Friday, August 31, 2007

Me too!

Wednesday was Cathrynn's first day of first grade. She was almost late b/c Olivia tried to upstage the whole thing by refusing to walk down the stairs, insisting to either be in the pix, or that I take the same solo pix of her. I so deserve this - I made quite the scene when my sister left me to go to school. The story goes that I laid on the sidewalk and sobbed. My mother consoled me by taking me to the store for a treat and the cashier asked "why isn't a big girl like you at school?" Oh the drama.

When I was little, I barely spoke - my only words, "Me, too!" in response to everything my older sister Kim did or said. A few years ago I found this book at the pediatrician's waiting room and gasped. A fragment of my childhood. The story that illustrated my little life. I requested to buy it and insisted to pay for it even when they told me I could have it (maybe I was misty eyed and they were afraid!), cause we all know you just can't take a book from anywhere you want when you have 2 kids in tow 'cause that'd be stealing!

I could not wait to call Kim and mom. Kim was floored that I'd found THE book. Mom, well, she had a mom moment - "really, there was a book...? I don't remember". Here's a bad scan of a scrapbook page I did a few years ago about me and Kim:
My journaling:
Can you hear the echo? I'll bet you can. I bet I said that a billion times...and my adorable little toddler words are still bouncing around the universe. No matter waht Kim did I was tagging along behind her and announcing "ME TOO" to anyone who would listen. My parents doubted my speaking skills since the only thing I said for many years:
I was a wanna be from any early age. I wanted to be my big sister. She was all the stars in my little sky. I couldn't keep up with her, couldn't ride a two-wheeler when she could. She was two years older and always stepping off my little world into a whole other world. The story is that she broke my heart when she left me and went to school. Me, too!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Crying Game

  • Yesterday, Olivia Mae decided to swing sideways, directly in the path of her sister & the neighbor girl and more importantly, the glider they were on. Refusal of ice and anything that might have lessened the pain. Nothing major just another black & blue mark for the patchwork of summer boo-boos. Screaming. Crying.
  • A few hours later, she climbed onto the back of my computer chair, although I've told her roughly 54,123 times not to. At one point I stood up not realizing she was still hanging there. She hit the ground with the chair on top of her. Screaming. Crying.
  • At dinner, she showed off her gymnastic skills by vaulting & swinging between the buffet and table. Not once. Numerous times. She is pretty darn good at that sort of stuff so she didn't get hurt. Protested food. Cried. Refused food.
  • At bedtime Frank discovered her face down on her bed screaming & hysterical. After a short while she whispered to me that she'd stuck a wad of paper up her nose. From those flower decals on her wall that she's been slowly removing. Who knew that's what she's been doing with them? After much drama, involving her frantic parents dangling her upside down and holding one nostril shut and her mouth shut. Cathrynn screaming in the background because she woke up from all the noise. After numerous attempts, we gave each other that look. The look that means a trip to the city's Children's Hospital at 10pm. In defeat and to console her and stop the screaming & crying, I hugged her. And discovered the wad of paper tangled in her hair. Returned her to her bed with stern lecture of what not to put our nose, ears, eyes, and as an after thought, vagina.
  • Roughly two minutes later Olivia arrived in my room. She'd ripped her toe nail half off during the previous chaos. On a good day routine nail trimming requires both parents - one flung over her kicking legs, so this, of course, resulted in screaming & crying.
  • Too wound up to sleep, she harassed me until about midnight, demanding an apple and a cuke when she passed out on the sofa. (why didn't I start drinking much earlier & pass out???)
  • What seemed like a minute later Frank was telling me he was leaving for work and reminding me that I wanted to get the girls up now, at 5:30am, to see the lunar eclipse. Yeah right, wake them up. It seemed like a great parental educational event at 6pm the night before. Now - no way Jose.
  • At 7:43am, Cathrynn burst in my room hysterical that Daddy didn't wake us to see the lunar eclipse. I admitted that I was to blame for her missing it. And she cried silent sobs until she was a patchwork of red hives and her eyes were pink. I kept the pillow over my head until Olivia came and saw that at some point I'd knocked over the great domino exhibit she'd done on my floor. Screaming. Crying.
I give up.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sewing Hangover - Ouch

It seemed like a good idea - stay up until 2:30am because I had a goal to finish last night. Broke another sewing needle - for a weekly total of 3, hand stitched until my finger has a blister & my nails hurt - who knew I was so sensitive? The needle gave up in defeat I tell you, something like "If you aren't going to stop I will!"
Awoke to a chatty Cathrynn Rose before 8:00am. Breathing on me and asking what was hanging from my face, if you guessed a wad of thread - ding ding, you're right! When I was an enthusiastic scrapbooker, I was always leaving a trail of sticky paper fragments and that pesky pink stuff that comes on the really good double stick tape. And is full of static and would usually end up trailing on my behind. Now, I look like I'm an exotic animal shedding multi-colored fibers. I don't even notice until I see the raised eyebrow of Frank or Cathrynn's announcement that I need the lint brush before leaving the house. Lecture from Frank that the vacuum was almost killed by the great wad of thread. I think - yep, I'm still vacuuming - you should be glad I'm not obsessively sewing, what's the problem?

Off to make popcorn for the girls' breakfast, due to repeated and loud requests. After all, it's the next to the last day of summer vacation. Let's have some fun. Quiet fun.

Feeding the kids and vacuuming - I'm the picture of domesticity.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

wildflowers & blueberries

Helllllloooooo! Gifts from my little wildflowers. I think that's a sprig of ragweed - Frank's allergies have kicked in since Liv brought it home. The girl's requested a blueberry pie with these berries. I'm allergic so we'll skip all that. Plus, are they really blueberries?

So, I've been busy. Back to school preparation. And all the usual. But, I've also been having some fun with my sewing machine. I'm making some pretty dang cute tote bags to sell. I'm not a seamstress by any means, but I can put some vintage stuff together in a great new. I sew like I live - I have an idea what the end result will be, but even I won't know how I'm going to get there - I just wing it and try to make masterpieces from the mistakes. I'll bet you're glued to the screen wondering what tote/purse can live up to all that! A few more buttons & I'll be listing them on Etsy. Along with some killer mosiacs that I started in the spring.
On the table, my thrifty find of the weekend - 4 brand new Ralph Lauren place mats for $1.50. I could care less about labels, but they are crisp & a perfect match to the kitchen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mother Guilt

I'm feeling it. Cathrynn's school gave out a label to send a postcard from where they spent their summer vacation. Which makes me feel like I need to take her somewhere exciting in the next 6 days before school starts. We've done some fun stuff this summer - Pirate's game, zoo... lots of quality time, park, pool, crafts... but no where exciting from which to mail an important postcard. She wants to. I want her to. I used to feel the same way about Vince, even a trip to NY was better than going to school and saying you sat home all summer while your mom was stuck in the office. But, it just not going to happen this summer vacation. I'm wondering what will she remember most about summer?

And that gets me to my own childhood memories. My Grandparents' cabin at Pymatuning Lake. This is one of my all time favorite scrapbook pages - a few years old but with classic Chatterbox papers - it's timeless, just like my memories.
And here's my journaling:
I love this photo of my grandfather. He's holding up the catch of the day, in front of his boat. He's every bit Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond (one of my favorite movies).

In the 1970s, my grandparents built the 'cabin' at Pymatuning Lake. Their cabin spoiled any future camping excursions for me. I thought roughing it was wall to wall carpet, a modern indoor bathroom, a brand new two bedroom Ryan home.

Our whole extended family gathered there on a few occasions in the early days, when it was still being built. But I don't recall it ever becoming a family retreat. I'm guessing my parents were too busy working to take days and weekends off to vacation there. Most of my memories are of just my grandparents and Kim and me. I'm pretty sure they took turns taking all us kids, but my childhood memories are pretty self-centered - if it didn't have to do with me, I pretty much don't remember it!

What I do remember most is the peace and the meandering pace of our days at the cabin. (although, I can't imagine Kim and me weren't continually squabbling, nor Grandma & Grandpap, either!). The only time I remember rushing was to the water's edge.

I think it was in the mid 80s that my grandparents sold the cabin. It was too much of a drive for my grandparents, and too much upkeep during the dormant seasons. It was bought be a local family - as their real home. That always made me happy - the cabin would be loved, and lived in year round.
I close my eyes, and this is what I remember:
The deafening noise the crickets made at night.
The steep drop off on the right side of our tiny beach.
Catching minnows in the ditch adjacent to the cabin.
Waking to the smell & sound of bacon cooking, my grandfather at the stove.
Days, sometimes weeks, with out a phone call.
Fishing without a hook (to my grandfather's teasing & feigned dismay).
Endless card games around the table, while the lightening crashed around us.
The excitement of running down the path and being welcomed by the lake.
Kim and Grandpap getting up in the pitch dark to take the boat out.
Always feeling uneasy and vulnerable on the boat.
Huge mosquito bites.
Lazy days spent reading in the sweltering heat.
Walking down the street to the little store for a treat.
Chicken loaf, pickles & mustard on white bread.
Static on the old b&w TV.
Digging in the sand.
Wading up to my knees in the tepid, murky water.
The cool mud oozing between my toes.
Other people's litter on the tiny beach.
Picking berries at an Amish Farm.
Homemade strawberry jam on white bread.
Finally being old enough to walk down to the water by myself.
Days that seemed to last forever.
Days I thought would last forever.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

testing 1-2-3

Giving my new sewing machine a test. So far the only issues have been user related. Imagine that. Pretty fabrics compliments of Dana. Who'd have thought she'd convert me, the paper/scrapbook gal over to fabric? I thought it would've been the other way around! This is a bit too country for most of my decor but I wanted to do something fast. That's me. Speed above everything else...

Most husbands when faced with this type of purchase say things like "will you really use it?". Nope, not Frank. I had to take an oath & solemnly swear not to become obsessed with it. Remember to feed the kids, clean the house...not get lost in my projects. He mentioned that I could set up a schedule. As we like to say around here, "NO WAY JOSE!"

Off to pop some popcorn for the kiddos lunch. That counts, right?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Just Ducky

I guess Grammy knew it would be rainy & cold 'cause she bought the girls these rain shoes yesterday. Liv hit every puddle she could find. And aren't the socks the ultimate fashion statement? That's my girl...

Lest you think I'm only about food...

Bird on a Roll!
I started my own crazy quilt/wall hanging this summer. Crazy cause I've never made a quilt. But I have a vision. It started with a bunch of vintage hankies with great tatted edges (nope, not tattoo'd Vince!) . While teaching Cathrynn a basic embroidery stitch, I thought I'd show her something creative to aspire to. Viola! Ten hankies later, I'm on a roll - little cottage scenes, butterflies, ducks... I've decided to make 2 crazy quilts so Cathrynn & Liv don't fight it out later. The worm was C's idea... his little glass bead eyes will be added later. I have an old chenille spread that will serve as the background.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Wanted: Short Order Cook

Seriously, every meal I'm making 3-4 totally different meals. Example, salmon for Frank - well even I have issues, ancient old issues from the 70s and a huge salmon brought back from Alaska by Uncle Dom and roasted whole on a bbq. My first experience with it. The head, blank glassy eyes, pinkish fish. Gulp. I passed. And I still can't do it. So I do tilapia. And Liv does mac&cheese, and Cathrynn might eat the tilapia if it's breaded & dipped in ketchup and then a grilled cheese chaser. Four dinners. Four breakfasts. Four lunches. Daily.

Here's one meal that all of us eat. Especially Vince. He's been known to make a big dent in a pot of my homemade chicken noodle soup with crusty Italian bread. In August? Not usually, but today we awoke to rain and chilly air. Jean weather (omgawd - the good news is I can still get into my fat jeans, but they are so uncomfy).
So I threw a pot of soup together. It didn't cook as long as I'd like so the broth wasn't that pretty amber, but everyone ate it. One meal, one pot. Yeah me!
So pretty without a mishmash of serving bowls...Frank wanted to know why I was taking a pix of the table :D the man has no clue the mundane things I can journal... While I'm thinking about it, I wrote my really sketchy recipe (I just wing most things) so the next time Vince wants it, I'll have it handy.
Chicken & Bowtie Soup
In large crockpot: several stalks of celery (with leaves), 3-4 yellow onions (whole with skins), 3-4 whole chicken breasts (with bones and skin attached), some bay leaves (discard before eating!), bouillon cubes only if Grammy's not eating since they're loaded with MSG. Fill with water. Cook on low all day or on high for several hours.

Remove and strain in colander. Put the golden broth in a large soup pot, you may need to add additional water. Bring to boil. Add 1 lb bowtie pasta (and for our family only bowties... maybe with some medium shells but no other pasta's been widely embraced), and 1 bag shredded carrots. Carefully remove skin from chicken, and by hand, shred watching for those little pesky bones. Add shredded chicken to soup pot. Season with salt and pepper. Even better the second day. If there's any left!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Come on over for some... Almond & Plum Cake

Instead of breakfast, brunch or possibly even lunch today, I'm having this warm from the oven. Dad stopped by for coffee while Mom got her nails done around the corner and I had this treat for us. So what to do with a bunch of plums leftover from the farmer's market last week? Try Catherine Bell's quick almond & plum cake from her cookbook Everyday Epicurean

Dad's review complete with Food Network style fork in mid-air, chewing and narrative skills: "perfect - the cake is moist and sweet and the plums have a nice tart touch". I'll add that I skipped the oil in the recipe and used all butter instead cause that's how I like to bake and I was a bit zealous with the cinnamon... the best part for me is the great crusted edges. My plums were halved b/c I couldn't figure out how to pit them whole as stated in the recipe and I couldn't find a paper doily to make a pretty powdered sugar design but still de-lish! If you'd like the recipe - let me know.

Friday, August 17, 2007

When the Hubby's home...

my wings are clipped. The man is all about order and purpose - good for the real things in life, bad for my thrifting, crafting, blogging... It's his vacation and we're just hanging at home. And my computer time has been seriously compromised. He plays chess online. The agony of watching him watching the screen wondering if it's my turn yet or if the girls sneak onto Noggin first. I haven't even had a chance to tell all about my girls' day of antiquing this week...

We're taking a load of toys & stuff to donate to the thrift store which means I'll get to satisfy the junque urge a bit...maybe find one of these pretties... for one of those collections I didn't even realize I had until I stuck them all together.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

No chenille was harmed in this project!

Cathrynn's bed re-do.

The day after we moved in, I painted the girls' room. The room's large so we decided to put them together in a room, so they each got to pick a paint color for their two walls. Liv = yellow, Cathrynn = pink - hard to believe, huh? That was February when I was on a painting roll. Things have sputtered out. The beds are solid old dark oak. Very nice, but shiny & dark means lots of sanding, priming... I just couldn't talk myself into it. Dana & I have talked about slipcovering them. I think she begged me not to hot glue anything - but that's what happens when your friend's an upholster & you're an instant gratification kinda gal - so with trusty hot glue gun in hand and two old chenille bedspreads - ta-da! Cottage style without the mess.

Liv's bed - before pix:

The chenille spreads had a lot of gorgeous old icing on them - but as often happens - near the top/pull area - the thinner chenille's been worn thin and these are now cutters - project chenille.
Liv's bed after:

The flower & letter stickers on the wall - temporary until I get motivated to paint 'em myself!

Gone Shoppin'

Chocolate brown slip on tennies modeled by our fair dame Olivia. Sparkling white leather Keds with pink & white checkered ties modeled by the lightly tanned Cathrynn Rose.
Ahhhh, the torture that is BACK TO SCHOOL SHOPPING. The crowds, the whining, the tantrums - who'd have thought it would be a Cathrynn/Frank standoff over her refusing to try on shoes. You just never know. That's what happens when you wear flip-flops for 3 solid months. The stores were crowded and even worse - warm - ugh , what it that all about?

Some pretty pink stuff! Wish they had it all in my size! How about the pinkish lavender tennies with flowers. Love that I can still get 'em to wear this stuff... If I'm gone for longer than usual, send help. I'm buried in piles of kid's clothing. You know - the summer play clothes that are trashed but they'll be wearing for the next few weeks, the stuff they barely ever wore but can't part with now, the new clothes, the too small but too big for Liv, too small for Liv but too special to toss, the too stained, the too cute - Mom'll make a project out of it...

Thursday, August 9, 2007

guess who's coming to our house tonight!

Yep, the tooth fairy! It was pretty traumatic. She took a bite of grilled cheese and started screaming. We just read a Junie B. Jones book on the tooth fairy last night. It took about 4 hours to be able to allow this pix (with my cell phone to send to Daddy at work!)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

how cute is this?

Cathrynn made this purse yesterday - the pink-polka-dot flannel it's shown on is what we used to back it. She's quite pleased with herself! Edited to note that the pretty floral cotton is from a Gap sun dress of Liv's from last summer.

thrifty finds

Yesterday, I had to go into the city & made a secretive stop at a Red, White & Blue Thrift Store. Secretive because, Frank would NOT understand WHY I would need to visit, or worse shop, for more old stuff. Yeah, I know - but I was right there, kwim? My purchases were small and able to get lost in the shuffle of linens & buttons. I didn't divulge such classified information since he didn't ask, and more importantly, the girls didn't spill the beans this time. Happiness for less than $10... 3 aprons at .95 each - the best - the teal, rose & black rose toile that I scanned for my header above - gorgeous, huh? And drum roll please... Cathrynn's find of the day. As I was searching the bags of craft stuff, when Cathrynn holds up a pretty aqua kitty tin, and asked, "what about this?" So adorable, I gasped, especially when I realized it was full of buttons. We didn't know exactly what kind since it was taped shut and I didn't want to draw attention to such an extravaganza, lest they reprice it! Even a pound of so of whites would've made our day... but we cracked open the lid to this treasure chest for $2.95:

Eight matching napkin rings for $1.95 - the girls love them!
Although Vince did ask, "who would make such a thing? And why?"

I promised we'll use them on the table tonight for Caitlin's 20th birthday dinner.
On the menu - Italian bread, homemade meatballs,
linguine with shrimp in pesto & garlic sauce,
Dad's cuke & 'mato salad
cheesecake with strawberries & whipped cream. YUM!

Here's the American Cutie (says so right on her shirt!) waiting for dinner:

Monday, August 6, 2007

sewing boxes

Cathrynn has graduated to real sewing, and was thrilled to choose a pretty box (middle - does she have great taste or what?) to keep her scissors, needles, thread & floss... just like Mommy's (top). Liv is using a plastic needle and foam, so it was fitting that she found a plastic tackle box (bottom)...cute, huh? My idea to give these to the girls came from:
Charlotte Lyon's inspirational book
mothers and daughters at home
35 projects to make together
We've renewed it twice from the library this summer & I've been shrinking wool sweaters (sorry Mom - I don't want to know how much you paid for the pink wool sweater that I never wore!) for another project this week - felted wool stuffed animals or pillows.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

a stitch in time

Note the date & time please! Cathrynn started hand stitching this week. The sweltering heat kept up indoors and after a ton of pestering, I finally gave in. She was right (again!) and did fine. I tried to catch her with her tongue out, oh so cute - her concentration pose! Yes, she's mighty pleased with herself. She made a tiny felt pillow, a small green pocket (shown above) and a pink pillow for her dolls. At least she has something good to remember from this grim summer (3 funerals & a puppy that went to a new home after 4 days, yikes!).

For a fresh start for August, I changed the colors here (in case you haven't noticed the vibrant format!). These happy flowers are from a vintage cloth napkin. What makes me even happier - I got 2 of them at a thrift store for 49 cents last week.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Can they build it? Yes, they can!

Home Depot rocks! If you don't know, they offer a FREE craft for the kiddos the 1st Saturday morning of each month. Hammer, nails, sand paper... it's all included. Even a keeper - snazzy orange apron, and a pin & certificate for each monthly project. Last month was a memory box, this is an artist caddy. They're painting them even as I type this. As an added bonus, Pappy was there to lend assistance and a much needed hand. We finished the boxes, headed for Lunch at Cracker Barrel, then off for more craft supplies at Pat Catans. Great ways to avoid the heat!

Friday, August 3, 2007

panic attacks aren't pretty

I've been part of a message board for the last 7 years. It's hard to explain how you get to know people you've never officially met IRL. Some are your best of friends, others just acquaintances who make you laugh and/or ponder life. This week tragedy struck one of our members. I've been stunned and in tears for her & her children, although I've never met them.

Summer 2007 has brought death in many forms to my small little world, but this has been the most cruel. Young husbands & fathers aren't supposed to die. Period.

And then, the bridge collapse. One of my lifelong fears comes to life on the evening news. The stories are just unraveling. How lives were lost or spared by just a second. I find myself questioning it - did some of them speed to get home faster only to plunge to their untimely death?

When Olivia was born I had trouble driving across the bridges. I live in a city famous for the number of bridges. It really wasn't an option not to cross them. I did voice my fears to Dana who understood completely, and to Frank who didn't and insisted it would all be fine, and to not skip my Zoloft. My fear was a Sophie's Choice of sorts - if the bridge collapses and I'm trapped in my mini-van - which child do I save? Could I save them both? A newborn and a two year old? Unlikely. Maybe I should never leave the house. Yes, I've had those thoughts. Panic attacks aren't pretty. My heart races and my mind goes into overload of worrying about all the what ifs.

But why?
Could someone explain it to me why?
Why. Why. Why. Why.

Pretty in pink...

Cotton shirts.  Love 'em. Usually can't wear 'em.  Too tight. Pull at the boobs.  Or, shrink in the first wash.  And being a plu...