30 August 2012

photo blogs are cool


thehobbit is about to begin a year-long photo blog based on one of his most favorite things. the subject of his photo blog? one guess.


27 August 2012

of tubes, tapes, & toddlers


my obsession with pinterest is not limited to amassing photos of things that make me smile. i also have been looking for ways to enrich my children's lives. sometimes those enriching moments also need to keep a certain elfling happily occupied, so mumsie can get a few things accomplished. this last bit is what i wanted to share with you today.

i found a wonderful cardboard tube activity (pinned from how we montessori) on pinterest, & quickly set up a mini version.

as i was working at the dining table, i taped the tube to the chair next to me. just another reason to love blue painters' tape! a drinks tray was set beneath the chair, to catch the crayons (the tube was ridiculously skinny) as they fell.

he love, love, loved this activity.

until he saw that i had left the tape out.

i lost count of how many times he tripped himself, bonking his head on the table & chairs.

this has become a regular thing at ye olde belfry: i set up a lovely activity, that all of blogland has assured me will be the wee beastie's most favorite thing to do ever-ever, leaving me with time to breathe! & within minutes he has found a way to require more of my attention than before.

le sigh.


24 August 2012

pretty in vintage

photo :: property of vera vague

i came across this photo whilst searching for vintage dresses doing homeschool research on pinterest. is this not the prettiest gown you have seen lately? of course, it sold many months ago, but she has many more pretties for sale in her etsy shop.

the photograph as a whole gets me swoony, i must say. i do not like the bright white, boring photos that you see all over etsy. i mean no offense to those who go that route, they just do not make me swoon like the above photo does. of course, it does not hurt that the gown & model are ever so lovely.

what is your favorite vintage pretty in her shop?


22 August 2012

pure genius!


on our recent road trip i needed something in which to store the various cables. (gone are the days of the most important thing to remember being your toothbrush.) in poking through my studio, i came across this terribly photographed bag that i had altered a bunch of years ago. it worked wonderfully! so much so, in fact, that i now use it as a camera bag.

in the main of the bag sits the camera, as well as the little pouch i use when i just want to toss the camera into my diaper bag. the large pocket to the left holds the cables, with the smaller pockets on the right holding batteries, & miscellanea.

the bag was meant as a travel case, i believe. it was a sponsor gift at one of manlyman's tournies. the outside was black, with callaway written in large white letters. ever so sporty, & ever not so kat. knowing i could find a use for the bag, if only it was not so sporty, i sewed a slipcover for it.

it wasn't all that hard to do. i traced the case on kraft paper, adding an inch extra at the top, a bit more for the sides, & a bit more than that for the bottom. you'd need to take into consideration the shape of your case when deciding how much extra to add. for instance: if yours had a flat bottom, or wide sides, you'd need to allow for that. mine did not, so i did not.

one i made the pattern, i cut out two pieces of fabric. i used samples, & they being small, i needed to use two different designs in the same colors. you can just fold your fabric in half, & cut once. does that make sense? let me know if i am not being clear.

i then sewed the sides & bottom together, right sides facing in, on the machine. no need to do anything fancy, they'll be on the inside, & never seen.

next i folded the opening twice, & ironed it flat. then came the fun part; hand-stitching. i love to sew by hand.

as you can see, i stitched the cover to the bag itself, making sure to give the zipper enough room to work properly. oh, & i used embroidery floss, with a larger needle. i no longer recall why i did, but i am sure there was a reason :)

that is all there was to it. of course, it is not perfect, but i like a bit of imperfection.

the buttons are not an option; they are an integral part of the function of the entire bag. or something like that.

this idea is not limited to travel bags, you know. you could do the same thing to those ugly lunch bags, actual camera bags, & so on. heck, i even made damask sleeves for my freezer packs. happy sewing!

ps :: the genius button was from a museum outing, eons ago. the other two (insanely adorable) buttons were found in seattle last month. they are, of course, the work of miss emily, she of black apple fame. i do not see any buttons in her shop currently, but you can ask her yourself if she plans to add any.

20 August 2012

a spoonful of fancy jar


it  is said that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. well, that may be true, but as i am to avoid sugar, i needed something else to help make the oat bran go down. don't get me wrong, i am still enjoying my daily brekkie, it is just that, to keep up with it, i needed to make it less of a chore. enter fancy jar!

technically the jar is not fancy, it is utilitarian. to me, that is perfectly fancy; much more fancy than the ugly bag the oat bran comes in at any rate. the large bag of oat bran fits nicely in the jar, which, i must add, was on sale. an all around win!

this line of thinking does work, by the way. i have had the fancy jar a week now, & have grinned like a loon each time i set about cooking my brekkie.

tiny jar of nutritional yeast pouted until i promised to point out how cute it is. 


17 August 2012

in which she looks at the bright side

photo :: property of thehobbit

it  seems that every few years i am walking away from toxic friends. i don't know if my tolerance for it lessens with each passing year, if i am becoming more aware of it, or what; but there you have it. removing toxic people from one's life is a good thing, but it is also a hard thing to do. they were friends, after all. still...

i saw the above saying on a poster last week, & fell in love with it; quotes have always helped me focus. i thought a wee magnet for the fridge was in order, so i added the saying to one of thehobbit's beautiful photos. i, being the lazy kat that i am, have yet to put it on a magnet, but that is an entirely different story.

what about you? how do you remind yourself to look on the bright side of life?


13 August 2012

a spot in the shade


manylman surprised me with a fabulously shabby pair of old chairs the other day! i had long craved a cozy chair, in a shady spot, just for me, & these chairs fit the bill to perfection.

for privacy from the neighbors, & because it is delightfully pretty, i hung an old lace curtain on the unused gate in our fence. now i can keep elfling company whilst he cooks in his kitchen, as he does me in mine!

the wind chimes were a gift from my mother-in-law. she knew how sad i was that manlyman could not be convinced of our need of a flock of hens, so thought the chimes would tide me over. they don't, but i love them just the same.

yes, i am still swoony over my be-ribboned tree. thank you for visiting with me in my shady spot :)


10 August 2012

beat the heat


the weather has been freakyhot this past week. we belfries have been crabby at one another, & i personally have been sweating where a girl ought not.

to distract us from the weather, we have played with shaving cream bags in the tub, melted treasure ice, gone to the beach, played with the hose, & spent a great deal of time bemoaning the heat. that last was quite possibly only one of us. but it is ever so hot.

not one to enjoy cleaning, i had been putting off introducing mud to the mud kitchen. well, we got one step closer this morning.

in the dappled shade of the privet, elfling played happily with his mud water kitchen. gone are the days of his being content to make me pot after pot of imaginary stew. ah well, it was worth it to keep my wee elfling cool & happy.

but i am still so very hot.


06 August 2012

naughty thing


many years ago, i bought this spoon at an antique shop in oregon. i liked its utilitarianosity (real word). it never got used much, as i have a vintage bottle opener which swoons me even more. then earlier this year i lost my coffee scoop. i tried a few different spoons, & found that this one worked perfectly. one rounded spoonful per cup!

manlyman kept using the wrong spoon from the drawer, which, because i am who i am, drove me mad. i found this ugly, but fabulous hook (it's a command hook) at the dollar store, & hung it directly over the coffee pot. now the correct spoon is being used by all; the world can rest at ease.

honestly, i'd never given the writing on the spoon's side much more than a cursory glance. i knew it was an advertisement for a eugene shop, but nothing more.

the other day something caught my eye.

naughty thing.

i think i love this spoon even more now.

03 August 2012

savory oats


health woes; of which i shall not bore you; have forced me to metamorphose my entire way of eating. one thing i am to do is eat oats daily. i prefer my porridge to be swimming in an ocean of butter, & containing more brown sugar than a cake; & therein lies the problem. i am to avoid butter & sugar, as well as many other lovely things.

i choked down plain porridge for a few days, then had a brainstorm. congee! i know that this is traditionally made from rice, but why not from oat bran? i searched for some recipes, tried a few, & loved them! i have always been more of a savory-brekkie gal anyway.

this is my most favorite concoction:

savory oat congee
1 cup of oat bran
large handful of sliced mushrooms
garlic powder
salt & pepper
sriracha (a friend calls this 'rooster sauce')
drizzle of olive oil
1 tsp. nutritional yeast flakes
1 egg white
1 tbs. ground flax seeds

* in a pot, saute the mushrooms in a drizzle of olive oil. cook until they are how you like them.
* add the dry ingredients, & water. you want enough water to cover the ingredients, plus about a knuckle's depth more. adjust this to your taste. i enjoy a slightly runny conjee.
* cook on medium. as soon as the water begins to simmer, turn it to low, & stir in the egg white. you'll begin to see thin white ribbons, the same as with egg-drop soup.
* continue cooking until the conjee is the consistency you prefer.
* top with sriracha.

please adjust the seasoning & water to your own tastes. 
if you are not watching your cholesterol, skip stirring in an egg white, & top the conjee with a poached egg instead. i cheated one day, & can promise this is insanely delish!
my experiments have shown that anything you enjoy in a stir-fry works wonderfully.
if you are vegan, omit the egg white, & top with tofu, or go an indian route, & stir in some hummus.

give this a try, & let me know your favorite combinations.

01 August 2012

keep calm it's a diy


recently i found this fun diy memo board on pinterest. not having the perfect shabby frame lying about, i tried a temporary board with a boring one found in the garage. 

once i popped in a piece of paper that looks like a faded old british map (a nod to the london olympics), & liberated a window marker from thehobbit, i gave it a go.

sure enough, it wiped right off! we have made good use of this board already: yesterday we wrote birthday wishes to elfling, & today i left manlyman a love note. 

as soon as i find the perfect frame, i'll make one using some vintage linen. you need to go make one now. shoo!


ps :: i am not writing a birthday post for elfling as i am still in denial. in my head he is 2yrs & 12 months old.
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