Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Lately we've experimented a bit with new-to-us items that we usually bypass at the craft store. For example, a box of foamie stickers and foam sheets are a very fun (and clean) way to spend some time at the art table. CC especially loves to play with the stickers. They help develop her fine motor skills--all that peeling is hard work--and she really responds to the bright colors, shapes and feel of the art she creates.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Freshened-up Art Center

We set up this art center nearly a year ago, and even though I regularly go through it to make sure it stays organized and stocked, lately it seemed to need a bit more attention. Some spring weeding, organizing and cleaning and a few additions went a long way to inspiring new projects. I think I'll have to buy a third stool and ask the girls to scootch over so I can join them.

We all really love this set up. It makes it easy to find things, easy to put them away, and easy to move materials to different parts of the house. I've accepted the fact that no matter how enticing I make the art center, we will sometimes want to work at the dining table, on the kitchen floor or at Mommy's feet while she types away.

I'm sure you all recognize the bins, stools and table from IKEA. The plastic baskets and jars are from The Container Store. I love the look of glass jars filled with goodies, but glass is a bit heavy for us to deal with. So these light plastic jars with lids that pop off easily are perfect for now.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Santa Cassandra

Cassandra Cristina's nameday celebration. The day felt like spring so we got to play outside all morning and afternoon. We followed what have turned out to be our special nameday traditions: gifts in the morning, a homemade and decorated cake, a special handmade garland, a small family party followed by dinner out. Also, CC received three special cards from Sabrina.

Friday, March 20, 2009

What I Do ... 6

I love ... Clearing out the clutter. In recent days we've said goodbye to two car seats, a sofa, piles of clothes, boxes of office stuff. ... Finding new space and possibilities. After clearing out things we rearranged them. Now the sofa from my study and the rocking chair from our bedroom are in the living room. The chairs from the living room are in my study, as is the round cabinet originally bought for Sabrina's room. And favorite pillows that had been ignored and unused have found homes again ... Eliminating sugar and refined carbs from my diet. Well, to be truthful I didn't love it at first. For a week it felt like it was the worst decision ever. But three weeks after I started I feel so energized and happy that I can't imagine having a donut, and that's saying alot ... Jean's (aka The Artful Parent) awesome article in Mothering about the crafty mamas I've come to know and love through their blogs ... The red bud vase my sister gave me. I keep moving it from one location to another because it looks so perfect no matter where it is. Who was it that said every room should have a touch of red?

I write ... I haven't updated here on the Week of Wonders column or book reviews, and even though I know many of you venture over there regularly, I'll link to what I've been writing about just in case you missed some of it. The latest musings have been about joining Facebook, sugar-free recipes, using themes to make sense of things and children's scheduled activities--this last one seems to have really resonated with people. If you're so inclined, leave your 2-cents at BabyCenter on any of these topics.

I read ... Two Marriages by Phillip Lopate captured my attention for a few nights. I liked the sparse, intimate prose and the nearly surreal scenarios, which I guess marriages sometimes find themselves in. My favorite line: "Each happy marriage is at once a miracle and a complex mechanism, like a Swiss clock whose successful inner workings, once analyzed, could conceivably offer hope to conjugal sufferers everywhere." ... Right now I'm immersed in Revolutionary Road because I want to see the movie too. It's a good book, but there's a sadness to it I did not expect. I'm only 50 pages in and already it's making me sad.

I watch ... I'm Your Man, about the life and work of Leonard Cohen. ... How to Cook Your Life, another documentary I found very inspiring. It's about food, life, consumerism, living simply and with grace. I find myself turning to documentaries more and more and have yet to hit on one I didn't enjoy. Any recommendations?

I listen to ... Leonard Cohen and more Leonard Cohen since watching the documentary about him. Who by Fire is perhaps my favorite song right now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bouquet, deconstructed

Flowers on the landing

In the bedroom

In my study

On the mantel

I received a beautiful bouquet in my favorite colors. It was lovely and generous, it smelled great and included lots of fresh flowers. Sabrina kept remarking how they were the tallest flowers she'd ever seen. But, after admiring it for a day we all decided it was a bit too tall and and formal for our home.

So I pulled it apart and now we've got flowers in every corner of the house. What a luxury. I love showing off one or two perfect stems in a simple vase. I also love bouquets of all one flower. I only wish I could take better pictures of flowers. I find they behave differently on camera than objects. Not that I take great pictures of objects.

Oh, and there was lots of foliage and some fading flowers left for Sabrina and CC to play with, which is always fun.

The original bouquet

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!


I didn't intend to take almost two weeks off, but it seems I really needed them to adjust to being at home full time, figure out some new systems and just breathe. We've been up to many projects and fun activities, which I'll share soon now that writing here seems to be in the cards again! Thank you for all the nice comments here and on BabyCenter, especially congratulating and encouraging me on my new full-time at home life.

First, of course, is today's holiday. With so much to influence our lives, we sometimes forget that Patrick's family is partly Irish. So these days we've been doing a few little things to honor this part of our heritage.

It's been lovely to celebrate this holiday very simply after all the Valentine's day crafts and sweets that took over most of February. I was reminded how nice it is to take it easy doing just a few symbolic things without investing in new materials or making every moment about the holiday. We didn't buy a single holiday-related item, not even stickers... so instead Sabrina figured out how to make shamrocks out of hearts! As always, less is more.

We enjoyed a vintage book that explains the significance of all the little traditions around St. Patrick's day, like dressing in green and parading around.

Instead of crafting, we made mini loaves of Irish soda bread. Easy breezy recipe, perfect for children. We halved each dough ball to make smaller loaves, and also used white whole wheat flour. We kept some and made extras for teachers and friends. It's fun giving gifts on holidays you wouldn't usually associate with getting a little something.

We had some of the bread as a St. Patrick's Day afternoon snack yesterday since today afternoon we'll be out and about until dinner. The girls liked the bread with lots of sweet butter and I put a little bit of tea in Sabrina's milk which she though tasted wonderful.

Today is also Patrick's nameday, as well as my own. I always tell the same story of living in New York City when I was a little girl and thinking it was so wonderful that the whole town got together for a parade to celebrate MY nameday. I'm sure my parents fueled this belief!

Happy day to you!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Everchanging Nature Display

Things have come and gone from the nature display. A paperwhite Sabrina bloomed in school and brought home a sagging mess but that came back to life in some water. The skin from a red onion. A dry hydrangea flower that had missed being pruned. Little curled things, brown treasures, crumbling bits from both girls. It's the best project we've put together all season.

Monday, March 2, 2009


A $5 bag of beads doesn't look like much until you let it spill open and start running your fingers through the plastic jewels. Then there's more than you thought, enough for all sorts of combinations and projects, enough to fill a whole afternoon.

Snowy Monday

I had been wishing for just a little more winter and it was delivered overnight. Love a good snow day, even though it didn't spare us from work or school. Sabrina doesn't go to school on Mondays and we weren't going anywhere anyway. It's a bright day, cold and a little windy. We were once again unsuccessful in building a real snowman, the snow too powdery. Or is there a secret?