Jane's Artist Trading Cards

Jane's atc

Cleaning out the kitchen last night, I stumbled across these artist trading cards that Jane painted last October. Using her own photos as reference, she used watercolors to render small snapshots of a trip that she and Fatty took to San Francisco over her fall break.  I find them completely charming and delightful - I think I will have them framed as a little memento for her. And I just love, love, love that she always finds a way to express herself creatively. She inspires me to continue my own painting practice and now I am itching to get to the studio later today. (Friday is painting day!!!!)

Finding these cards was perfect timing. One of my readers, Rose, has an active group of kids (ages 4 to 14) that swap artist trading cards like these. I told her that I would help her spread the word. I remember just how much fun my girls had when Blair and I hosted the kids atc swap six (!!!) years ago. If you think this is something you and your children would be interested in, you can find more information in Rose's group on Facebook.

Have a great weekend and Happy Valentine's Day!

You still have time to make this gift. And it is (mostly) free.

A friend of mine recently emailed Fatty with a link to this video about moms and their kids (go watch - it's amazing). She then asked his help to make a video of my girls telling me why they are thankful for me and why they love me.


People, this is quite possibly the best gift I have ever received.

Not only was it incredibly thoughtful, but it's a great reminder that even though I sometimes doubt my success as a mother (who doesn't?), my kids don't see me that way. It was something I needed to hear and the bonus is that I will always have it to look back at. I am so thankful for this.

Why don't you do this for someone you love? Your spouse, the grandparents, a friend, teachers....the list goes on. All it takes is a little time, a little technology (iphone, ipod touch, ipad, computer, video camera) and you can send it via email Christmas morning or put it on a CD/DVD to send in the mail. If you have technologically savvy kids, like mine, they can probably do it all on their own with a little direction from you. Heck, if you have extra time, you could even make a movie out of it. No matter how you do it, it will be treasured.

Like I said, possibly the best gift I have ever received. Well, besides the kids themselves. They are pretty damn great.


My children gave me their permission to post this video on the blog. Please respect our wishes that it not be uploaded anywhere else. Do not pin this video to pinterest, share it on facebook or the like. I appreciate your understanding - thank you.


Fine art in sidewalk chalk

Chalk 1
Chalk 2
Chalk 3
Chalk 4

It was all her idea.  She thought her sick sister could use some sunshine and drawing with sidewalk chalk wouldn't be too much, would it?  No, not at all.  So while Kate drew flowers and butterflies and practiced her lower case cursive, Jane took out her new favorite book, Looking At Pictures, An Introduction to Art for Young People and got busy doing what she loves to do.  She would have kept drawing if I hadn't made her stop to get ready for soccer practice.

Thank you sun.  Thank you blue skies.  Thank you spring weather.  Thank you Jane.  You are delightful and never cease to amaze me.

Jane's patchwork guitar strap

Guitar 1
Guitar 2
Guitar 3

Fatty and I gave Jane a guitar for her 10th birthday in December.  Included with the gift were lessons and the promise of a mommy-made guitar strap.  A promise because this girl is picky.  If I had gotten it wrong in any way, she wouldn't have used it.  She may not have ever played the guitar.  That's how particular she is.  On the upside, it's good she knows what she likes and she isn't afraid to tell me.  (No pink, but still girly.  Green is good and so is aqua.  Remember, no pink!)  As a result, this project was a complete collaboration.

The bummer about having a December birthday is that your mom might be a little too busy to sew your guitar strap right away.  (Ahem.  And let's not even get started about the birthday shirt.  I swear it's next on the list!  Again, I was afraid it wouldn't be right...)  Thank goodness that her lessons didn't start until January - that bought me some time.  It was a good thing, too.  There were a couple of fabrics that she liked and then abandoned.  But when I bought fat quarters of Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane, she zeroed in on one print in particular.  Ten days later, she was still sold on that print.  On Saturday, she picked the others to go with it, laid them out in the order she wanted them and I started cutting.  She went to swim practice and I got sewing while bread was baking.  It was finished when she came home.

I made two other guitar straps for friends this past fall.  With both of those and this one, I bought inexpensive nylon webbed straps and cut them apart for the hardware.  I searched the internet a few times and couldn't come up with decent leather bits at a reasonable price so re-purposing was necessary.  I made all the straps (one for an adult, two for children) adjustable so that the fit would be just right.

She likes it a whole heck of a lot.  That makes both of us smile.

Guitar 4


I sat down multiple times yesterday and tried to write this post.  I'm not sure why I am having such a hard time with it, but I am.  Jane turned ten yesterday.  Ten.  That's a big number.  And it's a little number, too.  It's a milestone for her and for me.  A whole decade of life.  Double digits.  And the realization that I have spent ten years being a mother.  It doesn't feel like a long time.  Say "ten years" aloud, though, and, yes, it is a long time.

I was twenty-eight when she was born.  And we had wanted a baby for awhile.  She was born four weeks early and was tiny.  Four pounds, thirteen ounces tiny.  Looking back, I had no idea how small she was.  I had no clue that the people around me were worried about her (and me, with pre-eclampsia).  I wasn't concerned a bit - just over the moon to have this little girl in my life.

She is still charming me daily, ten years later.  It's been an amazing journey full of laughs and tears and I feel that it has really just begun.  But at the same time, I am aware (so so aware) that she will fly out of our nest in less time than she has been in it.  That makes my heart skip a beat.  The years go by so fast - I want to hold on tightly and not let her go.  But I am also excited to see the young lady that she is growing into.  I know that she is going to be an amazingly wonderful person.

At ten, Jane is sensitive and kind.  She is friendly and social.  She likes talking to anyone about anything.  She is a talented artist and a wonderful performer.  She was super excited about her new guitar - I have a feeling they will be a very good match.  She loves to read and loves to draw.  She plays soccer and likes swimming, but has no interest in basketball.  She is dramatic.  All. The. Time.  She bugs her sister, but counts Kate among her best friends.  She has a winning smile and beautiful eyes.  She has her own ideas about fashion, still detests the color pink and her favorite shoes are red Converse high tops.  She is sweet to little kids (a future babysitter for sure) and wishes Scout would sleep on her bed.  She got her ears pierced on her birthday and amazed herself (and me) by not crying.  I have a feeling that she's going to keep amazing both of us for years to come.

Dec 2

Happy Birthday, Jane.  I can't wait to see you in another ten years.  I have no doubt that I will be just as proud of you then as I am now.

8 is pretty darn great

She is full of energy and full of life.  She wears her emotions on her face - you can always tell if she is happy or sad or excited.  There is no hiding it for her.  She is stubborn and determined - if she wants something she won't quit until it's hers.  She is funny and good at making puns.  She is kind and helpful, almost always willing to do what I ask.  She is messy and doesn't like to put her clothes away.  She does like cleaning toilets, though.  This past year she learned to ride her bike and multiply and divide.  She likes the colors pink and purple the best.  She is adept at changing the subject when you aren't talking about what she wants.  She started to play the piano and I often hear her practicing on her own.  She devours books and goes through reams of paper writing stories and illustrating them.  She sings loudly and jumps high.  She has a sweet tooth.  Pasta is her favorite food.  When she grows up, she wants to live in the house next door.  I think that would be nice.

She is Kate and she is eight today.

Nov 12

Happy Birthday to my sweet girl.

Ready for more randomness?

Kate homework

Jane homework 

Monday morning I read Molly's post about getting kids outdoors.  Immediately I decided that we would do homework outside.  As luck would have it, the ice cream truck was practically at our driveway as we biked up the street after school.  That made homework extra sweet.

I received my October issue of Everyday Food yesterday.  I was super excited that I had everything on hand to make one of the chicken recipes.  I looked on the Martha Stewart website, but couldn't find a link.  If you have the magazine, go to pgs. 88 - 89.  You basically take a whole chicken cut into pieces (I had thighs and legs on hand), place them in a roasting pan with cut up new potatoes, the cloves from a head of garlic (unpeeled), some thyme, a quartered lemon and a red onion (cut into eighths).  Whisk together some olive oil  - the recipe calls for 1/4 cup, but I would reduce this to 3 tbsp. - and 2 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar.  Toss everything in your vinaigrette, season with salt and pepper and roast in your oven.  The recipe calls for 450 degrees for 50 minutes - I did 425 degrees on convection bake for 45 because that is how I normally roast chicken pieces.  I steamed some green beans, sliced some tomatoes and called it a meal.  It was a winner - everyone liked it.  It would have been extra good with some crusty bread to spread those roasted garlic cloves on.  Next time.

I found an acorn in the cuff of my pants this morning.  I am pretty sure I picked it up while biking the girls to school.  I never felt it fall in there so I was surprised when it rolled out.  Just another sign that Autumn is on its way.

Finally, if you want to hear me prattle on some more, Amy interviewed me as part of her Mama Views series on Progressive Pioneer.  I was flattered that she asked me to join her there.  I just re-read my answers and, again, am amazed that I didn't make a total fool out of myself.  Seriously.  Being the "A" of the Q&A takes some getting used to.  Thanks for the opportunity, Amy.

Chat with you all soon.

I had good intentions


This weekend I got to everything on my list except the quilt binding and the hand sewing.  Not bad.  I made the binding today and it'll go on tomorrow.  Hopefully, I will finish it on Wednesday.

We did go to the farmers market as a family.  After I had bought two huge cinnamon rolls for the girls, I picked up some roma tomatoes, yellow squash, french red fingerling potatoes, pork chops, bison steaks and zinnias.  Later in the morning, we embarked on a family adventure to Madison, Indiana.  On the way there, we picked up some peaches and blueberries.  Once there, we walked around town and shopped.  It was a fantastic day.  Fatty and I know how to shop well together - I blitz through antique stores and he lolly-gags.  He's always calling after me, to show me the good stuff I missed. We came home with a lot of treasures.  LOTS.  And that isn't even the best part.  The best part is........



This, in and of itself, was worth the trip.  These young ladies lasted all day through two large antique malls plus a few stores here and there.  Fatty gave them each $5 at our last stop.  They shopped and shopped, trying to find THE PERFECT THING.  And in one of the last booths we entered, there were tons of vintage, handmade doll clothes in a basket for $1 to $2 an outfit.  I helped them go through and decide which would fit the dolls they had at home and for a couple of bucks, they each took home a treasure.

The way I look at it, we all came home winners.

And, I get to thrift and antique a little more often.


Laundry bags for camp

Fatty and I dropped the girls off at summer camp yesterday.  It's oddly quiet in the house this morning probably because I know that they won't be bounding down the stairs ready to fix a bowl of cereal or asking for a toasted bagel.  I didn't think I would miss them so much right away!  No matter - I am glad that they are at camp.  I have great memories from my own stints at summer camp and really want them to have their own camp experiences.  And they will be back here on Friday - I am sure five nights will fly by!

As we were going over the packing list yesterday, I realized that I had never made the laundry bags that they needed.  Up to the sewing room I went and after about 20 minutes I had two complete bags!


This is a super fast and easy project.  I took a piece of fabric (about 30 inches long) and sewed a seam up the selvedge side starting about 2 inches from the top.  I pressed the side seam open and then folded and pressed the top edge down to make a casing.  I sewed around that and stitched up the bottom seam.  To finish it off, I threaded a length of ribbon through the casing.  Easy.


If I had thought of it sooner, I would haved added their names to the bags - either by applique or embroidery.  I think this makes a sweet graduation gift or maybe a good birthday present for camp age kids.   Or maybe whip one up for your own kids so they can drag all their dirty clothes down to the laundry for you?

I'm off to exercise and then figure out what to do with my day.  I think there will be more sewing involved.  And definitely paint.  Jane's coming home to a surprise room re-do.  New wall color, new curtains, new pillows....

I have a feeling this week is going to be gone before I know it.  That's just fine.  I miss those girls.

We love Boomerang!

After Blair posted about Boomerang!, I knew it would be something my girls would like.  I was right.

We downloaded an episode of this audiomagazine right before our spring break trip.  Really, Fatty did the downloading because all things ipod related fall into his realm.  He loaded it on Jane's ipod and my ipod for Kate.  Both girls listened to it on the plane ride to Mexico.  And then they listened to it again on the ride back home.  Jane called it talk radio for kids and she's right. 

April 17 019_1_1

I can see why they like it.  It's educational and fun - kind of like NPR for the younger set.  I liked listening to it and found myself learning a few new things as well.  I knew the kids were sold on it and now so am I.  I am going to subscribe - that's one issue a month.  The bonus for me is that we can plug the ipod into the car stereo and all listen to it together while roadtripping this summer.  Or they can put the headphones on and listen to it while Fatty and I rock out to something else.  Sweet.

Go and check out the Boomerang! website.  You can find out more of the specifics and see what it's all about.  There is also a Boomerang! blog that is full of great ideas for things you can do with your kids.  The easiest way to get Boomerang! is to buy it directly from the website - you can browse the episode list to get back issues, too.  I am still somewhat amazed that this wonderful, kid-friendly, educational resource has been around for a long time and I didn't know about it.  If you like it, please spread the word.  I'd like to see Boomerang! around for many more years.

Fun with elastic thread

I forgot how much fun sewing with elastic thread can be until I made the All-Weekend Sundress from Weekend Sewing.  And once I started, I couldn't stop.


I started with the skirts and then moved on to dresses.  The skirts took 1/2 yard of fabric each, and the dress, slightly under a yard each.  I didn't follow my own tutorial, but instead went with the directions Heather gives in Weekend Sewing.  Her way is easier and better which made these pretty fast projects....about 1/2 hour per skirt, maybe an hour for the dress.  The girls are saying that they will wear them.  I hope so.  I increased the odds by making sure that their respective garments matched their new saltwaters.  Fingers crossed.

Our spring break starts today at 3:00.  I'm looking forward to some down time and just hanging out.  I'm not sure if I will be in this space or not.  Have a great weekend and see you soon-ish.

ATC's are in the mail!

The girls' artist trading cards are out the door and in the mail.  We missed the mailing deadline after I realized that the post office does indeed close at noon on Saturday.  Oops.  They went in the mail yesterday and Jane had two arrive in our mailbox for her!

Atc 014_1_1

While doing this project, I found my children have such different approaches to their art.  Jane is detailed and meticulous.  She sat down for long periods of time and drew.  She chose creatures from the Spiderwick Chronicles as her subject matter and used pencil and colored pencil on each one.  She drew 11 cards and from those, chose the best 9 to send (she was in two groups).  There was one that I really liked, but she didn't.  No amount of discussing could convince her to send it so now it's mine.

Atc 015_1_1

Kate, on the other hand, had quick bursts of energy.  She drew what she saw, the flowers sitting around the house:  an orchid, a hyacinth, some daisies, forsythia and alstroemeria.  She finished three cards right away and then for days, she wouldn't even attempt to do the other two.  In the end, she sat down and did them together - right before the deadline.  I cringe to think that she is a procrastinator like her mother.  But then I remember, that sometimes it takes a long time for all those ideas to brew.  Or in Kate's case, maybe she was waiting to see what other flowers I brought home.

Atc 001_1_1

I loved this exercise for my kids.  Blair has said that the small size of the canvas gave her kids confidence in a way that a large piece of paper cannot.  I found the same to be true for my girls.  The smaller they had to draw, the more time they took, the more detailed they were.  If you take a look at the flickr pool, I think you could say the same for these young artists.  I sure hope that those of you who joined the swap, enjoyed it just as much as we did.

Packing List: It's there and here


So, the packing list is up on the Cookie website.  You can find it there.  Or you can find it over with the tutorials and such.  Here.  It should print out on a normal piece of computer paper with some space at the bottom for you to customize it as needed.  Remember, your kids don't care if you can't draw.  Just go for it.

I hope this makes your holiday travel easier.  I'm psyched to have one to print out for myself.  Yay!  Back to my weekend.... 

Birthday Shirt by Jane

Jane came up with the idea for her birthday shirt.  I think we were discussing how this year would be her last year in single digits when she piped up with, "Not in Roman Numerals!"


So...here it is.  IX.  Double digits this year and next year, a single X.

I made it while she was sleeping, the night before her big day.  She loves it - thank goodness.  I just never know with her.

I have to tell you all about the cake, too.  Jane loves peanut butter.  Loves it.  She requested a peanut butter cake.  I thought about making her this cake from Smitten Kitchen, but thought it would be too rich for her tastes.  She also doesn't like cream cheese frosting (crazy, I know!).  We went back to the old standby of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting with some Reese's on top.  Then, Emily gave me the great idea of putting a layer of Ina's Peanut Butter Frosting (scroll down) in between the chocolate layers.  It was genius!  So so good.  Try it.  You won't be sorry.

Off to string lights on the tree and get out the nutcrackers.  Happy Thursday everyone!

Jane is 9 today

So here I am, nine years of motherhood behind me.  At times, I can hardly believe it and then in some moments, I feel as if it has always been this way.


Sweet Jane.  Have I said that every year?  If I didn't, I should have because it is true.  This girl is sweet to the core.  She always has been and will continue to be, I am sure.  Some things about Jane at age nine:

She is loving and kind.
She is friendly and polite.
She is a voracious reader, or in her words, she "gobbles up books".  Right now it is all Harry Potter, all the time.  She finished the final book on Thanksgiving Day and right away started reading the first one again.
If I were to tell her that she could go to Hogwart's, she'd be packing a bag.
She is an artist and really likes fashion.
She has her very own style - some of it good, some of it bad, some of it brilliant.
She won't wear skirts.
She really dislikes pink.
Red is her favorite color.
She likes to swim, play volleyball and ride her bike.
Social studies and science are her favorite subjects.
She is 1/2" taller than Kate.
She never puts away her laundry and her room is mostly a mess.
When she grows up, she wants to be an artist.
She might even go to fashion school.
She is dramatic - very, very dramatic.
She is "mostly a vegetarian" (her words).
Pizza is her favorite food.

Happy Birthday Jane!  I am so lucky to be your mom.  I love you lots!

Tally - ho!

Every year, I make each of the girls a t-shirt for their birthday.  Here's what I made for Kate:


I wish I could take credit for the idea, but that was all Kate.  Kids really have the best ideas!  Sometimes they aren't really practical, but they are always creative.  About a month ago, we were driving in the car and she said she wanted tally marks on her birthday shirt.  Perfect!  Of course, it was 6:30 on the morning of her birthday when I finally got around to making it.  Some things never change.  I do know what I am going to do for Jane's shirt (also her idea).  I have two and a half weeks to do that one.  Let's see if I can avoid procrastination.  Probably not.  (Just me trying to be realistic).

I am so thrilled that it is Friday!  I don't have anything big planned for the weekend.  I might paint our bathroom.  It looks like such an easy project, but it might be one of those that takes more time than I think.  I have some school auction projects to get started.  And then there is the studio - messy again.  I know that is a big project.  There will be some de-stashing, so stay tuned.  I also have some yarn I don't want and plan to offer that up for sale here.  Everything will be first come, first served.

Have a great weekend!

She's 7

It's really hard for me to believe that my baby is seven years old today.  Time flies.  It does.

Somethings about Kate:

She's funny and has a heck of a belly laugh.
She's sweet to her friends and a bit sassy, too.
She says pink is her favorite color, but she likes green too.
She's a head taller than everyone in her class.
She's a good artist and loves to read.
Her favorite subject is math.
She's still afraid of the dark.
She loves to sing and dance and does both with her very own style.
She likes to help in the kitchen, but hates to clean her room.
She makes me smile.
She's stubborn.  (Wonder where she gets that?)
She challenges me in the best possible ways.
Her best friend is Jane.
When she grows up she wants to be a babysitter.
She likes to have fun and act crazy.


Happy Birthday to my sweet girl!  I love you loads.

Packing List

Whenever we are leaving on a trip, the last minute scramble to get things packed is always just that:  last minute.  While I am packing us up, the girls seem to get into things, making a big mess right before we leave.  About a year ago, I came up with a packing list for them so that they could be busy in a productive way while I was packing my own clothes.


This is today's list.  We went over it together and later, when I am ready to put things in the suitcase, they will go gather what they need and bring it to me.  Occasionally, I will have to edit their choices to make sure that they are appropriate for the season (no tank tops in winter, no corduroys in summer, etc.).  I just send them back to get the right thing and keep packing my own stuff.

Kate wasn't reading when I started using this system, so I drew each item and wrote its name beside it.  Although she's reading now, I still use the drawings because it makes it cute.  And really, cute makes the whole thing fun, you know.  I've thought about making a master list that I can just print out each time.  Would you all be interested in that?

This is a great tool for grocery lists too - draw little apples, bananas, gallons of milk and loaves of bread and then divvy up your list between your helpers.  It gets them involved and keeps them happy in the store.

We're off to Telluride in the morning.  I'll be checking in from there with some other things to share.  See you next week.