Merry Christmas!


Shutterboo Photo Challenge: Feet

At 9 months pregnant, I can barely see my own feet. I was hoping to have some brand new itty bitty feet to take photos of this week, but it was not to be. Mollie and Lucy cooperated though by putting their feet together while they were watching Frosty the Snowman. I kinda like it.

Here's another play in Photoshop:
To check out other interpretations of the challenge this week, check out the other photos in the flickr pool.


Shutterboo Photo Challenge: Road

Another photo of the beautiful Botany Bay Plantation in South Carolina. It is part of the Edisto Land Trust. We only had time to briefly explore it by car, but I can't wait to go back on foot!

Check out other entries in the Flickr group.


Shutterboo Photo Challenge: Cold

Yesterday it was 80 degrees here. Yes, 80. I could not bring myself to post about cold. Today is a full 35 degrees cooler. Much more like it. Still, the visions of cold that I have involve frost, snow, ice, etc. none of which are occurring naturally anywhere within a 200 mile radius.

My entry for this week is entitled "Cool beans". Frozen black beans, that is. I cook dried beans in big batches and freeze them to use later. I pulled some out and they had a lovely layer of frost on them.

I tried a few other shots before the beans. First, I was just trying to get a picture of my freezer. I hate my freezer because it's so skinny and it's always full and hard to find stuff. Here it is in all it's un-glory:

And yesterday, I captured this tree hanging on to it's last few leaves in the parking lot of Target. While I was wearing a short sleeve T-shirt and had the air conditioner on. In December.

It sure does look cold, doesn't it?



I finally made time to do some sewing yesterday! I've been doing little bits here and there, mostly mending, but yesterday I finally did two projects!

The first was an apron to give as a birthday gift (excuse the crappy photo- the batteries in the camera were dying). I love how it turned out! And it was so easy (except for the waistband- got to learn a better technique for that). I did the gathering by zig-zagging over a gimp thread and it worked splendidly. I think I want to try using a gathering foot for my next ruffle project.

My second project was a dress for Mollie. I picked up a second hand T-shirt for her and found some (on sale) snowflake fabric. I don't love it, but Mollie does. I didn't get a photo of her in it before she went to bed... now I'll have to wash it and snap a picture later this week.


Shutterboo Photo Challenge: Fork

This week the challenge was fork. I was figuring there would be lots of forkfulls of turkey or fancy table settings. Other fork-y things that came to mind were forks in the road, pitchforks, tuning forks, and Rock Shox. Yeah, the suspension fork on my mountain bike. I had to wait until today to take the picture because it's been raining cats and dogs for the last few days. Finally the sun is out and here's what I got:

Be sure to check out other interpretations of the them at the photo pool on flickr.

Shutterboo Photo Challenge: Green

Last week I was without internet and with both children full-time- making the photo challenge an extra-big challenge. Actually, I got the photo taken, but the challenge was uploading it. So here we go, a week late. I tend to take a lot of pictures of chlorophyll (as in foliage), so I challenged myself by trying to photograph green dye diffusing in water.

Then, while we were on our Thanksgiving trip to Edisto, SC, I took this photo at Botany Bay plantation. It felt like the whole place was tinted green, so I'm including that here too.


Shutterboo Photo Challenge: Water

So, I liked this week's topic, but my challenge was time!! I think I need an assistant- I wanted to take a photo of one of my favorite ways to consume water: Earl Gray tea. But, I just couldn't get the image I wanted without a second person to pour the hot water. Couldn't get the 5-year-old or toddler to do that!

So, my images are of fall colors on the Savannah river. For some reason, my colors never look as vibrant after I upload the photos to Blogger. Anyone know why?


Shutterboo Photo Challenge: Zipper

I admit I was feeling uninspired for this week's post. And I don't really like either of the photos I came up with, but, here goes.

I took this picture of Mollie in her favorite winter coat. She was not happy about the coat being a bit too small or that I zipped it up all the way. I got one quick shot and this was it.

The focus was off and I just wasn't happy with that photo, so I decided to take a picture of my all-time favorite zipper. It's from a toddler "busy" book that my grandma made for me in the 70's.

I thought it would be more interesting if it had some "toddler hands" in it, but Lucy just wouldn't cooperate. Apparently, the zipper page isn't her favorite.

So, I'm not entirely happy with either photo this week, but I tried!


Shutterboo Photo Challenge: Candy

I decided to participate in this weekly photo challenge from shutterboo, just for fun. And to help me get back into posting on this blog.

Last week's challenge was candy, so here's my contribution. This is Lucy enjoying one of Mollie's Halloween lollipops!




Notes about right now

I've see this list on numerous blogs, so here's my take:

an effort to put the dishes away
Cooking :
banana bread
Drinking :
Earl Grey tea with milk
Reading: some really trashy James Lee Burke book that I can't even remember the title of

to have things settled
for houses in Charlotte
Trouble with Mollie (the game with the popper)
Wasting: time dealing with stupid administrative issues

an apron as a gift
for a cure for cancer
Enjoying: the cooler weather and the feeling of fall

Waiting: until the kids go to sleep to grade exams
Liking: the space in our living room, now that I moved the sofa back a bit

Wondering: why cranberry red is such a popular paint color in the south

: how much Mollie and Lucy care for each other
Hoping: that the new baby will fit into the family without too many growing pains
Marvelling: at the crap that's on TV
Needing: a babysitter

the baby powder I put down as a deterrent to the ants
Wearing: stretchy black skirt, T-shirt, Cure Leukemia bracelet, no shoes

Following: my heart

cobwebs everywhere
Knowing: my priorities

about the huge list of things I have to do (let alone want to do)
Bookmarking: quinoa recipes
Opening: the doors to let the breeze in
Giggling: at Lucy wearing at least 20 sets of Mardi Gras beads, a dozen bracelets, and nothing else!
Feeling: like I need a day off


School Lunches

Here's an update on the bento box lunches:

Week 1: Mollie hardly ate anything. I think she felt overwhelmed by too much food, too many containers, etc. I experimented with using muffin cups instead of lidded containers, but then some foods took on the flavor of other foods and the pretzels got soft; in short, it didn't work.

Week 2 (and beyond!): We received a lovely (and timely!) package from my friend, Lauren. It contained a simple Sigg lunchbox and foil stickers to decorate it with. And a drink bottle. My first reaction was that it seemed small. As it turned out, it works great! It holds the perfect amount of food for Mollie and it comes home completely empty almost every day!

I had saved some BPA-free baby food containers and they fit perfectly inside the box. A typical lunch includes any combination of:

protein: Babybel cheese, yogurt, peanut butter sandwich, hard boiled egg, bagel & cream cheese
veggies: carrot sticks, sliced bell pepper, steamed broccoli
crunchies: animal crackers, graham crackers, trail mix, pecans, pretzels
fruit: grapes, apple slices, berries, dried fruits, applesauce
drink: water, milk, or juice

She also gets a small snack (packed separately), usually crackers or dried fruit. And occasionally she gets a treat (small pieces of candy or a few chips).

Now that I know she knows how to open everything and has time to eat it, I might experiment with a few new foods. Thanks for the box Lauren- it has been a success!


I've gotta get me one!

I saw this motto on someone's blog recently (I'm sorry, I can't remember where I saw it) and thought, "Crap! That's my motto!" So, tonight I was working wasting time on the internet and I came across retroplanet.com. They have this dishtowel and some other vintage-inspired items. I am particularly enamored with the dishtowels...




So, Mollie starts kindergarten on Monday! We decided that she will bring lunch from home, at least for the first week or so. The school lunches might be okay, but I am afraid that they are not big on fresh fruits and veggies and I think Mollie would choose PB&J every day. I shouldn't pre-judge, but I'm guessing the sandwiches are not made on whole grain bread with low-fat peanut butter.

So, I'm thinking of trying a bento-style lunch. You know the cute little Japanese boxes with small servings of different items? Mollie loves going to salad bars because she can select small amount of a variety of foods. And she is big on presentation, so I think it might work. I'm getting inspiration from Shannon's blog: What's for lunch at our house?

Now, I've just got to find some containers that will work. I am headed out grocery shopping and keeping my eyes peeled for just the right box. If I don't find something, we'll use some of the yogurt containers and small Tupperware that we have here and see how it goes.


Happy Half Birthday, Lucy!

Lucy is 18 months old today!

She is such a joy! For such a small person, she has big presence. Doors don't close, they slam. She doesn't take one crayon, she dumps all 64 of them out. She doesn't just pet the cat, she lays down on top of him.

Her absolute favorite thing to do is play with balls. She likes little bouncy balls and big beach balls, glittery balls and bakis (basket)balls, golf balls and baseballs; she likes balls. We have to avoid the big bins of bouncy balls in the store because she gets really excited (legs pumping and yelling, "Ball! Ball! Ball!" ) and then upset if we don't buy one.

She also enjoys balloons (bwoons), shoes, combing her hair ('pitty'), and reading "Moo, Baa, La La La!" by Sandra Boynton. She makes some good funny faces and adores Mollie.

My favorite thing is how she will just walk into the room and squeeze my legs in a hug! Happy 18 months, little Lu!



We were inspired by this post at whip up (linked from A Crafty Crow, a GREAT website for creative kids' projects) to try printmaking using fruits and vegetables today.

Mollie's friend Bella joined us and it was a lot of fun! We tried both acrylic craft paint and washable crayola paint. Both work well, but it was best to thicken them up a little with some flour (to a paste consistency).

The fruits and veggies we used were things I had around the house that were a bit past prime:
butternut squash
lemon (my favorite, by far)
bell pepper

Slice the produce, make the paint paste, dip the produce in, and make prints! It helped to have some sponges to wipe off excess paint; a light coat of paint works best. The girls enjoyed touching the different fruits and veggies and discussing which textures make the best prints.

The produce manager at our grocery store said he would give us some of the expired veggies to use next time. I would love to try a pomegranate, star fruit, and corn on the cob. You don't have to waste the whole fruit/veg either- you can just use a thick slice and eat the rest! If you use non-toxic paints, rinse and throw the produce on your compost pile after painting.


Happy Father's Day

to Matt, my dad, Charlie, Blake (Mollie's godfather), Bill (Lucy's godfather), Sam (Lucy's honorary godfather), C.T. and all the dads and father figures out there!

We are remembering my grandpa George; this is our first father's day without him.

Don't let the fact that Obama became president without having a father in his life make you feel unimportant this Father's Day


Fun (and free!) Online Photo Software

One of the fun things about digital photography, is playing with the pictures! If you haven't tried it yet, you should check out Picnik. You can do all sorts of fun things with your photos. Best of all- it's easy! Here are a few examples:



Black and White Focal


These transformations took about 5 minutes, in total, since I just used the stock effects. I haven't tried printing them yet, but I'm interested to see how they turn out.

For those interested, I still haven't figured out how to photograph fireflies... they are so ethereal anyway. Maybe they aren't meant to be caught on film.


Photographing Fireflies

Summer in the South is not what I would call pleasant. There's the heat, the humidity, and the bugs! However, there are some good things- the fragrant gardenias, the creamy white magnolia blossoms,

and fireflies (yes, they are bugs too, but in a completely different category than roaches, ants, and mosquitoes).

The fireflies are my favorite part of summer, but capturing them on film (or digital storage media) is hard! Anyone have any ideas? I'm thinking slow shutter speed and wide aperture and a tripod.


Mother's Day

I had a nice mother's day with Matt, Mollie and Lucy in Columbia, S. C. We saw the "Turner to Cezane" exhibit at the Columbia Museum of Art and enjoyed the sunny day in Columbia!


Sewing Round Up

Well, I never manage to do as much sewing as I would like (there's all that dinner-making, diaper-changing, and actual work that gets in the way), but I did manage to do a fair amount of sewing in April. I didn't manage to post any of it!

Besides the stroller liner and the shirred dress, I turned a T-shirt into a romper (part of my effort to practice sewing knits) and modified a few of Mollie's dresses.

The T-shirt romper did not turn out great. When I cut out the crotch (ew, crotch.) I did it with the shirt folded in half, thinking that would make it perfectly centered. Um, no. The shirt was all wonky so the crotch was off to the side. That meant I had to make a bigger cut-out than planned, the the legs turned narrower than I wanted. Not so good for my chunky baby! I will definitely be trying this again though as we have an ever-growing supply of T-shirts and the whole thing only took about 20 minutes. I followed these basic instructions, but I reinforced the crotch and put snaps on it instead of velcro.

The other project - dresses (sorry for the blurry picture). Mollie got some hand-me-down dresses that are CUTE. But she won't wear them because they are not fancy enough (is she really my child?). Some fabric yo-yos, buttons and rick-rack fixed that!


Flower Power

Fuchsia, one of my favorite flowers. One hanging basket adds some much needed color to my shady yard. I have heard they are easy to propagate from cuttings, so I'm going to give it a try. Who knows? Maybe by summer I'll have 2 hanging baskets!


More on bias tape

I curse the bias tape, but I love the bias tape. It's an odd relationship. Fortunately, the web has lots of tutorials that have helped me deal with the bias tape. Here are a few I have referenced recently:

-the Dread Pirate Rodgers method for joining the ends of double fold binding (she says it's foolproof, but I screwed it up several times-- I must be worse than a fool!)

- this tutorial by creative little daisy is a cheap way of making your own bias tape


Pleased as Pie

I just finished this stroller liner! It went together really quickly except for the very last part- joining the ends of the bias tape. You would think it wouldn't be that bad, but it took several tries and more than a little cursing before I finally got it.

This liner covers up all the food stains on the stroller, it is washable and reversible, and was made using things I already had in my sewing stash. Perfect!


Earth Day

I was going to title the post "Happy Earth Day", but this Earth Day I'm feeling more concerned than happy. I see people (myself included) making small and large changes to reduce their own environmental impact, but I don't think it's enough. I think that our impact on the environment is both personal and political and it is motivated by another kind of green: money. If I keep going, I will get into a funk, so changing gears...

I was doing a little research and came across the term "bright green" environmentalist. Looked it up on Wikipeida (of course). What color green are you?

Earth Day always reminds me of my days at UC Davis when Earth Day was celebrated with the Whole Earth Festival... think patchouli, flowing patchwork dresses, funky arts and crafts, etc. One year Kelsey and I were on the Karma Patrol; our mission: non-violent crowd control. We saw Big Brother and the Holding Company perform and their speakers were powered by a HEC (Human Energy Converter), a big hay filled wagon filled with sets of bike pedals. Sit in the wagon, pedal away, listen to music. It was fun. I'm pretty sure there's nothing like that in Augusta...


Flower Simplicity

We spent this weekend at a little house on Matt's grandparents' property. We call it "the lodge", "the lake house", or "GG's clubhouse". It is a simple cinder block house filled with an eclectic mix of antiques, family mementos, and vintage utilitarian items (the vacuum and iron are at least 50 years old). It is a great little hideaway, surrounded by woods and the lake.

When we got there, the weather was dreary and the sideboard contained a basket full of fall leaves and acorns and the table had a dark brown cloth. It felt like autumn, not spring.

Mollie and I wanted to decorate for Easter, so after coloring eggs, we went on a flower hunt and here are the results:

No "before" pictures, but trust me, the simple dogwood, spirea, and violets made the house feel like spring!


April = Sewing Month

My friend Nicola thinks April is going to have a sewing theme for her, so I've decided to jump on the bandwagon since I've got some projects going. Nothing finished for now, but I've got an 'almost' sewing project instead.

This one shows off Mollie's creativity. She wanted some new clothes for her doll, Lucy (creative, huh). I had just made her some doll diapers (see previous post for instructions) and didn't have time to make doll clothes at that moment. So Mollie asked if she could have some fabric and tape and she went to town!

Here is Lucy decked out in her outfit by MollieDesigns.


Almost Post

It seems like I'm blogging in my head all the time, but few ideas actually make it to paper the internet (ether, binary code, what have you). What have I been up to?

To give you a hint, here are a few links I've been enjoying:

-how to make a diaper for a doll from Skip to My Lou

-simple (and good!) whole wheat bread recipe from King Arthur flour

-tutorial on shirring by Pink Fig Patterns

Lots more going on... including less time at the computer!


It's here

Some people write messages in snow or mud, but here in Georgia, we get to write things in pollen (that is a brick on my front porch in the picture). The pollen hangs in the air like smoke and makes even the non-allergic feel crappy.

The upside: the blossoms! Everything is blooming; the dogwoods are drop-dead gorgeous (except for ours which gets too much shade).

I couldn't resist a little poetry (from Emily Dickinson):

A little Madness in the Spring

Is wholesome even for the King,

But God be with the Clown—
Who ponders this tremendous scene—

This whole Experiment of Green—
As if it were his own!


Cheap Thrills

Lucy loves to pound on my laptop keyboard and I've given up trying to use the computer while she's in the room. But my friend Michelle gave me a brilliant idea the other day- get Lucy her own keyboard. So, tonight I got one at Goodwill for $1. I cut off the cord and it's perfect. I won't let her play with it by herself because she might be able to get one of the keys off (choking hazard), but now I might be able to use my own computer for a little bit while she's in the room!

Bonus: Mollie loves it too. She already has our old telephone (with the cord cut off). She definitely likes to play with toys that are realistic, so why not let her play with the real thing?


Congrats to Katie and Blake

They are the proud new owners of one of these:

Not this particular model... this is Lucy standing in.

A little girl, Claire.

Welcome to the world, little one!


Spring is near.


5 Years of Mollie

Happy Birthday Mollie!

You have grown into such a wonderful little girl. You are funny, sweet, thoughtful. You have your own sense of style. You are stronger than anyone else I know. You are my hero. Daddy, Lucy, and I love you so much!!


The Saga of the Toaster Oven

Our old, well-loved Toast-R-Oven died a few weeks ago. I did my best to try to find a suitable replacement. I wanted something basic to make toast, waffles, open faced sandwiches, garden burgers. I wanted something cheap. Nothing digital. No convection feature. Since the beloved Black and Decker worked so well for 8+ years, I decided to purchase the "new" version.

What I got was a real piece of crap. It burns everything and the heating element doesn't turn off, even when the timer goes off. The casing gets really hot. It is a cheap, dangerous fire hazard. So I'm in the market for a new, new toaster oven. Any suggestions?



My parents have been visiting (hence the blog absence) and are trying to leave... but their flight was canceled. So, they got on another flight. And now that flight is canceled! All of this due to ice, snow, and freezing temperatures. In Georgia!


Happy St. Valentine's Day


More stuff

I've been thinking about stuff (material goods, things we own, etc.) recently. For a lot of reasons: the environment, the economy, the space, my carpets. We had our rugs cleaned and had to move everything out of the living room and master bedroom. We've moved the essentials back in- the bed, sofa, coffee table, TV- and that's about it (too tired to finish). And guess what? I like it that way! There's so much room for the kids to play and it just feels more spacious.

I came across this article (click here) on Yahoo! Finance a few minutes ago, and it speaks to me. Materialism is rampant in this country. I fall victim to it myself. For me, Target is difficult to resist. I walked in there the other night to buy a replacement carafe for our coffee maker (ours broke) and as soon as I walked in the door I felt like I had to also buy a spring-y blouse, a Valentine tablecloth, and a new purse. I resisted the temptation, but it was really hard. Target has genius marketing people. They make you think you need to redecorate your entire house for every season and holiday. What? I still have brown pillows on the sofa? That's sooooo last fall! What I really need are "spring" pillows. Um, yeah.

My name is Sarah and I am a sucker for advertising.

Anyway, I agree with the basic tenets set out in the article. They remind me of the WWII era slogan:

"Use it up, wear it out,
make do, or do without."

Words to live by.


What to do with the baby stuff

My mom sent me this article (click here) from Seventh Generation; it's a guide to recycling infant clothing and gear.

We all know babies grow fast and most baby stuff is outgrown long before it's obsolete or worn out.
This article lists resources for unloading your baby gear, and for finding used/recycled clothes and gear.

The highlights:

"Buy only what you need! If you underestimate, you can always supplement later."

"Seek used items wherever possible."

"Don't let your inner sentimentalist talk you into saving everything as keepsakes."

That last one is the hardest for me!


Mashed Potatoes, Anyone?

I try to avoid processed foods and buy fresh, local foods as much as possible. If I can make something at home without it taking up most of my day and making a big mess, I probably will.

But... I have discovered the joy of instant mashed potatoes. I'm almost embarrassed to admit it. I had never made instant potatoes until a few months ago. Here's how it happened:
During one of Mollie's steroid binges, she demanded mashed potatoes. So, I got potatoes, boiled them, smashed them. She didn't like them. She wanted the kind they have in the hospital, so we tried instant. Cheap, Publix private label, homestyle potato flakes. I can't remember if Mollie liked them (something about gravy...), but Matt and I enjoyed them. Less time. Less mess. Fewer spoiled, sprouting potatoes.

I will probably stick to the real thing for the holidays, but for our occasional mashed potato eating needs, I'm going with instant.


Lemony Goodness

For Lucy's birthday this year, I made lemon cream cupcakes (click for link to recipe). I've never made a lemon cake before and these were good! They were a little dense (any suggestions to make them lighter and fluffier?), but the flavor was delicious.

Lucy sure enjoyed them!