25 April 2008


I don't have an Etsy shop to promote, nor am I an e-tailer of any kind. I blog primarily because it quiets all that noise in my head. But I've thus far kept my anonymity--well, to the extent possible (it seems these days you can find anybody if you're halfway Google-proficient). I stay faceless because I don't want to ruin the transference. Seriously, that's the actual reason! I haven't worked in so many years and I don't know if I'll ever return to clinical practice; yet, I tailor my life around the faintest possibility of such. Now there are a great many who would argue that not only is it acceptable to reveal details about myself, but that it is bolsters the therapeutic alliance. But that's not the issue here. The issue is that I don't know where my professional life is going. I spent so many years in training and the prospect of never working in the field again scares me. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret being a full-time SAHM. I wouldn't have it any other way. But still...

So while I ponder over what I want to be when I grow up, here are two semi-unrecognizable shots of the munchkins.

First is A1, who has always been a gross motor maniac blowing away expected milestones and running and tumbling like a star athlete. His vast fund of general knowledge is only surpassed by his incredibly proficient expressive language, the specificity of which is astounding. His fluid reasoning in novel situations is just as stellar. And then there are his fine motor skills. Poor kid can barely hold a crayon! He and I break out in fits of laughter when I ask his age and he tries to raise three fingers while simultaneously holding down the remaining two.

And now here's A2 scooting away as quickly as he can because he sees me coming to gather him up and wash all that mud off! I feel guilty about not showering on my second born the attention that was possible when his brother was his age. But he has never held it against me. His affect is so true, never hidden like the way A1 and I are inclined to do. A1's difficult delivery followed by months of untreated PPD hindered our early bonding. But with A2, it was the stuff of fairy tales. The moment I saw him, I recognized him--recognized that we belonged to each other. He looked at me as though he understood everything I was saying to him. And before he was born, I was actually afraid that I couldn't love another child as much as my perfect A1. I was wrong.

24 April 2008


There was a family had a dog,
And Paxil was his name-o.
P-A-X-I-L, P-A-X-I-L, P-A-X-I-L.
And Paxil was his name-o!

10 years young; adopted at 9 months

23 April 2008

New glass

For my 36th, James got me a Tokina AT-X 124 Pro DX 12-24mm f/4 (equivalent to 18-36mm on a 35mm film camera). I'm not a "sweeping landscape" kind of gal, but maybe it's because I never had the right equipment for it! My Nikkor 28-105mm was perfect for the N80 in just about every situation; but recently, the smaller sensors on my D80 had me yearning for wider views.

Do I know enough or even care about distortion, illumination falloff, vignetting, or flares? Nope. I'm just so excited it arrived before A1's birthday party! And, given the build quality and speedy auto focus, I don't have a single regret about having James go third party for my new glass.

I've always just had a single body and lens so there were never any storage issues, but now I feel like sewing a cushioned lens pouch for the one not attached to the D80.

Cookie dependence

There is no risk reduction when it comes to homemade chocolate chip cookies; there is only abstinence.

cookie abstinence

It's a disease and it's not my fault, but it is my responsibility to control it! And I'll get right on--after I have a cookie...or two...or eight.

22 April 2008

Citrus poppy bread

A friend was kind enough to share the recipe for her delish poppy bread, but when she found out I used butter instead of butter extract, reduced the sugar, substituted applesauce for much of the oil, reduced the baking powder and added baking soda, and threw in some fresh lemon juice as well as rind, she called me a cook. That's right. She called me a cook. Apparently, my measuring device-less, haphazard adhesion to her recipe made me far too imprecise to be a baker. While I'd never heard that distinction before, I'm inclined to agree with it. It also explains why many of my baked goods (hello, craptastic biscuit cookies!) don't turn out the way they're intended.

In any case, the second time I used, as it were, her recipe, there were no ripe lemons in the backyard so I added blood orange instead. Yum! This time, neither were available so I added kumquats.

kumquat bowl

21 April 2008

Birthday party prep (lack thereof!)

I know mothers who plan and prepare their children's parties months in advance. I am, sadly, not so diligent. For A1's party this coming Saturday, I just started working a few days ago, though I have had a mental working plan of how it would be laid out for some time now. I've really been hustling to get as much done as possible so that I don't end up cramming everything in at the very last minute.

Since A1 is utterly enamored of all things construction, it seemed a themed party with different work sites might be fun for him. Site 1 is a coloring station with 5 different images of working vehicles. Crayons and 25 photocopied sets of the images were placed in a tool tray.


Site 2 is a cookie painting station. Sugar cookies in the shape of dump and cargo trucks, planes, trains, and cars will be laid out with colorful frosting for the kids to "paint" using foam brushes. I didn't put this on the invitation in case I didn't have time to do all that baking to prepare the activity, especially since the cake will be homemade.


Site 3 is a hammering station where kids can drive nails (golf tees) into planks (Styrofoam). I gathered a few of A1's hammers--there are actually more laying around that weren't recruited for this birthday activity!


Site 4 will be a "Pin the tools on the toolbelt" game. I have no idea how I'm going to create a life-sized version of Bob the Builder, but I did manage to cut out 8 apiece of a cardstock hammer, wrench, and screwdriver. They were placed in a baggy with tape and a handkerchief blindfold so that everything is ready to go on the day of the party.


The final work site is where kids will dig up their own party favors. Each child will be given a hardhat (the birthday boy gets a real hardhat), a bucket, and a shovel and rake and will go at it in the vegetable patch where goodies (dinosaur eggs, bendable figures, squishy balls, and plastic ducks) will be strewn about. I'll be pretty pleased once this party is over and I can plant the patch!


I don't have the food and drink worked out just yet, but hopefully that will fall into place in due time.

20 April 2008

Pine cone bird feeders

This was a fun tactile project for A1, who prefers to use his hands when crafting.

pinecone bird feeder

19 April 2008

White model number 7911?

We took a family thrifting trip today and I ended up adopting an abandoned sewing machine. There were 7 from which to choose: A modern one that I didn't even bother investigating, 3 in cases, and 3 in cabinets. James predicted a garage full of halfway functional machines when he first laid eyes on the vintage Singer, but I am genuinely surprised by my own decision to take on another machine when I hadn't even started restoration of the class 15 head yet.*

I was a little nervous about making the purchase but I was swayed by its low price, the fact that it ran when we plugged it in, and its sturdy metal construction. But mostly, it was the oh-so-cute color that got me.

White model 79

It needs at least a belt and bobbin case, not to mention an instruction manual (though I can probably wing it) before we're in business, but I have high hopes. Since both this and the Singer are straight stitch machines with reverse and potted motors. I can't truly figure the sense in having two machines that are so similar in function--one for upstairs, one for downstairs? Or, I may move one of them out for a treadle or hand crank machine.

*I plugged in the Singer and it worked--intermittently, that is. From my quick look around, the motor seems fine, but I suspect the foot pedal wiring requires some work because I had to fiddle with it a bit. Still, I'm quite happy since it purred along when I got it to run.

Ringslingin' at last!

A1 was a whopping 26 pounds when he was 9 months and had clearly outgrown his Bjorn, so I desperately needed a way to keep him near me without breaking my arms and back. Though I discovered babywearing late (i.e., when my baby was almost a toddler!), it came very naturally to me. I was able to strap him onto my back immediately after opening the package of our first mei tai, and on the second day after opening the package to our first wrap. Since then, we've successfully tried soft structured carriers, rebozos, pouches, onbuhimos, and podaegis. But ringslings, which are often touted as easy to learn and quick to adjust, eluded me. They mocked me with their simple design and empty promises of poppability.

I decided I would conquer them once and for all by bringing the double dupioni number to an outing, without the safety net of other carriers in the car. This poor ringsling had been hanging beautifully on the hinge of the foyer closet awaiting use for far too long!

butterfly dupioni

It turns out that I was adjusting too tightly and not starting A2 far enough over toward my side. While still not my first carrier choice for long carries, I am so pleased to report that I am not only a ringslinger, but a simultaneously nursing ringslinger!

13 April 2008

Craigslist Singer saga, the conclusion

Yesterday, I picked up the machine; I drove far too fast and with the radio cranked up far too loud. The seller and her husband were extraordinarily kind and this current posting proves to James that not all craigslisters are looking to release their murderous rage. Preemptive apologies are due for the exorbitant number of photos to follow!

Here is the cabinet, which the previous owner bought subsequent to buying the machine head. It needs a little work on the side where the wood veneer has become unattached, but the previous owner saved all the pieces so I imagine it will be a quick job using only wood glue.


And here is the cabinet opened to reveal my lovely new sewing machine! I haven't yet plugged it in, fearing sparks and smoke, but the wires all look like they are in good condition. I intend to run the machine head down to a local sew/vac shop and have them tune it up before any real sewing gets done.

cabinet opened

A closer view of the front of the machine shows that it's in fairly good condition with much of its decals intact. I'm so used to the tiny harp on my modern plastic machine--I bet these vintage numbers are great for quilting!


The rear view clearly demonstrates the missing light. You can also see the gear-driven (woohoo, no belt!) potted motor.


I didn't think the preceding photos told enough of the story so I dragged the cabinet back out onto the driveway this morning and took some more pictures! Here is (sort of) a top view. The markings on the arm seem a bit silvered but since it's unlikely that wear and friction would strike such an out-of-the-way position, I wonder if it were always like this intentionally. (My white balance is all funky in this shot!)


Here's the view from the hand wheel, where the rust on the spool pins and bobbin winder components is quite evident.

hand wheel

The face plate is not that far gone, but the tension and needle bar assemblies are both totally rusted over. It might prove more efficient to get a new presser foot than to try to salvage this one. I've seen fairly reasonable sets of vintage feet on eBay.

face plate 1

This photo of the full face plate is just to show the pretty scroll work.

face plate 2

This partial front view makes the markings on the stitch indicator plate look extremely faint (again with the weird bluish tint!), but they are much more legible in real life. The stitch regulator thumb screw is very rusty, as is the stitch regulator and feed reversing handle, but the name plate (hmm, is that what's it's called?) looks pretty good.

partial front

The partial rear view below reveals the vast difference between the rusty presser bar lifter and the shiny thread guide and thread take-up lever.

partial rear

As mentioned in the ad, a manual, buttonholer, zigzagger, and ruffler were included. Fortunately, the buttonholer and zigzagger came with original instructions; and, I was able to find some YouTube footage of the ruffler in action on a Singer 15 which augment the 7 pages dedicated to the ruffler in the main operating manual. Though as far as the manual, itself, is concerned, it's definitely not original as its copyright of 1950 postdates the machine's birth in 1934.


In addition the advertised goodies, the seller also added some bobbins, needles, grommets, patches, chalk and a holder, a seam ripper, a seam gauge, and a bunch of zippers. All in all, it was $50 well spent!

09 April 2008

Craigslist Singer saga, part III

I'm afraid to compose this post and jinx myself again! First there was the 201-2 that sold before I was able to pick it up because I didn't feel right asking the owner to hold it without knowing when I'd be able to drive up. Then there was the 66-18 that sold even though it had been promised to me. And now there's this lovely class 15, available. It was purchased secondhand by the current owner in 1962 and used to make her children's clothes. Since it sat in her garage for so long, its metal is a bit rusted but she claims it's otherwise in working order.

It comes in Cabinet No. 72, a simple, clean-lined piece which has a walnut finish of selected grain and a center drawer for supplies. In this case, the owner has listed bobbins, a buttonholer, a zigzag attachment and a ruffler as included accessories. The machine head itself has a serial number of AD757706, which means it was among the 35,000 class 15s from the Elizabethport factory in Elizabeth, New Jersey that were allotted on October 4th, 1934.

In my conversation with the owner of this lovely piece of American engineering, I learned about her days of early marriage in Colorado, her children and soon to be adopted African grandchild, and her retirement plans on the central Californian coast (prying is a professional habit of which I have yet to rid myself!). And she was able to hear all my grand plans for her beloved machine; I made sure she understood that I wasn't a collector who would merely display it or a investor who would refurbish and resell at a profit. So hopefully, the very personal exchange between us will mean that she, unlike her craigslist predecessor will honor the promise to hold the machine until Saturday morning when I can drop off the boys and pick it up!

08 April 2008

Quiet moments

When A2 also snoozes in the morning, A1 and I try to find quiet activities that won't bother his little brother. Mostly we craft. I dug up this forgotten photo of a Valentine's card made using leftover candy canes. After the photo, A1 added stickers, glitter, and far more paint than a single sheet of construction paper can withstand!

candy cane cards

Here's something more recent. It's the kitchen island after our "You draw, I draw" game. If you look hard, you can see our spirograph images, my craptastic dinosaur and monkey, and A1's fantabulous square and triangle.


During their concurrent midday nap, I wear A2 and prance around the yard taking photos and dreaming of the day when I can tend my garden again (the weeds are so tall these days!). Here are 2 I took in our continuing look at the liquidambar in Spring:



And along similar lines, this is a look at the loquat progress thus far. We've begun to eat the ripe fruit, but we're obviously not moving fast enough because so many of the branches nearly touch the ground because of the heavy burden of their fruit.

loquat ripening

The pomegranates seem to be doing well and are as prolific as ever!

pomegranate blossoms

There are so many Society Garlic plants in the front yard. I should have considered my sensitive olfaction when adding them to the garden.

Society Garlic

This shows the bougainvillea having their way with the melaleuca. I would train them back but I'm so fond of their showy color.


This shot of the outside of the kitchen windows, as well as the closeups of a select few, show cacti and other succulents that were all once $.99 purchases. They've gotten so big through the years but only get a chance at being repotted when the Santa Anas gust through the yard and knock them over.






And finally, these orchids look like an a capella group harmonizing their hearts out instead of respecting the need for quiet during A2's nap:

singing orchids

05 April 2008

Craigslist stinger!

(See previous post for history.)

I turned on my rarely-used cell phone this morning to call the craigslist seller prior to picking up the 66 machine head, as previously arranged. Instead, I found a vmail message from a few days ago about the unexpectedly high level of interest in her machine. In short, she wanted me to make her an offer above her written asking price--you know, the one we agreed upon during our initial conversation. Now I imagine this tactic doesn't violate the rules of craigslist commerce but it certainly violates trust and lacks the general ethics I expect from civilized folks. Based on the background of the photos in the listing, the Google Maps curbside image of the house, and the street address itself, the seller is in an affluent neighborhood. Why she saw fit to increase her asking price from $25 to $50 is beyond me. James says to forget about it and that dealing with such individuals never ends well, but I can't help it but be a little sad about my second missed shot at a great old Singer. At the very least, this little hiccup has taught me that I'm more than willing to try a machine other than the 201.

To cheer myself up, I thought I'd sew. My current incomplete project is a hat...but it wasn't cooperating! Nothing was lining up properly, which shouldn't surprise me at all because my pattern-less sewing has historically been as successful as my recipe-less cooking. Rather than driving myself batty, I left the hat alone for a quick project among the To Do pile next to the sewing table.

Here are the ingredients, all selected by A1: 16 snips of ribbon, 4 layers of a plastic shopping bag (it's the tougher, crinklier kind with no writing, as the ink would bleed in the wash; remember not to use your good fabric shears), and 2 decorative outer layers.


I sandwiched the ingredients as follows: plastic sheets, outer layer facing up, ribbon dangling in, and outer layer facing down. I sewed around the edge leaving a turning hole, then turned and topstitched. Since taggies are everywhere, and fairly inexpensive at that, I made this one special by adding A2's initials.


Okay, so A2 is getting a little too old for a sensory taggie, but it had been in the works for a while and I really needed a quick project to regain faith in my sewing abilities, meager though they may be. And it worked too, because I kept going and completed another project. Here is my Smitten Kitten embellished Target bag. I felt that pink flower in the upper left was a bit much so I've since ripped it off. The other flowers may soon follow, leaving only the kitty in the center.

Target bag

04 April 2008

Craigslist Singer

My husband is convinced that only serial killers and their prospective victims roam the pages of craigslist. I, on the other hand, relentlessly search the term "sewing machine" at least two or three times per day. Just a few days ago, my dedication yielded a $25 Singer of unknown specification. By telephone (a medium I loathe!), the owner revealed that though it is no longer working, her grandmother possibly used it and her mother definitely used it. I figure that I can either have the machine rewired or merely use the cabinet, as it is in well-cared-for condition.

Based on the photo provided in the ad and the seemingly endless amount of information that can garnered from the internet, I have determined the cabinet to be No. 41, an economy model. It has an embossed door, hinged to the left leg, which swings outward to reveal a tray and spool rack; and, it was manufactured especially made for model 66-18.

The 5,924,909 American 66s were produced from 1902-1956; and the 2,981,388 Scottish (Kilbowie) 66Ks were produced from 1907-1940. Production difficulties meant the first 66s rolled off the line with a commission date of October 27, 1902, not 1900 as their "XXth Century Sewing Machine" moniker might suggest.

The 66 Class has oscillating hook movement and is the larger version of the 99; it measures 14 3/4" x 7" to the 99's 12 1/4 x 6 1/2". Also, the 66 has a rear inspection plate, whereas the 99 does not. The 66-18 itself is characterized by a disc balance wheel, plain tension, stitch lever with reverse, late bobbin winder, knee or foot control for cabinet, and wrinkle (Godzilla) finish. Unlike its 66-1 and 66-3 predecessors, the 66-18 has a side clamping foot. Also unlike the earlier 66s, it has a stamped face place instead of an embossed one and a smaller latch finger to allow for pivoting and removal of the bobbin case.

Now that I've completed a fair amount of research, I've fallen in love this machine. Man, am I going to be disappointed if the seller moves this machine before I get to it or if it's not a 66 at all! I initially hesitated because it's not the 201-2 of my dreams, but am now eagerly anticipating picking up this beauty tomorrow afternoon.

03 April 2008

I seriously need a 12 step program

What in the world is wrong with me!?!

Sorry the images are a little distorted...I had A2 on me while trying to photograph with one hand:

new fabric

I ordered some Alexander Henry fabric and when they came in the mail during the week, I was relieved because I was able to sneak them quietly into the sewing room. That sort of shame is so telling!

Mirabelle, which seemed monochromatic in the vendor photo, will become part of a purse. The Leis, Luaus, and Aloha print had been out of stock for so long that I felt justified getting 3 yards for as yet undetermined uses. And Smitten Kitten is just plain cute. The Weeping Cherries and Bells, direct from Nishinomiya City, Hyogo, will become matching accessories for my Lexie Barnes Darling in Makiko. However, unlike the LB folks, I will be using it rightside up. (They purposely positioned it upside down so that the cherry blossoms would be floating upward instead of cascading downward.)