Just testing this whole video/YouTube/blog thing with a video tour of my basement/craft area/mad workshop.
EDITED LATER: Oh my! It really works! Hooray! (Can you tell I'm kind of excited about this?)
Oh, it was such a fun day. Meredith is thoughtful and genuine and I'm so glad to have her as a new face-to-face friend. Holly is just brimming over with laughter and smiles. I was incredibly blessed to have the two of them at my table.
We talked and laughed and worked on a few projects and they left me wishing they could have stayed for hours and hours longer. As much as I hate it when time together with friends come to an end, I love that feeling of wanting more. (Holly, I know EXACTLY what you meant!)
We ate chicken salad (in honor of Anne and Diana, who said, "Wouldn't it be lovely to live at a hotel and eat chicken salad every day?") and sat at the table long past being finished.
And I had so much fun putting "Happy Fall" baskets together for them. I baked bread this morning, and had some peach butter I'd made this summer in the pantry. The last of the zucchini from my garden, autumn tea towels, pretty autumn napkins, and fabric pumpkins. (The pumpkins are such a fun project; I'll share directions over the weekend.)
I've realized how much I've missed having women over and providing space and time for them to sit and visit and be refreshed. I know I've said it before, but I really need to find a way to make this kind of thing a more regular occurance. That autumn tea party is still rolling around in my head...
I love, love having people in our home. Yesterday my mom dropped by unannounced; today both of my parents stopped by. How I love to stop whatever I'm doing and just sit for a few minutes and visit. Joy! (I say it all the time, but REALLY, if you're ever in my neighborhood, drop in for a visit!)
I also love planning to have people over. Tomorrow, both Holly and Meredith are coming for the day. I "met" these wonderful women through blogland. Holly and I have spent time together before. She and Meredith know each other (in "real" life too!) and I'm excited to finally meet Meredith face to face. Turns out we know some people in common...small, small world.
Anyway, the menu has been planned for a while; I did some cooking and baking today, the house is clean, the table set. I'm all ready except for a few quick chores on my to-do list in the morning. I'm excited just to sit and visit, to share a meal, to look out the window at the changing leaves, to linger over coffee.
Isn't it fun to be a woman? Seems like we can connect quickly, get to know one another on a deep level--all in a relatively short amount of time.
And wouldn't it be fun if you all lived within a short driving distance too, my table could seat more than it does, and we could all while away the day together...
So here's where Joey cat usually sleeps...with the chickens on top of the farm cupboard. It must be the coolest place in the house when it's hot because that's where he usually can be found.
But a storm is blowing in tonight and this is where I found him just now...on top of Josh and Sarah's quilt-in-progress. A snuggly warm place!
Yesterday I began what is becoming the never-ending project--refinishing a Danish-modern chair I inherited from my Great Aunt Sissie via my mom. I thought I'd just put on some liquid sander, wipe it off, and then add a coat of stain.
I should've known better. Especially when Toben made two more trips to Home Depot after our initial run to get started. I'm on day 2, stain coat number 3, steel wool round 4. And that's after three coats of stripper and three rounds with the sander.
But it's going to look really good when it's done.
The chair has hideous green upholstered cushions--the super scratchy kind that itch when you sit on them. But in cleaning out a crate in the basement today I found a floral pillow sham that fits the seat cushion perfectly. I'm not sure if it will work in the long run--but it will at least look good while I find something more permanent--assuming, of course, that the chair gets done in the near future.
And, finally, a new bag. Two placemats on clearance at Anthropologie + a pair of round handles in my stash = a cute new purse for me! And there's even enough fabric left for a zippy purse or two.
I've had an idea for some time about what I want Audrey's room to look like. She's definitely a girl--but more of a bohemian chic girl rather than a princess frilly girl like Emma.
I'd found her bedspread at Urban Outfitters when we moved into this house last October, and bought two because they were on a great sale. But they're really just big sheets of cotton--not very warm, not very poufy.
I LOVE this fabric.
I matched it with some red gingham (oh how I love gingham too!) I'd had to make her a comforter cover. Somehow a bed just looks better to me if it's a little bit squashy.
We added some more pillows, switched the comforter at the foot of the bed to the big green flowery side, and she loves it!
(The bed is one my parents bought for me when we lived in England. It's the first bed Toben and I had--in fact, we had a double bed until Audrey was born--seven years into our marriage. Then we went to a king! It's so fun that Audrey's now having sleepovers in it, especially when I think back to all the sleepovers Heidi and I had!)
Cost Plus is having a HUGE sale right now--lots of clearance things 50-75 percent off the clearance price. We picked up a bunch of paper lanterns for next to nothing, added some clear 3M hooks (no holes in the ceiling), and voila!
Next project--to finish the pillow for the crochet cover I made, make curtains for the windows (I have lots more fabric!), and paint the bulletin board frame Mom gave us today. Then I think we'll be done. (And on to Emma's room...)
Thanks for all the prayers for me and Audrey as we've spent this time together. We've had such a good day--working on the science project, running errands, and putting her room together. As we walked upstairs this afternoon she said, "It's been fun just bonding together, Mom." Exactly!
I've been such a lazy blogger lately...having too much fun decorating for Christmas, going to bed early, and cleaning house. Okay not so much fun on the last one, but I do love the result. Love the smell of bleach...
I've also been finishing up some Christmas projects. I plan to spend all day tomorrow working on doll clothes--the project I can't seem to make any headway on. I will, however, take a break for a quick trip to Knitty Cat (need a project for my trip to Phoenix this weekend) and to the paper supply store for little brown bags for Advent goodies for the girls.
Here are a few Chrismtas pictures from my house...
I love twinkle lights on the tree!
We decorate our tree with candy each year. Peppermint garland, pixie stick stars, and lots and lots of candy canes.
My thankful tree has become a bare branch tree...soon to be filled with those little brown bags filled with parts of the Advent story.
My new "JOY" garland. While I'm not a scrapbooker, I do love some of the vintage looking scrapbook paper out there. This is what I came up with to use it this Christmas. (I bought the plain wood letters, Modge Podge-d the paper on the front, then filed off the excess to make the edges look worn. Drilled holes and ribbon put it all together.)
Our Advent candles all ready to go on Sunday for the first Sunday of Advent. (It was nice to run out to the backyard for pine branches again.)
A few reindeer marching across the coffee table in the family room.
That's it for now!
I kind of have a thing for roosters. I'm not sure when it started, but over the years I've amassed quite the collection.
These roosters sit on top of the hutch in the breakfast nook:
These are decorating my mantle (I do love the painting my mother gave me!):
And this guy is a lamp that Kristen gave me. It has a red shade, and I'm going to embellish it with feather trim and hope that Joey will leave it alone!
There are some other roosters here and there, but that's the bulk of them. Somehow I think I may have enough!
The funny thing is that I'm absolutely terrified of chickens in real life. We once visited some family friends with a chicken coop and I remember feeling trapped with all those sharp beaks and claws. Shudder. My love for them is strictly one of decorating accessories!
I was inspired by a beautiful Easter tree on a table in Garlands, a little home boutique down the street. It was made of forced branches in a clear vase and had sparkly, pastel eggs hanging here and there, as well as pink ribbon draped throughout. So pretty! But I don't have a bare branch tree to decorate (I keep meaning to stop and ask for some branches when they're trimming the eucalyptus along the 101), and I don't have any pretty Easter egg ornaments.
But I did have a box full of plastic eggs and a bunch of curly ribbon in my wrapping box. So we put the two together and hung them from the tree in the front yard. We started with the huge ficus in the backyard, but decided to share our Easter joy with the whole neighborhood, and moved it all to the front yard. But I think I'll have to buy some more eggs when they go on clearance, so I can fill the backyard next year too!
(I think if you click on the photo you can see it a little more clearly.)
Toben was out of town, so I had bus duty this morning at 7 a.m. (can you believe it's that early for such little kids?) and then took Emma to school at 8, and then to Bible study at 8:30. Surprisingly, we all made it up and out the door this morning, dressed, clean, and with happy attitudes. We prayed hard for a good morning before we went to bed last night! If we have rough mornings, it always seems to be on Thursdays before Bible study or on Sundays before church. Crazy.
I had lunch with my friend Brenda, then ran to get Emma from school. We headed over to The Black Sheep for some Fiber Trends patterns I'd seen online last night. I bought patterns 206X (A Felt Flock), AC-64X (The Sheep Tote), CH22 (Animal Friends Felt Booties), and 213 (Braided Cable Tea Cosies). Can't decide what I'll make first--I'll have to look through my yarn stash and see if I have anything to use up that would work for any of these patterns.
I also bought a copy of One Skein by Leigh Radford. There are so many things I want to make from this book--and I love that they are all "quick" projects (as promised on the cover!). I hope my buttonhole bag will turn out a little like "The Clutch You'll Never Give Up" and I'm seeing some of the "Felted Bowls" in my future too.
I planned to run over to my friend Terri's house to say hi, but she wasn't quite home yet, so I had some time to kill. I thought I'd run into the Rustic Rooster, just to pass the time. This green cupboard is what I walked out with (and the two stacked metal shopping baskets on top!). Isn't it cute? (Although the photo doesn't do it justice; I need some photography pointers from my sis, I think!) It sits on a little wall between my living and dining rooms. I'm constantly carrying my sewing machine back and forth between the dining room and garage or else leaving bits and pieces of my current project strewn over the dining room table and floor and chairs. Now I have a place to keep my sewing machine a little handier, plus whatever project I'm working on close at hand, but also out of the way. Yippee!
The girls and I started reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe yesterday. Someone sent Toben a pre-release of the movie already, but I'm not quite ready for the kids to watch it. We didn't take them to see it in the theater--we weren't sure if it would be okay for them or not. I think it would be, but I wanted the story to be firmly in their minds first. I wanted Narnia to be established in their imaginations first--before someone else's idea of it got put there first.
They are loving the story--Audrey especially--and I lose my place on the page now and then because I look up and they are staring at me, eyes wide in wonder. It makes me catch my breath and then I stumble over my words and have to go back and read a sentence again to find my place.
Tonight we read on the couch after dinner, and then I read them another chapter while they sat in the bathtub together. Sitting on the little step-stool reading to them, I had such memories of my parents reading to Kristen and me. I remember reading through all the books in the Chronicles of Narnia after dinner, of sitting at the table with dirty dishes piled in front of us, begging for "Just one more chapter, pleeeeeeease!"
Oh, how I want my children to love to read. I love this quote by Madeline L'Engle, from her book, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art:
"Creative involvement: that's the basic difference between reading a book and watching TV. In watching TV we are passive; sponges; we do nothing. In reading we must become creators. Once the child has learned to read alone and can pick up a book without illustrations, he must become a creator, imagining the setting of the story, visualizing the characters, seeing facial expressions, hearing the inflection of voices."
Yes! I want my children to become creators of the story along with Lewis--to help create and imagine and paint Narnia in their minds before they take a look at what someone else has created and imagined and painted Narnia to be. I think that's why I'm always disappointed in movies made from books I love. In my imagination, I have helped the author create the story, and the movie maker hasn't remained true to my part of that creation.
In my memories, Sundays smell like pot roast. For most of my childhood, we'd come home from church on Sunday mornings to a house that smelled like heaven. There's almost nothing better than the smell of a roast cooking!
While I do like to cook, I don't usually cook Sunday dinner. We typically go out for brunch in Del Mar instead and eat our eggs benedict overlooking the ocean. Not a bad Sunday tradition! But I have such wonderful memories of Sunday afternoons as a child that I'm going to give Sunday dinners a shot. I set the table last night with my grandmother's china and our wedding crystal and put a roast in the oven before we left for church this morning. Sure enough, we came home to a house that smelled just like Sundays should.
I made gravy from a roux, just as my mother taught me, steamed some broccoli and cauliflower, and roasted some red potatoes in the oven. (I love roasted red potatoes--I could eat them every day and never get tired of them!) Audrey dried the dishes I washed, and then she and I made a strawberry sauce for the angel food cake. Yum...
I tried to lay down for a nap, but it was ill-fated. The phone rang; the girls needed my help; my mind raced. So I got up and made this chocolate bunny. Isn't he cute? I think I'll make some more out of some other kinds of fabric, but can't decide if he needs arms. This one is made out of some felt I found in my stash. His tail and eyes are made of lots of French knots, which I think are such fun to make. I finally got the hang of it a couple of Christmases ago when I made a bag for my mom and embroidered a sheep on the front, made entirely of French knots.
I think the next bunnies may need to have something weighted at the bottom too. This one leans against things, but doesn't stand up on his own very well. I think they should stand up so I can have a whole family of bunnies marching across my mantel. I'll have to dig into my fabric stash and see what I can find--I'm pretty sure there are enough scraps from fabrics I've used in the living room for pillows and such.
Sure enough, the phone rang this morning bright and early! But my mom only sang the opening bars of "Happy Birthday" instead of the whole song. When my dad called, he only sang the opening bars too. And my sister didn't sing at all. I think they think we're all getting a little too old for it, but it didn't feel quite right not to listen to everyone sing the WHOLE thing. I typically sing the whole song with great feeling when I call people to wish them a happy birthday--especially if I get an answering machine. If the person answers, I still sing the whole song, but much, much faster.
Thought I'd share my birthday booty. My mom knows how much I love roosters and chickens--but only pretend ones. For some reason, I'm terrified of them in real life. I can look at them from afar, but chickens running loose in Kauai sends me running away! Anyway, Mom gave me this rooster family painting that I saw at her antiques store when we were there at Christmas. It makes me smile.
When she was here the week before last, she also brought me these tiny roosters. I'm sorry the picture is so blurry--they're small, no bigger than a penny, and made of some kind of metal. I imagine they came from a child's farm set and I'd love to have the rest of the animals that go along with them. Maybe I'll have to check ebay.
My friend Emily sent me this wonderful felted bag. It's such a fun shape; I've carried it around all afternoon wondering what perfect thing I can put in it. Inspiration will come eventually...it always does!
My sister bought me new knobs for my office armoire at Anthropologie. The armoire is from IKEA and had really boring black knobs. The new ones are red roses and make the whole piece seem new again. I love the knobs at Anthropologie--and the big painted boards they put a bunch on for display. Maybe I'll have to steal the idea and find a space that needs some art.
Emma was a trooper today and ran all kinds of errands with me. We wandered through Wal-Mart and found little bunnies and bunny villages for 97 cents each. Can't beat that. We looked for shoes (unsuccessfully--I just bought some at Zappos though, so birthday shoes will be had, just a few days late!) and bought some apple green wool so I can knit myself some ballet style slippers. We even wandered through a couple of antique stores in downtown Carlsbad. We found two more bunnies and a vintage Easter postcard.
We're off to have birthday dinner in an hour or so. We're going to Buca de Beppo for spaghetti and pizza with another family. They are one of those rare families you find where everyone matches up just right--or very nearly so. They do have a boy (we don't), but he and his dad and Toben all surf together and love to talk basketball and music. And their daughter and Audrey are older than my little Emma, but they do a good job of including her in whatever they're doing. So it will be fun for everyone. I'm afraid Toben told the restaurant that it's my birthday and I'm dreading the singing waiters, but I'll be a good sport since the kids will all things it's hilarious!