Tuesday, January 30, 2007


"The tantrums of giants, are, of course, quite literally the stuff of legend. How many of the world's volcanoes, maelstroms, and boiling geysers, how many of its hurricane winds and earthquakes, have been attributed to the ill-tempered fumings and poor sportsmanship of giants!"

Just one of many charming observations from Summerland, by Michael Chabon, which I discovered at the thrift store this past weekend. I've never read anything by him, and this was apparently the first children's book he wrote, after a Pulitzer-winning career as a writer of grown-up books. I'm totally enjoying it.


Today's blog challenge at Two Peas:

What kinds of things inspire you lately?

Lately I've been pulling out my small collection of Stampington magazines: Somerset Studio, Legacy, Stamper's Sampler, Somerset Home...etc. Somerset Studio is my very favorite. The art pieces in that magazine used to look so over the top to me, and now I can hardly get enough of looking at them and fantasizing about what I could create myself.

Small online projects have also been inspiring to me, like Shimelle's classes, and the stuff at Big Picture Scrapbooking. I like the camaraderie of making something and sharing it with lots of other people who made the same thing--only different!

And I've been on a total reading kick for the past month, so books have been my inspiration. Not in a way that perks up your eyes or ears, but in a way that perks up your mind and gets you to thinking and making connections for yourself.

I'm doing more absorbing right now, and less acting on the inspiration. Maybe I'm coiling up, ready to pounce on something right around the corner. I can't tell!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Monday morning.

I love the days when I get up and know there's nowhere I need to be and nothing I need to go out of the house for. They're rare enough that I really enjoy them when they come along,
especially in a cold day like today. I can just "putz around the house," which is an expression from Todd's family. I know "putz" means something else in Yiddish, but in our house it just means to putter around tending to this and that, with little breaks for lunch, a cup of tea, or...blogging.

Speaking of Todd's family, his parents left for Ohio this morning after three days here with us. They are the perfect houseguests, and I always hate to see them go, because it's nice to have other people in the house.

Somehow this became a thrifting weekend--when they come down in spring or fall, we often go to yard sales, but those are non-existent in January, so I took them around to a bunch of shops on Friday while Todd was working, and then we went down to Virginia Beach on Saturday afternoon and hit a bunch more. My mother-in-law is a thrift shop devotee--it is not within her power to buy an item new if she thinks she can get it used. Me, I am certainly not opposed to buying items new, but I like finding things that are old and unique--and cheap is nice too, but harder and harder to come by, even at thrift stores.

I ended up bringing home a tremendous stack of books:

Including an old stained Moosewood Cookbook, which I've always wanted to own:

As well as four small teacups with pink thistles on the front--they're soft pink on the inside, and white on the outside:

And the goofiest knickknack I ever did see, but it made me laugh, and that's worth a buck:

A long thin picture--I think it's 40-45 years old--that fits perfectly on the scrap of wall between the kitchen entry and the storage closet:

A pile of wool sweaters in nice colors, for felting:

A couple small pictures and a tiny picture frame I think I'll try to paint in white:

And a little wood chest that would be great to make into an art piece, if I ever get around to it:

Plus a couple of flannel shirts for Todd and a hooded sweater for me. I think that's all!

It was quite a mix of stores we explored, from the frightening to the upscale, most of which I'd never been to before. But, as it turned out, the most profitable store, for all of us, was the one right around the corner from our house, run by the Disabled American Veterans. At least now I know which one is the best in town!

Other than that, we had a couple very nice dinners out, hung around the house, played cards, napped, read...it was a great weekend. And now January is all but done.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I confess.

Last weekend, Shimelle Laine held a free mini-class on her site...wherein one was supposed to make a mini album of things one had to confess--silly, serious, whatever.

The album's pages were to be made from 4x6 or 5x7 photos, hole-punched and bound, which is an awesome idea for a mini book, but I just wasn't in the mood to take pictures. Plus, I was out of town that weekend.

But the idea stayed in my mind, and when I was in a scrapbook store on my out-of-town trip, I saw a rack full of these little photographic die cuts. And looking at them, many of the images spawned a reaction in my mind.

Hence my own little confession book (4x4"). I subtitled it "fifteen random secrets" but some of these confessions aren't really secrets. It's just that "secrets" was a word of the perfect length to make, with "random" and "fifteen," a perfect square subtitle block.

Here's a few of the pages. I'll bind them all together with jump rings once I get a chance to go pick some up, and them probably add some ribbon.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Just call me...

...Her Exalted Highness Duchess Janelle the Coherent of Gallop Hophill.

That's got a certain ring to it. Thanks for the link, Mimi!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thursday thoughts.

We are --finally!--getting some wintry weather here, with nice brisk air, and today, a cold gray drizzle. I've been strutting around in my brown wool jacket, feeling happy that I finally get to wear the darn thing. It was a case of love at first sight when I saw it at TJ Maxx, and I love it more each time I wear it. It's got an embroidered shawl collar and just closes with one button-and-loop at the bosom--looks great with jeans and a turtleneck, which is my cold-weather uniform. Nice to be able to dress up my uniform a bit.

In an effort to sharpen our brains, we've gotten interested in puzzles around here. I bought Todd a sudoku book for Christmas, and we rented a very interesting little documentary called Wordplay about the NY Times crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz and the crossword championship he created and hosts each year.

I haven't done a crossword in ages, since Jeremy used to let me help him with the puzzles in his Games magazine when we were kids, but I worked one in one of his books when I was at his house last weekend, and I picked up an "easy" level NY Times crossword book for myself today.

Another brain stretcher for me the past week has been the introduction to music theory my guitar teacher embarked upon...well, honestly, the whole thing is a brain stretcher and has been from the beginning, but the theory stuff is really overwhelming, causing major Algebra II flashbacks, wherein I sit in a chair and listen to a teacher describe something that I have no understanding of whatsoever. So I also bought myself The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory, knowing I can retain stuff much better reading it as opposed to hearing someone tell me it...and also knowing that I am indeed a Complete Idiot.

So hopefully we are staving off Alzheimer's a little longer here at our house.

Tomorrow we are headed to York, PA for the weekend and a machine show that we attended five or six years ago. When we went before, I stayed for a while and took in the show, then headed out to find all the scrapbook and stamp stores in the area. I'm hoping to put the spending freeze on hold and make it to a few shops on Saturday and relive the fun. This will be a shorter trip--last time we were in the area for four days or so--but we're looking forward to seeing some new places and shaking the winter doldrums off a little. Hopefully the weather will cooperate, too.

I've been debating for a few days whether to bring this up here, because it's a tragedy that I am at the very far periphery of, and I feel reluctant to...I don't know, to say that my feelings are even a fraction of what my friend feels, or to try to express grief for a situation I'm not really a part of. It feels presumptuous somehow, and I know I'm not expressing this well at all. But it's something that has colored this week for me and for everyone who knows this family.

My friend's son committed suicide on Monday. He was 13 years old. He was a sweet, polite, smart boy with a lot of pain in his heart. I wish he had known how many people would cry for him and how many lives his life touched. Please say a prayer for his parents, his brother and sister, and all the people who loved him.

Monday was a gorgeous sunny 75-degree day, and on Tuesday the weather turned cold and gloomy. While I am enjoying this taste of winter, as I said above, the change does feel appropriate for the feelings around here this week. There's just a layer of sadness over things right now. Please keep them in your prayers.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

But hey, at least Saddam's toast.

What can you buy for $1.2 trillion dollars?

Read this and weep for what could have been.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

More weekend pictures.

Since the weather was so warm Sunday, we spent the day playing outside. Todd, Jeremy and I played with Tanner, pitching and batting the ball around. I know I always say this, but he looks so grown-up in this picture.

And his little sister is about a foot taller than when I last saw her in July!

Here's my dad rocking Marissa almost to sleep in her swing:

Todd and Marissa playing choo-choo train with folding chairs:

Kylie and I reading:

And here's the beautiful birthday girl:


We had a lovely little weekend at my brother's house, celebrating his birthday and his daughter Natalie's birthday, too. My parents, my sister, and my niece and nephew all came down from Ohio, too, so it was a houseful of fun, for sure.

I brought my guitar, and Tanner and I picked out "Ode to Joy" together. He's much better on the piano than I am on the guitar, but maybe someday I can catch him up:

Natalie and Kylie indulged their love/hate relationship--they're two years apart and really love each other--most of the time. Here they are in a peaceful moment:

Can you believe they're barefooted in January? (Just for sandbox play--we weren't letting them run around like that all day.) This freakishly warm weather is starting to scare me!

When we were kids, we had this great fabric playhouse my aunt Molly made us. It was like a sleeve that fit over a card table--a way upscale version of the old blanket-over-the-table fort. It had windows and a door that closed and everything.

My mom has made her own versions of this for Tanner and for Kylie, and now it's Natalie's turn to have her own special place. She LOVED it.

Little Miss Marissa is such a joy. She says so many words, with her little finger pointing at whatever she's talking about. And she has a great sense of humor. Looooves to swing!

What a cutie.

I'll put a few more in another post...I seem to be at my limit for photos here.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A few cards.

Here's what we're making in my at-home class tomorrow:

No real rhyme or reason to the themes--it's mostly what's sitting on my desk at any given moment! I did use a few new stamps, though. I totally need some new inks--half of mine are dried out--and some new sentiment stamps. But I put myself on a spending freeze till May 1, so...oh well! Stamping is even more of a money pit than scrapbooking, because the inks and stamps are soooo expensive.

Not much else going on here...we're definitely in the post-holiday slump. This weekend we're going to my brother's house for my niece's fourth birthday party. My parents and my sister and her kids will be there, too, so that should be fun!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Weekend update.

Wow, this week went by fast! It was a combination of productive and frustrating...I got the downstairs pretty nicely cleaned up and organized, but there were some errands and other projects that left me spinning my wheels. I'm also very frustrated with my guitar today. I think I understand the whole Pete Townsend-smashing-guitars-into-little-bits thing a lot better now!

Other than that, I've just been reading like a maniac all week and hitting the library for the first time in literally years. Our libraries around here are sort of lousy, and I get frustrated and homesick for Columbus and its awesome libraries every time I go into a library down here, but right now I'm just sucking it up and going and trying to find what I want. I stand by my feeling that a city this size should have a much better library system than it does, but I guess libraries are at the bottom of the state priority list.

I've read:

My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme. Reading the Julie and Julia book I mentioned before got me interested in Julia Child's life, and this book is really inspiring. She found her life's work at age thirty-six, which is how old I am. Hmmm.

Catch a Wave by Peter Ames Carlin, which is a biography of Brian Wilson, mostly from the point-of-view of his music, and less from the ins and out of his personal life, although that does get mentioned somewhat. Carlin puts Brian Wilson's lyrics and themes right up there with writers like Steinbeck and Twain as part of the American voice, which I thought was audacious but interesting and probably pretty legitimate.

The Worst Hard Time
by Timothy Egan...this was recommended by someone at Two Peas, and it's a totally compelling book about the Dust Bowl in the 1930's. I couldn't put it down...so many tragic stories and so much hubris that led to this environmental disaster.

Right now I'm reading The Great Deluge: Hurrican Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Douglas Brinkley, and it's making me so angry I've had to start reading it in smaller chunks so I don't get overwhelmed. Although I don't discount, and Brinkley certainly doesn't, the outrageous neglect on a local and state level in Louisiana, this book confirms my growing feeling that the Bush presidency is the one of the most tragic things that's ever happened to this country. It's a tremendously interesting and heartbreaking book, and there are many small inspiring stories, too. I really recommend it.