my “new” sewing chair

I finished my upholstery class at modhomeec and my teacher featured me on her blog!!  So here is my finished chair

Taking the class has inspired me to look for some vintage chairs to re-upholster to complete my sitting area.  I did find a computer cabinet on craigslist to use as my sewing cabinet

I got the idea from Heather Ross in her book Weekend Sewing to use a computer cabinet for sewing:

We have been loving this Indian Summer we have been having.  Yesterday Bridget and her friend from next door played “ninja” with shields and swords. . .


fall yumminess

I am loving this beautiful fall we are having, and I am finding myself making the two below recipes multiple times each week.

The Chai recipe comes from a dear friend from Oak Park and I love how my kitchen smells when I make it.

Chai recipe

4-5 cinnamon sticks (each 3″), broken
1 vanilla bean, split in half or 2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 whole nutmeg, coarsely chopped
6-8 cardamom pods (1 teaspoon whole seeds may be used)
3 whole star anise, roughly broken
2-4 tablespoons finely shredded ginger (I use 1 teaspoon ginger powder)
3 black peppercorns, bruised
3 whole cloves
pinch of sea salt
6 cups filtered water

place all ingredients in a stockpot and bring to a boil

reduce heat to low and simmer for 25-30 minutes. strain through a fine strainer or sieve. If there is a lot of sediment try straining through a strainer or sieve lined with cheesecloth.  The brew may be simmered longer to reduce volume and concentrate flavor.

Note: the spices may be used again for a second batch, reducing the water by half

Makes 1 quart

Chai Tea

2 cups chai spice concentrate
2 tea bags (green, white or black tea)
2 Tablespoons honey
2 cups milk of your choice

In a saucepan, bring the chai spice concentrate to a boil and turn off heat.  Steep the tea bags in the concentrate for 3-5 minutes.

Remove tea bags and squeeze out any liquid into the tea. Stir in honey to taste, add milk.  Warm over medium-low heat until piping hot.

caramel sauce

1 cup sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream

in a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and 1/3  cup water over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes.

Using a pastry brush, coat the walls of the saucepan with water to melt any sugar on the sides.  Increase the heat to high and cook, undisturbed, until amber-colored, about 5 minutes.  (I let it cook longer until it is more burnt, for more of a burnt caramel taste).

wearing oven mitts, slowly stir in 2 tbsp cream, 1 at a time. Using a wooden spoon, stir the remaining cream into the caramel.  Cook, stirring over low heat until combined, about 3 minutes.

This recipe goes great with freshly picked apples.  Apple picking is on of my favorite fall family traditions.  Our orchard of choice is Stuckey’s (which is where my parents took me when I was a child).  We also plan on checking out Tuttle’s this year after I run the Indianapolis mini marathon at Fort Ben in two weeks. . .

a lost month

Time has a way of always moving forward even when your life seems to stand still.  August came with many changes for my family.  Some happy and others incredibly painful.  It is hard to believe how much can change in just one month.

As we prepare to say goodbye to August and unofficially  start fall, I want to remember that we did make it to a beach this year, even if the water wasn’t salty.  It never feels like you had summer if you don’t spend some time at a beach.


Both of my children are now in preschool.  Bridget goes three days a week for pre-k and Paddy goes one day a week to mother’s-day-out.

Today was the first day they both went to school for a full day.

I felt both elation at having a day to myself for the first time in 4-1/2 years and also that pang in your heart knowing that your babies are no longer babies.

I am using the first six Wednesdays that they are both in school to take a beginning class in upholstery at ModHomeEc.

This is the chair I am going to paint and recover.

This is how the chair looked after our first class. The first step is to remove the existing upholstery and I sanded the chair down so I can paint it.

So as something ends, something also begins.

not a box

It is NOT A  Box, it is a choo choo train


My children love to play in boxes, today we made a train out of diaper boxes that I have saved.


Happy news, three dearest cousins no longer live 5000 miles away!

We celebrated their arrival back to the States with a hot tub party and lemonade!


animal friend (or lizard) carrier

There is a great new sewing shop in town call The French Seam.  They carry lovely designer fabric that you can’t get at Joanne’s.  I picked up this book by Oliver + S there and it is full of adorable things to sew for children.  My first project was the animal friend carrier.  I made one for Bridget and Paddy, but Paddy only wore his for a minute because he has no interest in stuffed toys.  He would probably wear it if I put a digger in it.

Notice the lizard in the carrier along with her zebra friend. My children both love (but especially Bridget) the rubbery, squishy reptiles and dinosaurs.  Target had all of them on clearance for $0.83 so we came home with several yesterday.  After I finished sewing her carrier, she wanted to carry her lizard around in it.  She also gave it about six baths yesterday.

Every time I went into a bathroom, the water was on and lizard was getting soaped up, he also went swimming in the pool and had sunscreen and lip gloss applied.  Most little girls would want to carry their dolls around, and I her put her American Girl doll in her carrier, but that lasted about 30 seconds. . .


Plant it!

I started to write this post on May 3, now it is the 23rd and I have decided to finally finish it.

We have been spending a large part of our time outdoors, and is has been really lovely except I find it difficult to get any housework done as we are always outside. . .

I love to plant things and watch them grow.  My parents own a tree/landscaping business and I used to work for them in the summers during college.  I think my love for digging in the dirt really formed then.  Bridget has already solidified her love for dirt and especially worms.

“Gardening” sometimes implies a real garden that produces something of substance, and while that is great, with children, I find that just the process can be satisfying.   We don’t have a large yard, but we do have a perineal bed in the front of our house which we plan on turning into a patio next year, so this year we transplanted most of what is in it and turned it into a vegetable garden.

Gardening is also a great activity that works for boys or girls. Bridget along with two 4-year old neighbors helped me plant the pea plant seeds, and anytime I come out to check on their growth or pull a few weeds, all the children get out their little rakes or shovels to help (but usually just end up digging for worms, something we do almost daily!)

Something we were “famous” for in Oak Park among our friends with toddlers were our two pink flamingos, and I am happy to report that several Indianapolis toddlers are fans as well.  They live in our garden and help us feel at home here.

Have I mentioned watering?  My children’s other favorite play thing besides dirt is water.  I have had up to six children watering my plants with various plastic watering cans.  Good not so clean fun. A garden truly provides daily acitivities throughout the entire summer.

We have not always had the luxury of living in a home with a yard, so don’t let that stop you – you can do amazing things with potted gardens on a deck or patio or even a window sill!

A great simple book that does a nice job of outlining the growing process from a seed and other various natural processes is Usborne First Picture Nature book.

Another favorite nature project that we have done two springs in a row is to order caterpillars from insect lore and watch them turn into butterflies.

This is what my children are likely doing if not digging for worms, making mud pies or running in the sprinkler

decorating 101- paint it white

I love decorating my house.  The hardest part about moving was leaving our dear friends, but the hardest part about leaving our physical home in Oak Park, was leaving the light fixtures, English imported wallpaper, Japanese maple, etc.  and the memories and emotions that went with them.

The upside is I have a new home with new spaces ready for new stories. When I say new, I mean new to us.  Our home was built in 1936 and still has much of its original character left.

I wanted to share two quick inexpensive updates we added over the weekend.

In Paddy’s bathroom, there was a bench that did not match the built in vainty, so we painted the stool white and I recovered the seat. “Recovered” as in bought super cool oil cloth in California and stapled it to the seat. I did not take a before picture, but I had this picture and you can see the stool with the old medicine cabinet on it.  (we took down the ivy wallpaper and repainted the room before we moved in).













New and improved:















The other update was adding a shelf over the bed in our guestroom.  There is not too much room for anything but a bed in the room, but we wanted somewhere to put a few books, a clock and a vase for a flower when we have guests.  We simply painted a 6 foot board white and it literally sits on these cool brackets my sister had bought from Anthropologie, but never used (making them free to us). The before picture was taken before we moved in and we repainted the room from lavender to a dark shade of white.









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