Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hug Your Babies

Errol Milner Clifford
March 8, 2006 - December 23, 2009
Unable are the Loved to die
For Love is Immortality,
Nay, it is Deity --
Unable they that love --to die
For Love reforms Vitality
Into Divinity.

-Emily Dickinson

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My Christmas Gift to You... Patty Bailey Sheets. Well, you can't actually have her. But you can know who she is. Which might be more valuable than anything I could wrap up and fit under the tree.

Patty painted a portrait of Anna Jane. She delivered it the week before Christmas of last year.

My grandmother is an artist. My sister Emily and I grew up with portraits of ourselves and other family members in our house. I loved them. I have several paintings of myself as a little girl. They are beautiful works of art. She sketched a portrait of Anna Jane when she was two. In the background are a faint pair of angel wings.

I have always known that I wanted portraits of my children. Last spring I began to look for artists in the area. Somehow I came across and used that to search for artists. In my case, I desperately wanted to find someone local. Artists are usually willing to travel, but of course, you have to pay for that. I think I found Patty and fell in love with her work before I realized that she was local.

I'm getting ready to sound a little groovy, but it's worth saying: I think that an artist's work can speak to you. I know that there are many talented artists out there, but when I saw Patty's work, I knew that we were a perfect match. I have seen other local artists who are incredibly talented, but don't get the same feeling from their art that I do from Patty's.

We arranged a meeting and I drove to her house. I asked to see her work and the photographs of the children that she had painted. I know that there are some beautiful pieces of artwork out there, but they don't always look like the child. This was very important to me. I wanted Anna Jane's portrait to look like Anna Jane.

I was stunned at the likeness between the photographs of the children and the paintings that she showed me. She can capture a child's physical appearance and their spirit and make a beautiful piece of art. That was a very important sentence. Read it again if you need to. I'll wait.

I made Anna Jane an outfit to wear...


and we met Patty at Old Salem. I searched portraits to see what kind of atmosphere I wanted her in and got an idea of the poses I liked best. I chose Old Salem because I went to school there and Dave worked there. And it's absolutely beautiful. Lots of meaning for us.

We took loads of photos and Patty returned the ones that would be "portrait-worthy." I chose this one of Anna Jane sitting.

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I loved her little toes curling on the steps...


and her pudgy fingers reaching the wooden fence...


Patty asked me for one word to describe Anna Jane. I said "sweet." Dave's word was "silly."


I think she was able to capture Anna Jane's entire personality in this painting.


In the past months, as I have shared my family and my home on this blog, I have wanted very much to share this as one of the most valuable things to me. Patty gave me permission to share with you, but I am not an art photographer!!
There is no way that these photographs do the painting justice!

So, Merry Christmas! Call Patty. Or visit her. Or at the very least, know that she is talented and professional and sweet-as-pie. And she's there if you need your kid hanging on the I did!


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

"Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14).

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Joy to the World!!

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All photos taken by Jessica Lawson and her assistant, Kallista. Photo-makers in awesomeville.

Monday, November 30, 2009


I know, who wants to read a post about a breadbox? And I won't lie, that's what this is really about. But it's worth reading...

I always thought that breadboxes were unnecessary on a kitchen counter. Until I married a sandwich-loving man and started packing a factory's-worth of school lunches. Then when my cute counter-top pedestal bowl could no longer hold bagels and bread and rolls and the occasional collection of bite-size snickers, I realized the true value of a breadbox.

I looked for one on ebay and craigslist and goodwill online (love it). Couldn't really find one that appealed to me. I also tried etsy, but only found one breadbox even listed. That one wasn't for me either.

The other day I was at an actual goodwill retail store and found one for $5.

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I figured this one could be painted my favorite seafoam green color and I would call it a success.

Then...I changed my mind. I thought that painting the entire door might make it too difficult to slide up and down. So I decided to mod podge.

I primed the entire box and planned to paint the whole thing white and glue some cute scrapbook paper to the slats of the sliding door.

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I had to decide on the paper. I thought that scrapbook paper would be easy to apply since it's fairly stiff and wouldn't get stuck in the mod podge. On the other hand, I thought that a pretty wrapping paper would let the sliding door continue to slide easily. When it came down to it, I based this decision on the paper that I liked best.

I ended up choosing this bold black and white print. I cut strips the size of the slats...

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I used the mod podge as a glue under the paper and as a sealer on top of the paper.
Since I wanted the design to stay in tact along the door, I had to keep my paper strips in order.

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I did this by numbering the strips and applying them in order...

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Again, no lies from me: this was a pretty tedious project. Not that it wasn't worth it...I'm just saying...

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I got all of the strips glued, along with matching the paper to continue the pattern the entire width of the breadbox.

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Then I scratched the white paint plan and went with a glossy black...

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Love it.



If you want other ideas on how to fancy-up your things with mod podge, visit mod podge rocks!

Family Magnets

We had a fabulous Thanksgiving weekend this year. We spent time with lots of family and are ready to see everyone again during the Christmas holiday.

When the kids are young, they sometimes have a hard time keeping the family members straight, especially my cousins Will, Nathan and Philip.

And even a few weeks of not seeing someone can send Henry into bashful mode.

I made a few family magnets to help with name mix-ups and to familiarize Henry with relatives that he doesn't get to see often.

I found photos of family members that showed their entire body. This was actually the hardest part. I couldn't be picky, I was lucky to find any. Turns out I like to take photographs of faces, not entire bodies.

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I just printed them out and cut out the person. I guess I could have cropped and printed out several people on one time.

Then I laminated the people and put sticky magnets on the back.

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I typed up everyone's name and laminated and magnetized them as well. I did this mostly for Anna Jane since she is reading so well. Wilson really liked for me to hand him someone's name and then he had to find the right person to place it next to.

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Henry started grabbing people off the refrigerator and naming them immediately.

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These have been so popular, we might be able to retire the LeapFrog letters that have filled the fridge door for so long!

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The kids played with them all night. I might make more for them to take into the playroom so that the magnets don't get lost.

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I will also try to take more photographs of people and not just faces!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Better than a list...

It is not good for man to be alone. Genesis 2:18

Skinny AND in love

Apart from the Lord, I have no good thing. Psalm 16:2

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Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred. A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, a good news gives health to the bones. He who listens to life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. Proverbs 15:17 & 30-31

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The Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world. John 1:29

God is Great...

I sing for joy at the works of your hands. Psalm 92:4

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Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” John 15:16

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…in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. Ephesians 3:12

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He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. Job 8:21

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… children are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3


The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains. Psalm 24:1


All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful… Psalm 25:10

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Happy Thanksgiving to you.

Thanks to Darby for her beautiful post, which became my beautiful post...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Buttons in Place!

Remember the 60 buttons?

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Well, after making a grid...

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Drilling some holes...

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Making a pattern (twice)...

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Adding decking, muslin, a frame, legs and some stain...

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I put the buttons to rest...

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In the tufts of my new ottoman!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Delinquent Pen Pal Report

Months ago, I joined a Bag-a-holic bag swap, organized by Petchy. We were matched up and given mini "profiles" for our partner. My partner Karin lives in Austria. For weeks, Dave had been talking about wanting to travel to Austria. I've decided to take our match-up as a sign...yes, we should go to Austria.

Based on our emails and looking at her blog, I decided to make her a large bag with a bold print. She loves blue, so here is what I made her.

And here is what she made me!!!

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Karin is a super-duper seamstress and enjoys making bags to give as gifts. She was the perfect participant in this swap! On the other hand, I had to confess to her that I had never actually made a bag. So the exchange might not have been completely fair. But I did promise to work on my technique, and she might find another bag on her doorstep one day!

In addition to the beautiful bag, Karin sent a few postcards of Austria to inspire my travels even more. I think I might frame them and hang them in my kitchen.

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She also send those rocks sitting on the postcards. Except that they are not rocks, they are the BEST CANDY I HAVE EVER EATEN! They are marzipan and apricot and awesome yumminess.

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I ate the whole tube. Yes. The whole tube.

It would be worth a trip to Austria just to find those candies again. And to find my new friend! Thanks, Karin!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pumpkin Balls

The most kid friendly recipe. Ever.

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Stores often run low on spice cake mix this time of year. I can always find it at Walmart. Because it has all of the spices you need, don't buy the pumpkin pie mix. Get the "pure" canned pumpkin.

You can mix these two ingredients by hand unless you have children helping you. If that's the case, put the cake mix and the pumpkin in a large plastic ziploc bag.

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Kids tend to lift ingredients out of the bowl and onto the counter when mixing anything that's not liquid. When mixing in a bag, everything is contained and the bag can be mushed up without a mess:

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When all mushed up, cut the corner of the plastic bag and squeeze mixture out to fill up muffin cups. You can also make these into mini muffins.

You can bake and then use some sort of cream cheese icing (but they are very soft and it might be difficult to spread) or you can add sprinkles before you bake.

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Or you can just eat the sprinkles.

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Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a pumpkin ball comes out cleanly. They go really fast and are a great kids' activity!

As we are all pulling out the recipe books for a big Thanksgiving meal and countless holiday parties, set a recipe aside to share with me! I will compile another group of recipes, similar to my last compilation.

Send your best holiday party recipe and I will send you a collection of all of the recipes that I receive. Let's limit this to appetizers, desserts and other party type foods, not main courses. This will be a great way to expand your holiday party arsenal!

When you send a recipe, it will be added to the holiday party collection and I will also send you the first collection (I feel like an infomercial). Call in the next fifteen minutes and you will also receive...

Email your recipe to by 12/1 and let's get these parties started!