Thursday, September 29, 2011

A glass of wine makes brushstrokes bold...

Have you been to Wine and Canvas yet?
You have to go.
Have to.
My cheeks still hurt from laughing and smiling so much last night.

There's just something about being in a room packed-to-the-gills with people all trying something for the first time. Something that seems intimidating, like painting.

Fortified with a nice cabernet and a plate of snackies, the madre and I tackled a landscape of all things...not the thing for a perfectionist to tackle; even the host artist said so! 

Everyone's self-deprecating laughter was contagious, and the collective muttered comments and wine-buoyed jokes and exclamations made the night unforgettable. In much the same way that movies are better in packed theaters, so you can hear the gasps and laughter of other people? So too, I've decided, is painting best done as a communal effort.

Also, it scratches that voyueristic itch I have to be able to wander up and down the long trestle-table rows of table-top easels, seeing how wonderfully and differently everyone interprets the evening's painting. No two were alike, and no one was better than the other. They were all amazing. And that, in and of itself, is quite a testatment to both the instructor and the event space. We were...shepherded...coached...entertained. It was the perfect night out. 


I can't wait to go back.



Monday, September 26, 2011

Little Miracles...Finding the divine in th everyday.

When you woke up this morning, did you pray?

I'm just curious.

I didn't.

I hit snooze. twice. Then I shook three kids awake, showered, dressed and opted not to dry my hair.

I applied makeup with my left hand while tying tiny shoelaces with my right. I forced three frozen eggo waffles into the toaster at breakneck speed. I brushed hair and flossed tiny teeth and commanded two of the three Munchkins to wear mismatched socks because we were simply out of time for it to be otherwise.

We sped out of the house and our street so quickly that it was not until 15 minutes later that mr. man realized we'd left his bookbag leaning against the entryway wall, next to the front door. How he climbed into the car emptyhanded without either of us noticing it, I'll never know.
How much more or less chaotic would my day have been if I started the first 30 seconds of it with a silent Thank You?

Dear God,

Thank you for this day.
Thank you for the chance to rush to a job and a school my children love.

Thank you for these three miracles I have to get dressed in under 10 minutes flat.

Thank you for the extra 15 minutes of sleep I was able to squeeze in because the little miracles decided to sleep in for, perhaps, the second time in their entire lives.
Thank you for frozen waffles and warm soft towels right out of the dryer and comfy black stretchy leggings and the sleepy smile that The Monkey blesses me with every morning, even when it's sleep-crusted and sloppy.

Thank you for the people you've thrown, seemingly haphazardly, into my life because I never knew how important they'd be to me.

And Thank you for a loving family whose tireless support make it possible for me to survive these days.

Please bless them and keep them in your care as they run late and curse stop lights


P.S. Thank you for coffee. Scads of it. Rivers of it. Oceans of it.  It's some of your best work. Really. I mean that.


Have you ever noticed that the heroine in all those sloshy romantic comedies out there is ALWAYS younger than we are?


This is the sad little fact I realized Sunday evening after watching 3 successive RomComs and plowing through half a pint of Ben & Jerry's phish food.  (How to Lose a Guy...Lover Boy...and 27 Dresses. Although to be fair I'm not sure that Lover Boy really counts. Extra Anchovies anyone??)

But seriously, let's think about this.  Girl is (.most always) absorbed in advancing career/helping others to the detriment of her own social life, rarely if ever lamenting the fact that she's not yet married at the ripe old age of 28 or some equivilent bullshit... girl is then either swept off her feet or at least teased and argued off her feet by Mr. Not-So-Perfect-at-First Glance-But -Secretly-Exactly-Who-She-Needs.  Then they end up having some perfect Storybook wedding/grand gesture, and are probably walking off into the sunset as.I.type...

Also? When they sing karaoke badly & off-tune? It's adorable. When I do it? It's just embarrassing.

And they're so YOUNG.


I should never be allowed to drink wine & watch Romantic Comedies after midnight. I'm like a fucking romantic gremlin. It only starts bubbling at the surface when I break the rules...

And I'm sure when I started typing I had some ulterior motive here. I'm sure my shiraz-soaked brain had puzzled out some deeper meaning in all the taffeta and lace in these movie monstrosities...but right now I'm so busy getting every last chocolate-covered carmel fishy out of my rapidly melting ice cream soup that I can't imagine what that deeper meaning might have been.

Where there should be vitriol and bile at the way things have found themselves...there is simply this sad little puzzled me. Wondering how I could possibly be the girl in the flannel pajamas and the empty bottle of wine, when everyone else is off having their happy endings.

And, while some small part of my psyche clings like mad to the edge of It-could-still-happen-to-me-
cliff, the greater part of me knows I need to get very very comfortable with these flannel pajamas and my own distorted reflection in the bottom of the win bottle...I think we'll be seeing a lot of each other over the years...which is okay, really, because these pajamas are pretty damn comfortable...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Country "Fare"

There's something terribly nostalgic about taking your kids back to your old stomping grounds...

That place where you first tasted independence... dashing around the grounds with your friends as evening fell and the carnival ride lights made everything glow hazy

They played the games and won the tokens and spent ages in the prize tent. 
And I tried so hard not to get antsy, watching them agonize over the 10-token balsa wood airplane or the 20-token pirate sword and eye patch; tried hard to remember that at their age, these are huge, evening-altering decisions...

I made them stand in front of the old football scoreboard...because I KNOW somewhere, there's a picture of me in that same exact spot...

We sat on hay bales and ate elephant ears...
And the place echoed with squeals from the high rides and you could smell carnival from a mile away... Roasted corn on the cob, heavy butter, cinnamon and sugar and elephant ears and tenderloins so large you have to eat them in concentric ring bites for minutes on end until the meat and the bun match up evenly. All those years of playing plinko and bean bag toss and winning goldfish and mirrored pictures from the balloon pop... there they all were, rushing back in a heartbeat as soon as I crossed the softball diamonds from Arbuckle Acres to get to the parking lot. It was as if nothing had changed...just for a heartbeat I was 12 again...then The Monkey tugged on my hand a pointed at the ferris wheel, and we were off...

We danced to the cover band as it got darker and darker...and the kids chased each other around and around and over and through rows of adults who didn't seem to mind holding their beers up and out of harms way because of the rampaging horde of toddlers coming through.

We rode rides and slides and tea cups (not me...I watched the tea cups this time thankyouverymuch)

And I commented on the conspicuous absence of "The Heart Ride"

And then I had to explain the signifigance of the heart ride.
Apparently, the thought of their mom being sweet on anybody at their age and wanting to ride carnival rides with a boy is hilarious...

It was a perfect evening... equal parts nostalgia and exhaustive fun... I don't know why I waited so long to take them.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Crafty...Like a Fox

You know that look in your kid's eyes when you do something that thrills them?
It's better than caffeine, that burst of joy somewhere in the center of your chest, when they're hopping up and down on not-so-chubby-anymore little legs, excited about something you've made...

It's funny, how much I still seek the approval of others, even at my age. And how the approval  of a four-year-old can make or break my day.

Last night I finished up (mostly...don't mind the unfinished collar and ears that need to be reinforced there folks, nothing to see there... move along...move along) The Woodland Fox test pattern for Jessica of Running with Scissors.

She's launching three absolutely and completely awesome patterns next week, just in time for Halloween costume season.

I volunteered (and got picked!) to help test one of the three.

Jessica's blog, by the way? I swoon over it. Daily. Go visit.

But this fox costume, honestly, could not have come at a better time.

Randomly early last week The Monkey looked up at me out of the blue and says "Momma, I know what I wanna be for Trip-or-Treating... I wanna be an animal like a fox...or a giraffe...but mostly a fox" 

I'm sorry...WHAT? As of two days prior I thought she wanted to be Bat Girl?  And before that she was insistent on being Rapunzel... That kid...oy.  So, Fox it is! If only because I could readily get my hands on the pattern. (hooray for pattern testing!)

And I'll admit it, I work best under deadline. I know this about myself. So knowing I had a little less than a week to get this sucker put together helped me map out a timeline (one night for printing & assembling the pattern, one night for transferring the pattern to freezer paper and cutting out my fabrics, three nights for assembly and viola!)

I'm pretty darn proud of myself.

No...that's certainly NOT a popsicle stick on the floor near her feet. What kind of mother leaves popsicle sticks just lying around like're seeing things...

And Sophie was in awe.

I finished it up (mostly. hush) late last night and it was on the back of her chair this morning at breakfast. She promptly stripped down, put it on and went leaping about the living room, howling at the top of her lungs.

That kid's a trip.

Now the other two want costumes.

What have I gotten myself into?

Thanks again, Jessica for letting me help test this one out - it was a real treat!!




Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Honky Cat

So I'm running errands on my lunch break today...
And it's gorgeous out. Just warm sun, slight breeze, trees-juuuuust-starting-to-turn gorgeous.
And I'd just spent the $20 I'd very specifically earmarked for a bottle of wine as a treat for myself this weekend on fabric instead. Because I have a problem, apparently. It's an addiction people, this fabric thing. I can't even be blamed for it...not really.

Anywho, there I am at a stop light a few blocks from JoAnn's and Elton John's Honky Cat comes on the radio. And I've got all four windows down in the cavalier, hollering along at the top of my lungs, bopping around, drumming on the steering wheel, drumming on the ceiling, playing a mean accompanying keyboard rif on the dash. I was  killing it...

And this lasts through to the next stoplight where, along my left side pulls up a dark midnight blue SUV just absolutely choc full of sinfully attractive males.

And they, in the spirit of the day, have all of their windows down, with various arms and legs hanging out of said windows, like something out of an Abercrombie Catalogue... all loafers and tan arms and blinding bright white smiles.  And I can feel their stares before I turn to witness them... 

And they're cracking up. And I'm drumming. And they're just dying laughing (I hope you peed your pants mr. red-shirt!)  So I shrug, turn crimson in embarrassment, and turn UP the volume to drown out their cackles and catcalls and hoots and whistles and keep singing.

What else was I supposed to do?

I only hope this exact same scenario can be re-enacted when Isabelle's old enough to be supremely embarrassed by it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Running Late. Again

There's just something about watching your kids belt out a song at the top of their lungs that, I'm sure, carries some sort of life lesson. But at 7:55 this morning, I very nearly missed it.

Let me backtrack:

We were running late (shocker, I know). But we weren't just someone-spilled-their-bowl-of-cereal late... we were everyone-overslept-and-two-kids-had-bloody-noses late. My kitchen pretty much looked like a murder scene straight from CSI this morning. Both of the older munchkins had toilet paper stuffed up their nose and I was trying, futilely as is happens, to remove white uniform shirts before the nose blood ruined them completely.

We. Were. Late.

Also? Sophie would NOT stop singing. I'm not talking humming Twinkle Twinkle Little Star quietly in the corner. Oh no. This kid doesn't do ANYthing quietly. No, she was alternately leaping up on the footstool and then on to the kitchen counter, announcing her "stage" entrance each time in a great(tiny)  booming voice. She was singing TV theme songs and cartoon title sequence music. She was making up songs about bloody noses and white shirts 

"...and then they're ruuuuiiiiiiinnnneeddd...forevvvvvver moooooorrreee"

She was unstoppable. And later that's going to be really funny, I know. But at the time I was about to tear my hair out.

Somehow, by the grace of God, two boxes of Kleenex, and nearly an entire container of Clorox Wipes, we made it out the door. Needless to say I was flustered.

Until that Adele song came on.

We were about a block from the school where I drop 2/3 of The Munchkins off for YMCA each morning and we all heard the beginning notes of that song and the car hushed. The kids stopped bickering. It was like magic.

And now we were all singing. Loudly. Mostly in tune. At the top of our lungs. All of us.

And we turned into the parking lot, windows down, radio up, still singing.

And I parked the car, two cars down from a couple teachers pouring themselves out of their little roadster, like a clown car belching out people and canvas totes and travel mugs; and we were still singing.

And I reached out to turn the volume down and the car off, and Sophie says "But Mom...we're allREADY late"

And she was right.

So I just turned the sound up and left the windows down and we sang. And Isabelle's fisting her hands and beating her chest like she knows what the song's about. And Baz is using the brush (the one he was just using to doggedly slick back his hair, 1950s greaser style) as a microphone. And The Monkey's swaying back and forth, head tipped back, lyrics just tumbling out. 

It's been a weepy sort of weekend on my end, so there's no (more) shame in telling you I almost teared up at the sight... I would have, really, if I hadn't been laughing so damn hard.
Sometimes, it pays to be late to work. Sometimes these random stolen moments in the car together, where we accidentally entertain parking lots full of people also running late for work, are worth it.

Also? The teachers? The clapped for us when the song was over.
It's funny what no longer embarrasses me in public.



I still get goosebumps and that crazy i-like-a-boy feeling in the pit of my stomach when Mr. Handsome asks me out to lunch...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Grown Up Wrap Sundress

I wasn't kidding when I said I was sewing up a storm last weekend.
I completely forgot to post this little  beauty:

It's actually an adult variation of the Snap Wrap Toddler Dress I stumbled upon over at Prudent Baby

There's no reason to re-hash the assembly of the dress because the ladies over at Prudent Baby have done such a lovely job the first time around. I dutifully printed out my pattern pieces, fully intending on using that gorgeous peach patterned double gauze on dresses for The Biz & The Monkey. But somewhere along the way I just couldn't give it up. I loved that fabric too much. It looked just right against my tan. 

So I kept it. Yep, I'm selfish. So sue me.

I found, however, that I really liked the idea of a wrap dress, especially considering the 100 degree Saturday we were facing. So Friday night I pulled out a roll of freezer paper and, using my measurements, and the Snap Wrap Dress Pattern as a guide, drafted my own adult version of the pattern.

Oh Look! It's Aimee's as-yet unfinished quilt in the background there. *facepalm*  I have more unfinished projects laying about the house than I care to admit in public...

It came together simply and beautifully in just under two hours (And honestly? Most of that time was spent ironing and pressing the darn hems and seams. Grrrr. It's so tedious, but so worth it in the end.)
The dress is easy and breezy and I love it.
I think it'll even pair well with my brown boots and a chunky sweater on top once Fall is firmly entrenched here.

And, because The Munchkins' photo skills are not quite up to par just yet, and because my arms just aren't long enough to do a self-portrait justice, you'll have to settle for Eloise modeling the dress in my stead.

(Yes, Yes I did name my dressform. I name my houseplants for heaven's sake and they hardly last a week anymore. It's honestly a wonder I can keep three kidlets alive and flourishing when I have the ability to kill jade and aloe plants... sheesh.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies

The Weekend was a blur of baking and sewing and our first real taste of fall-like weather.
We ran around all weekend. First at RibFest America on Saturday
And going to the Dollar Theater to see Mr. Poppers Penguins (which was adorable and perfectly popular with all the progeny) 

With all that running around, we needed appropriate fall recipes to fill our bellies. And the internet did not disappoint!
I stumbled across this recipe while lurking for something that included both pumpkin (which I always have on hand, because, well, why not?) and chocolate chips.
And let me tell you we absolutely INHALED these at my house.

We'll be making these again really soon.

Yield: 24 small brownies

1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 whole egg
2 egg whites
1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Line an 11″- x 7″-inch pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, eggs and oil until smooth.  Set aside.

In a separate medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, spices, salt and brown sugar.  Add to the wet ingredients and mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until passes toothpick test.

Cool completely before cutting.


I'm sure this is what they would have looked like all lovely and plated, had we not gobbled them all up in one sitting while curled up on the couch with The Munchkins watching The Dark Crystal, whatever.

Oliver+S Bucket Hat

I found myself with a few Munchkin-Free hours this weekend and wrapped up the Oliver+S Bucket Hat I'd been procrastinating.

I think it turned out pretty darn cute...mostly because of Mr. Man's fabric choices and not my wonky concentric stitched rings around the brim. oy.

The printed side was a home deco. weight Dwell Studios fabric, so I just used a very lightweight interfacing in the brim. I'm already planning hats for the girls...even though The Monkey tried her best to claim this one.

^this one NEVER sits still...^

I ended up fully machine stitching this one because I was down to the wire to finish it before the 1st...also I'm essentially lazy. so there's that.  Also? I didn't used as many pins as I thought I might. I pulled out the gigantor pin cushion and ended up only pinning at the seams & notches (so four places) when stitching the crown to the sides and the sides to the brims, respectively. In lieu of pinning the crap out of it, I just worked slowly, letting the feed dogs do their thing and helping them along with my finger tips. 

And, now that I've successfully (relatively speaking) tackled this project, I've got to make a couple for the girls...

Why doesn't he have a shirt on? Why is he blurry? These are questions I dare not attempt to answer. He loves the hat though. They tend to love their things more when they get to pick the fabric!

Friday, September 2, 2011


It's Friday.
It's been a rough week.
And not just for me it sounds like...
so I'm offering up this lovely little animated gif I found over on from me too you.
She makes all kinds of these enchanting little things. Aren't they fantastic?

And remember, there's nothing so awful that a cocktail, on a back porch, under a canopy of swaying lights can't help to cure.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Okay. I might have a problem.

I made more.
I can't help myself

Since I've been on a bit of a quilting binge lately, I have very little to show for myself except the insistence that I've been working lately. Enter these little guys, who can be finished en masse in a single evening. So satisfying.

A Superman and an Incredible Hulk and a Spiderman came off the production line the other evening as well, but I could not pry them from my son's hands long enough to get a decent picture.
I'm taking that as a compliment.

My Girls

Did you know... When we got back in the car after leaving Jill's house last Thursday, Sophie screwed up her face all confused and concentrating-y asked me "Why did you say 'I love you' to Jill??"  (because i did. I tossed it back over my shoulder as I was herding everyone out the front door, like I always do, automatically, without hardly thinking about it any more.)

And so I had to explain to Sophie...and then repeat it multiple times for Isabelle & Baz to hear (because they are of an age where they like nothing better than to hear stories from when I was a kid) That I said it because I had, in fact, known all of those girls for nearly as long as I could remember back. I explained that they'd been my friends since I was Sophie's age! (four) And they all gasped and said "No Way!"

I had to explain that Jill & I attended Rainbow Learning Land preschool together and that we were the only two girls in our entire class (a fact we take great pride in, by the way). I explained that Stephanie and I were cheerleaders together when were just a little older than Isabelle. That we wore white sweaters with green appliqued Ms on them, and kelly green and white pleated skirts and side ponytails together on Saturdays when our  brothers played football and soccer. I explained that Karrie & I ran back in the neighborhoods together for track practice in high school, and that she was my first non-family member roommate, and that we lived together in college and burnt popcorn and green plastic plates together; and had unnatural obsessions with foreign college soccer team members together.

I had to explain that I said "I love you" to these girls that night, and every time I talked to them on the phone or in person, for the exact same reason that I said it to their Uncle Tony or their Aunt Jane or their Uncle Vinny. I said it because those girls are my family, but it was a special kind of family that I got to choose for myself...

And then it dissolved into discussion about families and different kinds of families and that the important thing about a family was love...and then Sebastian mentioned one of his friends had two mommies and how did that work? ...and all just sort of deteriorated from there.

But anyway.

Point being.

Love you guys.


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