Monday, March 31, 2008

Just a note


I received an email from Shutterfly last week, offering a free set of note cards (plus shipping). I have noticed quite a few sets of "photograph note cards" for sale online recently, so I decided to try my hand with one of my favorite shots. I couldn't be happier. I don't expect that anyone would ever buy them, but who cares? These are for me.

Upgrade coming very soon...

The quality of images seen here should be improving soon, though it may come in fits and starts as I learn this new gadget from the ground up. It's my first venture into the world of digital SLRs. Be patient with me.

Friday, March 28, 2008

"Junior? Junior?" (Say that with your best Sean Connery accent)


It's Lego Indy. Personally, I'm looking forward to the Harrison Ford variety, coming soon to a theater near you.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Why I write



Because I get to tell the stories of wonderful people like Don Lewis, who exudes art and creativity and passion for nature. I would love it if you read about him in the latest edition of Sandlapper. The story is online through a partnership with South Carolina ETV. Here is a direct link to the pdf version. The fireflies will be awakening on his property in a few weeks. I'll be there.

(The photos were taken during my visit with Don several months ago.)


And one other story in the latest Sandlapper -- This, too, was a joy to write and resulted in one of my favorite photos (above). The sculpture is called "Exuberance," and has nothing to do with what I wrote, except that it is in the park next door to the vibrant new Chapman Cultural Center, covered in the story. I love sculpture gardens. I could get lost in them on a number of levels. Museums and galleries are incredible, but there is something surreal and freeing about bringing art outside and mingling it with the original art of trees and plants and birds.

Clearly, I need more coffee this morning.

Here is a direct link to the pdf of the Chapman Cultural Center story. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

On my desk

New books. Yeah, baby.


Feeling light-headed

My daughter lost 11 inches of hair today and we are about to put it in the mail to Locks of Love.






And after:


Thanks, Mamaw, for the wonderful new haircut!

Don't hate her...

I have a story running today about a local mom who creates the most outrageous birthday parties for her daughters, including a life-sized Candyland game in the backyard. She also transformed their family room into a log cabin with 800 (count 'em) cardboard fabric bolts faux finished to look like wood. And she never spends more than $50. It would be tempting to hate her, but don't -- she is actually a lovely person and has some great tips. Now, get busy planning that party.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The raucous party never ends

Finished this:


Which entitled me to this thrift store find:




Will do taxes for used books.

(Yikes! The illustrations are amazing. This one is going to end up in little pieces for something...something beautiful.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

It's spring break and mom's gone wild

Not like that, of course, but holy cow -- how much easier is it to conduct a phone interview and write a story when school is out? Way easier, let me tell you. I expect a little crafting might get done this week, too, if I get really crazy. And blog posts galore. And cleaning. And laundry. And prime rib will be cooked for the carnivores in the family. I can't wait to see what I will accomplish this summer. I should have enough time to write a novel and complete that NASA training I've put off for so many years.

But on the homeschool front, I was emailed a link to this column in the Washington Post by Gregory Millman. It very eloquently states so many of my feelings and first year experiences as a homeschooling mom, including this dandy of a quote: "Studies have shown that home-schooled children outperform the conventionally schooled not only on standardized academic tests but also on tests of social skills. This, I believe, isn't because home-schoolers do things better than schools do them but because we do better things than schools do."

Well, duh, as my teenager would say.

March of the (frozen) tools

Continuing with March of the Tools month, this one really has changed life around here:


We never buy ice cream now. My husband is a master at flavors like Chocolate Truffle (yes, it is as good as it sounds), made in this little contraption. This, too, was purchased because of Alton Brown and an episode of "Good Eats." The interior of the ice cream maker is a removable bowl that we store in the freezer until ready to use. And there you go: ice cream in 20 minutes.

Bring on the custard, baby.


Catching up

In more ways than one...P1010017

A belated Happy Easter to all. No one at my house hid eggs, so we had to hang with a crowd that still squeals "Hide my eggs!" and runs around furiously throwing them in the basket (and missing sometimes). It was too much fun.




We so enjoy having nieces that allow us to relive all the fun baby and toddler days, but without the 3 a.m. feedings and the little things to come like braces and college tuition.

Thursday, March 20, 2008



P1010018 P1010020

And this big blob of mistletoe came down. I'm just sayin'.


Mr. Rogers talks to the U.S. Senate, 1969

I absolutely can't post from You Tube today for reasons that are clearly beyond my technical expertise, but here is a link to a video that is well worth your time, especially if you have children or work with children or know a child or two or even if you occasionally pass one on the street: watch video.

And in what I promise will be the final tribute of the day, here is a column I wrote in 2001:

As a kid, I had few heroes, but Mister Rogers always made the list.

Fred Rogers, a Presbyterian minister, father of two, and neighbor of many, recently filmed his last episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. After some 900 episodes, he is moving on to other projects—not retiring, he has said in recent interviews. I watched the final episode with my son who squealed at the sight of the trolley, and delighted as we saw the fish one last time.

Mister Rogers has made me a better person, and most certainly a better parent. Who else could do a dozen different puppet voices, play a piano concerto and demonstrate how toothbrushes are made—all in half an hour?

In case you spent your childhood in a cave (or without the rabbit ears that provided the television reception of 30—I mean 25—years ago), the theme of Mister Rogers’ show, no matter what the topic of the day, was always the uniqueness of the individual. He said with complete honesty that you are special—you, me, and everyone on the planet. He taught me that I don’t have to be a lawyer or a writer or anything else to achieve greatness. I can make the world a better place with a smile, a song, or a hug.

For his trouble, Mister Rogers earned accolades and millions of loyal fans. But he took his share of heat, too. Cynics would say that no one could be that nice. They would be wrong. He is the real deal and no one can convince me otherwise.

As a child I was enchanted with the security of his routine: the jacket exchanged for a sweater, the tennis shoes, and the familiar songs he composed for his television neighbors. He sang them thousands of times, and always as though they were brand new. Those are the songs I sing to my children. When my daughter was a toddler, she went into an ear-shattering screech at bath time. We finally figured out that the sight of a tub full of water draining away was more than she could wrap her brain around. And so we sang. “You can never go down, never go down the drain.”

When my son does something wonderful, we sing. (Sing along now.) “I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you. I hope that you’re as proud as I am proud of you. I’m proud of yoooooou. I hope that you are proud of you, too.”

Mister Rogers sang, “I’m Proud of You” on his final show. It was a private concert, thank you very much. He sang it for me. (Trust me. I know these things.) You see, I’m learning. Being a parent is, at its best, all about being a kid. Everyone is special—just the way they are. And I don’t have to conquer the world; I just have to love my neighbor.

It's "Wear a Sweater Day"

... in honor of Fred Rogers' 80th birthday. I tried in vain to post Mr. McFeely's video reminder, but You Tube is giving me fits.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

On my desk...


In the interest of full disclosure, I only put this on my desk so I wouldn't have to post a photo of the work and school items that are currently covering every square inch just out of the range of this picture. This baby quilt (in progress) is much easier on the eyes.

I forgot to credit  Kirsty at Kootoyoo for encouraging me to take a closer look at what's right in front of me each Wednesday. It is motivating me to (eventually) reclaim this space.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Humiliating my children


It's one of the joys of parenting.

It really doesn't matter if you win or lose...


But it sure is fun when your pinewood derby car lives up to your hopes.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

On my desk...

I agreed to play along with "on my desk Wednesdays," but really, there's no way to make this picture look good. I am happy to report that things are looking up. 


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What's that you say?



Mostly sunny. Highs in the lower 70s. West winds around 5 mph...increasing to southwest 10 to 15 mph in the afternoon.

A certain air

I am loving these Puffs tissues with Vicks, but I am now concerned that I have acquired a distinct old lady smell. Maybe it was my son's "Eww! Gross! What's that SMELL?" that did it.

Whatever. I can breathe.


Addendum: I think maybe it was the initial opening of the box that caused my son's reaction. My daughter, who can smell a slice of bacon from down the street, hasn't commented. And man, I can really breathe.

Monday, March 10, 2008

One more Oxo goodie


Read the measurements from the top? Brilliant.

Can a can opener change your life?


As part of March of Tools, I had to start with my Oxo can opener. This replaced an electric can opener I had for years and I will buy no other kind -- forever. It works better than any I have ever used and it goes right in the dishwasher.

This photo shows the beginning of winter time salsa preparation. It all starts with the can.

This is a unitasker, but it is so superb that we will overlook that normally fatal flaw. Same goes for the ice cream maker.

March of the Tools


Heather Bailey is letting the world know about some of her favorite tools. I decided to join in because I am a bit persnickety about my gadgets and also because I am battling a sinus infection that has complete loss of creative thought as one of its side effects. I am forced to steal ideas from others until I done with the beautiful evil that is prednisone.

In the words of Alton Brown, who has inspired many of my kitchen gadget purchases: Death to unitaskers.

Friday, March 7, 2008

My only sunshine


Today, the only sun to be had comes in the form of Snapple Le-mmm-on tea. Yet somehow the pollen count is still freakishly high and we are in a drought. Go figure.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Eat my dust, Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Why do I love my husband? I won't even begin to count the ways here -- the Internet wouldn't hold them all. But really now, the man swings on flagpoles. How could I not love him? (He also writes about computer programming stuff that is far beyond the grasp of this liberal arts major's mind and he makes it interesting.)

Bigger than a tree

I really liked the show "Joan of Arcadia," despite its somewhat watered down theology. I liked that Joan, the girl who saw visions of God, could really banter with Him and ask the hard questions. I get that. One of my favorites scenes was of Joan walking and talking with God and pleading with Him to show her a miracle -- just to let her see one with her own eyes. They stopped walking in front of a towering, glorious tree.

Joan (as I remember the conversation): "Seriously? A tree?"

God: "Let's see you make one."

Take a look at a real live miracle of Biblical proportions over at Cohen McGowan's site.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Exciting, yet somehow very wrong

Well, whatever you're thinking after that title, I'm confident you are not on the right track.

Despite everything that I know to be good and right when it comes to doing laundry, I took my first foray into wool felting this weekend. The first step -- washing a 100 percent wool sweater in the washing machine in scalding hot water -- seemed like something I should not admit in public, but I was tempted by the thrifted sweater and its intoxicating colors. And I had too much work to do to actually find time for crafting. This way, I was creating something in the machine while I worked. Yes, that must be it.


Maybe I will eventually end up with a wool throw like the ones from Sweet Felt Goods (love that name). I can see myself now, blanket stitching a pile of wool poolside this summer. Two wrongs don't make a right, I know.