April 29, 2011

13 Months Old: The Many Faces of Tess.

Today was one of those days when Tessa's bedtime could not come fast enough. My house was loud today -- crammed with her cries and shrieks and squeals and growls so that even now that she's gone off to sleep I keep imagining I hear her still. She's getting over a stomach bug and she's cutting trillions of teeth and who knows what else? She wanted to be held all day long. Which is fine mostly. Except that, Lord, sometimes it's not fine at all.

We're having a cookout tomorrow for 30 of Nekos' co-workers so I was trying to get the house cleaned up and put red velvet cupcakes in the oven while finishing a writing deadline. The cupcakes turned out brown, not red. And the house still needs some work before people show up tomorrow. But Tess thought those were super lame excuses and didn't want to hear it. She wanted me to sit outside with her.

When I can't think what in the world to do with her, I take her outside. She fusses less. Her caramel skin sops up the sunlight and her eyes take in the wonder of the blue sky and green trees. Because of her, I can't help but notice all that stuff more too. I love this little girl. She is a special soul. A special soul with temper tantrums.

Some Happy Things.

These patched knees. I have a pair of Abercrombie + Fitch jeans that I've had since 2002 and the knees look just like these, minus the awesome patches. I love everything about this fix-up, especially that she used mismatched upholstery fabric and contrast X-stitching.
Source: Our Designed Life
And some more adorable knee patches...
Sources: Koala Brains and Turkey Feathers

The bookshelf in this nursery. It would be like living in a bookstore!
Source: Ohdeedoh

This dessert. Banana dipped in Nutella, rolled in coconut, and then frozen. It's so delicious and inexpensive (compared to the ice cream bars I normally tear through).
Source: F Yeah Nutella

These garments made from pillowcases. I love anything that doesn't have to involve a pattern and both of these -- a little girl's dress and a grown-up's skirt -- "look" super simple to whip up.
Source: Crafterhours
This pillowcase was purchased for $2.50!
Source: I Still Love You

This leather bow cuff tutorial. This is definitely on my "To Make" list! I just discovered this blog lately and I love it. She has great, simple tutorials.
Source: I Still Love You

Pinterest.com. Am I crazy for not knowing about this site earlier? It's like hundreds of fashion, design, DIY, and food blogs smashed into one. I've been scrolling it all week, drooling at the pretty stuff and getting inspired.
Source: Pinterest

These toys. I've talked before about my love for vintage Fisher Price toys. Well, look at this! These three lucky little siblings have these all to themselves! The organization of it all just makes me feel good inside. Too bad Tessa would stroll up, pull every single thing off every single shelf and then knock the entire bookshelf over for good measure.
Source: ChikAustin

April 27, 2011

Stuff I Made: Decoupaged Light Plate DIY.

If you know anything about decoupaging, then you won't need a DIY for this as it's pretty obvious. If not, this is a great, inexpensive way to try decoupage. What is decoupage? It's basically gluing stuff to other stuff. In this case, I'm gluing paper to a light plate. The Mod Podge you use to glue everything together makes the surface stiff and slick and easy to clean. FYI - It's actually a little easier to glue fabric to a light plate, which you can see below. 

What you need:

- Light plates
- Mod Podge
- Small paintbrush
- Paper or fabric

Once you've selected the material you want to decoupage to your light plates, trace the plate and cut it out. Leave about an inch of overlap around the edge of the light plate because you'll want to fold the overlap over and glue it to the back of the plate.

Brush a light coat of Mod Podge onto the bare light plate and place the paper or fabric you've cut out on top.

Then put a thin coat of Mod Podge atop the paper. Wait for it to dry and repeat this process about five times, until you're satisfied with the look and texture.

Then you're done!

Here are a couple of other light plates I've done using fabric:

April 26, 2011

Bridge to Terabithia & Other Treasures.

Over the weekend I re-read Bridge to Terabithia, which was one of my favorite books as a kid because it made me feel less alone. I was a terrible dork in elementary school, but when I rolled around in the pages of books like this one I could escape the cold, hard facts: I was unhappy and chubby and not included on the invite lists to the cool kids' pool parties. Mostly, I was suffering from my parents' divorce. But books like Bridge to Terabithia made a real difference, fitting into a place in my heart where something badly needed to be fit.

The book is about a lonely, bummed-out fifth-grader named Jess Aarons whose life is upended when smarty pants city girl Leslie Burke moves to his rural town and teaches him how to escape his grim family life with his imagination. It's every bit as powerful and beautiful and tragic a book as I'd remembered.

Inside the front cover of my copy, I found an inscription written out by author Katherine Paterson.

It says:

For Ellen Mallernee with best wishes for your writing. - Katherine Paterson, 4/21/93

I was 10 years old in April of '93. I don't remember the circumstances of meeting Katherine Paterson. I wonder if my mom nudged me forward to the table where she was dashing off signatures. I wonder how I told her. Was it, Excuse me, Mrs. Paterson? My name is Ellen Mallernee. One of these days I want to be a writer just like you.

I have always, always known what I wanted to be when I grew up. There was never any grappling with what to major in during college or what to do with my free time.

In high school I made sure to be editor-in-chief of the school paper, writing articles objecting to whomever was hocking loogies in the water fountains; in college I acted as entertainment editor for UT's Daily Beacon, writing flowery concert reviews that make me blush now. I was also editor-in-chief of the university's literary magazine, The Phoenix, for which I had the undeserved honor of selecting the poems and short stories that would make the cut. I majored in creative writing and was mentored by my insanely gorgeous, insanely married writing professor (but, woefully, never got the chance to engage him in an extramarital affair). Right out of college I started working for the alternative weekly that I'd interned with the year prior. Then came more writing jobs, until finally I've realized another writing-related dream, one that I used to speak of casually. One of these days I want to be a freelance writer. 

I sometimes get annoyed with myself for being so indecisive, but there are three things I've felt very sure about in life -- being a writer, being with Nekos, and being a mom -- and I'm grateful to have felt so steady on my feet as I started down each of these paths. Thank God I was given the tools to funnel my dorkiness and sadness into something that's brought me great satisfaction in my life. I owe that to my English teacher mom who supplied me with piles of terrific books but I also owe it to the books themselves and to the tenacious little girl who devoured them.

Revisiting Bridge to Terabithia has made me want to re-read more of my pre-teen favorites. Here are a few that I can think of offhand.

Which were your favorite books growing up?

April 24, 2011

Oh Happy Day.

Two of our friends, Joy and Daniel, got married yesterday on a bright green hill in Kingston Springs that was dressed in yellow wildflowers. Joy is mom to June, who plays with Tessa every week. She and I met in prenatal yoga and became close after we had our baby girls, and it's been amazing to watch her plan her beautiful wedding in three months time. I'm only posting one photo of the bride and groom because they haven't even seen the pictures yet, but here are some snapshots of one of my favorite wedding ceremonies of all time. And of the handsome D.J. who kept it rocking.

April 23, 2011

A Blogging Break.

When I started blogging last year I made a commitment to blog most days of the week. That's because that's what most of my favorite bloggers do, and I like having a fun and familiar daily read. Over time my favorite thing about blogging has become that it inspires to me to start and finish crafting projects and to invest my time in more meaningful things. It's become a photo journal of my life and some of the things that I love. But this week my heart was just NOT in it. My blog was sort of like that old friend that you spy at the grocery store and rather than make polite conversation with her you duck behind the pickle jars. You don't really know why but you don't feel like saying hello.

Well I sort of know why. We got a couple of financial sucker punches this week: one courtesy of the IRS and one courtesy of a tree that fell, pulled our electrical lines off our house, and left us with a shocking electrician's bill. Very sobering stuff. It's not our fault at all that we owe so much money. It's just one of those life-is-not-fair scenarios, and we'll deal with it. It's brought our little family closer together this week as we realize what's important -- not money, not maintaining a daily blog, not anything else other than taking care of yourself and the people that you love.

Oh and also, we lost power and our internet service for a couple of days and even still don't have Internet. Hopefully tomorrow. And ... there was another surprisingly scary scenario involving wild turkeys in our backyard (I haven't eaten a turkey sandwich since), and I had more writing deadlines than usual (thankfully!). My blog just wasn't meant to be this week, but that said, I've been jotting down all kinds of ideas for new crafts to share, and I so look forward to getting back to blogging next week.

Plus, I cut off about a foot of hair on Wednesday and have a new a chin-length 'do that I need to show you guys. I sort of feel like a new person with this haircut.

Back soon!

April 18, 2011

Stuff I Wore: A Bachelorette Party.

This is one of those outfits that just makes me feel like ahhhh. Because it feels so me. Not too preppy or too hippy or too costumey or too boring or too anything. I wore this to a girlfriend's bachelorette party this weekend. We had dinner at this place called Suzy Wong's House of Yum and then walked over to the gay bars to see a drag show and dance with the shirtless, sweaty gay boys. Such. A. Fun. Night.

April 16, 2011

Storytelling in 30 Photos

One of my favorite bloggers, Srsly Liz, followed a photo prompt this week to create a cool blog entry. I thought hers turned out great and felt like I really knew her better afterwards so I followed her lead.

1. Someone I spend a lot of time with...

2. A picture of myself...

3. A picture of someone in the family... (my mama)

4. A picture of something that makes me happy... 

5. An old picture of myself...

6. A picture of a sibling... (don't have one)

7. A class photo... (senior picture)

8. A random photo of me and my significant other...

9. A picture I’ve never posted before... 

10. A relative of mine... (grandmother)

11. A person I can tell everything to...

12. A picture from everyday life..

13. A picture from a place I love...

14. A picture that reminds me of old times... (my first car! a 1971 VW Bug) 

15. A picture from a great night...

16. An unusual picture...

17. A picture of my spare time...

18. A picture of people who are closest to me... (my soul sisters: Molly and Brooke)

19. A picture of a person who is always there... (mama)

20. A picture of a time in life I miss... (living room dance parties)

21. A picture from last summer...

22. A picture that makes me sad...

23. A picture I always laugh about...

24. A crazy picture... 

25. Latest picture of myself...

26. A picture of my parents at my age...

27. A picture from the best days of my life...

28. A picture from my favorite vacation (Key West) ...

29. A picture of an accomplishment... (our house) 

30. A picture I’m satisfied with...