How beautiful are these eggs, by the way?  I'm so grateful for the gifted, farm-fresh eggs we get!

While I'm adding up ingredients and running the hand mixer through it all, I preheat the griddle.  We're flapjack loving folks, so I have the griddle that came with my range pretty much permanently over the middle two burners.  It's never the wrong time for pancakes when you have that bad boy.

I make a whole batch, though we only eat a few of them.  The rest cool and get stored.  For the next two days, we'll pull a pancake or two out whenever the mood strikes, heat it in the microwave (anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute), and live like kings.

The boys like to use maple syrup, Erik enjoys boysenberry syrup the best, and I like mine with some jam and a dusting of powdered sugar.  Mostly, though, I like mine in the sweet, sweet company of the Buljan Boys.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Kitchen Table is Warm and Dry

I am totally off my rocker.  It's the weather.  I have been cold and wet since Christmas.  When I got home today, there was a big box of sweats on the front porch...hoodies and sweatpants and thick cozy t-shirts, all ordered online from Hanes.  I opened the box, and every single person in my family stripped down right there in the living room and cozied up into the sweet embrace of fleece. 

I don't know if you know this about me, but I like to get things done.  It calms me down.  This weather is seriously damaging my calm.   I have been driving myself nuts with all the stuff that isn't getting done OMG IT'S NOT GETTING DONE but I recently decided to just embrace this season of wet and cold.

During January, I have instituted a dinner-at-the-table policy.  Well, re-instituted.  It's one of those things that got away from us for awhile, but its return has been a pleasant by-product of being inside and together for so much time lately.  On Monday I made homemade pizza and chicken pesto; as I pulled the pizza pie from the oven and drained the pasta, I called out for Tommy to set the table.

Me:  Tommy!
Erik (sensing impending food, from the living room):  Hey!  What about me!
Me:  Oh, ok.  Erik, can you come set the table?
Erik:  Oh.  Tommy!

Yeah, that's what I thought!  Erik is also the first one to excuse himself from the table too, but he's been a good sport.  It's harder on him because sit-down-for-dinner time lands squarely on top of his I-just-walked-in-the-door-from-work-and-I-need-to-go-to-My-Cave time.  I appreciate his efforts, and so do the boys.  Tommy lights candles and sets out the placements; Scotty puts down plates and forks.  Erik and I, stupidly, get up in the middle of dinner for milk or juice.  There are some kinks to work out of our system, but we're on our way!

Other kinks?  I fell asleep when I laid down with Scotty at 8:30pm.  D'oh.  Which means I've been up since 2am.  Today should be awesome.  (embrace embrace embrace)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Too Much Cuteness


Ta-dah!  Kool-aid moustache and all.  :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Move Your Money

As we were enjoying our holiday break, and thinking about the new year, Erik and I made the decision to move our money. This article (which I re-looked up to link to here, and which makes my blood boil all over again reading it now....ergh!) spoke directly to my heart in these matters. I've always had high disdain for politicians, all of them. (I remain a fan of Obama, however, I believe that he is naive to try to work in the system...dude, it's broken. Move on.)

I'm about to go and on, so I'm trying out a "jump" to spare your burning eyes from my nonsense.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Well, it's been storming here for days, and it doesn't look like it's going to let up any time soon. As I'm dodging the terrible drivers and negotiating the flooded roads, I always console myself with the thought that, here in California, "we really need the rain". It seems we're always on high drought alert!

Because we don't normally have heavy winter storms, we don't have good systems in place for dealing with them. Instead of putting on galoshes and rain coats (don't own them) or puffy down jackets (don't own them) we hole up inside and treat the kids like veal ~ they don't leave the house for days, basically, and we all get cabin fever and then one day, when I'm drinking a glass of wine after dinner, I come back into the kitchen to find this:

What we're looking at, here, are most of the contents of the refrigerator door. Painstakingly ferried to the kitchen table, one or two items at a time, by Scotty. He's very, very, very busy. He has also included some walnuts, chocolate chips, and flour from the counter canisters. I intervened when he started in on the dairy drawer and a carton of cage-free eggs. "I think now would be a good time to put these to bed for tonight!"

As much as I love coming around the corner from the living room to find this little tableau in the kitchen, I have to admit that I'm always looking for a break in the rain...a patch of blue sky...any indication that we should run outside for 15 minutes until the next squall settles in.

It turns out my son loves to supervise. True story. Apparently, he spends most of his time at pre-school organizing his classmates and assigning them odd jobs. As much as our pre-school friends don't care for this type of supervision from a peer, I think we can also imagine how a mommy might feel to be getting a dressing down from a two foot ten inch tyrrant. He's actually trying to tell me when, where, and how to make cupcakes. Zip it, chump.

But. But....oh. This slays me. His little feet crossed at the ankles, just like this. Both of my boys have always always always sat just like this. In fact, I have an ultrasound picture of Tommy, kicking back, and his feet look exactly like Scotty's feet right here! *love*

Monday, January 18, 2010

Found a Dog

This old fellow was wandering around, in the middle of the street, not far from my house. He has cataracts and he's hard of hearing, and he was tottering around and shaking in the cold, wet, stormy evening. I pulled over and checked with the houses immediately around him, but nobody recognized him, and nobody was missing a dog. He is wearing a red collar, but no tags.

I even drove off once, but then came back and got him into my car. I took him home, where everybody in my house lost their minds. For very different reasons. Scotty wanted to TOUCH HIM please let me TOUCH HIM let me TOUCH THE DOG. Tommy named him Tim and created this heartbreakingly adorable flyer. Erik thought the old codger might bite our kids, and he left so he wouldn't have to kill me.

When I was very young, around Scotty's age, my mom was driving down Mission in Fremont. We were stopped at a light near Niles Canyon, when there was a scratching on the door of her red Impala (23 feet, tip to tip, with a white vinyl roof...holy cow!). She opened the door, and a dog hopped in. We had that dog, Foxy, for 15 years. She had a litter of puppies, one of which went to live with Gram. She named that dog Buffa (please to excuse the old lady, but I believe it means "fart") and Buffa eventually gave birth to a litter of puppies. (We now neuter and spay, rather fanatically.) One of them, chosen by my younger brother Jason, came to live with us. He never had a chance, as he was named Schlep. His nickname was "Schmelzer" and my grandpa, who was abnormally cranky, used to call him "that damned Slurpy".

Foxy went into a disagreeable old age, before she went deaf and slept through the car starting up...and rolling over her. Oh boy. Buffa developed a skin rash from eating eggs and toast with strawberry jam for breakfast. And Schlep suffered a similar dermatalogical fate. He eventually lost hair in great long patches on his back, and had open sores and red welts where he used to have a coat of fur. He looked like a white weenie dog, except for the skin rash. When Erik first met Schlep, he actually offered to staple a piece of carpet to his back, making it more appealing to pet him, so the dog could get some affection. He once followed us on a three mile walk, horrifying small children and neighbors, and we were so disgusted by his rash that we virtually ignored him....we did feel bad when we realized he had a little thorn in his paw, which was causing him to limp most of the way. Schlep was an extemely cute puppy (he looked like a harp seal!) who grew up to be a pretty plain dog, but his looks really went over the cliff with that rash. Poor little feller.

Oh, and once? Erik and I had a black and white cat named Trixie. Trixie ran away from home every few weeks, and went to live with other families. She loved us, but she had no loyalty. When she went missing for a week once, I drove by a black and white cat that had been hit by a car down the street from our house. It was dead...and...I just couldn't tell if it was Trixie or not. In my distress, I picked up the dead cat and carried it on my lap as I drove home. I asked Erik if he thought this dead cat was Trixie.

He was, understandably, horrified and asked me, at the top of his lungs, to get the f*** out of the house, and to please come back when I wasn't holding a dead cat.

So, all this, to say, I come from a long line of people who bring home strays (dog, cat, human, dead, alive, no matter) and so I really thought this little guy was best off with us, until we can find his people.

He peed in the house four times, even though we took him outside multiple times. The first time I took him out, he accidentally jumped into the middle of the pond and stood there, unreachable from any shore, until I finally fished him out five minutes later. He then came in, soaking wet, and shook all over the kitchen before running around leaving wet paw prints all over the hardwood floors. I was thinking he's kind of a dumbass, but then I realized, you know, I'm the one who brought him home. One of us is pretty stupid.

But the kids love him, and I am hopeful (no, confident!) that he will be going home sometime tomorrow. I expect tears when Tim leaves us. Tommy has already made me promise that I won't take him home until he gets to say goodbye to him.

Oh dear.

Good news! "Chuckie" went home late last night. My post on Craigs List (lost and found under community) turned out to be the killer move. The distraught family was obssessively checking Craig's List, and my post (with picture) went up around 9 or 9:30 last night. They were so happy! And, although we truly enjoyed our time with Chuckie, and our role as his temporary caretaker, we could not be more thrilled that he's right back where he belongs. Getting his heart medication, to boot. Whoa. Chuckie, it turns out, belongs to a neighbor who lives on our street, toward the bottom of our hill, even though I found Chuckie three streets and two hills away. Happy endings make me so happy!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


It seems shameful to talk about food when so many are suffering (very disturbing 60 Minutes this evening). I'm not sure what my choices are, but I know with The Boys running around, life does go on. Albeit, a bit more slowly. A bit more anxiously. A bit more gratefully.

The Great Pumpkin Experiment of Aught Nine falls into the grateful category, for sure. I harvested so many beautiful pumpkins from our back yard garden. In fact, as I'm going through seed catalogues in an attempt to switch over to heirloom seeds and starts for this spring, pumpkins have made my short-list of must haves. It's so silly, because my garden plots are so tiny. Last fall, the pumpkins had taken over much of the yard! Over the raised patio, around the kids' pool, almost all the way to the matter. They made me giddy-happy, and now that I've had the experience of actually harvesting, processing, and cooking with them, well, the deal is sealed.
I had only one pumpkin start in June, and it produced eight or so beautiful pumpkins. Plus four more that never had a chance (broken vines, raccoon attacks, etc.). It turns out that a dozen or so pumpkins is a lot of pumpkin. I'll probably plant two or three this year, though. They grew well, and they are very forgiving. To wit? Since harvesting the pumpkins back in late October, I've kept them in the cool garage. That's it! I only lost one, which had a soft-spot on the bottom. It went into the compost pile, but everything else has been smashing. Smashing pumpkins. haha! Nineties rock humor!

My cousin had already warned me that 'pie pumpkins' were different than jack-o-lantern pumpkins, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I have used my pumpkins for breads and muffins, and there have been no complaints...on the contrary, I get rave reviews for the goodies! So, no pie. But good eating!

I used the information from Pick Your Own Dot Org, but I was able to pull in a pumpkin or two at a time, process them, do some baking within the next day or two, and start all over again. That means that I didn't have to freeze anything.

In this picture, the bigger bowl has a batter for muffins; the smaller bowl is the pumpkin puree I made. Each pumpkin produced between 5 and 6 cups of the puree. Which means, with the three pumpkins I used already, I've made about 100 muffins and a half dozen loaves of pumpkin bread. Now, my boys can put a dent in a dozen muffins, no doubt, but most of the muffins were immediately carted off to my work (and a few dozen were gifted at Christmas time, too!). I brought in a couple dozen for my colleagues to eat while we have been working on a Big Project, and I also sent each person home with two to three dozen and some loaves. Two of the people I work with are on very tight budgets, with lots of mouths to feed, so I'm happy to pass along the bounty from my calabasas.

It's funny...they have been raving about the muffins and breads, but I had my very first muffin just this morning from this third batch that I worked on from last night. I can confirm: delicious.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Fred Rogers
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping."
- Fred Rogers

I feel unbearable sadness at the images and words that are coming over from Haiti. My life goes on, my boys are here and safe, and I feel immeasurable gratitude for our good fortune. I am reaching out, in whatever ways I can, and places like Partners in Health, The Red Cross, and Yele Haiti have made it incredibly easy to donate money. And, all three organizations already have established presence in Haiti; they know what to do, and how to do it. I choose to ignore the Limbaughs and the Robertsons of the world. Find the people who are helping. Then help them.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


My dear, dear, dearest friend, Tracy, sent me this flipping adorable hat, with a matching scarf (and two sweet tea cups, too!) and I love it all.

This hat is's soft, it's the perfect size, and I love the colors. About the size: I wear my hair up in a clip or barrette nearly all the time. This hat comfortably fits over the hair and the clip! My hair is up in this photo, in fact, and I think we can all agree that the hat still fits perfectly!

Did I mention she made them? Oh, yes! She says she's not crafty, but she used a knitting loom and....ta-dah! I was so touched, truly, to have this most special handmade from somebody who means the world to me. Swoon!

This hat, in fact, was the inspiration for an entire wardrobe of hats that I made for Mimi. It's not going so well, to be honest, but she's started radiation treatments (my fingers are still crossed, I don't care what anybody's my nature) and I wanted her to have choices. Would she be feeling cozy? Sassy? What will she wear? Will she have a hat to match it? I wanted her to have several hats to pick from so that she has a better chance of finding that hat, the one that she loves so much that she doesn't want to take it off. Like my new hat....that I love so much I've even been wearing it to bed!

Monday, January 11, 2010


As I moved through the living room today, collecting dirty socks (why? why are boys so smelly?) and video games and library books and backpacks, I'm interrupted by a call from the kitchen.

"Mom! Mom! Can we have some blankets?"

Yes, but not the ones off the beds. "I don't want to remake the beds, joker!"

Yes, ma'am! comes the earnest reply, and then there's a flurry of chairs scraping and orders barked and bam! Now we have matching forts.

There's a bit of a ruckus as light sabers and swords are divvied out, but in the end, they're settled down and BIG HAPPENINGS are underway in the shanty town they've erected in our kitchen.

Some time later, they've dispersed to the back of the house and Scotty reappears with Tommy coaching him from the bedroom: "Tell her we need tape! I need some tape!"

We have a strict don't ask, don't tell policy on Boy Shenanigans, so I reached into my Bottomless Bag and tossed Scotty some scotch tape. "Have fun, buddy."

Aye-aye, Captain! comes the earnest reply, and then this amazing contraption comes tearing around the corner. My old point-and-shoot digital camera was bequeathed to the boys when I got my new Nikon. Tommy had taped it to the front of the remote control car he got on Christmas, and it was on and set to video while it tore through each room in the house!

Awesome. I just love these guys.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


The last two Sundays have found me boy-wrangling, and I couldn't be happier! Last Sunday morning I took Tommy and Scotty to the local bowling alley for bargain games. $1.50 per game! We've been playing bowling on the Wii, so it was kind of a crack up to watch them negotiate 'reality'.

The bowling alley employees volunteered to put up the bumpers and I accepted, you know, for the kids. *ahem* Here are our scores. I personally would have been running about 60% gutter balls without the bumpers. Our scores totally reminded me of something too...we lived in Fremont until I was in second grade. We were on a bowling league there! I remember liking it, and I also remember hauling around a small series of highly-shellacked miniature bowling pins that they handed out as trophies each season. I should be embarrassed to share this, but my trophy was always for the same thing: "High Handicap". Ha! HaHa! Does that mean what I think it does? Did they give me the most generic, esteem-building but actually completely without merit most talentless trophy ever? I'm pretty sure they did! And that I kept it! For, like, ten years!

Today I picked up three of Tommy's friends and the five us headed down to San Jose for a Yugi-Oh tournament. (It's much more casual than the "tournament" suggests, and we had a blast, in all truthfulness.)

They just take it all so seriously! And to see a bunch of 15 and 18 year olds, who show up later in the afternoon for the more hardcore event, it was all too much for my delicate heart. The older kids were so sweet with the young ones, taking the time to trade cards and play quick games with them before moving on to the 'big show'. Tommy brought a small calculator (it can get very complicated when you're attacking and casting spells and deducting defense and who knows what all, I just drool, but it means something to them) and it just about melted my heart when the high school kids whipped out their leather card boxes and the same Texas Instruments graphing calculator I use. haha!

Here are some things I heard, from the back of the van, where four very rowdy boys were doing their level best to make me insane for the two hour round trip:

"I can see your underwear!"

"I'm not even wearing underwear!"

"Stop touching me!"

"I could kill somebody instantly. Welllll....not instantly, but I could make them really mad."

"I can synchron summon my earthbound immortal and then all the monsters in the graveyard will come back, and that blows your attack dude!"

Unintelligible squealing and thumping followed nearly every exchange.

Deep breath. In truth, I was honored to be part of their kooky world. I'm just going to take advantage of all this time with them, for as long as they keep inviting me. I'll just die when the day comes that they stop wanting me around, even as a chauffer. :(

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Perfect Afternoon

Today I got a little extra Tommy time, which is so precious to me.

We ran some errands and visited the library. He loves Junie B Jones books. He reads one a day, at least, so we get 10 or 12 at a time. We also got a Mysterious Benedict Society book, but that's one that I'll read out loud to the kids before bedtime. I actually think Tommy can read the MBS series, but he's a bit of a literacy underachiever. Thankfully, he's a math genius. Oh, it's so funny, because Junie B Jones is a first grader, and I thought one of the reasons Tommy might like her so much is because she talks like Scotty...."I got sended to my room" kind of stuff. Today, on our way to pick up Scoot and Tommy's best friend for a play date, he told me that he "actually likes it because it's a little bit exciting, and it makes me curious". He went on to explain, in detail, what he meant by curiosity as I am, apparently, too dense to understand that while enjoying a story, one may be led to wonder what might happen next. When he was reading in the car, every once in awhile he would chuckle and report that "She's in big trouble now!" Then he added, "Honestly, though, her grammar is horrible!" haha!

We made homemade pizza for dinner. Here's the paradox of being me: I'll go to great lengths to perfect a homemade pizza that sets us back only a few dollars and doesn't require any drop off or pick up hassles...the right dough, bulk cheese, tomato sauce from the garden.

And then? Then I'll spend fifteen bucks on this piranha pizza cutter. Ummm...frugal. But...cute! My supervisor is on to me, however, and I'm afraid he does not approve.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Before Christmas: My apples, gifted from my friend Monica's tree, were lazing about the counter. They are so hideous! Look at them! Utterly lacking charm, don't you agree?

After Christmas: Behold the glory of my apples, nestled into the light-aqua enamel colander**! These apples are practically art.

I was going to preserve these apples as more apple pie filling, but then I found this Apple puff pancake recipe...and I think we all know how this story ends. Twice.

Although Erik and I decided many weeks ago that we would not exchange presents (we somehow managed to treat ourselves to the very few things we already wanted, and we have to admit that there was nothing else that we needed, so the decision was drama-free), my parents were inspired to pick up a bag of kitchen joy from Williams-Sonoma, a pair of plaid canvas high tops (a la Converse), and this beautiful Le Creuset piece. (My mom, knowing it would be a crucial part of my ability to enjoy this present, immediately reassured me that it was half off!).

Well, obviously, it's beautiful just the way it is! BUT, filled with Apple Puff Pancake? It's a real showstopper! (Kitchen tip: Whenever you have a baking/casserole/pot/pan whatever that feels unredeemable after a particularly raucous meal (burnt on? no problem!) just set it to "soak" and pop a dryer sheet into it. You know, like 'bounce'? It can even be previously used in the dryer, and this still works. Let it soak for a bit, then use it to wipe down the offensive dish. Go ahead and try it, then tell me if it's not a miracle!)

** My mom was totally riding my ass about this colander. "Who cares what color is?!? It's just a colander! It's nothing! You act like it matters! It doesn't matter!" So, picture all that, all screechy and naggy. Super fun, right? The whole time I'm debating (light-aqua? or red? one each? we're talking!) she's talking herself out of the cutest dang cake plate I've ever seen. Creamy ceramic, with brown toille-styled roosters painted on it? Swoon! She can't pay 50 bucks for it though (but you can bet if it started at 60 dollars but was marked down by 10, she would have seen it differently...that woman loves a sale! You should see her when I whip out my 15% off educator's discount card at Joann's.) So I said, that's okay ma, I have two cake plates at home, and you can have one...and we'll just see how much 'looks matter' when you're choosing between the smokey-purple sleek glass plate versus the sweet, clear glass, flower-embossed plate. Of course she picked the beautiful flower-embossed! Who wouldn't! (And of course I let her!) Two days later? I teased her about picking the cutest plate, and her response was, "Oh, who cares? It doesn't matter what it looks like; it's just a cake plate." Seriously? My cake plate is "just" a cake plate; yours, officially, is adorable.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Christmas Handmades

Since we had planned to be up in the snow over Christmas, I had committed to making hats and scarves for the kids. Here's what you get when you say, "Hey, guys? Would you mind wearing your hats for a sec so I can get a picture?" They are so silly!

This little matching set has earflaps, could you die? I loved this pattern, but really, if I didn't already know how to make one, I would have found the directions for crocheting in the round a little bit confusing. A few times I thought, "Huh... Wouldn't have gotten this from that."

But, I am so grateful to people everywhere who just create, write, and share, all out of love, that I'm still going to link to it, because if you wanted to try one, you should. I'm thinking I'll make a modified version for myself. Did I mention the earflaps?!?

Tommy graciously agreed to model the hat and scarves I made for my nieces, too. He insisted on 'voguing' for me here.

But, as you can see, he quickly lost interest during the costume change.

Gianna's purple hat and Kaziah's turquoise hat were both made from free patterns over at It requires registration, but they don't spam and there are lots of free patterns there.

I wanted to get my grandniece ~ GRANDNIECE. The hell? ~ some model horses. Oh my god, did I love my model horses? Oh, yes, I did! I still do, in fact. I stared at the wooden barn with corrals and the model horses that go with them for about half an hour at the toy store. In the end, I had to admit that she's two. My Little Pony it is. With glitter.

In the meantime, I contented myself by whipping up a matching Starling Handbag in which to store them.

And there were a few handmades that are still in progress. A crafty Christmas is always a sharp lesson in 'letting go', in my experience. I still work on these snowman 'bluework' embroidery patches (I'll work on them a bit later tonight, when the kids lay down) that I will make into a quilt for Gram. I already washed and dried and ironed the sashing and border fabrics. Only three more patches to go; maybe this weekend will find it finished, unless it gets bumped. There are several unfinished projects vying for attention!

I'm no expert embroiderer, truly, and maybe this is a no-brainer, but here's my organization tip. I'm using about 8 shades of blue and 4 shades of green to make these patches. The skeins of floss are easily tangled, plus you have to separate the 6-strands into 2 3-strand sections before you get to work. That's a lot of loose string, my friends. So I had some old playing cards laying around (I was brushing up on my poker skills between needlework) and they made the perfect cards to wrap and store the different flosses.

And when I stood up the other night, after nesting into my corner of the couch for a half-hour of stitching, I had to laugh and take a picture. Always, always, present, for any crafting project? A notebook and pen and legos. Notebook because I'm a compulsive writer and, no matter what I'm doing, I stop regularly to jot down notes, lists, or ideas. Legos because anytime I sit still, for more than 5 minutes and for any reason at all, a boy will be crawling on me and playing with legos the whole time.