Month: March 2010

  • Think Spring!


    Welcome, O Spring!

    How I love thee, in all thy vibrant beauty!


    I’m thinking…


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    These are the daffodils I was mad about in February. Now it’s Spring, so I like. :)

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    I’m thinking


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    Exchanging pinecones for pink flowering quince. Love love love.

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    I’m thinking


    My new shoes make my heart go pitter-patter.

    And Zoe’s comment upon seeing them?

    “That’s cuuuute!”

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    [never mind the chipped, peeling toenails.
    they weren't expecting to be in a picture anytime soon.]


    I’m thinking




  • February Inspirations


    It hits me every February.

    They are  the long, dreary days of winter, and I know, I know, that is the perfect opportunity to sleep when the kids sleep. To take long, restful naps every afternoon. Or at least sit on the couch with a cup of coffee and a book while the kids sleep. That was my dilemna this afternoon, and it’s not even February anymore.

    But oh no. Every February I’m hit with the desire to create. Not sure why it’s then. Maybe wanting to bring a little bit of beauty into a bleak winter. Maybe partly because I like to have a little “Clarita-the-woman” time in the midst of all the “Clarita-the-wife” and “Clarita-the-mommy” roles. Don’t get me wrong- I love my roles, but I am also a woman along with being a wife and a mother, and I think I do better at both when I make time to bless my soul. Hear that – make time, because it sure doesn’t just happen!

    This February was a little different. I think I only had one day that I didn’t go anywhere in the course of a month,   and for a few weeks I was hardly at home during the day at all. 

    But the ideas kept coming, and I made time for a little bit of creating. Nothing huge and glamorous. Just a little bit of this and a little bit of that. A few cutesy things for the girls’ room, mostly. And though it was a very busy season, it does my heart good to be inspired and “create.”

    Project #1: Faux Fleece Blankets

    I’m thinking ahead to the new old house we’re hoping to move into by May. I will probably do the same basic color scheme in the girls’ new room, neutral with whites and creams and  browns, because we aren’t rich enough to change our entire house, furniture and all! Ha! No, I really like their room as it is right now.

    These are used at the foot of their beds, but I use them at night for extra warmth for Zoe, and for a big cuddle blanket for Olivia. Inspired by a similar blanket I saw at BabyGap for $40.

    JoAnn Fabric sells fabric almost identical to BabyGap, but make sure you have a good coupon if you go because it’s $25 a yard. I used two yards for both blankets. JoAnn has two colors, this dark chocolate and a really pretty camel color.

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    I made these by cutting it into large squares then overlapping the squares on top of each other to get the fleece to stick out on top.

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    Project #2: Faux Fur Pillows

    In a neutral room, I’m finding that I need texture, texture, texture! Unless it has lots of texture, it feels very lifeless and boring. But with texture, it makes it come alive, I think. Just with Zoe’s bed, there are these different textures:

    wood (the bed),
    cotton (pillowcase and down comforter),
    faux fur (accent pillow),
    faux fleece (throw blanket)
    faux silk (accent pillow).

    And I keep adding as I get more cheap inspirations. :)

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    So – easy-peasy, basic rectangle shape. The faux fur is all you need. That and a little sewing machine to sew your straight lines on.

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    Zoe’s little dolly got a blanket too from the leftover fleece.


    Project #3: Hair Pretties

    My friend, Ruth, has a little girl just a few weeks older than Zoe. Her little Esther was born with a headful of beautiful black hair, so unlike my bald Zoe who hardly had hair until she was a year old [and even then you really had to check to make sure it *was* hair :) ], and could wear all kind of darling little barrettes almost a birth! Ruth always called these barrettes and bows  ”hair pretties” and so I’ve adopted that term too. That’s all we call them now – anything for the head and hair  is now a “hair pretty”. Or, as Zoe says, a “hair fretty.” 

    My sister-in-law, Mary Jo, is a super creative woman, and I learned so much from her when we lived in the same area! One of the last trips she made down south she brought along a little project to work on one free evening – making corkscrew and ribbon hair bows. So cute! What I did just a few weeks ago was not the same thing, but I learned the basic how-do from here – so thanks, Mary Jo! :)


    Sweeties needed:

    Hair clasps of assorted sizes
    Hot glue gun

    I just used the ribbon I had on hand, which wasn’t a big selection, but Michael’s or somewhere like that has unlimited darling choices.

    This one: ribbon glued on clasp, then three petite roses from Wally World glued on top of that.

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    Glitter Headband: package of 2 for $1 from the dollar bins at Target, then I hot-glued three felt flowers (they were a ribbon strand and I cut them apart) on the band.

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    This was an existing flower pin that I had – which I LOVE – and the only thing I did was add a hair clasp to it to make it more versatile.

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    Due to the large selection of stores in our area (cough, that is a JOKE, people), Walmart is pretty much my only craft store option within an hour. In the baby section, however, I found a package of two flower headbands for $3. Hot pink and light pink. Perfect.

     Only problem: the headbands were huge, wide stretchy bands that  A) made it look like my child had a serious head wound, or B) made it look like they were wearing a kid’s sized sweat band to work out. Not cool. So I cut the flowers off of the band, and glued them to my little clasps. MUCH better.

    Now I can use the flowers alone, or clip them on to a ribbon-made-headband.

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    A few more. So fun to do, and only takes a few minutes!

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    Project  #4: Hair Pretty Holder

    This was something I saw in a Pottery Barn kids book I picked up a few years ago. Thought it was a darling idea, and then kind of forgot about until a good friend of mine was here and was looking through the same book. Thanks, Shelly, for reminding me! :)

    If anyone has little girls, you know the PROBLEM it can be to keep everything straight and organized. Or not just little girls, for that matter, I have a time of it keeping my own pretties straight! Maybe I’ll need to make another one for myself! So this is a GREAT solution to that problem, and ever so practical.

    Actors needed:

    Old frame
    Cardboard to fit inside frame
    Fabric of your choice to cover cardboard
    Ribbon of your choice
    Hair pretties!

    This was all stuff I pulled out of closets here and under-bed storage there. Man, I dream of having an art room one day, where all my creative juices can flow uninterrupted! It bugs me that I have things in probably five locations around the house, just because of lack of space in one area.

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    Hair Pretty Holder

    So those are a few of my little projects of late. Balm for my soul, I call them. :)



  • ReAl LiFe TheSe DaYs

    Well, I’m back.

    And quite frankly, it’s a little scary to be back – over two months later. I wasn’t intending to drop off the planet like I seemed to, but a month of children-and-mommy-and-daddy sickness, and the next month of sister-in-law-brain-tumor-sickness takes quite a toll on any blogging desires. Not to mention that when I had a little bit of time at home it was spent in basic housekeeping to try to keep things sane, not on the computer.

    And to be even more frank, life has felt pretty rough lately. No, I’m not the one with the brain tumor. I’m just the sister-in-law, and yes, I do have so much to be grateful for. And I am. Or at least, try to be.

    //snow pictures were all taken in December. I’m THAT far on behind in blogging!//

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    // Zoe didn’t know what to think with snow so deep she couldn’t walk!//

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    //LOVE this pictures. Childhood wonder. She had hardly ever seen snow *flurries* before, much less a 16” snow storm. Beautiful did not even begin to describe the winter wonderland.//

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    But when I thought of writing again, it was scary because it’s more comfortable to write AFTER a struggle is over, not in the middle of it. When you write afterward, you can talk about all that you learned through it and how God was faithful and you see things so clearly and yada yada yada. And that’s good. But when you’re in the MIDDLE of something difficult, it’s hard to see clearly. Some days, it even feels like I’m hanging on for dear life to a little bit of hope. Right now I’m in the middle.

    // three of four sisters. claudia, ervina, clarita. yes, we all have unusual names.//

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    // my two youngest sisters. they are characters, they are. how i miss them.//

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    Now, lest this make you all nervous and you start clawing for the back buttom or the scroll arrows to take you to happier things, just relax.  I’m feeling the need to be real, as well as to say that there are many things about life right now that can’t be told, that I am a needy person in need of a Big God these days. Some days just honestly aren’t “PollyAnna happy days”. If we’re honest, I think every one of us would admit that. I’ve seen God work powerfully in the past few months of my life, and He has rekindled such a hunger for Himself within me. My hunger draws me back to Him, the only One who can fill my God-shaped vacuum, even on days when everything about the future looks uncertain and unknown. I’m needing God big-time these days.

    Today, I was at home. I have had one other day at home in the past month+. With two children two and under, it becomes exhausting to go somewhere. every. day. Even if it’s somewhere you want to go. The last day at home was two weeks ago, and I hardly stepped outside my house, it was that good to be home. all. day. I didn’t get in the car, except to vacuum it. Today I ventured out a bit farther, walking down the dusty dirt road, pushing my two baby girls in a stroller. Good exercise for this girl who has not been keeping in shape! The day was lovely – clear blue sky, and I heard birds singing as I walked.

    Everything about the day spoke HOPE.

    // Tea Room with my little girls, mother, and sisters//

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    // love this picture! little girl learning to be a lady. little chubby fingers tightly gripping the handle.//

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    I don’t know if I have a favorite month, or season, but I am so excited about Spring coming. Perhaps because Spring is one of the only times of year in the South where you can be outside without being eaten alive by mosquitoes and have a hundred gnats swarming about your eyes and the eyes of your poor infants, making you feel like you must be in a remote region of Africa. Because Spring is when you can be outside, in the middle of the day, without sweat pouring off your body because of the 100% humidity. No, I’m not dissing the South. There are some aspects of the South that I do enjoy, but the 100 degree days of summer, which last from June – October a lot of years, aren’t part of them. That’s when I stay tucked in an air-conditioned house. Or, if I venture outside, it’s to a friend’s pool where the water feels blissfully refreshing.

    So, today spoke REST. And HOPE.

    //snow. in Pennsylvania. 16 inches of the white beauty. it makes me come alive! some of my best childhood memories are snow memories, which is probably why I’m so emotionally attached. :) //

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    And I remember my Happy List from about a week ago. I don’t want to be a superficial happy, but there are days when it’s good for me to remember the good things in my life. And be truly grateful, even for little things.

    So here’s my list from last week, along with a few more things.

    My Happy List:

    1. Coffee and biscotti to start my day. I’m addicted to biscotti right now, ever since my friend, Bek, sent me biscotti for my birthday over three months ago.

    2. A delicious, cozy bed when I’m tired (can you tell I’m often tired?? When life gets hectic, some people eat. I sleep).

    3. Three bouquets of daffodils on my dining room table, found in the woods earlier this week – or last week, can’t remember. The past month all fuzzes together. I asked Ben if he saw my flowers, and yes, he did. But last year, you were mad about daffodils in February, he said. Well, this year I’d still much rather be in snow than picking spring flowers, but if I have them, I’ll enjoy them.

    4. The peace and rest when BOTH GIRLS sleep at the SAME TIME in the afternoon, even it it’s only a 15-minute overlap.

    5. A husband who gets up early and goes grocery shopping for me before leaving for work, just because he knows I’m exhausted. AND who brings home fresh donuts for Zoe and me. “That’s SO NICE of daddy to get donuts for us!” said Zoe. :) ) Yes, sweet girl, indeed it was.

    6. The blessing I feel inside when I know I blessed someone else – whether in words, in cleaning a house, in doing someone’s laundry, in making a meal…

    7. A clean house. Organization is really a big deal to me these days, and feeling clutter-free is very soothing. I’m liking neat and clean looks, with surprising details.

    // my grandmother with olivia. she is 76, and hardly has a grey hair on her head. i’m going to follow in her footsteps. ;) ) //

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    8. Freshly baked, 100% whole wheat bread, with flour freshly ground, and the bread turning out like a dream. I think I pray over my bread every time I make it because I know how bad it can turn out – and I’ve been making bread for years! Grapenuts and biscotti – Mocha Chocolate Chip and Gingerbread with White Chocolate Glaze – in the making.

    9. Tear-out at the Wayne Street property – the little bungalow cottage (that’s what I like to call it) we bought. I’m going to be sad if we don’t live there, because it’s going to be a really. cool. house.

    // Wayne Street house. Little old shack now, true fixer-upper indeed, but just wait until it gets a new paint job and white picket fence, baby! by the way, any ideas on paint colors for a tin roof and wood-siding house??//

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    10. Laurie, my sister in law, is being able to swallow more frequently, and her health is returning! (check for recent updates).

    11. The knowledge that all of life is in God’s hand, even the unknowns in the many things that are coming to us…

    //my mother and her second grandbaby//

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    12. Picking up a clawfoot tub for the Wayne Street house. Are we crazy? Maybe. I know some people think we are. Definitely not the most practical route to go. But oh! The way an old clawfoot tub will look in that hundred-year old house! So rad! So we I chose rad over practical. I hope I don’t regret it. Husband is kind to let me make a somewhat silly decision. :)

    13. Selling the investment property we owned an hour away. After a year and a half of having that on our hands, legal problems inititally, we are SO THANKFUL to have that sold, and to a happy little newly-wedded couple!

    14. Having my parts of my family here for part of a week! Family is so REFRESHING. Nine people in a little house would have felt full to some people, but to us? Hey, we were together, and we were loving it. :) And happiness that my other two sisters will be coming this weekend.

    // 2009 Family Picture. Several hours and several changed-heads later, it’s good to go. Man, editing is just not my favorite thing to do. I’d much rather just take pictures!//

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    // my dad grew up in a family of one girl and seven boys. he then proceeded to have four girls before two sons. it must have been a huge adjustment for him to enter the world of women, but he is the world’s best daddy! and don’t i have the most lovely sisters ever? //

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    15. My biscotti-eating, coffee-drinking two-year old. Precious does not even begin to describe her. Oh yes indeed, I do have my days of great exasperation. These are the touching-everything, want-to-know-everything days. SO inquisitive it hurts my brain sometimes. But so precious. Last night she was telling me goodnight… “I love you, mommy. I pray for you.” Dear little heart, you just melt my heart.

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    Yesterday we were having a discussion about angels, and she told me that angels talk to her. I thought we were really in for a deep talk, and I hunkered down. “Really??? So what do they tell you?” “They tell me to ‘tay in my bed.” (she has a problem sometimes with wanting to come out of her bed after bedtime) “Soo, do you listen to them?” I asked. “Ummm, no, not really!” Zoe told me, very matter-of-factly. So much for a deep heart-to-heart!

    // helping. or wanting to help. someday it’ll actually be helping. but at least for now, it keeps me company.//

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    //serious and poised. but only on occasion. can’t you just see the glimmer in her eye?!//

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    // laughing. so good to be able to laugh somtimes. even if your sister captures your throat in a photo meanwhile. //

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    16. My active, VERY active, 9 month old. Olivia is just so dear. Fiesty little petite girl. She is still doing the belly-crawl, but gets from one end of the house to the other. So curious about everything, and everything goes into her mouth.

    //all babies should have a cheek-pinching grandma. :) //

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    Including a 1/3″ upholstry nail.

    She was so fussy one day after her nap, and I could not figure out why. She’s normally a very cheerful little pixie. Hungry? No. Tired? No. Teething? Maybe. I checked her mouth with my finger, thinking maybe a stray tooth popped in overnight. Wait… a MOLAR?? I yanked the poor child’s mouth wide open, Olivia wailing all the while, only to see a BLACK molar. WHAT IN THE WORLD??? It didn’t take me long to realize it was a nail head, with the nail sunk all the way down into her gum. Well, mothers are amazing, and we can even pull nails from our children’s mouth with our very own fingernails, out of sheer panic, and out it came. I’m sure my mouth hung open for a full half-hour afterward, inbetween hugging my dear little sore-gummed child and thanking God she didn’t try to swallow it and it didn’t get lodging in her throat! NO WONDER she was fussing! And to think I was almost getting exasperated with the poor baby. There are REASONS for fussiness! Lesson 101, should have been learned long ago!

    // nine months old. more beautiful all the time.//

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    //showing off those deep dimples//

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    17. Craigslist deals that make my heart sing. How I love to find bargains, and things that are beautiful to me. It’s a scavenger hunt for me, and I love it! My favorites are two 8×10 jute rugs, and a Pottery Barn beaded chandelier. Ooo-la-la. Bring it on!

    18. A new baby formula recipe that I got through my Aunt Celesta, that she got through her doctor when her babies were little. I wasn’t able to nurse anymore, and formula just kind of grossed me out – it stinks in the bottle, it stinks in the box, it stinks when it comes out in the poo, it makes babies constipated… So, this is a recipe LOADED with vitamins and probiotics and all kinds of good stuff. I’m not even a health freak, but this makes me happy. :)

    So… That’s been life on our little dirt road the past two months, in a nutshell. Sometimes dirty, sometimes hard, sometimes scary. But there is always Hope. Not just in the future, because the future is unknown, and uncertain for all of us. But hope in a God that is bigger than what we’re up again, in a God that is gentle, and caring, even when life is ugly.


    I love that word!