23 March 2009


i'm a sucker for any books published by parent's magazine press, in the late 1960's, early 70's. why, you ask? because those were books that i had as a kid. my favorite books.

the first child-related purchase i made after finding out i was pregnant with cosmo, was parent's magazine press books i found on ebay. titles i'd loved as a child. i could not afford the few copies i could find of jelly beans for breakfast. fortunately and unfortunately by remi charlip was also out of my price range, but i did get my nostalgia fix with arm and arm (also by charlip) and a few other wonderful stories. now, i scan the bookshelves at thrift stores and yard sales, hoping to pick up a few more titles. one, which i found at a good will here in town, is called the awful mess. it isn't one i had as a kid, but is of the same general quality, and i love it. it is about a boy who crafts elaborate towers and tunnels and jungles in his room, which the rest of the family regard as "an awful mess." the conclusion of the book (spoiler warning!) involves the boy having a new friend over. the boys crawl through the tunnels, and share caramels at the end, and the friend says, "i like your room, it's neat."

i said that to cosmo today, and meant it. it is really neat and tidy in there, thanks to these awesome shelves i made this week. i've been meaning to make these for six months or so, finally got around to it. nothing like house guests (arriving this weekend), to get one motivated to finish projects. they were fairly easy to build. however, since i skimped on the "grade" of pine boards, i got some seriously warped and otherwise messed up boards that i had to work around, but, the finished product, i feel perfectly happy with. it was so much fun to fill in all the slots with toys, and art supplies, and TALL books (which had been lying on their sides, since we had no tall bookshelf space before), and to have more of cosmo's stuff down low, where he can actually can reach it. his clothes really had no proper home before this either, and, while i think i need to add a couple of shelves to the tall one, it is such a huge improvement. the new shelving also allowed me to de-clutter all the other storage areas, like thes built-in open shelves, and and the closet.

oh, and please note the "feet" of the lower shelf--they are made of wooden beads (which came from cosmo's beading set, which originally came from one of those beads-on-wire-tracks toys, which someone gave us when he was a baby, which i took apart one day, and saved the beads). they add a subtle color accent.

the stuff i build is always very simple, rarely painted, in this case, not even a clear coat. i'm just way too impatient to install the thing, and put it to work. i can't be bothered to wait for paint to dry! one of my neighbors said they looked "scandinavian." i'll take that as a compliment. even if she did mean that they look like they came from ikea. my other secret dream job is to be a furniture designer for ikea...

i also have to work within the confines of the tools i have available to me. i can borrow a table saw from our neighbors, but i'd rather not, so i avoid designs that would involve a table saw. recently i made a tv stand (so that cosmo could have his little table back) and i made it way too deep, primarily because i could find pre-cut plywood pieces at 2ft x2ft. it was close enough to what i had drawn, and so much easier than dealing with sheets of plywood, and getting it cut to size. the sides consist of small pieces, assembled to make a panel. i actually get a big kick out of coming up with the simplest and cheapest design, with the tools (and skills) i have at my disposal. constraints always force creative solutions.

19 March 2009


carl and i love to shout SPRING BREAK! and joke about trips to ft. lauderdale, fl, to sip daiquiris and play beach volley ball with a bunch of drunk college students.

our actual spring break (thank god!) involves puttering around in the yard, taking walks in our neighborhood to check out pussy willows and crocuses in bloom, and a day trip to columbus, indiana, which is an hour away from here.

cosmo has been looking forward to this little jaunt. so much so, he would wake up, in the days leading up to the trip, and ask, "is it columbus day?" as it turns out, we went on st. patrick's day. the main attraction for us (besides the world-class architecture) is a children's museum called kid'scommons, which we were told featured a big house, where kids can explore all the inner workings, including plumbing. we had asked our librarian for some books with good drawings for pre-schoolers who ask "where does the water go?" and "what's under the house? what's inside the wall?" she suggested kid'scommons, and mentioned a giant toilet that kids slide down. that was all cosmo needed to hear. he could not stop talking about that giant toilet slide.

when we finally got on the road, we told cosmo we would be stopping for lunch before we went to the museum. he was not happy about any delays, but ended up falling asleep in the car, and lunchtime was just what he needed to wake up, and get ready for the big adventure. we walked from the cafe to the museum, and passed a block of "tree cozies," a public art project that we all enjoyed seeing. it reminded us of the houston group, knitta, please! though, obviously not exactly subversive, since it was sponsored by the local arts council...

we arrived at kid'scommons, and cosmo settled into a geometric puzzle(wedgits), which he had recently played with at a friend's house. a little later he found a ball track, and was mesmerized by that for a while before heading upstairs to the house exhibit. he found a plumbing demonstration that involved, what else? a pneumatic ball maze, cosmo's favorite sort of thing. he was not interested in leaving that area for a long time. in fact, he came back to it again and again.

when we finally made our way up to the giant toilet slide, cosmo was afraid to go down it. i went first, and he and carl met me at the bottom. it was a tight fit for me, but i made it. we mentioned it a few more times, but he became insistent that he did not want to go down the toilet slide. he creeped around, in all the nooks and crannies of the "house," which i thought was very nicely done. we made our way around the rest of the upstairs, played with a bunch of other stuff, including this awesome gear toy, and his first lincoln-log house. he ended up back at the ball track downstairs, and stayed there for what seemed like hours. we all had a great time, though you can't tell from the photos. cosmo usually looks so serious when he plays intently.

he was awestruck by the old player piano. we requested dueling banjo's from the motion picture "deliverance." not a piece originally intended for the piano, but amazing nonetheless. cosmo just stood about 3 feet away from the piano, hands clasped, in rapt attention, through the entire song.

on the drive home, cosmo kept coming up with new ways to inform us that he would never want to go down the toilet slide. my favorite was, "i don't want to go down the toilet slide all the days we go to the children's museum." we assured him that we got it, and that he never had to go down the toilet slide, ever, ever.

even though it was the driving force behind the trip to columbus.
it did occur to me, even before we went, that this is the stuff of pre-school nightmares--going down the toilet. part of his curiosity about it probably stems from his fears. oh, and i just remembered my own dream on this theme! guess it runs in the family.

once we got home, cosmo did some more hands on exploration of water and plumbing with the garden hose. these shots were taken just prior to the complete soaking of all clothing, and stripping down for the first naked-run-around-the-yard of the season.

i highly recommend kid'scommons, and i know we will be going back. it is so close, and such a pleasant drive through brown county. for those of you who live nearby, during the month of march, a wonderlab card gets you buy-one-get-one-free admission.

how's your spring (break, or no break) shaping up?

responders response

i had a dream about this last night, so i guess that means it's time to settle the give-away list.

i will send something handmade to robin, teresa, alli, mep and bethany. i think most of those on this list will do a swap, which means they will send me something handmade too! yay!

oh, and i may send something to julie, just cuz.

12 March 2009

salt pig

if you'd asked me a couple of weeks ago, i wouldn't have known what a salt pig is. now, i have one nestled next to the stove in our kitchen. i've been wanting one of these for years, but never knew what they were called. i've seen one at a friends house shaped like an egg. its basically a way to keep coarse salt out in the kitchen, where you can just grab a pinch while you're cooking.

when cosmo was an infant, our dear friend michael went to hawaii (where he was born), and brought home, as a gift, some red salt from the islands. for years it has sat on our spice shelf, unused, it its bag. i've often thought we needed one of those egg-shaped salt dishes, so we could set it out, and reach for it more easily. last week i went searching for one online, and found this from a potter on etsy. i saw a few mass produced ones that i liked, but decided this would be a great object to look for on etsy since i could probably find a beautiful, handmade one, at an affordable price. i was right. this one is the closest, in shape, to what i would make if i were a potter. i love it.

i love the whole idea of the salt pig. i guess it is so-called because of the snout-like opening (more obvious in some other designs)*. you can rest a small spoon in there, but i chose this one, in part, because the opening was big enough for my hand to reach in.

in my online search i found this list of reasons why people might want a salt pig:**

1. Ceramic interior keeps salt from clumping in steamy kitchens or humid climates
2. The large opening is an easy way to access salt while cooking ... either use a spoon or reach in and grab a pinch.
3. Keeps dust or other stuff from falling onto the salt. The side opening keeps debris from settling on an open bowl.
4. People think they are cute.

the nice thing about etsy, is the personal touch of direct contact with the artist, who included a complementary, tiny vase with my order. this is my first etsy purchase. i'm sure it won't be my last. one of these days, i'll open my own etsy shop, but that's another story altogether.

* just found this comment on chowhound: Most people seem to say that the opening resembles the snout of a pig & that's where the name came from. However an old Scottish definition of "pig" is a jar or pot made of earthenware.

found this at chowhound.chow.com

07 March 2009

fair weather blogger

my garden blog has been neglected all winter. it only makes sense, right? what is there to write about? my indoor herb garden died sometime in december. the cold frame was a bust. 'nuf said.

but now, it's spring! at least it felt that way today. i got my hands dirty, and wrote about it.

for more garden news from cake, check out rake shovel hoe.

04 March 2009

first responders

i've participated in a couple of meme's on this blog, but as of yet, no give-aways. i liked the sound of this one that i just saw on craftknife, and i am rushing to get my post up, so that i can be one of her first five responders:

the first 5 people who respond to this post will get something made by me...i'll decide what to make for you, and you will receive it by the end of the year, or sooner. you won't know what it is, or when you will get it.

sound fun?

here's what you have to do:
repost this meme on your blog and and send out 5 surprises of your own. these surprises can be anything....a piece of art, a photo, a poem...whatever you choose...

let's review: if you want to receive something special from me, be one of the first 5 bloggers to post this meme on your blog and then comment back here. oh, and you have to actually do the meme, as in, you need to send out surprises to 5 other folks. got it? cool.

02 March 2009


oh. yeah. that's. what. i'm. talkin'. about.
this one is half whole wheat, half white flour, and was very easy to make.