Feel My Pain

I'm sick. I suffer from a disease called ibetterkeepthisincaseineeditlater. Perhaps you know someone with this disease, or suffer from it yourself. I think it is genetic. I experience flare-ups when near fabric and sewing notions. I believe my dad's flare-ups are brought on by building supplies. The symptoms are hoarding, bulging closets, sagging shelves and piles, boxes and bags filled with what-ifs. The disease often leads to over consumption of the items that cause flare-ups. This is what I look like during a severe case. Yes, the local paper caught me at the rummage sale during a recent bout of illness. I am working on a cure using a self medication technique called useitnowandbedonewithit.

Armed with my sewing machine, ironing board and Ginghers, I take small doses of my medicine. The side effects are completed projects, a sense of accomplishment and freed up storage space. You, lucky reader, can also experience a pleasant side effect from my medicine by posting a comment. I will send a completed project to one lucky commenter. The winner will be randomly selected Monday morning. Content of comment is not important. A simple "Hi, I feel your pain" or "I'm sorry you are sick" will suffice. So post a comment and come back Monday. You might just find yourself toting a handmade reusable grocery bag like the one below, which I made from vintage fabric and my husband's old sheets. Look out Envirosax, Molly's got a brand new bag. You know you want one.
The bias tape is from my neighbor's grandma. She used to have a sewing shop. It's a good thing the shop closed before I developed my disease. With the leftovers from my bags, I made this cute apron. I know you want one too, but I'm keeping it, incaseineeditlater.

My pain may be your gain. See you Monday.


Books, Books and More Books

My children love to read. When Avery gets quiet and disappears, I often find her with her nose in a book. She has discovered one of my favorite reading spots in the house.

The afternoon light is just right to settle down on the couch with a good read.

Aidan prefers to read at night. He takes a stack of books up on his top bunk and is often the last member of the family to fall asleep. I am sometimes awaken by a thud, but I know it's just Aidan dropping a finished book on the floor to make room for the next book. Daddy's old books made their way to our house recently, and the kids were ecstatic to have a new selection to choose from.

I don't remember loving books so much when I was their age. I had a few Read-Along Disney books and tapes I remember listening to in my room, and of course the first two books that made me want to read, Put Me In The Zoo and The Cat In The Hat. My mom read often, and always took my brother and me to the library, but I often read because I had to. When I read by choice, I chose inappropriate books for my age. I remember my mom catching me on a beanbag in the children's section of the library reading Danielle Steele. I was probably 9 or 10. My friend loaned me Flowers In The Attic when I was 13, and I spent the next few years devouring every book written by V.C. Andrews. In hindsight, the books were far from appropriate and certainly not literature.

Fortunately, a few years after my V.C. Andrews phase, I discovered Edith Wharton, Jane Austen, and E.M. Forster. My kids are in The Age Of Innocence, and not quite ready for Sense and Sensibility, so I am slowly collecting and reading classic literature that is both age appropriate and enjoyable for all ages. Our shelves are filling up with Jack London, L.M. Montgomery, Laura Ingalls Wilder, C.S. Lewis, John D. Fitzgerald, and many other authors I should have gotten to know as a child. We have also revisited books I remember my mom reading aloud, specifically books by Beverly Cleary and E.B. White.

What books did you enjoy as a child, and what classics are you revisiting now with your children? Our books shelves and library lists are always open to suggestions.


Cake For Breakfast

Of course, as long as it's chocolate. This cake recipe was cut out of a newspaper over thirty years ago by my aunt. Our family calls it Charlotte Armstrong cake, but you can call it a little slice of heaven. Or a big slice. Or a fifth slice if you are my daughter. This is the cake for people who don't like chocolate cake. Receiving compliments about this cake from a non-chocolate-cake-lover is almost as good as a slice of this cake. Almost. The best thing about making this cake for dessert is having a slice for breakfast the next morning. It goes oh so well with coffee. From my kitchen to yours, here is a recipe for bliss:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9x13 baking dish or cake pan. Batter may also be divided between smaller pans to make a layered cake.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening (I use more butter or vegetable oil - never shortening, but it's your call)
1 cup water
4 T cocoa

2 cups flour
2 cups white sugar
1 t baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup sour cream)
1 t vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten

In a small sauce pan, bring first four ingredients to a boil. Sift dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add cocoa mixture, buttermilk, vanilla and eggs. Mix well. Pour batter into greased and floured baking dish or cake pan. bake 25-35 minutes, or until done (toothpick test works best).

1/2 cup butter
6 T milk
4 T cocoa
1 package (1lb.) powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
Walnuts (optional - pecans are good too)

In a small sauce pan (you can use the same sauce pan used for cake), bring butter, milk, cocoa and vanilla to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar until desired consistency. I use less powdered sugar than called for as I like my frosting on the runny side. Add nuts. Frost cake. Save a piece for breakfast.


Beautiful Girls, they'll leave you...

... inspired. I have a new position as a member of an international design team. Aren't we fab?

"What does an international design team do?" you may wonder. For now, we are just getting to know each other and find ways to help promote Freckled Nest products, handmade by the lovely Leigh Ann. Visit her gallery here.

Each member of the design team shared 60 tidbits of information about themselves, and here are 6 factoids about me that I'd like to share with you.
1. My name is Molly and I live in Auburn, California.
2. I am a stay at home mother of two, wife, homeschooler, knitter, stitcher, reader, blogger, chef, gardener (when it's not too hot), home remodeler, and so much more.
3. My friends would describe me as... I don't know? Leave a comment if you want to take a stab at completing this sentence.
4. I love books, vintage clothes and fabric and sewing notions, buttons, glass jars, leaves, hand made gifts, friends, children, home made food, small engagements, books on CD, NPR...
5. I joined the Freckled Nest Design Team because I believe amazing things happen when a group of creative women gather to encourage, inspire and support one another.
6. My favorite Freckled Nest product is the embroidered tote.
Here are links to the wonderful women that make up the Freckled Nest Design Team:

Leigh-Ann Go here for a chance to win an amazing prize!
I hope you enjoy getting to know these women as much as I have, and I hope you love Freckled Nest products as much as I do! Good luck with Leigh-Ann's contest - the booty is delish.

What Would Molly Do...

...with a pair of toddler overalls that no longer fit my little ones? Make a clothespin holder. Simply sew the leg holes shut, attach the overalls to a wooden hanger, fill with clothespins, and voila! Somewhere to keep those clips that find their way all over the house. Now everytime I hang the clothes to dry, I will remember fondly the days when I used to snap my babies up in overalls.


How Children Learn

Sometimes it starts with two simple words: I'm bored. We are very fortunate to not hear this phrase often at our house, but it happens sometimes. Tuesday morning, George and I were both busy with projects, all the neighborhood kids were at school, and Avery didn't know what to do. She asked if we could make a volcano. I knew this project was looming in our near future, and I had been thinking about the design and materials, so I was prepared.

"Sure", I said. "Let's find a piece of wood, some screen, newspaper, starch, and paint."

"Can't we just mix baking soda and vinegar in a bottle?" Avery asked.

My kids could mix baking soda and vinegar every day and never cease to be amazed by the results. I've encouraged them to conduct their experiment in the toilet, and see what happens when they scrub the concoction with a toilet brush, but they're too smart for that trick.

They took their experiment outside, adding a new ingredient to the mix: dish soap.

The dish soap made a big, foamy eruption that lasted much longer.

I found the perfect book to read aloud while the mad scientists worked. Pompeii: Lost and Found by Mary Pope Osborne, a non-fiction companion to her fictional chapter book, Vacation Under the Volcano.

According to the book, today is the anniversary of the devastating eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. The eruption occurred in 79 A.D.

We did the math to discover the eruption happened 1,928 years ago. Aidan asked me if I was alive then.

After using up all our vinegar, baking soda and dish soap, we went inside to draw volcanoes.

Avery had an excellent idea for Aidan's lava flow: we traced his hand, upside down, on top of the volcano. He colored in his hand, and sure enough, it looked like lava flowing down the side of his volcano. He then drew a person flying out of the volcano; his idea of a fun adventure no doubt. Avery turned her picture into a Red Cross Poster for natural disaster relief.

Our morning turned into an impromptu unit study; unplanned homeschooling at it's finest. We covered science, math, history, social studies and art in one fell swoop, and had fun to boot. To think it all started with boredom. Following ideas - that is how we learn.


Seven After Seven

Seven days ago, Avery turned seven. George had the week off, so we celebrated with several mini-trips; to the mountains, to the beach, even the Jelly Belly Factory, where Avery had a generous scoop of Birthday Cake Ice Cream.

It's hard to believe my firstborn is seven years old (plus seven days). I knew the minute she was conceived. I dreamed she was a girl. I chose her name the day we announced our pregnancy. And here she is, seven years old, in second grade.

Exactly seven years ago today, I remember driving home from Lake Tahoe; our baby's first day trip to visit relatives. I was hovering over her car seat, crying my eyes out. I was so overwhelmed with love for this little baby, and the responsibility of caring for her. It was the strongest flow of emotion I have ever experienced. George did not know what to do with the lactating, blubbering, swollen eyed woman that I had become. She had been replaced. She was now a mom. I sent him to the video store to rent 10 Things I Hate About You. It's one of my favorite teenage flicks, and I needed some cinematic relief. And a beer. That was my brush with postpartum. I had a much easier time than Brooke.
Avery is an amazing person, and I'm fortunate to call her my daughter. She is funny, smart, creative, fashionable, and dramatic. She is a whiz at math and reading, and she loves to do experiments. She can navigate the internet like nobody's business. She enjoys knitting, crocheting, baking, making friendship bracelets, flower fairies, playing with babies, climbing trees, swimming. She is a fish in the water! Graceful as a mermaid. I learn so much from her everyday. We've had an incredible time the last seven years, yet it has gone by in the blink of an eye. If I blink again, she'll be a teenager. I plan on keeping my eyes open and enjoying every minute of the time she shares with me. Happy Birthday baby!


Beef Tamales - It's What's for Dinner

It's not, of course, what I planned for dinner. I keep them around in case of emergency, such as the kids not liking what I make for dinner (more of a regular occurrence than an emergency), or the apocalypse. I had a plan for dinner tonight; I even started preparing at 2PM so dinner could be served at 5PM. Pulled pork pizza was on the menu, complete with homemade whole wheat dough and home grown red onions. Disaster struck when I forgot to add yeast to the pizza dough. So at 4:30, when we got back from the library and discovered my omission, I had to think fast. Hence the tamales, accompanied by frozen green beans (from France via Trader Joe's), and orange slices, from Australia. It was not a local dinner, a homemade dinner, or a memorable dinner. It's nutritious value was questionable at best. It was surely less expensive and faster than the kid's emergency plan - In and Out.

I'm not a fan of canned tamales myself, or anything canned for that matter, except for sweetened condensed milk. I could open a can and lick it clean. So, for my dinner, I ate some edamame, a few bites of the pulled pork that was destined for pizza, but instead made it's way into sandwiches for George to take to work, and half a beer. I'll have the munchies tonight for sure. I see a trip to the grocery store in my near future. I'll need to stock up on some better emergency food, or I'll perish in the apocalypse for sure. Any suggestions?


Eat Locally, Make Friends Globally

If I were to label this summer, it would be the Summer of Blog Love. I have been inspired and touched by the blogs I have read and the bloggers I have met, and I have become closer to friends and family, near and far, through my blog.

Speaking of labels, Leigh Ann of Canada has been extremely generous. She mailed me an envelope full of jar labels, book labels, gift tags, and blank stickers for embellishment. It was so much fun to receive physical mail from a blog friend. If I had to work outside the home, I would want to work with Leigh Ann. I'd probably spend more time laughing than working. We'd probably get in trouble with the boss. Now that I have her address, she will have to watch her mail box for some goodies.

Wendy of Maine has truly set an example for eating local, a very popular movement throughout the blogosphere. Between growing fruit and vegetables, keeping chickens, and buying locally grown foods, she and her family have experienced a wonderful feast this summer, and she has been kind enough to share menus and recipes. I look forward to reading her blog as the seasons and menus change.

Stefani of Texas has become a bosom buddy, sharing book recommendations, canning secrets, ideas for personal and family projects, and the joy of homeschooling. How I wish we lived closer, but I'm grateful for the immediate gratification of email. Perhaps we'll even share some snail mail (just need a physical address). Stephanie will be a wonderful source of support and inspiration for the upcoming school year, and I can't wait to compare notes on curriculum and more.

Kirstie has been my bosom buddy for more years than I care to share. She and I share many tales in person, but we share different tales on our blogs. It's great to have something new to say, even after we've devoured each other's words. There's rarely a gap in our conversations, a wonderful benefit of a true friend.

I'm very excited that my dear friend and neighbor Marjorie (who prefers to remain unlinked) has started a blog as a way to share family pictures and anecdotes with friends and family that live too far away to see and hear about her beautiful family up close and personal. She is an amazing photographer and scrapbooker, and I'm sure her blog will be wonderful.

When I sit down at the computer to post a blog, I sometimes forget that I am sharing pieces of myself with friends, family and strangers. I am at times surprised when having a conversation with someone that they mention something from my blog. Oh yeah, I wrote about that, and you read it - weird. I love experiencing the impact of the written word, and the dimension it adds to my life. Blog on my friends. You all rock.


From the Mouths of Babes

My little cousins, Zach and Troy, stopped by yesterday afternoon to pick up my old Canon SLR for Troy's photography class (he's a senior). It's been years since I hung out with teenage boys. I felt young and old at the same time.
Both boys strongly cautioned me against homeschooling. They believe that homeschooled kids eventually return to school and go wild when confronted with drugs and alcohol. Apparently, sex is not a problem. After further discussion, I found out that each boy has a friend who used to be homeschooled. One boy is a good student and loves to read, while the other boy is one of the funniest guys they know. Neither of the boys have substance abuse issues; apparently not drinking and doing drugs makes them stand out.

Troy and Zach may feel sorry for my sheltered, homeschooled kids. After spending a week camping and going to the ocean, Jelly Belly factory, two microbreweries, and watching High School Musical Two, my kids were forced to attend an ice cream social, where they gorged themselves silly and played with people of all different ages. If that wasn't torture enough, both kids had friends over all day Sunday, went swimming at the neighbors, and visited with Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt Sandi and Uncle Mark. Dinner conversation was devoted to Zach's nose and eyebrow piercings. After dinner, Aidan disappeared to the bathroom to replicate Zach's mohawk hairdo, while Avery and I danced to her new Kidz Bop CD (Hey, hey, you, you , I don't like your girlfriend). Poor, sheltered kids. How will they ever know how to face the world?

I'm sure Troy and Zach's advice was honest, heartfelt and well intended, but I'll be damned if I take parenting advice from boys whose diapers I used to change, even if they are cute.


Happy Trails and Fishy Tales

There once was a lady who had a wrinkle, right in the middle of her forehead.
When she would frown, in her crease you could drown,
And when she thought deeply, she looked horrid.

An obvious solution to this unattractive affliction is to think less. It's hard not to think when camping. Without the distractions of home and technology, what else can one do but ponder and/or worry. I tried hard not to think about my fears, but out in the wilderness, six miles off the freeway, my fears were staring me in the eye.

Snakes We saw two, swimming in the river, deeper than I thought snakes swam.
Bears We received a flier from the camp host about a recent sighting.
Forest Fire Always a threat this time of year.
Injuries The kids survived with minor scrapes and bruises.
Allergic reactions to bites, stings, etc. Avery had no apparent swelling or difficulty breathing after a bite from an unknown assailant.
Ticks I'm still checking crevices.
Losing my keys or a kid in a camp toilet. I know, losing a kid in a toilet sounds like an irrational fear, but after potty training while camping several years ago, you realize how small children are when placed over such a large, deep hole in the ground. Fortunately, we made it safely home with keys and children.

On the subject of camp bathrooms, and the lack of proper washing facilities, I tried very hard to not think about microbiology. I tried to not think about swabbing the table, the fishing pole, or my son's hands and growing whatever lurked there on a petri dish. I tried not to think about the microscopic particulates that made the bathrooms stink for such a wide radius. I just poured another glass of wine and hoped the soap I washed the dishes with would work it's magic, despite the cold water rinse.

Instead of dwelling on the microscopic unknown world, I thought about my other favorite college course, Cultural Anthropology, and the way people live in the known world. As I carried buckets of water to our camp for washing and cooking, I considered the trek that millions of millions have made and still make on a daily basis in pursuit of water. Cooking over an open flame, trying to dodge smoke, I developed a whole new compassion for people who cook every meal over a flame. Foraging in the forest for wood to burn, I realized that people the world over spend many waking hours gathering fuel for their fire, and not just sweet smelling wood. Yet after two days of carrying water, gathering wood and tending the camp fire, I know that I have very little in common with those whose survival depends on these skills. These activities fell under the category of Recreation and Leisure for my family. This was our vacation. It was fun to cook over an open flame while the family gathered around the fire. Collecting firewood and learning to break dead branches into smaller lengths using another tree for leverage was the highlight of our day (although the highlight of Avery's day was gutting a fish). It was a relief to know our soiled bedding could go straight into the washing machine when we got home. No rock pounding laundry necessary.
Will I truly be grateful for modern conveniences now that I'm home after "roughing it" for two days? Will I continue to feel compassion, respect and awe for those who spend their whole lives without the conveniences we take for granted? Will I ever be able to clean this grime out from under my fingernails? All I know for certain is that when the dust settles I will have another successful camping trip under my belt and etched in my brow, and a smile on my face to relocate the creases.


Full Plate

Ever have those days, weekends, weeks when you have so many things to do you don't know if you can do it all? Yep, I thought so. It's called life. So many things to do, so little time to do them. I've learned a secret to solve this unbalanced equation. Time will pass whether or not you accomplish everything on your list, and some items can be crossed off your list without anyone knowing but you. Simple subtraction.

For example, we had a yard sale on Saturday with several families in the neighborhood. The kids had a Kool-Aid stand. I planned on making cookies for them to sell also, but as Friday came and went and I dragged myself out of bed at 6AM Saturday, the only thing I planned on making was coffee. The kids made enough money without peddling baked goods. Nobody needed any extra sugar after 3 batches of Kool-Aid anyways.

As if a yard sale wasn't enough for one weekend, we had two social engagements on Sunday. We went to a birthday party for a neighbor in the morning, and while I planned on dropping the kids off and picking them up two hours later, I have not yet learned how to subtract myself from children's parties. I did subtract some extra work from the occasion by not making a gift, but instead subtracted a small amount of cash from our yard sale profit to give as a gift. I love making gifts, but kids love getting cash.

A few hours after the party, my kids went to another neighbor's house for a dress rehearsal. A wonderful neighbor of ours organized a children's play based on The Little Red Hen. The curtains opened at 3:30 and parents and neighbors were treated to an adorable play. Avery was a cow, and Aidan was a sheep. I made their masks, but accidentally subtracted Avery's tail from my to do list. No fear, a fly swatter pinned to her pants made an excellent swishing tail.

After the play we swam and ate. It was a full afternoon, but I wouldn't have subtracted one minute from our busy day. Or weekend, or life. I don't do well under stress, so I have to subtract it from my life whenever possible. A full plate is to be enjoyed slowly, not crammed down in haste. Bite what you can chew, and gracefully decline what you cannot eat. Here's a sample from my full plate.

If you can, subtract something from your to do list so that you can savor the rest of your day a little more. One item to subtract from your list for the next few days will be reading my blog. We are going camping, but don't worry, I'll be back - with fish tales.


Seeing the Forest Through the Trees

The broccoli trees that is. I sometimes trace the chain of events that leads me to those moments when I wonder, "What was I thinking?" Four children covered in paint, engaged in a water fight with the garden hose - this was the product of one of my bright ideas: using broccoli as stamps to paint trees. I was pleased with the initial results and I wanted to experiment more, but with four kids needing more paint, paper and water to clean their brushes, my personal paint session was cut short.

Here's our neighbor painting a picture of his school. I guess he's done with summer too. He wasn't interested in adding any broccoli trees.

Painting is one of the few things I miss about sending my kids to school. Aidan and Avery's preschool had a fully stocked and always open paint station where both children produced masterpieces which I didn't need to clean up after. I wish I enjoyed painting at home with my kids, but to tell the truth, kids with paint scare me. Their behavior becomes highly unpredictable when they have a stain producing wand in hand. I'll gladly sew, knit, weave, cook, cut, paste and color with my kids, but can't they paint at the neighbor's house?

In an attempt to encourage all forms of art in our home, I make an effort to get out the painting supplies on occasion, and seek interesting alternatives to paint when possible. For example, Aidan became very interested in writing with quills, like Harry Potter. So we gathered feathers found on walks and used blackberry juice from the bottom of our berry picking basket to write and paint. It was fun, smelled good, and easy to clean up.

My neighbor recommended another fun alternative to paint: disappearing art. Give the kids paint brushes and a bucket of water and set them loose outside. They can "paint" the house or the sidewalk and watch their wet masterpieces disappear as they dry. No mess whatsoever, though you might take pictures so they can see their art later.

Sometimes there is no alternative to plain old paint. Here's the big picture, the forest if you will: sometimes being creative is messy, and what a sweet mess artists make.


Looks Like Summer, Feels Like Summer, Tastes Like Summer

It must be summer. Smack dab in the middle of summer. While I'm trying to live in the moment (although do we truly live in a moment when we try?), I can't help but to feel done with summer. Sure, I love wearing my vintage sundresses and eating the fruits summer bears, but I'm already thinking about fall. Its cues are all around. The volunteer pumpkins have already turned orange. A pile of split oak is waiting to be stacked. There were several rainy days in July when I actually forgot it was summer. I baked zucchini muffins and turkey stock, and my kitchen smelled like fall. The aisles of Target are stocked with lunch boxes, notebooks and backpacks, tell-tale signs of the upcoming season. What could feel more like fall than going back to school? I'm excited to go "back to school" in the comfort of our home.

It's only natural to anticipate the change of seasons. Human survival depends on preparing for upcoming seasons. One must gather wood and wool clothing for winter, sow seeds for spring, slim down for swimsuits in summer, and plan ahead for fall feasts. Or, adjust the thermostat accordingly, shop for a new swimsuit and buy whatever else you need from a super store.

My bare arms are itching to wear wool sweaters. My flip flop clad feet are ready for clogs. My hands ache to knit socks. My swimsuit is fading. I have a new umbrella just waiting to get wet. The fireplace begs to be gathered around. The oven is jealous of the barbecue. Just a few more months, I tell myself. You'll be ready for summer again by next spring. So much for living in the moment, I'm looking forward to the future.


Have I Told You Lately I Love You

I'm not typically romantic, so I can't explain why this is the second day I have blogged about love. Did someone slip me an aphrodisiac? Too many Kidz Bop love songs? Perhaps I drank too much coffee. My cup is running over, all over my blog.

Love is such a constant force in my life, and sometimes I take it for granted. Every once in a while it reaches out and whacks me on the head, lovingly, and reminds me of all of it's magnificent facets. Today, love tapped me on the shoulder and drew my attention to my husband, George.

There are so many reasons I love him, but I'll only share five, so as not to gag you with my gushing.

1. He is tall and strong (like my coffee). He can reach things on the highest shelf and is willing to carry my heavy vintage sewing machine wherever I ask.

2. When I showed him my plans for a sewing project, he asked if I was going to line my project. How could you not love a man who appreciates the importance of lining?

3. After dinner the other night, he offered to run to the store for some ice cream. Actually, he rode his bike. Before he left, he asked me for a cloth grocery bag. I love a man who loves the earth.

4. He caught, killed, gutted and cooked a trout over the weekend for our son. He is a catch and release kind of guy, but because our little guy loves fish so much, George put aside his personal convictions to make Aidan very happy. He even cleaned the fry pan. I'm glad I caught and didn't release him.

5. He makes hoppy beer that makes me very happy. Right now I'm enjoying a pint of his tasty hefeweizen, savoring the subtle hint of banana and clove. Mmmm.

I caught him reading my blog the other day, using the laptop which he bought me so I could write inside and out, and write my insides out. He was smiling. I wonder what he'll do when he reads this one, hehehe. And since I can't help myself, I have to share just one more thing I love about George. He flosses every day, and that is why his teeth look this good. Now you know where Aidan gets his teeth. That's right, the same package as George. Thanks Uncle Rob and Aunt Michelle for the laughs.

Love is Like Coffee

It warms your heart when you're feeling cold.

It gives you a boost when you're ready to fold.

It is sometimes bitter and hard to swallow.

But lack of it will only make you feel hollow.

Whether it be french press or an automatic Krups,

organic from Peets or tall from Starbucks,

May your cup runneth over with coffee and love.



We listen to a lot of music around here. Last summer, my kids discovered Kidz Bop. Fortunately, the library has kept us supplied with a steady stream of these kid-friendly CDs. While I originally thought this kind of music (kids singing pop) would drive me crazy, I have found that I am actually grateful for the cleaned up lyrics and enunciated verses. Now I finally know the words to some popular songs, and to my children's dismay, sing along when the CDs are playing. Kidz Bop CDs are a sure fire way to turn a dull moment into a dance party (as seen above).

Two of the pop songs my kids like to sing right now are Unwritten and Bop To the Top. Both songs have similar lyrics about releasing or wiping away inhibitions. It is a funny thing indeed to hear a 4 and 6 year old singing about inhibitions. Isn't the beauty of youth not knowing the definition of inhibition? It was when I was young. My dad used to give me a quarter for the jukebox when we went to our favorite restaurant (yep, it was that fancy) and I would deliver a solo Solid Gold performance. Now, a quarter of a century later, when I sing and dance to pop music, does it mean I have shed my inhibitions, or just lost my marbles? Whatever the verdict, I know my children and I are having fun and making memories as we bop to the Top 40.


Weave Me Alone

Avery and I left at 7:30 this morning to hit the annual Foresthill Rummage Sale. I found two weaving looms and a bag of nylon loops (among many, many other items). Avery has not stopped weaving since we got home. She put all the loops in a big basket and carried the basket to two different pools today and all around the house, weaving her little heart out. She completed her first potholder, wrapped it and gave it to our neighbor. All on her own. Pure sweetness. "Up, down, up, down", I heard her chant. Loom, loops and basket, $2.00. Creative child, priceless.


Catch a Falling Star and Put It In a Jar

I love glass jars. I am always looking for ways to use them in order to justify keeping so many. No jam, bruschetta, pickle or peanut butter jar goes un-reused at our house. In addition to housing buttons, cotton swabs, whole grains, and leftovers, I have come up with a new use for glass jars: a low tech night light.

Find a jar and lid. With a nail and hamer, poke several holes in the lid.

String glow in the dark stars with clear thread or fishing line. The more stars, the brighter the glow. Feed strings through the bottom of the lid, put the lid on the jar, and adjust the position of the stars inside the jar by pulling the string from the top. Tape the strings in place.

Cut a generous circle of fabric to cover the top of the jar and hold fabric in place with a string or ribbon. Place jar in a sunny location all day to allow the stars to charge. Wait for dark and watch your star jar glow.

I long to live in a place where fireflies light the night sky along with a multitude of stars. My children and I would certainly enjoy nature's light show. I think I saw fireflies once, many years ago, at my great grandmother's farm house. I remember running around her huge yard, chasing the little bugs with my big cousins. It may have been just a dream, though, for I don't know if fireflies even live in Utah. These star jars are a far cry from catching fireflies in jars, but I hope they provide my little ones with enough light at night to have sweet dreams.

Once upon a time, in a blog not so far away...

The word "blog" entered my vocabulary almost two years ago when a few friends of mine started blogging. I heard about it on NPR a few times also (almost anything worth hearing is heard on NPR). A good friend encouraged me to start blogging, and I thought, "What could I possibly blog about?" I didn't see the raw material that is my life as potential reading material for others. I had no idea then how blogging would change my life.

I see my blog as a way to direct my own fairy tale. I have become the spin doctor of my own life. I have complete control to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative, or at least make light of the negative through humor. Thanks to my blog, I have given myself permission to be who I want to be: writer, photographer, artist, chef, gardener. Since I started blogging on a regular basis, I believe I am a better wife, a closer friend, a more mindful momma (except, of course, during the act of blogging). Everything I see, hear, feel, dream, imagine has become potential material. I am more observant, thoughtful, creative, confident and adventurous.

Contrary to what I once imagined, narrowing down my list of blog topics has become a challenge. When I blog is challenging as well. If I blog late at night, I've been known to accidentally plagiarize (sorry again Stephani...Mama said, mama said, hey, not to worry). If I blog early in the morning, my daughter is awakened by clicking keys. But every word I type, picture I post, and comment I receive is worth finding a solution to these challenges.

The benefits I receive from reading other blogs is immeasurable. The creative energy that pulses through the blogosphere is palpable. I became addicted to reading blogs when one day I Googled the phrase "homeschooling bad day". I was desperate for help. I needed to know that I was not alone, that other people had bad days and might have solutions. I am grateful for bad days now that I know there's a silver lining at blogger, typepad and wordpress. I only hope that I can provide as much camaraderie, encouragement and inspiration as other bloggers have provided me.

Remember the saying, "Here's a quarter, call someone who cares"? I think I heard it a few times in elementary school. I'm sure it started out as "Here's a nickel...", then, "Here's a dime...", but with the rate of inflation it was definitely a quarter by the time I heard the quip.
It's an antiquated phrase these days, now that pay phones are hard to find and everybody has cellular (I'm still holding out on that one). So here's my quip: "Here's a blog, tell someone who cares."

Thank you for giving a care and reading my blog. You, dear reader, are an integral part of the fairy tale I am living, directing and sharing. Stay tuned for my next 50 blogs and find out how I live happily ever after.

P.S. This is technically my 51st blog. My 50th post happened to fall on Raggedy Ann's special day, so I delayed this post in her honor. She thanks all you sweet, sweet readers for your birthday wishes.



If you believe, as I do, that a doll's life begins the day she is loved, rather than the day she is made, then Raggedy Ann is 31 today. My dad adopted Raggedy Ann from a street vendor in San Francisco the day I was born. She has been loved ever since. Her hair needs sprucing, and her knickers have lost their elasticity, but hey, time takes it's toll on all of us. I am grateful to have her, saggy knickers and all. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for keeping her safe all these years.

And thank you George for taking care of her too. She likes her new toy.


email: mollydunham@sbcglobal.net
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