February 27, 2008

A little green, a little terror

More news in the green living department in the last week.

I made my own all-purpose totally nontoxic cleaner - water, baking soda, vinegar, and some grapefruit essential oil for smelling nice. Works just fine to clean the bathroom! Also, I've switched to just using straight-up vinegar to clean all glass surfaces (mirrors, mostly, since I'm not much for window washing). A little bit really goes a lot way, and the smell dissipates fairly quickly. Also, as you can see from the very beautiful picture, I made a reusable cover for the Swiffer out of some of Lara's old flannel swaddling blankets. I've since discovered that flannel works infinitely better than the plastic pads that come with the Swiffer. When I run out of its cleaning liquid I'm going to do the surgery recommended here to put my own cleaner into the special non-refillable Swiffer bottle.

I initially wasn't going to take a picture of these doings because both came out less than photogenic, especially compared to all the wonderful homemade soaps and things all over blogland. I mean, people go all out - designing graphics for their own labels, color-coordinating their Swiffer covers... And then I thought, oh for cripes sake, it's just something to clean the toilet with.

So, on to the terror. What the heck is this thing? It came in the farmer box and looks to me like nothing so much as a skull with more than the usual number of eyes. Misha was pretty freaked by it as well, and Lara wouldn't even hit it with the stick she was using to drum on every other thing in the kitchen. Clearly it's eeeeeeevillll.

February 25, 2008

Necklace for a friend

Found objects Necklace - metal hoops with pearl and coral

A birthday necklace for a friend made of found objects and some coral and pearl beads. I love that I've become the default recipient of all the random bits and bobs that my family and friends no longer want - keep 'em coming, people! I really love playing with them. I wish I weren't quite so subject to my limited tools and workspace, though. On my secret jewelry-making wishlist? A dremel (and you know, a place to use it) and a laser cutter. Hey, I'm just saying. Only 316 shopping days until Hannukah.

February 23, 2008

Snowy Snowy Day

Yesterday was probably only the second time Lara has seen snow in real life. That doesn't stop the imagination though.

At home, getting ready for school:

Lara is prancing about in her Jessie Cowgirl hat from Halloween (the obsession still continues).
Misha: Ok, let's put your sweater on.
Lara: No, Jessie Cowgirl hat please!
Misha: But it's cold outside!
Lara: That's why I need my Jessie Cowgirl hat!

Later, driving to school:

Lara: Daddy, kiss my hand!
Misha: Why, what's wrong?
Lara: It's hurting me.
Misha: Which part?
Lara: Here, on the side.
Misha: How did you hurt it?
Lara: I fell in the snow!

As if my small cautious one would ever actually be doing anything dangerous enough to fall in the snow. She very very gingerly ventures the toe of one shoe onto snow and picks it back up. "Look, footpint!"

February 22, 2008

Another stencil

It is snowing like crazy here! Thank goodness daycare is still open today. Hey, don't judge me, I've still got the flu! I can't entertain a toddler all day by myself!

Ahem. Anyway, I have another lovely portrait to show you. This is from such a great photo of Liz's daughter. The ones with dynamic movement really always come out the best.

Stencil Portrait - Liz's daughter

This one was fun to make also because after I sent Liz some color proofs, she narrowed it down to two and then asked to me pick one to make herself a surprise! Hope you like it, Liz!

February 21, 2008

Weekend in New York

You guys. We have been so ridiculously sick this week! I mean, we get the flu shot every year and everything, but I get this year all three of us lost the "this only works for the virus strain we're making an educated guess about" lottery. So yeah, no new pics, since I'm not sure how photogenic we are huddled around the couch watching movies in a feverish stupor.


Last weekend we were reasonably healthy in New York! Totally great time - and it was Misha's birthday! We had a lovely brunch with the fam after a night of grandma babysitting and us going out to adult dinner. Totally freakin' awesome.

Aunt Alexis got me some totally amazing vintage buttons. "My buttons! My buttons for playing! I wanna play wi' buttons for me!" said Lara, and proceeded to dump them in and out of various containers. I tried to get her to sort by color, but she's not a sorter.

Lara among her adoring fans.

Lara in some shrubs. It was 65 degrees here this past weekend! Today? 27.

February 20, 2008

Portrait update

A lot of people are into this brown-on-blue color combination. I really like it too. It always seems like it would fit into most interiors. Here is a new one - a stencil of Lauren's nephew. Love that cheeky smile! I like the way his cat came out also.

Stencil Portrait - Lauren's nephew

February 19, 2008

Gus's Birthday!

Ok, so it was last Thursday and we went away for the weekend to New York before I could post pics. Gus turned two, and fun was had by all! Amy made a really really great post about it with all sorts of pictures and stories. How cute are those hats and decorations that she made? Amy, you rock. Lara was a big fan of that strawberry and whipped cream cake.

I made Lara a little party dress for the occasion. Reconstructed from some tiny baby jeans, a fleece blanket, and a piece of star-flecked dark blue cotton left over from the quilt.

Refashioned party dress - denim with blue fleece ruffles

Fun to make, fun to wear.

February 15, 2008

Another Zoo Excursion

Hi everyone. Lara and I just got back from a thrilling trip to the Zoo. One of the frustrating things about winter is there's just not enough to do to keep a 2 year old occupied, so we were desperate to take advantage of the relative warmth of today's high of 48. However, Lara tends to nap until about 3, and the Zoo 'closes' at 4 (I use the term loosely because, like much in Philly, they're not too precise, and so last time we watched them trying to entice the tigers into their cages at around 4:20). It's now become routine to zip to the Zoo at around 3:30, race through either the big cats or the "Wep-tio's" [reptiles] and then take advantage of the animals they leave out.

Here's Lara strolling through the Zoo (she doesn't appreciate the need for speed):
Zoo 002

Last time we did this, Lara found a new favorite; the "Woot-hog statue" [warthog]. Here's what she said upon spotting it (without a break for a breath):
"Come on daddy come on let's see the woot-hog statue come on let's do that let's touch it it's like a piggy let's touch it it's got big nostrils it's got snot in it oh no a sneeze is coming something's happening! Hi woot-hog, there you go!"

Zoo 004

Finally, here's Lara waving at some of the animals that stay out well past 'closing' time. Thank goodness for arctic beasts.

Zoo 001

February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

A few more stencil portraits. I am totally crazy about the way both of these came out. Another iconic pose from the daddy and baby one, and a really wonderful mood captured in the friends one. Awesome.

Kerry's husband and son:

Stencil Portrait - Kerry's son and husband

Vanessa and two friends:

Stencil Portrait - Vanessa and two friends

February 11, 2008

Airport surprise

There is at least one really great thing about how terrible airline travel has gotten recently: people will sometimes end up in the unlikeliest of destinations. To wit: this weekend, I got to see my dad for fifteen minutes when his flight was misbooked and he ended up with a connection here in Philly!

We hopped in the car as soon as he called - the airport is fifteen minutes away from us - and Lara was quite excited to go see "grandma grandpa michael in the airport to go on the airplane!" Too bad once we actually met him she got totally shy (we haven't seen Dad since last summer) and refused to even peel herself off of my shoulder. I snapped this pic quickly as she was crawling off the airport chair to get picked back up. Still, yay for the crazy airlines!

Not really related, but... I've decided that with the new quilt should come a whole bed overhaul. We sleep under two blankets because I'm a warmoholic, but this is what our second blanket has looked like for the last 5 years. Misha had this thing when he was in high school. It was really quite delightfully soft (flannel!) and had a nice heft - but seriously, how ugly is this? Check out the artistic rip in the middle.

Browsing through Joann's I found this beautiful, supersoft flannel and recovered the blanket.

I basically just sewed the new material into an envelope and put the old comforter right in there. Then I used a quilt-tying technique to make knots every six inches every which way to hold it together. Here is a close-up of one of the ties:

We slept under it yesterday. It's awesome.

February 9, 2008

Birthday Crown for Gus

Tomorrow we are going to a birthday party for super-cutie-pie Gus! I'm so excited. I love seeing Amy and Jonathan, and I cannot believe how old baby Theo is already! Check out their fun blog: 2042 Boys. So what's for the birthday boy? I figured he probably had most things a two year old might want - and seriously, what present is going to compare with that shiny red trike? But you know what I bet he doesn't have yet?

Crown for Gus

A birthday crown. I don't know - Lara loves all manner of hat-type things... Don't all kids?

Made out of felt, with felt appliques, and stitched on tourmaline beads. Velcro closure in the back. Scepter and absolute power not included.

February 8, 2008

My X-man power

I might love the X-men. Let me rephrase that - I really really LOVE LOVE the X-men. I read every comic book in the franchise, I know the whole soap opera back stories of all the characters, and I am basically about as geeky about it as a grown 30 year old woman could possibly be. What I really like is the way Stan Lee designed their powers. It's not boring Superman, with super this, and super that, and invincibility, and flying, and whatever else. Instead, each X-man is able to do only one special thing - and usually it's a skill not useful for physical combat. One is able to pick up radio wave transmissions without a receiver, another can dissolve into dust, several can shapeshift into animals, one really sad one just looks like a chicken. In order to actually deal with the villains they have to constantly be training. Think about it - have you ever seen Superman practicing anything?

I kind of like to think that everyone has an X-man power. Just one thing, probably a totally useless thing, that you do better than anyone else. Something slightly magical, most likely something that only you have ever noticed about yourself. My X-man power? I reasonably infallibly order the best thing on the menu in a restaurant. My food pretty much always tastes better than whatever everyone else has chosen. I've noticed this for a while, but I think I recently figured out why - I have a good sense for what foods would taste good in combination. Have you ever seen the movie Ratatouille? There is a scene when Rene the rat chef is tasting foods first separately and then together to see how they complement one another. This is drawn beautifully. On a black backdrop, cheese is a set of boppy yellow circles, and then strawberries are represented with a fading pink paisley-like pattern. Together, they are a swirling mass of orange fireworks. (Here is a link to a YouTube clip.) It's a little like that in my head.

All of which is to say that if you saute some onions with green beans and potatoes, nothing will top that better than Greek yogurt (tzadziki). Better than sour cream, better than regular yogurt, better than Indian yogurt (raita) - it has an extra note of tangy sourness that makes this a fast but really really delicious dinner.

February 7, 2008

Finished quilt top!

Check it out! This only took freakin' forever.

Finished top of "Blue Squares" quilt

I'm trying to figure out what pattern to quilt it in, considering I've a) never done it before, and b) don't have a top-tier machine, and c) can't imagine what it will look like with the different quilting options. I'm leaning to just doing long parallel lines down the length of it about 3 inches apart. What do you all think? If anyone is a quilter out there - how do you determine the quilting pattern?

Also, check out my continuing foray into shorter and shorter hair (all still self-cut - yay!). I'm totally into it. I might go shorter still.

Oh, and did I mention that we finally taught Lara to write? It wasn't too hard - just a few afternoons. Here she is about to spell out "Mommy."

Oh, fine, fine. Obviously, I'm just kidding. Spoil-sports.

February 5, 2008

Fashion Show Tuesday

I might have a secret dream about the way Lara would always be dressed. You wouldn't know it from the mostly comfy boy's-department things she usually has on, but in my secret dream she is wearing clothes in a style that is hard to describe exactly - a cross between bohemian, Anthropologie, cool hippie, and handmade. Stylish, yet not quite mainstream clothes; colors mixed wildly, but with a sense of vision; seemingly haphazzard layers mixed to perfection. This is a secret dream that is hard to achieve - certainly not in the winter, certainly not on a budget, certainly not if I don't want to dictate my tastes to my daughter. But still, on a 60 degree February day, small dreams come true... How cute is she in these little clothes? I kind of want all of them in a big size for myself. Because of course in my very secret dream, it is I who get to dress like this every day.

February 1, 2008

Yay Day

Oh, the best day ever yesterday! Went to Brooklyn to visit Flora and her beautiful kidlet Juliet. How cute is this girl?

Lara in Flora's great-grandmother's baby chair. How sweet is that? Such a lovely heirloom. Speaking of, I wish I had taken better pictures of Flora and Robert's house. It is pretty much a page out of House & Garden, just unbelievably beautiful and so tastefully restored to its true potential. Robert, you're a genius - I am still in awe and cannot stop talking about the amazingness.

Ok, this next shot is hilarious - you know why? This is the only time I could get them in one frame on the playground. Constantly running in different directions, Lara to the beloved swings, Juliet to the derring-do of the big jungle gym. That pretty much defines their personalities, too - Lara all "push me, I just want to sit here and have things happen!" and Juliet more "I'm totally going over there to the danger zone to pull off some crazy stunt!"

Juliet's photo pose. Both of them have recently started to pose for the camera, usually with a cocked head or some sort of serious (seriously cute!) face. Love it.