28 December 2009

And it's over

Christmas Card

Christmas Card

Zip! Just like that, Christmas is over. I hope you and yours had wonderful, cozy, and safe celebrations. Our travel (just local) worked out just right with the weather. Santa managed to make it to our house during the worst of the snow on Christmas Eve, so we had a good time opening presents and drinking coffee while the snow piled up. Brent didn't even bother to blow the driveway until about 3 pm. Now THAT'S a holiday!

Having both our girls for their first Christmas together was magical, and all I really needed to have a perfect holiday. Emily Bea has just learned to battle-crawl in the forward direction (previously only went backwards, so frustrating) and she became very fast during Christmas. Every present that was opened soon had little Mimi frantically speed-dragging herself over to examine it. The girls got lots of wonderful gifts. This ball pit was especially exciting!

Emily's new ball pit!

I got an amazing surprise when Bella opened her gift from Aunt Sally's family... the vintage Sesame Street set I had so persistently tried to get off ebay!! NO WAY!

Bella gets the Sesame Street Toy!

Now I get to have fun seeing if I can get good deals on all the accessories for it that are on ebay. I do like a good cyber-shopping challenge!

Due to all of my pneumonia drama*, a few things slid by this year. Like baking. Didn't get any of that done. (Although we did make a gingerbread house. That counts, right?) We didn't celebrate St. Lucia day. My aunt and uncle in North Carolina didn't get their usual box of goodies. I didn't send a Christmas card (although I made one for you blog readers!). I contributed nothing to both family dinners we went to. And in fact totally forgot about our Christmas dinner. (Luckily I found some old filet mignon in the freezer!) The blog and my etsy shop had to take a hiatus. And, perhaps the lowest point of the season, I missed Bella's holiday show at preschool.

But looking at the bright side, I finished my shopping, wrapping, and gift-making in time. Our house was decorated. We got a picture with Santa (adorable!) and celebrated St. Nick day (remembered at the last minute). So not all bad. Quite nice, actually.

I wouldn't want to do it this way every year, but it's nice to know some hallowed traditions can be left for another year, and the holiday still feels special. Even Christmas Lite is still Christmas, and I am so thankful to have such wonderful families and to be able to be together with them.

*As for my pneumonia, I got the best gift I could have asked for in the form of new antibiotics that work. Merry Christmas to me! I had pneumonia since mid-September and in early December was referred to a pulmonologist, who did a bronchoscopy and decided I must have drug-resistant pneumonia. This was great news (14 days of antibiotics and I'm cured), and I am so excited that the new antibiotics are actually helping (after just one week even). Hooray for modern medicine! I was even out sledding twice this weekend! YEEHAW!

23 November 2009

I can't believe it's Thanksgiving already

What a crafty weekend we had! We started out with the Holiday Fair at the Minnesota Waldorf School. I was super excited. I had been wanting to see inside the school, since I secretly wanted to send the girls there, and also couldn't wait to buy up all kinds of handmade crafties. But then there weren't that many handmade crafties (although we got a cute coat/hat/scarf set for Rosemary), and the school had a weird vibe to it that cured me of wanting to send the girls there. I think Brent about nailed it when he said it was the Renaissance Festival of schools. But the "Gnome Cave" attraction was stellar, and we all enjoyed an awesome lunch. You could also make a gnome and a candle holder, but for some reason Bella wasn't feeling crafty. Shoot.

Sunday we had fun making Thanksgiving cards! We used 54stitch's instructions.


The hardest part was getting Bella to draw a turkey. First she studied pictures of turkeys in Blue Hat, Green Hat. Then she filled a few sheets of paper with scribbles. Then she declared turkeys too hard to draw. Luckily, it occurred to me to make a hand turkey! Phew! Crafting crisis averted.

I love the way her turkey has "wings" down on the chest. Turkey breast(s) anyone? tee hee.

We made tons of prints, since squirting the paint into the pan was Bella's favorite part. Then we glued (gluing! second favorite part) them to the front of cards and wrote "Happy Thanksgiving!" and Bella signed her name. I signed Emily's too even though she didn't really help much and mostly just rolled from the kitchen to the dining room and back, occasionally shrieking as she went by.

Also yesterday we busted out the new ice cream maker. I was going to give it to Bella for Christmas, but then I read the instructions--FIVE hours to make ice cream?? That is so not going to be fun on Christmas day. But it sure is fun while you're making handprint turkeys! And, although it really did take 5 hours in the freezer (maybe not that long if you aren't 3 and don't check on it every 5 minutes), that little $14 ice cream maker made some FANTASTIC ice cream! We made mint chocolate chip and at first Bella thought it was too minty (OOOH MORE FOR ME!) but then wolfed down a whole bowl (DAMMIT!).

It is surreal that this week is Thanksgiving. Tomorrow the girls have a "free" day at daycare and I am going to have a nice day at home baking rolls for the big feast. Should be fun!

22 November 2009

Grand Opening!

I suppose it was inevitable. I had to fulfill my shop-owning fantasies somehow. And, so far, the new Etsy Peppercam shop is doing a great job. I get to design a banner! I get to arrange things! I get to make business cards! All very exciting.

Here is what it looks like:

Peppercam Etsy Shop


I sell safety-pin watches, which I have worn for years and let me tell you, they are FUN. Adults love them, kids love them, everybody pours attention on the watch.

Bright and Colorful Safety Pin-Watch

I also have some beaded snowflake ornaments in there, although those aren't getting as much attention as the watches-- even though they are gorgeous (if I do say so myself!). They have a couple issues: a) my photos are kind of crappy, they are a bitch to photograph since they are CLEAR, and b) they take me about an hour each to make so I priced them accordingly, which might be a little steep for the useless decoration category.

And--more shop fantasies--I got to buy packing supplies! What a fun trip to Papersource.

Peppercam Etsy Packaging

I know what you're thinking. Where are the KNITS? Well, I haven't quite figured out what would satisfy the balance between time spent and money earned in the knitting department. Because most of my knitting projects take me hours and hours to do, and no one wants to pay $100 for a baby sweater. But I have the Etsy bug so I'm sure I'll think of something to stick in the shop!

16 November 2009


Look who just came to join our family!

Hello Rosemary!


She's a little bit shy but likes to giggle. She is well-behaved and polite. Last night was her first evening with the family, and since it was movie night, she had a big time. That's why this morning she is just relaxing with her latte. I'm sure her head is spinning.


I made her yesterday at an all-day dollmaking workshop. It was a great, great time. Watching everyone's dolls come to life (each one completely different!) was so amazing. I wish I had a group photo of everybody's dolls!

I brought Rosemary into the house wrapped in a blanket (it was cold and she was nude) and Bella immediately fell in love. I couldn't have been more SHOCKED. It has been a source of some lament for me that Bella has until now shown no signs of being a doll person (as I am [duh]). She has shown little interest in the other dolls we've given her. So I'm not sure what happened, but Rosemary (who, actually, I thought I was making for myself) has been smothered in love since entering the door last night. She even had to have her own bed (luckily I had an extra doll bed (or four) in the basement) set up next to Bella's for nighttime. And this morning she had to ride buckled in the car to daycare to drop Bella off. I am just in heaven watching her and Rosemary become friends.

I am home with Emily today, who has a touch of the stomach flu so can't go to daycare. Although--typical--she's had no symptoms since 7:30 this morning. Well, hopefully she is feeling better!

13 November 2009

Tiny Knits

I am so pleased with this new little clothesline for Emily's room!

Tiny Clothesline

I think she likes it too. And Bella was quite impressed. She requested a sweater to hang on her wall too.

Emily's new clothesline: So Cute!

It was such a cute little project, and used up some extra bits of yarn, all of which are from things I made Emily (the famous bunting yarn is there!).

It was pretty hard to photograph, since it is in kind of a dark corner of the room and I am a total dunce at working my camera (should I just buy the flash or what, any advice would be appreciated!). But trust me, it makes the whole room so sweet! I'm planning on making a teenier tinier one for our fairy garden next spring. I KNOW OMG HOW CUTE WILL THAT BE!!

Speaking of sweet. Just look at these two little hams.

Ready for a bath

Emily is just so thrilled with any attention from big sister. Bella can run through the room and Emily is all arms-flapping shrieking with laughter. "IT'S BELLA! SHE LOOKED AT ME! SHRIEEEEEEK!"

They like each other! I can only hope this lasts a little while.

Emily Bea: 8 months!

31 October 2009

In which I have recovered enough to update the blog

Phew! That was as close to death as I would like to be for a long while. A super-duper-ally-de-schmooper case of swine flu-monia. I kind of forget between each sick how sucky it is. Sucky! Well it's nothing that three antibiotics, tamiflu, ventolin, advair, prednisone, and codeine can't fix.

I have been contributing nothing to housework, child care, or society for weeks. I am also hooked on The Price is Right, which makes me a cross between a senior citizen and a drug addict. I think I might be able to get a free power chair at absolutely no cost to me.* I showered yesterday and put actual clothes on for the first time in a long time and Bella says, "You look so beautiful!" Thanks Bella! Guess I have been setting the bar pretty low with my 24-hr flannel pants?

But luckily, I was feeling great tonight for Halloween! Want to see pictures? Of course you do!

I should start with the pumpkin festivities. Brent and Bella went to the pumpkin patch and Bella picked out a pumpkin for her and one for Emily. Emily's was small and bumpy. Super cute. Then they painted them.

Bella paints her pumpkin

Emily Paints her Pumpkin

I thought the paints we were using were washable, until Emily got a huge glump in her hair and we put her in the bath to 'wash' it out. Daycare the next day filled out an 'accident observation report' noting their concern about and monitoring of the huge red spot on her head. whoops.

Working on a pumpkin

Brent's pumpkin turned out great. Very spooky and sort of sly looking. Definitely keeping my eye on this one.

Mr. Jack Baker

Here is Bella's "Regular Dora" costume, a costume she wore for her daycare party. She is so proud in this picture.

Dora the Explorer

Here they are tonight, My "Fairy Tale Dora Princess" and Emily Elephant.

The Princess and the Elephant

I sewed Bella's costume from McCall's 2856, with some major pain-in-the ass adjustments to fix the apparent FOUR INCHES of ease they included in the chest. For a 3-year old's gigantic boobs, I suppose. I am the most excited about how the hat turned out. I just bought the thickest fusible interfacing I could find and voila! I had a hat in about 5 minutes. The elephant costume is from my neighbor, thank goodness. Since I could barely finish Bella's costume, working about 20 minutes a day in my decrepit state. Luckily I had it all cut out before I got sick.

Here is Bella after her trick-or-treating. She told me she was the "Master of Disguise! Now take my picture!"

The Master of Disguise

I hope you all had a spooky and fun (and warm! We needed hot chocolate!) Halloween!

*If you get this joke, then you are so busted for watching daytime tv. BUST. ED.

13 October 2009

Another Day

We started today off with breakfast in the playroom, on our miniature tea set dishes.

Breakfast in the Playroom

I was sipping my coffee and Bella was eating crispex and a baby banana and Emily was in her jump-up thing that hangs in the doorway, and I was thinking, this is what memories are made of. Just a magical childhood moment. And Bella sighs and says, "I am so BORED!"

Well OK then.

We were up for an outing today, and I voted Children's Museum, but Bella voted Mall of America (she's a huge fan, in case you're new around here) and she claimed Emily voted Mall of America too, so I was outnumbered. Normally I would demand a recount, but hey, what the hell. There's a place for fun in my life.

We all got to ride the Merry-go-round--Emily's first ride! (Except for the Sky Ride of course). I think she liked it. I forgot my camera, but I suppose that would have been a bad idea to be spotting both kids while taking pictures while spinning around anyway, so you can just imagine it in your head. Emily on a pony next to Bella on a giant chicken--pure cuteness.

Then we managed to eat lunch out without any giant-head gawkers nearby. What a relief.

What a fun day. It's hard to imagine that only a couple months ago I could hardly leave the house I was so sick. I try to remember that so that I never take these days for granted.

I am very excited to get my etsy shop started. I love a good project and this one is lots of fun. I am starting out small, just with my safety-pin watches. I haven't gotten up and running yet (I am still waiting for 1400 safety pins to arrive!) but I am not in any rush. It's just an adventure. Because, frankly, my kids have enough handknits, don't you think?! HA!

12 October 2009


So who loves hot chocolate? I DO! And this horrible weather is a good reason to boil up some water, add some mix, (and some Bailey's, if you are of the grown-up persuasion) and make a toast to six more months of winter. Huzzah!

Here we are making the best of the snow.

My Snow Angels

Emily was unphased by her giant puffer snowsuit. Just give her a nuk and someone to watch and she's like, "Whatev."

Swinging on a nice October day

It was "raining snow" as Bella astutely noticed, which made for excellent snowman building.

A Snowman! (who has apparently been eating blueberries)

We used blueberries for his eyes and mouth, which looked a little gory--I tried to cover up some of the more bullet-holey looking areas with snow.

You can also see Bella's new snow pants and jacket--or as I like to call it, her marshmallow costume. She looks pretty hilarious stumping around in it. We ended up with a mitten emergency--out of the whole (damn) rubbermaid tub of winter paraphernalia, there weren't two mittens that would fit Bella. So that was a good excuse to head over to Rosedale last night and pick up some mittens. And being at Rosedale was a good excuse to have a nice dinner out with my girls (Brent was playing his Monday night DnD). The most amusing part of our dinner was the little boy at the table next to us who could not stop marveling at the size of Emily's head. His mom kept assuring him that all babies had big heads. To which he finally said, "YES, I get it, babies have big heads. But her head is HUGE!"

Technically, I think it is her cheeks that are huge. But he has a point.

Here she is in her new hat. Knit by mama of course.

Emily's Golden Compass Hood

And here she is, falling over from the weight of her huge head.

Whoops! A little tipsy

I just had the best time at home with my girls today. Except I didn't get a thing done. Why is that always the way?

26 September 2009

A whole new estate

Time for a morning in the garden.


Sidewalk Garden

Our yard is so clean and fresh and lovely right now!

New Hydrangeas

Apparently all we needed was 4 guys to work on it for 7 days. These front windows used to have giant weed-bushes and half-dead prickly bushes. Now they have hydrangeas and a magnolia. I am so excited.

Retaining Wall Planting

The gray pointy landscape rocks are gone. This is jack pine bark mulch. Fancy! I hid in the house while they shoveled all the rock up. It was 90 degrees and I was feeling pampered and guilty.

New Fondulac Wall

And here's the most exciting part! New rock walls. The whole point of the project. The new mulch was just gravy, so to speak. Gravy on a big pile of stone mashed potatoes. With globe arborvitae peas. Also in that picture, you can see my new bird bath. Which cost about 0.1% of the project but is possibly my favorite part. I had been talking about a new bird bath for years (seriously! Aren't you glad you don't live with me?) and I find one and bring it home and Brent's like, "Why would you want to attract BIRDS? Ew." So apparently he doesn't like birds? So apparently he doesn't listen to me talk? Well. I guess neither one of those is that unexpected.

Fondulac Steps

Here is the other side, with the steps coming down from the deck. I can't tell you how pumped we are to be able to Exit The Deck. Very Exciting! And that big empty bed there? That's going to be my fairy garden! (I've told Brent all about it for years. He can fill you in.)

Fondulac Steps

Above you can see the Pink Flamingo Willow, a very exciting new tree. Here's a close-up.

Pink Flamingo Willow

We look forward to many happy times in our 'new' yard!

13 September 2009

Such a Beautiful Trip

This weekend we went down to Whitewater State Park to spend a night in a camper cabin.

Little Cabin in the Woods

When I made the reservation, September 12 sounded like a nice, crisp fall weekend. Not exactly the case this weekend. But the muggy weather made for such a picturesque setting, with the haze and fog and everything shiny and wet, that we couldn't complain.


We went for a hike, and Emily and I quickly fell behind because I couldn't stop taking pictures.


She didn't mind.

Me and the littlest hiker

The trees were just starting to think about what color to be. Dropping a few test leaves.

Whitewater River

There are flowers growing in the middle of the river. It's like a paradise.


This is how Bella goes for a "hike." The Queen of the Nile. Brent says, "I don't mind carrying her!" She is going to wake up one day and be 16 and have to hike using her own legs and it is going to be a rude, rude shock.

Here she is using her legs to run around and terrorize wildflowers. We put these in a cup in the cabin. Very cozy.


See. Cozy, no?

Cozy Cabin

Cabin Glow

The cabin had a handicap accessible fire-ring, which we are sitting at when I took that picture. Basically, handicap accessible means that it is like a 3.5 foot high ring--or, if you will, a burn barrel. Brent was highly amused when I would hunch over it and rub my hands together like a homeless person. "I want a picture of you like that!" (For his desk or what? "Here's my wife, we're camping and she's pretending to be homeless!")

I don't think Bella even saw the fire, since it was way up in the air.

We made BBQ Pineapple Spamburgers for supper (a la State Fair!) with sauteed portobellas and grapes. For dessert we had Archway Frosty Lemon cookies, which are the cookies my mom always brought camping when I was a kid. I was very excited to find them at Cub, since I thought they didn't exist anymore. You know, because I am so freakin' old and there's no way stuff from my childhood still exists.

Then we put the girls to bed and stayed up much too late drinking cool sparkly wine and playing Lost Cities in our cozy little cabin. It was the best.

In the morning, Emily Bea was up first ready for a bottle. So I quietly make a bottle and sit in the dark giving it to her. Bella hops out of bed next and, not seeing me and Emily, proceeds to unlock and open the front door and stroll out of the cabin into the dark morning. Um, holy crap, I'm glad she didn't do that in the middle of the night.

Reading in the cabin

Time for some pancakes, don't you think, Emily?

Breakfast with baby

I used the Batter BlasterTM that I had been interested in trying for a while now. I am always excited to try new pancake-related inventions. This one is like a reddi-whip can full of batter. And, I must say, it is awesome. AWE. SOME. I plan on never camping without it again. (Even though it is SIX BUCKS WHY IS IT SO EXPENSIVE)

Then, time for a little exploring.

A beautiful day for a walk!

We got to see a deer (super close up!), three turtles, a bird-banding demonstration, and this awesome mushroom, for which I made the whole family walk back for my camera. I think it was worth it.


It reminds me of me and Emily riding in her sling.

For the afternoon, we broke camp and headed over to Rochester to visit my parents, where Bella fell asleep for five hours. Emily fell asleep on my mom, who complained but loved every minute of it: "I'm trapped under this huge sleeping baby! Bring me a Coke with ice and a straw and the newspaper and some peanuts and a footstool!"

You'd like to be trapped by her too. Just look at how much she would love to trap you.

A bath in Nana's sink

It was a great weekend, full of all the memory-making, laughs, and photo taking I so adore. This is what life should be like, don't you think?

07 September 2009

State Fair: Day 11

Best Fair EVER?

Minnesota State Fair 2009

Attendance was an all-time record this year, so I'm not the only one who thinks so.

Was it the perfect weather?

Super Bouncer

The bargain-conscious economy?*

Me and Emily Listening to a Band

The whole world getting caught up in the romantic, storybook fantasy that is the Fair?

Listening to Some Blues

I think it is the latter. The Fair is an ephemeral Eden. A land of all-you-can-drink milk and honey fudge nut ice cream.

On display are the best we humans can offer: art--from fine to crafty, our most loved and cared for animals, the proud fruits of our gardens, live music of all varieties, delicious food and drink. And the excitement to share it all with each other.

I think the Fair can be largely an attitude. A willingness to soak up all that is good in the world.

This year the Fair has given me such a chance to be thankful. For health, for a beautiful family, and for all the Fairgoers who love the Fair as I do.

Until 2010, I bid you a fond, fond Fair-well, Fair.**

*I don't mean bargain-conscious as in, "I'm losing my house, let's go to the Fair!" but more like "Florida's expensive, let's go to the Fair!" Here is my 2009 breakdown, since, strangely, a bunch of people have asked me how much the Fair costs me (I can't decide if this is RUDE!): Tickets: $94. Food: (coincidentally) $94. Rides: $52. Entertainment: $22. Grand total for 9 days of Fair bliss: $262.
**until tonight, when I get to go to the Fair to pick up my bunting! FAIR! I'M BACK! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!