well, well, well...look who's back

Kinda ;)

I don't want to make any promises, assuming I just up and disappear again for an unknown period of time. But today, I'm back - and I've got photos and projects to share!

I completed my very first quilt a couple of weeks ago and shipped it off to a lovely brand-new baby boy named Henry. I hope he loves it for a long time. I failed to take photos of the quilt during any of its construction, a mistake I will not make again anytime soon.

Next up? Rainbows and sunshine...

The design is loosely based on Thea's Puzzle Quilt by Amy Butler.

I think the back of this will include a long pieced strip down the middle, with kona bone borders on either side. I'm still debating on binding, and how it will be quilted. I'm not a huge fan of free-motion quilting, even though this pattern probably lends itself to that look. I tend to think that unless you're extremely experienced, it just looks sloppy. Experienced I am not, so this will probably be some variation of straight-line quilting.

I'm also working on another baby quilt. I don't have great photos quite yet, but I'll be sure to share once I get some. I'm hoping to finish the quilt above by next Saturday - wish me luck!



I'm not abandoning y'all, I swear. It has been a very busy few weeks 'round these parts. Work has been kicking my butt (in a good way!); spring is creeping it's way into DC, so I've been spending a good bit of time in the garden; Cass is a handful, as always; and, it's tax season - booooo. Anyway, I have lots to post in the coming weeks - stay tuned!



before and after: table lamps

I found these candlestick lamps at the GoodWill last week when Cameron and I were on the hunt for a new desk for me. There's only one shown below, but they're a pair. I was pretty certain they had potential, so I embarked on (yet another) project :)

Two candlestick lamp bases

 Two lampshades (also from GoodWill)

I taped the hardware and the cord with painter's tape, and then spray-painted the lamp bases with grey primer, followed by black satin, and then finished off with cream satin. Each layer took about 2 coats.

In between coats, I worked on the lamp shade. I actually like the shade with the scalloped edge - the fabric is very light, and the strips are almost like ribbons. The one below, however - not so much. 

I chose 2 yards of lightweight, cotton zebra-print at my local fabric store. I peeled off the top and bottom fabric edges and tore off the pleated outer shade, leaving the just the inner plastic supports. Then I started draping fabric over the shade to see what worked best.

I settled on large pleating. One hot glue gun and a roll of grosgrain ribbon later, and I had a finished recovered lamp shade.

The last step was to lightly sand the edges of the lamp bases after they had dried completely. I wanted the finished project to have a slightly rustic look, and that did the trick.


danger magnet

That Cass sure is addicted to danger. Name a dangerous object, any object...he wants it. If he shouldn't have it, he's attracted to it. If he REALLY shouldn't have it, he's already got his chubby 'lil hands on a stash.

Just this weekend, he's come across no less then 28219 dangerous items. Things like safety pins, a box of exacto blades, bottles of bleach water or other cleaning agents, cat poo, paint trays...he is such a boy. But he's also a sweetie, because every time he finds something dangerous and then actually manages to get his hands on it, he immediately brings it to me - he runs up with the item in his hands, and kinda throws it in my lap or the nearest flat surface, and then looks up at me ever so innocently as if to say "Here Mama, you left out the glue gun so I brought it to you."

Such a helpful little monkey :)

There are, of course, times when he doesn't immediately hand over the goods. I might find him under the kitchen table, or perhaps behind the green couch, being very, veeeery quiet. That's when I know something's up. Anyway, when I ask for the item and he hands it over (which he always does, bless his heart), you would think the world was ending - tears, screams, absolute sobbing. Sometimes I can't help but giggle - it's just too funny.

Kinda like this. I believe I had removed some pens from his possession.

But 25 seconds later, he's found an (hopefully) age-appropriate toy and is back to being my little giggling goon.

Ah, toddlerhood - so fickle, so fun :)



As I listened to NPR on the way home this evening, I was acutely aware of the madness unfolding around the world. Riots in the Middle East. State Senators fleeing their responsibilities. Exponentially rising gas prices. The threat of a federal government shut down.

Madness and mayhem seem to be the adjectives of current events right now.

But in the midst of world crises, I am strangely at peace. Don't get me wrong - I care deeply about what is happening around me, and constantly have my finger on the global pulse. But, I now think back to my late teens and early twenties when, at times I lived and breathed the temperature of the global political climate so intensely that I forgot...to be grateful. I forgot about the beauty of mayhem. I forgot to drink in the sweet intensity of the happiness in my own life.

Amid chaos lives peace. The absolute truth of this strange dichotomy strikes me dumb at times.

So tonight, instead of being angstful, I am grateful.

I am grateful for a husband who truly is my best friend. Who challenges me, inspires me, and gives me confidence.
I am grateful for a son, who is the love of both of our lives. A boy who is smart, funny, curious and so full of joy that it sometimes takes my breath away.
I am grateful for creativity, and the lustful adventure of being wrapped up in its grasp.
I am grateful for parents who have let me test the boundaries of their love and patience in unusual ways, but who have always (eventually) embraced my non-conventional rebellions.
I am grateful for brothers who always, always, always make me shake my head and wonder - but who also never fail in their devotion to family and friendship.
I am grateful for my core group of friends who, even when separated from me by miles or life's milestones, will always be family, and only a phone call away.
And I am grateful for freedom, and knowing that I have the right to be a mother, a wife, a professional or all three, and knowing that only my own insecurities can prevent me from soaring in all three.

I am grateful. Always, I am grateful. Many moments and hours and days, I forget that I am - but tonight, I choose to remember.

World, what and who are you grateful for? Who and what do you choose to celebrate tonight?


In the kitchen no. 3 - Hearty Tomato Soup

It was 70 degrees in the DC area on Friday. Monday evening, it snowed.

Mother nature is toying with me.

The warm weather kicked my body into cravings of spring - fresh vegetables, a green herb garden and constant sunshine. But the threat of snow earlier in the week had me craving comfort foods. This hearty tomato soup is the perfect compromise.

Hearty Tomato Soup
(Flat Belly Fat - Olive Oil)
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves 6

- Olive oil, 1/2 cup
- Yellow onion, 1 medium, roughly chopped
- Fennel bulb, 1 whole, roughly chopped
- Fresh thyme, to taste (I used the equivalent of about 3 heaping tablespoons)
(If using dried thyme, about 1 heaping teaspoon is the equivalent)
- Garlic cloves, 4 large peeled and crushed
- Organic tomato paste, 1 6-ounce can
- Organic canned diced tomatos, 2 28-ounce cans
- Filtered water, 4 cups
(if I happen to have stock on hand, I will use part stock, and part water; I had chicken stock on hand this evening, and used about 1 cup of stock and 3 cups of water. I find that stock gives the soup a more complex flavor. I don't, however, use all stock - it can overpower the tomatoes). 
- Dried basil, a pinch
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Cracked black pepper, to taste
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Cayenne pepper, a pinch (optional)
- Balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons
- Heavy cream, one tablespoon per serving (optional)

1. Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a large soup pot. Roughly chop the onion and fennel bulb and add to the olive oil. Sauté over medium heat until softened and the edges are caramelized, about 10 minutes.

2. Towards the end of the vegetable cooking, toss in a bundle of fresh thyme and 4 crushed garlic cloves.

3. Add the entire can of tomato paste to the vegetables. Mix thoroughly. Add the two cans of diced tomatoes, water/stock, basil, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer, partially uncovered, for 30 minutes until reduced by about 1/3, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the balsamic vinegar to the soup; if you prefer a sweeter soup, add the balsamic at the beginning of the simmering process (with the tomatoes) to give the sugars sufficient time to reduce and sweeten.

5. Puree the soup with a stick blender. If you don't have a stick blender, you can puree in small batches in your food processor or regular blender, but allow it to cool first.

6. Pour into soup bowls, garnish with heavy cream and fresh thyme. We made this a complete meal by adding fresh-baked French bread, and a spinach salad, with orange slices, red pepper and English cucumber.

Even the goobs enjoyed it. He looks like such a big kid in this photo. Thank goodness it's just the angle -  he's still just a little squish :) I can easily hang onto this age a bit longer...