Friday, December 22, 2006

This is It!

Today is my last day of teaching until next year! I know that by the time January 3rd rolls around, I will be grateful to be back with my students, but today, I am counting the hours down!

Happy Holidays to you! Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Things I Want to Do Over Winter Break

1. Go thrifting
2. Spend time crafting
3. Catch up on all of my blog reading
4. Read a novel that was written for adults
5. Go on a date with my husband
6. Eat lots of delicious food
7. See friends and family
8. Sleep

Only five more school days until break! Yippee!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Artist at Work

We've been busy. Please excuse my lack of posting. It is not that I don't want to post, it is that the Internet doesn't want me to post.

In the meantime, we've been coloring.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

29,836 + 30= One Crazy November

Wow. I can't believe it is Day 30 of NaBloPoMo. Thirty posts in thirty days. The time just flew by! Well, except for the few days I was too tired to post anything interesting or engaging. For you, those days were probably a drag.

I'd like to give a shout out to all the readers this month. Many days, the only little boost I get is seeing the dots on the map thanks to the tracking services of Sitemeter. That's right people. I'm watching you! I know I've got lots of lurkers and I hope eventually you will feel comfortable enough to post a comment. Even if it is just to correct a spelling error or point out my incorrect use of helping verbs.

And to some of the new visitors who have made their way here from the NaBloPoMo pink elephant search: Welcome! Hope you will continue to come back for more. I'm glad you're here.

And finally, a big thank you to Fussy. Without Fussy, I wouldn't have made it a daily habit to write. And without her and NaBloPoMo, I wouldn't have been reminded about that other Na thing that people do in November, National Novel Writing Month. And I wouldn't have completed a 29,836-word young adult manuscript without that reminder.

So thanks, readers! And thanks, Fussy! I'll make sure to mention all of you on the credits page of my novel!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Trimming the Tree

I spent two hours during senior citizen day at the mall and found ornaments for the tree. I went with simple silver organic shapes and some meaningful ornaments including a panda, an owl, a fish and a peacock, all which are favorites of Oscar.

I unwrapped and the boys decorated. As you can see, they did an excellent job.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

When Two Means Five

There are few cases in the world when two inches really means five inches. I know you are thinking perhaps of the example of some men's measuring abilities in regards to certain parts of their bodies.

What I am referring to is the two inches I asked to have cut off the bottom of my hair today. The stylist, or should I say, the hair cutter, must have been using the same "measurement" guidelines that some men use.

Aren't bad haircuts a bummer? Like today, I went in, all excited, ready to embark on the next phase of my life. The new haircut phase. The swinging, shiny haircut phase. The "Gee, My Hair Not Only Smells Terrific, It Also Looks Terrific" phase.

Instead I am in the "Crap, I Can't Even Pull This Into a Decent Ponytail" phase. The "I Guess I'll Just Use a Lot of Product" phase. The "Maybe I Should Just Go and Get It All Chopped Off" phase.

Why can't my trips to the salon be like it is for the people on "What Not To Wear" when the guy with the beard cuts their hair? Where the magic of face shape and hair texture and product mixed with the perfect cut and color yield dazzling and breath-intaking awe?

I had a haircut like that once. Her name was Brigette. She was my husband's before she was mine. She took a simple look from the Garnet Hill catalog and her shiny silver scissors and transformed me. Sigh.

That's what I want for the holidays. That slow-motion, hair-swinging high that comes from an incredible cut.

Because that is definitely not what I got today.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Yes, It's Real

Obviously, we went for the real thing.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I'm Gonna Unschool You!

Check out this interesting article on homeschooling or unschooling, as some call it, over at the New York Times.

As a trained educator who is constantly thinking about how I can reach and teach all of my students, I find some of the ideas held by homeschoolers to be downright brilliant. Let kids learn about what they want? Fantastic idea! Let kids dictate what time of day and what environment they want to learn in? Excellent, sign me up! Teach kids about everyday applicable skills that are necessary for living a full life? I'm so there!

I was first exposed to homeschoolers when I was living out in Seattle. Homeschooling was very prevalent there and since I was in the educational toy industry, I got lots of chances to talk and interact with families who had chosen that route for their kids. Some of the people were great and some of them were a little cuckoo...just like the rest of us. The main thing I noticed was that all the parents who were homeschooling were definitely involved in their child's education. Which is a lot more than I can say for many of the families in the general population.

But the jury is out for me about other things in regards to homeschooling. I already am afraid I've scarred Oscar in some way due to the lack of play dates in his young life. Will he be unsocialized? I know that most homeschoolers work hard to assure their kids get exposed to other young learners. But would I be able to do it? Can every parent who homeschools manage to do it all? Being a parent is hard enough without throwing in that huge chunk of responsibility.

I think that homeschooling parents do need to show some sort of expertise or willingness to learn about pedagogy before they embark on such a huge task. Wanting to do it should not equal being able to do it. I want to be a doctor, but so far, they aren't just letting me scrub in. Some of you may say, "Well, it's not like education is brain surgery." To that, my response is this: Come and spend a day with me people. And then you can tell me what you think.

Overall, I think it is a great alternative for some families.

Any thoughts from the peanut gallery?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

To Tree or Not to Tree, That is the Question

This year, we can't decide if we should have a tree or not. We aren't huge on the holidays, but this year, I feel a certain pull towards the idea of going all out.

Last year, we had a simple tabletop artifical tree and that was plenty. This year, besides the dilemma of whether to have the tree, we also have to decide if we want to go fake or real or really fake like the one below.

I know you have opinions on this, so help me out.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Holiday Must See Movies

Fussy made a list of her top DVD's of the season. In homage to her list, here are a few of my favorites:

Home for the Holidays : One of the few holiday movies that focuses on Turkey Day, this is a fun romp through a disastrous and totally believable holiday at home. Makes me laugh and cry everytime I see it.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer : Watch this for the gay elf who missed his true calling as an orthodontist and the Abominable Snowman.

Love Actually: Always funny, always cheesy and the soundtrack rocks!

About A Boy: It may seem like I am huge Hugh Grant fan, but it is Nick Hornby's perfectly written characters and Toni Collette's acting that put this one on my list.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


What a day. The theme was stuffing. Stuffing ourselves with food of course, but also stuffing as much visiting and family into the day as possible. Poor Oscar made it through the entire holiday with no naps. Thankfully, he enjoyed himself, despite the lack of sleep.

I, on the other hand, didn't get a nap either and I'm feeling a little cranky. As much as I love and enjoy my family (and extended family) sometimes it is the days full of people and food and driving that remind me just how much I adore my little family and the quiet times when it is just us.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Or as Oscar says, "Gobble, gobble!"

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Lacy, fingerless gloves and miniskirts with cut-off tights*

Many hours, days, weeks, perhaps even months of my life have been spent dancing, lipsyncing and dressing like Madonna.

And therefore, I have no time to post today as I pay homage to my mentor.

*What really disturbed me as I typed this, is that this look is back in style. {Shudder.}

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Vacation, baby!

That's right. I am officially on vacation. Except I suppose it's not really a vacation as much as it is a break. Teachers don't really get a vacation. They just get breaks. Of course, I'm not complaining. Call it what you will, it still means sleeping in past 6 a.m. and not having to remind anyone which drawer the extra pencils and paper are in or to walk in the hallways.*

So besides the regular turkey eating that will take place, what should I do with the five (FIVE!) glorious days of freedom in front of me?

Any ideas?

*This is what I do all day. Or at least it feels like that some days.

Monday, November 20, 2006

This is not a food blog...

And yet this will be my second post on food in as many days.

I had this delicious soup for lunch at a little potluck we had at school. And I liked it so much that I had to try to replicate it at home post haste.

Yummy Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

1 box Uncle Ben's long grain and wild rice, prepared according to package instructions
3 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 cans vegetable broth
1 or 2 cans of mushroom pieces, depending on your tastes
1 tbsp of black pepper

That's the vegetarian version.

For the bacon-loving version, add the following

1 lb bacon, cooked and broken into pieces or if you are lazy, like me, a bag of precooked and shredded bacon pieces
2 cans chicken broth instead of the vegetable broth
2 tbsp of bacon grease (if you've got it, why not use it?)

Throw it all in a big soup kettle or your crockpot, heat it up and enjoy! It is especially delicious with some crusty bread to dip in it.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Jesus is on my lawn and it's not even Thanksgiving!

Now, I think everyone should be able to celebrate and share their religion freely and peaceably in our little world. But I am not sure that anyone should do that by putting up a life-sized, one-dimensional, light-bulb-enhanced scene of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

And that is what I have on my lawn right now. I guess that is what you get when you belong to a condo association.

Once it is dark and the baby Jesus is lit up, I will sneak over to my neighbor's patio area and photograph the aforementioned manger scene.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

We had this at cooking club last week and I will be serving it up at Thanksgiving. That is, if I don't decide to keep all three pies for myself.


Light brown sugar
3 oz. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. cornstarch
3 c. corn syrup
2 tbsp. vanilla
2 c. heavy cream
8 eggs
1 c. chocolate chips
4 c. pecans
1/2 c. bourbon
3 premade refridgerated pie shells

Blend all ingredients together except chocolate chips and pecans. Divide chocolate chips and pecans into 3 unbaked pie shells. Then pour in the filling and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until firm.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Crayon Love

Does anyone else love crayons like I do? The cracking open of a new box, the points all so neatly and evenly aligned, the rainbow of possibility just sitting there, waiting to be used?

I can't draw for shit, but I do love me some crayons.

Thankfully, Oscar is a fantastic artist and will at times spend hours with his crayons, drawing circles and other abstract shapes.

He gets his love of crayons from me.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What the H*ll is a Helping Verb?

There is something I've been wondering about and maybe you could help me out.

How many of you can name all the helping verbs? What about actually defining what the helping verb does in a sentence? And can you tell me if a helping verb ever be anything else?

I try to believe every day that what I am teaching my students is applicable to their lives in the "real" world*.

And yet at times, I think, gosh, will they really ever have to know or even understand what a helping verb is?

Do you use helping verbs in your daily life? I mean, with actual conscious thought and purpose? Maybe if you are an editor or a writer** or a language arts teacher. But for everyone else in this world, is it really all that important that you are able to recite the helping verbs to the tune of "London Bridge is Falling Down?"

Seriously. Is it?

*I refer to the world we all live in here, not the MTV reality show "Real World."

**I asked a writer I know and they weren't quite sure what they are either.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Excuses, Excuses

I tell my students first thing that I don't want to hear any excuses. I want to hear solutions, people! If you forgot your homework on the kitchen counter, I want to hear that you called your grandma and she is bringing it to you. If you don't have a pencil, I want to see you borrowing one from my magical drawer of pencils. If your dog ate your narrative essay, I want you write a new essay about what happened and I want you to turn it in on time.

And yet today, I have neither excuse or solution for my problem of not being able to come up with some sort of interesting/unique/dynamic/life changing and/or affirming post.

Except this one.

My excuse: I. Am. Tired.

That's it.

My solution: See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


We read a ton around here. Some of our favorites right now are...

This is New York by Miroslav Sasek

Olivia Forms A Band by Ian Falconer

If You Give a Pig a Pancake by by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond

Tomorrow I'll post what Oscar is reading.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I've Bitten Off More Than I Can Chew

I have big plans for this week. Here are just a few things on my to do list:

1. Host fundraiser at local pizza place (expected turn out of two to three hundred people)
2. Make a bunch of stuff for the craft sale at school
3. Blog every day for NaBloPoMo
4. Get in another 10,000 words for NaNoWriMo
5. Edit the 22,000 words I've written so far
6. Give a presentation at work
7. Clean up the pile (and I mean, PILE) of stuff that has gathered on the floor of our bedroom
8. Get a haircut
9. Cooking Club Wednesday night

But I think I have bitten off more than I can possibly chew. I may have to lower my expectations. For instance, the PILE will remain a pile until next week when the blessed Thanksgiving holiday break begins. And the presentation, well, it's not gonna be great. I'm still giving the rest of the list a fighting chance. Thankfully, my recipe for cooking club is beyond easy...or I would have had to ask my mom to do the cooking part of cooking club for me. And this little post takes care of least for today.

So, what's on your list this week?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Oh, Baby

My new little nephew and the crop of pregnant ladies at school have me thinking about the days when my wee one was itty, bitty and tiny. This is one of my favorite pics of us when he was newly arrived. It is a rare glimpse of me sent out to blogland. And I just love how he is looking at me.

Man, they do grow up fast, don't they?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Go There Now!

Here are some sites/blogs that I am loving right now...

Free Spirit This fantastic site belongs to Free Spirit Fine Quilting Fabric. Not only do they have a fabric gallery for perusing and a nifty way to make a list of your favorite fabrics to print and take to the fabric store, they also have a bounty of incredible quilt patterns...for free!

Hello My Name is Heather Everytime I visit Miss Heather's blog, my mind is blown. Beautiful colors, beautiful photos...and now, a beautiful line of fabric which will be available at a shop near you soon! Her fabric is distributed through Free Spirit (see above.)

Vincent Shoes Everyone needs shoes, right? If your little ones need something for their little feet, this is the place to go for the sweetest, smartest and most fashionable shoes.

Happy Saturday! I hope everyone has time for a nap!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Ok, so it is not snowing yet, but someone I know is ready for it.

I am aware that some of you are dreading the snow. And some of you won't see a flake this winter (unless it is the person you are dating or a bad case of dandruff) and you are wishing for a white non-secular holiday. I am ready for some snow because if it has to be cold, it could, at the very least, look a little more like a winter wonderland outside. I am sick of the brown grass and the leafless trees and the orange snow fences patiently waiting to be covered by the glistening flaky stuff.

Bring it on, I say. Bring it on!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


The first person who correctly guesses what the above number is will win a prize.

Happy guessing!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific!

Have you ever sniffed yourself repeatedly because you just smelled so darn good? If you have, I'd love to know more. Because that was the theme of my day...self-sniffing.

The title of my post is the thought that kept running through my head today. I was at an out-of-town conference. It was my first overnight trip away from Oscar ever. While the conference itself was interesting, I would have much rather have spent my time writing or crafting or simply staring blankly into space.

The one truly bright spot of my day came in the form of a shampoo bottle. Or rather its vehicle was a shampoo bottle.

If you stay at a Hilton (which I did) and if you shower at a Hilton (at, not with, and I did) then you too can smell as glorious as I do right now. You see, they stock their lovely marble, yes MARBLE! bathrooms with La Source products.

And so as I was sitting in my chair at the conference, I found myself again and again twisting my hair up and then taking a sniff. I'm fairly sure people think I am a bit odd to begin with. The hair sniffing may have cemented this thought permanently into their minds.

But, gee, my hair really does smell terrific!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Words I Love to Hate

(in no particular order)


What words do you hate?

Monday, November 06, 2006


Four jobs I have had in my life:
1) Jailer
2) Pizza Delivery Personnel
3) Chanel make up artist
4) Scrapbook instructor

Four movies I would watch over and over:
1) Drop Dead Fred
2) The one where Joaquin Phoenix is busted for drugs in Thailand and Vince Vaughn takes a bath with Anne Heche
3) Amelie
4) Sleepless in Seattle (corny, I know)

Four places I have lived:
1) Wadena, MN
2) Seattle, WA
3) St. Paul, MN
4) Fargo, ND

Four TV Shows I love to watch:
1) Brothers and Sisters (love it!)
2) The Bachelor
3) Any cooking show on PBS
4) ER

Four places I have been on vacation
1) Florida
2) New York City
3) Italy
4) Amsterdam

Four of my favorite foods
1) guacamole and salty chips
2) dark chocolate
3) Triscuits and Laughing Cow cheese
4) tomato, mozzarella and basil on fresh crusty bread

Four places I would rather be right now.
1) In bed, sleeping.
2) Playing with Oscar and Brady.
3) Sewing or creating something with my hands.
4) On a beach somewhere warm with a book and a drink.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

It's 54 degrees outside! In November! In North Dakota!

That's really all I've got to say.

Enjoy the weather!

Update: It's 64 degrees outside!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Give Us a Kiss Bye-Bye

Today we made what will probably be our final visit to the zoo until springtime. We said goodbye to the goats, the cow, the big horse, the little horse, the llamas, the camels, the pig (who has no manners at all,) the red pandas, the Russian red-headed squirrels, the takins, the ducks, the porcupines, and the prairie dogs. The zoo has given us a great amount of pleasure this last year. It is the perfect size for us and we can visit for half an hour or half a day and enjoy ourselves.

So until next spring, zoo! Stay warm! And here's a big kiss from the cow.

Friday, November 03, 2006

What I Learned in School This Week

1. Most 7th graders believe that homeless people are dirty old men who are boozers that love free Taco Bell meals and making cardboard signs.
2. Technology isn't really here to help us. It is here to make us insane.
3. Kids don't care how many times and how nicely you ask them to take their hats off in school. They are still going to forget (read: ignore) this rule every single day until they see you and hear you politely ask them to take it off. Then they will take it off until they think you can't see them. Students will even act as though you are invisible and that they are deaf to avoid removing their hats.
4. Exclamation points are cool!!!!!!!!!
5. Candy wrappers can magically materialize out of thin air, without any assistance from a human being.
6. Math facts are fun. I know this because it is Multiplication Month.

And yet, I will return on Monday, ready to teach, ready to make them laugh and learn and think about their worlds.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

What I Ate for Lunch

Ok, so the cardinal sin of blogging is to talk about what one has consumed for lunch. But I just have to share what my classic hot lunch line meal was today.

For a starter, there were rubbery slices of cucumber, served in a cup that you might also use to dispense medications in a hospital. That was followed by a main course of reconstituted mashed potato flakes covered in a turkey-flavored gravy. The chefs take great care in counting out the cubes of pressed turkey so that each diner has the same gastrointestinal experience. The meal was finished with a Styrofoam cup of strawberry ice cream. All served on the finest Styrofoam tray and eaten with white plastic dinnerware.

Fine dining, people. Fine dining. I invite you all to come and have lunch with me.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

National Blog Posting Month Kick Off

So, Fussy got me all fired up to get on the NaBloPoMo bandwagon and so here is my first post! Check out the link on the right to find out more about who is participating and how to get involved.

Today's journal topic for my seventh graders was "If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?" Since I made them write about this topic, I thought I might chime in myself.

If I could go anywhere in the world, I wouldn't choose anywhere exotic. Sure, I want to travel to places like India and France and Belize and Portugal. But where I'd really like to go, right now, is Seattle. Lately I am nostalgic for my West Coast home. I miss the weight of the air, the ocean just blocks from my back door, the parks, the people. I miss the temperate climate, the lack of bugs and wind and the cool mist on my face in the morning. I miss fresh seafood in the food court at the mall and that big beautiful mountain in my rearview mirror.

I'd love to take Brady and Oscar there for a visit. Our finances make it impossible to do right now, but sometime, and I hope sometime soon, I want to show them why I love Seattle.

If a seventh grader can do it, so can you...where would you go and why?

Saturday, October 28, 2006


I was tagged by Jennifer over at Languishing here goes!

9 Lasts --
9.] last place you were: Qdoba with Oscar for lunch. Or as he says, "Doba, unch."
8.] last banana split: A month or two. Next one...tonight!
7.] last beverage: Diet Coke and water (I've always got to have two drinks going.)
6.] last movie watched: "The Devil Wears Prada."
5.] last phone call: Brady
4.] last song played: Something off of The Weepies CD which is in the player in the car right now.
3.] last BUBBLE bath: Too long ago.
2.] last time you cried: I choked up a bit yesterday when Oscar was sick. I hate to see my baby suffer any kind of discomfort.
1.] last TV show watched: 1 or 100

8 have you evers --
8.] have you ever dated someone twice: Yes.
7.] have you ever been cheated on: Yes. I just take comfort in the fact that karma is gonna kick their ass.
6.] have you ever kissed someone: Yes.
5.] have you ever kissed someone you regret: Yes.
4.] have you ever fallen in love: Yes.
3.] have you ever lost someone: Yes.
2.] have you ever been depressed: Yes.
1.] have you ever been drunk and thrown up: Yes.

That batch of questions made me feel like I was playing truth or dare at an 8th grade slumber party.

7 famous people you'd like to hang out with --
7.] David Letterman
6.] Conan O'Brien
5.] Neko Case
4.] Audrey Hepburn (when she was alive)
3.] Fiona Apple
2.] Sarah Jessica Parker
1.] Bill Clinton

6 things you've done today --
6.] Danced with Oscar.
5.] Bought my sister a breast pump at Target.
4.] Doba, unch.
3.] Played with Oscar and his new baby doll named Oscar.
2.] Procrastinated in regards to the 75 narrative essays I need to grade.
1.] Kissed my nephew.

5 people you can tell pretty much anything to --
5.] Brady
4.] Heidi
3.] Tina
2.] Sunshine
1.] My sister

4 favorite colors --
4.] red
3.] gray
2.] turquoise
1.] chocolate brown

3 things you want to do before you die --
3.] Travel to many foreign lands with Brady and Oscar.
2.] Add another person to our little family.
1.] Publish a novel.

2 favorite ice cream flavors --
2.] chocolate
1.] chocolate

1 job you wanted as a kid --
1.] Singer or trial lawyer

I tag everyone!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Oh Baby!

My new nephew has arrived. His stats are: 9 lbs 3.5 oz, 20.5 inches long and a mop of black hair. He was born on Tuesday night at 5:42 pm after a day of long labor and finally, a c-section. My sister was a trooper and is doing fine as are baby and daddy!

Of course, my baby needed to remind everyone that he is still funny and adorable. We found him in his new cousin's room,sitting in the baby's papasan chair. What a nut!

In crafty news, I am preparing for a slew of goodies to go up in my Etsy shop in the next couple of days. Expect to see some vintage trim, some cool vintage crewel kits, some soft new little buddies and other goodies for you and for the holidays!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Full Moon Crazy

The last ten days of my life have consisted of:
Writing and memorizing a ten-minute monologue
Dressing up and doing a performance as a woman from the 1890's
Driving four hours, doing said performance, turning around and driving four hours in a snowstorm
Lecturing on the six traits of writing four times a day for five days
Attending a retreat with 100 very active 13-year-olds
Shopping for and buying two winter coats, one that will have to be returned
Experiencing the first biting cold and snowfall of the season (see above)
And many other things too numerous and mundane to mention here...

But most of all, I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for my sister and her husband to officially make me the auntie to their little wee pumpkin. There have been contractions and dilation and effacing and yet, no baby. I can't wait to meet the little tiny miracle that will be my newest relation.

And so we wait...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Lean, Green Cleaning Machine

Oscar loves doing chores around the house...especially cleaning. And we hate to get in the way of such a thing. But we don't want him cleaning and scrubbing and mopping with just any old mix of chemicals and yuck. We've found some great "green" cleaning options that don't pollute our rivers and streams and yet do lather and get things squeaky clean.

Some of our favorite green options include method and goodnest which can be be purchased at most Target stores. My favorites are probably the method tub+tile spray (yummy minty fresh scent that lingers in the air) and the goodnest dish shop in plum grapefruit (if you have to dishes, it might as well smell like a fruit smoothie!)

A few other green options for cleaning supplies include Caldrea, Mrs. Meyers and Seventh Generation.

So if your little ones (or you for that matter) like to clean as much as my little clean and green thumb, at least you can feel good knowing no one is licking up Comet and Ajax residue.

P.S. Don't forget to recycle your empty bottles!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Spatulettes

Once a month, I get together with a lovely group of ladies and we share recipes, eat great food and chat. Topics covered range from diaper rash to first dates to crafting. We are a fun mix with a few teachers, a few stay-at-home moms, a pediatrician and an optometrist and some marketing gurus. We call ourselves "The Spatulettes."

The "theme" this month was Mexican food and it was all delicious! One thing I brought was guacamole. Here is my fail-safe recipe. It is fast, easy and a great way to repurpose all those tomatoes you have from the garden that won't be made into salsa or spaghetti sauce.


6 ripe avocados, skinned and pit removed, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
1 bunch of cilantro, stems removed and chopped
1 tablespoon of black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons of salt
2 limes or lemons

Place the avocados, tomatoes, onion and cilantro into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with half of the salt and all of the black pepper. Stir well. Squeeze the lime or lemon over the mixture and then sprinkle with the remainder of the salt. If you are going to serve immediately, mix well and place in the serving dish. If you are going to refrigerate it, wait to stir until serving. Serve with tortilla chips, fresh veggies or pita bread triangles.

You can also spice the recipe up by adding a tablespoon or two of garlic or stirring in a can of diced jalapenos.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Repurposed Germs

Thanks to the germy middle-schoolers I spend my days with, I have been the proud owner of a lovely sickness for the last week. Now I've had students with stuffy noses, runny noses, sore throats, aches and pains, fevers, and chest-ripping coughs. I've taken all of their symptoms and repurposed them into my own brand of sick. I've got a scratchy throat, watery eyes, and the sneezes. Being under the weather is yucky. I'm sick (literally and figuratively) of blowing my nose, clearing my throat and the constant ringing in my left ear.

This is one case where I don't condone or recommend recycling, reusing or repurposing.


Excuse me.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Red and Aqua Swap

So, I participated in yet another swap this month. Red and aqua were the theme colors and I had such an enjoyable time rounding things up and making goodies to send to my swap partner. A list of the things I sent include:
1. pouch using Kaffe Fasset fabric and vintage broadcloth
2. jewelry roll with vintage broadcloth and wool felt
3. earrings, pin and extremely cool bracelet made from vintage turquoise and new beads
4. assorted papers
5. some cool little poppy embellishments
6. assorted trims in red and aqua
7. some darling little note cards
8. three of my favorite fabrics in reds and aquas
9. other assorted goodies

I just have so much fun doing swaps. I take great pleasure in knowing that the people I am sending stuff to are getting majorly spoiled. If anyone is up for a swap, let me know. I'd love to spoil you too!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Repurposed People

Today I was driving home in the rain and I saw some people pulled over on the side of the freeway. It was a wet, cold rain and they were bundled up against the elements. And did I mention, they were on motorcycles? Now, do people just start out their lives as people who ride motorcycles around in the rain in North Dakota? Or does one have to repurpose oneself into a wet motorcycle riding someone?

I have repurposed myself. Many times. In big ways and in little ways. Divorce, haircuts, major moves and minor moves and back again. I have repurposed who I am into something new and different again and again. I've worn a Yamaha snowmobiling jacket and taught yoga (not at the same time, mind you!) My two favorite foods are fried cheese curds and sushi. My wardrobe includes Neil Diamond and Tori Amos concert t-shirts.

I've had the opportunity (and blessing) to be and know the many different forms of me that there are in the world.

I love reading blogs about people who are repurposing their lives. Whether it be a little metamorphosis like growing out their hair or big changes like the trials and triumphs of the whole reproductive process, I am enthralled and amazed and astounded by the repurposing that people do with their own lovely lives.

So for all of you who have moved from one country to another for love or changed your sexual orientation to match the person rather than the contents of someone's pants or parted your hair on the other side or danced like no one was watching when really everyone's to you. And to those of you who take the time to blog about it, to let me into your world, thank you. Thank you.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Afloat on a Sea of Frosting

Cupcakes. I've been making them for two days. And frosting them for two days. Tomorrow I am hosting a baby shower for my sissy-poo and our dessert is looking a little sad. Who knew that frosting cupcakes was so hard? Is there some secret that I just don't know? Did I miss that day in junior high home ec and am I now rendered useless as a froster of cupcakes? Seriously, can anyone let me in on any technique or wrist-flick or magic voodoo that will make my frosting job look less smoosh and more whoosh?

In other news, Oscar loves dressing up like a girl. Earlier this summer, I put him in a dress I'd made from vintage sheets. Lately, he's been tying one on. An apron that is. He loves to put it on and do chores around the house. The kid loves vacuuming, sweeping, wiping up spills, and washing anything that will stay still long enough to be swiped at with a wet dishcloth. Here he is in his great grandmother's apron.

If only he could frost cupcakes...

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Perfect Project

Quick, simple, fulfilling and of course, useful...the ingredients of a perfect project. Pincushions always fit the bill for me. Here is one that I made from some Kaffe Fassett fabric, some felt I found at the thrift store, and a button from my Great Aunt Myrtle's stash. For a simple and classic pincushion, see here and for a simply amazing and inspirational craft room see here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Busy, Busy Beaver

It is workshop time, my little beaver friends. And I am looking forward to having a class full of students and getting down the business of reading and writing.

So for now, repurpose is on a short hiatus. No time for sewing or crafting this week. I will however try to wrangle up some photos of repurposed projects that I haven't shared with you yet. In the meantime, enjoy this. Oh, and you'll definitely want to check out this. I highly recommend it. (Check out the podcasts now and wear your new outfit from Anthropologie to the first show of Season Three at the Ritz on Saturday, September 2.)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Done and Done

I love making lists. Actually, I love crossing things off of lists. It runs in the family. My mother has been known to write down things after she has done them, just so she can cross them off of her list.

I had several things on my list to do before school officially starts next Tuesday.

Make a new fall purse
Sew a couple of new back-to-school skirts
Work on present for my soon-to-arrive neice or nephew

I can now cross each of these items off of my list. I actually made two bags...the outside is some cool barkcloth I got at Mill End and the lining is a repurposed vintage pillowcase with butterflies.
And this one with a mix of four different fabrics: three vintage reproductions and some of the vintage pillowcase from the first bag.
They are both soft and swingy and I plan to fill them up with knitting needles and yarn to knit scarves to keep everyone toasty this winter.

And I still had time to make another needlebook. It's made with vintage reproduction fabric, wool felt and a vintage button. This one will go in the Etsy shop soon.

Here's to having a productive day!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Monday, August 21, 2006

Non Compos Mentis for Tablecloths

So I love tablecloths. Vintage tablecloths to be exact. So much so that I planned my wedding around them. Seriously. I knew that I wanted to use my collection (and having a reason to shop for more didn't hurt either,) so I went through my stash, found a predominant color theme, and here we are, two years later. As our anniversary was yesterday, indulge me by looking at some of my favorite wedding tablecloth shots. (More shots here.)

Here is a shot of all the tablecloths at the reception beside our house on Grand in St. Paul.

Mmmm....cupcakes and tablecloths. Delicious!
Notice how the food matches the tablecloths.
So what does one do with all of those tablecloths, you ask? Well, one thing I've done is make dishtowels. This works especially well with ones that have pesky stains on them from your wedding guests. I just trim out a dishtowel-sized, stain-free section, hem the sides, add a cute little ribbon hanger and viola! A lovely new dishtowel!

Friday, August 18, 2006

It's a Wristlet World Swap

I'm pretty sure that my partner has received their wristlet, so I thought I'd post my first try at making one. I was inspired by the swap that African Kelli organized and decided to use some of my favorite fabrics to represent the seasons here in Fargo, North Dakota. The green is for spring, the pink for summer and the brown for fall. The wristlet is lined with soft white batting to represent the snow that covers us for a large chunk of our year. I also used a vintage button (had to repurpose somehow!)

I've made a couple more of these and will be posting them in my etsy shop sometime this weekend.

It's been raining here and it makes me feel like cocoa and cozy sweaters and actually wearing socks. I know fall is around the corner when I choose to put socks on my feet during the day. Just mentioning this longing for autumn will of course bring on a heatwave, so I won't retire my flipflops just yet.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Finding Your Way to Simplicity

Check out this incredible post on voluntary simplicity over at Worsted Witch.

We can all make a change in our own lives that will ripple out into the world around us. Things like using a handmade tote for your shopping or recycling your yogurt containers in creative ways or buying local make big differences in our lives. And along the way, they change the world, too. Fewer grocery bags clog our landfills, creativity goes out into the universe and local farmers are able to prosper as part of the food chain.

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? But it can also feel like a lot of work or like giving something up. Even as I try to move towards simplicity in my life, I struggle. There are times that I have to have a certain book or CD or pair of shoes. Sometimes I want sliced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese in January. I'm not perfect and I'm never going to be. So, I eat my insalata caprese and I do what I can.

And so can you. You don't have to stop eating seafood because it isn't local and cancel your electricity and stop wearing cute shoes. Pick a few little things and incorporate them into your life. It can be as simple as taking something you already own and repurposing it in a new and creative way. There is great enjoyment to be found in using what you have. And I am getting better at it all the time.

So, I encourage you to give it a try. And let me know how it goes. I'd love to hear about your repurposing adventures as you find your way to simplicity.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

History Chicks

I spent last week being a history geek. As part of a conference on History Day, I got to see the basement of the Minnesota History Center, look through their archives, talk to other history geeks and best of all, I got to go on a field trip that didn't include 140 middle school students.

We went to the Oliver Kelley Farm which is near Elk River, MN. It is the site of the first grange meeting in the United States. Some of you are saying "Grange? What is a grange?" Don't worry, I said the same thing. A grange is a farmers cooperative of sorts. Back in the early pioneer days of Minnesota, farmers banded together to buy equipment, ship their crops, learn farming techniques and build community. They were involved in the women's suffrage movement, and fought for civil rights and fair labor laws. And granges are all about repurposing: sharing resources, using things in new ways, combining efforts to create something new.

While on the farm, I got to wash cucumbers for pickling, harvest gherkins, eat fresh tomatoes and cucumbers off the vine, and thresh oats. On the way out, I saw this sweet lady and her little ones. It reminded me that soon I will be her, with my new flock of students as I start the school year. Hopefully, I can turn some of my kids into history geeks, too!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Friday WIP

Two things I am currently working on include: An embroidery project that exemplifies the Red River Valley and setting up and organizing my new sewing space (which also happens to be the closet in the master bedroom.) I had been sewing in the garage, but the heat and the crickets finally got to me. I found this great desk and chair at a furniture store in Fargo called "Restyled." I can't wait to get home from our little retreat and start organizing.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

From Beatlemania to Business Man

My baby's curls are gone. This is what happens when you let Daddy have the baby while you go shopping with your nieces. Daddy takes baby to the zoo and baby gets his first major "ouch" (as he calls it) when he falls and scrapes half of his knee off. Daddy then takes baby to the hair place and has all of baby's hair cut off. Daddy then surprises Mommy with all this news, making her cry at the mall.

He does look pretty cute with his business man haircut though, doesn't he?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, we closed on our house. The year has gone by so quickly and things have changed so completely. Oscar is no longer a little baby who stays in one spot and mainly sleeps and eats. He is now a very busy and very inquisitive 16-month-old who I love more and more every day (who knew my heart could stretch this much?)

Our house has also changed dramatically. Much of that is due to my husband's discerning eye and to my family's ladders, babysitting services and labor. Without our families, we would still have that horrendous light fixture and beige walls. So thanks for all the hours spent painting, wiring, answering questions and occupying Oscar. And when would be a convenient time for you to help us install the tile and the hardwood floors?

Notice the light fixture over the dining area? Sold at a recent garage sale for $10. So you can forget about asking for it. Sorry to crush your dreams. Everything was beige or a sort of sandstone color when we moved in. Nothing is now. Even the inside of the coat closet has been painted a gorgeous bright red.

This is a bit of an off-center shot, but it showcases Oscar's love of ceiling fans and shows many of the changes we've made. It truly has become our home sweet home.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

In My Ears and On My Nightstand

What you need to be reading now is "The New Crewel: Exquisite Designs in Contemporary Embroidery" by Katherine Shaughnessy. I love, love, love this book. It is cool, modern, funky and so, so easy to understand. I've got at least six projects started using Katherine's incredible designs. Don't be surprised if you receive something lovely from this book (or the book itself) from me for the holidays.

"Fox Confessor Brings the Flood" by Neko Case. Oh, Neko. How you make me long for a lonely night and an unrequited love. If you love songs about rusty knives and John the Baptist, this CD is for you.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Modern Patchwork

Looking for the latest in patchwork fashion? Look no further. Found recently at the local thrift store, this gem of a book is full of bright, fun and "modern" patchwork. Strangely enough, the color scheme is the same as a quilt I am working on for Oscar. Perhaps I should use the fabric to make myself a new back to school skirt.

Instead, I think I'll make a cool new t-shirt like the brilliant one here from the lovely Wise Craft to add to my stash of back to school clothes. And one for Oscar, too. I think everyone needs back to school clothes. And this is a fun way to create something unique. I'm going to do it with an image from one of O's favorite books. Just trace the outline, cut it out of a cute fabric, fusible web it to the garment and stitch around. Blair at WC also makes the most perfect handbags on the planet and I am hoping we see some in her etsy shop soon. I think I may need one for my back to school pile.

Speaking of stitching around, tomorrow is another d-day for me. Or should I say e(embroidery)-day. Those crafty folks over at Wee Wonderfuls will be putting the adorable Stitchettes into the shop at twelve noon, Chicago time. I've got three alarms set and a stern warning into B that he'd better remind me or else. I just have to have them. I've got a long car trip coming up and nothing would make me happier than having these ladies along for the ride. So cross your fingers for me. And get one for yourself while you are at it!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Simon's Pals: Veronica and Samson

Simon asked if he could invite some guests for the weekend. I couldn't say no, what with all the begging and pleading that went on. They arrived late last night and thankfully are a bit more polite than our dear Simon. They even made their own bed this morning.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

No more pencils, no more books, no more student's dirty looks!

Summer school is officially over! So now our summer vacation actually starts! I can play with Oscar, make stuff, do swaps and generally lounge around. Until the 6th when I go to a conference. But until then, it is gonna be one big lazy party at my house. Feel free to stop by!

If you are looking for me, I'll be floating in a chair attached to the other end of this.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Simon Says

Simon moved in over the weekend and Simon says that he NEEDS the big bedroom and he NEEDS a bath drawn for him each night and he MUST have Laughing Cow cheese wedges or he WILL JUST DIE. He's bossy and a bit dramatic, but he's also pretty darn cute. So we are letting him stay...for now.

(This is adapted from an original drawing of mine. She/he can be a bear or a bunny, depending on the end you have up. I hope to post a free pattern of her/him soon for all to use and enjoy. If I can fiqure out how to make it happen, that is. Until then, if you MUST have a Simon* pattern, just drop me a note with your name and mailing address to repurpose(at)gmail(dot)com and I'd be happy to send one on the way to you, pronto.)

*Let it be noted that I cannot guarantee that your Simon will not take over your life and home. Nor can I guarantee that your Simon will enjoy Laughing Cow cheese wedges.)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Everybody Needs These

Here is something that everybody needs. These ultra-cool, easy-to-clean, fun-to-look-at recycling bags are available over at They have velcro on the sides that keeps them stuck together and they have little pockets on the front that tell you what goes inside (or you can have your little people do custom drawings for each recycling category.)

Seriously people. Get these. Save the Earth and be stylish too. And all for only $22 plus shipping.