Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday and Bunny Slippers

Updated 11/23/2016

If the idea of rolling out of bed at the crack of dawn on Friday morning, in a tryptophan stupor (who am I kidding- you’ve missed all the good stuff if you wait until the crack of dawn), showering (what? you never know who might see you and you might have a little something in your hair), eating a hearty breakfast (really?), packing snacks and water, and wearing your best cross training sneakers is just wayyyyy too much to think about, I have an alternative for you…

Cuddle beneath the blankets for 5 more minutes, pad down into the kitchen in your bunny slippers and prepare a nice cup of tea- why not add a bit of lemon- you have time. A casual glance outside- ahh, the sun is already up casting its gentle rays across the frosty grass. Grab a warm throw, a spot on the couch and your laptop. Now you’re ready to shop.

Need some ideas? I make handmade- I sell handmade - you can find my shop at - and I give handmade. I always start at  Don’t worry, there’s something for everyone on this site- and it’s really easy to use. AND, many shops are offering great specials and sales Black Friday through Cyber Monday.

Here are some of my favorites:

Handmade Yarn Bowl

Cafe Apron

Aquamarine Earrings
Knitted Mug Cozy

My work here is done. I’m going to get another cup to tea.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

'Twas the Week Before Christmas

We were both at our respective parties, but with only days left before Christmas, a meeting had to occur. I left my party with her party address in my phone's navigation system.  Driving carefully through the dense fog I traveled deep across county lines, along unfamiliar, dark country roads until I finally arrived at the entrance of a beautiful neighborhood. Stately old homes, resplendent in their holiday decorations, bid me welcome.  Finding the party house was easy, even without my GPS, there were dozens of cars lining the street.  I dialed her number. No answer. I waited. Dialed again. Waited some more. I could imagine her purse, dumped by the front door upon her arrival ... humming with my calls and voice mails. I finally approached the front door, the music and cheer spilling out onto the sidewalk.  I tentatively rang the bell and stood before the grand double doors. Moments later a tiny, white haired woman threw open those doors with gusto, and greeted me with a flourish, "She's here!" she exclaimed. 

My customer made her way through the crowd and I handed her the little box. I watched her carefully remove the lid and then saw her face lite up with childish delight.  She was absolutely thrilled!

We exchanged hugs and warm holiday sentiments and then I left to return to my party, my heart filled with holiday cheer. Once again, an adventure and a blessing had been given to me on this holiday party night.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Charter Oak, From Trash to Treasure

Beneath the dense, black grease lies the pattern I know so well. The detail is buried and will not be seen by most; but it's one of my favorites and I know it's embellishment of leaves and acorns by heart -- if not by hand. This silverware is both strong and graceful, heavy and feminine. It is a wonderful representation of its name: Charter Oak.  It is not necessarily rare, but it is hard to find at a reasonable price.  These are priced right, but there is always a risk that beneath the grime, a once-beautiful piece will be tarnished, pitted and scarred beyond repair. I decide to take the risk! 

The chemical cleaners do a great job, but nothing beats an old toothbrush and some toothpicks. Then it's time for buffing with old socks. This trio used up five old socks -- luckily, with three boys, I have an endless supply of buffing materials!!

The transformation is amazing! These pieces are in pristine condition- full of lustre and shine -- and the gorgeous leaves and acorns are revealed! Just beautiful!

Charter Oak
Manufactured by International-1847 Rogers Bros. c. 1906

*These pieces are available for purchase at my Etsy shop

Charter Oak Spoon Keychain

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Gifts that Stop Giving

Grandparents and other family members love these notepads illustrated with children's own artwork

It seems that there comes a time in everyone’s life that they have enough. One day they just seem to wake up, discover that they have it all and now, suddenly, they don’t want any more. “I don’t need any more stuff.  I don’t want any more stuff. I can’t take any more stuff,” they announce with religious fervor. But, this declaration is not just a personal revelation. It’s an order. And it’s a warning shot across the bow of the Good Ship Happy Holidays. Hell hath no fury like a senior citizen who is gifted one more pair of slippers, one more very special coffee mug or one more framed photograph of the precious grandkids.

As the brave and true captain of my own holly jolly skipjack, dredging about for the perfect grandparent holiday giftee, I take heed of the warning sent my way and merrily ignore it. You see, I can ignore it because I completely agree: they all have too much stuff. The garage shelves sway under the weight of it all, the basement requires a helmet light and a map and the bi-fold closet doors in your old bedroom won’t close without a hip bump. Enough is actually enough. But it’s Christmastime and we all love sharing with our family and friends. So, I say, it’s time to start giving the gifts that stop giving.

But don’t fret, gifts with planned obsolescence can be thoughtful, creative and festive. Our favorite holiday gift for the grandparents is a pad of paper with our childrens’ artwork printed along the bottom or up the side. This gift is perfect beyond words: it’s crazy inexpensive, personal, useful and best of all: finite.

Here’s how you do it: we have our children create one or two simple line drawings that we email over to Kinko’s (yep, I don’t even drive it over there). We include instructions on size (we like 8.5 x 5.5), the order of drawings (we like one, two, three, one, two, three, etc) and binding (we like the gummy thing on top) and pages per pad (we like 50 or 75). Like little Christmas elves, they take all our art and instructions and make the magic happen. For less than $5.00 a pad, we have something to give that is both adorable and useful and best of all: it won’t add to that tangible pile of good intentions. And rest assured: people love these pads. We give them to the grandparents, babysitters, aunts and uncles and even friends of the family. We even get requests for pads from our parents’ friends who don’t know our kids. If someone does something nice for our kids, even the smallest kindness, she gets a pad. Everyone loves the pads!

So as the holidays approach, and you find yourself in a sea of slippers, mugs, and picture frames, why not set your sails toward the perfect gift: the one that stops giving.

Here are some more perfect gifts for those on your list that seem to have everything:

Delicious Shortbread Cookies 
Luxurious Handmade Soap
Lovely Notecard Set

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Daffodil Principle

Every year, high in the San Bernardino mountain range of Southern California, five acres of beautiful daffodils burst into bloom. Amazingly, this special spot, known as "The Daffodil Garden," was planted by one person, Gene Bauer, one bulb at a time, beginning in 1958.

The story of the Daffodil garden revolves around a mother and daughter on an errand in very bad weather. The daughter has taken a route that does not please the mother….. The story unfolds.....

…. after about twenty minutes we turned onto a small gravel road that branched down into an oak-filled hollow on the side of the mountain. The fog had lifted a little, but the sky was lowering, gray and heavy with clouds.

Live oaks, mountain laurel, shrubs, and bushes clustered in the folds of the valley, and in the gray, drizzling air, the green foliage looked dark and monochromatic. I shivered. Then we turned a corner of the path, and I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight, unexpectedly and completely splendid. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes where it had run into every crevice and over every rise. Even in the mist-filled air, the mountainside was radiant, clothed in massive drifts and waterfalls of daffodils. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow. In the center of this incredible and dazzling display of gold, a great cascade of purple grape hyacinth flowed down like a waterfall of blossoms framed in its own rock-lined basin, weaving through the brilliant daffodils. A charming path wound throughout the garden. There were several resting stations, paved with stone and furnished with Victorian wooden benches and great tubs of coral and carmine tulips.

As though this were not magnificent enough, Mother Nature had to add her own grace note - above the daffodils, a bevy of western bluebirds flitted and darted, flashing their brilliance. These charming little birds are the color of sapphires with breasts of magenta red. As they dance in the air, their colors are truly like jewels above the blowing, glowing daffodils. The effect was spectacular.

It did not matter that the sun was not shining. The brilliance of the daffodils was like the glow of the brightest sunlit day. Words, wonderful as they are, simply cannot describe the incredible beauty of that flower-bedecked mountain top.

Five acres of flowers! (This too I discovered later when some of my questions were answered.) “But who has done this?” I asked. “Who?”

“It’s just one woman,” Carolyn answered. “She lives on the property. That’s her home.” Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house that looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory.

We walked up to the house, my mind buzzing with questions. On the patio we saw a poster. “Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking” was the headline. The first answer was a simple one. “50,000 bulbs,” it read. The second answer was, “One at a time, by one woman, two hands, two feet, and very little brain.” The third answer was, “Began in 1958.”

There it was. The Daffodil Principle.

There was no other way to do it. One bulb at a time. No shortcuts - simply loving the slow process of planting. Loving the work as it unfolded.

Loving an achievement that grew so slowly and that bloomed for only three weeks of each year. Still, just planting one bulb at a time, year after year, had changed the world.

This unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. She had created something of ineffable magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.

The principle her daffodil garden teaches is one of the greatest principles of celebration: learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time - often just one baby-step at a time - learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time.
When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.

The thought of it filled my mind. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the implications of what I had seen. “It makes me sad in a way,” I admitted to Carolyn. “What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five years ago and had worked away at it ‘one bulb at a time’ through all those years. Just think what I might have been able to achieve!”

Use the Daffodil Principle. Stop waiting... until your car or home is paid off. Until you get a new car or home. Until your kids leave the house. Until you go back to school. Until you finish school. Until you clean the house. Until you organize the garage. Until you clean off your desk. Until you lose 10 lbs. Until you gain 10 lbs. Until you get married. Until you get a divorce. Until you have kids. Until the kids go to school. Until you retire. Until summer. Until spring. Until winter. Until fall. Until you die...

Addendum: The Willow Fire of 1999 destroyed the Bauer's A-frame home, its surrounding shady trees and garden. Miraculously, the daffodil bulbs beneath the ground survived.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Taking Care of Samurai Jack or When You Give a Cat a Kibble

Recently, my husband and I went away for a few days and my dear, sweet mother came and stayed with my three boys and took care of all the animals. When we returned I read Steve the directions I had left for taking care of Samurai Jack- our awesome 22lb Maine coon cat. We thought they were so crazy that we just had to share them...

So, without further ado...

Samurai Jack: Please accept my apologies from the get go. Dear God. Hopefully he'll help you- and I mean God!

In the morning, could be 4am, you will be awakened by Samurai Jack biting papers in the bedroom. Anything he can find. Or he will get on you. Either way, he'll let you know he's hungry.

So you wander to our bathroom, and in the bottom of the drawer there is a little bowl - you fill that with dry kibbles and shut him in the bathroom. He'll let you know when he's done- you'll hear knock, knock, knock on the door. You'll stagger to the door, let him out and put the food back in the drawer and then kind of follow him to the hallway- see, if the boys leave their bathroom door open, he'll go in and poop on their rug - so you have to follow him and make sure that door is closed. Then he'll go downstairs to poop.

You can rest for a few hours until he needs to be fed again.

He will want to eat again in bit, and you'll give him more dry food. This can be done downstairs in the mudroom or the bathroom - he has to be alone - otherwise Jilly will eat his food and vomit everywhere. Are you having fun yet?

So, this dry food is done in a little glass bowl and the food is in the pantry. At dinner time he will get a can of wet food. You can just put it on top of any leftover kibbles in the little glass bowl. He'll eat it in the mudroom and then the dog will clean up what makes it to the floor. If there is any left in the bowl, we put a plate on it and leave it out (it gets better with age apparently). He'll eat it for a snack the next day! And of course, he'll be hungry by 4am anyway- but that's the upstairs food! Yeah!!

Mom says next time, send the kids to her house and board the animals...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Thrill of the Hunt

As much as I am passionate about creating art, I also love hunting for art or objects d’art or well, just weird stuff- especially in the most unlikely of places. The dirtier the shop, the better, and if I have to dig through greasy, dusty junk to look for treasure, I am one happy camper.

This morning I ventured out to a local antique shop that is so packed with boxes and furniture and all sorts of everything that I had to scoot sideways through the narrow aisles. Underneath a table, I found boxes that looked as if they had come directly from an auction -- many of the goodies were still in their yellowed newspaper wrappings. Interesting. After sorting through old license plates, tobacco pipes and costume jewelry I hit pay dirt.

junk art pictures1

This gorgeous little flower vase- in perfect condition- was resting against some old tea towels. “I must have this,” I thought to myself. Its coppery glaze and elegant shape would be perfect in my living room. I dug deeper, casting aside broken picture frames and holiday ornaments and found this small metal “thingy.”

junk art pictures3

It’s heavy, grimy and tarnished. Perfect so far. I have no idea what it is (the owner later confesses that he has no idea what it is either- awesome). I must have this too. I begin backing my way out the path, there is actually no room for turning around, and I spot this colorful box of …. Tags. Wow. In the original box. Made in Italy. And they are spectacular. Beautiful.

junk art pictures6

I have no idea what to do with them but they are so nice (perhaps thank you notes on some of my really special pieces). Must. Have. Them.

I gather my treasures and head toward the counter… On the way, I spot an old pocket watch (the kids will enjoy taking it apart). It’s mine too.

As soon as I saw the little metal thing I knew it would be perfect as a candle holder. I tried it this way:

junk art pictures10

No. How about this?

junk art pictures11

Nope. Or this?

junk art pictures12


Finally, I tried this:

junk art pictures14

Oh yes. Exactly. Best part of all, my treasures less than twelve dollars altogether. I couldn’t be happier if I found a pot of gold!