Sunday, October 30, 2011

A friendly reminder...

to come on over to the new site!

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Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A knooked hippie hat

We went on vacation last week to New Orleans and to Orange Beach, Alabama. It was such good fun that it was even worth the total wreck it has now made of my house. I'm not sure how it is that returning from travel can destroy a house so quickly, but it can. Something about the laundry and the picnic supplies and the tired. I'll catch up sometime. (When I'm dead? I hope not.) I'll post photos after I have a minute to sit down and comb through all, um, 825 shots that I took on the trip. (I'm afraid that's no typo.)

In addition to all the sightseeing, swimming, and keeping my kids from drowning that I did on vacation I also finished my next knooking project. I used this pattern but in a funky rainbow print. It's going to be my cure for second-day hair this winter. The final project is more hippie than my mental image of it was, but it's kind of fun. I'd hate to get stodgy anyway.  :) The Knit Picks Chroma yarn is deliciously soft and comes in other colorways--I'm tempted to come up with a project just to use more of this yarn. The pattern translated easily from knitting to knooking, so now I'm really gaining confidence. I ordered a set of knooking hooks from eBay, but they have to ship from China so who knows when they'll get here. I purchased the crappy set that Wal-Mart sells, but the hooks are so rough that they must be sanded before they can be used, and the shape of the hook makes me unhappy--it is difficult to use. I'm hoping a good retailer picks up on the need for good knooking hooks soon and makes more metal ones. The locker hook I posted about earlier is the easy to use but only comes in one size.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pressed flowers and crocheted socks

Dorothy and I pressed flowers as a school craft. I don't think I'd pressed flowers since I was in high school. It's one of those things, I think, where I've seen supplies at crafty places and gotten suckered into the idea that it's just a craft for people who have the right gear, which is just silly. Pressing flowers requires only a stack of heavy objects. We have those. We used cardboard to lay out the petals and another piece to lay over them.
After two weeks under the heavy objects (books, in our case) we had beautiful pressed blossoms, which we adhered to cards using rubber cement. This was a pretty and satisfying craft for both of us, and it was fun to count down the days until the flowers were done.
I also finally finished my second pair of crocheted socks. I made socks from this pattern right before Worth was born and loved them so much I knew I needed more.  Then Rob got me yarn for our seventh wedding anniversary, from which I made a hat and started socks. But since I have other things to do (ahem) and have not been too inspired to make wooly socks during the warmer months it took me a long time to finish these. The recent chill has me crocheting again so I finally pulled this project out and finished it up.
I have every reason to think I'm going to love these socks as much as the first ones. This is a great pattern--the small size fits me perfectly, and they are so warm and comfortable. The other pair is my go-to comfort strategy when I come inside on cold or wet days. After we moved to this house with the fireplace I'd put on these socks and sit in front of the fire--domestic heaven! Now I'm prepared for winter weather with this cheerful new pink pair.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Knooking and Bear Feet

Something kind of major happened to me this past week. I finally learned to knit! I already "knew" how, technically, but I hated it. It just didn't work for me. Crochet has always felt good in my hands but I just never could get comfortable with knitting needles. Every few months for a couple years I'd pick up a project and try again, but I've never made more than a dish towel and I've never enjoyed it even for a second. I'd get tensed up instead of calmed. Then I discovered knooking! At the risk of sounding totally dorky, knooking is like a dream come true for me. I've actually day-dreamed that knitting could feel like crochet for me, and that I could make knitted patterns without dealing with knitting needles, and--ta da!--it has happened! Knooking is making knitted fabric (interlacing yarn in the way known as "knitting") but by using a crochet needle attached to a cord. It turns out the exact same product but feels like crocheting instead of knitting. Which, if you're me, is totally fantastic. I used this blog, this blog, and this Ravelry group as references and used a locker hook as my first knooking hook. I knooked this hat for Worth by reading the tips at those links and holding the new hat up to a hat he already had for sizing. I'm ridiculously pleased with it and don't you make fun of me, dangit, because it's not every day that dreams come true.
Today I put down my next knooking project long enough to have a great day at an outlet mall with an old friend. She lives in Indianapolis so we met in between her city and mine for a fun day of catching up and fall shopping. I purchased what I thought were matching pajamas for my kids, who spent the day with their grandparents. Back at home, Worth wanted to put on his new pajamas right away. We allowed him to change and he immediately started stomping around, acting like a Big Scary Bear (this is a favorite Worth game already, which inspired the purchase of these pajamas) and admiring the bear faces sewn onto the feet of his new pajamas. Dorothy decided to put her matching pajamas on as well and join the fun. Sadly, however, she returned crying, having discovered that Carters unwisely manufactured pajamas that were almost identical in both sizes, but which lacked the novelty of bear face feet in the larger size. Curse you, Carters!
So I rallied my inner good mother (though she was a bit tired!) and rounded up some felt and sewed my own version of bear faces onto the feet of Dorothy's pajamas.
Now all the Big Scary Bears in my "den" are happy again.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A lemonade stand

I'm afraid I haven't done a single thing crafty or blog-worthy (with the possible exception of some newly invented cookies, but I forgot to photograph them so what's the point?), but I'm posting anyway because Worth doesn't feel well and won't get off my lap, and if I'm going to sit here captive I may as well do something. So here is a random post about things that have been going on! The neighborhood kids had lemonade stand in my front yard. Unfortunately their accounting was almost as bad as their spelling, so it is unclear if the enterprise earned money or just annoyed the neighbors.
Worth got his first favorite pair of shoes. He tried these on at an outlet mall on the way home from an out-of-town wedding last weekend and we couldn't even pry them off his feet to pay for them so we just snipped off the tags and he wore them home. He kept cooing over them and touching them and giggling in his car seat.  Hilarious and cute. I love that we finally found shoes he'll actually keep on, plus they are mercifully easy to clean. The adorable t-shirt was a gift and I love it like he loves his shoes.
This was a picture that appeared on my blog back in June of Belle on her homemade dog bed...
and an updated snapshot, two months later. I'm glad kids don't grow that fast! (And a disclaimer, Belle is not allowed to play with the kids' toys ordinarily, but she has a deep and abiding fondness for this little knitted animal. She doesn't eat it--she just plays with it and loves on it and since it seems to be no worse for wear as a shared toy I allow it. She's just a baby too, after all, even though she's more than doubled in size!)

Friday, August 19, 2011

May the Force be with Baby: A Star Wars Quilt

We've had a good first week of school! This is Dorothy getting ready to blow out our circle time candle on the first day. I've learned that a) homeschooling takes a lot more of my day than I had been able to comprehend (although I'd been warned about that) and b) I need to make some curriculum adjustments or we'll both get bored in a hurry. I've purchased a ready-made kindergarten curriculum and I love many things about it but it's a little soft on some skills we're ready to march on into. That's a great thing about homeschool, I have to say, because I can easily make these adjustments to suit my specific child.
And late last night after my wee padawans were snug in their beds I snuck back down to the sewing machine and made a baby quilt to gift to a friend. This is for the first baby of an old college pal. This friend is the only person with whom I've attended a midnight movie showing (he was in costume) and the only person I know who owns (or owned? It's been a while...) red contact lenses. When he told me he and his wife were expecting a boy I knew I had to make him something cool and nothing light blue or fluffy.
I bought one fat quarter of Star Wars fabric on Etsy, then found coordinating prints on I used the licensed fabric to make homemade patches and then made strips of the rest. I'm not much of a quilter but I like the cutely haphazard look of strip blankets. I machine stitched it all and didn't use batting because I wanted it to be thin and flexible enough to actually wrap the baby in. The finished size is 34 by 38 inches and the back is a soft black flannel. It felt funny to have the sewing machine threaded in black to make a baby gift, but I think this one will be appreciated by the baby's father, at least.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Our homeschool "classroom"

We start school Monday! I loved this house before we purchased it party for this cozy, cabinlike room tucked down in the basement. Touring houses almost two years ago I kept my eye out for the perfect space the kids and I could dedicate to our creative endeavors--a parent/child studio.  I'm kind of joking when I now call it our homeschool classroom; we'll learn here, as we'll learn everywhere. We do have a table and chairs set aside in this room for our morning circle and lessons. I've not gotten much use out of this room up to this point because it is, ahem, rather afflicted by water. Like the kind that is supposed to stay outside in heavy rains. Yuck. But we've made some changes to our gutters and are hoping to have some professional work done soon. Meanwhile, I've ditched the rug and repainted the floor and I'm hopeful that even with a little water we should be able to clean up and move on.
Since we're going with painted concrete floors until the water problems are completely solved I thought I might as well have fun with the concept. I used exterior paint to make a big sun on the floor in front of our awesomely cozy (and functional) fireplace. On some wicked winter morning in a few months I will laugh at the snow and the cold outside, give thanks that I do not have to take my car on icy roads to participate in any kind of carpool, and will head down to our quilt-laden futon by the fire with a huge stack of good books, a mug of coffee, my kids and be happy.
New beeswax crayons.
Paintings move from the easel to our art line.
A thrift-store mirror and some hooks turn our dress-up box into a full station.
Tools of the trade...

And one snapshot of my garden, to represent that our "classroom" is actually much bigger than our basement studio. This is going to be an adventure! Hopefully one that is fun. I'm excited.
Wishing you and yours a happy start to the school year as well!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Our entryway and a perpetual calendar

I sometimes enjoy reading other blogs and often get inspired by them. There are only so many ways certain tasks or projects can be done, so there will often be some overlap between the creative projects of different crafty bloggers. There is a difference between inspiration, intentional knock-offs, and flat out copycatting, right? Last winter I bought yellow paint to makeover my family room, the exact same color I've used in my living spaces in my last two houses. I tried to think of ways to make a user-friendly entryway spot to keep my family's accoutrements tidy near our main (side) entrance. I purchased a row of hooks, a little step stool from IKEA, and a big basket to keep everyone's shoes in. I decided to blog about it after I painted the wall behind them. The very next week Soule Mama blogged about a very similar project and I had to laugh--maybe great minds think alike? Then I realized she actually did it a bit better than me because she included a row of hooks for the children, not requiring them to use the step stool like I was. So, inspired by her execution of a project that exists in many homes' entryways, I added a row of bottom hooks myself after our recent paint job. The space now functions better. Isn't sharing ideas great?

I'd like to make the point that while taking inspiration from the beautiful marketplace of the mama blogosphere is acceptable and even lovely, actually taking someone's intellectual property and passing it off as your own is not okay. It is hurtful, wrong, and fundamentally uncreative to take something that belongs to someone else and present it to the world as if you own it. Inspiration is lovely. Following tutorials, giving credit and back-linking is grand. Passing another person's intellectual property off as your own, especially in a way that diverts search engine traffic from the blog for which it is intended, is stealing. (Um, yeah, sorry I had to get all preachy, right? But I wouldn't say it unless I felt like I needed to...)
Moving on, Dorothy has been asking me every day for a week how many days are left until we start school. Although homeschooling kindergarten at my house is actually going to be a pretty informal and fluid event, I have decided to follow the school schedule of our local public schools so that Dorothy and her public-schooling BFF next door will always have their days off together. It seemed high time for me to finish the perpetual calendar we will be referencing every morning and to let her see for herself how many days we have until we officially begin. I sewed rows of clear vinyl pockets over fabric that matches my new kitchen curtains. I printed off little cards with the days and numbers on them and inserted them into the pockets. I will task Dorothy will decorating/labeling the special days on our calendar (like the first day of school!) and she'll add a sticker indicating the morning's weather to each card as we go. Who knows, maybe the whole family will be better organized now that we have a pretty, easy-to-update calendar right there in the kitchen. (Yeah, right.)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My new old kitchen

I didn't even clean off my counters for this new picture, but that would have been too staged anyway. Before and after--new appliances but same everything else, plus paint and silver hardware. I finished the curtains at 2 a.m!

Friday, August 5, 2011

It's 100 degrees and I crocheted a sweater

The title pretty much sums it up. I made a baby doll-style sweater as a birthday gift for Dorothy's friend. I used this pattern, which I think you must register to access, but if you knit or crochet you should be registered at Ravelry anyway. The sweater worked up nicely and I thought the skirted style was cute. I added the flower because I thought it needed it. The little birthday girl (and perhaps more importantly, her mother) seemed to like it.

I painted my family room this week! The family room is the large multipurpose room in the back of our house, which I photographed when we first moved in. My computer and my sewing table is in here, as are many of our toys and books. It's my favorite room of the house and the biggest, so painting it has been a big task. I need to get stitching now because I want to photograph this room and the kitchen, but I don't want to do it until I get the curtains done. It's so exciting to be getting these rooms done though!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Some summer accessories

For the last couple years I have been sewing this pattern when I feel like I need a new wallet.  I've made it at least a half dozen times. It's an awesome wallet because it has the right compartments for all my necessities, is a perfect size, and is straightforward and simple to make. I usually prefer the look of a snap closure to the velcro but this time I was sewing in the middle of the night (yes, that is reality with kids; sometimes a girl just needs a new wallet, and sometimes she's already been rudely awakened in the middle of the the night...) and I didn't want to wake anyone else up by my hammering in snaps. I sewed a decorative button on the front to make up for the velcro.
The fabric is scraps from my living room. I have no idea where I got the fusible fabric stiffener I used but it was awful. It didn't provide much structure and it wrinkled the fabric. I'm tossing it out and hoping to not accidentally buy that brand again--who knew there was so much difference? I should keep better track of where I get stuff like that so I know not to waste money on it again. Still, I like my punchy new wallet.
(Aside: notice there is no wallpaper on the wall behind me? The family room is the last wallpaper-removal frontier! It will hopefully be painted yellow this time next week.)
In a break from this most recent home renovation push I stitched up a new skirt and matching headband. I've sewn this same skirt pattern over and over and over and over, but it's so great. It's just the skirt and waistband pieces from Simplicity 2758. I sew it in knits and leave out the zipper, making it super fast and comfortable. I've sewn it in varying lengths and with various embellishments around the hem so it doesn't feel like I have six or so of the same skirt. This time I made it long, in a swishy and slightly shiny polyester knit.
I used scraps from the bottom ruffle to make little rosettes, which I glued onto a plain black headband. Of course now Dorothy wants one too. Rob took me to some sort of business dinner tonight that we interpreted as more of a social event (hence the long swishy skirt and floral headband, and we dropped off the kids with their grandparents) but it turned out to be more of a business event where exactly zero other participants brought a spouse, and everyone was dressed as if they'd come straight from work. Oops!  I felt like some sort of chubby trophy wife. But actually the event turned out to be rather fun, with an interesting speaker and yummy food.

And finally, some happy news regarding my car-related teeny tiny sorry ass first world problem. It's over! I turned back in my unlovable rental and was reunited with my family car today. I managed not to make out with it in the parking lot but it was tough. (LOL, please.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

The house projects continue

We took a trip to Columbus, Ohio. Our puppy traveled well but we did feel like a traveling circus (a circus in a gas-guzzling rental car, since mine is still in the shop) barreling across Kentucky and Ohio with our collection of children and dog, ready to descend on the usually calm and tidy home of my sister-in-law. She's good-natured, though, and seems fond of us anyway! I took this photo of some baby birds in the tree outside her home. The monks who wrote the beautiful puppy book I blogged about earlier suggested that dog ownership would make me see the world in new ways and they are right. As I get to know Belle better, I also notice that I have a more keen awareness of all the animal drama playing out around me. From other dogs on the street to the screechings of the poor mama bird as I photographed her children, I'm grateful for the new dimension puppy companionship has added to my life.
We visted the Santa Maria replica on a hot afternoon. Worth has developed a fascination with boats lately that unfortunately did not seem to extend to this one. I think it was too large for him to realize he was in a vessel rather than on the shore. We at least managed to keep him from going overboard, and the rest of us enjoyed the tour. 
When we got home from Ohio my mother and I embarked on our biggest interior painting project yet--the kitchen cabinets. Is my salt shaker rolling his eyes at us? Perhaps, since there is a great chaos in the kitchen. But I think (hope!) that it's going to look great when we're done. 
Painting cabinets is not for the faint of heart. I did it once before, when we lived in Oak Park, Illinois, and it was a big project then without kids or pups. Still, it's now nearing completion and I'm excited to share before and after pictures soon!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hazy but never lazy summer

Where does the time go? I'm offended that Target has back-to-school things out. In the meantime, we're enjoying the heck out of our summer, in and out of the pool, playing with the dog, partying in the back yard, getting sunburned in spite of best intentions, still removing wallpaper occasionally but not doing too much crafting. There will be time for cozy indoor creativity later. Dorothy and I have been churning out cookie bouquets in the kitchen, however, since we all need to be in the air conditioning sometimes. I let her color on old CD adhesive labels, which we then stick to the plastic-wrapped cookies. That seems to be a good way to use those labels up as well as artfully decorate our goodies. Empty cans that used to house bottled coffee drinks make perfect small vases, and the link to cookie recipe we use is here. This bouquet went to a four-year-old friend with a birthday this week.
Vintage linens on the kid table, with flowers picked from the garden in a mason jar, all ready for a group of happy friends--does summer get any better than this?
And Miss Belle, who I think may actually have doubled her size since we adopted her, sporting her new Etsy collar with flower. She is growing strong on food from dishes sold by this store, and her sweet engraved tag came from here. These dog goodies were beyond my homemade ken, but I love being able to buy someone else's creative works instead of the same old stuff from the big box stores.

I also have a happy update on my car woes. It seems that my car is fixable! I may only be in my ugly, gas-guzzling rental for one more week. I'm going to have to do something nice for my car when I get it back. Maybe a homemade trash can? Or new cover-up rugs for the floorboards? I'm so excited. There's nothing to make you appreciate the status quo like having it temporarily compromised.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The garage door and an accidental nightie

Hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend! We took the puppy to the celebration at Crescent Hill. We thought the pet-friendly event would be nice socialization for her and that if she got too sidetracked by the sights and the smells I could just carry her. That plan worked okay except I failed to anticipate the mobs of children and old men who would want to stop and pet the puppy. So we made our way slowly through the celebration and really that was just about perfect. There was enough time and puppy love to go around! My kids were also looking pretty cute in their patriotic hand-me-downs. (I [heart] generous friends with older children!)
I realized on the morning of the 4th that I didn't really have anything red, white or blue I felt like wearing. I thought of some cute cherry fabric in my stash and I had just enough time before we were to meet friends at the celebration to whip up a new tank top. Unfortunately, even though I altered the pattern I'd used to make pajamas recently the tank was still too loose and poofy for me to want to wear it out in public.  I made do with a plain white t-shirt instead and will sew sleep shorts to match this tank, now an accidental nightie instead of day-wear.  Oh well, new pajamas are nice too, and I doubt I would have wanted to wear cherries on many days besides the 4th anyway.
This project is one Rob and I have worked on together over several weekends. Our detached garage was looking decrepit, with peeling paint on the door and a rusty old light. Rob sanded the door and we painted it in white with the gold in the grid to match our front and side entrance doors. Then Rob sanded and sprayed the light fixture red and that really perked it up, making it look like a garage that really belongs to us and our house instead of an afterthought stuck in the back yard. I think I'll use red on some shutters on the side of the garage as well. The colors are consistent with what we've been doing on the side and front porches. I actually need to finish up that front porch and blog about it--the UPS woman made my day recently by asking where I'd purchased my (homemade) chair cushions in the front! I love giving this old house new life.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

One unhappy event and a dog bed

A nostalgia photo: me with the keys to the only car I've ever chosen for myself, March 2008. 

It's been an eventful week. Dorothy's at a drama day camp, we had a nice visit from Aunt Stephanie, and, unfortunately, we had a car accident. Belle seems to like riding in the car so I'd taken her with me to pick Dorothy up from camp. We were almost home when the light turned green for me at an intersection and I drove forward. Unfortunately, Mr. Wears-the-Same-Color-as-His-Sports-Car-With-Vanity-Plates thought that his red stoplight did not apply to him and he zoomed through it--and right into my car. I honked/swerved/braked and all of that, but the impact (to my front passenger side) was still pretty fierce. My back got quite a jolt and the pup hit the floor. Thankfully, the kids seem to have come through the crash just fine, safely secured in their correctly-installed car seats and Worth still rear-facing. The pup picked herself back up with no ill effects, and I'm hoping my sore back is a temporary issue. My car, however, is not so fine. The impact sent us on a little half-spin that seems to have made one of my rear wheels tilt toward the center. Not good. I drove the vehicle the remaining blocks to my house at about 5 mph, with my father-in-law carefully following behind, but the conditions deteriorated such over the course of the short drive home that I'm quite worried about what's going to happen to my beloved car. It shakes and trembles, screeches and takes jolty little nose-dives to the left without any input from the driver. I'm trying to remember how grateful I am that all my humans (and one canine) are still in one piece, but I'm also pretty upset about the car.
My mother has been sweet to loan me hers until we can come up with a better interim solution, but it's a lousy feeling to be without my wheels. My car has the hitch, so there will be no camper-towing for a while. I'm also almost ridiculously fond of my car (I get gently made fun of for this sometimes) and it makes me sad to be without it. My car is just such a great fit for my life--there is a perfect spot or feature for all of my little people, gadgets, or travel-related needs. It's not too big and not too small. Up off the ground but not towering. I spent many hours researching and reviewing cars after my old Civic was crashed (along with, unfortunately, my right arm) back in Dorothy's infancy, and I've always felt that though nothing can make up for a right arm that never got back full range of motion and always knows when it rains, getting to pick just the right vehicle for me while my husband was still in law school was a nice consolation prize. My fingers are crossed that the damage isn't as bad as it seems, and that maybe I'll be back on my own wheels soon.

Ok, enough of my whining. Belle needed a special comfy place and I've made her a dog bed. I used two standard-size pillows that I hooked together with snaps along one long side of each. This way the pillows can be detached for easy machine-washing. Otherwise I think a well-padded dog bed for a pooch the size that Belle will be would not fit in the washing machine. The bed is located in the hallway right outside the bedrooms of our human family members. I used leftover bird fabric from the curtains in my bedroom, machine basted to an old flannel sheet for added body and sturdiness. The bottom is just cut from a thrifted sheet, with overlapping edges for easy removal. Belle seemed to know exactly who the bed was for and plopped right down. I'll have to take regular photos of her on it as she grows, to record her growth as her puppyhood speeds by. She's a sweet little dog. 
I've been reading up on puppy training since we're such dog novices. I love this book, written by a group of Eastern Orthodox monks who raise and train dogs to support their community. I hadn't expected to enjoy reading about puppy training, but was pleasantly surprised when I fell quite engrossed by this bit of puppy prose. They take their dogs very seriously--I sometimes wonder if some of their very serious anecdotes and advice are a bit tongue-in-cheek?--and present all of their information and recommendations thoughtfully and thoroughly. I recommend it to anyone sharing a home with a puppy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A top ten

Well, we've had some puppy-related drama since my last post. Poor pup got  pathetically sick and I took her in for care on Sunday morning. She was admitted to the animal hospital for IV fluids and medication, where she stayed for two days. She's recovering nicely and seems fine now, but our finances might not be. Let's just say I could have purchased several new sewing machines for the amount we've now spent on this Humane Society animal. I hope she gets how lucky she is.

Other than the vet bill, however, we're enjoying this furry little addition to our family. I've made some observations about how much she has in common with Worth:

The top ten things my toddler and puppy have in common

   10. They can climb stairs but have trouble with the descent
       9. They would like to play in the toilet
       8. Neither is house-trained, in spite of toilet fascination
       7. They make the cat roll his eyes
       6. They stay at my heels constantly
       5. They put everything in their mouths
       4. They are both just the right size for the new kennel (hmmmm...)
       3. They both bite (a little)
       2. They respond only to simple commands
      1. They whine when they don't get their way
I have plans for some crafting (hello dog bed!) but haven't gotten much done. I did find enough time last week before the puppy health problems started to make soap. I use the cold process method to make lye soap, instructions for which can be found online. I made one unscented batch for my brother and another for myself, half with a "clean linen" scent and the other half with coconut scent. It's so satisfying to see the newly-cut bars sitting out to cure--such a nice feeling of actually having accomplished something in spite of vet visits and one grumpy, teething toddler

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A bird in the hand

Before the puppy madness began I was spending some time working on our outside spaces. This is our side porch, and since we park in the back it the entrance we use primarily. I'd post a before picture but it would be too embarrassing to show you the messy jumble of miscellaneous junk I'd allowed to accumulate there as we were moving in. Sometimes it was easier to dump stuff on the porch than to find a better home for it. Anyway, I cleared off the junk and set up the grill. There isn't room for chairs on this little porch but it needed something else on it so I potted some herbs in pots I painted, then let Dorothy and her friend next door paint our old, recently-replaced front porch mailbox a bright yellow color and set it out to use as an exchange spot for messages to each other. The girls loved this project. Then something was still missing--I thought the window looked like it needed curtains, but curtains on an exterior window seemed a bit odd so I thought of pennants instead. I made the little string of flags out of scraps from Aunt Stephanie's room and I think they look very fresh and cheerful there. They tie in the colors of the pots, the little girls' mailbox, and the mustardy-gold I painted on the exterior door. Why not?
We traveled over the weekend. We had campground reservations at Rough River State Park but they were cancelled by the park several days before our trip due to flooding. With a weekend already blocked off for travel but the weather unappealingly hot for camping we decided to move forward some travel plans we'd intended for later in the summer. Saturday we visited Kentucky Down Under where Dorothy got to pet an emu, a kangaroo, and encounter this beautiful bird. The park had the feeling of a place that is still up and coming but we enjoyed the several hours we spent there. If I had it to do over I'd have packed a picnic as the cafe food was not very good--let that be my tip if you go. After the park we drove on into Bowling Green where we dined at the surprisingly good 440 Main on the charming town square and stayed the night at a hotel. The next day we visited the National Corvette Museum which I think has my husband vowing to work harder and earn more money...for a Corvette. Oy. It was a fun weekend getaway just a car nap's drive from home. On the way home we shared our favorite memories: Rob liked the Corvettes (go figure), Dorothy enjoyed the hotel pool more than either paid attraction, and I most enjoyed our dinner at the nice restaurant. What can I say?
Our puppy may now have a name. I really think she's a Pippa, but Dorothy seemed wedded to her suggestion of Isabelle. I pulled some Mommy magic today and had her convinced that naming the dog Pippa was her idea. She'd totally embraced it, started calling her that, and even proudly introduced the dog as Pippa to the next-door friend, but then Rob came home surprised by her change of heart and totally foiled my plan. "Is that really what you want to name her? I thought you were naming her Isabelle?" not realizing I'd already carefully achieved buy-in and was not pressuring her to pick a name I preferred. Then I think Dorothy got the impression that her father actually preferred Isabelle and has firmly switched back to that. Sigh...
Bella, which would be my top choice for a nickname if the dog must be named Isabelle, is the most common dog name, according to this web site. No fewer than three people have told me that they know other dogs named Bella. This will drive my crazy. I don't like to do things like other people. No amount of channeling good memories of the trip I once took to Italy will stop me from writhing at the idea that people will think I chose to name my dog the single most popular dog name currently in existence.  Rob and I carefully chose names for our children that didn't even make the top 1000 baby names the years they were born. That was not an accident. I think we'll call her Belle for short as opposed to Bella, with the one letter's difference (and nod toward France instead of Italy) at least making the name slightly more "beautiful" (pun intended) to me. And if I show up at the dog park and can't get my dog's attention since all the other doggie owners are calling their pups by the same basic name, well, I guess I'll just have to remember that allowing my 5-year-old to choose the name and venting my frustrations on the blog instead of in her earshot was the right thing to do. Belle it is.