Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Out of Doors

Sunshine, warmth, the most delicious fragrances wafting in on the breeze. Yes, it's Spring. The maple in our back yard has been showering us with clusters of "helicopters." The pollen is thick on the grass (bad news for my allergies! I gave up and bought some Claritin), so thick that I have to spray our windshield every time we go out just to see clearly. Our daffodils are blooming cheerily (pictures of those forthcoming!), and I've just discovered that we have bluebells by our back steps. 

We're still in temporary garden mode, but this year I'm trying my hand at a tomato plant. Here's hoping...

The weather is still finicky -- forty one day, seventy-five the next (no joke!) -- but on those golden, sun-kissed Spring afternoons... well, there's no better place to be!

Friday, April 01, 2016

A Different World

Sometimes, I wish I could see the world through their eyes -- a world saturated with wonder and endless possibility. A world where imagination is kindled by the slightest spark, and is never snuffed out by constraints like time, money, or "practicality." 

And yet, it's a world that can be completely overturned by the slightest mishap, from the "wrong spoon" to catastrophes such as bedtime. Sometimes I'm very glad indeed to be "all grown up."

Perhaps it's enough to catch just a little glimpse of their world now and again...

And where is this window to a different world? My favorite little corner of the gardens at the Governor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburg -- in fact, my Blogger profile pic is a snapshot in the same spot about 10 years ago! In reality, all that lies beyond is a pretty field -- but with the imagination... well, anything is possible!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Beside Myself

A few blooms in a jar -- the last survivors of a recent Trader Joe's bouquet, still going strong 2 weeks in. Perfect for my bedside table (beside myself, if you will), a bright little reminder of God's beauty every time they catch my eye. 

I don't often buy fresh flowers, but after seeing how far that little $4 bouquet stretched, it's going to be a more frequent occurrence in the future!

Thursday, March 17, 2016


.:. Daffadowndilly .:.

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet, 
She wore her greenest gown; 
She turned to the south wind 
And curtsied up and down. 
She turned to the sunlight 
And shook her yellow head, 
And whispered to her neighbour: 
"Winter is dead."

- A.A. Milne -

We must smell all of the flowers. Because every patch of daffodils might smell a little different, you know?

Hoping that you're enjoying some signs of Spring in your little corner of this earth!

Friday, March 11, 2016


Sometimes, it's time. I'd had this project in my mind for quite a while, but for a long time it wasn't the time.

Here's the inspiration: A West Elm Notice Board -- for some reason, I loved the way there were three clips on one board. Simple, clean, and actually great for organization. It seemed like the perfect spot for keeping invitations, coupons, and those other little papers that just aren't ready to be thrown away yet but don't really have a place.

We happened to have a scrap piece of plywood, so all I had to do was round the edges with the band saw, give it a good sand, and apply some stain and finish. I got the clips from Michaels -- by using coupons, I got 2 packages for $5. I even have a spare, should I ever need it!

At first I tried using epoxy to attach the clips, but the strain of the springs was too much. So I glued a thin panel of wood behind the clips (and one lower down, to balance it while hanging) and screwed through the board. Worked like a charm! I went the "professional" route by using a black sharpie to darken the wood screws I used... Hey, it was cheap and took about sixty seconds.

Already, this board has fulfilled every hope I could have had for improving organization! It's nice to have a dedicated spot for those miscellaneous bits and pieces, and I do love the "triple clip" look.

If only all of my projects were this inexpensive and easy!

Monday, March 07, 2016


We've had all the ingredients for Spring -- rain, sun, warmth. It's coming! In a few short weeks, the trees will be covered in new foliage, the flowers will be in bloom, the days will grow warmer. For now, we wait. 

I'm thrilled to see that some of the daffodils I planted with the kids in the fall are starting to come up -- only 11, so far. I know that because Little Man has scouted out each and every one! I estimate we planted about thirty to forty, so I'm hoping that more will come up soon and that we didn't plant them too late, too deep, too something. I've never had much of a green thumb, so I have my doubts. 

But there are signs of life.

There's potential.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Culinary Center, In Miniature -- Or, The Play Kitchen

This is bit overdue, since it was Rosa's birthday gift back in the Fall! But considering that I just put the finishing touch on it this past week, I suppose I'm a bit overdue, too...

Ah, the play kitchen -- we debated for a while. Would it really be played with? Would it just sit in a corner, taking up space? Then we had the opportunity to watch Rosa (and Little Man!) playing with other kitchens, and the debate was over!

Then it was just the little matter of details. Buy or make? Make, of course. Refurbish or start from scratch? With most of the materials on hand, we opted to start from the ground up. 

Scrap 2x4s, plywood, and some odds and ends. Of course, we still ended up spending more than we anticipated -- once we threw in six hinges, three door handles, stove knobs, and a little extra plywood, it did come out to a bit more than expected! But hey, for a "custom kitchen" it wasn't too bad.  

The advantage to making it rather than repurposing a media center/nightstand/what-have-you is that we were able to set the dimensions. Which meant we could use Dollar Tree cooling racks for the oven and refrigerator; can't beat 2 for $1! The sink is also a Dollar Tree bowl. 

Kudos to my husband for engineering that oven door! So nicely mitered, with the slot for the Plexiglas.

We ended up doing this super last minute, and then part-way through the build Pablo's schedule picked up. I finished it up, which was actually a blast! I got to use the table saw, band saw, miter saw, drill, sander -- all the toys. The basic structure was already built, but I got to work out some of the details like the range, burners, sink faucet/handles, and the post/valance.

For paint, we picked up a clearance quart of cream, and a bit of brown as well. Oh, plus some black and silver spray paint we had on hand -- black for the inside of the oven, silver for the faucet and the burner elements. Look at all of the room in the fridge! Time to make some more play food...

Actually, one of the best things about this kitchen is that it solves the mess issue -- before, all of Rosa's play food and dishes had a tendency to get scattered all over the room. Now, clean up is much easier, and the food and dishes tend to stay close to "home." Now I feel like I can add to her kitchen stash without just facilitating a giant mess.

The countertop is just a piece of thin plywood, painted cream.Using a terry washcloth, I daubed it with brown and a greyish color that I got by mixing the cream and brown together. Though if real estate experts are right, we seriously damaged resale by not going with real granite... then again, we didn't spring for stainless steel appliances or a French-door refrigerator. We're such cheapskates. *wink* 

Dollar Tree hooks, to keep kitchen tools handy. Simple curtains from scrap fabric, held up with dowels and hooks. Faucet handles made out of wooden clothespins (and the faucet is PVC pipe).

Some pots and kitchen utensils from IKEA made a perfect Christmas present -- though I think I wanted them for myself just as much as I wanted them for Rosa! They're so adorable!

As for the stove knobs -- well, we didn't get them in time for her birthday, and then we moved, and then... well, here we are! They're finally on, and I'm enjoying the sense of completion! Not to mention my new-found confidence with the shop tools.

So does she play with it? Oh yes, she does! Actually, Little Man has cooked up a number of concoctions, too. I'm feeling confident this will be a well-loved toy. I can't tell you how many pizzas, sandwiches, and other unidentifiable  meals I've already enjoyed -- some of which combine two of my least favorite foods, mushrooms and mustard. If I'm really lucky, there will be pickles included, too.

We're cooking up some real culinary delights here, folks.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

A New Spin on an Old Friend

I've had this idea in my head for ages now -- solid bodice, striped skirt, and an itty bitty pocket. I just don't know why it took me so long to work out the details! Of course, I used Teri's fabulous Izzy pattern as a base. Because why not? 

The materials were free -- black knit for the bodice, leftover from a maxi skirt I just made; black stripe knit for the skirt, from a sundress that my mom passed on for just-such-a-purpose; "chambray" for the pockets and tabs, from the reverse side of scraps from my Without A(nthro)pologie skirt. I also used three "bronze" KAM snaps, so technically those weren't free. But I'd already purchased them for another project, so they're sort of in that "already-paid-for-so-kind-of-free" stash stage.

The changes were relatively simple -- I used the Izzy bodice in a size 4T, but eliminated the curves at the bottom of the bodice pieces (this made the bodice longer at the center front). I actually think the curved bodice is one of the best things about the Izzy, but for this project I was looking for something a little different. I redrafted the skirt entirely, giving it a flared shape:

Above is a rough sketch of the shape I used, for a size 4T.
            A: Desired length of skirt at center front (mine was 14.5")
            B: Half of the Izzy bodice measurement (~5.5")

            C: Desired length of skirt at side seams (mine was 12.5")

The bottom curve was "eyed," and I added 1/2" to each edge except 
the center fold for seam/hem allowance. Just make sure you have 90
angles at each corner. Oh, and you could make C the same as
A -- I was limited 
by the size of the fabric I was working with!

Two chambray button tabs (well, snap tabs) on the back:

I love the flare on this skirt! I was a bit nervous how it would look in stripes, but I'm liking the result. And I'm quite pleased to announce that my stripes matched right up on the first try -- which is good, because it's unlikely I'd have had the patience to re-sew those seams! *wink*

Rosa loves her new dress, and she and Little Man even got to "help" put on the snaps (i.e., it took me twice as long, but we all had fun!). More fabric out of the stash, another frock in the closet, and a long-considered idea finally accomplished. Time to move on to the next project!