Six elbow lengths of yarn per catcher of dreams…

Tomorrow is the Valentine’s Day party at school. It is my final party as a double head room parent, and for that, I am ecstatic.

The first graders will be playing Tape the Lips on the Teacher. They’ll be eating ice cream cups with sprinkles, drinking something liquid that I’ll figure out in the morning, and making floral wire heart dreamcatchers. An estimation jar full of M&M’s will be available if time permits.

Heart Dreamcatcher

The third graders will be playing cupid by shooting Q-tips through a straw into a bucket. They’ll be eating ice cream cups and popcorn, drinking Hi-C that an awesome mom dropped off this afternoon, and making floral wire heart dreamcatchers. Estimation jar? Of course.

The girls and I are especially proud of their Valentines.

Harp Valentine

Meredith Valentine

(Thank God for Pinterest.)

Let’s see. What else? The doctor found a third stress fracture in my leg last week, so I now have crutches that I’m not using because I suck at them. I’ve been told to stay off of my leg, but I haven’t been in a position where I *can* stay off of my leg. In other words, I’m failing Recovery, but doing a really awesome job eating entirely too many Caramel Hershey Kisses. Because of this, I’m actually going to attend a Weight Watchers meeting on Wednesday. “Enough is enough,” say the red rings around my hips that have formed because all of my waistbands are entirely too tight. Enough is enough.

(I had a bone density test today. I undid my pants and watched my bones appear on my technician’s computer monitor. It was magical. Results? Pending.)

Last night I learned that I would rather sleep ON a mattress than IN a mattress. I’m learning so much about myself.

It’s doing this in our back yard right now.

Snow! ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

The girl is crafty like ice is cold!

As you know, I’m the head room parent for Harper’s class AND Meredith’s class.

I will never sign on for this sort of thing again.

It’s not that it’s stressful (it’s stressful), and it’s not that it’s expensive (it’s expensive), it’s just that I really have no concept of what fills time, and room parties essentially boil down to Time That Needs To Be Filled. With frivolity!

This morning I decided to clear my schedule and spend the day figuring out the craft portion of next week’s party. Food is easy. Game? I can deal with game. Craft? To me, crafting is Important. The Beastie Boys sang about it (not really), and Martha Stewart lives it (sort of). It’s a Thing.

Five hours have passed, and I’ve been to four stores.

I’m pleased to announce that the winner of The First and Third Grade Craft is: Waterless Snow Globe, also known as Winter in a Bottle!

Take a glittery pipe cleaner (they’re cheap!) and spiral it around until it starts looking like a tree. With your hot glue gun (!!!), glue the bottom of the pipe cleaner tree to the lid of a spice bottle (those aren’t so cheap).


Now, add about an inch or so of sugar to the spice jar.


Next up? Screw the upside down tree into the jar.


Turn the jar upside down and watch it snow onto your tree! Beautiful! IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE WINTER! (It’s not a Christmas party. It’s a winter party. I’m fine with that, so let’s not get ruffled.)


Finally, tie a red bow around the bottom because you’re fancy.


The only thing I’m going to do differently for the party is add some glitter to the sugar. Because: Sugar + Glitter = Magic.

(Speaking of magic, the bird in the photos was made by Katatomic. She’s local, and she’s awesome.) ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

If that billy goat won’t play, Mama’s gonna keep it anyway.

School started three weeks ago, and because I’m scared to death of having nothing to do, I’ve somehow managed to fill my calendar with arrows and freelance assignments and out-of-character plans like “September 7 – PTO meeting”. While I have your attention, let’s get something straight. Although I live in the United States, where periods tend to fall INSIDE the quotation marks, I actually prefer putting them OUTSIDE the marks—as is supposedly preferred in the United Kingdom. I’m living on the edge over here! Someone send me some cherry bakewells!

Let’s see. I was folding laundry on Friday, and I came across a pair of Jeff’s underpants that were ripped a bit between the elastic and the fabric. SO, Harper and I did what anyone would do. We designed a bunny sling.

Slinging Bunnies

The only person in the house who isn’t completely crazy about our brilliant Fruit of the Loom repurposing scheme is Jeff. However, I do believe he’ll come around when he sees that We’re Going to Be Millionaires.

On Saturday, we drove to Springfield to visit my sister and her family. While there, I fell in love with this guy.


Oh, this goat. He was above begging for food. He didn’t try to chew on my shirt. He just wanted to chill out and have his nose scratched. (Confession: While Jeff and the girls created a ruckus, I ran out of the zoo with the goat. He’s currently sitting on the stool next to me doing what goats tend to do—throwing back wheat grass shots and asking questions about html and the embedding of photos. I have no idea what I’m talking about, but I know more than the goat. (He can’t read, and his attention span barely exists. But he’s really cute, and I’ve heard rumors that he can play the tenor saxophone.))

Meanwhile, the girls have decided that we need a dog.


My sister’s dog is crazy and fun and loves to jump around and play ball, and we don’t have anything like that in our house.

(Except for the goat. But that’s our little secret. Ixnay on the Oatgay.)

((Wait. Speaking of Billy Goat (which we really weren’t, right?), I once went to one of their shows. Ah, to be twenty again.))

(((On a semi-related note: Am I too old for Doc Martens? Because just look at these. I’d almost trade the goat for them.)))

Only one week left!!! Come over here, read about my disaster cake decorating experience, tell me a funny story, and you could win $150! ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

I want to be a part of it.

I woke up with a sore throat this morning, and honestly? I’ve never been so happy to have a sore throat. Because this is the week of BlogHer, and I’m telling myself that I *can’t* go—what with the sore throat and all. I do hope to go next year, because BlogHer is Good. If you’re going, I’m thrilled for you, because: BlogHer. In New York. If you’re not going, you can join me as I sit in the corner of my house and F5 my Flickr account every few minutes. (You can’t really come to my house.)

Meredith is taking an oil pastel class this week and during the first day she drew a pear that really looks like a pear complete with highlights and texture and it makes me want to pull out all of my old art supplies and take myself back in time to the days during which I painted post cards with acrylic paints and actually mailed them to people I didn’t know very well. I discovered that I was pregnant with Meredith while taking a watercolor class nearly eight years ago, and when the class was over I boxed up all of my supplies for our move into the house, and sadly, those boxes remain taped and stacked in the basement.

And then a seven year old created a pear.

Meredith's Pear

I just drank an Earl Grey latte sweetened with Truvia, and as I type this line, it’s changing my life for the better. (Harper’s karate instructor sang the praises of Truvia/Stevia/Zevia/IKnowVia to me last week, and I’ll do whatever it takes to make our house aspartame free, so: Truvia! Despite appearances, this parenthetical thought has not been brought to you by the makers of Truvia, who, incidentally, do not reside in Latvia! Synovia! Effluvia!)

I want to go to BlogHer next year. I want to go to BlogHer *this* year. Girl, you know it’s Truvia.

I’m going to have a Laughing Cow in my side bar for six months, and you know what that means. I’m giving money away! Come over here, tell me a funny workout story, and you could win $150! ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

Next year we’re going to fill the back of the car with fake dead people.

Tonight was Trunk or Treat at the girls’ school. To prepare, we signed up for a parking spot (#29! Because you’re only as old as you feel!), I hemmed Harper’s Sleeping Beauty dress, I purchased treats for 200 kids, I cleaned out the back of the car, and I carved a pumpkin. (I’m proud of my pumpkin. Full disclosure: Yes. I used a pattern.)


Because our neighbors are not very enthusiastic about Halloween, this is pretty much it for the girls. And they were a tiny bit excited.

Sleeping Beauty and the Dancing Diva

Harper, as I mentioned earlier, is Sleeping Beauty. Meredith? Meredith is a Barbie Dancing Diva. Yes she is.

Sadly, I had No Idea how seriously some people are about Trunk or Treat.

Notes for next year:

  • Bring more candy. (We left with three Tootsie Roll Pops to spare. That was a close one.)
  • Make a Spooky Song CD (although Jeff’s last minute Tom Waits iPod blast was quite impressive).
  • Hang streamers and/or garbage bags in the car.
  • Bring a live camel.
  • Floss.


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Skirting Around the Biliary Dyskinesia

A few weeks ago I suddenly got the urge to fill my closet with skirts. In the past, when similar urges have struck or stricken depending on your preference, I simply made a trip to J.Jill where I tried on a handful of skirts, did the math while standing half-clothed in the dressing room, and walked out empty handed (yet fully clothed) with the skippy feeling you get when you have saved $439.85 by NOT filling your closet with skirts.

(I know. I don’t HAVE to go to J.Jill. BUT, if I were to choose a store based on the style I think I want to represent, stinking expensive J.Jill it would be.) ((Um, by the way, I would love to be able to carry this off. I believe I would drink more green tea if I dressed like that! And I know I would smile more! And I would be right on track with Infinite Summer!))

Anyway, instead of making a trip to the mall this time around, I made a trip to the fabric store.

Last weekend I put this together:


I wore it out on Monday, and it didn’t fall apart when I sat down, so I headed back to the fabric store a few days back with my biggest critics—Harper and Meredith.

Me: I would like you to help me choose some fabric for a skirt that would look good with either a white or a black t-shirt.

Meredith (after browsing less than three minutes): This is the one. You can wear it when you go to a restaurant.

And I know that it’s probably best suited for a pot holder or a tablecloth, but Meredith actually put a bit of thought into it, and Harper agreed with her. So now I have one of these:


AND, because my brain is completely wrapped up in skirts, I went out this morning and bought the fabric to make another. You see, I’m going to a party tonight (who? me? what?), and I believe the party calls for something with neon dots, as most parties do.

(Please stay tuned, for my next update will contain actual photographs (or cartoony drawings, depending on your preference) of my gall bladder—specifically, my sphincter of Oddi, which has absolutely nothing to do with the large-tongued dog in the Garfield cartoon strip.)


Edited to Add: Finished with the Friday Skirt! (See what I mean about the skirts?! It’s all skirts all the time over here! Simplicity 2906!)


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For my next trick, I shall assemble a car.

Remember last month when you inspired me to reach into my closet and pull out my sewing machine?

Well, take a look at what happened earlier this week.


I made a dress.


And Harper sort of likes it.


And when she bends over, it doesn’t rip, which means I can change the world, Eric Clapton.

(By the way, Jeff came up with Spool Samples as my sewing tag. That’s why I married him, you know.) ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

You inspired me, Internet!

I just returned home from the fabric store, where I purchased the following items:


I’m setting the goal of having one dress completed before Mother’s Day. Apparently, the really good scissors go on sale for Mother’s Day, and if the sewing is going really well, I can almost justify purchasing really good scissors!

And then I’ll set the goal of cutting the girls’ hair. Because when you have really good scissors, you can cut hair, right? And then I’ll start giving perms to the ladies on my street. And then I’ll start making my own ketchup, because it seems like the next logical step after permanently waving the street lady heads. (My grandmother made her own ketchup (and root beer) and she died four years ago today. I think she would be happy to know that this evening I purchased fabric, thereby getting a semi-early start on the long road to Ketchupville.)

Edited to Add: The cutting of the hair with the good scissors thing? I’m just kidding, Internet. I would NEVER. (I learned that lesson years ago when my mom was the owner of good scissors. Incidentally, my mom’s good scissors are sitting in my kitchen drawer right now, and they sometimes cut through flower stems! Sorry, Mom.) ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

Sew Far, Sew Good! Get it?! Pass the beans!

Two years ago, I decided it was about time for me to start sewing.

When I was in junior high (or middle school, tomato-tomahto), I took a home economics class and loved the unit on sewing. Just to illustrate how much I loved it, please know that I willingly (!) participated in the home economics fashion show. I wore a hand-sewn navy blue dress (paired with red clunky beads, earrings, and shoes because I was immersed in the eighties like that), and carried a Cabbage Patch Kid (officially renamed Arthur Jeffrey when I decided that Clive Belden didn’t really suit him) who wore a hand-sewn hoodie. The summer after my eighth grade year, I made several crop top/crop pant ensembles, and I must admit: At the time, I thought I looked Very Cute. And that thought hasn’t really crossed my mind since then. So, sewing breeds self-confidence and makes you lovely. Right? Right-o!

Anyway, two years ago. Christmas rolled around and my mother-in-law presented me with a Singer Prélude. I brought it home and quickly put it in our coat closet. A few months later, I took it out and watched the instructional DVD. I may have even threaded a bobbin! (I’m very enthusiastic when it comes to bobbins.) I then returned the machine to the coat closet, where it still sits. (On top of the sewing machine is a chimney sweeping log. For some reason, the thought of removing that log to get to the machine is sort of overwhelming. What if I start a fire? It all seems so dangerous.)

A few weeks back I stood up and whispered, “It is time. Time to remove the log.” I opened the closet door, removed the log from the top of the machine, and sat back down. A few days ago, the sewing urge turned into more of a fever when I saw the amazing things Juju has been sewing. (Incidentally, does anyone know where I can find Japanese pattern books? Is it strictly an eBay thing? I don’t want to sell my car for Pochee, Volume 6. But I do want to know that Pochee, Volume 6 is obtainable. Because Every Single Thing Juju Made is something I want to wear.)

Last night I ran away from home (that’s twice in one week, for those keeping score!) and tried to find the nearest Jo-Ann store. (My goal was to browse pattern books and make a list of start-up materials that I might need. Tiny steps.) As I often do, I put on an old episode of This American Life for the drive and then I quickly became disoriented and ended up getting a bit lost. After my blood pressure returned to normal and I finally found the store, I discovered that it is closed for renovations. (It looks like the renovations are coming along quite nicely, Jo-Ann. The store will reopen on May 8th, which is my friend Mitzi’s birthday. Everything continues to happen and happen, don’t you think?)

My promise to you: I will be sewing before the end of the summer, and my short-term goal is to make a dress that the girls are willing to wear. (I’m so disappointed in the dresses we’re finding in stores. Why would anyone put an almost six year old in a dress that has a jeweled hole near her chest? Yikes.)

Any words of recommendation/advice would be welcome. (Unless your advice is “Put the log back on the machine.” Who are we if we can’t support one another with our crafty goals?)

Wait. I think I need a skirt made out of this. Imagine the possibilities, Diddy!

Edited To Add: Okay. I just broke down and ordered Pochee, Volume 6. Look out, World! ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

She’s crafty, and she’s just my type!

So, you’ve signed on to help a bunch of little kids get crafty for the holidays, and you’re out of ideas.

You’ve come to the right place, Shirley!

Tube Sock Snowman

Take a tube sock and fill it halfway with rice. Now fold the top down and roll it a bit to make the snowman hat. With yarn, tie off the top so your rice doesn’t spill. With more yarn, tie a few bows around the neck. With fabric paint, apply eyes, nose, mouth, and buttons, and you’re set. Done. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>