Double-Double Your Enjoyment!

24 11 2013

I went to my annual writers’ retreat at the beginning of this month. As usual, it was inspiring and invigorating. I got a lot of writing done, but I also had the chance to take a few pictures.










The End of the Halloween Grinch?

30 10 2012

I hate Halloween.

I make no secret of it. My kids all know this about me, and they tolerate it well enough.

(That is, if when I say “tolerate,” you think of whining about Halloween decorations, begging for Halloween decorations, and finally making their own Halloween decorations. What is with Halloween decorations? I ask you.)

There are some things about Halloween that I like. Parts of it.

Pumpkin carving. Dressing up. (I’m trying to go with the rule of three here, but I can’t think of anything else.)

There are (and always will be) things about Halloween I dislike. Most of it.

Creepy masks. Any decorations involving guts, gore, and dismembered body parts. Adults who use the holiday to dress up like hookers. Razor blades in apples. (Okay, that’s probably an urban legend.) Having to spend money on candy. Policing the candy intake. (Who am I kidding? I usually let them eat it all in one night so I don’t have to deal with it.) Sugary things that I should know better not to eat but which I eat anyway, which in turn make me feel crummy.

(I’m starting to think the title of this post is a misnomer. I guess that means I need to hurry up and get to the part where I *stop* being grinchy.)

We carved pumpkins last night.

After some arguing about who got the biggest pumpkin (and some threatening that we wouldn’t do it at all if we couldn’t just get along), Rainbow knocked hers out in about an hour. And then, in a fitting tribute to her current love of playing babies (the day after her infusion last week, I found her in her room with about ten baby dolls lined up, receiving their own infusions), she made a baby pumpkin to match.

Eden, of the high-expectation-perfectionist school, cried and stabbed and carved and cried some more as her Frankenstein pumpkin took over two hours to emerge from the gourd. It’s hard being an artist.

Zack won the I-get-the-biggest-pumpkin battle. That means he also won the-pumpkin-with-the-thickest-rind contest. He sawed and jawed and only had a vague idea of what he wanted when he started–so he was, of course, pleased with how well it turned out.

I ended up carving the creepiest-looking pumpkin I’ve ever made personally. Colby chose the face for his from three options. He remembered about “opening” the pumpkins and putting candles inside. “Happy pumpkin,” he said. (When he looked at Zack’s pumpkin, he said, “Oh, it’s crying.” Close enough.)

Of course, when I woke up this morning to this:

I had to remind myself that pumpkin carving is one of the parts of Halloween that I actually like. (And I also had to remind myself that I truly shouldn’t go to bed until the kitchen is clean.)

I went to the store to get candy while the kids were at school yesterday. I found myself thinking, “I can’t believe I just spent $30 on candy!” And then, after paying another $20 for pumpkins which, apparently, weren’t big enough, I started getting a little bit grouchy again. Add another $20 or $30 on for costume supplies (and that’s actually pretty cheap for five people), and I spent nearly $100 on Halloween this year! (Or $70. It just doesn’t sound as impressive, though.)

However, when I hurriedly read (skimmed) the newspapers we were lining the floor with, I found this interesting tidbit in USA Today: “The National Retail Federation estimated that Americans spent $6.86 billion last year on Halloween, double what was spent in 2005.” (Emphasis added. You know, for emphasis.)

In six years, the retail value of Halloween in America has doubled.

What does that say to you? Especially in light of the economic conditions of the past several years?

That people are more willing to spend money on this goofy, gory, secular holiday instead of voting to replace the high school built in the 50’s that has a roof that leaks every time it rains?

Newsflash: I live in Washington. It rains a lot.

(Hopefully, the bond for the new high school will pass. But it didn’t last time it was on the ballot.)

I guess I get a little fed up with people complaining about how hard times are that they can’t support the schools in their community, and then they turn around and spend $6.86 billion on stuff like fake graves for their yards.

Oh, right. That’ll last.

Okay, okay. [Stepping off soapbox.] I’m a Halloween grinch, and I’m also cheap. That’s no surprise.

But here is a surprise: I made some Halloween decorations.

I know, right? Wonders never cease.

All it took was a couple of packages of tissue paper from the dollar store (which I already had), some scissors, and some tape.

Viola! See, I’m not a complete grinch!

And it looks even better at night:

Have a happy and safe Halloween, everyone!

Transformation! Transformation!

10 06 2012

(Does anyone else have random Pixar quotes pop into their heads on any given occasion? Oh, okay. Nevermind, then.)

I got this little gem of a dining set about, oh, nine months ago. One table, four chairs.

I think it was originally $90, then it was marked down to $60. I was feeling like maybe I could do $60. So I went down to St. Vincent De Paul to look at it one more time, and do you know what those dear Catholics did? They marked all furniture down 50% that day. I love Catholics.

Naturally, I took it as a sign that it definitely was the table and chairs I had been looking for. After spending nine months in my garage, I spent $35 on a gallon of glossy paint, $20 on two yards of oil cloth, and about 20 hours of labor on Memorial Day weekend. (Should I have waited for Labor Day?)

But seeing them in the garage just doesn’t do them justice.

Behold, the table and chairs! Out of the garage and into the music room!

Don’t you just love that I-finally-finished-a-project feeling? Only 17 major projects left!

Um, yahoo?

The Joy of a Frilly Calico Dress

26 02 2012

Last week, Rainbow told me, “I want a frilly dress.”

“Oh. Okay,” I said. “I’ll see what I can do.”

I have since gone shopping for patterns, but didn’t find too much that seemed, well, frilly. We had had a dress once upon a time that would definitely have fallen into that category, but I was pretty sure it was too small.

Today, when I needed to find something in the corner of a closet, I found the aforementioned dress.

Yes, it was frilly.

Sadly, yes, it was also too small.

But next to it in the closet was an old gem. My mom made it for me and I wore it for my first grade picture, thus:


Rainbow happens to be the exact size for this frilly calico confection, so is wearing it the rest of the day, thus:

In other news, Eden is currently working on a school report using a book she just read–On the Banks of Plum Creek. Too bad the dress doesn’t fit her; she could have channeled some Laura Ingalls Wilder (and hopefully cut back on the drama of how hard her homework is).


P.S. My mom is an incredible seamstress. I don’t know how long it took her to sew on the rows of lace and ribbon trim, but it must have taken hours. They all look perfect, too.  Score one for patience and perfectionism!

Cheap Art

8 10 2011

I debated on the title of this post. “Trashy Art” might make people afraid to click on the link. “Recycled Art” was a better option, but the good it might do to the earth to have these bread tags and cardboard hanging on my wall instead of in a landfill is, honestly, negligible.

So I titled it in the truest way possible: cheap art. I want to thank all of you who answered the Call for Submissions way back when. I can truly say if it weren’t for Mom, Monique, Kristen, Nancy, Greg, Rachael, Sandi, Mandi, and anyone else I might have forgotten (and if so I’m sorry–I need to do better at record-keeping) this wouldn’t have been possible. Well, it would have, but just not nearly so soon. It takes awhile to gather hundreds of bread tags, surprisingly enough.

Please excuse the messy table. And speaking of the messy table–I found one at a thrift store. When I get it finished I can kiss the functional-but-not-visually-pleasing card table good-bye.

I think the piece (listen to me, talking all arty) reads better in real life. It’s big and colorful, which is just what I wanted.

And due to my many generous donors, it only cost about $10 (and a few hours) to make. That’s really  what I wanted.

The Medium-Sized Reveal!

25 09 2011

I have been working on my house for a couple of months. This isn’t surprising, as I generally have one project or another in the works, but I was at a point, both emotionally and furniturally, where I was ready for a big change.

This isn’t The Big Reveal–not yet–because I’m not quite finished. But I know myself well enough to know that these last little bits–the throw pillows, the coffee table, the curtains (yes? no? opinions?), the art, the game/homework table–are going to take me awhile. It’s going to be piece by piece. Still, my mom’s been asking (most likely because I’ve been complaining about how long stenciling takes) so this is dedicated to her.

I looked through piles of magazines and decided on a color palette, found a rug, and went from there.

I like it. I like it a lot.

I didn’t take any “before” pictures prior to the previous furniture being taken to its new home, so several of the pictures are furniture free (but generally aren’t book free).

Here are a few before pictures:



When you have two double bookshelves leave the premises, you end up with a lot of books on the floor.

You try and keep them somewhat organized, but, well, it doesn’t always work out exactly as planned.

Oh, yes, I had big plans for these red walls. But first I had to take care of the books before they became a hazard.

So this giant wall, where a couch used to sit, was where I decided to put my new bookcases. My new, really tall bookcases.

Delicious, no?

Then, once I got my books off the floor, I was able to paint the red walls. My goal was to lighten up these rooms, freshen them, and make them happy. I painted two of the red walls white, and the last wall–the one with the windows–I painted a light orange. Not peach–more of a creamsicle-y color. This was the wall on which I decided to put the stencil (which, by the way, takes for-freaking-ever to do–perhaps I’ll do a separate post on it later) and hang my cupcake-catering-earned chandelier.

I moved (well, not *I* alone–some friends helped) the piano in there. Sometime I’ll get a really cool table for the other half of the room to do homework on and play games. For now, the card table works. It’s not exactly pretty, but it works.

It’s a happy room.

I found this shot as  I looked through old files trying to find a picture of the two big couches that used to be here. I’m not quite sure what they’re doing (slow-motion rodeo?) but I think it’s hilarious.

Anyway, I got a smaller scale couch and two chairs at IKEA.

And we also grew those pumpkins on the porch in our own garden. Hoo-ey!

Then I found a rug with a great pattern, and wowsa. It looks pretty great, if I do say so myself.

And I guess I just did.

Mothers’ Day Spoilage

19 05 2011

(I’m sticking with the “better late than never” adage. It should probably be considered my life’s motto.)

I thought about calling this post “Mothers’ Day Booty,” but I changed my mind since I don’t allow my kids to use that word. It’s one thing when we’re talking about pirate’s booty (or Pirate’s Booty), but when my six-year-old daughter starts talking about “shaking her booty,” well, I draw the line.

However, beyond the semantics, I must say I was incredibly spoiled by my kids on Mothers’ Day. In fact, I’d probably go so far as to say it was one of my favorite Mothers’ Days ever, but that might be colored by the fact that I wasn’t around my kids for most of April.

Everyone piled into my bed and showered me with the presents they’d made.

Zack made me breakfast . . . and even remembered the red plate.

Colby drew a picture of me (wearing orange! Also wrapped in orange! I’m trying to figure out if he knew my favorite color; it’s possible he’s more observant than I realize). On the back he filled in these blanks (with the help of his teacher):

My mother’s name is mama.

My mother is number years old.

My mother’s favorite food is pizza.

My mother likes to computer.

So sweet.

Rainbow, who had been DYING all week to tell me about her gift, finally got to give it to me.

She has the same first grade teacher that Eden had, so now I have two little readers. And Rainbow gets to be bigger than Eden for once. Rainbow also drew and colored a picture for me that’s “as big as her desk.”


Eden had the same excitement as Rainbow all week about the gifts she was giving me. Every day she’d ask, “Why don’t you just open one of your presents?” She bought me a pink glass teddy bear with a red crystal heart at the student store; she made me some Jones Family hand soap in Activity Days; she colored five coupons for hugs, kisses, chores, and babysitting; and she made me some pipe cleaner sculptures.

Mothers’ Day goodness carried over into church. The kids did a fantastic job singing “Mother, I Love You” in Sacrament Meeting. Two of my former Young Women spoke–one was leaving on a mission and one was returning. The youth served us dessert at the end of church, and I got roses and pictures from my kids after Primary.

A friend invited us over for dinner after church, and then we went to an open house after that. All in all, it was a great day spent with people I love–and I didn’t have to cook!

I am so blessed.

Seriously, who could get a picture like this and not think they are blessed beyond measure?

I get a little choked up every time I look at it. (Drawing by Eden.)