Monday, December 31, 2007

Help me figure this out, please


Any guesses as to when this was made? It was used as a cutter quilt because it is in such poor condition. From what I can gather through perusing the other stuff from this auction lot, it was probably in this condition in 1970, if not earlier. I have this square and its backing. I plan to frame it, because I can't bear to see it deteriorate further.

Here are some detailed shots:




Sunday, December 30, 2007

Today's vintage goodness


These did not come from Mrs. M.'s stash, but they did come from the same auction house. In ten lifetimes I could not use all of these buttons. This picture only shows the carded buttons. I have jar after jar of all sorts of buttons -- rhinestones, citrus fruit, hot dogs (no joke), shimmery, suede-covered....

Tomorrow: the patterns. Geez Louise, I am going to have to open an Etsy shop.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mrs. M's fabric stash

Oh, Mrs. M., I wish you could know how much I love your fabric stash. I am honored to own it and I will try not to ruin it. I am impressed with how you labeled each box -- wool, cotton, knits, yarn -- and delighted to see that you kept each scrap. I wonder what you planned to do with that vintage feed sack and the miles of gingham. And you have unfinished projects, just like the rest of us. Oh, how excited I was to find your apron and that snazzy green top with the red ric-rac. I am sure there is more to find...








Thursday, December 27, 2007

I love my job

This time I am referring to the one for which I get paid actual legal tender, not being a mom or a homeschool teacher -- though I enjoy those, too. No, today I am referring to the job that provides opportunities for me to meet the neatest people in the most incredible places. Like today...

I actually stopped in the middle of the road to take this picture. In my defense, it was a mountain road and I was the only person within earshot.


The road less traveled? I took it in a minivan. Four-wheel drive would have made all the difference.


I am confident there is a golf course near here, which makes me sad.


This is either called ground pine or ground cedar. I will Google that once I am done checking my hair for ticks. (That's probably too much information, but it is all I can think about at the moment.)


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas abundance

I am almost in a sugar coma from all the wonderful treats, so here are a few shots from Christmas (yesterday and today).






Hey, Mr. Sock Monkey


He was a hit, I think. Here's the full shot.


Sunday, December 23, 2007



These cookies were great and not only because I didn't have to bake, decorate or clean up. :)


And there was an audience...


Thursday, December 20, 2007

This is not a Christmas card*


(*emailed in lieu of real cards this year)

Dear Friends and Family,

Did you get our Christmas card? Ha! Well, you’re not alone. This has been an exceptionally busy year for us and as a result, I have given myself permission not to send Christmas cards. Not a big deal, you say? It was for me, but I am over it and moving on to a peaceful Christmas as a result.

Since we usually send a picture of our rapidly growing children with each card, I have attached one to this email. If you just can’t get enough of our homegrown craziness, feel free to keep up with us at my (pseudo work-related) web site, or through our photos at Flickr at Both provide ample evidence that we are a happy lot most of the time. :)

As many of you know, Caroline is a high school freshman this year and we are homeschooling Nolan for the first time. High school is a lot different than it was a few (cough) years ago, but Caroline is enjoying it immensely. Nolan is really enjoying homeschool, and much to my surprise, so am I.

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas with abundant, overflowing blessings in 2008. If I had found time to make cards this year, I would have told you to remember that we celebrate Immanuel, God with us, and I would have used Ephesians 3:14-19 inside the card: “For this reason I kneel before the Father…I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

See? The card was all planned out in my head. :) Merry Christmas!

Chris (for John, Caroline and Nolan)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

BNL and Boston Pops - We Three Kings/God Rest Ye

Good night, this is the best Christmas song ever. Yes, it's by the Barenaked Ladies (call them BNL if that offends you) and it is fantastic. I saw these guys in concert at Walt Disney World. I only know two of their songs (well, three now) and the other two ("One Week" and "If I Had $1,000,000") are smart and funny -- two of my favorite things. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas lights, er, I mean "holiday" lights



Whatever. They still looked great, despite the distinct absence of Christmas proper. It was cold -- really, really cold -- and I made my family get out of the car so as to increase their joy, or something like that. My kids would not sit on Santa's lap. I threatened to do so myself, but feared being left behind in the cold (and the joy -- there was joy, I'm sure of it).


Monday, December 17, 2007

World's best gift tags

Ha! Download lots of these gift tags. Seriously, who doesn't need a gift tag that says, "This seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I'm not so sure." Brilliant.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Dog tired


In front of the fireplace.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Little D's battle

Feeling overwhelmed by the to-do list for Christmas? Read about little David Wilkerson and his family. They are spending the season at Duke University as David fights leukemia. Good news today -- the transplant cells appear to be growing. Grow, cells, grow.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007



My family made my 39th birthday very happy Friday -- cards and flowers, thoughtful acts, a pro Flickr account, dinner out. It was a great day. Now, on to a milestone: 40. I've noticed lots of folks marking their 40th with 40 x 365 lists or by creating a list of 40 things to do before 40. I think I will try the latter. Can I come up with 40 tasks/events that can reasonably be completed in a year? We'll see.

I was a little younger here... I wish I knew what was in the box. Man, oh man, this picture made me remember that my family was wildly enthusiastic about icicles on the Christmas tree.


(Edited to add: I found the icicles on eBay! I wonder if they are really made of lead. I wonder how many I ate as a toddler.)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Let There Be Mom

Back in the October issue of Upstate Parent, I was fortunate to be able to write about Let There Be Mom, a nonprofit organization that helps moms who have life-threatening illnesses. Kipra Anderson, founder, now has the story on the organization's web site. They need money and volunteers to support these moms as they work on tangible legacies for their children. They are doing some good, life-changing stuff.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Brussels sprouts? Sewing mamas?

How fun to have my Brussels sprouts "non-recipe" on Sew, Mama, Sew today! I am tempted to post a full photo of the primate teased below, but there's no way I am spoiling that before Christmas. :)

Thanks for visiting and please let me know you stopped by.

On a completely different topic, Nolan and I spent part of our morning volunteering with our homeschool group at the Salvation Army's Christmas gift warehouse site. Filling orders for families of all ages and sizes, knowing that what we chose might be everything they receive for Christmas -- it can put everything in perspective. I now know exactly what to buy for donations next year. (If charities are still accepting Christmas items where you live, we noticed a real need for toys and clothing for older children, size 8 and larger and ages 10 and older, as well as baby-safe toys.) It broke my heart to find nothing to fit the 12-year-old girl on one of our lists, but I know one mom and boy who are feeling a little more grateful for everything today.

Quilt Binders Anonymous


I keep reading that hand sewing the binding on a quilt becomes addictive. I have to say, I'm not feeling it yet. But, I am darn proud of how this is shaping up.

If I ever get caught up on work projects and such, I want to do an I Spy quilt (Amy says I can do it!) and maybe a small project like a king-sized patchwork. With sewing, it is easier for me to just go ahead and get that monstrous project out of the way and then master the small stuff. It builds confidence, I tell you. Case in point: my first real sewing project, which resulted in the purchase of a sewing machine half way through, was reupholstering a sofa. Once I finished that, I felt confident enough to make a tote bag. Go figure.

Here's that sofa, though this fabric marks the second time I have upholstered it. Buddy says it is quite comfortable despite the imperfections.


Monday, December 3, 2007

She's here -- and I'm back!

Baby Claire arrived safe and sound today and we love our new niece -- of course we loved her from the first notice of her existence. And jury duty is postponed to a non-school week. All is well. :)

We interrupt this broadcast


For jury duty. Back soon (I hope) because otherwise we will be doing school on Saturdays and during Christmas break. (I don't mind jury duty at all, honestly, I am just hoping to postpone it until summer. It would impact fewer people then, for sure.)

And meanwhile, my new niece is scheduled to arrive at precisely the time I am to report to jury duty. Trouble concentrating much? Me?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Drunk on straight seams

BABY GIFT ALERT: Look away if this applies to you.



I tend to put quilters on a pedestal. They must be more spiritual than I am or something, with the straight seams and the nice lines between blocks. My first quilt top attempt, a strip-pieced log cabin, was really unusable for an actual quilt, though I have recently used the top in other patchwork projects.

And then I found this tutorial. I won't insult the author by calling it quilting for dummies, but hey, if I can do it... It is so easy, the darn thing almost sews itself. The hardest part was not amputating a finger (or a dog nose) with the rotary cutter.

I think I could have made a few cuts and made this stunning, but I am content with the not quite random result. The back is pieced and wonky at best, but made with love by a crazy aunt trying not to buy toxic gifts for babies I love. File that under leaving well enough alone, from the new, spiritual, quilty me. Of course the quilting and the binding have been a slightly different story... Almost done.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Paging Jacob Marley

Fountain Inn's nostalgic Spirit of Christmas Past Festival begins next week. I wrote about all the details in today's Tribune-Times. New this year is the outdoor skating rink made of a synthetic material that closely mimics ice. Hopefully that's as close as we get to the real thing.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like...

a Christmas meme, from the folks at Sew, Mama, Sew who have saved my sanity on more than one occasion.


If you’re making gifts this year, what are you making? (Post photos if you have some!)

I am making several gifts. Some involve primates. Others involve chenille, which I WILL conquer or die trying. There was also talk of a yo-yo tree skirt but it has taken a backseat to primate production. In the interest of Christmas surprises, I can't post a full photo -- just a few segments. (Edited to add: I have victory over chenille at last!)


Name one thing on your personal wish list.

An obscenely large cutting mat -- don't know where I would put it or how much I would actually use it. Details... (To anyone buying me a gift, I really do need to account for those details before I get the mat.)


What is your favorite holiday food?

Just one? Cider, egg nog, homemade candies, cake, vegetarian stuffing, Brussels sprouts (really).

Do you have a great recipe to share?

It is hardly a recipe, but for the world's best Brussels sprouts, trim them and cut them in halves or quarters, depending on size. In a nonstick skillet, drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil and get the pan as hot as you can stand without the oil reaching a smoking point. Toss in the sprouts, season liberally with sea salt and lots of fresh cracked pepper. Toss and saute over medium-high heat until the sprouts have begun to blacken along the edges, generally 7 or 8 minutes. Serve immediately and sneak a few from the hot pan, burning your tongue and repeating, "Ow! Hot! Good! Hot! Good!" as often as necessary.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Don't forget them!

Read here about an amazing combat photojournalist from our area who is serving in Afghanistan. Spend an hour or a day looking at the faces of the people our troops are helping everyday.

Read here about the Mighty Bravo's Family Readiness Group. The FRG helps the families of deployed troops and the group is always raising funds for emergency expenses and those months when families run short and dad (or mom) is away. While writing this story, I was told more than once that soldiers who are stressed out about the needs of their family members at home are not as focused on keeping themselves safe. Help the home front, help a soldier.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Not an armadillo


A friend called yesterday to ask if had a good red velvet cake recipe. Well, since that is oxymoron, I had to send her to and ask her if she remembered the armadillo cake from "Steel Magnolias." Gross, just gross. (See below for a mind-blowing reproduction.)

I also could have sworn that the cake from my second birthday was a red velvet cake. I was sure of it until I found this picture showing the cut cake. The (probably toxic) red food coloring never made it past the icing, I guess. It looks like I enjoyed it. I never met a cake I didn't like, except red velvet.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

ABC: Already Been Chewed

Here is the finished product from Nolan's group during last week's animation seminar with Joe Summerhays and the USC College of Mass Communications and Information Studies.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Next Gen?


During a break from the incredible stop-motion animation seminar we attended this week, we walked under the street, through the tunnel to the law school. It's a nice place to visit but I already lived enough years in the law library, thank you very much.

Go gamecocks!


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"It's me, looking at me, looking at me!" -- Steve Martin

Why a web site? Isn't a web site with my name and my life the most narcissistic thing ever? Well, yes -- yes it is, but it is also a business necessity these days, especially for writers. More details are in this month's issues of Upstate, Palmetto and Lowcountry Parent. (I will post a link when the column is online, of course, like any good narcissist would.)

Monday, November 12, 2007

What day is it?

A wonderful local mom created and developed the calendar to end all calendars: WeekDate. It is a brilliant way to organize, well, pretty much everything you could possibly need to do. If you can't get your schedule in order with this calendar, you are in serious need of a vacation. I interviewed Kay last year for the Tribune-Times and again for another upcoming story. This is one of those products that will make you ask, "Why didn't I think of that?"

Visit her site at for wall calendars and planners. Currently, she offers free shipping on all domestic orders. She is getting lots of well deserved attention for this design, including some from Martha (yep, that Martha).

Golden view


This is my favorite road in the fall. The pictures don't begin to do it justice. All of the tulip poplars (I think) turn at once, creating a golden canopy that glows all around. There is usually one day each year when there can be no dispute that the color is at its peak. It quickly fades and we wait for the first winter day when we will see patches of white on the hillside.



Sunday, November 11, 2007

Vegetarian road kill


I could not make this stuff up. This picture, taken by my daughter with a camera phone, shows an entire Bundt cake in the middle of the road. Can you see it? The whole cake -- splat -- still unbroken, lying in the median.

I can't even venture a guess...

Friday, November 9, 2007

Spoiler Alert

If you are a member of my immediate family and you are expecting a baby, look away now. Look away -- You have been warned.

Chenille is a deceptive entity, I tell you. It is soft and fluffy but has a sinister underbelly. It cuts out beautifully and then ever so subtly bunches along as I sew it, until I am left with a puckered mess that can't quite pass for gathers. Argh. Yes, I clipped the curves, but clearly I am doing something wrong. And I just know it is one of those things they teach in Sewing 101. If only I had taken Sewing 101...

On the bright side, I have an ever-growing stack of bibs that I can't present as gifts but I can use when we baby-sit. I plan to baby-sit a lot.


The pink gingham hasn't been top-stitched yet. Maybe that will help. The pseudo-log cabin bib (there are two others like it) isn't awful, yet not quite right.

I will keep trying. Darn that chenille.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Ye Olde Family Trip


Ah, to have such effective punishment at home. Alas, this wretched scene is from Colonial Williamsburg. The details of our trip are in this month's Upstate Parent, Palmetto Parent and Lowcountry Parent magazines. I will post a link as soon as it is online.

Williamsburg really is a step back in time. The entire historical area is immaculate and to my surprise, had many, many activities available. Our favorite was an African-American music program held in the evening. It was breathtaking. I want to go back.

Mustering the troops:


The Governor's Palace (Patrick Henry wuz here.):


At the Capitol:



Arrrrgh. I don't know to whom this crypt belongs, but it is cool, isn't it? Maybe it is a henchman of Blackbeard. He "wuz here," too.


Could this be the baptismal font of Pocahontas? The world may never know.