off to the beach!

Without Malayna! The weather is actually cooperating, too - I was sure my grown-up beach day was going to involve lots of clouds and some rain. That's not very optimistic, is it?

I'm meeting a friend in Brigantine Beach {in NJ} for a meeting. Yup, we're actually going to be talking about a project we hope to work on together - I even have sketches to show her! {Just in case you were thinking that it wasn't a real meeting.}

I have my bathing suit on and my bag packed. I had to wear something that hides my suit so Malayna doesn't see it and I secretly packed my truck with my beach chair and towel. Why do I feel so guilty? Everyone deserves a day alone to relax, right? It's days like this that make us better moms. I'm pretty sure that as soon as I get in the truck and turn on my music {like Lucinda Williams, Jonatha Brooke, or Dar Williams to name a few} my guilt will slip away. But for now, I'm wondering if Malayna and I could sneak in a beach day for just the two of us before the summer ends. Maybe next week some time?


this is the cooperative one

{the easy kid}

I made this shirt for Malayna over the weekend. Well, okay, all I really did was cut the silhouette out of blue fabric and hand-stitch it onto a t-shirt. {The Puppy Love silhouette was created by Anna Marie Horner. Scroll down on her blog and see the wonderful things she made with it - a cake {!} and a gorgeous bag for her daughter. Over in her sidebar is a free jpeg of the silhouette!} That blue fabric was just sitting in a box in my studio for the past few years, waiting to be put to use. I got it for free from craigslist - the woman who gave it to me also got it for free from an elderly woman who was cleaning out her stash.

Malayna saw me making it and when I was finished she gushed over it, saying "it's so pweeeeety, mommy!" {Okay, so pretty is her new favorite word and she calls just about everything pweeeeety.} So imagine my surprise {not really} when she refused to wear it. I had a cute little outfit planned - the shirt, a green skirt {to match the stitching} and her favorite "baby" socks. {Which is what she calls the socks that only come to her ankle.}

She made her most obnoxious face and whined that she didn't want to wear "that shirt!" Ugh. Now what? Let Luco wear it? {It won't fit.} Give it to cousin Jack? {My brother David would say it's a "girl's" shirt.} Cut it up and put it in a little frame? I can't just let it sit around doing nothing! I know it's not a masterpiece, but I spent precious time working on it!

Right about now my mom and dad are laughing and secretly thanking the gods that I got the daughter they wished on me. I can't even tell you how many times my mom said to me, "I hope you have a daughter just like you."

Malayna has added another personality to her repertoire. His name is Leo and he's a baby. He walks funny and can't talk. But he's mostly pleasant! We saw her cousins Jack and Sean over the weekend, and Malayna was calling herself Leo while she was playing with Jack. Since Jack's only 19 months old, he was pretty confused. But he caught on quickly - if David {my brother and Jack's dad} asks him what Malayna's other name is, Jack says "Leo." Oh, Jack. If you only knew...

{Jack, Sean and Malayna at mom-mom's and pop-pop's house}


I was so proud

{handmade necklaces}

Jimmy's birthday is this Wednesday, so there's been lots of talk around here about presents. The other day as Malayna and I were driving around, we had a conversation that made my day!

M: Mommy, there's the old Target where we get the Lily dolls! When it's daddy's birthday we'll have to go there and buy him a baby doll.

Me: Well, that sounds like something that you would like, not daddy.

M: Daddy likes baby dolls! And when it's your birthday, me and daddy will have to buy you a pretty-ful necklace. Are there any necklace stores around here?

Me: I like to wear necklaces that someone has made. A handmade necklace.

M: Oh. Handmade - not machine-made?

Of course I said yes and then almost drove off the road. We had a conversation a while back about handmade versus machine-made, but I wasn't sure she really understood or that she'd even remember. Silly me.


furry brother

Who needs a {human} sibling when your furry brother plays tea party with you? This brother doesn't even complain! He'll pretty much go along with anything, as long as there's a treat for him afterwards. {This time it was Cheerios.}

For dinner last night, I made stuffed peppers. Those of you who know me well are probably either laughing or in shock that I actually cooked. Cooking is not one of my favorite things to do. It seems that something always goes wrong with the meal - either it doesn't turn out like I expected, or it takes too long to prepare, or Malayna wants me to hold her while I'm stirring hot things on the stove. Plus, women are still expected to cook and that alone makes me not want to do it.

Unlike my husband {who is a great cook}, I cannot just whip something up - I must follow a recipe. Not to mention the fact that I recently stopped eating meat. I haven't eaten red meat or pork for about 10 years and now I don't even eat chicken or turkey. Being a picky eater, that really limits my choices! {I would love some vegetarian recipes if you have some!}

Have a great weekend!


funny conversation

Last night as I was getting Malayna ready for bed, we had a funny conversation:

M: Why don't I wear diapers anymore?

Me: Because you're not a baby. You're a big girl.

M: Why?

Me: You can't stay a baby forever.

M: But I like my little self.



Remember... baby Malayna ... the smell of her skin after a bath... her perfect little face while she slept...how completely in awe we were of her.

When she was about 3 months old, Jimmy and I had a blessing ceremony for Malayna. Our friends and family were invited to the Cheltenham Friends Meetinghouse on a Saturday afternoon in March. We asked everyone to bring a wish or prayer for Malayna, which they could read at the ceremony {or not} and we would collect and save for her. We also asked for a small amount of dirt or stones from their yard or neighborhood to use in our yard. {Our plan was to plant a tree to commemorate the day and add the dirt and stones to the ground. We haven't gotten around to that yet.} Our friend Marge officiated {Marge is founder of a non-denominational ceremonial ministry called Journeys of the Heart. They do weddings, blessings, funerals and bar/bat mitzvahs.}

It was a beautiful, happy, tear-filled ceremony. Everyone wrote such heartfelt messages. There really wasn't a dry eye in the place. At the beginning of the blessing, we read this poem by Anne Spring {Prayer for a New Baby}:

We are grateful
for this new being
who is small in body
yet great in soul,

Who has come into our midst
as a gift.

May we be sensitive
to the sacred
as we nurture
and learn from
this child.

Give us patience,
give us strength.

And grant us
wisdom and love
to help this child
learn to sing her own song.

Then Jimmy and I told the story of her name and a little about her birth. Before the messages were read, we played a song by Dar Williams called The One Who Knows. I'm pretty sure that's when the tears started. Jimmy and I were seated at the front of the room with Malayna sleeping in my arms. I can't even put into words the emotions I felt sitting there surrounded by friends and family, holding my new daughter. This line from the song still makes my eyes fill every time I hear it: "But sometimes I will ask the moon where it shined upon you last, and shake my head and laugh and say 'it all went by so fast'".

When the song ended, each person came up to us, read their wish, acknowledged Malayna {lots of kisses!} and placed a flower petal in a small bowl of water on the table next to us. One family even sang a song. She was then anointed with oil and presented to the gathering by Jimmy. All the children were sprinkled with fairy dust {otherwise known as glitter} - their favorite part of the day!

Remembering days like that remind me to stop, enjoy and cherish my time with Malayna. She won't be little forever. {Below is a small part of the letter I wrote to her for that day.}

...but what I really want to tell you is how happy I am that you're here. And how I didn't even know I was missing something until you came along. Love, mommy.


works in progress

{My work-in-progress - still needs to be grouted.}

Back in 2000 when I first started selling my work, I made mosaics. I didn't have a studio then and would bring all my supplies to my dining room. At the time, the process of mosaic was like cheap therapy - I loved finding the perfect bowl/plate/cup to take my hammer to and break into tiny pieces, then fitting those pieces together into a pleasing composition.

Last year I bought a rusty old stool for the yard that I intended to cover with a mosaic. Well, a year later I finally got around to it. I spent a sunny weekend afternoon in the yard with the radio tuned to Coffee House {on Sirius}, a glass of wine and my supplies by my side. Doesn't that sound good right about now? It's been raining off and on {mostly on} since Sunday and I'm ready for the sun to come back!

Malayna and I stayed in today because neither of us really like to go out in the rain. I downloaded a few projects from The Toy Maker, like this one and this one. The turtles were really simple to use, but the toyshop was a tiny bit complicated. {Malayna really liked both of them, but the toyshop could be a bit bigger since only one of her little dolls fits inside.} There are lots of pretty and simple-to-make toys on the site - and they're all made of paper.

{A corner of a new clock}

This work-in-progress is a 20" clock - the circles are painted and it has a wood base covered with paper. It's 1/2" thick - a bit thinner than my 10" clocks. My intention with these clocks is to offer just a few to begin with - and maybe they'll be one-of-a-kind. I'm not sure yet. People really seem to like the fact that the other clocks have cherish this moment on them. Should I just have that phrase on the 10" clocks? Maybe the bigger clocks could have numbers and some kind of decorative painting.

What do you think?


busy weekend

{Hey, these bouncy things ARE fun - just like mom and dad said!}

We celebrated two birthdays this weekend. On Saturday, we went to Lucy's party - she's the fourth child of a high school friend of mine. {When did we get so old?!} There was lots for the kids to do - two moon bounces, swimming in the pool, playing on the swingset. It was Malayna's first time on a moonbounce! She's seen them lots of times, but never wanted to go in. Sometimes she is SO cautious and seems so unlike other kids. Or is it just that I don't notice the other cautious kids? Where are all the other slow-to-warm kids? Dealing with Malayna when we go someplace new or to a crowded party is often exhausting.

At one point all the kids sat down to have cupcakes. Malayna sat down, but quickly got up and said, "I can't sit here. It's too hot and sunny." And you know what? I KNEW she was going to say that because I noticed it, too. So the two of us found a shady spot so she could eat her cupcake.

Most of the time I accept her little quirks, but other times I just want to tell her to get over it! Why aren't any of the other kids complaining about the sun and heat? Do they not notice? Malayna's pretty good about {LOUDLY} voicing her thoughts and opinions. I'm happy that she speaks up - and I do take credit for encouraging her to let her voice be heard. I guess I'm a little embarrassed when she draws attention to herself because then it draws attention to me. I feel like I'm being judged because my daughter won't go along with the program {or that she's weird. What's so wrong with being different?}.

Have you ever been that parent who had to leave a store because of your child's tantrum? {Been there!} Remember how crappy that felt? I remember one time trying to get her into her carseat while she kicked and screamed. We were in a parking lot and you wouldn't believe how many people stopped to stare at us. I was so frustrated that I looked at this one group of women and said, "It would be nice if you offered your help instead of standing there staring at me!" Wouldn't that be great? If, instead of judging someone's parenting, we went over and offered a hand?

{Malayna and cousin Jack}

Sunday morning was spent at my brother's and sister's-in-law house {David and Maria} to celebrate Maria's birthday. Malayna was a very helpful cousin to Jack {even if he didn't want help}. We had breakfast, Jewish apple cake and cupcakes. It was a very nice morning!

{Daddy and Malayna chalking on the sidewalk.}

{PS: Here's a great book for kids about being different: Odd Velvet.}


a carefree day in the yard with my mako shark

Malayna (aka Mako shark) and I spent a nice, relaxing morning in the yard. Her latest favorite thing to do is play in her kiddie pool with soap. She washes everything in sight, but mostly just likes to pretend she's in a bubble bath. {If only she liked REAL baths as much as this.} This morning she pretened to be a "kid mako shark" {that's called progress! She wasn't pretending to be a BABY mako shark}.

When we came inside, Malayna watched Diego while I tried to avert my eyes. I really, really don't like Diego or Dora. Why are their eyes so darn big? And what's with the interactive kid shows? It's like they're trying to fool us into thinking these kinds of shows are educational. If they ask our children questions, then they're not just sitting there in a daze staring at the TV.

Seriously, though, the questions they ask are ridiculous! And then Diego {or Dora} stands there staring at you and blinking with those big, crazy eyes. Blink. Blink. Here's a question from today's show: "Does a pengiun waddle or drive?" Duh. If you're going to pretend that your show is educational, please give my child some challenging questions!

Last week Malayna came home from mom-mom's and pop-pop's house with Diego and Alicia dolls {gee, thanks, mom and dad!}.

Me: "Wow! They have such big eyes!"
Malayna: "Well, they're just babies. When they get bigger their eyes will be smaller."

Oh. So in other words - they'll grow into their eyes.

Have a great weekend!


the disappearing nap

{Please ignore that crazy blue bed and blanket that doesn't match anything. She had her mind made up for months about that bed - it's her favorite color. Jimmy and I figured she'd be more likely to transition easily from her crib to a bed if she chose the bed. We were right!}

I knew it would happen eventually. Malayna hasn't been taking a daily nap for a while now. She still goes to her room to "rest", but as you can see from the picture above, not much resting is taking place. I can hear her {through the monitor} running around and talking {and talking, and talking}. As much as I love to hear her making up stories and being mommy to her babies, sometimes I just want her to be quiet. I find it very difficult to concentrate on anything while she's chatting away.

I'm not sure what I'll do when she's not napping at all anymore. I guess I'll just have to make myself work while she rests, but I do work best with her out of the house {or at least sleeping quietly!}. I don't want to send her to preschool yet for a variety of reasons. Once she's in kindergarden I'm sure I'll miss these days {even though I'm complaining about them right now}. In the big scheme of things she'll be home with me for such a small part of her life that I want to enjoy it.

Having said all that, though, my mom does come over two days a week to babysit. She takes Malayna out so I can have the house all to myself. They'll go to the park, the mall, or to mom-mom and pop-pop's house to play. I get so much work done when the house is quiet. I can go to my studio and not worry about squeezing all the things I want to do into two hours. I've learned that, in order to be productive and creative, I need to know that I'll have a big block of time all to myself. With no interruptions. It's getting a little harder to swing that these days.

For those of you who work from home and have children, how do you do it? What works for you?


I love summer

Days like today are my idea of perfect - 82 degrees (low humidity) and sunny with a beautiful blue sky and not a cloud in sight. The air conditioner is turned off and the windows are open.

Malayna and I walked to the park today. It's one of my favorite things to do on a day like this. We walk the trail and talk about the birds and the trees and the sunshine making shadows on the ground. We see geese and ducks on the lake and then Malayna plays at the playground - her favorite parts being the swings and the sandbox. Sometimes we see friends from the neighborhood, but mostly it's time for just the two of us to be together.

I feel recharged after being outside, especially when I've been surrounded by trees and grass and green open space. I love the smell of the woods and hearing nothing but birds singing and crickets chirping. (Okay, I don't want the crickets to come anywhere near me, but I do like to HEAR them.)

The only problem with days like today is that I don't want to be inside! Which means I don't get any work done in my studio. I justify that by telling myself that there will be plenty of cold, yucky days ahead to spend inside. But how many more days of playing in the park do I have left? At what age do kids not want to go to the playground? One day I'll walk through the park by myself {maybe while Malayna's at school} and remember these gorgeous, sunny days of the two of us together. I'll think of Malayna's pudgy little feet in the sand and the sound of her laugh as she tells me to push her higher on the swing. I'll remember the summer when she could walk up the steps to the slide by herself, or when she discovered she could swing on her belly (all by herself) on the big kid swings.

Until then, I'll just enjoy days like this.

{The photos of Malayna were taken at our favorite park by Kristen Kalp of Essential Imagery. She was awesome to work with and captured such great shots. If you're local, she'll even come to your location!}


meet Luco

Luco is our first baby. Jimmy and I got him in 1996 when he was just a puppy (which makes him 11 years old). We had been married for almost two years and since we both grew up with dogs, we started looking for our own as soon as we found an apartment that would allow it.

Anyone who has owned a golden retriever knows that they are really sweet dogs. When our visitors pet Luco they've made a friend for life. If they stop petting him, he'll gently remind them (with his paw) to continue. He has the most expressive face I've ever seen on a dog. Sometimes I think there must be some serious thoughts going on in that furry head.

He's extremely patient and gentle with Malayna. She has only recently started showing an interest in him - which isn't so great for Luco. She includes him in "dress-up" sessions, during which Luco has been seen sporting various hats, necklaces and bracelets. He quietly puts up with it, but has a look on his face like he's lost his last speck of dignity.

Unlike Malayna, he's not so fond of baby dolls.


As some of you already know, I had a little "contest" for my mailing list subscribers - just leave a comment on the blog before this past Friday and you'd have a chance to win a free prize!

Debbie from Inkster, MI will soon be the proud owner of a green inspire wall square. She was so excited that she ordered an entire series! {Her words will be: grow, believe and dream in addition to her free inspire square.} Congratulations, Debbie!

Thanks to all who took the time to comment.

{If you'd like to be on the milkshake mailing list (and receive special discounts), click here.}


mmmm. cookies.

Yesterday Malayna and I went to a The Flour Pot cookie boutique in Ambler. Our friends India and Lily came with us to decorate some delicious cookies during their open studio. It was a lot of fun! The girls each chose four cookies {shaped like flowers, ice cream cones and strawberries} and three decorettes {little decorations like stars, flowers, and Malayna's favorite - babies}. Pots of icing in different colors were supplied, along with a flower pot filled with brushes {to apply the icing}. The shop is adorable. They have all kinds of cute things for sale {in addition to the cookies, of course} like aprons, baking supplies, and books. They also host birthday parties in their kitchen. Since Malayna's birthday is in cold December, this would be a great place to have a party. I'm not sure how much icing will actually get on to the cookies, though {see photo above}.

Have a great weekend!

{Hey, KB! Recognize that dress?}



This is the first wall square I created. The idea for the squares had been brewing for quite a while - which I realized when I looked through my sketchbook and came upon a drawing I had done about a year before I made this square. I love words and letters and enjoy drawing them {I think it has something to do with majoring in graphic design in college}.

Before I launch a new product, I show it to a group of friends and family and ask them for feedback. I am lucky that many of my friends are fellow artists. Their critiques are invaluable. {Especially since I'm home with a three-year-old whose favorite playthings are babydolls - most of which aren't very aesthetically pleasing.}

When I first showed them the nurture square above, many of them did not have a good reaction to the actual word. They thought it was preachy and not a word they'd choose to hang on their wall. That was really surprising to me!

They were just introduced in April and I have only done a handful of shows so far, but they have been very well-received. Customers have been giving me suggestions of other words they'd like to see - which is great because some of them are words I'd never think to use.

Which brings me to the question: What are some of your favorite words?

{PS: We had a great time at the campground yesterday. It was a perfect day to spend in the water - it was 98 degrees down the shore! Malayna was "swimming" in the lake and must've lost her balance, because her head went under the water. When she got up (looking very surprised) she said, "That was NOT amazing!" Now that's a good word.}


off we go

Malayna and I are going to my friend Lorie's campground today. It's raining here (and soooo humid), but since we've had this planned for a while we'll go anyway. I told Malayna yesterday that we might not go if it rains and she said, "I can swim with my rainboots and raincoat!" Um, okay.

The picture is from the last time we visited the campground. In the photo are Jimmy (my husband), Malayna, Olivia and Nick on a paddle boat. Olivia and Nick are Lorie's older kids - she also has four-year-old Matt. {Crazy Matt the doll is named after him.}

Thanks for all your comments yesterday! It's good to know that there are people out there reading my little blog.


A {teeny} room of my own

{A view from the doorway of my studio.}

I feel very fortunate to have a studio where I can create, blast my music, watch bad TV or just sit and stare out the window. My (very tiny) room is on the third floor of our 100+-year-old house. Despite its size I've managed to squeeze lots and lots of stuff into every available nook and crannie. I like it that way - I don't think I'd be able to work in a minimalist space. The colors, textures, and patterns I see in my room inspire me while I'm working.

When I look out the window I see the big, old maple tree that grows in front of the house. Sometimes I hear squirrels running up and down the branches, but mostly I listen to the birds chirping. A few of them have made nests in the eaves - probably not very good for the house, but great for me! There are few sounds more peaceful than singing birds..

My dad customized the studio for me when Malayna was a baby. He built the shelves and the desk that goes around 3/4 of the room. Under the desk is lots of storage space, which is just about filled. I have a huge fabric stash under there, just waiting to be sewn into quilts and covers for our beds. I bought a lot of it before Malayna was even born, and I figure it might not be used until she goes off to school in a few years.

Do you have a room of your own?


baby dolls, anyone?


My daughter Malayna loves baby dolls. She's a little obsessed. She has piles and piles of dolls - in the dining room, bedroom, bathroom, and even outside. {Mom-mom and pop-pop are responsible for buying most of the dolls.} Every doll has a name, though most of them have the same names - Frank, Michael, Kyle, Ella, Barbara or Lily. Oh, and one Matt. He's pretty crazy.

Each name has its own personality traits. Ella is a doormat. Poor Ella - she gets ignored, yelled at and treated badly. Barbara, on the other hand, is usually the one doing the yelling. Barbara loves drama. Michael is a nice boy and Kyle is a baby (who can't do much for himself). Frank's not sure if he's a boy or girl.

Malayna also pretends to be all of the above. We're never sure who we're dealing with around here (unless, of course, it's Barbara). Frank is probably the easiest to deal with, although we sometimes use the wrong pronoun when describing him. Or her.

I love watching her creative mind at work.


Welcome to the milkshake crafts' blog! Sweet inspiration will be my place to write about raising my daughter while {trying} to grow my creative business. I plan to post often and welcome your comments!

{If you don't already know me, read the "welcome" post on the right sidebar.}