Thursday, May 31, 2007

Photo Thursday

Originally uploaded by nyjlm.

Ninotchka's theme for this week was water. I was thinking I didn't have anything very recent to share, but then I remembered

On the next to last day of school, the preschoolers got to go to the firehouse, which is across the street from the elementary school. One of the teachers at the school is a member of our volunteer fire dept, so they got to check all sorts of things out, including one of the smaller hoses :)

I took a bunch of shots of Maya and her friends using the hose, but I liked this one best because of the smile on her face.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Infamous Proust Questionnaire

Whoa, Nellie! Paintergirl has come up with some toughies for her last Getting to Know You

* Your most marked characteristic? intensity
* The quality you most like in a man? tenderness
* The quality you most like in a woman? determination
* What do you most value in your friends? sensitivity, empathy
* What is your principle defect? stubbornness, also very sensitive, anxious
* What is your favorite occupation? I'll let you know if I figure it out
* What is your dream of happiness? Living a life free from anxiety and depression
* What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes? Losing my family
* What would you like to be? I'd like to work in maternal/child health, be a baker, an art teacher for young kids (although I guess I'd rather call it 'facilitator of creativity' lol).
* In what country would you like to live? Italy
* What is your favorite color? green
* What is your favorite flower? Cosmos
* What is your favorite bird? I love all of the herons and egrets. As a kid my favorite was the Peregrine Falcon.
* Who are your favorite prose writers? Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy
* Who are your favorite poets? Cavafy, Elytis, Virgil, Ovid,
* Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Aeneas
* Who are your favorite heroines of fiction? Jane Eyre, Tess (of the D'Urbervilles)
* Who are your favorite composers? I like lots of stuff but don't necessarily know the composer's name : ) Aaron Copeland just popped into my mind.
* Who are your favorite painters? Picasso, Matisse
* Who are your heroes in real life? People who stand up for what is right, even though that is not the easy thing to do.
* Who are your favorite heroines of history? mothers who advocate for their children in trying times.
* What are your favorite names? I love the name Esther.
* What is it you most dislike? I have a very hard time when I feel I'm misunderstood.
* What historical figures do you most despise? Hitler
* What event in military history do you most admire? Storming the beach at Normandy
* What reform do you most admire? Civil Rights. Sadly, I don't think it is a completed reform.
* What natural gift would you most like to possess? Inner peace
* How would you like to die? peacefully and painlessly
* What is your present state of mind? overwhelmed, sad
* To what faults do you feel most indulgent? slothfullness
* What is your motto? don't have one!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

How to Cure a Tantrum

Make cookies!

Mini Black and White Cookies, Weight Watchers style
  • 2 sprays cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar, granulated
  • 2 large egg(s)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 2/3 cup fat-free skim milk
  • 3 large egg white(s)
  • 2 cup powdered sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup water, boiling, or more if necessary, divided
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray or cover with parchment paper. (I used a silpat instead)

  • Beat butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl, using an electric mixer, until light and fluffy. Add whole eggs, one at a time, and incorporate with mixer; blend in 1 teaspoon of vanilla and lemon zest.

  • Mix together flour, baking powder and salt in a separate medium bowl.

  • Add half of flour mixture to butter mixture; add milk and beat well. Add remaining flour mixture and beat well.

  • Whip egg whites in a medium bowl, with a wire whisk, until soft peaks form; gently fold egg whites into cookie batter.

  • Drop batter by heaping teaspoons onto cookie sheets; batter should remain in high mounds. Make sure to leave at least 2-inches of space between each mound of batter.

  • Bake cookies until edges turn slightly brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheets for 1 to 2 minutes; move to wire racks and allow to cool completely.

  • Meanwhile, to make vanilla icing, combine 1 cup of powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of boiling water and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla in a medium bowl; beat until smooth. Using a pastry brush or flexible spatula, paint half of each cooled cookie with vanilla icing. (NOTE: Make sure to ice the flat side of each cookie. You should always use the vanilla icing first)

  • To make chocolate icing, combine remaining cup of powdered sugar, cocoa and 2 tablespoons of boiling water in a medium bowl; beat until smooth. Add a little more water, a teaspoon at a time, if icing is too dry. Using the same brush or spatula, paint the second half of the flat side of each cookie. Allow icing to dry completely before serving. Yields 2 cookies per serving.
I probably could have added more powdered sugar to my icing, to make it thicker. Next time. The cookies have a great taste.

Couldn't resist

More Superbuzzy goodness

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


In this week's Getting to Know You at CAC, Paintergirl asks if there is anything in your life you would re-do.

In the fourth grade (or was it third?) my class was having a 'garage sale' and sending the profits to Unicef. Someone brought in a Barbie townhouse- it was like this one with the elevator. I desperately wanted this house. It was only three dollars!

Only one problem. I was afraid to ask my parents for the money. I dreaded the thought that they could say no, so I didn't ask. I remember riding the elevator down to the lobby that morning. I can see my mother's arm as she stood next to me. The question was on the tip of my tongue, but I just couldn't get it out.

My friend Sandy bought it. I was heartbroken. She invited me over to play with it. It was fun, but I was so disappointed.

I think even as a kid I knew that the truly sad part of the story was not that I didn't get the dollhouse, but that I was too scared of asking my mom for it. I was not afraid of being physically harmed, or yelled at. I used to marvel at the things my younger sister felt comfortable asking our parents for.

I still don't like to ask for things. Even silly things, like asking "do you have this in my size" at the store. If I could do it over, I wish I could have been a less fearful child.

Monday, May 14, 2007

All I wanted for Mother's Day...

was to be able to have my sewing machine out all weekend! I sewed up a storm.

First up was this bag from Tiny Happy
tiny happy bag

I used a piece of silk my sister brought me from Uzbekistan. I thought that it would be too floppy even with a lining, so I used Peltex to give it some body. Something a little flimsier might have been better, but I really like how it came out. I think I will add some sort of closure to it, a toggle of some sort I guess.

Next up, two totes for the kids to use to transport library books to and fro.
library totes

I got to use some of my fabrics from Superbuzzy. The pattern for the bags is from Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing.

Also from Lotta's book is this tool roll, which now holds my crochet hooks
cases closed


I winged the case on the right, which is for sewing needles.

And right before my family served me a wonderful dinner, I started this guy

From Joy's Waldorf Dolls 8" Pocket Love Doll, for our new nephew. I made a doll from this pattern for my son when he was about 1.5 years old. I sewed that one by hand, and now that I think of it, it was the first thing I ever sewed. I'm happy to say that it is still intact, and he is still a guest in my son's bed from time to time!

It was a wonderful day, and it was so much fun to sew all of this stuff!

Seeds of inspiration

About a month ago, Susan at West Coast Crafty posted about a book that inspired her in childhood. I too had a set of Childcraft's How and Why Library, and like Susan, the Make and Do volume stole my heart. After Susan posted about it I looked on ebay for a copy, but abstained from purchasing because I couldn't find the Make and Do volume for sale on it's own in the edition that I had as a child. I didn't buy one in April, but knew I'd keep looking.

On Friday I had a few minutes before I needed to pick up the children from school. I went to the local Salvation Army thrift shop. I'm always envious of folks who seem to find the most amazing things when they go thrifting. I've never been so lucky, until last week. I slowly made my way around the store. When I got to the book corner I looked down into a box...which held the Childcraft How and Why Library! It wasn't the edition I had as a kid, but I didn't care. I eagerly snatched up the Make and Do volume. Reader, I paid 50 cents for it! I took it home and looked through it- despite being about ten years younger than the one I had as a kid it is exactly the same.

My heart stopped a second when I got to this page

I stared at this photo for hours as a kid. My mother was not crafty--oh how I yearned to sew this outfit for my dolls! When I told my mother and sister about my book find and my reaction to this page, they both said the same thing "now you can!" And I will ; )

When I was a little girl I always had my nose in a book. Make and Do was one I looked at for hours on end. Another was Betty Crocker's New Boys and Girls Cook Book. Just this afternoon I was reflecting on the impact that these two books had on my childhood and my life. I love cooking, baking, and crafting. And I love doing those things with my children. These two late 1960s books were hand-me-downs from my dad's cousin. I wonder if I would be a different person if these books were not given to me? Who knows. Right now I'm just enjoying my books, and loving sharing these books with my kids.

Before and After