Friday, December 26, 2008

Home Sweet Home

We had the funnest Christmas gathering for the Little Mr.'s preschool buddies.  We met at one family's apartment for soup and salad and then traveled downstairs to another family's apartment for gingerbread house decorating.  I was up to my ears in royal icing the night before making the houses (from scratch--yikes, what was I thinking?!!), but it was totally worth it when I saw the look on my little guy's face.  Thank goodness for great online instructions!

As a sidenote, this photo reminded me of the last time my children and I made gingerbread houses together.  A friend invited my kids and I to attend a gingerbread house decorating party sponsored by a local bakery at a homeless shelter for women and children .  My friend explained the goal of the event was for the visiting families to provide a bit of holiday cheer to the families in the shelter.  
After traveling over an hour after school to the shelter, my kids were understandably tired, hungry and cranky.  Things only got worse when we finally found our way into the community room only to wait 45 minutes for the houses and candy to arrive.   While waiting for the houses, I proceeded to work on the "goal" of the event and chat with the other women and kids waiting for the party to begin.  
Finally the houses arrived and we began decorating.  A few minutes into the decorating, twin #1 decided she had met her limit and started throwing a fit and indicated she needed to use the bathroom.  I quickly asked one of the moms at the table (who lived in the shelter), "Where's the bathroom?"  She gave me the strangest look and said, "You don't know where the bathroom is?"  To which I answered, "No."  And she replied, "Oh, I thought you lived here!  It's down the hall on your left."  We finally made it to the bathroom and back and I realized I better get my little crew out of there before we caused any more scenes.  
One of the shelter employees offered to help me find my way out of the maze of corridors in the building and I eagerly accepted her offer.  After a few minutes of walking through the halls with my gingerbread house in one hand, little guy on my back in his baby carrier, twins hanging onto my other hand and bedraggled big sister following behind, we turned another corner and almost ran into a resident who cheerfully quipped to the employee, "Oh, is she new here?"  To which the employee embarrassedly replied, "No, she's just visiting for the gingerbread party."  I was mortified that I was twice mistaken for a resident in a homeless shelter and guilt-ridden that I thought myself so far above that situation that I was mortified to be identified as a resident!  Needless to say, we never received another invitation to spread holiday cheer at the shelter and I learned that sometimes it's best to stick close to home when spreading holiday cheer!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

[Note:  oops, forgot to post this earlier! ]

Oh, boy.  I felt like the WORST mother EVER yesterday.  The Pilgrim Play was at 2 p.m.  and all was set to go.  I wasn't feeling well and thought, "I'll set the timer and take a quick nap before we go."  Bad idea.  I must have been really tired because I woke from my nap with a start, and would you believe it was exactly 2:00 on the dot?!!  I rushed to the school (got there at 2:15!) only to find out it was all over.  What an awful feeling.  Luckily the girls' teacher invited me to come in today for their performance to the kindergarteners.  Whew!  I was seriously awake last night feeling really, really guilty for having missed it.  Their teacher wrote the script--she's so great. Don't I just have the cutest pilgrim girls ever? 

p.s. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We're off to Vermont.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Donkey vs. Elephant

Did you know that Tuesday was also election day at the Little Mr.'s "Boys School" (a group of five moms (and boys) that take turns teaching preschool)?  Kristen C. is the teacher for the next few weeks and had the boys mark their ballots and insert them into the ballot box.  Each candidate had either a donkey or an elephant next to his name.  Apparently the donkey was the favorite and won the election.  The Little Mr. told me "I choosed the donkey!  I voted for Rock O. Bama!"  Funny thing is one of the little guys chose the donkey, much to the chagrin (and may I add embarrassment!) of his father who worked on Mitt Romney's campaign!  

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Bench of all Benches

So, I was walking in the South End (as you can see in the reflection) and came upon this amazing bench in an office window.  I just love how the white paint highlights the curves of the bench and how the white and grey contrast each other.  I am not an animal print kind of gal, but those pillows really call to me.  Maybe it's the pairing of modern and traditional that make this such a striking combo. Luckily I had my camera with me!


Here we have a very cheerful princess, a Unicorn and the little Knight in Shining Armor. Our ward's trunk-or-treat was absolutely the best. Soup and bread dinner provided by the ward, a photo booth, a few games and trunk-or-treating. Best part--all the festivities were done by 7:30 p.m., just in time for bed. Perfect. And if you think that I don't "stitch" anymore--here's proof that I do! Prince Charming was sewn by me--oh, how I love making costumes!

Monday, October 27, 2008


Have I ever mentioned how much I love Boston?  It's not just that I "like" Boston-- it's that I am absolutely, unabashedly head-over-heels in love with Boston.  We've lived here over eight years and it really was love at first sight.  Though I do admit that sometimes in February and March my love wanes.  Luckily, the blossoms of April bring me back full force into my love affair with this city.  Every time we drive into the South End for dance classes at the Boston Ballet, I tell my girls, "Do you know how lucky you are?  You live in the coolest city ever!"  They really don't believe me, but I just have to keep reminding them that my childhood in Kansas was great fun, but nothing nearly as awesome as their experiences and opportunities in Boston.  I mean, really, where else do you get to see Antebellum doorways like this while just walking down the street?  Maybe all the newness of the West developed my appreciation for the old.  Who knows.  All I know is that if I could give Boston a kiss on the cheek with the vibrant orange, red, yellow and brown leaves in the background, I totally would.

Monday, September 29, 2008

294 Steps and Beyond!

Our wonderful friends and their three boys visited from Pennsylvania for a whole week.  While the girls were in school, the Little Mr. and I tagged along on some Boston adventures.  This is a shot of the boys AFTER climbing up and down the 294 steps of the Bunker Hill Monument!  Can you see how much excess energy these little guys have?!!!!  I must say that the boys fared better than the moms going up and down all those stairs!  

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Run 'n Play

So I think I've been doing more run 'n playing in the sand than stitchin' these days.  All is well.  Just storing up lots and lots of ideas for the fall when I will have a little more time on my hands. Got to enjoy these kiddos while I can.  Don't you love how they just naturally formed a triangle in which to play with the sand?  I love the looks of concentration on their faces!  Something about sand is totally mesmerizing & relaxing.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hooray for Zinnias

I've said it before, and I'll say it again--I am a very faithless gardener.  I really have this gut feeling that nothing I plant will really grow at all, let alone thrive.  Planning a garden in February (as Martha and my uber-organized husband recommend) almost sends me into a panic because I just know that nothing will grow in this rocky New England soil.  Thankfully this year I have been proven wrong.  You know what grows lush and colorful and in abundance in my yard--my yard of all places?!!  ZINNIAS.  Who knew?  A neighbor gave us the seeds last year and in February, with spread sheet and map of the garden in hand, The Mr. offered to plant them in the little starter planters.  Just to see what would happen.  Well talk about exceeding expectations.  These babies out grew every other type of seedling we started and was just begging to be planted.  Finally in May I planted them closer together than the seed packet recommended and look what happened!  Apparently zinnias are self sowers, so even though I only planted a few plants, they have spread and filled out like crazy.  I think next year's garden will be all zinnias.  Doesn't that sound wonderful and colorful?  Maybe there is room for faith afterall.  Oh, and how 'bout these cute little gardeners who just happened to be wearing the same colors as our zinnias!

Bob the Builder

Every morning when the Little Mr. wakes up I have to ask him, "Who are you today?"  The answers range anywhere from Batman or prince charming to a fireman, but usually it's simply, "I'm Bob the Builder." Of course there is a prescribed uniform connected to each persona that must be strictly followed.  Only one pair of jeans qualifies as Bob's jeans--and mismatched boots and a hard hat are a must.  Heaven forbid the jeans are in the wash or the boots are hiding under the couch when the "Bob mood" strikes!  Naturally when birthday time came around, the Little Mr. hoped his party could be a real Bob party where they could build stuff and paint stuff and bang stuff.  So with a little imagination and a lot of help from The Mr., we pulled it off!  Let's see activities included digging in our yard with real shovels and toy dumptrucks, etc.  Painting our shed with real paint (I have to say this was the hardest part for me to watch!  I panic about kids and paint!).  Helping cut a chunk of wood.  Nailing into boards.  Running around the yard.  Eating chips and hotdogs and strawberries (Bob's favorite foods).  Oh, and the cake.  The backhoe cake was so easy, but turned out quite cool.  I think Little Mr. and all his buddies had a great time!  

Friday, August 1, 2008

Red, White & Blue

So earlier this year (January to be exact), my twins announced the theme for their birthday (in early July): a Red, White & Blue birthday.  We then spent the next six months gradually collecting plates, cups, flags, activities, etc. that matched those colors.  As we got to the park to set up for the party, we noticed a few raindrops and then by party time it was a full-blown thunder and rain storm.  It was a doozy (luckily the party was set up under a pavillion!). The girls were thrilled to see those friends (all proudly wearing r, w & b) who braved the storm and made it to the party!   Party foods included: Blueberries, strawberries, red doritos, red licorice, red juice boxes and white cupcakes with little flags on top.  Activities included patriotic hat making, face painting, playing on the playground and a water balloon toss.  Oh, and I can't forget the Virginia Reel led by my talented friend Sherie!  We had a great time in spite of the rain!

Welcome to Summer!

Though very late in posting, just thought I'd show what we did on the last day of school.  I saw this cute idea in Family Fun magazine and just had to try it.  I painted the words, "Welcome to Summer," "You Did It!" and "Way to Go" on white rolls of paper.  I then hung them in front of the stairs and door and let the kids break through them as though they were finishing the Boston Marathon.  They were so surprised by the signs and loooooved running through them--we actually had to hang some of them up twice for another "run through" round. We may have a new tradition around here!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Heaven Help Me!

So, last night the Mr. and I had the "Talk," you know the one.  The one where we discuss how in the world we'll keep the Little Rascals busy, happy and progressing all summer.   Luckily we have three birthdays (well, technically 2 thanks to the twins) during summer break, so that's two guaranteed days of fun and games.  There's a wedding and some visitors for a few days, so three more days taken care of.  Which leaves me with only 45 days to plan--yikes!  

Every summer I have these grand plans of days full of educational outings, artistic crafts and loads of playdates, but then we just kind of end up eating, swimming, & playing in the yard until the sun goes down.  Not that there's anything wrong with a more casual summer, but the Type A in me just likes a little structure and something concrete to show for our 45 days of freedom.  

Several years ago a friend with older children than my own described how she handled all this unstructured time.  She and her children ate breakfast together and then spent until 10 a.m. getting dressed, practicing instruments and doing jobs around the house.  She never scheduled anything outside the home before 10 a.m.!  Then, at 10 a.m., the doors were open for kids to go outside to play, go on errands or go on an outing.  I like this idea.  Maybe I'll add to that lunch at 12 (wherever we may be), dinner at 5 (hopefully at our picnic table) and bed at 8.  There, that makes me feel better already.  Now I just have to figure out what happens between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.!!!  More on that later.

Oh, and the pictures above were from the Little Mr.'s first birthday.  We've nicknamed these photos "Little guy, big cake!"  That lemon blueberry cake was delish, I tell you.  I just used a lemon cake mix, added lemon zest and juice from one lemon and a bunch of blueberries.  I like using the 8" round cake pans to make a really high cake and frost with a pint of whipping cream whipped with a few cups of powdered sugar mixed in for sweetness and stability. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

1950s Bedding Bliss

Last summer while in Utah we visited my wonderful grandparents and among other treasures, 
my Grandma gave me a bound piece of my mother's 1950s childhood quilt.  I could spend hours just looking at all the different prints and dreaming of snuggling under this super soft quilt.  I love how modern and fresh the colors and prints are after 50 years.  Isn't this a brilliant way of sharing a special object among many children and grandchildren?  Now I just need to get it hung up in the perfect spot in my girls' room!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Give Me an M!

[SPOILER ALERT for New Mexico Cousins!!]
I made this reversible smock for my darling little nephew Miles, who is now officially a big brother thanks to the arrival of new Baby Otis!  The Little Mr. was kind enough to model it before we send it off today.  Love this jungle fabric and thought Miles would enjoy showing off the first letter of his name!  

I made up this pattern from looking at some vintage aprons on  I do have to say my favorite features are the criss-cross in the back and the vintage buttons (salvaged from a friend's mother's fabric stash) I hope he likes it!  

Use it Up, Wear it Out and Make it into Something Else!

A few years ago my favorite charcoal gray winter coat finally wore out.  The ends of the sleeves were threadbare, the buttons (several times re-sewn) had taken big chunks of wool with them when they popped off for the last time and the collar began to look lumpy instead of crisp and neat.  I begrudgingly put it in the Salvation Army pile, but then realized that NOBODY would want it!  Even Salvation Army would throw this pitiful pile of wool away!  

In a stroke of genius I realized that not every part of the coat was worn out.  The back of the coat was practically new as were the tops of the sleeves.  I felt a bit nostalgic for the Great Depression when I began to cut up my beautiful-only-to-me coat to make something else useful.  All the while the famous mantra, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" ran through my mind.  And what did I make?  A tote bag, of course.   And an over-the-shoulder bag, of course.  I didn't realize these are the only things I've been making lately until I started this blog!!!  I can sew other things, believe me!  

I love the grey pinstripe lining in the totebag--it seriously makes me so happy every time I peek in my bag!  I also cut up a pair of my daughter's favorite, yet very worn out (but not in all places!) pepto-bismol pink velvet jeans to be the lining of the shoulder bag.  She was a little surprised to see her jeans reincarnated as a bag--including the pockets!  Do you have a favorite shirt, pair of jeans, coat, etc. lurking in your closet, just waiting at a chance for a new life as a tote bag, stuffed animal, applique, etc?  You should give re-purposing a try!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Reuse, Recycle & Renew

A few years ago my friend was throwing out a pile of upholstery fabric samples and asked if I would like any of them.  Of course, I had to take a look!  Many of these fabrics were obviously from the 70s and 80s and oh so cool.  One of my favorites was this butter yellow/chartreuse/cornflower blue floral bit 'o fabric.  Also in her give away stash was this wonderful pompom trim reminiscent of my 1970s childhood bedroom.

My scavenged finds were all very lonely in my stash until I found the perfect "re-use"--a tote bag for my younger sister. She's the type who shopped at Savers and loved vintage style before it was cool (at least among the mainstream!) and so I thought she would love this print made as a tote bag for all her knitting supplies. I lined it with leftover fabric from another project and included inside pockets for all her supplies.  It all turned out so cute I was seriously tempted to keep it for myself!  

On a side note, I do love the little sister on the side of the photo peeking at what all the fuss is about.  She is definitely my most curious child and no secret, bit of news or detail gets by her!

Birthday Bags & Banners

In the past my oldest daughter has had big birthday parties.  And I mean BIG. One year she invited her entire class plus church and ballet friends.  I think 35 kids showed up!  We held our own olympics, complete with an opening ceremonies parade (with flags!), gold medals and lunch fit for champions.   So this year I was so relieved to hear that she wanted a small party.  Really small.  Just two friends invited.  It was actually the most fun I've ever had hosting a party!  We went all out.  A visit to the Aquarium followed by lunch at the nearby (and delicious!) Panera Bread and then a few more hours at the Aquarium.  
Since it was just a few girls, I was able to make the most fun goody bags.  I made each girl her own bag (tutorial coming soon!) with the first letter of her name appliqued on the bag.  These bags (filled with water bottles, granola bars, fruit snacks and a cute animal magnet) were presented to the girls when we picked them up in the morning.  After lunch, cake & ice cream and opening presents, we gave them each their very own stuffed penguin (as a way to remember our very favorite penguins at the Aquarium).  They were delighted!  

On another note, a few years ago I made a huge Happy Birthday banner for another birthday party.  It turned out so cute (and took so much time!) I couldn't bear to throw it away, so we've used it for every birthday since.  Although a bit time consuming, it was really easy to make. 

 First, buy a roll or two of your favorite sturdy wrapping paper.  Use one roll to cover the birthday party tables and the other roll to make the banner. Next, type Happy Birthday [Birthday Child's Name] and then select a different font for each letter.  Then, format the letters to be the biggest font you can print on the page. Each letter should take up one page.  Print the letters in "outline" form.  Glue to various colored cardstock that matches your wrapping paper.  Use fancy scissors to cut out pendant triangles out of the wrapping paper.  Glue pendants to the bottom of the cardstock sheets and glue on cut out letters.  Use ribbon to string letters together and enjoy!  Just fold it up and stick it in a file folder for future birthdays!

How to Corral the Mess?

I have looked high and low for a toy storage solution that is:

a) Inexpensive

b) Sized to fit our space constraints

c) Attractive

d) Flexible (not as in the material it's made out of but in terms of use in a variety of spaces)

e) Sturdy

I've finally come to the conclusion that I just need to make the "solution" myself!  I just ran across these baskets made out of vinyl (brilliant, just brilliant!) from an online shop in the Netherlands.  Check out their amazing and colorful creations at www.   I've seen vinyl at my local discount shop for $4.99/yd., so I may have to experiment.  What do you think?

In the Beginning

As a five year old I remember sitting at my grandma's dining room table while she and my mother wrestled with the delicate paper pattern pieces to sew me the most delightful skirt I could imagine: a reversible wrap skirt with denim on one side and red gingham on the other.   As I watched them unfold the red and denim yards of fabric I remember being so confused at how those large pieces of fabric could ever transform themselves into the picture on the front of the pattern.  I imagined how this skirt was to become the best start of my kindergarten wardrobe.  
Several years later summer vacation was a few days underway and my father must have sensed my absolute boredom and hopelessness that anything exciting would happen the entire summer.  He suggested that I learn how to sew.  My mother arranged to tutor her friend's daughter in reading if she would teach me how to sew.  I was anxious at first.  Under my teacher's watchful eye it took me two hours to cut out the most simple t-shirt pattern because I was so afraid of cutting outside of the lines.  Once a bit more confident, I became a monster.  In an effort to encourage my new hobby my father offered to buy me all the fabric I could sew, an offer that was quickly rescinded once he realized I was asking for a ride to the fabric store several times a week!  And can I just say that I haven't stopped sewing since?!!  
Yes, there have been times when I just didn't have time to devote to this obsession, but it has always been a calming, centering activity for me--one that I hope to do more and teach to my children.  I hope this blog will be a chance for me to share thoughts on sewing, life, children and other things important to me.  The name of this blog "Run 'n Stitch" comes from a sewing class I taught at our church one morning a week where the moms stitched while the kids ran and played in the gym.  I think this allusion to the sewing term "running stitch" is much like my life--I run around a lot with my four children and all of their activities and stitch when I can to maintain calm and sanity!  I look forward to this blogging adventure and welcome you to join me!