Cool clothing?

I have recently lost 10+ pounds {since November}. That's a good thing, right? It is, except for the fact that none of my clothing fits. Just about everything I have is too big, so it's hard to tell that I've lost anything! I end up wearing the same things again and again. Jimmy lost 40+ pounds, so his situation is even more extreme than mine. He has to cinch all his pants so they don't fall off. They look pretty silly. He's been able to buy a few pairs of pant here and there and even had his work pants taken in.

I lost the weight by been eating a little better and exercising. I hate exercising, so I'm pretty proud of myself for sticking it out for almost 6 months. This is going to sound really corny, but Jimmy and I work out together. We have a stationary bike, weights, weight bench, and heavy bags in the cellar. If it weren't for him pushing me to work out 5 days a week, I wouldn't have stuck with it. {Thanks, Jimmy!} There were many days that I would've rather been on the couch with a good book. Or watching bad TV.

Anyway, I need some cool clothing suggestions. I sometimes get cute tops from Forever 21, but their pants a slightly ridiculous. I'm a little too old to be shopping there! I need basics - like shorts, capris and tops that I can wear to work and to play.

Any suggestions?


Outside 264

{Click on the image to enlarge.}

The trees are down, the roof and gutters are finished and our house is starting to look good again. I can't wait to get out there this weekend and do some gardening!

{My favorite tree. See caption below.}

{My parents gave us this dogwood tree
for our 5-year wedding anniversary.}

{Lilac bush in the backyard. Smells incredible!}

{Primroses, forget-me-nots, astilbe and
bleeding hearts in the backyard.}

What's in your garden?



Malayna and I are visiting a local preschool today. Remember way back in November, when I was thinking of signing her up to start this past January? I decided that wasn't the best idea - the kids would all know each other and be used to going to school at that point. She would've been the only new child.

She will start in September and probably go three days a week. I do have the option to in increase her days to four or five in January if she really likes it. She'll have one year in preschool before starting kindergarten in September 2009. We have full-day kindergarten in our township. Don't get me started with that topic - I could go on and on about how I think it's too much for such little kids.

Luckily, Lily {our neighbor and Malayna's friend} goes to this preschool. I told Malayna this morning that we would be visiting Lily at preschool and she was very excited. Phew! I was kind of dreading this morning - I thought she was going to give me a hard time about going. Call me a pessimist.

When I spoke to the director the other day, she gave me a short list of things kids need to know before they go to kindergarten. Malayna knows most of it, with the exception of writing her full name.

• cutting, including cutting on a line
• recognize upper and lower case letters
• write their name in upper and lower case letters
• know and recognize their address
• be able to rhyme
• understand concepts like over and under
• basic science and social studies {not really sure what this one means}
• know about the seasons and weather.

Is there anything you can add? What did your children need to know before starting kindergarten?


Weekend recap

Remember the first time Malayna went on the train? It was horrible, to say the least. Fortunately, she got all that screaming and crying out of her system and now LOVES to ride the train. We've taken many trips to Center City since that first time - and we always stop at Reading Terminal Market while we're downtown.

{The Academy of Music}

This past weekend, we went to The Academy of Music with Aidan and his parents, for a program called Sound All Around. It was a great show - members of the Philadelphia Orchestra, along with a storyteller, gave a mini-concert that was geared toward preschoolers. Afterwards, we all walked to LOVE Park so the kids could see the fountain {which was colored green for Earth Day}. They ran around like crazy, happy to be outside in the gorgeous weather.

After a little while Aidan, Wendy and Daniel went home {Aidan still naps} and we walked to the Market. Have I mentioned how perfect the weather was? Even though I was happy to be outside, I kept thinking about all the things I could've been doing if we were home - like moving plants around, getting the back of the yard ready for a new vegetable garden and painting the porch. That list could go on and on…

{LOVE park}

Sunday's weather was also great, so we did get outside in the yard that day. I pulled weeds while Jimmy mowed the lawn. We invited our neighbor Lily over to play with Malayna. How different this year is compared to last! Last year we couldn't both work while Malayna was out there, but this year she and Lily happily played and Jimmy and I did our own thing. I think we'll be having Lily over a LOT this summer.

In other news, the roofers are here today! We'll finally have a new roof, thanks to the storm on March 8th. You never know what you're going to get when you buy an old house - under the roof shingles is a layer of slate! Who in the world covers a slate roof with asphalt shingles?! That slate is probably what saved our house when the limb fell on it.

The weather here is gorgeous again. Yay for spring!


The park

{Looking up.}

We interrupt the regularly scheduled program to show you some photos from the park. Malayna and I took a stroll there yesterday morning - it was a GORGEOUS day, with a high of 75 and bright sunshine. I'm so glad the sun is back! It's been pretty dreary around here lately.

While Malayna and I walked the trail around the park, she quickly started art-directing me. {Who's the graphic designer, here?!} She pointed out the things she wanted me to photograph and I took the photos. I told her she was more than welcome to get her butt out of the stroller and take them herself, but she preferred to direct from the comfort of her seat. {Gee, so unlike her!} All the following photos, with the exception of the ones with her in them, are brought to you by Malayna. {See more in my new Flickr account.}


Website photographs

{Typical image for the website.
This is a new size - 8".}

When I take the photos for my website, I clean them up in a program called Photoshop. I take out the background and put a drop shadow behind the clock. I like the way it looks - clean and uncluttered. But I'm wondering if you can really tell what the clocks look like. I'm playing around with the idea of photographing them on one of my walls - so you can tell what it will look like in real life.

{I took these photo quickly this morning - obviously I'd have to get all the extra nails off the wall before taking more photos!}

{test photo 1}

{test photo 2}

How do you like to view products online? Clean and uncluttered or in a real-life setting?


Living in an old house

The first time I saw our house I fell in love with it. It had everything I wanted in a house - a porch to rock on, lots of ground for gardens, a fenced-in backyard for Luco, and loads of charm. Some of the things that sold us on this house were the hardwood floors (under really ugly green carpeting), built-in shelves in the dining room, a new kitchen and bathroom and a very convenient laundry room on the second floor.

Do you know what charm really means? It means cute, very old and ready to fall apart at any given moment. This house was built in 1899, and some parts of it seem like they haven't been updated since then. We have a mudroom off our kitchen (both were additions), and it's a complete mess. It's become the storage area for junk that doesn't otherwise have a home. It has potential, but only after the windowsills are replaced, shelves are built, walls and floor are scrubbed (really, really scrubbed) and walls painted. I wish the tree would've fallen on the mudroom and completely taken it out - that way we'd be starting fresh.

So many things need to be done in here that it's overwhelming. I think about all the stuff that has to be started and how there just isn't enough time to do it all. I don't like to start something and not finish. If I'm going to straighten the mudroom, I want to do it all in one shot. I don't want it to be half-finished. My thinking goes something like this: Why paint the windowsills when the mudroom needs to be straightened? Why fix the mudroom when Malayna's playroom needs to be finished? Why finish the playroom when gardens need to be planted?

Do you see a pattern here?

How do you prioritize? I'm thinking that maybe we should start from the ground floor and work our way up. I just need more hours in the day, but doesn't everyone?


My new niece

Welcome to the world, Davyn Maria! Born Saturday, April 12th. 9 lbs. 5 oz, 22 inches long. Congratulations to David, Maria and big brother Jack!


Outside 264

Yesterday was such a gorgeous spring day that when Malayna went for her rest I ran outside to do some gardening. It was really just cleaning up - no planting yet. The day was so sunny that I got sunburn on my arms! It never even crossed my mind to put on sunscreen in April. Malayna and I spent the entire morning on the couch - we took her to the doctor last night to find out that she has strep throat. She's extremely tired - especially when compared to her usual energetic four-year-old self. The medicine we got from the doctor is not agreeing with her stomach, so it looks like we'll be spending another day on the couch reading books and watching videos. She said yesterday that she wanted to read a zillion books. I think we accomplished that.

Here are some photos of the trees coming down. I was sad to see them go, especially the front tree, but when they took the base of the trunk down it was completely hollow. Yikes! So if another big wind came along the entire tree could've come down. I'm not so sad about it being gone now.

{No more trees!}


{Cool stump.}

{After. Next the roof will be repaired - along with the gutters.
Then the porch will be painted and some new flowers planted.}



{Bye-bye, big tree.}

After 9+ years of living in this house with a big tree in the front, we will finally be able to have a sun garden in front of the porch. Not much will grow there now - the tree probably takes too much from the soil. We do have an orange honeysuckle vine on part of the porch, but once the tree gets its leaves the honeysuckle fades.

We got a new porch floor last year {Jimmy and my dad worked on it one very hot day last summer}, so I'll be painting it soon. The old floor was red, which is a hard color to paint, but I liked it so much I'll probably do it that color again. The colors of the new garden should coordinate with the porch. We currently have cement steps leading up to the porch, which will be replaced with nice wooden steps {again, thanks to dad and Jimmy}. Right now the steps are orange {kind of a terracotta color}, which looks cool with the red floor and all the clay pots around.

{orange azalea}

I've been trying to put all this in a positive light - the garden needs updating anyway since everything is about 9 years old and scraggly. I would love to plant some azaleas and maybe some hydrangeas. The azaleas would look better, though - they'll stay green all year. I love the color of the one in the picture above. My favorite colors for the garden are orange, red and purple.

{red daylily}

I would like to stick with things that are native to the area and that don't require too much care. Ideally, I would like to plant something and not have to worry about it each year.

What are some of your favorite plants? Any suggestions for what I should plant in front of the porch?


Convince me

{Home to squirrels.}

Ever since the tree limb fell on our house on March 9th, I've been worried about it happening again. Every time the wind blows over 5 mph, my stomach gets a big knot and my heart races. I obsessively check KYW's website for the week's weather, paying close attention to the wind speed. And if it's windy and rainy at night, I can't sleep. If I do happen to fall asleep, the minute I hear the wind whistle through the trees I'll wake up with my heart racing and then I can't fall back to sleep. I imagine horrible things happening to our house {and us}. My imagination takes over and I get myself all worked up. I don't feel safe in my own house.

Despite all that, I'm having a hard time convincing myself that BOTH trees need to come down. We have one in the front of the house {dangerously close} and one on the side {the damaged one}. The one on the side is coming down on Thursday {please, no high winds before then!} and the front one is supposed to get pruned that day. Honestly, though, I would feel so much safer if they both were gone. But…

{The view of the tree from the living room.}

Where will the squirrels go? We can see the front tree from our living room windows, and we often watch the squirrels go in and out of the hole in the tree {clue number one that the tree is not as healthy as it could be}. The tree has become a sort of landmark - when I'm directing someone to our house I tell them to look for the big tree. I've planted shade plants under it, as it shades our porch and much of the front of our home.

When I took these pictures, Malayna asked me what I was doing. I told her I was taking pictures of the tree, because when the tree guy comes he'll probably have to take it down. I told her that I'm sad that the tree won't be there anymore. But that the tree is very old and probably not very safe anymore. I said maybe we could plant some smaller trees and she said, "Yes! We could plant a chocolate tree. They're only this big." {She held up her hands to show me that chocolate trees are only about 12" tall.}

Even though the trees make me feel unsafe, I still want them here! I think of how weird the house will look without mature trees around. They attract birds and squirrels. The one in the front could also come down on our house. On our bedroom, to be exact.

Convince me that the tree needs to come down! I'm having a really hard time with it, as you can obviously see. I'm arguing with myself about whether or not to keep it. Help!

{By the way, I was watching the news this morning and they're calling for gusty thunderstorms on Saturday. Great.}


Inside 264

{Waiting for daddy to come home.}

{Two panting doggies.}

{Having an inside picnic in our PJs.}

{Luco is a turtle.}


Shopping question

{typical booth set-up}

I've been thinking about my upcoming shows {see sidebar at right for the list} and the way that I display my work. Would you help with the following question by posting your answer in the comments? Any feedback you have about display is much appreciated!

When you go to a craft show, do you like to see lots of choices in a booth, or do you prefer a less-is-more setup? The setup above is pretty typical of how I display my work. Is there enough to look at? Would you like to see more? Should I use the space at the bottom of the panels to hang more clocks? {You can click on the photo to enlarge it.}

Thank you!