Friday, July 31, 2009

Betz White Super-Gorgeous Organic Fabric

I'd like to tell a little story about long, long ago when I discovered a wonderful little cupcake pincushion at the craft sale I helped plan in Minneapolis. It was as cute as could be, and it stood out as one of those unique little delights amid lots of bottlecap jewelry and things made from scrabble tiles. In the world of hipster craft sales, as in many worlds, it's hard to stand out. But Betz White was a standout the year she joined us at No Coast Craft-o-rama. She was the pink and sweet in a sea of black and skulls.

I've followed her work ever since; I bought her first book (need to buy the second) and became a reader of her blog. Her work is so bright and cheerful and optimistic I just love it! And she's working hard to be ecologically minded in her work, which I also strive for in my own whenever I can.

I was thrilled to learn that Betz's newest addition to her genius-ness is a line of organic fabric, for sale in her Etsy shop. My favorite is the Picnic Floral Organic Canvas. At $68/yard it's a little pricey just to buy and figure out something to do with it later. I'm going to think good and hard and then bite the bullet and pick some up for myself. It's scrumdillyicious!

Dog Days

It sure hasn't felt like a "usual" summer around here. I haven't had the air conditioning on more than twice and I haven't felt inclined to stick my behind in the freezer or spontaneously turn the hose on myself at all. It's sort of like cheating. Global Cooling. It's feeling more like fall then I can ever remember summer's past feeling.

The bad news is we haven't yet hit the neighborhood pool. The good news is every other thing we've done this summer has not been done in a pool of our own sweat while we alternate sunblock and bugspray. It's actually quite pleasant to be outside enjoying summer. What a concept!

Tonight we hit the Dog Parade in our neighborhood and, although all the local merchants had little bowls of water out for the pooches, no one was at risk of heat stroke and everyone could enjoy being in the direct (although setting) sun to watch them swagger, run, sniff, ride and meander by, sniffing for treats and ear rubs.

It was a very short parade and the costumes lacked a bit, but hey, it was good, local, free fun and we got to pet a lot of seriously cute dogs that were seriously more well behaved than our own. I've already started thinking about how to dress two Schnauzers for next year. Batman and Robin? Sonny and Cher? Hmmm. I need some ideas here.

Happy Friday and good weekend to you! I hope you're getting some lovely summer weather wherever you are.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Little Pumpkin Turning TWO!

I can't even explain how it happened. I mean, one minute we were like "oh, yeah, it might be cool to have a kid" and the next, we are doting parents to an adorable two-year-old. Like seriously: blink and you're parents.

All those annoyingly "wise" people who tell you how fast it goes by are right. It unexplainably does. Just in the yesterday I heard him say two new words ("bike" and "people"). That's in addition to the 100's of words he already says like "tattoo" and "garbanzo bean" and the sentences he's starting to string together like "mama dig more". Before I know it he'll be transitioning to phrases like "Mom, are you seriously wearing that out in public?"

But, no matter. I've been making a conscious effort since the beginning to PAY ATTENTION to all of it. I've been documenting every single breath he takes with either my camera, my journal or my video camera. Just in case I missed anything or start to forget, I can just rewind the tape or take a look through the album! I hear second and subsequent children are much less photographed. Probably because we've all worn out our cameras by then with all the photos! Oh, and the blackmail material I have amassed so far is incredible. Bring on the future girlfriends.

Anyway, it's my kid's second birthday this weekend. I made him a special shirt with his favorite thing -- cars -- on it and I'm hoping we can spend the day doing things he loves like digging in the sandbox, taking walks and maybe even eating some cake. It's going to be low key, and I'm going to try not to get too freaked out by the fact that two years have gone by since he was first just a tiny little helpless thing coming home with me from the hospital.

FYI -- this fabric is Alexander Henry's Traffic Jam in Mint. Crafty Planet appears to be out of stock. The buttons I purchased on Etsy and the pattern is vintage.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Work : Life

It's so hard being me. I mean, I have to work! Like, 5 days a week! It's tough! I do hard things, and I try hard to do them well. So this week, when I had to go on a business trip, I took pity on myself. Actually, truly, I always do feel mixed feelings about work trips. Inevitably I get more time to myself (all 25 extra minutes of it between the work dinner and when my head hits the pillow), but I still miss my little guy and my cute hubby. And I feel bad for leaving them alone. So I usually call many more times a day than I would if I were home, and I always bring gifts back.

This time, I spent all of about 48 hours in San Francisco. I've been there at least a dozen times and virtually know my way around the Financial District, Chinatown and even once, after working all day, walked all the way from my hotel on Market to Japantown (if you know the area, you know that it took me the better part of an entire night). But it felt good, and I even feel guilty for saying so. It's nice to see red lanterns hanging above the streets of Chinatown. I love seeing the fog sag drearily over the cheerily-colored houses. The hills! We don't have hills in Minnesota. At least not ones that are covered with pastel "ladies" and beautiful, otherworldly palms and purple-pink bushes.

I guess what I'm saying is that I work. I take business trips. I miss my family. But a little part of me loves the freedom of an hour spent wandering alone with my camera. Skipping dinner so I can see more of the city. Watching the chic young women walk by in their tall boots and trendy scarves and just disappearing in the crowd, able to at once be one with the city and be a silent and secret observer. Or spending the night eating food or drinking drinks that I can't get at home. Oh, it's a guilty pleasure.

Although I never get too far afield of my hotel or office, I have developed a few favorite places to hit if I get the chance. Here are a couple of my favorite things to do when I'm in town (some are brand new!):
--Rickhouse Bar
--One Market Restaurant
--Home Restaurant
--Chow Restaurant
--Hubby's favorite, the Toronado Pub
--Ferry Building farmer's market and shops
--Britex Fabrics

Do you spend any time in San Francisco? What do you do when you're there? What restaurants should I try? Anyone know a reliable Chinatown eatery?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wisconsin Food Obsession

This weekend was my annual Girl's Weekend in Wisconsin. We realized that this is the fifth time in sixth years we've made the trek southward for a big weekend of shopping, eating, manicuring, drinking, shopping and playing a bit of M.A.S.H. The only year we missed it I was 9.75 months pregnant and really not too in the mood for the heat, the crowds or, frankly, anything.

I realized after I got home and checked out all my photos that I must have taken my hollow leg on the trip. Every damn photo is food-related! Not that that's a bad thing, but you can really tell where my head was at. And my stomach. We definitely did a lot of great eating, from the mall kiosk candy store to the farmer's market baked buttermilk donuts to the landmark "red brat" at State Street Brats, with required plastic pitcher of 'Sconnie beer to accompany it.

Next year, we've already decided, we need to mix it up and go to a new destination and try some new things. I'm okay with that. I mean, there's a limit to the amount of shopping I can muster up excitement about. But the food...that's another story. I can get excited about food pretty much anytime, anywhere, for any reason. What's more beautiful that a massive mound of bright, perfect carrots? Only a bakery counter stuffed with donuts as big as my head, really.

Next year, maybe we'll try to swing Duluth. After all, one of my favorite Minnesota restaurants, The New Scenic Cafe has been calling my name lately.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Well-Deserved Weekend Away

Who doesn't deserve a little weekend relaxation time? Me, I think I'm always entitled. So I'm off to my annual girl's weekend where we shop, look at stupid magazines, play MASH, partake of spirits such as Sangria and cider and get our nails done. Oh, and eat incessantly. It's really pretty amazing and all the while, wee one is happily playing at his grandparent's place, so I don't even have to feel weird, guilty or strange leaving him behind. It's like everyone wins.

I'll see you all next week! Have a fantastic weekend!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Getting Back to My Pumpkin Girl Roots

I grew up in what now seems like idyllic circumstances -- 3 acres right in the city -- a city of 250,000 that had great schools, low crime and was home to a major university and thus tons of cultural and sporting events. In my backyard we had a huge 1-acre garden that was used primarily to grow pumpkins, but we also grew a mass of rhubarb, strawberries, beans, corn and lots of other tasty things.

At the time, I hated weeding under the hot sun, and picking berries whilst being eaten alive by millions of mosquitoes. But looking back, it seems like it was a pretty unique upbringing. I learned a little bit about growing stuff, but mostly I learned to appreciate things that had been grown by someone. It's not easy, and yet the results are delicious.

These days, I have scaled back significantly and have exactly:
--1 tomato plant, mostly dead from lack of water with 2 tiny tomatoes on it
--1 yellow pepper that has been eaten by some pest and looks like swiss cheese
--1 green pepper, also swiss cheesed, but with 1 tiny pepper
--1 mystery plant that looks like it could be cantaloupe or some other of that family
--a decent, but small, herb garden with 1 rosemary, 1 cilantro, 2 basil
--1 awesome rhubarb plant
--1 tiny strawberry plant from which I got a bounty crop of 4 strawberries this year (up from 1 last year)

In all, it's enough to feed one elf who is fasting and not much else. Of course, it's definitely feeding some pests... But we decided not to despair, but just to head right out to the farm and pick "something" from a real garden. We choose Berry Hill Farm because I could not for the life of me find a local pick-your-own flower farm in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area (anyone know a place?).

It was fantastic! The berries were absolutely perfectly ripe and there were so many we couldn't help but step on a few. And our wee one only ate oh, a dozen or so. Actually, I realized partway in that he was taking the ones I handed him and taking a bite out of one and throwing the handful in the box. Later we had a fun time sifting through to take out the "pre-bitten" ones.

What are you harvesting this year? Spent any time down on the farm?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Off to the [Hamburger] Races

Hamburger Races
Originally uploaded by truckertracy
At our house we've been watching a little bit of the Tour de France. It's fun to try to figure out what everything means. Like Peloton? The Yellow Jersey? Did you know that Tour de France apparently started as a newspaper promotion? Wow, there's so much to learn, it's hard to keep track of all the stages and "trade teams" and strategy. If anyone knows of a good "Dummies Guide to..." book, let me know. Geez, so many things I enjoy I just need the Cliff's notes to understand. Like hockey. And most other sports.

Wee Pumpkin is really shaping up to be quite the athelete. He loves to run everywhere these days, and often declares before he takes off, "runanrunanrun!" We're in the midst of potty training, and so our code word for "I need to hit the potty, ma" is also "runanrunanrun!" Of course, 40% of the time he is saying "runanrunanrun" while the pee is forming a puddle at his feet, but at least he's starting to get the idea. I'm absolutely terrified of the potty training outside the house part of this whole experience. Again, do they make Cliff's notes for that?

Next weekend I'm off for my annual Girl's Trip to hit my hometown for some awesome shopping, relaxing and, if all goes as planned, some much needed jaw flappin'. Now to pick up some trashy lady magazines and some good snacks for the long car ride. I can hardly wait!!!!!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pimp My Ride 2009: Advercars

I don't consider myself to be too up on the newest trends, but I did hear that it's become really popular to trick out your hooptie with your favorite brand of candy or soda or whatever. I almost didn't believe it could be true, until what to my dismay should I happen to walk by but this lovely bright blue Skittles candy car! I first heard about it secondhand from our friend who lives in the not-so-nice neighborhood in Milwaukee. I did a quick search of Flickr and found that cities all over this blessed country have their very own Skittles cars! Glory be! There are Wild Berry cars, original, the list goes on. Have you seen these in your town??

In more mundane news, our poor delapitated Mazda with 180,000 miles on it just cost us another $500 today. Grrr. Pretty soon we'll be a one-car family and I think that will be A-ok. Maybe we could trick out the car we have. I'm kind of impartial to Reeses Peanut Butter cups, though. Maybe an orange and brown car...? Crap, it's already been done. Several times. But this one's my favorite.

Do they get paid for this...? I need to solve this mystery!!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

What to do, What to do?

Luckily my kid isn't old enough yet to utter the words "I'm bored" or the various combinations including "This is boring" and "This is stupid" and "Do we have to...?" and "When are we going to...?" However, I am trying to proactively avoid such sentiments this summer by coming up with a "summer do" list. So far, it's only really included "make it through til July" and now we're ready to start checking the fun stuff off the list before the snow flies again (which, in Minnesota, is about a month and a half from now).

I came across this awesome list geared towards grandparents, but I think it's totally relevant to parents, too. I borrowed a little from this list, and came up with a few of my own to create my summer do list:
--Garage saling!!!!!
--Hit the drive-in diner (our local fave is the Dari-ette)
--Check out the farmer's market (more than once!)
--Spend a weekend at a cabin (we're thinking about the Girl Lake Resort)
--Have a picnic
--Spend a day at the Minnesota State Fair
--Give the dogs a bath
--Hit the water park (href="">Jim Lupient is our favorite)
--Take a weekend off (Girl's Weekend 2009 here I come!!!)

Mr. Pumpkin and wee pumpkin have already done tons more fun stuff, like watching a big Lion's parade, the beach and about 8,000 hours of park time, but me being the working stiff had to keep the must do list a little more brief.

What's on your must-do list this summer?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Birthday Shirt WIP

When my little pumpkin turned one, it felt like such a major milestone. Sometimes it was hard to believe we all survived. I wanted to make sure it was absolutely the most perfect day moreso than I ever cared about my wedding being perfect. His first birthday was pretty perfect, with everyone in our families and all of our friends there to see him smash cake in his face, open a ton of really awesome gifts and just generally be showered with love.

This year, I've come down from that cloud a little. Of course I do want the wee one to have a fantastic birthday. But, I'm not quite as obsessed. I did briefly consider renting a bounce house for the party, but I think I came to my senses. Ideally, we'd rent him an ATV or a Bobcat he could sit in, but that just seems a little overboard.

I have been working on a little crafty project for the birthday. It's a really cool car shirt using a vintage boy's button up short sleeve shirt pattern my mom gave me. I think it's turning out great. I just have to find some buttons for it. Any recommendations? I'm thinking making-versus-buying the kiddo's birthday gifts will make a pretty good tradition if I can keep it up. My sister does it with her kids and it's always really special. She and her hubby have made a little bench, a play theater, all kinds of cool things...

Any brilliant ideas on fun activities for a 2-year-old birthday? I mean, aside from a bounce house...

Friday, July 03, 2009

A Pumpkin Girl's Dream Come True

I have some BIG BIG BIG news! Little miss Pumpkin Girl is going to be in a book called One Yard Wonders, by the talented local duo Trish Hoskins (owner of Crafty Planet)and Rebecca Yaker (designer behind Hazel and Melvin's Room). I'm pinching myself with excitement! The concept of the book is 101 sewing projects that require a yard or less of fabric. I am not only completely humbled and honored that one of my projects was chosen for the book, but I honestly cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of the book so that I can check out all the amazing work by other crafters. I think a few crafty gals I know personally also have designs in the book, so it'll be especially fun to try out their designs!

You can become a Facebook fan of the book and get a sneak peek at some of the projects (check out the adorable little girl's skirt designed by Rebecca) or even enter a contest by the publisher to win a yard of fabric for a year! The book is due out at the end of October, just in time for all that holiday crafting we all say we're going to do and then generally don't get around to. Maybe this year will be different. I think a yard of fabric and this awesome book would make a pretty awesome gift in itself.

It's a real dream come true for me. Now, I just have to try to suspend my disbelief that my project will actually be in there!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

A Picture-Perfect Day for Announcing Winners!

Ahhh. It was a fantastic Thursday despite the fact that 9 hours of it were spent in a cubicle. I did sneak out to take a walk through the farmer's market, which is conveniently just outside my office. I got some new potatoes, some dill plants and some yummy bread (which I proceeded to start in on at lunch time). I took some photos, strolled a bit, listened to music. The weather was so great here today I should have tried to play hooky! Or maybe I should have laid down next to this adorable dog and taken a little snooze...

On to the important stuff, right?? Like big prizes to award!!!! And thanks to everyone who participated in the blog freebie fun! I am super excited to announce the winners! And through this giveaway process, I have avoided having my husband kick me and my clutter out on the curb, so thank you for that. Congrats are in order to:

--Laura! You are the big winner of the stocking and vintage bracelet!
--KristenMary! You are the winner of the growth chart!
--Jen! You are the winner of a secretly stashed growth chart that wasn't even a known giveaway item!!!
--Lisa at Lil Fish Studios! You are taking home a buncha lipbalms!!!
--Pin and Paper! You are the big winner of my big stash o' cards!
--No one snatched up the baby hat, so I'm going to donate it to my favorite charity!

If you're a winner, make sure I have your email address so I can get your details and get your freebies in the mail! Yippee!