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For a school field trip, the girl’s class was required to dress in orange shirts. The girl’s teacher was less than thrilled and I do have to admit that orange is not a common color in the girl’s wardrobe. The girl does have a tie-dyed orange tee shirt handed down from her brother that she could have worn but . . . I just can’t leave well enough alone.

So I took apart a tee shirt of mine in a nice pumpkin pie color. I modified a peasant shirt pattern with a little inspiration from a tee in the girl’s closet featuring raw edges. I had no thread that looked remotely suitable so I pulled out a directly contrasting slate blue and stitched away. I used the neckline trim to create an elastic casing for the neckline and empire waist. Having run out of the round cord I stitched some gathers into the sleeves by hand. I gathered strips cut from leftovers into rosettes and sewed tiny buttons to the centers, placing one on each sleeve gather and a grouping of five off-center on the empire waist. It turned out really cute I think. And the girl loved it.

pumpkin orange raw edge peasant tee

raw edge hand stitched gathered flowers rosettes with button centers

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I recently answered an unusual request to create a hand-lettered message from Santa Claus. I know, you’d expect this in November or December, right? Me too. But the client had their reasons and provided the text. I used calligraphy pens with red and green inks, and a sprinkling of silver stamped snowflakes on a heavy cream-colored paper with a green deckle edge to enhance the old style Christmas mood. I used to do a fair bit of calligraphy when I was in high school and even college but most of my typography and lettering projects are done on the computer now with points and vectors rather than pens and brushes.

calligraphy hand lettered Santa Claus

I was a little apprehensive about how much time it would take me to complete the project given my rusty skills. I decided that a little digital preparation would not be amiss so I picked out a typeface reminiscent of Uncial script and set the type on the computer adjusting size, kerning, line spacing and justification exactly as I wanted it. I then printed this out and taped it to the back of the heavy paper and used the lightbox to letter directly over my computer-derived draft. It wasn’t tracing as I still drew the individual letters just as I would have if I didn’t have the guide underneath. But having the word placement and line spacing all worked out freed me to concentrate on the rhythm of the letterforms. It worked so well it almost felt like cheating. I doubt anyone but another graphic designer familiar with the particular typeface I used would possibly guess that I used a computer in the process. The final letter is hand-inked on classic paper stock, just as we might imagine Santa would write it himself.

detail of hand lettered calligraphy message from Santa Claus Christmas


The boy (and his sister) decided they wanted to dress up as ninjas for Halloween. This sounded like a good plan to me so I heartily endorsed it. Covered head to toe in something that should be easy to buy or make and could be worn later as pajamas.

Black tee shirts and leggings were purchased. I sewed the balaclavas and belts from material I already had, they will get thrown into the dress-up shelves. I already had two pairs of long black dress gloves that worked perfectly. I made the balaclava pattern a year or two ago for a Batman costume so all I had to do was find it and sew some more. Very fast and easy on the serger in a knit fabric. Men’s black tube socks worn over their shoes and pulled up to the knees provided an extra layer of warmth and silent ninja feet. Because of course, nothing else about the evening was ninja quiet.
Halloween dress-up ninja costumes







Have you noticed? I seem to have this mild obsession with lower life forms. Mushrooms, mosses, etc.

There is a tree on the back line of our lot that has probably been dead for some time. A storm last week brought down an upper branch, dry enough to crack into hundreds of pieces, shedding bark and twigs nearly to the street. But among those pieces I found an amazing world. Perfect tiny mushrooms only 2 or 3 millimeters across. Delicate, lightest green reindeer moss. Curling gray-green lichens, lush green mosses, creeping brown moss, things I don’t even know the name of. But all living—thriving on the dead wood.

reindeer moss on bark from a dead tree

lichens growing on fallen bark

moss, lichen and tiny mushrooms on tree bark


cats playing

These are the kitties, Duke and Lila, they are both around two years old and have been with us since March I think. They came from the same shelter but were not previously acquainted so when we brought them home they had to get used to the house, our family and each other. It wasn’t too long, maybe a few days to a week before the majority of the hissing and yowling was over but they still kept a wary distance.

Lately they’ve been playing at night together, we hear them but we hadn’t actually seen it. They don’t mind being in the same room together, they will even sleep on opposite ends of the same couch or bed. Yesterday afternoon I caught Lila giving Duke a bit of a bath. He didn’t stand for it long but long enough for me to snap a few pictures. In my experience this is a significant step in the feline relationship. It shouldn’t be too much longer before we find them curled up napping together.

cats bathing each other


Lady slippers are wild orchids that grow up here in New England and a few other places maybe. I believe they are a protected species. I happened on a healthy patch of pink and yellow lady slippers while out walking with the kids. I was able to photograph them in several stages from just poking up through last year’s fallen leaves to full bloom.


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So I’ve been thinking for a while about blogrolls and the fact that until recently I didn’t actually follow any blogs. My first blog was a joint one with Annie (SpinKnit). It started with a hankering to work side by side despite the fact that we had never actually met in the flesh and live on opposite sides of the continent. So we decided to have a virtual shared studio so we could show each other and our friends pictures of what we were doing craftwise. Then Annie got the fiber bug and became SpinKnit. I took a break from blogging for a while but I’d gotten a taste for it so I knew eventually I’d start again.

I’ve always done crafty things, ever since I can remember. One of my big problems is that I will make a new idea and then give it away. I wouldn’t know how I did it and I wouldn’t even have a picture of it. I didn’t really start taking pictures until we got a digital camera so that would be about 2002 I guess. I did start a sketchbook long before that, maybe 1988, but most of that is projects that were never expected to become reality.

So this blogging thing is great for me, it serves as a sort of personal scrapbook of finished projects and it also allows me to easily share those with friends. And I like to write babble, particularly analysis and process. For my readers that means more comparisons and tutorials on the way. I won’t say when . . . the kiddos don’t allow me a lot of brain time. :)

About the blogroll, I’ve really just started with that because as I confessed above I don’t generally read other blogs. I don’t generally read craft books either. I just don’t get much inspiration from other crafters I guess. My inspiration tends to come from the need of the moment coupled with the materials at hand, or else from something totally random – like the curve of a furniture leg suggesting the line of a dress. But I do find that there are other people out there who think like me and it’s interesting to see what they are doing. Or else people who think entirely different from me and it’s interesting to see what they are doing too! Did that make any sense? Anyway, I intend to write a bit about the people in my blogroll – a little introduction so you know why I’ve put a link to their blog, maybe a particular project or post I found most appealing, how I know them, etc.

And just so this post isn’t completely wordy. I rescued this azalea twig from the ice and amazingly it has bloomed inside!



13 songs

Ack! I’ve been tagged by Lisa of Froginette. I’m supposed to fill in this list with songs but I’ve been trying to do this for several hours and I’ve realized that I don’t really listen to music much at all anymore. It’s very sad. There is music in my head of course, but I don’t seem to be able to listen to music, the kiddos complain. Or if I am by myself I would rather just be quiet.
13 Songs about my life

A song I’ve been listening to for years without getting tired of it:
Amazing Grace – John Newton

A song that brings back memories of when I was 16:
Just the Way You Are – Billy Joel

A song that reminds me of my first love:
Les Miserables – all of it, because we listened to it so much

A song that instantly puts me in a good mood:
This Good Day – Fernando Ortega

A song that moves me and gets me teary-eyed:
Believe – Brooks and Dunn

A song that makes me laugh:
The Talkin’ Song Repair Blues – Alan Jackson

A song to let it all out:
I’m not sure what this category means?

A song that makes me want to dance:
I don’t really dance but maybe if I did – A Beautiful Day – U2

A song to listen to over a romantic dinner:
Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash

A song that I’m (slightly) ashamed to like — come to think of it, I’m not actually ashamed, I think it’s a great song!
Alcohol – Brad Paisley

A song to clean up the house to:
Sing Sweet Nightingale – Cinderella


A song that illustrates my mood of the day:
Pray Me Home – Phillips, Craig and Dean

A song that I listen to these days and that I can’t get out of my head:
Colors of the Wind from Pocohantas
Phew. That was hard! I am laughing at all the country songs, who knew i had to move to Maine to start listening to country music?

I think I will tag . . . Annie! (even though she’s in Mexico right now) and Krista. ;)

This is one for the history books. The boy, the girl and I were so busy, actually enjoying, cleaning their room that I completely lost track of time and missed the bus to afternoon kindergarten! The historic part of this of course is that we were enjoying cleaning together. They parted with a few unloved toys and stuffed animals, calmly agreeing that I could give them away. I had hoped they would part with a few more but since it was the boy’s idea today I figured I wouldn’t push it. The secretary at the school had a good chuckle when I told her what I’d done and that the boy would be there shortly thanks to the dad-mobile.

Now I expect to hear some embarrassing stories from the rest of you, because if you are a friend of mine I know you’ve done some silly stuff like this too!

The girl insisted on a walk in the woods today so we took the short trail to the sledding hill. I brought my camera along as it was gloriously sunny today. I ended up taking pictures of footprints in the snow. Maybe someone who knows about these things can help identify some of them.

These are obviously dog prints, quite a few of those among the human boot prints and sled tracks.
running dog tracks in the snow closeup of dog footprint

But how about these? Could they possibly be deer prints?
unknown footprints in the snowcloseup of unknown footprints in the snow

Now, I bet you don’t know what these are. The girl matter of factly informed me that they were left by dancing marbles!

This is the girl being an ant, with antlers. She thought that was quite a funny joke. I was impressed that I understood her joke!

And when we got home, surprise! In the empty lot behind our house . . . Could these possible be rabbit footprints??
animal footprints in the snowunknown animal footprint in the snow

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brownieYou came to us in the heat of the Oklahoma summer – small and hungry, dirty and scared. I didn’t think we had a place for you but we couldn’t let you stay where you were. So we bathed you and fed you, we took care of your wounds and comforted you. We named you Brownie before we realized that the milk chocolate color of your scraggly coat would turn into a magnificent soft black fur after a few weeks of care and regular food.

You learned to play, to sing, and to cuddle. You became a part of us – funny, sweet and loyal. You became friends with the Prince and with persistence you even won over the King himself. Later you welcomed the boy and the girl with thoughtful care and endured their baby hugs and kisses, their toddler chases, hats and games, you snuck in to snuggle with them after they were asleep. You accepted Daisy and befriended her. You mourned the loss of your companions but comforted us at the same time. When we moved you let us know that you were not happy to give up your territory but you were happy to be with us, your people. You gave us so much.

We will miss you sweet Brownie. Thanks be to God for giving you to us.

rahbo (as used by the girl)

the proper thing to say while clapping after watching ballet on YouTube

First post

The start of this blog is going to be somewhat jumbled because I have a number of things that I’ve wanted to post but haven’t had a blog to post them to. I’m not going to try too hard to put them in chronological order. I may borrow a few posts from a previous blog as well. Hopefully some sense of order will emerge after that.