Thursday, December 23, 2010

oh my Little My

This Christmas painting is for Sophie, at her request. It’s Little My from the Moomin books, and she is something of a teeny hero in our house. For those of you who don’t know Little My, here’s a good excerpt:

“Where’s Mother?” he asked.

“Somebody ate her,” replied Little My untruthfully. “Have you any food?”

Snufkin pointed with his pipe-stem. A small kettle of peas was simmering over his camp-fire nearby. Beside it stood another with hot coffee. “But I suppose milk’s what you drink,” he said.

Little My gave a contemptuous laugh. She did not bat an eyelid as she swallowed two brimming teaspoonfuls of coffee and ate no fewer than four peas.

She’s kind of a tiny little anarchist, and I think there’s something about her sassy attitude that really appeals to my very strait-laced kids. Little My is not mean, just cuts to the chase and tells it like it is. And does it gleefully. If you haven’t read any Moomin books, go to the library right now and check them out. Tove Jansson has a very dry kind of humor, and often her stories are funny but also bittersweet. I love them, and her amazing illustrations too.

Friday, December 17, 2010

having fun with facebook's new settings

I took a painting, working, and everything else break to have a little fun with Facebook's new settings. Unfortunately, this isn't an option (yet?) for fan pages, but you can certainly mess with your personal profile all you want! I was inspired by the post here, and there are directions and a download to do it yourself! I will add to this - after you make your images, upload them in reverse order, one at a time. Otherwise they'll upload in a scrambled or backwards fashion. Have fun!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

watercolor animation

I really wanted to post a new painting every day or so, but right now all the free time I have has to be spent posting, not scanning. :) Rest assured I'm still painting up a storm and will post as soon as I can.

Meanwhile for your viewing enjoyment, here's an amazing video where the animation is all done in watercolor. By hand. (and most definitely not by me, I wish!) I'm in awe.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Peter gets a painting

This is the third year in a row that I've done custom paintings for Christmas gifts for family members. For some reason, everyone wants one! So I have been painting like crazy. Good crazy.

I'll be posting a new pic every day or so, and I'll start off with Peter's. He wanted a rainforest. A rainforest! Nothing like something simple and uncomplicated, huh? I told him that would take a while, and he pointed to the painting I did for his father that now hangs above our fireplace and said, "You know, just do what you did for Daddy, but in a rainforest instead." I don't know whether to be honored that my kids seem to think nothing is impossible for me to do, or frustrated at the complete lack of concept of the amount of work that goes into a project like this. So Petey, you get your rainforest.

One really good thing about challenging myself to pick up the brushes again after 6 months is that I have a huge looming deadline to contend with, and a large number of paintings to finish in that time. (I also have some stuffed animals I wanted to try to make too, but that's a story for another day.) The good thing about all this pressure is that it forces me to make the most of all the time I have, and to declare something to be done sooner than I would have normally. And they really ARE done, it's not me slacking off; it's that ordinarily I would fool around with something that was done for another week, and think about it, blah blah blah. It's a rainforest, Peter saw me working on it and loves it, and I'M PAINTING EVERY DAY. That's all I need to know.

Monday, November 29, 2010

video: painting watercolor backgrounds

When I posted my last video, I asked what you'd all like to see - so this is a very very informal video of how I paint my backgrounds. (Try to see how many times Sophie sticks her hand in.) It was fun!

This is one of the three paintings I finished yesterday, with #4 in the works...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

crafty thanksgiving

Fun things to make around the house for your Thanksgiving celebrations:

Give Thanks Banner

This was actually my kids' idea! They wanted to make a banner that said "Give Thanks", and other than a tiny bit of help from me, this was all their work. Each letter is one half of an 8.5" x 11" piece of copy paper, and they're decorated with all the other bits of copy paper. :) It's hard to tell from this pic, but the hole puncher played an important part in our decorating - all those polka dots are from cleaning out the 3-hole punch! I stapled each letter to the long piece of yarn, and added an extra thread to anchor the G so that the bottom didn't curl over.

Thanksgiving Tree

This was an idea I'd seen online and adapted for my CCD classes. I drew leaves (four to a sheet of paper) and copied them on various autumnal colors of paper. Each child got a leaf and wrote his or her name and what they were thankful for. Then I hole-punched each leaf near where the stem would be, and tied it to branches from our yard. I took all the extra copies and gave 2 sheets of different colors to each child to bring home so that their families could make their own Thanksgiving Tree on Thursday. I absolutely love how this came out!

Monday, November 22, 2010

300 thanks!

As promised, I'm posting my Twitter background as a thank you to everyone! Take the one on the left, or continue the color wash onto 2 monitors and download 'em both. They measure 1600 x 1200 pix. Enjoy!

Click each link to download each to your own computer. These graphics are for personal use on a home computer only and are not meant for anyone's website or business. These are the only graphics you may use from this site without written permission.

Main screen background
Right screen background

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

help me get 300 fans!

I have a longer, more introspective post coming, but I noticed this morning that my Facebook page is hovering around 300. While it completely astonishes me that almost 300 people (who can't possibly all be my mother) want to know more about my work, it's inspiring to know that, and it helps push me to create more, and share it.


When I get to 300 fans, I'll post a new wallpaper to download! I'll also post one for people who use two monitors, like me. (For those who want a peek, it's my new Twitter background.)

</shameless self-promotion>

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

video: how to make a custom fan page on facebook

Ever wanted to hear what I sound like? Or learn how to make a custom fan page on Facebook for your artwork or your company? Kill two birds with one stone and check out my first foray into the world of video! :)

This is for our blog at PRI, but if I was going to do an instructional FTG video, what would you want to see? Watercolour techniques? Packing school lunches? Sewing? Leave me some ideas in the comments.

Monday, November 08, 2010

jumping in, feet first

I've mentioned previously about my lack of painting, drawing, and general downturn in just plain old creating. You know how the cycle goes: you stop doing something, and then it gets to be more and more of a burden to start it up again because now there's not only the effort of starting something that's completely at a standstill, but the added pressure to make it "GOOD". I put it in quotes like that because it's subjective and should be completely up to me on a personal project if I deem something to have a satisfying or worthy result or not, right? But there are days I look at my work and think it's all rubbish, and then I come back later and find it wasn't so bad after all. So by my definition, if I create? It's good.

In any case, the holidays are looming coming up, and I've been giving careful thought to what I want to do, and what effort I want to go to, to make the season feel right to me. This isn't me going all Martha on the family, it's more of putting the priorities in the right place and making sure we focus on the right things without going overboard. And for me, that includes a certain amount of homemade goodness, whether it be food, crafts, or paintings.

So - I'm taking the handmade pledge again this year, and I will be trying to make as many of our presents this year as I can. I'm hoping that by doing that I'll also be able to satisfy the paint dragon that lives within me that's been growling and unhappy lately because she's hungry. Boy, is she gonna get fed.

Will I be documenting and posting my progress here? You'd better believe it!

My goal for today: email the painting recipients and start taking requests, and make a game plan and schedule for the other items (tiny stuffed animals, ornaments for our CCD classes and family, finding recipes for good vegetarian food I can serve up on Christmas so I have something to look forward to).

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Squirrel Scouts!

While we didn’t go away this summer, or do anything exciting, we did have one special project I made up for the kids.

Squirrel Scouts.
Because my kids weren’t doing any large, organized activities over the summer, I made up a fictitious organization/day camp I called “Squirrel Scouts” to keep them occupied. We had a handbook (see above), a nature journal, t-shirts, and of course, we earned badges!

Since they are pretty young (6 and 7) we concentrated on a few main things we wanted them to learn over the summer, or at least get a good handle on:

  • Learning to swim 
  • To be able to tie their own shoes 
  • To ride their bikes without training wheels 

Along with that were many other badges to earn, some pretty easy for them and some pretty difficult. All of them took TIME and they were so proud of themselves when they earned each badge!

The badges of course were paper (I made them in Photoshop. How crazy do you think I am? Don’t answer that) and we had a place on each page to paste the badge once it was earned. I think their favorite one was the cooking badge, where they had to plan a menu, make a shopping list, and then do every bit of the cooking they were capable of with Mama to do the heavy lifting/dangerous bits. Their meals leaned heavily on macaroni, cheese, and creatures made out of bits of veggies, but we loved it all and documented their creations with a photo shoot and much fanfare.

But my personal favorite was the Nature Journal badge.

They have been keeping amazing journals for themselves, full of notes, colors, and observations from their time spent playing outside. They can open them anytime and relive that summer (and now, autumn) when they took special notice of the world around them.

ps ~ I'm seriously thinking about making all of this a PDF package for purchase for next summer for any other families who want to use it. Thoughts?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

let's have a toast!

excellent news from the eye doctor: Sophie is to be patch-free for three months!
wonderful news from the dentist: none of the kids have cavities!
super news from today's parent-teacher conferences: all the kids are behaving and doing well in class!
amazing news from yesterday's post: we got a shoutout from ALLCAPS! WOO!
best news of all: Grandma and Grandpa are going to watch the kids and Paul and I are going to go on a real date!

Please share your good news with me in the comments:
Your marvelous news: ______________________________!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Don't unplug me

Halloween, 2010. Robots, robots, robots.

And the video that inspired it all....

Sunday, October 31, 2010

gives me hope

I'm keeping this short and sweet today, as it's (yay!) Halloween, and I'm hoping to get some homemade costume goodness up for tomorrow.

I found this site this summer, and it soon became my go-to site for peaceful and hopeful reading before I went to bed. It's called Gives Me Hope, and it's packed with short stories of courage, bravery, and inspiration. The first few nights I started reading it, I couldn't stop and went all the way to the first post to start from the beginning. I didn't want to miss any. I still go to it a few times a week to help get perspective and to say a few prayers.

Something else I've begun doing in the past month or so: when I wake up in the morning, I read Bible verses for the day from my Bible app and choose a certain one that seems to really stick with me to be my verse for the day. Then I go on Facebook, read the live feed, and pray a blessing for each friend who's posted recently. I mention this because with my absolutely nutty schedule, this way of centering my morning and dedicating my day works for me right now, and if you're ultra-busy, that might work for you too. I also try to catch Paul by the coffeepot in the morning to say a quick prayer before the kids wake up, that we will be a blessing in someone's lives that day.

So here's wishing you some blessings and hope, whenever your day may start.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Rather reluctantly, I recently became a Girl Scout leader for Angela's Daisy troop. One of the leaders was moving, and if they didn't get a volunteer, they were going to disband the troop, and we couldn't have that! I had a thousand reasons to refuse: I was overscheduled, overwhelmed, and also teaching CCD, but I just couldn't let Angela down.

What surprised me is that I absolutely LOVE it!

At first, I have to say, I was very intimidated by the whole thing. But after my initial leadership training session and doing some reading, I was totally fired up. I want to teach these girls to be leaders! I want to bring them in contact with women in positions of authority to show what they could learn and do. And I want all the moms to be involved as well, because I want each girl to be able to see the amazing talents their own moms have that their daughters probably take for granted.

It helps too, that I love my co-leader and she completely knows what she's doing. After we recognized each other as kindred spirits as complete organizers and schedulers, we were like old friends. She makes it fun.

And while I think crafts are great, we are going to be spending more time on skills, as well as planning some fantastic trips. Did you know that NJPAC has a show and a sleepover for Scouts every year, and gives them all breakfast the next morning?! My girls are too young for it, but when they're old enough, I can't wait to do that trip! And don't even get me started on camping trips.

I'll leave you with the new Grace I learned at a training session, that I don't know if we'll ever get to use it with the Daisies, but we sure are enjoying it at home! It's sung to the tune of the Superman theme.

(Raise right fist)
Thank you Lord, for giving us food!
(Lower right fist)
(Raise left fist)

Thank you Lord, for giving us friends!
(Lower left fist)
For the food that we eat (raise right)
And the friends that we meet (raise left)
Thank you Lord
For every good thing!
Bum bum bum bum
(pound fists on table)

Friday, October 29, 2010

give me the works

As some of you know, I have a day job... it's the same job I've had for over 16 years now, and I couldn't be happier at it. Our company is really like a family to me; we look out for each other, we support each other, share in each others' ups and downs.

Oh yes, and we really like to create together.

My good news share for today is that our newly redesigned website just won a Platinum Award from MarCom! More than anything else - the bright colors, useful and interesting copy - our site is really an effort of love from our entire team, and that's why I think it works. There's personality in it, and pride in our work. It says it right on the home page: "We love what we do." And I think that shows throughout the site. We all contribute to the blog and our twitter feed as well, and that helps keep the site fresh and interesting and shows a variety of viewpoints, all focused on making projects better for our clients.

This one was a bit of a challenge for all of us, because it was our first redesign after my boss Rich passed away. I honestly think he would have loved this.

So while I haven't been painting, I have been doing a lot of designing. You can see some of it on the site's portfolio. I should mention also that one of our magazines also got a Gold MarCom Award, so I'm doubly happy about it! I would keep creating no matter what, but it's nice to hear every once in a while that your message is making its mark.

ps ~ For those of you dying to see a recent photo of me from this summer, (HA!) here's my brand new bio.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

...and, we're back

Holey moley, has it been….. SIX MONTHS?! Wow. I’ve never taken that long of a break before. But it was a much-needed one. I apologize for disappearing off the face of the earth for some of you, and I’m grateful for the emails and tweets of concerned people asking what the heck happened to me.

The short answer: Life happened. A big dose of life whacking me upside the head and knocking me for a big emotional rollercoaster of a loop.

The long(er) answer: This summer, after a long illness, my dear mother-in-law died. I still really am having a hard time believing it. Her passing affected all of us deeply, and I’m realizing that while she is thankfully at rest, there is still a lot for the rest of us to deal with, day to day life things. Life goes on, and there are still lunches to be made and bills to take care of and all those mundane things that need to be done. And we miss her very, very much.

For those who have been long-time readers of the site, I’ll also just say that the way I felt in 2004 was the way I spent the majority of the summer. Things are better, and I’m learning how better to deal with things that stress me. One of the main reasons I haven’t posted is that I didn’t have anything AT ALL to show – I haven’t painted in months and months and months. For me, not painting is like not breathing. It’s something I’m slowly working back to.

So… I’m trying again, to post, and share, and to paint, and to allow myself to do awful art, and share that too. And I’m setting myself the challenge to post something nice every day this week, sort of a catch-up of things I want to share with anyone who is still around to hear it.

See you tomorrow. :)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

what's new on the frenchtoastgirl blog

The new layout's here! (And yes, the new layout looks an awful lot like the old layout, which was what I wanted - I don't have time for a sitewide redesign right now.) While I still have a lot of tweaking to do, the blog is functional. And though I didn't appreciate being forced to do it (I find it difficult to believe that the almighty Google can't handle FTP service to their blog clients), I'm happy about some new additions I was able to make to the site. There are many features I've wanted to add but didn't have the time/ability to do it before but they're here now.

So here's what's new:
  • The address of the blog. Not something I wanted to change, but had to. So please kindly point your links to
  • Related posts. This is something I've wanted to do for ages! Now at the bottom of each post, you'll see four links to other posts with an accompanying thumbnail for each. So on an Illustration Friday post, you'll see four others that also feature Illustration Friday entries, or a post about making homemade ice cream cake might have links to other recipes, watercolours, or family posts. I've been writing this blog for almost 9 years, so I'm really looking forward to seeing what comes up after each post because it has an element of randomness I rather like about it.
  • Twitter feed. Tweet! These are the kind of things you'd be used to hearing about from me - links and thoughts about design, painting, art, family, music... I generally don't post about what I ate or if I'm going to the movies. :) Feel free to subscribe if you wish.
  • Tag cloud. All the labels I use for tagging posts are arranged alphabetically to the side - you can now see what I write the most about (art, as it's the largest sized font) and how many posts I've written about paintings done with coffee (11).
  • Expanded archives. Instead of clicking on the month and having to scroll down to look for a particular link on the left, you now can open the month in the sidebar, read all the post titles, and choose the one you want to read. Or you can still click and read the whole month if you like.
  • Friendconnect. You can "follow" the blog - it's another way to get the feed and to know when I've posted something new. I'm still not really sure how this one works, but I'm willing to try it out.
Things I know are still wonky:
  • The links to the rest of the site aren't showing up in IE. I'm trying to figure out a workaround to that, in the meantime, you can get there from here:
  • My old comments are not synched up yet. I have to make a request to the service I use (it's not Blogger) and get them ported over, though new commenting should work just fine, so please feel free to say hi!
I'm looking forward to an evening not spent staring at code! Who knows, I might even.... paint!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

This blog has moved

This blog is now located at You will be automatically redirected in 30 seconds, or you may click here. For feed subscribers, please update your feed subscriptions to

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

the skinny on the fate of ftg

So here's what I've been doing: blogger's decided that they will no longer support FTP publishing, which is how I've done this blog for almost the past 9 years. So.... instead of painting? I'm coding, just to try to get the blog to stay mostly the same for now, because what I don't have time for right now is a site-wide redesign. And the address of the site has to change as well - so the blog will now be at, and it has to happen by May 1.


Monday, April 05, 2010

illustration friday: Dip

My son loves food, my daughters love amigurumi, and we all love to eat. What started out as a doodle turned into a coloring page. I can honestly say that not all kids eat all of these foods, but I would say they eat all but 3 (different for each kid... Peter's not fond of beets, Sophie doesn't do tomatoes, Angela won't touch mushrooms). And of course, all of them work well with (or in) dip in one form or another!

There is a precedent for faces on fruit at our house.... remember this?

That pear still cracks me up.

Monday, March 29, 2010

what I've got they used to call the blues

Ditto on the talking to myself and feeling old. Good news, anyone?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

sweet sixteen

This is a card my boss and friend Rich sent me a few years ago for my PRI anniversary with a bouquet of flowers. I tucked it away and forgot all about it. I've written before how he wanted to have a big celebration for my anniversary last year, but he passed away before the actual date and it was a really hard day for me without him.

A couple of weeks ago this card fell out of the back of a notebook where I'd placed it for safekeeping. Am I surprised that it "found" me just in time for my 16th anniversary this year? I see a hand at work here... and I love you, kiddo.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


(I'm posting an older entry from 2005 today - it still really speaks to me. Maybe it's something you need to hear today as well.)

by Jo Sorley

It takes courage to be crocus-minded.

God, I’d rather wait until June,
Like wise roses,
When the hazards of winter are safely behind,
and I’m expected,
and everything’s ready for roses.

But crocuses?
Highly irregular.

Knifing through hard-frozen ground and snow,
and sticking their necks out,
because they believe in spring
and have something personal and emphatic to say about it.

God, I am by nature rose-minded.
Even when I have studied the situation here
and know there are wrongs that need righting,
affirmations that need stating,
and know also that my speaking out may offend...
for it rocks the boat...
Well, I’d rather wait until June.
Maybe later things will work themselves out,
and we won’t have to make an issue of it.

God, forgive,
Wrongs don’t work themselves out.
Injustices and inequities and hurts don’t just dissolve.
Somebody has to stick her neck out,
Somebody who cares enough to think through and work through hard ground,
because she believes and has something personal and emphatic to say about it.

Me God?


Could it be that there are things that need to be said, and you want me to say them?
I pray for courage.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

now with a side order of cute

Allow me to present Sophie's lunch! This proved to be such a hit at school yesterday that she has requested the same lunch for the next two days as well. Some of the girls at her table didn't want her to eat it because it was too cute! I forgot to show her little bottle of water... My goal is for her to have healthy lunches, but if we can get in an extra helping of cute then so much the better. It's amazing what a few strokes of pencil or a fun shape of food can do to make lunches more appealing. :)

Sunday, March 07, 2010

illustration Friday: Brave

This is Ruby Bridges. One of my children brought home a worksheet about her from school, and I realized that I already knew her story, and if you're an artist, you may recognize her too. Norman Rockwell painted her walk to school, escorted by federal marshals, in 1964 as "The Problem We All Live With."

It really hit me in the gut reading about her again, and probably even more now that my kids are her age - how incredibly brave she was to go to school in the face of all that opposition, and just as a little six year old. I don't know how her parents managed to let her leave the house every day! This is the part of the worksheet that really got me:

"Many white parents took their children out of school. I was the only child in my class. My teacher, Mrs. Henry, was my best friend."

That just kills me. The incredible thing is that years later, she went back to the same school and volunteered there. Forty years later, she and her first-grade teacher, Mrs. Henry, now speak to other parents, educators, and students. I find Ruby and her bravery so inspiring.

Who is inspiring you today?

Saturday, March 06, 2010

the 6th annual michelangelo project

Today, March 6th is Michelangelo's birthday! To celebrate the birthday of one of the world's most inspiring artists, I invite you to participate in this project.

What you do:
1. Do something creative today, March 6th. It can be something you love to do, something you've forgotten how to do, something you've never done and always secretly wanted to try. Here's your excuse! Some ideas are:
- paint/draw/collage
- sculpt (like the master)
- write a poem, a short story
- take a photo
- visit a museum or art gallery
- sew
- cook something exciting you've never made before
- see an art film, foreign film, or movie about an artist

2. Come back here and share your experience!
Post a link to your creation, write about your trip or creative process - share your creative story with others. How creative can we get?

3. Link back with the above graphic if you've written about it on your site.

4. Have fun, for goodness' sake! This is not about being perfect or creating the best piece of art. It's about embracing your creative side in whatever form it happens to take.

I can't wait to hear your stories!

Friday, March 05, 2010

poster children

The kiddos with this year's poster for the Mother's Retreat.

This year, for the first time in a long while, I'm not going to the Mother's Retreat. It's just honestly way too much for me this year, I would wind up spending the entire thing crying or over-anxious and I wouldn't enjoy a minute of it. There was no way I was going to skip doing the poster though, I've done it each year for the retreat even before I had kids of my own! I'll do my praying here at home... and if you are reading this, won't you please send a good thought for the moms on this retreat this weekend and the other special mothers in your own life?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

now we are six

Peter and Angela turn six today! We were not originally supposed to have all three children's birthdays in the same week, but the twins had other plans. Instead of being born in May, they came 10 weeks early and spent months in the NICU. It is certainly not an experience I would ever wish on anybody but you'd have to agree they're well worth it all.

Angela is fiery, dramatic, mercurial, angelic. She makes Sophie look calm. Angela is the one who goes through 5 outfits in a day, some of them bathing suits, some involving complicated scarves, or requiring face paint. She would probably be happiest if she could wear nothing at all and takes off her socks the instant she doesn't need to wear them anymore. She's the girl who sings into the microphone, who gets up and dances, and who I am pretty sure is going to end up on a stage one day. She is the girly-girl in our house. The other night my mom and dad brought her a shirt that had a pony on it, in sequins, and you have never heard such gushing. "OH! How I love it! It's so sparkly! I'll wear it on my birthday with this scarf! OH! How did you KNOW I would LOVE THIS SO MUCH!" She's turning into a great reader, and just yesterday learned to tie a bow. (We're going to demonstrate to the class tomorrow.) And she really enjoys drawing faces and tries so hard to get in lots of detail. I'm rather impressed with her artwork and I love that she does her own thing - her sister and brother don't draw like her at all! And she writes me notes - when she's sorry for something she's done, or just because. I cherish them.

Peter is adorable. He has just taught himself to whistle and spends every spare moment practicing it. He has a very good sense of rhythm for such a little boy and is always tapping out the beat, pretending to drum, or trying to beatbox. And that's when there's not even any music on! He loves a cappella music, especially the Bobs. My favorite Peter thing is how he dances when he thinks nobody is paying attention - he has soul, this kid. I'll put on Stevie Wonder, or maybe some 80's music with a loud electronic beat and then occupy myself with some task so the attention's not on Peter (but I watch him out of the corner of my eye). Then the shoulders start shaking and the hips are next and then he's into some cool spin or dance steps. I just love it. He's such a foodie - loves to eat, loves to try new things, and even had my dad's pasta con sarde and asked for seconds. He's also turning out to be quite good at art - the more meticulous, the better! He loves to copy pictures of machinery or draw complicated landscapes. I also call Peter "Eddie Haskell" - he is so incredibly complimentary that sometimes it's just funny. I predict that Peter is going to have the phone ringing off the hook when he hits puberty.

Peter and Angela, my favorite surprises. I love you with all of my heart and I'm so proud of you. You make our family complete.

Monday, March 01, 2010

green eggs and cookies

Tomorrow is Dr. Seuss's birthday and also Read Across America day. These are the cookies I made for Peter's class - unfortunately, they looked much more egg-like before they went into the oven than when they came out.

What's your favorite Dr. Seuss poem or book? I have a soft spot for "Too Many Daves."

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sophie is Seven

Miss Sophia Grace and Lambey

I just can't believe Sophie is seven today! I wrote once that Sophie for me embodies the quote about your heart living outside your body. There is something just so indefinably special about Sophie. She's kind, generous, loving, and has a quick and quirky sense of humor. She always has a twinkle in her eye and I think that, combined with her long hair and permanent semi-wink because of her eyelid surgeries, make her seem like she's part fairy. She's bright, inquisitive, and quick to have flashes of temper or to run up and kiss you. One of the things I love most about her is her absolute belief in herself. She likes what she likes, and she doesn't give two hoots what anyone else thinks. Right now, she is enamored with Norway, especially the city of Hammerfest, which lays claim to being the northernmost town in the world. She draws the flag, she studies the globe, she gets out Paul's iPod to check what time the sun will rise and set there today. She loves drawing and writing her own books, and has a back story for each character she draws (we call those pictures "the cast of thousands"). Lately she's been reading "So You Want to be President" every night before she goes to sleep. She's kind of brilliant, and as next year is the year kids get tested at her school for advanced classes we've been concentrating on cleaning up her messy printing and on how to take tests (i.e., reading directions before jumping right in, reading all the answers before you jump right in, etc). So far, she's wanted to be an astronaut, an author, a composer, a baker, a filmmaker, a doctor, and a "traveller" so she can see the world. I am so enjoying watching her grow up and her take on the world.

We love you, Sophie! God bless you on your birthday and always.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

strange days, indeed

I'm fighting off a nasty sinus infection while preparing for BIRTHDAY WEEK - where all three of my kids have their birthdays within a week of each other (but thankfully, not their parties!) Sophie's party has a woodland theme and we're all going to make terrariums this weekend! I will be posting how-to pics and links soon. (as soon as I get over this @#*$&(*@#&$ infection and can get some sleep!)

Do you know what love is? It's not flowers and candy and dinner out and all that. This week, Paul and I were supposed to have a date night that never materialized, due to poor planning on our part and getting thoroughly sick on my part. Then I was up half the night thinking about all the things I had to do in the next week for respective birthdays, presents, baking, crafts, reading in the classrooms... Paul listened to me, and then drove all of us to the craft store and Home Depot because I was too dizzy to drive but too upset to put it off for later in the week. He made decisions about what to get when I was way too fuzzy-headed to make a clear choice (or multiply). He ordered out and cooked so I didn't have to make dinner. He did the laundry - and I am still not certain how he did this part - got each of the kids to fold their own clothes and put them away. He took over the weekly food shopping trip so I could relax and rest (and says he's taking it over from now on). Dinner out is nice, but laundry is love.

Friday, February 19, 2010

new music request/listening party

Hello, toasty ones!

It's Friday... let's have a listening party! Please leave me a note in the comments either about music that you really like, or music you think I would really like, and why. Do you have a theme song? A favorite artist nobody knows about? Your own band? What's the best song you know?

I'm always interested in hearing music of all kinds, and I'm pretty much open to anything. If there's a link available to hear a song (youtube clips are great!), you can include that too for easy listening.

Stuff I like:
* Beatles, natch
* Vocal/a cappella/choral music
* Anyone who can really sing
* Anyone who can't sing well but makes up for it with soul
* Classical/acoustic guitar
* Humor is always good
* Ambient/electronica
* Rock/pop/anything catchy
* Classic country
* Folk
* American Popular Standards

Stuff I don't like:
* Songs with rude/demeaning lyrics
* People who can't sing and are slick/overproduced packages of a corporate machine (aka Disney teen fluff, unless you can convince me otherwise)
* Heavy metal for some reason just makes me laugh because they try so hard to be scary and take themselves too seriously

Okay, let's get this party started!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

fast and feast

Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of life.
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of life.
Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; feast on divine order.
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from hostility; feast on non-resistance.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth.
Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.
Fast from facts that depress; feast on verities that uplift.
Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds.
~ William Arthur Ward
from a card my mom faxes to me every Ash Wednesday

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

All you need is love, love. It's easy!

(Note the Norwegian house slippers on Sophie!)

As promised.... the annual Nazzaro family valentine! For reference, Sophie is 6 and the twins are 5. Waaaay back in the day, I used to have to do three separate photo shoots and photoshop them all together so that I could have just ONE picture where those babies were all even looking in the right direction. At least they've stopped eating the hearts. How fun are these going to be when they're in high school?

Watch them grow up....






Monday, February 08, 2010


Remember when Sophie had her surgery this summer and my mom made us a prayer shawl? She wanted to do something similar for my brother and sister, so for 'Toine's version, she knit him a Tom Baker Dr. Who scarf. But at the same time, little did he know... that I found a pattern for an amigurumi Dalek! Of course I was going to make one for him!

Mine came out a bit like a weeble, but he's very pleased with it (once he stopped laughing). And for those not in the know, what's a Dalek, you ask?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


This weekend our elementary school had their fundraiser - a play written by, directed by, starring, choreographed by (you get the picture) the parents. It is THE social event of the year, and everyone involved looked like they were having the time of their lives. And what did I contribute?

The logo design, of course!

These are the roughs I did initially to get a feel for what everyone wanted... it was clear that it was going to be a logotype, but with a little extra something. The one we went with was an homage to "Slumdog Millionaire" using the broken type, lowercase letters, and uneven baseline. (The plot echoes some of the movie, so there was a reason for it.)

Is that your final logo?

It brought back good memories from high school of seeing people wearing the shirts in the play - although I've been also seeing them around town, on kids at school, even at church. Trust me, it's not the design, it's the message.

The cast in their believe shirts while singing "Don't Stop Believing" (of course).

Paul lent his considerable talents to the pit band! Here he is warming up while Angela (fluffy head in front) looks on.

One of the coolest things was that at the finale - again, in homage to Slumdog Millionaire, the entire cast, including the teachers and principal, and all the students in the audience - got up and did the "Jai Ho" dance from the end of the movie. It was just fabulous. The kids practiced it at the end of classes, and even at a Girl Scout meeting!