Sunday, August 31, 2008

Should Be Sleeping...

Wondering if officially getting back to work with students this week will keep me from the special place this has become for me.

As per our Saturday ritual, we visited our local farmer's market. I must have been hungry when I shopped, because I bought soooo much. I don't know what I was thinking. I had at least five recipes floating around in my head. One recipe was for Indonesian corn fritters. I found the recipe here, if you'd like to try it. This was incredibly quick, easy, and very tasty. Cub loved it too. I served it with my new food obsession...yogurt cheese. Sounds strange. It's just low-fat plain yogurt, placed in a coffee filter, placed inside a strainer that sits inside a bowl (to catch the moisture). It's all covered with plastic wrap and sits in the fridge over night. The yogurt gets super thick and creamy. I've made raita out of this recently. In the morning I added honey and sliced almonds. For a late night snack this evening, I've spread it on whole wheat crackers and topped it with cucumber slices. There are so many things you can do with it. A family member who was watching her cholesterol used to blend it with butter and use it as a healthy alternative to pure butter.

And for the random photo of the night...We were leaving my grandparent's house tonight and I walked by this room, looking for Cub's sandals. Then I back-tracked and took the photo. There was something I wanted to capture here. The warmth of the light and the way it filled the room reflected my feelings. Way back when, this was a room my brother and I shared when we first went to live with my grandparents. There used to be two beds, two dressers, two lamps.
As the years passed, the room has had many incarnations. It became my brother's room for many years and then my grandfather's office. Now, it is a simple guest room, intended for my daughter and I when we spend the night. Funny, after all these years, it still feels like home to me.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Crafts and Ketchup

Welp, we did okay today. We made it. The thoughtful calls and emails wishing me a good first day back to work kept me going. Collective energy is a beautiful thing! This evening, Cub played with her friend who lives downstairs. It was a nice way to end the day. While they were having a ball, I finally listed those items in my etsy shop. There are a couple of other goodies as well. I still have some more notecards, notebooks, bookmarks, and necklace plaques to whip-up and post. I'm aiming for after the weekend.

Birthday Girls

Butter Bee Notecard Set

Back to School Horsey Notebook

Now that I am making all of our bath products by hand (including toothpaste and shaving cream), I'm on a mission to make all of my own kitchen condiments. I can not wait to make homemade ketchup, something I've been thinking about for a few weeks. This recipe looks perfect. It comes from one of my favorite places. After that, it's homemade mayo and salad dressing. Anyone have any good recipes?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

On this day...

My day started in chaos after a young woman who was supposed to buy our old car seat, kept me waiting two hours. I went back and forth between being really mad, trying to understand and be patient, before deciding that nothing was going to make me miss out on a second of this day. At the last minute, I cancelled plans to meet friends and headed to our special place.
I had it in my mind all along that we would spend this last day of my vacation at our favorite spot. We had a picnic lunch, played hide-and-seek, collected rocks for painting tonight, talked a lot, watched a short film on Alice Austen's life, and just enjoyed being together. I even signed-up to begin doing some volunteer work for the museum. (In all my spare time!)
My girl told me today, "Mama, you will always be with me. You will be in my heart."
I will replay those words at least one hundred times tomorrow.
My Girl, Mama wants to thank you for a beautiful summer. It didn't go exactly as we had originally planned, but it worked out better than I ever could have imagined. We were blessed with spending each day together, doing the simple things we both love the most. I am so sad to see it go, but we have another wonderful season approaching, and so much more to share.

Besides cooking when I'm stressed or sad, I tend to clean, pray a bit more than usual, stay up really late, with Sculpey. Cub's dad and I started this when we first began dating. I made him all sorts of little animals and would paint them with nail polish.
Anyway, I unearthed some Sculpey a few nights ago and decided to make a necklace or brooch for Cub to wear when she starts school next week.
The "chocolate pretzel" became a necklace that she wore to the doctor for her back-to-school visit (and shots). She did so well. The rest are now living on our fridge as magnets. I'm so proud of my little apple and acorn! I know, I'm pathetic...

Kristin, here are the first paper beads I began rolling. They are very therapeutic to make. I shot them on Macro, just because. I have been making these like crazy and have advanced from supermarket circulars and fashion mags to Chinese take-out menus, old wallpaper, and more foreign language newspapers. I bought all kinds of wire, beads, and findings to begin playing around with jewelry-making.

I have all but abandoned my poor etsy shop, but a few days ago I posted two things just to warm it up. I sold another bluebird snow globe. Yay. Thank's Muse Lily. Below are some more things that will go in my shop soon: One of my Back to School notebooks, a Birthday Girl snow-globe, and the Butter Bee Stationery complete with yellow flower seals. The little package is my thank-you gift to Lily.

And to show you the "other side" of the island that is Staten, in all it's glory...
Here is a totally random photo I took yesterday as I approached THE MALL. I can't be the only one who thinks this is b-i-z-a-r-r-e!
Thanks to everyone who has sent me supportive energy over the last few days. I do believe thoughts and wishes are things and that they do reach their destination.
So, thanks and keep the good vibes comin'! They are so needed and appreciated.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The past two days were filled with outings with friends, paper-crafting (I'll share soon), a wee bit of free time alone for a change, and turning these...

into delicious gazpacho from one of my all time favorite cookbooks, stuffed eggplant, raita, jam, and one simple stone fruit crisp. Yes, I did a lot of cooking. It's one of the ways I cope with stress. In this case, I am preparing to go back to work in four short days. I am so grateful for our beautiful summer.
There was a well-attended concert on Saturday morning, too...

Given by none other than "Chelsea!"
Our last weekend of summer, both a little sad. It means changing our lives around again. It means not spending every day with my adorable little one, saying g'bye to seeing all the friends we unfortunately don't always have time to see during the work year. Most likely an end to all of the creating we both did inside and out, the long lazy mornings just being side by side. If you can, send some good vibes over to me and my girl this week.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Wanted to send some love and sweetness out there this evening.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Goodnight, Summer

I've been obsessed with paper more than usual lately. If it's recycled paper, oh my...look out!
Right after reading an Instructables tutorial on how to create elegant gift boxes from old cereal boxes, I flipped. I knew I was saving all of those cereal boxes for something magical.
I whipped this one up, my first, in about 15 minutes. Gotta love a quick project.

I never buy wrapping paper and I'm always looking for new ways to package gifts. For the holidays last year, I made small boxes (for my wee gifts) out of the boxes from a famous brand of stuffing! Sometimes I use pieces of fabric, sheets, pillowcases, plastic bags, whatever I can grab. I aways save tissue paper from gifts I receive and use it for a quick wrap.

This summer, I started putting these little pipe cleaner creations on top of my packages.

Like mother, like daughter. Look who made an Olympic gymnast in camp yesterday! Isn't this a brilliant little project? (Good one, Miss Toni Ann!)

Today, I made a list of all the paper crafts I want to make. It's called my "Someday" list.

Paper Beads (Must!), Dollhouse made out of shoeboxes for Cub, dollhouse furniture made out of cardboard, Mexican inspired paper mache bowls, POIC's (I'm still learning about this one...), paper dolls and their clothes constructed out of the crazy amount of catologues I recieve!

I saw this photo before I took it, while exiting tonight's concert in the park. I thought it looked a bit surreal, like an ice-cream UFO or something out of a David Lynch movie. Looking at it again, I'd title it, "Goodnight, Summer."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Shopping Center Revisited

This past weekend, Cub's grandparents took her way out on Long Island to the Annual Bluegrass festival. My girl likes loves two kinds of music. She is very particular. It's Classical or it's Bluegrass. Funny, I guess the bluegrass music has something to do with her Texan grandfather. It's very cute.
Anyway, this afforded me the luxury of a solo trip to visit my grandparents. They still live in the same house we all grew-up in, my mother included. Long Island was a place I spent my most of my life trying to run away from. In my teens, everything I wanted to do was in the city (30 min. away). In my twenties, I wanted to live in the mountains upstate, so that is where I went for my higher education. Then I travelled around a lot. In the 90's, I lived in Portland, Oregon for three years. At thirty, I came home to the New York area. I lived in Manhattan for eight years, before getting pregnant with my daughter and moving to Staten Island. I never thought I would live here, but it's okay for now. I still have dreams of a more rural landscape and a slower pace. We'll see.

One thing I love to do when I visit my old home, is go to H Mart, the Asian supermarket. There are so many goodies there. I always buy tea, rice, snacks, frozen dumplings and edamame. Usually, some kind of little present for her. This time around it was a large soup spoon.
While cruising down the treat aisle, I found this vision of Japanese cuteness. Who can resist a chocolate mushroom? Not me!
This is what the shopping center looked like as I was leaving H Mart. It may look like just a shopping center to most, but it holds so many memories for me: shopping at Woolworth's (now H Mart) with my mother for Christmas presents for the family. Getting fitted for shoes at Buster Brown. Later years, playing spin-the-bottle behind Grand Union (H Mart!).

This is another one of the many reasons I love that H Mart! Hello Kitty vending machines outside. Yippee!

Now that the cool nights have set it, I'm back to my bread baking, finally. This was the honey-oat recipe I wrote about before. It's very tasty. I had a tough time getting one of the loaves out of the pan. Can you tell which one?

Last night, I learned that it's helpful to read the reviews written by folks who have already made what you are about to. This dough definitely needed more time to rise than was written. So that info was veeeeery helpful! I also substituted one cup of the wheat flour for one cup of spelt flour. I started the bread around 9pm, when the house was quiet. I started reading this very interesting book that I found at the library yesterday, in between the stages of making the loaves. To me, it was the perfect evening.

Any nice evenings to share lately?

Monday, August 18, 2008


I know I have already shared my little "obsession" with garlands. I try to hold back, really I do. However, it seems that lately the entire universe is feeling the garlandy-love. Every day there is one more fabulous garland out there in the world. I want them all! Worse than that, I want to make them all and I'm returning to work next Thursday! Ugh. For starters, did you get a glimpse of one of today's Craftzine posts? Check out that garland made out of supermarket circulars! Excellent.
Every time I visit this etsy shop, I swoon. If I won the lottery tonight, I'd gobble it all up. I love it ALL that much. Such talented ladies!
Just take a look at this beauty. A garland made of vintage french magazines? I can't take it. And that's just the beginning!

This garland is made out of recycled newspapers. Maya Made posted this quick and easy tutorial today. A few weeks ago, the owners of the laundromat we use were kind enough to give me (at my request) a lot of their old Korean newspapers. I've been using them for different craft projects. Just found another use for 'em.

And I've already told you I'm in the "process" (eh-hem) of making one of these. To me, this is pure giggle on a string!

And last, but not least, a Garland of the non-fabric, non-paper, variety-but brilliant in every way. I have loved this band from the first second I heard them and I will never get over their haunting, melodic, sound. This will always be a favorite.

Friday, August 15, 2008

My Kind of Balance

I bought these flowers for her birthday. We both love fresh flowers so much. Who doesn't? In our home, they have been a luxury afforded only for special occasions. I'm going to work on changing that...That coffee pot is vintage Rosenthal. I found it in the thrift store along the park for $3.00. It is used as a vase that compliments any floral arrangement.

And here's the other side of the see-saw. A piece of my messy craft table. Those blurry wooden heart pins will soon be on etsy, if I can get it together enough. The horsey is for my "back-to-school" notebooks I intend to make (soon). There are some ATC's (?) I've been fooling with thanks to inspiration from Jenn. There is also a little summer album made out of a Starbucks coffee sleeve. It's been fun to play, for no other reason than that.
Now if only I could finish all the crafting, the two 500+ page books I'm reading, and that honey oat bread I've been wanting to bake, I'll be satisfied. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Highlights of My Day

1. Cub refusing to take a nap, then me waking-up in my bed with her laying beside me, breathing deeply, hugging her best bear ("Peanut Butter") close.

2. Later in the afternoon, I sent her over to test-drive our new baby-sitter. She's going to preschool in the fall, but it's closed four days in September and six in October. That meant I needed to have solid plans for her care when the school is closed. Turns out, a woman who lives on our block has been running a small, at home, day-care for the past fourteen years. With some time on my hands this afternoon I spent two hours in one of my favorite places, the library!

3. I picked-up this book that I put on hold a few weeks ago, after reading so many positive reviews on the blog circuit. I ended-up sitting outside on the library steps reading for another half hour. I will definitely buy this one for our collection. What an incredible resource for anyone with any creative inclination or interest. It is uber-inspiring!

I've already decided to begin a "Journey book," after reading Mitsumasa Anno's piece. He said, "I travel whenever I can and draw wherever I go." I thought it would be a creative challenge, to focus on drawing the places I visit, instead of, or in addition to, relying on my camera.

4. A glass of the Mango iced tea I made yesterday was even better today. Real simple: Cold Brew Lipton Tea Bags (love these), water, and ice. In minutes the iced-tea part is done. Then, I pour some Goya Mango Nectar in the bottom of a glass and pour the tea over it. Add some mint leaves for extra zing! This is nice if you're looking for something different.

5. On deck for tonight, more reading and a choice of three movies: I Heart Huckabees, Little Buddha, or Marie Antoinette. I think I've seen pieces of Huckabees and Antoinette. But I checked them out anyway. I have a memory like a sieve.

6. Ah, rain...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Oh, Happy Day!

Well, the birthday went well. It was a clear, sunny, day. She didn't want to be indoors and we couldn't blame her. So, the 60th Anniversary of Golden Books will have to wait until next week. Besides, she's coming with me tomorrow night to see Blonde Redhead in the city. It's an outdoor show at 7pm. That's plenty of city for my little "country" (SI) mouse!

It only made sense to spend the afternoon at our favorite spot. "Penny Beach" as she calls it. We had a lunch picnic and spent the day lounging, playing, and taking photos. Here's a glimpse of the view. That's NYC over there.

Here is the path leading away from the Alice Austen House.
Alice was a prolific and accomplished photographer. The house she lived in was called "Clear Comfort" and was built in 1690. Alice and her family moved there in 1860. It is now a national landmark. It is well preserved and just lovely. This summer, they had music and dance performances on the lawn and a photography camp for children ages 8-12. There is always something interesting and creative happening there. The curator explained Native Americans carved out and settled the land on which the house rests. It is just one of the most special places.
In the evening, as per her request, we went for dinner at a Japanese hibachi restaurant with all the "bells and whistles," as they say. She had such a great time.

On the crafty front, I am very excited to be participating in the postcard swap organized by Andrea over at Let it Fly.
I had been wanting to do something like this since June. Cub's new watercolors made it easy to whip something up for the "Summer" theme. You may have noticed by now, that to me, "summer" is synonymous with "free."
I am thinking about organizing my own swap for Fall.
Anyone interested?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Show and Tell

She received a suitcase full of art supplies at her birthday party on Saturday. We have set up "art school" (as she calls it) in a corner of our living room and have been playing a lot! Here is a little batch from one of today's late afternoon sessions.
The large piece in the middle was made by Daddy. Cub and I did the rest.
Here is the cover of that paper bag album I've been working on this summer. I promised myself I would only use materials around the new store bought items here and lots of old magazines.

It's a summer book. Could you tell?

For these pull-outs I used the boxes we had in our recycle bin.

I thought if I showed you all of these little scraps I cut for the fabric garland, I'd be motivated to continue and share the finished product! All of these and many, many, more will be sewed together with invisible thread. Fun stuff.
Tomorrow is her official birthday. I can't believe she will be four. This is a big one for me. We have something very special planned for all of us. A field trip here. I can not wait to see this exhibit-

Golden Legacy: Original Art from 65 Years of Golden Books - "all ages open July 4 - August 28 View 60 masterpieces of original illustration art by legendary artists from American publishing's best-loved and most consequential picture-book line. "
There are workshops all day long. Kids and their adults can make bookmarks, mini-books, puppets, and lots of other paper art. Can't wait to celebrate together!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Feels Like Fall

If you are not yet ready to say goodbye to summer, I apologize in advance for this post. As I sit here next to my open window, I can feel that cool chill in the damp air. I smell it, too. that you, Autumn? I've noticed some others have been feeling it too, so I know I'm not alone on this one. I'm hyper sensitive to the passing of time, the changing of seasons, weather, how things feel. I guess that's not such a bad thing. Our day did not turn out as planned, but it was a good day, anyway. Cub's daddy is bathing her right now. All of the lights are off, natural dim light is gently filling the nooks of the apartment, and our bellies are full from homemade soup.
Oh, and after not too long a search, I found my fall into winter coat this evening.

Cute, huh? I have a few "go to" places where I know I'll be able to find something along the lines of my style and budget. This pretty thing is from here. May I never feel (or look!) too old to shop at this fun, little, gem.
I've noticed, but have been too busy to do anything about- our overstuffed veggie bin in the fridge. I am a person who can not stand to waste anything. Food is precious! So, I chopped up most of my veggies. Cooked them down in my large cast iron skillet with butter, olive oil, salt and pepper. When they were soft, I transfered them to my soup pot and poured in four cups of chicken stock and a cup of small white beans. I added some chopped parsley and let it simmer about 30-45 minutes. I let it cool and then blended it with my new nifty hand blender. Boy, I love this thing. I like it creamy but with some texture. We sprinkled a little grated parm on top before we dipped in. So good. Did I mention how effective this method is for getting Cub to eat veggies? She had three helpings tonight.
The vegetables used were-onion, carrots, celery, yellow squash, celery, potato, and garlic.
This type of soup is very nice with a small amount of curry powder added in, too.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Six Things That Make Me Happy

Sleepy - Front Street, Staten Island NY

I'm deliriously tired from today's party. I think it was a success. The last guests, not including our downstairs neighbor/friend left at 6:30. F's mom dragged him out of here at 7:30 to go to the mall with his family. I can't even imagine. I'll give details tomorrow, when everything is cleaned-up!

Never too tired for computer antics, this evening I found that I was tagged by Renee, a wonderfully talented fellow islander (and teacher)! This past week I also had the pleasure of winning the friday give-a-way over at Imglam. And guess what? Renee was the featured artist and I actually won one of her divine creations! I was so excited! Her jewelry is the perfect blend of retro-femininity. Can not wait to wear it on the first day of school. I was also tagged by Renee tonight to reveal six things that make me happy. This was difficult for me because I am so grateful for the life I've been given. So many things make me happy!

Okay, here goes:
1. Being blessed with the honor of being somebody's mother. Her mother.

2. Breathing.

3. Feeling loved and appreciated.

4. Sharing time with my dear friends.

5. Finding a little unexpected treasure somewhere.

6. Yoga.
What are some of your favorite things?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Just Me

I don't really watch television too much, but right now I'm kinda wishing I had a special someone to share this Olympic opening night with. So beautiful. It's been comforting to have it on in the background as I finish preparations for Cub's birthday party tomorrow afternoon.
Well, I now feel like I am now officially a MOM in every sense of the word. This is my first party. She'll be four on Tuesday. I know, I know. But I really am not a party person. They scare me. I have to admit, seeing the house all prettied-up for this little princess party is giving me the "warm fuzzies." (oh, yuck.) It's even a bit exciting...A special thank-you is in order to this beautiful gal for all the great suggestions.
Here's Cub and her buddy from downstairs filling the pinata. Sorry for the sugar-high blur.

Okay, so here is that puppet I wrote about a bit ago. Of course, he's not finished. He will be swinging a vintage tea pot when I finally get another minute for crafty indulgences. I became dizzy with inspiration when I found Arounna Khounnoraj's craft projects. So did many, many, others. She is a genius. Period. Arounna, wherever you are, I love you. I thank you. My goal is to complete all 30 projects!! Someday. I just deleted (by accident) one of the many other unfinished projects, the fabric garland for the party. Never did get around to cutting out all of those dang shapes. I won't give up, though. It will be cute just dangling around for non-festivities.
And I wanted to share this with everyone 'cause I really like it.
This was a rare mall purchase at Claire's, of all places.
It's a coin purse. It makes me happy.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My Special Place

I'm going to take you to
My special place
It's a place no amount of hurt or anger
Can deface
I put things back together there
It all falls right in place
In my special place
My special place
-Joni Mitchell
I am a person who has always needed a special place. As a child living with my parents, my special place was a nook alongside the stereo consol, where I could play by myself and enjoy the sounds of my mother's Motown records as she cleaned the house. After we moved to Grandma's, my spaces included a crab apple tree in the front yard, the niche between our yard and that of our neighbors, a corner of my room. I found comfort just sitting on our front stoop at night during my teenage years. Strangely enough, when I moved to Manhattan, I found a special place in the World Trade Center mall that was located underneath the towers. I never really told anyone about this. I mean, you have all of NYC to find solitude and you go to the World Trade Center mall? But I think a part of me was trying to find the familiar in an place that at that time, was vastly unfamiliar. Growing up in Long Island, I was used to the mall thing. Also, there seemed to be none of the usual NYC attitude down there. It felt low-key, a bit like you left town.
This past week, I have found an unexpected oasis in the middle of some "life turbulance."
While Cub is in cooking camp from 1-4pm, I sit under a canopy of trees on my favorite comfy sheet and I just simply exist. I didn't set out to find a special place, but I have and it feels like I have reclaimed a little piece of me the past few days.
Do you have a special place?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Long Island

I've returned from our little trip more exhausted than before I left. How is that possible, you ask? I think it has something to do with "vacationing' with your offspring. But this trip was so special, it's okay. I'm even staying-up later than I should to catch-up on the writing/crafty thing.
So, this is one of my "from the road" photos. I've always been kinda ga-ga for these shots. It was taken at sunset along the LIE, just as we were approaching the last leg of our trip. Windows were open and Zero 7 provided the soundtrack. It was a great vibe. We were following my aunt who has a house out on eastern Long Island. If I say it's in Westhampton Beach, people will get the wrong idea. Their house is deep in a not too densely wooded area. Their backyard borders a wetlands preserve along the bay, so that sacred space envelopes their home and anyone who happens to be there.

My family celebrated two birthdays in the span of five days. My grandpa turned 93 on July 31. Anyone who knows my family, knows how miraculous this was for us. "We made it, Dad," my aunt said to him after he blew out his candle. Bless you, my sweet Grandpa.
She celebrated hers today. I didn't think we needed a shot of two cakes here. But her cake was a deep chocolate mousse. Best part was, the person who decorated it drew two elegant yellow daisies on it. A lovely cake for a lovely lady.

During our first morning walk, I found this tree. I wish I had thought of some nifty guerilla-art to fill these frames. I hope they are still there next time we visit.

You're looking at what was supposed to be my house. A few months ago, we were walking and went to the open house just for fun. I fell in love with it. It's very close to my aunt's house and faces the ocean. There are ocean views from the top of the house which is one large open loft space. Hello, office-craft-sewing studio! The side yard and back yard were large enough for our pool and gardens. It was so old and charming and sweet with just that slight tinge of scariness that I find so appealing. Cub loved it, too. Of course, I never really had a shot at it, it was just another one of my many house fantasies. But I really did picture us living there and still feel kinda sad that I may never own a house, especially one like this. At least they painted the door yellow.

Besides birthdays and walks, there were lots of the following: eating, swimming, sunning, thrifting, talking, and just enjoying each other's company. This is the first time in a while most of the family was together. We missed you, Grandma and Grandpa. This was probably more of my actual vacation. Three hours lounging while Cub was at Cooking camp. I read a craft book for kids which sparked my passion for garlands. I'm in the middle of making this one for Cub's birthday party this Saturday. I'm going to whip up some paper ones, too. I am in the middle of so many little projects, it's ridiculous. The goofy punk-puppy paper puppet needs brads, the paper bag album need many embellishments, and then there are my very first ATC's to share. Promise not to laugh!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Gone Fishing!

Hello Everyone,
Just thought I would check-in and let y'all know we have been on a little beach vacation since Wednesday. Sorry no photos, but I promise to have many things to show and share when we return on Monday evening.