Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Welcome! Anyone who was routed here from a recent Associated Press article about DIY Advent Calendars may want to click here and see the original post and accompanying photos:
Thanks for visiting!

Monday, March 26, 2012


3 Reasons I'm Glad I Wasn't Born In The Victorian Age
1. Indoor Plumbing
2. Central Air Conditioning
3. Lobotomies

The first 2 seem reasonably self-explanatory, so I'll move on to #3.
I have long contended that had I been born in a different age, I would have been institutionalized for "nervousness". Possibly a lobotomy would have ensued.
I am a woman of passions.
My passions are what propel me to make an entire wardrobe of skirts for Bella instead of just one or two at a time.
They drove me to sell over $1000 worth of furniture and belongings over the summer, leaving not a single drawer, closet or space in our home untouched. Then I redesigned every room of our house on paper complete with measurements and source lists.
My passions make me create and sew an entire arsenal of tools, a veritable sweat shop for a trip with the girls.
They inspire me to create Lola's Legacy, a charitable service in honor of my first child.
These passions also caused me to break down in dramatic sobs at Timm's family reunion last summer when I was totally overwhelmed by the closeness and chaos of 31 people in one house.
They drove me to a lot of illicit and ill-advised behaviors in response to my first diagnosis  with depression.
My passions make me physically recoil from another human touch at the end of a long day with kids.
These passions drive me to way too much thinking, circular and obsessive.

That's the thing I've discovered- you can't have one without the other. Not with me, anyway. With the spark and ignition of inspiration, ideas, extrapolations and sympathies comes anxiety, mood swings, despair and "nervousness". I have long blamed myself for these polarities in my personality, even using them as evidence of unworthiness and believing that I could somehow control it, or turn it off if only I were better. My inability to do so only furthered my beliefs that I was fundamentally 'bad'. Unlovable. Unworthy. Crazy.

And this is me on meds. Seriously. 

But I have this crazy plan to try and accept the good with the bad. Roll with the punches and be grateful that at least I have these passions. To appreciate the thrill of inspiration when it hits and endure the lows that will inevitably come, knowing that they are both parts of the sum.
And the sum is me.
Not good or bad.
A figurative crazy jumble of good intentions, strong opinions, varied emotions and a little too much introspection and self-derision. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Doll House

For Christmas last year, Timm and I decided to make the girls a dollhouse. A sweet dollhouse that would shape their dreams of domestic bliss, imprint indelibly in their memory, and later fight over as adults. Their fighting over it now as children should have been obvious to me, but it turned out to be a bonus. We didn't actually build it from scratch, as we originally planned. A couple years ago we found a dollhouse, 85% completed, on the side of the road complete with the kit instructions and supplies to finish the rest of the house.Unbelievable. It has sat in our garage awaiting our attention until a few months ago. We peeled off old wallpaper (Timm), did a ton of sanding and painting, and built new columns and railing to replace the gingerbread ones supplied in what was obviously supposed to be a Victorian kit. The rest of it was mostly just decorating. Oh, and building furniture.
My main inspiration was this dollhouse, which  leaves me speechless every time I look at it. Which I did often during the construction of ours. If I had more time and money, it would be more fully furnished and decorated, but as it were this was already a combined Christmas present between parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles. So for now, this dollhouse has tapped out.

Let's go inside, shall we?

The Living Room.
For all of the wallpapers and rugs, I used scrapbook paper. All of the wallpapers are from Hobby Lobby, purchased recently. The rugs are old scraps I had on hand and Mod-Podged to the floor. The bookshelf, desk and chair are from ebay. The 'vase' is a painted wooden bead. Timm made the couch, and I made the pillows.
Oh, and those pink wooden blocks? They're minimalist chairs. I found some just like it on a Mid-century/Modern miniatures website (yes, that exists-) for $25. Per cube. For a 2" wooden cube. Yeah, so we made our own. That website by the way, has amazing miniature furniture that you probably didn't know existed. I didn't anyway. However, I don't think it's typically designed for small hands and their imaginations- I think they're designing for more of the serious miniature hobbyist. For instance, if I bought this beautiful $180 sectional that I wish I had in my own living room, I would stand and strictly supervise all play. (More than I already do-) I would employ a guard to protect it when I was unavailable lest my devious children attempt to play with it without my gentle reminding presence.

Which brings me to another point. Everything is glued down. Now I know what you're thinking- 'Wow, how controlling, obsessive and neurotic can you be?' So? What's wrong with that? But here's my defense: 3 year olds are not known for their dexterity, deft hands, and delicate approaches. Not mine, anyway. I knew that if I didn't, everything would be broken and/or lost within days. I did not slave away for so many hours just to have it destroyed so quickly. And as you can see from my referenced website above, doll furniture can be really expensive. (Plus, let's face it- my daughters just don't quite have my design sensibilities yet. If I left it to their design, they'd have that furniture every which way in uncoordinating combinations, unflattering configurations, and really, just downright contrived. I mean to preserve the integrity of the design. Because you know I thought a lot about that.) You're probably still thinking- 'How much fun can it be for them to play with a dollhouse with everything fixed in place?' To which I rely, 'Probably more fun than playing with an empty one because you broke and lost everything.' Also, in my defense- It is the furniture and a few other items that are permanently affixed- they still bring in plenty of other play things to mix things up. And one last item in my defense- on Christmas day, Fiona broke the only 3 things in there that I hadn't glued down yet. Case in point.
If you think I sound defensive, possibly due to my outlined defense, I am. Some people think I am a little too controlling. I don't really see why.

I had a really hard time with some of the furniture- namely couches and beds. The problem is, those widely available are either way too traditional, or as you saw before, way too expensive. I found some that I thought would work with a little reupholstering from me that I ordered on a website. 2 days before Christmas it became evident that that furniture was not coming, so I asked Timm to whip some up. I think I ended up liking his even better- very simple indeed, but pleasing to me. I sewed all the pillows and the like.

A little nook. Furniture from eBay, the books from Hobby Lobby. After much deliberation, I decided to affix the chair legs to the floor, but allow the chair to swivel. Fiona broke it.

And here is our modest kitchen.

All of the furniture if from Hobby Lobby, as are the pots and pans, and cuckoo clock (Which I painted pink)
I did not glue the oven and sink doors closed but I seriously considered it.

Oh wait, that little table is from eBay, along with the food items and the kumquat tree. (!)

I love the kumquat tree- I have always wanted a small citrus tree in my kitchen. I think I might be able to manage that much gardening.

The 'Master' Bedroom

The silhouettes are scrapbook stickers from Holly Lobby, the frame is one I bought from Hobby Lobby and painted. Shelves and tv are from eBay.

Excuse this dresser (from HL). I found out on Christmas Eve that it didn't take spray paint too well. Out of time, I decided to leave it for another undetermined time.

The Kid's Room

The furniture (besides the bed) are from eBay, as well as the book rack. I made the bulletin board.

I appropriated some small items to furnish the kid's room, i.e. the elephant and the ball. Seeing as they were permanently adhered, it didn't go over too well with Bella. At least I reached my goal of having one of my kids cry over their main gift on Christmas day. I promised to resupply the items.

The pennant is a scrapbook sticker.

I love this chevron fabric, so I stitched along the lines to define it. A real quilt for the dolls!

And that's the house. We haven't done much with the top floor yet, but it's destined for a play room. I just sewed a couple of tufted floor cushions for the little alcove and called it good for now.


We found some Martha Stewart glitter paint that was absolutely perfect for mimicking the look of a real roof.

And lastly, we bought a coffee table from Ikea for about $30 and put some casters on it. A perfect fit.

Fortunately, it was received as warmly as we hoped. It is a great size for their mini La La Loopsy dolls who populate the abode.
 Go handmade!
(With the aid of many mass-produced items...)

Friday, March 09, 2012

Some New Looks

My red hair was quite the great divider- those who liked it were effervesent in their praise, and those that didn't studiously avoided the subject all together. My mom was one in the latter camp- one who never spoke a word of it, but you could easily intimate her derisive feelings. So, when word reached her that I was ready for a change, she readily offered to pay for whatever would erase the ill-effects of my shot at individuality and self-expression, as a 30-year old woman.
So this was 2 weeks ago, a very faded version:

This is today. Darker, monochromatic, and shorter. I alternate between straight and wavy, but wavy wins more days because this is what it looks like when I do nothing. I take a shower, let it dry for  couple of hours and then add some product to reduce frizziness. Can't beat that!

Remember, I'm all about making laziness work for me.
 There have been a lot of other changes around the house in the last few months, and I thought I might finally document these. So first up will be the girl's room, which they now share. It is a small room, so because of the bold paint and the large furniture, I tried to keep the rest of it pretty simple and uncluttered.

This is my favorite part of the room- I found this mid-century reproduction (from the 80's) on Craigslist for $50. Of course, when I bought it is was oak, reeking of smoke, and had doors on either end. It took a lot of primer, sanding and paint, but I am smitten. I love it. Plus, it's over 6 feet long, so it holds a lot of clothes for 2 girls.

 (The view when you come in the door)


Above it is a collection of frames which includes various prints, both purchased and  printed for free, photos of my 3 girls and their favorite toys, and my favorite, a study of a wildebeest mid-chew. I took it at a Charlotte favorite family spot, the Lazy 5- Ranch, often referred to as the 'redneck zoo'. I loved the fine details of the hairs on his muzzle, the long string of spittle spanning his upper and lower jaws- I just love it. How many places can you display the giant maw of a wildebeest? Not many. Perhaps some would say none- but I love it. It's detail, it's whimsy.

This owl is another favorite- it was obviously a hideous production of the 70's when I found it at Goodwill, but armed with my trusty companion spray paint, voila! Beautiful.

Timm built bunk beds for the girls, and I outfitted them to be what I would have loved as a child. A perfect little personal cave that could hide you from the rest of the world, with all you need inside: books, a light, and a curtain to close around you.

Each bed has a bedside light, a small bookshelf, and a wire with clips for favorite artwork or photos.

I was able to sew and line both curtains all with fabric I had on hand. (I used 2 old green twin sheets for the linings)

I love me some pretty patchwork of vibrant fabrics.

We used a curtain hanging system from Ikea to hang them so they would pull all the way around the 2 open sides of the beds.

(Curtains closed)

(Curtains open)


I love this little wall-hanging metal doohickey we use for their scriptures.

I used a Command hook on the side of their dresser that faces the wall so I could inconspicuously hang their cd books for nighttime listening.

And of course, this little pretty for their door. 
I am very pleased with the transformation of what used to be Fiona's nursery, and with their transition to sharing a room. That leaves what is now termed the play room, or Bella's former bedroom. 
The last few months have brought a few other improvements around here, which I hope to document shortly.
I love the team that Timm and I make- between both of our vision and know-how, we can really bust out quite a few projects- and now that he's home more with his new job, we've had the time. So more to come.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Veritable Landfill

(My temporarily partially-paralyzed face)

So between less-than-perfect BYU health insurance and my complete lack of insurance from Timm's previous job, I estimate it had been at least 6 years since I last saw a dentist. Maybe even as many as 8. I do not practice perfect dental hygiene, but I brush and floss. I didn't even think much about it until I lost a filling a few months ago, before our new health coverage took effect. I made sure to floss it religiously since it kind of hurt and there was a gaping hole for food to accumulate in, but it was still about 4 months before I saw the dentist. Naively, I thought this would be the only problem. Maybe because I hadn't sat in a dentist's chair for many years, but I assumed since I had no pain in my mouth and my teeth looked good and white that there were no problems. In fact, the thought of other dental woes didn't even cross my mind until the dentist came in and started piercing my gums with a very sharp instrument, muttering notes to his hygienist for practically every tooth. It sounded something like "Number 13, possible RC, number 14 likely RC & other alphabetical dental codes that I didn't understand and don't remember..." Suddenly I thought- He really has a lot to talk about. Really, every tooth? You can't just skip one? I don't really know what you're saying, but I think you might be a little overly critical. And no, that does not feel like a "little pressure." It feels like you are poking tender gum tissue with the very sharp instrument that you indeed, are poking me with. I saw it. It's very pointy.
They couldn't even clean my teeth. I had to have the entire appointment devoted to a consultation. My results were not good. Turns out 'RC' stands for 'Root Canal' which in hindsight, makes perfect sense.He showed me a lot of fancy high-tech pictures of my teeth and pointed out all the dark, black shaded areas that were decay. He pointed out the roots of my teeth and how those ominous darkly shaded parts were dangerously close to those roots. He spoke of various degrees of severity in decay, from 1-4, all of which I had several times over. He showed me a visible hole in one of my teeth, aside from the one that had lost a filling. He pointed out under the wire cemented to my teeth where the floss failed to reach. Finally he gave me a detailed treatment plan that spanned many pages, included many stages over a period of time, and involved way more money than I could ever hope to afford to my evidently grossly neglected dental care. I was on the verge of tears, and I think the shock of it was the only thing that kept those tears from spilling over.
I took my veritable landfill of a mouth and left feeling chastised, embarrassed, poor, and discouraged. Who has teeth like this? Meth heads, illegal immigrants, homeless people, and people living in abject poverty, that's who. (Or so I decided in my traumatized state. No offense to these societal subsets- it's just that I'm not one of them. Or am I? I suppose with my teeth already in the state they're in, I could finally take up meth and ignore at least one of those nasty side effects.)
I returned for a cleaning, then later a cavity fill times two, which led to a visit to the endodontist to preform 2 root canals. (The first of several, apparently.) That used the entirety of my annual allowance from my insurance, with $350 left over. We got my teeth their first credit card to cover the balance, and now I am supposed to get crowns for those two teeth which will cost me $1900. Which I am not doing. I know, it sounds crazy. It probably is crazy. But the manager at the dentist office said I could probably get by with only the 'core buildup', whatever that is, until next January when my insurance rolls over. Yeah, a year from now. The core buildup will only cost a few hundred dollars, on my teeth's fancy shmancy new credit card, of course. Then we can move on to the many more teeth that need attention, and hopefully arrest their deterioration and prevent root canals for the rest of the lot. 
In summary, after six entire visits, I will have 2 of my teeth mostly repaired. We have a long way to go.
A highlight however, was having 8 full hours of numbness for half of my face, stretching to include part of my eye. These pictures were taken a few hours in, when a bit of it had worn off. I gave Timm no small amount of pleasure as I talked, and best of all tried to smile or laugh. He would laugh almost to the point of tears every time, insisting that I take my hand away from my mouth in self-consciousness. A couple of times through the day I would proclaim, "Timm! I think it's wearing off!", then flash him that winning half-smile. He would patronizingly reply, "Almost..." before laughing again. It made him especially giddy if I would mumble, "I have a few disorders" out of the corner of my semi-functioning mouth.
Good times.

In other good news, I have now been avoiding chewing on the left side of my mouth for going on 5 months, and with any luck I will continue to do so for another year until I can afford the crowns! It is a skill I am proud to cultivate.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Crazy Person, literally.

What we have here is one of those good news/bad news situations.
The kind where it's hard to tell which is which.

First, some background.
Obviously I have been absent for a few months. Part of that was just busy with projects and some hypomania after Timm got his new job. That eventually slid into a muddied, deliberate avoidance of blogs in general. I told myself it wasn't because I was depressed, knowing that avoidance of any and all social contact is usually my number 1 sign of depression . I also wasn't emailing, or talking on the phone. I had gone from running 25 miles a week, to not having laced up my running shoes in over a month. Pretty much just going to church on Sundays, and maybe grocery shopping on Saturdays. 5-6 days a week were spent in my pajamas all day, sleeping as much as possible, and steadily putting on weight. (12 pounds since Thanksgiving to be specific.) The only time I put my foot out the door was the unavoidable trek to the bus stop each morning at 7:30. In all honesty, I wouldn't even have bothered to do that except that it's much easier to have Bella at school all day. (That and truancy laws.) Sometimes I didn't shower for that many days at a time either. Full disclosure.
After you've spent 6 days straight in your pajamas, haven't left the house, and worn a path into the carpet from bed to couch to fridge and back, it's hard to deny that you might, just maybe, be depressed. Especially when you're daily routine involves sleeping on the couch every morning after dropping your eldest off at the bus stop while your youngest patiently absorbs a lot of Netflix-streamed tv.
Unfortunately this scenario is nothing new to me. I have been dealing with major depression all of my adult life. It's really quite tiresome and boring. So armed with my fancy new health insurance, I decided to go see a psychiatrist for the first time in over 4 years to try and see if we could find a different treatment than the one I've been on for so long. I didn't feel very good about the appointment or her opinion, so I sought a second opinion and waited 3 months to see a different doctor, which I finally did this week. Which leads me to the good news/bad news portion of this post.
The good news is that I probably do not have Bipolar II Disorder, as I have long suspected that I did and researched. 
The bad news is that I do show symptoms of the following disorders:
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Major Depressive Disorder 
and last but not least
Eating Disorder NOS ('Not Otherwise Specified')
You know, your typical OCD/ADHD/Anxiety-ridden massively depressed person with an eating disorder.
I got that diagnosis in Provo before moving here, but conveniently forgot about it until I had the pleasure of reading over my psychiatry records in detail. Hey, if anything can pull you out of a debilitating depression, it's reading over your medical assessments and lack of progress over several years from the perspective of a trained mental health practitioner.On a good note, she did indicate that I was very attractive. (That was of course one line mixed in paragraphs upon paragraphs about my obsessiveness over food, weight, body image, and self-worth.)
So for now not much has changed. This doctor agreed that I am probably nor Bipolar- II or otherwise. I see him again in a month and I sure hope we can make some changes so I feel alive again. Which is not to say that I am sad- those blessed individuals with no experience with depression probably don't understand that. Probably because of the antidepressants I've been on for years, I do not currently have a sad depression. It's the bored apathy that is wasting me. The inability to find any purpose in showering, dressing, or leaving the house. So in the meantime, I'll try to suck it up and make the tiny goals that brand-new mothers and invalids make each day- For tomorrow: shower, dress, and make the bed.
I also read a bit in my files about my Eating Disorder (NOS), which I'll explore in another post. In the meantime I'm planning on going to Weight Watchers tomorrow,  perpetuating my 'ED (NOS)'. I'm trying to remember the therapeutic benefits of writing, and will thusly torture anyone reading with an account of this roller coaster.
Good times!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

She Says

Me: Wasn't it fun to have the Lees over for dinner last night?
Bella (age 6): Yeah. Want to know what we played?
Me: Sure.
B: We acted out a scripture story!
Me: Ohh, that sounds fun! (thinking. Oh my gosh- they are such dorks.)
       Which one did you act out?
B: The Man Possessed By Evil Spirits.
Me: Oh dear!
B: What 'Oh dear'?
Me: Nothing. Who played what parts?
B: Well, Mia was Jesus.
Me: Okay, who was the man possessed?
B: Well there was only one boy!
Me: I don't know, Mia played Jesus, so...
B: Truman was the man. I read the story while they acted it out.
    And I was a pig.
Me: Aha.
B: We used hangers on Truman to be the chains he was tied up with that he could break out of.

(She really like to read the simplified, illustrated scriptures. She chooses an extra scripture story for her story each night, then often takes them to bed and continues reading. Oh dear.)
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