Friday, May 30, 2014


I made a quilt!  All by myself!
I bought this fabric just before Alec was born, so that means it's been waiting for six and a half years to be made into a baby blanket.  Fortunately, I had another baby.  Unfortunately, he's already a year old and growing fast.  He can use it next winter.
Over the course of raising three babies, I have actually gotten super tired of the zoo/farm/Noah's ark/etc. animal motif that is so prevalent on baby boy clothes and accessories.  But this Alexander Henry fabric is so fab in design and color scheme that I love it anyway.
 "Make a quilt" has been on my bucket list for a few years now, and I'm excited to cross it off, even if half of my corners look like this:
 Finished just in time to wrap my baby in flannel on this 87 degree day.  Heh.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


I am so in love with my little garden.  Here's what I planted in mid-April:
Here's how it looked a couple weeks later:
Then a couple weeks later:
 And here it is today, about six weeks after planting:
 It looks particularly lush and green because we've had a couple days of rain.  This makes me happy.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A few child-rearing tips: Create traditions, tell stories, and avoid snakes

Last week while my parents were visiting from Chicago, Matt took my Dad out to a friend's cabin so they could camp and fish.  Once they arrived, they called to tell Mom and me that there was a rattlesnake coiled up on the porch.  They also sent a picture.
A few minutes later, they called back to assure us that it had been disposed of.  There is a picture of that, too, but it's disgusting.  I have a somewhat paranoid nature in general as well as a fear of snakes in particular, so you can imagine that I was not happy with the situation.  (And I was SO GLAD that we had decided against them taking the boys along for the trip.)

Last night during family night, we made a summer fun list for the second year in a row, so it's officially a tradition.  You can find all kinds of seasonal bucket lists on Pinterest, scrolled out over a chalkboard-painted wall or made into a decorative garland, but all your kids really need is a pen and paper.  Naturally, one of the first things the boys came up with was the thing I am most loath to support.

Sarah: Ok, think of things you want to do this summer.
Kids: Go to the deer cabin!
Sarah: Put it on the list.
Sarah's internal voice: Over my dead body.

And what's that coiled up next to the rocking chair?  A snake, of course.  "But don't worry, Mom, I put an X over it."

Gather your family every Monday night, and it's a ritual.  Make a summer bucket list every May, and it's a tradition.  Take your kids into the Texas wilderness, and it's this Mom's worst nightmare.

One of my recent favorite reads about raising kids is this New York Times article about telling family stories.  
An excerpt: The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned. The “Do You Know?” scale turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.

Another is Bruce Feiler's book The Secrets of Happy Families.  It's so good.

Oh, and one more tip.  We are taking a page from the OSHA handbook:

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Making things into other things

Yesterday was fun and inspiring.  It was the last day of my parents' visit to Austin, and I took them to some of my favorite places.  There was lots of repurposed, upcycled beauty to be found.

The people at the Natural Gardener have turned mulch and rope into a giant guitar.
The guy at the Cathedral of Junk has turned trash into a giant, sprawling, kooky treasure.  (Stay tuned; this place will get its own picture-heavy post next week!)
And the main attraction for me at the Texican Cafe is the sour cream enchiladas, but they also have a great mosaic.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Taking small bites

I get an occasional e-newsletter from an organizing website, and several times the author has mentioned the power of breaking large projects into smaller chunks.  It's pretty common advice, and I've finally decided to give it a try.  Here are a few ways I'm tackling big things in small ways.
1. Journaling
Last year I read a book about jump-starting your creativity (The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron), and it suggested writing three pages of longhand journaling every morning.  I've adapted it to a single page each morning in a very small notebook, which means that sometimes my journaling is a few mundane sentences.  "Need to clean the floors today."  "Baby slept through the night.  Hooray!"  But sometimes the single page is enough of a hook to get me started, and I end up writing much more.

2. Cleaning & Organizing
Yesterday, I looked at the giant laundry basket that is filling up with clean clothes that need ironing.  I did about four shirts, then put away the iron and ironing board and patted myself on the back for at least making the pile a little smaller.

3. Exercise
Baby is a year old now, and it's time to get serious about fitting back into the other 98% of my wardrobe.  I've started walking one mile a day, which is just perfect.  Fifteen minutes later, I'm back home.

Edited to add that the reason I titled this post "Taking small bites" is that the topic reminded me of a Shel Silverstein poem.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Did you know that last Saturday was National Scrapbooking Day?
I got hooked on scrapbooking when it became so popular in the late 1990s/early 2000s.  Here's an example:
Why did I think that it was a good idea to take the only copies of my treasured childhood photos and trim them with decorative edge scissors?  And why did I need to add stickers of balloons and presents?  To remind the reader that it was a birthday party?  This is so juvenile.  I made this page when I was about 24 years old, but it looks like a nine year old did it.

My pages did evolve and improve over time, and there are plenty of scrapbookers who have taken things in an interesting, artistic direction.  You can browse here, or any number of other scrapbook sites, and see some lovely work.  But in a lot of cases, I found myself looking at people's pages and wondering which came first, the photos or the products.  If you just bought some new glimmer mist and want to play with it, then add a two inch square photo and call it a scrapbook page, it feels like the tail is wagging the dog.  When I started seeing layouts titled "Why I Scrapbook" I thought my head might explode.  Scrapbooking about scrapbooking?

Make no mistake: I am not suggesting that I am too sophisticated for scrapbooking.  I have a deep love for patterned paper, markers, and stickers.  My patterned paper stash weighs many, many pounds, and even though I have not made a true scrapbook page in a few years, I can't let go of it.  I make a card once in a while, and maybe some day I'll wallpaper the craft room with my favorite pieces.
Because what else am I going to do?  Cut into that swirly purple peacock?  Let my kids chop it up?  No way.

Today I'm following the example of Ali Edwards, sort of a celebrity in the scrapbooking world, and documenting a day in our life.  Just jotting down notes and taking lots of pictures.  I'm hoping to print them out and make a couple pages this week, if I can bring myself to use up some of that pretty paper.

As usual, I fell down a little rabbit hole when looking at the Wikipedia entry for scrapbooking.  This January 2005 New York Times article about a woman who worked as a sales rep for Creative Memories is an interesting snapshot of their heyday, pre-bankruptcy.  It mentions that her husband sold pagers (hello, Dennis Duffy!) and that she put out ham and cheese appetizers for her customers who were doing the Atkins diet.  "Sorry, I can't eat that.  I'm on Atkins."

Thursday, May 1, 2014


I've come across a notebook that I used several years ago for collecting inspirational pictures ripped from magazines and catalogues.  Here's what my design aesthetic looked like circa 2000.  (Hint: It hasn't changed much.)

I was totally going to make this wreath until I realized that it would cost me about $175 in vintage ornaments.
I would definitely wear that Rubik's cube color bonanza dress, and I would absolutely paint my house that purpley blue if my homeowner's association didn't have a say in things.
 The red bedroom is a little much, but the green mural painted over the bricks is fab.