Monday, March 30, 2009


It seems that everything I touch these days only gets half-done. Including this pillow cover. Perhaps I have too many projects going at once. How very Libra of me. Each day I am torn between playing with my son, running errands, working on craft projects, building my photography portfolio, hunting thrift stores, reading, exploring the outdoors ... and lately .... helping out family (not including the daily chores of being a household manager). And each day, I try to fit them all in. Seriously. It is ridiculous. I have so many passions, and I want to touch on all of them ... each and every day. So - everything takes forever to get completed (you should see the knitted item I am making Isaac. Halis laughs at how little progress I have made).

But I thank the heavens that I am able to do any of this - no matter how little progress I make. It is a good life. Especially being able to raise my son at home. I just wish that I were a little more focused. My brain just doesn't work that way though. It insists on multi-tasking at ALL times. Yet, I am never frazzled. I guess my brain knows what its doing after all. I just wonder when it is going to decide to finish this pillow (and the photography portfolio, the redecorating of the playroom, Isaac's quilt, the album for our trip to Disney, the paintings that I bought all supplies for, etc. etc.).



Sunday, March 29, 2009

Around the Farm.

Ooohhh.... oooohhhh.... I love this book. Mostly because it was made by me. But, I really do love the photography inside ... and love to show it to others. It is a nice compilation of all my favorite photos from around my old farm. Fond memories and some beautiful scenes.

Hanging out the quilts to dry.

Visiting the horses.

Raising my Aussies.

Big, beautiful sky.

All this and more. If you are interested in purchasing this handmade-by-me photography book, please see my Esty shop. There are only 7 available. All signed and numbered.

These photos remind me of spring --- a season that I am SO looking forward to. I am sure you are too. Actually, some of you are already growing and planting, etc. Enjoy!



Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Recession Sale!

I am having a bit of a "recession sale" of the photos I have posted in my This Handmade Life shop. Firstly because times are tough, so prices are reduced to accommodate (even shipping has been reduced). And secondly, because I have opened a new shop that is exclusive to my photography ... so am hoping to sell off that which is in my initial, handmade goodies shop ... in order to keep things better organized.

Anyway, click on over to the shop to see what goodies are on sale. (And please note that my logo will not be printed on your purchased photo).

Happy Bargain Hunting! More bargains to follow. And 10% of all profits go toward Haitian Roots this month.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Easter Goody Exchange, Anyone?

Wow, this economy is getting tough. I may not understand all the ins and outs of the economics of this recession ... but I do know that it is finally hitting home. My husband has had to take a significant cut in salary (and I do mean significant). So, much is going to have to change around here. Also, he will be taking a leave of absence from work in order to take over my father's business while Dad is recovering from surgery. So, we are looking at several weeks without pay. BUT, I am the eternal optimist and I love a good challenge! I am just going to have to be very creative with our money ... and I actually find some joy in that. I will certainly share with you all that I learn on this journey. Though I have always been frugal, I am going to have to step it up a bit ... and what I learn along the way, I will certainly share ... because I know that we are all in this recession thing together!

For starters, I was recently thinking about Easter. We have always been frugal about holidays ... trying to give Isaac mostly handmade goodies ... while perpetuating the significance of a holiday rather than the "receiving of gifts." And Isaac is really not the kind of kid who wants for anything (which I attribute to his lack of commercial television). Even so, I want him to wake up on Easter Sunday to a sweet little basket of goodies to celebrate the arrival of spring. One year, I joined a handmade Easter goody exchange ... and it was wonderful. I think there were about 14 kids involved. Each Mom made 14 of the same goody, then we shipped them all to one person, who then distributed all goodies to each participant. It was lovely. So - I am wondering if any of my fellow crafty bloggers & friends would like to do the same?

Please let me know in the comment section of this blog post asap and I will begin to organize the exchange. The number of items that each of us will make will be based on the number of children involved. For the sake of time, I would like to keep it to under 15 kids ... so if you are interested, please "sign-up" right away with the number of children that you have and their ages ... as well as the items that you wish to contribute.

This should be so fun! And please note that the items you make do not have to be anything grand ... just special.

As for my contribution, I will be making a pin set for each child over 3 (as seen in my shop) as well as a packet of lupine seeds for each child. I may add more depending on whether time allows for it.

Love to all,

P.S. Details of the exchange will be posted once we have enough interested parties. Thank you!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Family Matters.

I am sorry that I haven't been posting lately. My Dad has been experiencing some trouble with his health ... and our family has been rallying around him. It has been a tumultuous time for all of us. As I am certain that many of you already know ... it is so scary when we are faced with the mortality of those we love. We all firmly believe that Dad is going to be well soon ... but we are all going to be making many life changes in order to help Dad with his recovery. I will continue posting regularly both here and on my photography site. And for those who are concerned with Dad's progress, I will be sure to keep you updated.

Thanks for being here :)


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Signs of Impending Spring ... in Maine.

The indoor seeds have sprouted:

The chickens are venturing outdoors and laying again:

Critters are coming out of hibernation:

Mud is everywhere:

The canoe is finally peeking out from behind a mound of snow:

I am waking up a little bit happier each day.

The sun is sticking around longer.

Isaac and I venture further into the woods each day.

And I am finding Halis sexier every day ... as the spring air brings with it that natural urge to procreate (I bet you wish I hadn't said that).

So - are you feeling "Spring"?



Monday, March 16, 2009

Isaac's "Frugal" Birthday Party.

I love hosting birthday parties "on the cheap". I whole heartily believe in keeping things simple for Isaac so that he appreciates all that he has in life ... without the expectation of the "more, more, more" attitude that seems to prevail in our society. So, I make it a goal at Christmas, Easter, and his Birthday, to keep things as simple and homey as possible. And I have alot of fun with it. So does he.

This year, I found a party package of Pinocchio goods at Goodwill for $1.99. It included matching plates, napkins, hats, and a tablecloth. I then added some matching handmade-by-me placemats to the table.
The 3 cakes were both made by me - from scratch. The castle cake was made using a mold that I borrowed from my mother. I sprinkled the cake with powdered sugar, then scooped cool whip into the center. For the decorative piece, I printed 2 wallet sized pics of Isaac & "his princess" and glued them to a popsicle stick, then stuck it into the cake ... as a sort of castle flag. And each tower was used for holding each of his four candles. Perfect. He loved it. And it cost less than $5 to make.

I also made a second cake for the adults ... a Pineapple Upside Down cake. I got the recipe from a child's cookbook. And this too cost me less than $5 to make from scratch ... and it was SO delicious! (Leave a comment here if you want the recipe - and I will post it.)

As for decorations, I usually post baby pics around the birthday table ... reminding guests of how much Isaac has grown. But this year, Isaac's Auntie had the wonderful idea to trace Isaac onto brown packaging paper ... let him color himself in with crayons ... and then post it on the door for the party. Another way to show how much he has grown. And he absolutely loved it!

The party was a wonderful success. Mommy and Daddy got him this great tea set made from recycled milk jugs. And although his grandparents doubted it at first - Isaac loved this gift just as I knew he would. He also received other wonderful gifts that totally made his day ... Legos, Playmobil, Tonka truck, Melissa & Doug Jumbo Blocks, etc. His Auntie even gave him the pet turtle that he has been longing for.

We enjoyed immediate family: 2 sets of Grandparents, Auntie & Uncle, and 3 cousins. A lovely, manageable gathering of our closest loved ones (although we wish Uncle Jamie & Aunt Amy were there too).

As for party games ... we all went out and played in the mud after. Buckets & spoons were all that was required ... and I have never seen kids laugh so hard. Again --- good times "on the cheap". Very easily done and oh so appreciated by all.

I hope you find some inspiration to create your own frugal get-togethers. What matters most seems to cost the least :)



P.S. To see all of Isaac's Birthday photos, click here and then click on the thumbnails to see each picture.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Happy 4th Birthday Isaac!

Happy Birthday my sweet son. You have grown so very much.

Here is the day that you were brought to Three Angels Orphanage --- to wait for your Mommy & Daddy to find you. You were under a week old:

Here you are on your 2nd birthday. Mommy decided to start a new tradition of photographing you in your Daddy's shirt every year on your birthday to show how big you have gotten:

Your 3rd birthday:

And today:

Wow! Check out that shirt on you now! You are SO going to be bigger than your Daddy in no time.

We love you so much. We are so incredibly proud of you. You are sweet beyond comprehension ... you are so smart ... so respectful ... so hilarious ... and such a joy to be around. Man - we are crazy about you.

Happy Birthday Baby :)
~ Mommy & Daddy

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Seed Starting ... With Pleasure!

So, I have never really been a successful gardener. I always way over think it ... planning, reading, and sketching until I become so overly anxious about whether or not I am doing it right that I ruin all my best laid plans by being overly cautious. Not this time - I tell myself - because I have a 4-year old who wants in on the project. Out with the superego and in with the id. Just get the dirt and the seeds ... and lose all thoughts on "doing it right".

I thought I would make a day of introducing the whole indoor gardening idea by starting with a trip to the local Blue Seal. I asked Isaac what kind of seeds he wanted to plant, and he replied, "Beautiful flowers to give to my Mommy." Awwww. Because we have recently joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) we have no need to grow veggies this year ... so we opted for sunflowers, gourds (for making bird houses), basil (for pesto), cantaloupe, lemon balm, johnny jump ups (Mommy's fave) and organic soil (of course).

When we returned home, we got right to work:

Isaac SO loved the dirt. It was a great learning opportunity as well ... we talked about how seeds grow, where seeds come from, what plants need to be healthy, when we can plant these outdoors, etc. A great unschooling project.

Then Mommy thought it would be a great idea to fill lots of little jars with dirt and grass seed so that we can have little mounds of grass all over the house in time for Easter. Such a Martha Stewart-y thing to do.

All of this for about $35. Not bad for planting about 216 little circles of seeds in dirt. If all grow well, that's a lot of plants! I think we may end up selling some at the end of the driveway.

Thanks to my four-year old, I may actually enjoy gardening this year :)

Have you started planting seeds yet where you are? Indoors or out? I would love to know what you are planting.



Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Snow Castles.

Me: "Isaac, look, Mama knows how to make snow castles!"

Isaac: "Wow Mama, that's really beautiful."


Isaac: "Thanks Mama! Now can you make me another one?"

I think I made about 50 snow castles yesterday. All were completely totalled. I say give that snow a good swift kick and tell it to get the hell outta here. I am so done with it!

Spring is coming .... even if I have to drag it by the earlobe.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Knitting With a Friend. Good Times.

My girlfriend, Missy, recently taught me how to knit. And I like it ... but don't love it yet. She, on the other hand LOVES it ... and I can see why. It is a luxurious feeling to have soft cotton/wool yarn pass through your finger tips ... to create something useful out of natural woven fibers ... to focus your attention on a craft as though it were a meditation ... to simply flick your wrist and wind together knotted stitches that when formed together create a gorgeous, wearable work-of-art. She does that. Often.

Me? Well, I have stitched about 4 inches of a project ... and am in no hurry to stitch more. When Missy comes around, I pick it up so that we can knit together. It feels good to work on the same craft while chatting together. Sadly, I never last long. I need more instant gratification than knitting has yet to provide me. I would like that to change though. I would sincerely love to knit as well as she does - and recognize that one can only do so if one practices often. Perhaps someday.

For now - I am simply admiring her work ... and am in love with the beauty that she creates with some needles and fingers.

Thanks for sharing your work Missy. It truly is a joy to watch.



Sunday, March 8, 2009

Generation Gaps.

This weekend, I spent a few hours hanging out in downtown Bangor --- making new friends --- and taking some shots of the people who hang there. I loved every minute of it. I love our downtown --- especially the cast of characters who can always be found there. And I am totally in love with meeting new people and getting to know them. I am SO not shy. I am so very interested in what makes people who they are --- enjoying them for the moment --- and hoping to cross paths with them again in the future.

I have visited downtown quite a bit --- and worked there for a couple of years. I have seen groups of young people walking around downtown --- but have never really noticed them "hanging out" there. Downtown Bangor doesn't seem a likely teen hangout. But this weekend I saw a group of teens skateboarding on the steps of one of the local banks. They looked so great for photographing, so after circling downtown about three times in order to find a parking spot, I shouted out to them that I would like to photograph them ... and would they wait for me to park. Thankfully, they were very enthusiastic.

It was an absolutely gorgeous, sunny day ... snow melting everywhere ... and people coming out of their hibernation to soak it all in. When I finally parked the car, got the camera settings just right, and walked over to the skateboarding group ... they were ready for me. One young man even pointed out the best spots I might want to stand at in order to get some "killer" & "sick" shots.

I did get some great shots too. These kids were so much fun. I appreciated them in so many ways. In the short time I spent with them, I heard and saw some pain in their lives ... and also saw how big and beautiful their hearts were. It was such a treat. I gave them my card, told them to contact me to see their pictures ... and then we joyfully parted ways.

I then went on to photograph some buildings, the local guitar man (who belts out his tunes without want for money --- just a smile and a hello), some great guys from the local homeless shelter, etc. Then, when I returned to my parked car, I noticed that the skateboarders were engaged in a heated argument with a woman of at least 70 years old. The kids saw me and shouted out for me to come over to assist them. I wondered what harm an older lady and her "foo-foo" dog could do ... but still I walked over.

It seems that the old woman was chastising the kids for not doing something better with their lives. She insisted that they were breaking the law by skateboarding on public property (she is likely right about this). She assumed that they were slackers ... and was engaged in talking down to them. To be fair, the kids started it (once I asked how this all began). Apparently, this woman's dog barked at the kids for fear of their skateboarding and the kids shouted for the dog to "shut up".

Because I had gained the trust of these new young friends, I explained to them that it was highly unnecessary for them to treat their elders in that manner ... after all, shouting "shut up" to an old woman's dog was akin to shouting "shut up" at the old woman. Not right. Period. I am not sure whether they agreed with me or not ... as the anger they felt was more over what this woman assumed about them after they had upset her. She talked to them about how in her day they didn't do this ... and they did do that ... and how kids these days have no respect, no education, no morality, etc...etc... Basically, she did alot of talking down to them ... with an air of snobbery and sarcasm. She was beginning to grate on my nerves. I respect my elders --- there is no doubt of that. But her negative assumptions about their characters was unacceptable to me ... just as the disrespect they showed her was unacceptable. So, I had to put my two cents in ...

I told the woman that these were great kids. That I was glad they were here skateboarding in downtown ... then out getting high, vandalizing, or causing harmful mischief. I told her that they weren't hurting anybody ... and that I believed in them ... and maybe others should too. She kept insisting that they go out and get jobs ... to which I replied, "What jobs?". College students can barely get McDonalds jobs around here right now. She then insisted that they not break laws ... after all ... would it be alright for her to just pass through a red light and thus break the law? I replied that by passing through that red light, she was likely to kill someone, but that this skateboarding wasn't going to kill anyone. She was getting very upset with me by this point and said, "Well, their skateboarding is upsetting my dog." To which (please forgive me dog lovers) I replied, "With all due respect mam, that is only a dog ... these kids and their need to find a safe hangout is of far more consequence than your upset dog." She then asked me if I had ever broken a law ... to which I replied "Yes" (and quickly raced through my mind to try to find someone I knew who hadn't). That was the last straw for her ... she huffed away ... telling me that I was not an upright citizen either ... and that I should be ashamed, etc.

I then turned to this group of young people, who although they would never admit it, were upset by the entire conversation ... (who likes to be told what degenerates they are anyway? Really.) ... and told them to never accept what anyone else says about them ... that THEY know who they are. And as far as I was concerned, I believed in them ... and that they were all going to do alright by themselves.

And THAT is the summary of this story .... this is why I am telling it : I have learned within my 35 years of life that if you want to motivate people ... don't tell them how much they suck. Believe in them, encourage them ... and then they will believe in themselves. Show them grace and love by example. Be love ... give love ... listen to people without criticisms ... have faith that we are all just trying to do our best in this world. Especially our teens --- in a time when they are seeking out their identities --- in the face of peer pressures --- conflicting societal messages --- etc. --- let us ENCOURAGE them, BELIEVE in them. They are our future. And if perhaps their home lives have not given them the love, faith and encouragements that they have needed ... then it is even more important that others do.

So, if you guys are reading this (and I have a feeling you might be) I DO believe in you ... I believe in your power to create amazing lives for yourselves ... I saw your enormous capacity for love and I believe in its power within you. Don't ever let anyone tell you differently ... and better yet, stop shouting at old lady's dogs! Give the respect that you want in return. You all showed me nothing but respect ... and I gave it back to you. That's how the world works. I look forward to more "killer" / "sick" photo sessions with you guys. So stay in touch.

Thank you all for reading this. I was a little long winded, but felt the need to spread this message. Hope I wasn't too preachy.I just feel very strongly about this :)

If you want to see more of these kids in action, check out and/or here:
Lots of Love,

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hanging Out in Bed ... till whenever.

The bed seems to be our hang out spot for the past few days. So much snow ... so much wind ... keeps us inside - cuddling, reading, playing make-believe, and watching the Smurfs - all from the bed. So yummy.

Occasionally we head out into the world, with lots of winter gear, and that feels good too. But there really is nothing like a day or two in bed ... bodies pressed up against one another ... enjoying all the goodness of one-on-one time together. Oh ... and the reading ... well let me tell you ...

My new favorite book is Robin McKinley's The Hero and the Crown. Wow. I couldn't put it down. The writing is rich and beautiful. The story is so engaging. And the heroine is so complex that I felt I knew her personally by the end of the book --- and longed to learn more about her next adventures. Sadly, there is no "Part 2" to this great book. However, there is a book that McKinley wrote, The Blue Sword, that is set in the same city ... 500 years after the reign of Aerin (the heroine of The Hero and the Crown). So, immediately after completing the first book, I drove straight to Borders to pick up The Blue Sword ... with which I am already having a hard time putting down.

As for Isaac, he is having a great time reading some Robert Munsch books. Hilarious stuff. We keep several Munsch books here because they are truly funny ... but also because the characters involved are often non-traditional families. For instance, in Andrew's Loose Tooth the main character, Andrew, is a young white boy ... while his sisters are both black ... his Mommy is brown skinned and his Daddy is white. Nothing is said of their differences ... they are just your everyday average family going through a loose tooth crisis. And that is so good for Isaac to see.

Well, I better go read more of The Blue Sword. I also purchased some back-up books in case the weather continues to keep us inside. Here is hoping for spring ... but I fear it is still a long way off.

Even the dogs are keeping to the indoors ...

Hoping you have warm & lovely weather where you are. Or that you at least have a great book.



Wednesday, March 4, 2009

And the Winner Is:

Congratulations "Mommacole" ... who said: "The he-man buttons rock but I am going with the Shy Little Kitten upcycled journal. Very sweet!"

Please contact me for info on how to redeem your $30 Gift Certificate. And THANK YOU to all who participated!

Also, I have been adding some fun pins to my shop offerings. These Calvin & Hobbes are my new faves:

Oh, and FYI: I used to pick the winner of this giveaway.

Have a great day.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Because Boston Terriers Can Be Cute ... Mostly ...

I have taken a new step in creating greeting cards for my shop. I have printed some new card sets using vintage photography (that I pay an arm and a leg for on Ebay). The first of these is my Boston Terrier set. Why? Because they are adorable. And just look at that vintage hand held mixer in the first pic. I had to have it!

I made these cards out of high quality linen. They measure 4" x 5.5". They are all blank, but take up ink very well, so when I use them for birthdays - I rubber stamp a message inside.

These are for sale in my shop - in sets of 4 (2 of each picture) - professionally packed in cellophane - for just $4 plus shipping.

If you are intersted in purchasing a set, just mention this blog post for free shipping! (Limited time offer).

And don't forget, just 2 days till a winner is chosen for my Giveaway! Go sign up :)

Have a great day.



Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mama's Museum Visit :: Alone.

Saturday morning I woke up with wanderlust. I felt the need to go somewhere special that was just for me ... but had no plan. Both Halis and Isaac were asleep, and their deep snoring told me that it would be a while before they would wake. So, I got in the car, drove to Frank's Bakery for some fresh made doughnuts ... and then it hit me .... I am alone. I can go to the Art Museum without an uninterested husband or a needy child. Heaven. I have been waiting for this moment for months now --- ever since I heard that Andy Warhol's polaroid pics were on exhibit there.

Once I entered the UMaine Museum of Art (off campus in Bangor) ... I was pleasantly surprised to find such a contemporary, open, and inviting space in which to explore various works. I have been to other art museums throughout New England and Canada ... many of them in dark spaces. But this museum was so pleasantly lit ... and so strikingly minimalist and modern ... that it felt as though I were attending a museum in a much larger (and more modern) city than Bangor. But Bangor is full of surprises (just check out our incredible library - I am sure it rivals the collections of much larger cities).

However, I was terribly disappointed to find out that the Warhol exhibit had already been sent packing ... over a month ago. Apparently I waited too long to find some quiet Mommy time to attend the exhibit. But there was an interesting exhibit that caught my attention: Gyotaku Prints by Boshu Nagase. If I were to explain this art, I am sure that I would not do it justice, so you may want to click on some of the above links that I have provided. In the most elementary terms ... Mr. Nagase creates exact images of fish by rolling ink onto a dead fish ... then pressing it to paper ... then filling in all the detail with watercolors and various other inks. Apparently he is THE master of this art form.

It was incredible to see this work in person, especially after watching the video on display that shows the artist creating some of the very works that surrounded the walls. Incredible talent.

Of course, there were other works on display, including Metaphysics of Landscape : Paintings by Timothy McDowell ... and A Bit of Colored Ribbon: Works by John Bailly.

To be honest, John Bailly's work almost frightened me. I wanted to back away from it. It was "noise" and unease. Only later did I find out that this was part of his intent (please see above links to learn more). But I did find beauty in one of his works ... that felt somewhat inviting ... though still very chaotic ...

As for Timothy McDowell's Metaphysics of Landscapes, though I did not find his work particularly remarkable (but then again, I am no art connoisseur I assure you), I loved the color combinations ... and the surreal, dream-like feel to the work.

However, my two favorite works in the museum were not part of any of the visiting and aforementioned exhibitions. I only know they are my favorites, because they were the paintings that I stopped and stared at for a while ... and one even took my breath away for a moment ... this work titled "Agent" by William Gropper:

This piece just spoke to me somehow ... the perspective, the color, the man's expression. I would hang this on my wall (for about $20,000 or so).

My second favorite piece is in stark contrast to my first. It is a self portrait by the Italian artist, Francesco Clemente :

I was drawn to the simplicity of this portrait ... minimal lines ... splashes of color ... lack of any background details ... full lips (did I mention I have a "thing" for full-bodied lips?). I know nothing of the artist ... and this self-portrait did not give me any additional clues. Perhaps it was the mystery that I was drawn to --- the fact that the artist seemed to give me nothing of himself --- other than "here I am".

Well, apparently this has been a mini "show-and-tell" version of my art museum outing. I hope you find something to look at or pursue further (follow the links).

Hopefully I will still get to see some Andy Warhol polaroids before I leave this world. I find them far more interesting than his other works! But then again, I find photography much more interesting than any other work :)

And I already told Halis that I think I am going to make every other Saturday morning into a "Mommy Alone" morning ... where I check out something new in our sweet little city ... or at least eat more bakery doughnuts!

Enjoy your day.