Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Domino Problem

I've got hangups. One of them involves doing things in order, and while at first blush that might sound orderly and wise, it's not. It's a problem.

Sometimes I get all wrapped up in the idea that tasks are like dominos, all lined up and waiting for me to get to them. If I don't do x, then I clearly can't do y. The silly thing is that all of the obstacles are really just in my head. Pure inventions of the procrastinator or perfectionist--take your pick. I spin my own wheels a lot trying to figure out which thing is best done first, and sometimes I avoid doing it altogether because I don't want to start an entirely new chain of tasks.

Now that I've put some of my dirty laundry out here on the blog, I'm going to go clean a closet in the studio. Because goodness knows I won't be able to make any paintings for the art show if the studio isn't clean, and I can't go to the studio unless the dishes are done, and I can't do the dishes unless I put away the girls' toys, and speaking of dirty laundry--I've got at least two loads to fold before I.....

SO. How much painting do you think I'll get to this afternoon? And if I have so much to do, then how do I have time to blog? Hmmmm.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

My name is Esme

and I like to dance.

Here are a few scenes from our latest adventure, a visit with several old friends.

Between dancing and eating and walking playing and exploring, Esme and Ada had a wonderful time.

Esme fell in love with her new backpack, a gift from Miss Alicia....

Even when she is almost melting, and ready for another nap.

It was a great week, and a nice way to recharge. And, as Ada said, "This is really fun because you don't have any chores or anything do do, except play with us!" Exactly!

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hedgehog set

I love hedgehogs, and so does my partner for a swap. So I put this little set together for her with a little hedgie fabric and some lovely wool felt.

I put a new detail into this needlecase, too--a cute little pocket for embroidery scissors. I like it so much, I think I'm going to start adding a pocket to all my cases this size.

Here's another view with the pocket peeking out, and the little blink of the button. I love these buttons--simple, but so sweet.

I also made a matching pincushion, using a pattern created by my dear friend, Bari. Her pincushion tutorial, which is hugely helpful, is here. Check out blog, Bari J, and her handbag shop while you're there. But be careful! Her blog is addictive, and her shop is full of so many adorable bags and accessories, you'll want to get one of everything.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My first ATC

Owls seem to be the latest theme for me....
Made with paper, acrylic, stamps, sticks, etc, this card makes me smile.

Sending it out to Cassie tomorrow.

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More swap goodies

A knitting needle case for a swap with Jenny.

A closer look at the front. I made lots of pockets, and included a matching needlecase for sharps. And that's my first attempt at sculpy clay--some needles to match the fabric. Fun.

I used my latest favorite fabrics. Even the scissors has a lined little pocket.

The closed case, all wrapped up and ready to go.

And something beautiful I received as--lucky me--a thank-you gift from my swappy friend Kay! It's an ikebana flower arranger, made from stone. I just love it. And thanks to my dear husband, our garden is bursting with hydrangeas and astilbe that simply beg to be in a vase as graceful as this one.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

le 14 juillet!

I admit it, I'm a francophile. So to honor our gallic friends, we made a great dish of poulet fait comme des grenouilles, which is just chicken cooked frog-leg style. Yum. Served with a galette des pommes de terre (potato and apple bake), and it was, well, deliciouse!

Here's the recipe, for those of you interested, with a nod to a similar recipe in Jacques Pepin's Fast Food My Way.

for the poulet a la grenouille
3 chicken breasts, skinless, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
half cup flour, for dredging
3-4 stalks of each of the following fresh herbs:
parsley, thyme, oregano, tarragon, chives
half teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Pulverize the herbs into fine bits, either with a knife or food processor. Combine the flour and the salt, and dredge the chicken to coat it well. Heat a frying pan to medium high, add the olive oil. Add the chicken to the pan, stirring to coat all sides with oil. Once the chicken starts to brown a bit, add the half the herbs and the diced garlic. Stir from time to time, cooking for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken is golden brown. Check a few pieces to make sure it's cooked through. Just before you pull it off the stove, add the second half of the herbs and the lemon juice. Serve hot.

For the galette:
6 medium sliced potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly (either with a knife or in a food processor or mandoline)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
5 sprigs thyme, chopped finely
4 fresh sage leaves, chopped finely
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons heavy cream
three-quarter cup of applesauce

Coat an oven-proof pan with the oil, then arrange the potato slices in the pan in a concentric pattern, overlapping each slice. Between the layers, sprinkle the salt a bit, then the garlic and herbs, then a bit of the butter. Continue alternating until the pan is full. Drizzle the cream and applesauce over the top, then cook on the stovetop over medium high for 10 minutes, until the pan is sizzling. Remove the pan from the stove and put it into a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until the top of the pan is golden brown. Remove it from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes before serving. Cut into wedges in the pan, or turn the whole thing onto a plate and serve at the table.

As Julia says, Bon appetit!

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Teetering Toddler

New shoes, new look.

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Buzzy, birdy bookmark

Another bookmark, for another swap. Here's the front.

And here's the back.

Can you tell I am really enjoying the collage-look? Next up: my first ATC (artist trading card).

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Thursday, July 10, 2008


Ugh. Add it to our list of summer boo-boos, which includes multiple scrapes, cuts, bites, and bumps. I assure Ada and Esme that getting cuts on knees is normal, and sporting colorful bandaids is "de rigueur" for summer, but that doesn't make it any easier.
What is making it a bit easier is making our own anti-itch spray, courtesy of our neighbor, Miss Gail.
Here's the recipe for the spray:
Mix the following together, then store and administer it from a spray bottle:
1 part rubbing alcohol (the 99% concentration)
1 part water
1 part white vinegar
1 teaspoon antibacterial dish soap

Miss Gail mixed us a magic bottle to spray on the itchies, and it's making a big difference. My rash started clearing within a day. Good thing, too, because we are all in various stages of the ivy rash, and it's not even mid-July yet!

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Needle case

Here's one of a few little cases I've been working on lately. Like so many things, it's a project I've been meaning to get to but only now have picked up.

I was inspired by a sweet little case my mom made when she was Ada's age. I'm going to keep hers for show, and let mine become the workhorse I need. I am always looking for needles! Now I have a cozy spot for them. And the fabric--I've got a bunch of sketches of other things to use it on. Looks like I may have a few early morning sewing sessions coming up.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Beachy bookmark

The latest: As part of a swap, I experimented with different textures in a collage for this bookmark. I think we'll be making a bunch more things like this.
Ada, Esme, and I are finding that stamping is something we can all do together, which is lots of fun until Esme tries to stamp the pad all over the table. Don't forget the paper, Esme!

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Flowers, by Ada

We love to paint. And we love this recent painting by Ada. 9 x 12, painted in acrylic, it's going on a special place on her wall.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Catching up with a little Father's Day show and tell

I finished this awhile back, but I wanted to do a little show and tell belatedly, from our Father's Day gift to Daddy. It's a personal take on the traditional gift-- a silk tie. And it was a group effort--Ada designed, and Mommy sewed. And even little Esme added her own scribble pattern for me to follow with embroidery, too (the green lines on the right).

From the chickies--see the chickie detail? Now he can have us with him all the time at work, too.

I used the pattern in How to Sew Everything, by Diana Rupp. It was great fun to make.

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Beach Glass--the big haul!

We live near the ocean, and we all love looking for little treasures there from time to time. This past weekend, though, we found a real trove--
Look how many great colors we found. Apparently, these are rare, but we found them all within 15 minutes time on a single little stretch of beach near town. Amazing!
The best part was to see Ada jump up and down with excitement over something so simple and pretty. Now to turn these gems into something fun to wear...

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Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July

Our town's big flag is waving...

And we had our own little parade on the beach today, to celebrate our country's birthday. A brief history lesson about the stars and stripes, and we cleared up the confusion about the national bird (now we all know it's the eagle, not the seagull, though on a day at the beach, we might be surprised about that).

We enjoyed a treat from the local bakery, and then found some beautiful beach glass for our collection. All in all, a great way to start the day.

Happy birthday, America! And thank you so much to all the people who allow us to sustain the many simple freedoms we enjoy and take for granted--like a peaceful walk with family on a beach.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Lemonade Stand!

What is summer without a lemonade stand? I remember having these when I was a little girl, though I can't say the lemonade was that great--Koolade I pilfered from the kitchen cabinet, and sometimes mixed without the requisite sugar--yick. Ada's a bit more savvy than I was. Hers was natural lemonade, made with freshly squeezed lemons and real sugar.

In any case, I always loved starting a little "business." When I was Ada's age, the perfect business was selling lemonade and cookies on our driveway. The summer I was 10 (yes 10!), I started a mini daycamp with a girlfriend, to which we invited three toddlers for several hours a week. What a saint my mom was to let us do such a thing and supervise all of us--campers and councillors alike! I got more sophisticated as a teen, getting together with a group of girlfriends to make and sell splatter-painted tee shirts to neighbors and at a local craft fair. As I recall, the making was more fun than the selling itself, but it was a great lesson in planning a project and working with others.

Ada's first business venture went very well. While we sold things at our yard sale, Ada was a top-notch salesperson at her stand, selling $15.00 worth of lemonade, iced coffee, and brownies. She earned every penny, making perfect change, and giving out lovely napkins with each purchase. We were all very proud of her. And she was proud of herself, too. What will she come up with next?

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