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One of Baby Girl’s favorite things to do is “play puzzle”. Puzzles have been big with all the kids, but this is really her thing these days. We have plenty, but I wanted to get her a new one for her birthday.  In my quest, I discovered there are few choices in the 50-60 piece range and a lot of puzzle illustrations are kind of ugly. Is that harsh? If they aren’t ugly, they are boring. Seriously, where are all the cute puzzles? I did see this set, which I LOVE, but 4 pieces per puzzle isn’t going to cut it. If I were artistic or a better photographer, I would have a puzzle made.

I ended up ordering a layered puzzle from Moolka.  It is a clever little puzzle that shows sunflowers in different stages of growth (i.e. here are kids planting the seeds, look the stalks are coming up, hey those sunflowers are taller than the kids now).  I thought that the layers would add a challenge even though there aren’t that many pieces.  Wrong.  She loves it but she can put it together in about 30 seconds.   Sigh.

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Who can I petition to get a 60+ piece puzzle made from a Petit Collage piece or a Charley Harper illustration? There is a definite gap in the market for stylish puzzles.

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After her book was read, while the big kids were listening to their books, Baby Girl snuck upstairs to find me.

Mommy:  “Was there something that made you happy today?”

Baby Girl:  “Yeah, you.  And my baby chickens.”

We just returned from a 10 day road trip to and from Memphis.  Five of us in the car for roughly 32 hours (round trip) and we all survived.  It is truly the season of miracles.

On the way south, we stopped at a rest area near Cairo, IL.  Say what you will about Illinois, they do have nice rest areas.  Whoever suggested building playgrounds at the rest areas should be given a raise.

As we herded children in to use the facilities, I commented to Brad that I was having trouble remembering the last time I was outside in a short sleeve shirt.  A couple steps later we both stopped dead in our tracks.  “Do you smell that?”  A lovely floral scent was wafting from the trees nearby.

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You have no idea how powerful the sight and smell of blossoms can be until you’ve been deprived of anything resembling living flora for 6 months.  Without the chance to watch the gradual greening and budding, it was all the more surprising and delightful.

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It gives me hope that spring is really here to stay and we’ll see our own drab environs turn green and bloom soon(ish).

Jen of Painted Fish Studio tagged me to “open the 6th picture folder on your computer, open the 6th photo and blog it. write something about it. then tag 6 more people to do the same.”

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This picture was taken in October 2004. Our first year at Applebutter weekend, a friend’s longstanding family tradition of making applebutter over an open fire in a huge copper pot. We were one of around 6 families there for the weekend. The weekend went something like this:

  • Arrived Friday night to peel, core and chop bushels upon bushels of apples.
  • Woke up Saturday morning to start the fire and get the pot on.
  • Sat by fire and took turns stirring.
  • Enjoyed a lovely fall day outside.
  • More stirring.
  • Let kids and dogs frolic and run until they fell into a heap.
  • Canned applebutter in a mad dash assembly line.
  • Ate, drank and were very merry!

A fantastic weekend was had by all. Lizzie was 4 1/2 and Joshua was 2. They both look so little in this picture. Joshua was so blond! On a day like today, when it feels like they will never grow out of the needy, whiny, or sassy stages, it is good to be reminded that they really do grow up so fast.

Thanks, Jen, for prompting this little stroll down memory lane.

Now, it’s your turn:

Cloth. Paper. String.

Jenean Morrison

Bridgman Pottery

Prickly Pear Bloom

Sugarbug

Sara+h

I have the feeling a couple of you may have already done this, but I’m forgetful and too lazy to check. If so, please disregard.

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Although I don’t generally pay any attention to horoscopes and the like, I admit I have a soft spot for the Chinese zodiac. The other day I was wondering which animal’s year it would be this year. Brad grabbed a calendar we’d gotten from our favorite Chinese restaurant and announced that it is the year of the Ox. He proceeded to read each of our animals descriptions.

Ox (me) – Bright, inspiring and easy going. You make an outstanding parent.
HA! I beg to differ!

Dog (Brad and Sarah) – Honest and loyal. Generous but stubborn.
Sounds about right.

Dragon (Lizzie) – Excitable with complex life. Stubborn on outside – soft hearted inside.
Hit the nail on the head.

Horse (Joshua) – Cheerful and popular, but impatient.
Holy crow, have they met Joshua??

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Not much crafting going on around here.  I’m starting a sewing class tonight and have yet to decide on a pattern, much less get fabric.  Yes, I need to get fabric.  On the one hand, I need more fabric like a hole in the head.  On the other, I don’t tend to buy much yardage as I collect, so I don’t have enough of anything appropriate.  Brad asked how my April craft allowance looked.  I could only mutter, “maybe we should count this under the clothing line item??”

I decided to try my hand at Curious Bird’s Color Week.  Here’s to a green Monday:

I’m sure you have all done it.  Gotten bored and started “googling” people.  Friends, relatives, yourself, people you haven’t talked to or even thought of in years.  I’m on a roll.  Found a few former boyfriends and lurked through their blogs, getting “caught up”.  It’s interesting to see what they are up to and how they are doing.  It is also fascinating and a little creepy to realize how easy it is to find people via the internet.

Here’s what I learned in my most recent time wasted spent on Google:

  • My maiden name yields someone who plays Lacrosse.
  • My married name yields someone who plays field hockey.  (Sadly, I played neither)
  • The only results from searching my married name that are actually me are related to my current job (blah, blah, blah, church, blah, blah).
  • A couple of my former boyfriends are married.
  • One of those has two super cute kids.
  • One former boyfriend seems to be perpetually stuck at age 21.  (yikes)

Tracking down people with whom you have had little to no contact with for years is pretty surreal.  My mental images of some of these people are frozen in time, circa 1991.  To see photos of their families, read about their careers, creative and academic pursuits is almost jarring.  Frankly, it is a bit jarring to think of myself circa 1991.

One thing is for sure, I like now a lot better than 1991.  (Especially now that the other 4 members of the household have stopped vomiting.)

Downs:

Literally. I fell while walking to pick up Joshua at school. Fortunately, I was wearing Sarah on my back and she was unhurt. I usually wear her on the front and shutter to think what could have happened if that were the case today.  Instead, I bore the brunt:  one of my knees is severely scraped up, the other one just hurts and my only pair of jeans now have a gaping hole in the knee (not to mention blood stains).

Ripped out my second attempt at my Sockapalooza pal’s sock. Gauge is a bitch!

Ups:

This yarn:

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So, so soft! Abby and I got to escape go to the Shepherd’s Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival on Sunday. I bought myself the yarn as a little Mother’s Day present while we were there. There was a lot more I could have come home with, but I practiced great restraint. I am contemplating what I should knit. For now, I will just visit this newcomer to my stash and pet it every once in a while.

This picnic blanket (inspired by Amanda‘s):

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Brad wondered if I was really ready to put this on the ground and let our children eat while sitting on it. Yes, I think I am. Honestly, it is a little wonky and that would bug me if it were anything other than a picnic blanket. I have been hording the fat quarters for a while now and thought this was a fun way to use them. The backing fabric is an Ikea curtain that I found at Goodwill for $3.

Thrifted fabric :

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Another $3 at Goodwill. There is at least 6 yards of this stuff and I think it is screaming to be made into sun dresses for the girls. I think I will follow Erin‘s lead and try out the elastic thread.

Progress on the sock:

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Third time’s a charm, right?

The other day I mentioned that I don’t consider myself a “master thrifter”. This was less a reference to any perceived lack of skill on my part and more so the fact that I go so infrequently. That may need to change.

I managed to squeeze in a couple of trips this week while Joshua was in school and came home with several finds. There are the mundane finds, like a pair of shorts for me or boots for Joshua. It is great finding something you need and getting a good deal for it, but nothing out of the ordinary. There are the fun whimsies, like a vintage sewing pattern or a cute pottery bowl. Then there the finds that make you feel like you’ve gotten away with something naughty by paying so little for something so great. I came home with multiples in each category. I won’t bore you with the mundane finds and skip straight to the fun stuff…

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Vintage Smock Pattern – $.29

I think I will skip the mini dress, but I may be making the smock forthwith. I’ll have to practice holding my head at a tilt, just so.

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Fire-King peach lusterware 8×8 square pan – $2.99

 

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Noritake Palos Verde vegetable bowl

I think I paid $1.50 for this. I didn’t know anything about the pattern, but I liked it and we don’t have a lot of serving dishes so I got it. Turns out the pattern was produced in the 70’s and similar items go for $15-22. Good deal, eh?

In addition to trips to the thrift store, I have also managed to finish my socks (finally!)

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and start socks for my Sockapalooza4 sock partner.

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Okay, that’s just the yarn. Trust me, I started the sock. Actually, I started twice. First time, it looked like I cast on too few. This time feels like too many, but I may knit a while and see what they are like. Good thing the mail date isn’t until August. Hopefully they won’t take me as long as the ones I just finished. Those took for bloomin’ ever!

I have been on the receiving end of some excellent thrift finds lately. Notice I say “on the receiving end”. I am not a master thrifter, though I would love to spend more time cruising the aisles of my local Goodwill. I happen to be the mother of a rather cute 7- month old who is the real recipient of said thrifted goodness. My friends have had great luck coming upon “must have” items that are too small for their own children, but just right for my wee one. It’s really all about who you know.

This is one example,

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A vintage Paddington smock. Of course, I have a big soft spot for all things smockish. It also hits a soft spot because it is Paddington of the era we lived in Scotland. There are several children’s characters that I was introduced to during our year abroad and have loved ever since. Paddington Bear, Miffy, the Mr. Men and Little Miss books, just to name a few. There is just something so enduring about those favorites from early childhood.

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“Please look after this bear.” I shall do my very best.

Though the vast majority of the finds have been for baby Sarah, I did get this little bit of greatness the other day.

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Abby found two at Goodwill and presented them at knit night with an invitation for me and Sarah to arm wrestle for them. The gasp of awe that escaped both of us in unison indicated that the battle would be hard fought. In the end, no blood was spilled.  We opted to each take one.