August 7th, 2010 | 2 Comments »

The other day while my cleaning girl was cleaning (yes, I indulge in hiring out, and am tickled beyond all reason to say that I haven’t cleaned a toilet in over two years…   ..TWO YEARS!!!!   …and no, she doesn’t do as great a job as I would, were I to be doing the cleaning, but I’m okay with that since it’s SO nice that it’s not me wielding the scrubber) I noticed the vacuum cleaner was making a terrible loud noise.  I checked the usual suspects – belt, hose, bag – and came up with nothing.  It was still sucking, so I let it go.

Then, after returning from a fantastic week of vacation during which many small and large bodies filled cracks and crevices in my car with beach sand, twigs, pebbles and all manner of flotsam and jetsam, I decided to [*gasp*] clean the car.  I fired up the vacuum cleaner and the noise was unbearably loud, and after a very short time, a hot smell emerged.  Crap.  Definitely something was wrong with it.  Which completely sidetracked my car-cleaning mojo.

Thanks to the wonder of modern technology (and high speed internet, coupled with a myriad of helpful folks out there who like to post how-to information for various and sundry reasons) I quickly learned that the observed symptoms were likely due to a broken fan.  It’s very easy to confirm — just remove the front piece and take a look.

yep, that's the fan, and yep, it's broken

Voila!  Confirmed (note large black region where fan blades used to be).

The next step was to find a replacement part.  We have the wonder of eBay for that.

one can find anything on eBay

Sometimes eBay is fantastic.  In this case, I got the part I needed plus a bonus spare belt, all shipped directly to my home for under $20.  No schlepping around the city looking for a repair shop that stocks Kirby parts (and sells them at full retail prices, because they can).

Next, with the aforementioned helpful information at my fingertips, I set about the replacement.

gaining access

off with the old

on with the new

good as new

tools of the trade and spoils of war

In the meantime, I still went to Costco and bought another vacuum cleaner.  Just in case.  It’s still in the box.  Oreck pro something or other.  I might do a vacuum comparison and see how well it performs.  Maybe I’ll retire my Kirby.  I was suckered by the door-to-door salesman, oh, fifteen or twenty years ago.  It has held up, until now.  Not that I’d say that makes it worth the king’s ransom that it cost.

Anyway.  Bottom line?  I am woman, hear me roar!  Isn’t there a song that goes something like, “anything he can do I can do better”?  Well, that’s me!  Take that, non-existent male counterpart.  Who needs you anyway?

July 5th, 2010 | 3 Comments »

tooth

BB lost another tooth yesterday.  He’s seems to be good at losing teeth on memorable days.  He lost his first tooth on his fifth birthday.  And now, his third tooth came out on Independence Day.  Lucky for the tooth fairy, the fireworks and general mayhem were sufficient excuse to postpone for another day the ritual of leaving the tooth under the pillow in the hopes that the tooth fairy would visit.

We didn’t have a proper tooth fairy pillow or pouch, and I had a day off from work, so it was a good opportunity for a family project!

inspiration waiting to burst forth

I have plenty of scraps on hand, and of course the services of a very capable and prolific artist at my beck and call.

monster

He kept telling me it wasn’t going to work, as he watched me cut pieces out.  He needs to work on his visionary skills.

tooth fairy monster pillow

Now that I compare pictures, I can see that I didn’t get it quite right.  I was originally planning to use the sewing machine, and the body would have turned out more circular, but I ended up changing my mind and using hand stitching, and I see that I forgot to gather the base to give it more of a circular look.  The artist, however, is quite pleased.  The tooth is placed safely in the pouch (on the back side), ready for the tooth fairy to visit.

toothless artist

Look at this wide eyed food faced grubby toothless monster boy!  We must now hope that the tooth fairy has cash on hand so she won’t have to leave an IOU note.

June 18th, 2010 | 5 Comments »

It’s nothing short of amazing, the way a small change like painting a room, or even a wall, can work wonders on one’s mental and emotional state.  The act of painting is itself soothing and therapeutic.

before

before

after

after

I love his drawings

during

after

after

Now I have a nearly clean slate with which to work.  I can do almost anything with this room!  Currently, it’s just floor space for the kids to romp (and two fully exposed corners, perfect for time outs, mwahahaha).

So many possibilities!

November 6th, 2009 | No Comments »

I like ‘mid-century modern’ things, as far as architecture and some furniture goes.  I found a set of 4 chairs on craigslist for $20 (for the set) and have been meaning to update the color and fabric for some time.  When Gadget left, it was the perfect opportunity to seize the day and consume ourselves in the project.  The boys were very good in the fabric store, and BB and I played I Spy, which was a great way to keep him happy while spending altogether too much time in one shop.  He was busy looking for turtles and frogs and pirates and whatever else I could spy, while I looked for the perfect seat fabric.  When it came time to decide, BB made the final choice.  He did well!

20091027_210fabric20091027_209chairfabric

He even helped sand the chairs.  I wouldn’t let  him use the staple gun, to his chagrin, but he was pleased that he got to have a part in the transformation.

20091027_209chairsI am happy with the way they turned out.  I like the way they wrap around, like captain’s chairs.

In other news, I’ve been on a quest for the perfect cappuccino cup.  I want bone china, but I just can’t find what I’m looking for.  To be fair, there are some that I like, but the price is unacceptable.  Who pays $37 for a cup?  I want a specific half-moon shape, like the classic English teacup, and I want a specific volume, in the range of 5-7oz.  So far, I’ve settled on some 5oz porcelain from Sur la Table, 7oz porcelain from Ikea, and bought a few Bodum-style double walled numbers to try out as well.

20091027_222cups

The Bodum (actually, they are Teavana) cups are very pretty, especially with clear drinks like herbal tea, cranberry juice or ginger ale.  I still want bone china, though.

20091027_223cupThe double wall is a pretty effect.

So the quest continues.  It seems like everyday bone china in a plain, classic look is readily available at very reasonable prices in England, and maybe Australia.  Just not here.  Hrumph.

Posted in indulgences, projects
October 30th, 2009 | 2 Comments »

My BB loves to draw, and I just love the things he comes up with.  I think he’s very good.  He uses different colors and makes designs and shapes and stays within the lines when he wants to, and beyond the lines when it suits him.  I love that!

20091029_5

This drawing was a heart breaker.  It’s the first family drawing he’s made, and he did it the very day that Gadget left.  Look!  I have extra arms, because I do so much.  (Artistic interpretation taken liberally.)

20091029_4

This one cracks me up.  He did this just the other day.  ‘Mommy, this is a sign.  It’s a no BB sign.  You put it on your door.’  Genius!  I swear, I have not taught him the sign symbol with the circle and slash that represents ‘do not’, and I can’t think of any on our normal routes.  Dora, Diego, or Sponge Bob must have taught him.  I do bark at him to stay out of the bedroom while I’m trying to put LB to sleep.  Every. Single. Night.  He just wants attention, but insists on demanding it at precisely the time when I need to be exclusive with LB.  Any distractions stir up the sleep cycle and the meltdowns commence.  It’s a precarious balance.

20091029_6

“Mommy, this sign says ‘No running across the street and jumping in puddles or else you will get in big trouble because you could get hitted by a car and runned-ded over and have to go to the hobspital.’

20091029_3

This one is very Van Gogh.  All the windows and lines.  I especially like this one.  The spaghetti sauce is a nice touch, too.  You know, real.  Authentic.

One problem about loving to draw is that one who loves to draw might, especially if he’s 4-1/2, draw on, oh, just about anything.  To help channel this love, I thought it would be good to provide an allowable space for artistic expression.  What could be better than a whole wall?!

20091027_191before

Chalkboard paint is a great invention.  It can even be tinted (within a limited palette), so I got blue.  Blue is, after all, BB’s favorite color.  Am I a thoughtful mother, or what?  BB being BB, however, was unable to resist the temptation to continue drawing on any available surface while waiting for the chalkboard paint to dry.  During this time he decorated my camera case and eventually had to do a little time for his crime.

20091027_193timeout

LB, not wanting to miss any of the action, joined him.  (How I wanted to get a picture of the moment when they were standing side by side, both noses to the wall!  It was short-lived, since the curtain was much more interesting.)

20091027_195chalk

Finally!  Let’s draw!  They had just come home from daycare and didn’t even wait to take off their jackets.

20091027_199chalkboard1

He likes to draw aliens, lately.  These are inspired by ‘Galaxar’.’

20091027_203after

And here it is, in full splendor.  It makes me smile.

Posted in art, children, projects
December 23rd, 2008 | 2 Comments »

I’ve been a bit hell-bent on home-made this year, to the extent that it sort of dampens the spirit of things.  At least in the realm of  edibles.

I did lasso Gadget into helping with a project, and he did swimmingly.  Behold the espresso knock box(es)!

knockboxesA knock box is a receptacle with a bar against which one whacks the espresso portafilter to remove the used puck.

Gadget was actually impressed that I’d gone to the hardware store on my own and found copper pipe, clear tubing, rubber grommets, and copper end caps.  Yes, Dear… …Women can shop at hardware stores too…

I’d seen these made from plumbing materials, but a piece of drain pipe still looks like a piece of drain pipe, even with a pretty copper bar poked through either end.  Fine for the grunge rocker or starving artist, but a bit too industrial for my taste.  Instead, I found plastic iced tea tumblers to use as the body.  Granted, they’re not nearly as thick and strong as the PVC, but they don’t look half bad, and I think they’ll hold up for at least a little while.

I merely had to ask Gadget to borrow ‘the cutter thing that cuts a 4 inch circle’ and he took over the project from there, cutting the holes, sanding the edges smooth, and assembling the various pieces.  All I had to do was mark where I wanted holes drilled and cuts made, and after that, I took on a supervisory role.  Genius!

We made four because the copper pipe only came in 2ft lengths, and I needed 6in.  I can always sell the extras on eBay.

The other gift project was aromatic bath salts.  I tried to duplicate one of my favorites, a blend of peppermint and eucalyptus, but didn’t get the ratio of essential oils quite right.  It’s nice, though, and hopefully the recipients will like them.  I did remember at the last moment that my SIL has an aversion to mint, so I filled one jar with a blend of grapefruit, dewberry, and something called tropical tango.  It’s different, but not bad.  I ran out of salt, though, so it didn’t quite fill the jar.

bathsaltI think that wraps up my artsy craftsy efforts for 2008.

thebestgift

This, however, is by far the best thing made this year.

December 15th, 2008 | 3 Comments »

I’m through with the domperidone, and not sure whether the milk supply has taken a hit yet, but am hoping that having the drug out of my system will improve my hormonal outlook.

Post partum hair loss has set in.  If only weight loss were as easy as hair loss.

I hit the jackpot with this bundle of babyliciousness.  He has the best disposition.  When he’s hungry, he kicks  his legs a certain way –alternating, like running or cycling.  When he’s playing in his bouncy seat, he kicks his legs another way, in unison, to get the seat bouncing.  He can really get it going.  Such a smartie!  When our eyes meet he bursts into a giant radiant slobbery smile that melts me to the core.  When he’s tired he flails and squirms until I give him his pacifier, then he contendedly burrows his face to one side or the other, settles in and goes to sleep.  Lately he’s been studying his hands; he’s figuring out that they’re attached to his arms, and trying to make them do his will.  It’s amazing, really, to watch this learning take place.  He’s discovering his voice, which has the most gorgeous resonance.  I hope he will be interested in music!

It is a winter nightmare wonderland around here.  While the snow is quite pretty, and there is a glorious bite to the crisp crisp air, I simply can’t bring myself to drive on the icy roads if it’s not absolutely necessary.  So I’m holed up in my house, still, and feeling a bit gypped with this so-called vacation.  Whine, whine, whine.  We’re nearly out of milk, so I have to decide whether it’s worth a venture out.  I could get out of the driveway without sliding the van into the truck, but getting the van safely back in the garage is another story.  Our cul-de-sac is very short on actual curb space, so street parking is almost impossible.

Snow is great fun for those who don’t have to drive in it, though!

I’m the world’s worst cookie maker.  I followed the recipes, and instructions, for both gingerbread and sugar cookies, but the dough didn’t roll properly, so I had a heck of a time making shapes.  I used the food processor, as directed by the instructions.  I may make another attempt before Christmas, if I can muster the wherewithall, but will use the stand mixer instead. I’m the only one who likes gingerbread, though, so won’t be making any more of that.

In the interest of home-made Christmas gifts, I made some posters for my 8 going on 12 year old nephew using the raster tool.  I like how they turned out and I think he will be pleased.

For my 12 going on 24 niece, I made an Audrey collection.  These are 8.5×11 glossy photos in 10×13 frameless frames (the photo shows their protective styrofoam), and should fill up quite a bit of her wall space.  She’s very inspired by the beautiful Ms. H, and I think she will be delighted.

Next up, therapeutic bath salts.  That is, if the peppermint oil I bought on eBay arrives in time.

August 24th, 2008 | 3 Comments »

I did a wild and adventurous thing (for me) early this year, and traveled across the globe to Australia, to see dear friends, and meet new ones face to face. All in the first trimester. I’ve spent quite some time in first trimester, and have only gone beyond it twice.

I tried to remain hopeful and positive and not allow stress and worry to take too much hold, and I allowed myself to buy something for the baby. A kit for a beautiful hand-felted rainbow woolen dragon. Months passed, the pregnancy progressed, and all along I intended to make the dragon. I made other dragons. Even one for the baby. But not the dragon. Until now.

wwdragon.jpg

And now that it’s finished, I think that it is more for me, than for the baby. It symbolizes this journey, from beginning to end, and that we have made it! That we are ready! I dared to hope and my dreams have come true. I am about to be the mother of two. Two beautiful boys. Two beautiful children. Two amazing people whose mere being adds much joy and love to this earth.

dragonperspective.jpg

For perspective. It’s a wee little dragon, this. BB is snuggled next to me as I write, and says, “That’s my dragon, and that’s your dragon!” He’s been such a love lately, and I’ve been trying to snuggle and nuzzle and spend time with him as much as possible, hoping to fill him with security in knowing how important he is to me, and that even though priorities will soon change with LB’s arrival, there is enough Mommy and enough LOVE to share all around (even though it may seem that LB will be getting most of the attention for a while).

I may yet write a letter to LB, before he’s born. I want to tell him about our journey. His journey. I want him to know how much he is wanted, and how blessed we are to have him, how our family is that much more beautiful, because of him.

July 28th, 2008 | 2 Comments »

Breathing is becoming a laborious effort. No pun intended. Really.

Seriously, I can hardly breathe. At least while sitting. And I can’t stand for long, either. I’ve got an appointment tomorrow, and I’ll mention these things. Perhaps I’ll be placed on bed rest after all. Or not. I wouldn’t mind, actually. It might bore me to tears, but I’ve never actually had the luxury of any sort of extended repose. Of course, when one is limited such, it’s hardly considered a luxury, is it?

Apart from being exhausted and the inability to breathe, I feel great. Gadget might argue that I’m practicing selective memory, having not mentioned the frequent bouts of short temper and snappiness that punctuate most days. Enjoying the journey.

I even bought a couple of books last week, in a moment of inspiration, and guess what? I read them! Two books! Now, I’m not even going to attempt a review, lacking the confidence for such in the shadow of the bookie bloggers I adore. But I enjoyed them. The first was the curious incident of the dog in the night-time, by Mark Haddon. It made me chuckle and it made me cry. I think the main character was autistic and the author captured his perspective very well. Although what do I know of these things?

The second book was The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. I had a bit of a time keeping track of the characters and hopping back and forth in time, but it was very good. Something that makes the heart ache. I sobbed towards the end.

I’ve also been meaning to make some baby angel fairy things, inspired by my March visit to Australia and Winterwood Toys. I’m calling them pea pod angels. Because they’re a gorgeous green. And they’re babies. And they remind me of peas in a pod. Sweet Pea Pod Angel Babies.

First, it took me ages to collect the bits and pieces and put the ideas together.

I didn’t have any clear thread, and the only fishing line Gadget has is for salmon. That is, it’s very thick, and not suitable for hanging the crystal. So I used plain white thread. Even so, I think it turned out okay. Not perfect, but still adorable. I stitched on, ignoring the boys and their “what are you doing? — why are you making those? — what are you going to do with them? — I don’t get it, what a waste of time… — why don’t they have any faces? –why?” comments. Boys. Hrumph.

I made three. They’re teensy tiny. Only a couple of inches long. I think they’re sweet. They make me smile.

May 2nd, 2008 | 2 Comments »

I’ve been aching for a fresh new look around here. I did some rearranging and made a few furniture acquisitions, but it just didn’t fully satisfy the need for change. I decided to swallow the risks and brighten up the scenery with a fresh coat of paint. Luckily the weather was nice, the windows remained open all day, and the fumes were minimal. Gadget, of course, did not approve. (This seldom stops me!)

Cyclone Boy, ever the enthusiastic helper, got his own portion of wall.


He wasn’t at all pleased when I painted over his “bicycle.”

So much love! I see why graffiti is so fulfilling. Bye-bye, fire orange and butterscotch.


That woman looks ten months pregnant, not five. Gah!

Hello ocean mist and sandy beach.

I’m not sold on that blue, now that it’s up. I love the shade, and it looks great with the espresso shelving, but the couch is sage and it looks a bit meh. The couch is so comfy, though. But it’s huge and consumes the little living room. (I’ve lamented the poor floor plan of this place on several occasions.) The blue is an accent wall, shared by the dining and living areas. I can always change it so that it blends better with the furnishings, but I was so heart set on that blue. I’ll keep it for a while.

Next up, a post in which my ever loving and gracious husband declares that I look like a teapot.