Sunday, November 28, 2010

Proud to be a part of Indie Craft Month at Rebel Reclaimed

 I am super happy to have my needle felted work featured at the fantastic and amazing shop, Rebel Reclaimed, at 926 E Fulton St in Grand Rapids.  If you're looking for the perfect, one-of-a-kind gift or something special for yourself, this is definitely the place to go.  My husband and I are painstakingly working on our kitchen, bit by bit, using shades of aqua and persimmon.  When I stopped in Rebel Reclaimed, the proprietor, Dann, had a wooden pedestal made of found wood pieces, topped with a glass cloche, that was just perfect, in the exact hues we're using in our kitchen.  Here it is with a tree stump pin cushion I made for the Indie Craft Month event at Rebel Reclaimed that's going on right now.

I find something I adore every time I stop in - there are handmade folk art pieces, restored vintage finds, and repurposed and redesigned objects that make my heart beat faster. ;)

Rebel Reclaimed

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Little Wicker Rocking Chair

Since the last photos of the nursery were taken, I've replaced the little brown rocker with a gift from my mother: a vintage rocking chair in yellow wicker with a patchwork pillow seat. When I was a girl, I had a brown wicker rocker with a patchwork seat that I loved, but it disappeared somehow. They will neither confirm nor deny it, but I strongly suspect that my dad and brother thought the raggedy little thing was junk and burned it in one of their garage-purging sessions, so this gift was an especially sweet gesture from Mom.  Here it is in my baby girl's room with an owl-print blanket I made (more on that in another post).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It Just Comes Naturally Now

Though for most of my adult life I wasn't sure I even wanted to be a mother, save for a short time in my early twenties, which my husband (then-fiancé) salved with a tiny pitbull puppy I named Ava. Parenthood seemed so unglamourous, and for the most part, it is. Tonight, I walk through our creaking old farmhouse and glance in a bubbly mirror as I pass by and see myself with an infant on my hip, my face looking content and comfortable, and I am glad that I went for it, happy that we've been so fortunate, and constantly amazed that something so commonplace is extraordinary to me.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

At 2:00 am...

She's sleeping, with her lips pursed just the way I did when I was tiny. I pick her up and she arches her back, stretching. Her hair stands straight out from the back of her head in little wisps that make my chest ache. I think of her brother, when he would finish nursing with a startled, scrunched face and disheveled hair, looking like vintage Jack Nicholson. That old joke about how we begin and end life in diapers. Reminders of mortality in small moments. I think maybe this is something like how she will look when she is old, and I realize with a pang that I won't live to see that. I hope whoever does will
see just how beautiful she is.

Things That Make Me Happy

1.  A smiling baby face 2 inches from my own when I wake in the morning.
2.  A little boy flexing his muscles in an inflatable pool.
3.  My husband making woo-hoo noises at me when I change into my pajamas.
4.  Raw cookie dough.
5.  Reading a new book late at night.
6.  Rereading an old book and being surprised by things I've forgotten.
7.  Looking for treasures in a thrift shop.
8.  People who laugh loudly and without inhibition.
9.  The scent of lilacs.
10.  Donating money to the causes that are most important to me.
11.  Dreaming about realistic goals, such as owning a small, crumbly house in my favorite village in Greece.
12.  Dreaming unrealistically, such as playing Penelope Cruz's role in "Nine".
13. Sleeping late.
14. Buying apple butter from a roadside stand at an Amish farm.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Things My Son Has Said (And I Found Amusing)

1.  Mama, you are splendid.
2.  You're a genius, Mom!  (in response to a very minor fix to one of his toys)
3.  Mom, when the baby goes back in your belly, we can go for a bike ride.
4.  Jackson and I both drink dog water.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jeffrey D

Do you remember how we used to walk our pitbulls down the sidewalk and terrorize the unnecessary bouncers at that pretentious bar, Grass? You called it "Ass". You were always so indignant about pretension, and would travel coach with your Louis Vuitton bags. I loved that about you. I also loved how you would wear a pair of white jeans and let them drag in the dirt and not worry about keeping them immaculate. I emulate you in these ways, so as not to take myself so seriously. You could be extremely self-conscious, but you taught me how to laugh at so many things, without being cruel. We would go to a nice sushi restaurant in our paint-covered clothes and dried sweat and sit outside and drink margaritas for you and Thai iced teas for me. You taught me how to eat edamame and laughed your teeth out when I first picked up one of the pods you had already emptied and put it in my mouth. We shopped at Saks in leather flip-flops and cut-off jeans and spent hours in Target, perusing every aisle. We bought old houses a few blocks away from each other in a gritty neighborhood in Miami and prided ourselves on living there and loving it just as it was. I just read in Elle Decor that there is now a Christian Louboutin store a few blocks away from where we lived, and it crushes my heart that I can't call you and tell you that so we can cackle over our prescience. We fought like mad and just as quickly let things go, like children do. You were my best friend, my brother, and my sister. Once you told me that in a past life, you were an aristocrat, and I was your servant, which infuriated me then, and makes me laugh now. I called you "Princess" to get under your skin, then I noticed you changed your ebay ID to "honkytonkprincess", and I realized you secretly loved it.

You met my son once, and I'm so thankful for that. I always thought my children would grow up with you in their lives, and it breaks my heart that they will miss out on knowing such an amazing person and such an incredible heart. When I point to you in a photograph, my son calls you "Mommy's Jeffrey". I took for granted that you would always be in my life, because I knew that our love was so big, that nothing we could say or do would ever be bigger than that. For months after you died, I felt you in my baby's bedroom at night, and I kept telling you not to appear in the dark or you would scare me to death, but I never saw you at night or in the daylight. Sometimes, when I was driving on a sunny day and a Prince song was playing, you were in the passenger seat with me. You went a lot of places with me the summer after you died. I saw you in my dreams and even in those dreams, we both knew you were gone from this world. I don't see you or feel you as often any more, and I hope that means that you were able to move on, and that you and Petunia are walking together somewhere beautiful. I hope Petunia has lots of seagulls to chase and you have designer shoes to wear, and I hope you know how madly you were adored by me and by everyone else who thought of you as their one, true, soulmate friend. I will never stop missing you and I will never stop loving you, Jeffrey.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

Today was one of those magical days, where everything is ordinary but seems so special. From the morning spent in bed with my husband, my son, and my baby, giggling and wrestling and playing "monster under the covers", to finding my husband and son asleep in the rocking chair upstairs, a Curious George book open on their laps. The baby shared the first smiles of her life with us today. My son and I walked outside in the sun, searching for frogs in our small pond, and counted the seven goldfish and one koi in the larger fountain, while baby sister napped in my arms. We ate spinach & feta pizza and chicken wings and licked homemade barbeque sauce from our fingers. My son wore his first ever red koolaid moustache. My husband and son built train tracks on the floor, while the baby laughed out loud in her sleep. Tonight, we visited our neighbors in the evening and walked back in the dark along the gravel road, with a flashlight to guide us home.


Winter Reading List

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In the Pink

I had about 2 weeks notice that we needed to change our nursery from blue to pink. At first, I was thrilled, and then I panicked. I chose the pear green paint color because I knew it would be fine for both genders, but I had always planned on having months to make the changes from blue and boyish themes to pink and more feminine details, if it worked out that way. However, our baby girl kept curling her legs under and didn't want it known until the last possible minute that she would be needing a nursery makeover. Luckily, I am (more than) a bit mad, and have been stockpiling those "just in case" girl items for years, so I had a Dwell for Target bedding set in "Farm Girl" with all of the accessories (bought super-cheap on clearance, of course), some wall decals that I picked up because I thought they were cute, the birdie mobile, and the little mushroom nightlight. My husband spray-painted the wooden number/letter set on the wall by the rocker, and I found the hatbox set and lampshade on Land of Nod's website. My mother gave me the vintage milk glass lamp years ago; I've been storing it, waiting for the perfect place to use it in this house. I also found a pink and white tole chandelier for $20, but my photos of that didn't turn out well, so I have to wait for another sunny day and try again.
For the curtains, I found exactly what I wanted at Pottery Barn in pink velvet. The nursery is in the northwest corner of our drafty old farmhouse and can get really chilly without heavy drapes, so I like to use velvet or lined silk in the bedrooms. I told one of my childhood friends the cost for all three windows, and she shamed me into making them myself with candy-pink velvet I purchased on eBay, for a savings of more than $150.00. Once I got going, they really weren't difficult to make, and I finished all three panels in a few hours. I think the color is actually prettier than the PB ones, and the fabric is a nice, heavy cotton velvet, too.

We moved the Mary Blair "Small World" tapestry that was above the changing table to my son's bedroom, and replaced it with the decals. I also have plans to needlefelt some little birds and make a sort of mobile above it.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Not So Out of This World

It took more than two months, but I completed the quilt I've been working on for my son, and I was so excited to give it to him. While I was sewing, he would ask, "It's a special blanket for ME?!?", so I thought he was going to love it. While he was at preschool, I went into his room and made up the bed with his new quilt, then told him I had a surprise for him when we got home. He ran up the stairs and into his room, filled with excitement, then stopped and said, "Um, I don't really like quilts, Mom."


So, for the last week, he's been making nests out of his old baby blankets and throwing my quilt off of his bed. Then, after putting my son to sleep tonight, my husband came down the stairs and told me that he said, "I'm cold - I want my quilt, Dad!" Maybe all of those late nights and pricked fingers weren't a huge waste of time after all...

If you're looking for modern or whimsical fabrics, I highly recommend Fabricworm. I shopped from Etsy, but they have a separate website, too. Cynthia & Andrea are super helpful, answer and ship quickly, and Cynthia helped me immensely with the fabrics for this quilt, even putting together and taking pics of the ones I liked, so I could see how they looked before I bought everything. It's difficult for me to see separate pages of fabrics and visualize how they'll look assembled, so I can't thank Cynthia enough for that.

Here's a close-up of the fabric and the borders and binding I added. I started with a pattern for a lap quilt, and used that for the basic layout with the double border and changed the dimensions to make it a twin. I also bought a book, Better Homes & Gardens Complete Guide to Quilting, that had detailed instructions for rotary cutting the squares and the border/binding strips, how to attach the binding, etc. which was very useful, since I had just been winging it before. I'm still not very precise, and I can't sew a straight line to save my life, but luckily, I like things to look handmade.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sweets For My Sweet

I finished the felted sugar cookies shortly after I made the oatmeal cookies and am just now getting around to posting the pics. These are really simple to make with a round cookie cutter, some natural, undyed wool, and a few candy colors for frosting. I use a multi-needle tool to make the initial cookie shape quickly, then finish with single needles.

After "eating" all of his cookies, my son said he was very thirsty...

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Tea Party

While cooking at his wooden kitchen playset, my son asked me where were his cookies. I've been meaning to needle felt him a few cookies for months (and months!), so I felt a twinge of guilt, then put them on my mental "projects list". Nevermind that my husband says I don't need any more projects, since I'm currently sewing a quilt, needle-felting a doll, and working at my Stella & Dot jewelry business, all while renovating our kitchen. I like it this way, I tell him.

So, one night, I felted two oatmeal raisin cookies, though the husband (he has quite a few opinions, doesn't he?) said they looked like chocolate chip. I don't like chocolate chip, so I say they're oatmeal raisin, though I can see how they could be either. In the morning, my son was thrilled, and decided to have a tea party with the cookies. Since his main interests are cars, trains, machines, and demolition, I was pretty pleased that he was so excited and took literally 54 photos of him playing. Sadly, uploading those pics is still on that mental "projects list", so I'll have to post those later...

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

In Another Life

Lately, my three-year-old son has started saying to me, "You're my best mommy ever!" Tonight, I asked, "Exactly how many mommies have you had?"
"Two," he replied.
"Who was your first mommy?"
"It was you!"
"So I wasn't that great the first time around?"
"Yes, you was!" he laughed.
"But I'm better at it this time?"

I just love the idea of lifetimes of being this happy, trying to get it right with this kid, and each time, being his "best mommy ever".


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Right On the Money

My husband had the day off today, so he spent it with my son, taking him to his class at the library, lunch, shopping for toy cars, etc. I went to an appointment, had lunch with a friend, then went shopping. And shopping. And shopping. Everywhere I went, it seemed like everything was on clearance, and I am not the kind of girl who can resist things marked down to $2. I finally came home, hours later than I said I would be, and found that this was my Yahoo horoscope for today:

Still not ready to quit shopping? Still patrolling the malls, local specialty stores and boutiques in search of just the right price on the perfect accessory? Well, fine, if it makes you happy. But you ought to consider that you'll probably want to have a couple of bucks left over to pick up something nice for your sweetie. Bring the spree that wouldn't die to a close now. While you still have some available credit.

Monday, January 25, 2010


I woke up to blue lights flashing in my eyes and a siren wailing in my bedroom. My three-year-old was holding a sounds-and-lights Lego Duplo piece about 2 inches from my eyes, saying, "Time to get up, Mom!" I am so not a morning person...


Then we had a little potty-training incident this morning, and my stubborn toddler asked me, "Are you happy, Mom?". "Not right now," I replied, "I'm disappointed." "No," he said with this earnest expression on his little bitty face, "you're my great mom. You're so happy. I think you're happy, Mom." And just like that, I was.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Rotary Cutting Rocks

So, cutting strips and squares with a
rotary cutter is definitely the way to go. I'm sure this is old news for experienced quilters, but it was truly a revelation to me when I saw how straight and even my cuts are and how quickly I could cut out the 130 squares I need for this quilt. Hopefully, this will help my columns line up better than they did when I was hand-cutting everything.

This is the first row I assembled. My son is very interested in the whole process, and keeps asking me, "This is a special blanket for my big boy bed? For ME?" I'm loving that I told him it was a quilt, and he's calling it a "special blanket" and saying "for ME" like he can't believe it's for him. There is such a thing as too much interest, of course, as I discovered tonight when I couldn't figure out why my machine was working so slowly, then realized it was because someone had adjusted my speed settings...