Thursday, August 31, 2006

Of Pigs and things

I am an extremely proud graduate of what is now known as Lindenwood University. Lindenwood has an amazing history, being the second oldest university west of the Mississippi River, and more recently has garnered attention because of it's President, Dr. Dennis Spellman , pictured above.

Dennis Spellman died yesterday, and while he may be better known for his pigs for tuition program which garnered them the name Pork Chop U (according to Matt Lauer anyway), it should be noted that he saved Lindenwood. When he took over in 1989, Lindenwood was dying a painful death, with less than 800 students. At his death yesterday, Lindenwood has an enrollment of almost 15,000, and is a beautiful, growing, thriving campus.

I will always remember him shaking my hand before my first semester there began, the kindness of each and every instructor (without their help I would have never been able to find a teaching job in Missouri from far away Florida), and the true value of his "values based" education. We had no co-ed dorms, there was absolutely no alcohol permitted on campus, and we were all required to take a religion class. While these things were a thorn in my side as a young adult, they did indeed help shape the adult I am today.

Whether you fancy him a tyrant (many do because of some controversial property purchases) or a treasure (many do because Lindenwood has achieved amazing growth while remaining debt free), the world is certainly poorer for the loss of him.

I will never forget the way our instructors lined the sidewalks on graduation day to applaud us as we walked that long scary walk from college into our "real" lives. And, for that, I thank you, Dr. Dennis Spellman.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Second verse, same as the first?

Today was the second day of preschool. This time, Jack cried and cried when we left him. I left with a heavy heart. I called to check on him (I hadn't done that the first time.) And, to my surprise, the second verse was not the same as the first! He did the craft, he ate his lunch, he played in the gym with the other kids! I will scan the craft for you when he goes to bed, he really wants to pick it apart, so I have hidden it, because, of course, I want to keep it forever.

Dave had taken the day off so we could spend some time alone together. Of course, we went thrifting. We had a most excellent thrifting morning. More loot than I could have ever imagined! (Sorry for the bad photos, it is very gray and rainy here still, but I couldn't wait to share. I hope you are able to click on them to enlarge them so you can see better detail.)

Vintage feather pillow (I will use the lovely ticking for a sewing project), a rose appliqued bun warmer thing, a pretty rose covered shower curtain, and the most awesome vintage strawberry linen fabric ever! It is perfect for some Japanese style crafting. (You can seee more Japanese crafting here:

Halloween goodies! It is never too early to think about Halloween. The little witch lantern is one of my favorite pieces in our Halloween collection. We spent hours last night searching for my copy of Martha Stewart Halloween , but it is nowhere to be found. Boo.

Some great vintage curtains for Jack's room. They remind me of Marimekko Bo Boo , which I love, but we could never afford.
Some glassware: a great santa cookie jar, a lovely aqua vase that is screaming for some pink roses (hint, hint Dear Husband), a pink ramekin that matches my Target Dinnerware, and some great old jelly jars. You cannot tell in the photo, but the jelly jars are covered with little stars.

And, unbelievably, we bought more than this! A few toys and books for Jack, and some things for Halloween craft projects. I love thrifting! And it is even better with my husband in tow. He must have been a good luck charm today.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Friday, August 25, 2006

Blue Friday

It's a blue Friday around here. It is gray and gloomy outside, and for whatever reason, Jack is really struggling with napping. I think I have been in there 20 times times already, and as soon as I leave the room, he is acting terrified. This is despite the fact that he started asking me at 11 am if he could take a nap with Dandy. It doesn't help that I am having problems with him throwing the Dandy out of the crib, and I am still unable to transition him to a toddler bed, where dropping the Dandy would be no big deal.

Apparently, preschool didn't go very well either. It wasn't terrible or anything, but Jack was like a fish out of water. I hope it passes quickly.

To top it all off, it seems like the end of rummage season is upon us. For two weeks now there have been no rummage sales to speak of. I am left with either garage saling (which is too hard with Jack) or the flea market (which doesn't really do it for me these days.) To console myself, I thought I would revisit some of finds this summer. The ornaments were found the week after Christmas in July, $1 for the whole box. I don't find that teardrop shape very often, it looks great on the tree. The quilt is a baby quilt, hand sewn, rummaged for $0.75!!! It is the softest cotton now, after being loved for many years, and the embroidery is in perfect shape. Actually, aside from one small tear on the binding, the whole thing is still pretty perfect.

And, a blue work in progress, a Thomas smock for Jack. I am not sure I like the white binding, but there is no turning back now. I have several sewing projects in various stages of completion, the prize for Alexandra, a project for my Summer Secret Santa, and the smock.

Ah well, here's hoping my "blue" mood passes quickly. (And that Jack does indeed fall asleep sometime today.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Drum Roll Please!

Today was Jack's first day at preschool. I don't think I was particularly sad about it, but, it is different. It is wierd to be approximately 28.6 lbs lighter for roughly 6 hours. It is almost 1 :30 p.m., and I have to go collect him in a little over an hour, and I am starting to wonder how he is doing.

I have done nothing particularly thrilling, I haven't even turned on the sewing machine. (Insert gasp here.) Mostly because I have a headache though.

I had grand visions of getting the perfect photo of him and his little backpack (courtesy of Pottery Barn Kids, of course), all ready to go, but, of course, Jack has his own ideas. In the end, I love the picture of him slinging the backpack and heading out the front door into the bright morning sunshine. It is perfect. Just perfect.

And, in the car and ready to leave. Jack is really fascinated by letters right now. He calls the magna doodle his "J" for "Jack" because he suddenly understands the idea of what letters are and the concept that letters make words. He spends a lot of time these days "spelling" his name on the fridge and asking me about letters. He can go so far as to tell me that J-A makes Jack, but he hasn't quite got the C-K part yet.

He is such a big boy today, and I am very proud of him.

P.S. Laura, the pattern is simplicity craft number 8916. I make it in a size 5, even though the kids wear a 2T in clothes. And yes, the school requires shoes with laces, no velcro. Had they allowed velcro, I would have bought him the Thomas shoes he loves.

And thank you all for the comments about the room situation. You are right, the blue will be perfect for Thomas, and it will be ok to let go a little. Baby Steps, Baby Steps.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Happy Birthday Liam!

My darling nephew turned 2 this month! (Where has the time gone?)
I made him a cars smock for all his messy little boy jobs...

and a Thomas lovey (and a second one just like it, just in case, one cannot have only one lovey, there could be a lovey tragedy). Jack had a really hard time letting go of both the smock and the lovey. Good thing I have some fabric left over, I have already promised him a treasure of his own. (And the craft list grows!)

The Thomas lovey earned big smiles!

And Jack enjoyed running around and around and around in circles. (Check out those new tennis shoes for school! It's hard to find shoes with laces in a 5.5, in case you were dying to know.)

Happy Second Birthday Liam!

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Ok, the top photo is Jack's current room. The bottom is my sewing/crafting space. (Which happens to be the messiest room in the house, and I didn't even clean it up for you!)
BUT, I am stuck. For logistical reasons, Jack would be far better off in the sewing room and my sewing stuff better in his (tiny) room. You see, we have wooden floors and creaky doors, and you cannot even cough in the current arrangement without waking him up.
My brain tells me to move him. My heart? Not so much. I am sort of prisoner of nostalgia and indecision. If we move him, we should him let him make some choices, give him the curtains out of all that fabric I have been collecting (for that purpose, I might add). But, but, then he wont have his nursery curtains anymore! And then the paint. Leave it as is? It works beautifully with either vintage sesame street or Thomas. But, but, then his room won't be firefly yellow anymore.

Oh Dear. Is there anyone out there that can unstick me?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Busy Box Directions

The busy box on the crib. Jack has been using it pretty heavily actually, and it is working out better than I had expected. Here are some rough directions (I just work things out as I work usually, so I don't really measure all that accurately, sorry.)

And please let me know if you cannot see them. They are huge, and I didn't want to post it all here, but, I am new to this Flickr thing.

And, drumroll please! I found Jack a cute, cute, cute, Shinkansen Bento Box to take to preschool. Oh man, I love it!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Conversations with Jack

Whew! Finally a day below 90 degrees. And it is bright and sunny. As soon as Jack wakes up from a nap, I am going to take those long promised photos of the busy box in action, and create a little mini tutorial on how to make one.

AND, we have a contest winner! Many thanks to Alexandra, who has identified my flowers as Surprise Lilies . Drop me an email at with your address so I can send you a reward!

A recent conversation with Jack, in the kitchen, me making dinner. I drop a can of beans, and they fly EVERYWHERE, all over the cupboards, all over myself:
Jack says "Mess?"
I say, "Yes, Jack, Mama made a mess."
Jack says, "Oh, shit."
"Yes, Jack, Oh shit."

LOL. By the way, I love how he ducks his head to walk under things. Too cute.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Hot, Oh so Hot

This has been the hottest, driest summer I can ever remember.

So hot and dry the bushes actually died.

So hot that almost every day the kitchen clock registers over 100 degrees fahrenheit.

It actually rained a little on Friday. Jack and I went outside and played in it. I managed to catch him in the middle of a giggle in this photo. No crafting this weekend, I helped my aunt get her sewing room organized. (Which means Jack got some cool new toys from when my cousins were small, and I got some cool new fabrics for the stash.) Photos to come...

P.S. Thank you to everyone for your kind comments about Jack and about my latest crafty endeavors. I sometimes think about selling things again, and if you are dying for something, email me. (And don't forget, a prize to the first who can identify my mystery flowers!)

The link to the bag tutorial can be found at: Creative Little Daisy

Friday, August 11, 2006

Inquiring minds

A new bag, which I really, really love. It turned out better than I could have expected, and my photography skills do not do it justice. If anyone wants a link to the tutorial I used let me know. It is based on a bag from a Japanese craft book. (Oh, how I wish I had access to Japanese sewing books!)

And, in honor of the new bag, an answer to the oft asked question, "How do you find the time to make so many things?" (I estimate that the bag took me 2 days or about 6 hours.)

1) I love crafting, I really do. It gives me a lot of joy. I think most of us find the time to do the things we really love. I feel wierd if I am sitting "idle", so, in general I use my idle time. (This is also true for how I manage to decorate the house up for each and every holiday, etc.)

2) I am very lucky that my husband comes home promptly from work every day, and when he does, he takes over for Jack completely. He is home by 5, I have dinner ready to go around 5, we eat as a family, and then Jack is no longer my responsibility. All that is left for me to do is give him a kiss goodnight.

3) For the most part, our house is very organized. Things are easy to clean up, and Jack makes most of his messes in the basement playroom (where I don't have to see them.) We go to bed every night with EVERYTHING in it's place. NO dishes in the sink, no clothes outside of hampers, toys put away, etc. This really only takes me about 30 mins each day. We also really make a habit of cleaning up as we go.

4) We have been living on Rachel Ray's new cookbook, 365 new meals. It cuts my dinner cooking time to roughly 30 minutes every day. (And we are eating lots of yummy food.)

5) Jack is already a very good helper. He throws his trash in the trash can, puts his dishes in the sink when he is done with them, and he helps to clean up his toys. At not even 2, he is pretty tidy. (I think I am just partly lucky in this dept. I have not really done anything to make him this way.)

6) I try to choose small, manageable projects. I am not able to craft at all really when Jack is up and about. (I can do some cutting out and some ironing while he eats lunch, if I am lucky.) My crafting hours are limited to between 6 and 7 pm, and then again from 8 to 10 pm. (I have to stop the sewing machine while Jack is falling asleep between 7 and 8.)

Anyway, there you have it. I suspect that while other people are folding laundry, or reading a book, or playing video games, I am crafting!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cute overload

I took Jack's photo at JC Penney every month for his first year of life. My plan for the second year was to make 4 visits. Wellllll, being a toddler and all, photo taking at the studio is increasingly difficult. There are the ever present bumps and bruises, all over the face, of course. There is the small problem of Jack being suddenly shy while there, and refusing to let go of Mama. Clutching wildly at mama may be a more accurate description.

ANYWAY, I finally got him there last week. He was very nervous and the photographer kept trying to insist that he lose the Dandy. I gently told her it was just fine if he needed to hold Dandy, that IS who he is right now.

And, there you have it. Jack and Dandy. They are completely unposed, and, to me, they are just perfect. (In fact, they are the best ones yet.)

P.S. I have no clue what type of flowers they are. Perhaps a prize is in order for the first person to figure it out!

Monday, August 07, 2006

A Post It Poet?

By now it is pretty clear to the entire free world that I love magazines, right? So does Jack. Particularly Domino, which comes with an entire page of these post it notes to use to bookmark things you like. While we were rearranging our bedroom, Jack was safely stored on our very, very large bed. (So high he is afraid to climb down!) I turned around to see him and everything else (that is the DVD player in the background) covered in those little post it notes. Toddler art!
We used to have the most lovely neighbors, Calvin and Margaret. Calvin and Margaret have since moved out of the city for the country life (color me envious), but they were the kind of neighbors who would bring us homemade cookies at Christmas, loan us a ladder to clean the gutters, gave us loads of gifts for Jack before he was even here, etc. The first year we lived here, I was admiring these flowers in Margaret's garden. One day she showed up the door with bags of the bulbs dug up from her garden for me! I dutifully planted them, but nothing ever came of them until this year. This year I have some of my very own, in the perfect shade of pink. Oh my, they are awesome, and they smell delicious.
Jack starts one day a week preschool in 2 weeks. I made him some labels for his things, so I don't have to mark on them with black markers. (Of course, his have his proper name on them, this one was for the blog.) I used this Soulemama tutorial . Some details: I used 3/4 inch twill tape, a 32 pt font, and they seem to survive soap and water with only a little smearing. I will be sewing them on instead of ironing them on.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The last to know

I think I might be the last person on earth to have discovered this new crafty magazine, but, being the first issue and all, I thought it was pretty decent. Here are a few of the pages that I think will be projects coming to our home soon. If you have a fabric store like Joanns or Hancock near you, you can be the proud owner of your very own copy!

P.S. I will get the photos of the busy box in action up soon. I need to get the grommets put on it. Mine is about 11 x 13 inches, the PB version was 8 x 10 (I think?). For Jack this is a good size, because it holds what he loves at the moment, Matchbox cars and a book or two. For a smaller baby, a bigger size might be in order. I will monkey with sizes a little when I am making the next one for Julie's baby and let you know what I decide on.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Most Important Lesson

So, here is a photo of Jack. Duh, right? Yes, but, this photo was taken about 30 seconds after he finished having a morning that could rival Alexander and his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. We had a rough attempt at trying to go the library (a dismal failure), a few difficult moments in the time out spot, and then the world's largest temper tantrum.

But what is the lesson here? When it's over, it's over. Jack can be madder than all holy hell, but, when he is done, he is done. He will grab Dandy and come sit on my lap for kisses and cuddles and the whole thing is completely, utterly forgotten.

There is none of that adult foolishness whereby he holds onto grudges for months on end. He is passionate enough to really fight for what he wants, and yet, he is smart enough to know when to give in and get on with it. Anyway, I think I learned a very important life lesson in there, in the tantrum of an almost-two year old.

In other news, I sorta organized the fabric in my sewing closet. My brilliant husband bought some closet organizers that do the job pretty well, and I can actually see what I have in there. (Previously it was one giant pile that prevented even the doors from closing.)

And because I could see what I have in there, I made something! It turned out so sweet. Tutorial here

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


It's late at night, and it isn't quite finished yet (I need to put some grommets on the top to hang it from), but, I am in love with it! The pic is washed out from lack of real daylight, but, it is destined to be a busy box for Jack's crib. (Busy box = A thing to hang on the side and hide little toys in to keep him occupied when he wakes up.)

I made it with the most beautiful wool felts, and sewed the whole thing by hand, which I ordinarily despise. The idea is a conglomeration of things I saw in the new Pottery Barn catalog.

Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! So cute.

I am the only one who ever wishes you could just move right into the Pottery Barn catalog?

It's a sad, sad world

It's been a long night. It is too hot to sleep, Jack lost the Dandy very early this morning, resulting in a lot of whining, and I have been having allergy issues. To top it off, there was a very insistent ringing of the doorbell promptly at 7 am. It was the tree man, here to remove the big old maple from the front yard. She wasn't faring well these days, each new storm bringing down yet another large part of her, part of her already dead from years past. But, still, I was attached to her. It was the tree in the front yard! We have lived here for 4 years, and even though this house is a rental, I am attached to it.

It took all of 5 minutes to bring down 37 years of tree. The pictures above aren't the greatest, but they were in a hurry to cut her down, and the camera keeps fogging up from the heat. The first ones are of her last stand, and the last two are her lying across our yard, felled by the chainsaw.

We will miss you old tree, but, I must keep repeating, tis far better to cut it down then to find it blown down on top of the house, tis far better to cut it down then to find it blown down on top of the house....

P.S. Jack, of course, found this all very fascinating.