29.6.10

Tidy

Here is my sewing box (and sewing box contents.) I'm not sure how long I've had this sewing box or exactly where I acquired it (an antique shop along the way...) I know I've been using it at least 17 years & I don't think I've ever cleaned it out. To make matters worse, a few years ago one of the upper compartments became detached. Whenever I went rummaging for buttons or thread, the upper box on the right would come crashing down, spilling its contents everywhere. It was a sad state of affairs. I dreaded hunting for my pin cushion. Luckily, I saved the small wooden pieces, the screws & the washers...

And today I repaired my old sewing box.

Ta-daaaa!

And then there have been the larger cleaning-out projects... My husband is a light sleeper, so no family bed for us. Baby will have his own room which means giving up the room we had been using as an office/creative space/guest room. However, in a 1250 sq. foot house every inch of space counts. Here you can see my craft & letter writing supplies neatly sorted into tidy white boxes (& placed on high shelves in the baby's room.) A box for stationary, envelopes & thank you notes. A box for old letters & newspaper clippings. A box for origami & scrapbook paper. A box for rubber stamps, ink pads & glitter. A box for ribbons, string, feathers, hole punches & silvery stars...

My house is almost as tidy as the little one you see above... Now, on to the disaster zone which we refer to as our garage...

Yikes.

28.6.10

Paris Patisseries

Today I read this book from cover to cover. Maybe it would be more accurate to say I devoured it? Really, it's left me feeling slightly unhinged.

I rushed through photos of the pastries and descriptions of Paris Patisseries. I was looking for the recipes. Finally, at the back of the book, there was a meager 7 pages. Aha! The recipes!

Now, seriously... Am I going to be making an Iced Cacao Dacquoise with Calisson Ice Cream and Shards of Extra-Bitter Chocolate any time soon? No... But I like to dream...

27.6.10

Twice Blessed

Over the past week, every time I went out to the garden, I could have sworn I heard the demented squeaky-toy chirping of hungry baby birds. I glanced casually up into the trees looking for a nest, & then yesterday I noticed a little chickadee darting from the nesting box in the big oak tree. The chickadees have nested again -- our garden has been twice blessed...

Here's mama bird, off to find more food for her babies...

Meanwhile, apologies if you read the title of this post and were expecting news of baby Bloom. Officially, he still has another 2 weeks, but he could decide to make his appearance any day now.

26.6.10

Movie Night: It's all about the Pirates

In our house, we love movies, and lately there has been a fascination with all things pirate-related. Pirates, of course, are crucial to the story of Peter Pan and so it's natural that movie versions of Peter Pan would join our line-up for viewing. If you're familiar with the original story of Peter Pan then you may agree with me that the Disney version is a mere shadow of J.M. Barrie's book.

There is, however, a gorgeous live-action version of Peter Pan. If you want to track it down, it was released in 2003 and directed by P.J. Hogan (Jason Isaacs a.k.a. Lucious Malfoy plays Captain Hook.) It's truly magical...

Also in our pirate-related movie line-up are several versions of Treasure Island. Little Mr. B. & Mr. Bloom both favor this Disney version made in 1950...

And we all loved this quaint 1934 version directed by Victor Fleming. Shiver me timbers... A fine swashbuckling tale for any young scallywag.

23.6.10

Update: Vegetable Garden


Finally! Our small plot at the side of the house is finished and the plants are in the ground (just in time for the summer solstice.) I am fully aware that we're running a little late on this project, but here in California I figure we've still got another 3+ months to grow & harvest. We've planted a pumpkin vine, a cucumber vine, a summer squash vine, a zucchini vine, 2 tomato plants, 6 strawberry plants, 6 blue-lake bean vines plus some nasturtiums & morning glories just for fun. Now we will just water our little sprouts and watch them grow...

22.6.10

8 Surprising Things About Me

Here's more fun from my friend Kathy over at Everyday Bliss. Kathy has started a new meme called, "8 Surprising Things About Me." Here are Kathy's rules of engagement:

Tag 6 friends/bloggers. People who are tagged (& choose to participate) will write these rules in their own blogs & share eight things about themselves that others might not know. At the end of the their blog post, they will tag six people and list their (blog) names. They will then leave a comment on the blogs of the people they’ve chosen, telling them they’ve been tagged and encouraging them to come over and read the eight things they’ve written on their blog.

Kathy did not officially tag me, so I'm not going to play by the rules. I won't be tagging anyone else, but if you happen to be reading this and want to play along, please just join in and post your own "8 Surprising Things!"
(Also, don't forget to link to Kathy over at her blog Everyday Bliss...)

Now, without any further ado, here are my "8 Surprising Things":

1 -- I am terrible at bowling. My nickname when I go bowling is "Gutterball Queen." But the last time we went bowling with Sweet Husband & Child, we had the bumpers up and I bowled the best game of my life. My new nickname is "Bankshot Betty." I am also terrible at ice skating.

2 -- I hate being photographed in my glasses (I do, however, love my geek-chic, tortoise-shell frames.) I will gladly be photographed in my sunglasses (I think everyone looks good in sunglasses -- they lend an aura of glamor and mystery.)


3 -- I would drink coffee all day if I could.


4 -- I think gasoline should be taxed to the point at which it costs at least $7/gallon. It might make some people in this country more conscious about the vehicles they choose to drive (or not to drive) and would (I suspect) create more support for better public-transit infrastructure.

5 -- I own a pair of red cowboy boots and am not afraid to wear them.

6 -- My favorite kitchen implements are my fluted tart pans. Just saying (or even thinking) the words "fluted tart pan" makes me smile. A good spatula is very useful, as is a dutch oven, a paella pan, a baking sheet, a sauce pan or a stock pot. It's hard to prepare a meal without a sharp knife, but, for me, nothing else holds the charm of fluted tart pans. And yes, just in case you were wondering, my fluted tart pans do have removable bottoms, which, if you use a little imagination, sounds naughty (but it's not...)

7-- I am obsessed with the Harry Potter series.
Order of the Phoenix was one of the first books I ever read to Sweet Child. The book arrived 2 weeks after he did, so I read it to him.

8 -- I heard a song today on my car radio by Tom Waites. I like songs by Tom Waites. I haven't listened to music by Tom Waites in a while. I think I'll listen to music by Tom Waites more often. And speaking of music, I wish I could play the accordian...

* * *
So, now you know.

Butterflies


A few days ago, one by one, our butterflies emerged from their chrysalids. Yesterday we set them free in the garden...

21.6.10

Our Weekend: Greetings from Sebastopol


At least three times a year we head up to Sonoma County to visit our friends in Sebastopol. We met before our children were born and now my friend J. is like a sister to me. Our children are fast friends and have been playing together even from the very beginning... When oldest daughter K. was a newborn, she lay on my 4-month pregnant stomach while Little Mr. bounced around like a little frog beneath her. I'm sure he was saying, "Just you wait until I can come out and play..."

Now J. has 3 children and when we visit, all our little ones dash around through orchards & fields like sprites -- we only hear from them when they're hungry and are tired of eating apples (Sebastopol is famous for Gravenstein apple trees.)

Our friends recently moved from their small house set on 5 acres of apple orchard to a larger house with fewer apple trees. Fewer apple trees will mean fewer apples, but certainly, come autumn, there will be plenty of apples for a gaggle of children and Scarlet the horse. (Do you have any idea how many apples you get from 5-acres of orchard? More apple pie than you can ever imagine!)

The consolation at the new house? This wonderful elm-tree swing...

I love crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, but when I cross it on the way home from visiting our friends in Sebastopol I'm always sad. I miss the grassy fields and grazing dairy cows, I miss the chickens & road-side signs declaring "local honey" or "fresh eggs here", I miss the endless apple trees & beautiful bakeries but most of all, I miss our friends. I hope to see you again soon J., M., K., K. & Z.!

20.6.10

Happy Eleven Years

For better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health... Over the past 11 years I think we've put it all to the test. If I had to do it over, I wouldn't change a thing. I'd always say "yes" to you again. Happy anniversary my love...

18.6.10

Obsession

The sun has gone from the shining skies,
The dandelions have closed their eyes,

The stars are lighting their lamps to see

If babes and squirrels and birds and bees

Are sound asleep as they should be.

(Anonymous)


Every few years I buy an album of music which I cannot stop listening to. I listen in the car then, when I get home, I bring the CD into the house so I can listen some more. My current obsession is Natalie Merchant's most recent album -- a 2-CD set called Leave Your Sleep.

In the liner notes, Merchant relates that her inspiration for the album was sharing poetry with her own child. The songs are all poems written for children & set to music in a variety of styles. There are no less than 4 musical arrangements which include accordion, which, as far as I'm concerned, is nothing less than fabulous. The CD set comes with an elegant little book which includes all the poetry/lyrics and fascinating biographical information on each of the poets featured. The poems are dreamy and some of the music to which they are set is even dreamier.

I think my favorite is Equestrienne by Rachel Field:

See, they are clearing the sawdust course
For the girl in the pin on the milk-white horse.
Her spangles twinkle; his pale flanks shine,
Every hair of his tail is fine
And bright as a comet's; his mane blows free,
And she points a toe and bends a knee,
And while his hoofbeats fall like rain
Over and over and over again.
And nothing that moves on land and sea
Will seem so beautiful to me
As the girl in pink on the milk-white horse
Cantering over the sawdust course.

Shayna Punim

Yesterday I opened my mailbox. Lo and behold -- a mysterious package sent from afar! The package contained a tiny onesie with handcraft lettering.

Shayna punim means "beautiful face" in Yiddish. It's something a great-auntie, with her cabbage-y cheeks smelling of face powder & hair spray, might say as she gives a firm, coral nail-polished pinch to a rosy toddler cheek. "Oy!" great auntie would say, "Such a shayna punim!"

Thank you Wendy (of Little Green Bums) for creating this adorableness!!!

17.6.10

'Tis the Season


When I look down and I see the tips of my toes polished red... I know it's summertime!

My other favorite signs of summer? Plums, watermelon & corn, peonies, foxglove, & dahlias... What are your favorite signs of summer?

16.6.10

A Midrash Tale

I first heard this story about 16 years ago from a rabbi -- about how an Angel touches above each baby's lip to silence the child from speaking of the history of the soul and mysteries of heaven. In addition, the angel extinguishes the light which enables the soul to see to the ends of the universe. In this way the secrets of the soul remain hidden and the baby enters the world crying for all the lost secrets of heaven. The sign of this angel's touch is the philtrum -- the small indentation between the nose and upper lip.

I wonder about my baby in these last few weeks before his birth. I wonder what secrets he may forget and which ones he might still remember...

15.6.10

Night-Light

"Can anything harm us, mother, after the night-lights are lit?" "Nothing, precious," she said; "They are the eyes a mother leaves behind her to guard her children." -- J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan)

I'm still dreaming Peter Pan dreams. We've been reading this book series and saw this show a few weeks ago. And so I'm dreaming of Peter Pan...

The telling of the story of Peter Pan, by tradition, starts in the bedroom of the 3 Darling children. In the performance a few weeks ago there were 4 night-lights set around the edges of the stage.

The night-lights were simple houses -- they looked like they were made of unadorned cardboard. I asked Little Mr. B. if he would like me to make one for him. Of course he said, "Yes..."

I rummaged around on-line for a pattern and found this one (which I adapted to fit some scraps of recycled cardboard.)

The vellum paper in the windows is optional, but I think it looks beautiful (it glows softly when lit.) Also, a base (with trap-door for the battery-operated candle) is optional. The base, however, adds stability to the little structure.

Good night... Sleep tight...

Sweet dreams to you...

14.6.10

Today

Our first official day of summer vacation...

Little Mr. waded in a creek...

I stacked stones...

And along the trail...

We made a new friend...

Our Weekend

Another batch of cupcakes and a round of "Happy Birthday..."

11 children between the ages of 3 & 7 scurrying around the forest floor collecting crickets, pill-bugs, spiders, beetles, the fattest, fuzziest caterpillars I've ever seen and one scary scorpion (fear not -- it was a catch & release program!)

Happy Bug-day!

10.6.10

Happy Birdie

As a holiday gift, Little Mr. B. had asked me to make him a family of barn swallows from a pattern in this issue of Living Craft magazine. I sewed another gift for him in December (a bathrobe), but was not able to complete the bird family.

Happy Birthday my Little Mr... Here is a little bird for you. I even made a nest (though not accurate to the construction of a real barn swallow nest...) The rest of the family is on the way...

7.6.10

Finding Fairies

Last week we were visiting friends. When I went in search of Little Mr. B. to gather him up for our trip home, I found him & his little friend A. leaping around the room, plucking things out of the air and tucking them into little boxes. They were catching fairies (and magical fairy-leaf-hoppers which, apparently, are companions to these fairies.)

This put me in mind of an art project I had done with Little Mr. three-and-a-half years ago to welcome the winter fairies. Yes, our winter-fairy-welcoming committee has been perched on a bookshelf for these several years, and I decided it was time to re-visit the project.

For the winter-fairy project I took inspiration from the book (sadly out of print) Creating with Paper by Pauline Johnson, but today I was inspired by the book above (also out of print...)

I started by drawing a circle, 6 inches in diameter on a light weight card-stock...

Then I drew lines across the circle, vertically and horizontally.

Optimally, the eyes and elbows line up across the horizontal line. The skirt of the fairy will fall below the horizontal line and the wings will flutter above.

Little Mr. wanted a boy fairy, too, so I designed one...

I've drawn the cut-lines for you in dark pencil.

You will also need to cut from elbow to armpit, and then down from the armpit another 1/4 inch on each side.

Now this part is a little hard to explain... You'll slide the cut on the outside of the right wing into the cut on the inside of the left wing.

The skirt should bell-out in front...


And the wings will cross in back... Unfortunately, the pretty wing-designs will end up in back, but I like to think of this as an opportunity to start afresh on new wing designs for the front!

Here are the magical fairy-leaf-hoppers as imagined and designed by Little Mr...




On Wednesday we'll be celebrating the birthday of Little Mr. and we'll be finding fairies. Happy fairy-finding to you, too...

P.S. If you have any questions about how to cut the wings so they fold together correctly, please leave a comment or send an e-mail and I will get back to you with (what is hopefully) a better explanation.