Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I picked this up off of one of my favorite long time blog reads, spacebeer . She is a libarian in the states somewhere who reads and reviews really ineresting books and cheesy sci-fi. She is also very cool -- I wish I knew her in real life.
Before I was a mom, when I could actually think in complete sentences, I used to read a lot. I was also an English major, so I thought this would be fun. Incidentally, I'm surprised The Worm Oroborous isn't on there, or Gormengaust. I guess they're too genre-specific.

Anyway, someone compiled a list of the top 106 books tagged "unread" on Librarything, and started a nifty little meme. Here is the plan:
Bold = I've read it for fun (I'll do these ones in orange)
Underline = I read it for school (these will be blue)
Italics = I started it but didn't finish (how about green)
Asterisk = I own it, but haven't read it (we'll keep the asterix)

Jonathan Strangelove and Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran: a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked: the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian: a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
Angels & Demons
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes: a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States: 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake: a novel
Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics: a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood: a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

The funny thing about this list is that there's so many books on it that I think, öh, I should read that!. Also, some of the ones I have read I took out of the libary three or four times before I actually finished it. I read the Three Muskateers when I was about 12, and I think I have about $5 of overdue fines before I finished it. Jonathan Strangelove and Mr Norrell I renewed twice and took out twice and had overdue fines on. Its brilliant, but not really a pick-up-put-down novel, which is what happens when you have little kids.

Immanent giveaway . . .

Well, it looks like I've almost reached 300 posts. Should I celebrate? Indeed I should. I think I will do a giveaway. On post 300, I will tell you the deal and show you your possible fantastic reward for being a loyal reader to Life and Times of Jill. Or a disloyal reader. Your pick. Check back later this week and I'll have it all worked out. Or maybe next week . . .

One rarely mentioned advantage of extended breastfeeding

is its ability to get you out of jury duty. Just tell them you have small children at home and that you are still breastfeeding one of them. You are instantly crossed off the list. You don't need to mention that your baby is 15 months.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Finally caught on film . . .

the bookworm that's been wreacking havoc around here.

He's been tearing apart all the pop up books.Catch him quick, he's getting away . . . Curses, foiled again.

Seriously, though. Andrew and I made this today for our storytime librarian. Made with a piece of craft wire, a scrap of fabric, two balls of polyfil, the arm of a sweater and some embroidery floss. Super easy and fun. Andrew stuffed it, put the "skelleton"in and helped me thread the sewing machine.

Photos of Boys

Whew! Its been a while since I've sorted / organized any photos, mostly because I was waiting for the Lappy's return. I did say I would post some on my blog, but since there's 50 or so, I just made a set in Flikr, which you can see here . I'm thinking of blowing up 4 or 9 of them to put on our wall, both so we have something on our wall, and becuase I think it might remind the boys of how much fun they can have together (Andrew is really visual like this). Let me know which ones you like.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Finally got a wagon!

I have been trying to figure out how to transport the boys this spring and summer. I can still put Andrew in the jogging stroller and Aaron in the hiking backpack, but Andrew is almost 40 lbs, and Aaron is over 20 lbs, so it is quite gruelling to walk the twenty or thirty minutes it takes to get to the mail or the mall and back again. It was either a wagon or a double stroller, but the double jogging stroller / bike trailer things are a bit ungainly for my liking (plus last year when we had that old one Andrew was constantly screaming about Aaron leaning on him) and the regular doubles are not really for kids over 40 lbs. So I think this is the best option.

Its pretty light and slim, which I like. It fits through the doors of the post office, and I can strap the boys in so there are no Aaron's diving out of the wagon and into traffic. Also, I figure we will be able to haul ourselves to the grocery store, then haul Aaron and the groceries back and make Andrew walk, which will be easier to manage than trying to convince Andrew he really wants to carry milk and cantelopes on his lap in the stroller . . . So all in all I'm pretty happy with it. The boys also love it, and had fun helping put it together last night. I did a test run with it today, and it was great. It will mean that I can walk around town this summer, and only use the car for big grocery shops and out of town adventures.

On the other hand, I did also finish this . . .

See that? That is the sweet sight of six hundred and forty squares ready for piecing. Now I just have to draw my diagonal lines on all the cream squares and I can start feeding them through my machine. This is great, because I can piece a few squares while the boys are awake, but I can't use the rotary cutter around Aaron becuase he's so fast that he's up on the table the second he sees me get it out.

I'm Afraid I've Been Bad . . .

But seriously, look at this fabric goodness. I was surfing on equilter, looking for something to make a big Amy Butler hat out of (um, which I still haven't found) and I saw a category "new florals". I thought, "Aha, florals -- thats what I need". It led me to that lovely little butterfly print, and also the brown floral on the end (the flowers have creamy yellow highlights in real life). Then I found all the co-ordinates for the butterfly print, and the two scroll work ones (which were by Tina Givens -- found them from the brown floral) and they were on sale . . . and that was it. I'm not sure if the pink coral scrolls are staying with these or going with my Freshcut quilt, but since both are five or six quilts away, I have some time to decide. I'm seeing big log cabin blocks or those log cabin-type squares, with owls and butterflies in the centre and the others around it. It is super soft and lucious.

If it was just that, it wouldn't be so bad, but there's also this, which I picked up when I was in the city (I was actually looking for baby cord, which is a silly thing to do in April):

Not much to look at, but the bottom three are this lovely, heavy drapey cotton that is going to make me some great summer skirts. The brown is just a solid to go with the above fabrics (or one of my other many brown projects) and I was thinking of using the grey with this:
To make the skirt on the right with the contrast band. But it doesn't really match -- the grey leaves are more of a yellow-grey and the grey solid is more of a blue-grey. Arg. So I may make the little swooshy skirt on the left out of the lotus flowers, or I might make a ridiculously loud tunic or I might buy some Lotus dots to go with it (which would mean I'd have to buy more fabric, but of course I do still have to buy some hat fabric)
The blue cotton is for the short bias skirt (the short swooshy one on the left) and I might make the one on the right with the contrast band out of the green cotton with the beige for contrast. Or I might do something else with it. I love the swirly, retro-y ness of this skirt, but I'm not sure I could pull it off.

You know the Meyers - Briggs? Well, if you don't its a four-section personality test. You get typed in four different areas that make up your personality. I am an ENFP (which is a totally silly personality, which shocks you all, I am sure). Well, I am at my most "Perceiving" when it comes to fabric. The "P"means you like to leave your options open. I can hardly bear to cut and use my fabric, becuase it limits the possibilites for using it. Even though if I don't use it, it just sits there. But I love fabric in potentia as much or more as I do finished products. Silly, isn't it?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Rummage Sale Season

Today is the unofficial start of what spring is really all about in Saskatchewan -- garage sales. This weekend the Anglican church, the Catholic church and the Preschool all have their annual rummage sales. I generally hit all three. I try to be at the preschool one early or right on time becuase it has lots of toys, and I try to get to the other two earlyish on the first day (they last two days each). This year it was totally worth it on all fronts. Here's a gander at my scores:
The red is a very big, old ladies'pants suit. But it is 100% red silk, which I'm sure I can find a use for. The brown cords are probably to wear (those of you who knew me in BC will remember my other brown cords) but might be to make a bag out of. The purple cords are becuase I"m planning to make a crazy courdoroy / driving mat quilt. The sweater is 100% wool, so it will be felted and turned into a bookworm for our children's librarian to say thanks for a great year of story time.

I got this chalk board, plus a new badly damaged barn (to replace the other one I bought full of plastic animals that finally fell apart) at the preschool sale. How can anyone not want a five foot long black board to hand in their basement? Seriously. I am going to get so much more sewing done with this thing down there. It does need some touching up, however, so I may need to find some chalk board paint and the frame definitely needs sanding and repainting. Still, I was super excited to find it.At the catholic sale I scored these three lovely pieces of fabric. The two that are the same are about a third of a metre, which is great. I think I'll use on to trim a linen blouse I'm thinking o fmaking and the other will be used in something lovely when I or one of my friends has another girl (I think my long-distance-keep-in-touch friends and I are collectively 7:1 on the boys:girls front).This was my best score, though. This whole castle set, which can be completely taken apart and re-built when Andrew is older and up to that, plus four knights, a throne, two beds, a table (no chairs, oddly), a treasure chest, a cannon (anacronistic unless we are in Turkey or China), a crossbow, a catapult with chunks of logs that go together and then come apart to be shot out of said cannon, axes, swords, sheilds, armour, flags, a drawbridge . . . and some other odds and ends I haven't even checked out yet . . . wait for it . . . was $10. Yes, $10. Andrew, being an intense sort, was so excited about this castle. I bought it while he was in story time, since the Catholic church is right next to the library. Since we had walked, we had to walk back balancing it on the stroller. He wailed all the way home because he couldn't play with it immediately. But then he refused to take the short cut through the field in case the castle should be knocked over and broken. Then he played with it non-stop until Aaron woke up (I don't think this castle can handle 15 month old love, and at this point I don't think Andrew could bear to let his brother steal pieces and trail them all over the house -- there would be some serious altercations), then I let him keep out the knights. The knights stayed with him all afternoon. They ate lunch and supper with us (they are very shareful and all ate out of one bowl -- yes, their own bowl -- and gave Andrew their black olives, which are his favorite), took a bath with Andrew and are now happily sleeping next to him in bed. Apparently the three knights (the fourth one was given to Aaron so as to avoid world war three) are named Jacob, Jon and Noah. Jacob is the best fighter, Jon is the biggest and Noah is the smallest. I think the castle is a hit.

The only downside to the day was that I bought a bag of chocolate chocolate chip cookies at the preschool sale and ate almost all of them before I got home. But then, Andrew was in such a state that I had to carry him while pushing a sleeping Aaron in the stroller for 4 blocks, so I think I deserved them.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Lappy has returned!

I got the Lappy back last week! I am glad to say that it has a new fan and is now up and running. Unforutnately it looks like they had a bit of trouble getting into the case to get at the fan, because there's a bit of a pucker in the frame on the left side, and the keyboard is not quite a nice as it once was -- some of the keys on the right hand side (oddly enough) are slow and a bit sticky. It may have also got bumped and bruised in transit, I'm not sure. Ah well, the lovely new sheen was bound to wear off eventually. It may also be that Aaron smashed something into the right hand side of the keyboard while I wasn't looking. Sigh. The joys of a fearless 15 month old.

I do still have a ton of photos of spring to post. But since its snowing outside I don't particularly feel like posting them right now. Also I should get to bed, since the boys rise early and its 10:30.

You know you've seen "Wake Up Jeff"too many times when . . .

you are going around humming Wiggles songs all day long. Someone please put a new bug in my ear . . .I am so very tired of the Wiggles.

The funny thing is that this is not the slick, HIT entertainment version of Wake Up Jeff, but the 1999 version that, I think, must be their first video. It is super low budget, and they don't even have the iconic long sleeved t-shirts with the matching "Wiggles"insignias, they just have coloured short sleeved t-shirts. Basically they have translated their stage show plus a few little extras onto a video put together on a relatively empty sound stage. And it makes for really strange viewing. They were obviously a performing group first, because they don't really do anything to translate their act to television. The thing about film is that you can be more subtle than you are on stage. You don't need to have a ginormous smile the whole time and be quite as expressive as these guys are. When they show clips of their live show you can see that they are much more comfortable in front of an audience than in front of a camera.

This also got me thinking . . . how do people actually become children's entertainers. Like, under what circumstances do four adult men decide they are going to put together a stage show where they play intruments and sing and dance and act goofy for five year olds. And how many pints were drunk when they decided it should include a giant dog, a pirate, a dinosoar and an octopus? Or were those just the costumes they could find / make? Are they childhood friends? Did they meet during a theatre degree where they happened to find out they all played instuments and liked being goofy? Were they doing their ed degrees to become elementary teachers and decided to give this a go on the side? . . .

Definitely time to get a new video from the library. I am Wiggled right out.

My first tutorial - elasticizing snap up pants.

I think this makes me an official sewing nerd. I was thinking of doing this anyway, but I did it now because of this contest .
Here's the back story (there is always a back story or a theory for everything around here). Andrew is not the most independent of children. At three and a half he has been using the potty for almost a year now. Unfortunately I can not convince him that he could actually do this without my presence. If Andrew pees in the potty and no one sees it, did he actually get relief? Apparently not.
Part of the deal with this, I think, is that I can't seem to find nice pants without snap waists. Little girls get all sorts of cute little yoga pants and skirts that just pull on, but little boys, with their slower fine motor skills development, are somehow stuck with zippers and snaps. I decided that it was time to figure out how to alleviate this situation and make things quicker and easier when summer comes and we're outside a lot, so I don't have to leave Aaron to play in traffic (which he most definitely would do) while I take Andrew to the bathroom.
I did the tutorial in Flikr because its kind of image heavy, so it just seemed easier. You can find it right here .

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

You know you're an attatchment mama when. .

your three year old carries his baby everywhere. Like to the grocery store, the bathroom, the park, on the motorcycle, to the library . . . everywhere we go, Soxul Furry comes with us. She doesn't just go TO the park, she is carried all around the park. Andrew does everything one handed while holding his baby. He will very rarely let me put Soxul Furry in my bag so he can play two-handed, but usually he insists that she has to be carried with him.

Also, at supper, Andrew was talking about how he was going to have a baby soon. Dave gently broke it to him that he couldn't have a baby in his tummy because he was a boy, and Andrew broke down into tears. Not just his usual fake wail, but real, heart-broken, gasping for air sobs and tears. Poor boy. Dave tried to explain to him that he could still HAVE a baby, he just couldn't carry the baby inside his tummy, but that didn't help.

You know you are a sewing mama when . . .

you stop by the fabric store to pick up some elastic for a tutorial you want to make to enter a contest over at sew, mama, sew, and your son insists on coming in to pick up some fabric to buy a pillow for his baby (the purple bear Soxul Furry). Then when you are in the store your baby watches you pick out fabric and then pick out matching thread, so after declaring "fbrc!" he grabs the first thing he can find (a roll of on-sale ribbon) and brings it around the corner to line it up with the spools of thread so he can get some too.


In case you're wondering where I've been, I've been outside! The snow has finally almost melted, and we have had a fun week in the mud. I think Andrew went through three pairs of pants yesterday and two or three plus his splash pants the day before. I have been so tired after all the fresh air and running around after little boys and walking to the park and digging in the sandbox and rescuing Aaron from everything that I have fallen into bed, usually with the boys, all week. I have lots of wonderful photos to show off our exploits, but since the Lappy is being FedExed back to me today (should arrive tomorrow) I shall wait to download my photos.

I should have plenty of time to do that this weekend, since its supposed to snow.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I had to laugh . .

when I read this quote from fabric designer Tina Givens, in response to the question, "Do you have a personal style?":

"Ecclectic. Crazy. I've been told that I dress like a homeless woman by one of the "Stepford Wives" in town. (Let's just say that I don't do well at soccer games.) "Who says that to someone?" I asked her back. "I hope a stylish one?" I was astounded.
"So here I am looking at her in her Halloween-inspired sweater, with a big pumpkin on the front, and I'm thinking that I would rather dress like a homless person that that!"

A kindred spirit. No wonder I love her fabric so much.

The interview is in the back of Quilter's Home May/June 2008, which I thought I would try, but shan't buy again. It is very silly and slightly annoying. Apparently it is "For the new generation of quilters", but that seems to be the generation that is in their 40's and 50's, so I guess I'm part of the NEW new generation of quilters? Anyway, any magazine that is written almost entirely by one guy and who likes to call me his little chicken and insist that I become an art quilter and suggest that someone wrap their chairs in batiks (eww -- I hope he was joking) is not selling any magazines to me, boyfriend. And also he doesn't include Denise Schmidt on his list of "Most Influential People in Quilting". Silly magazine. Perhaps I should subscribe . . .

Sunday, April 06, 2008


I found my keys!

Which I lost in December. Yes, you did read right. Sometime in December, when I was packing small children and groceries into the house at the same time I dropped my keys on the driveway. Then I got distracted with dirty diapers and putting away groceries and seperating meat out into meal-sized portions and breaking up fights. Then I forgot that I had dropped them at all, and went to sleep for the night (most likely while putting the boys to bed, so without any of my night time tidying routine completed). Then it snowed. Then my neighbours kindly decided to clear both our driveways with their ATV with a snow scoop on the front. Then I realized my keys were missing.

This was not just my car keys. This was the mail key, my bike key, the key to the United Church (a precious and much coveted commodity), and the house key. The full set. I scoured the house from top to bottom looking for them. I rummaged through all the reusable grocery bags about a hundred times looking for them. I feared that I had used disposable plastic garbage bags, then thrown out the garbage bag with the keys in it when I seperated out the meat. Then I sort of assumed they were somewhere on the lawn and didn't worry too much. Until I locked the keys in the car with it running one night in February. At which point I did the whole search again, but Dave was merciful and called a tow truck to unlock the car.

Since things started to thaw a little bit in March, I have been vigilatly looking for the glimmer of a purple clip hook every time I went outside. I have been searching for the black edge of a plastic car door unlocker. And this morning, as I hurried the boys out to the car for church, there it was. Half of a car door opener peeking out of the snow, tantalizing me. I yanked on it, and out of the snow came . . . my keys!

I am so glad to have my own keys again. Dave is also glad I have my own keys again becuase this means that a) we can start locking the door again, b) I will check the mail more regularly and c) he doesn't have to constantly ask where his keys are when I forget to put them up on the key hook I installed so I wouldn't lose my keys.
My latest attempt at convincing myself that I really do need to keep the house tidy and clean ( I know I do, but after a grinding day with the boys it seems like such a chore to then spend an hour doing, well, chores) is to re-name the event. I no longer clean up after the boys' bedtime. I make the house happy again. Really, who wants to relax when the couch is pulled apart and spread all over the floor, you can't walk without stepping on something small and metal and every view contains at least one piece of crumpled laundry (usually all Aaron's -- he's at that age where everything he encounters during the course of the day finds its way on his shirt and inevitably makes him cold, wet and cranky).

Off I go to make the house happy again.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Sick, sick, sick

Well, the yukky snot fairy (jingle, jingle, jingle -- oops, sorry) has been making the rounds at our house these days. Last week I spent three days carrying Aaron in the mei tai almost all day and nursing him about thousand times a day. I thought this was making life complicated, but forutnately Andrew was on a big space kick, and he and Leonov managed to take many playdoh -covered trips to the moon and space walks while I tended the baby and let the house get turned upside down. Then I started to get sick, so I decided to just let everything roll into complete chaos mode and relax with the boys. At which point Aaron started feeling better, but Andrew got sick. Fortunately this was right when Dave finished his work week, so I got a bit of help, and now I am feeling better and the floors are no longer sticky (that is my new definition of a "cleanish" house -- you can find your gloves, you have clean clothes to wear, you can find a clean spoon and bowl, the garbage has not yet overflowed and the floors are not sticky. If the clean clothes are in your drawer, that is bonus points). Andrew however, is still sick.

As many of you are already aware, Andrew has a tiny dramatic streak. Yes, he has been feverish for three days, but one does tend to lose their patience when every time anything puts pressure on any part of his body it is greeted with a wail of "ow! ow! ow!". Yesterday he was really sick -- like, lay around all day and slept and didn't eat kind of sick. Today he is slightly better -- just better enough to be extremely demanding but not better enough that I can get upset with him for it.

I have discovered that it is easier to have a sick toddler and healthy preschooler than it is to have a healthy toddler and a sick preschooler. Here is why: you can carry a sick toddler around the house with you and still manage to preapre meals and entertain your three year old. But when your toddler is healthy, he wants to get into everything and go everywhere (outside, into the basement, in the bath, up on the table, etc) while your preschooler just wants to lie in one place, preferably in front of a television with you beside him.

The one upside to this is naptime. Both boys have been napping late morning, giving me a bit of breathing room. And Andrew has been waking up at 7 or 8 am instead of his usual 5 or 6, which is blissful (left to his own devices, Aaron will "sleep in" until 6 or so). Ironically, I haven't felt this well rested in quite a while.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Maybe one day . . .

Mukwonago 1022
Originally uploaded by Piece of Me
I could make something this amazing.