Monthly Archives: April 2010

Will someone please give me a few of their extra hours? (Assuming that anyone out there has any free time, LOL!) Life has been wonderful, but the time goes oh-so-fast! Spring is in full swing here, though this week has been damp and chilly. The house is surrounded by purple azaleas, but these in the front are the most outstanding.

Chateau Chaos in spring

Things are busy growing inside the house, too! My latest bunch off seeds, just planted this weekend, already have a few green shoots showing! Here are my future Brussels sprouts – aren’t they cute?

brussles sprouts

After walking the dogs this morning, Arden and I went on a second ‘flower hunt’ walk. We have a few pansies & petunias already blossoming in our window boxes, but the rest of the flowers are wild ones.

flower boy collage

Today’s my last “free” day for a while – I’ll be working for the census for a couple of months and then there’s the possibility of a full-time job looming on the horizon after that. I have mixed feelings about it. While it will be undeniably nice to have a 2nd income, I’m dreading the stress of trying to do too much. Hopefully now that the kids are a little older, it will go more smoothly than in the past. It seems like the threat promise of impending employment has jacked up my creative juices. I’ve been busy stitching and designing all week (when I haven’t been gardening, baking, or doing stuff with the kids I mean, LOL). My Blackbird Designs exchange went out today and after suffering through the finishing process, I was really pleased with the final results and I hope my partner will be, too. I’ve sent off the next two models for the Gift of Stitching series. And on that subject, I really can’t thank you enough for your support and kind wishes! I’ve also got the fourth and final design about 90% done and I really, really like it. I’ve also started two other new designs. These are both intended as gifts but I don’t think the future recipients will mind if I share my progress. ;)

two new designs

two new designs

We’re taking the kids to the Shrine Circus this weekend, so it’ll be another busy one. Next week I plan to get my veggies out in the garden. Who knows, we may even fire up the lawnmower! I hope your upcoming weekend is fun-filled and healthy! :D

magic beans and other fun

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wilderness? Let them be left
O let them be left, wilderness and wet;
live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
~ Gerard Manley Hopkins

What a fun weekend we’ve had! Look, I planted magic beans! (I didn’t trust my luck in simply flinging them out the window like Jack did.)

magic beans

Lots of other seeds made it into soil today, too – two varieties of cucumbers, three types of tomato, basil, three kinds of beans, and some brussels sprouts. Our last batch of seedlings is growing great – check out these tomatoes!

tomato seedlings

I won’t bore you with more plant photos, but there are herbs and window boxes, mint and more … for another time. ;)

Stitching has also happened! I’ve finished the stitching for my Blackbird Designs exchange – but I still have some hefty finishing ahead of me. Yikes, I just hope I don’t fudge it. And as mentioned, my next two samplers for the Gift of Stitching are done. Here’s a sneak peek of Sarah Jane Lathrop’s marking sampler. I have to admit that I just love-love-love the colors (Vikki Clayton silks and linen, btw.) If all goes according to schedule, I’ll have charts in the June, August and October issues. :D

Sarah Jane Lathrop sampler

The kids have enjoyed their vacation, though none of them are willing to admit that it’s back to the daily grind tomorrow. I think Arden’s going to be one lonely little fella for a few days. ;)


thief! stop that clock!

Oh my heavens, where is the time going? How can I slow it down?? I hate it when time seems to speed out of control, but I suppose we did try to pack rather a lot into one little week: Max’s father was here from Holland, my aunt hosted a small family reunion, my Dad returned from Florida, and I had one full-day outing with the kids. In addition, we all worked on school projects, visited with family and friends, and had fun just hanging out. I’m delighted to say that I also finished the next two samplers for the Gift of Stitching series and have begun my Blackbird Designs exchange.

old railroad logo

The kids and I went to Ellsworth for the day yesterday. We started at Birdsacre, a volunteer-run bird sanctuary that I used to love going to as a child with my Aunt Cindy. It hasn’t changed a bit over the years! After visiting the birds, we enjoyed walking one of the shorter nature trails. Anyone (in this area) who’s looking for an affordable day out really shouldn’t overlook Birdsacre – the trails are free, although donations are appreciated. We’re all looking forward to going back again soon. Nicky even made a new friend who has promised to meet up with us  next time we go. ;)

Netta the Owl

hamming it up at Birdsacre

forsythia is in bloom

Nick makes a friend

flower girl

After all that walking, we were hungry so we went over to Pat’s Pizza – it’s not a fancy experience, but the food is fabulous and the service is so incredibly friendly. It’s quickly become a family favorite. And then we headed down into the old part Ellsworth, just walking around and having a great time following our curiosity. One of our stops was an antique mall – Rowen thought we stayed a little too long, but just check out the treasures I found for under $15! 

antique mall in Ellsworth

antique-ing finds

It was one of the most enjoyable days I’ve had with all four kids – no one fought or whined or complained of being bored – and as a result, we were out for the entire day, barely making it home for dinner. :)

I started my day off today with a companionable walk along the local trails. Rigby got to come along this time and he enjoyed it tremendously. Another thanks to Katherine for organizing these walks!

I hope your week was wonderful and that your weekend will be bring many smiles! Thank you for sharing some time with me here today.

i went to a poodle party

My weekend has been such a blast, so filled with so many different things, that I hardly know where to begin or what to include!  Through it all, Mother Nature has treated us to spectacular signs of spring. One of our male cardinals and one of the bolder squirrels put in an appearance while I had my camera handy, but photos through dirty glass just don’t come out that great.

mother nature collage

On Friday, I baked. I have a new book on Italian baking from the library and the bread is delicious – even if this photo (taken late in the evening) is terrible. ;)


On Saturday, the day began with a brisk, wonderful walk along the local trails. Here’s a view of Machias taken as we returned from the Machiasport-bound trail. Although the day was chilly and damp, the walk was a delight.


The rest of Saturday was spent moving stuff from my Mom’s basement to our house. When I left Machias nearly 13 years ago, the intent was to return in a matter of months … so there was a lot of stuff left behind in boxes, and I’d forgotten about so much of it – especially the correspondence and photos from my college years. Niek was getting a little freaked out about how much stuff there was, but I’m proud to say I got all but a few pieces of pottery put away before going to bed. I’d love to share more pictures, but I simply haven’t had time to take any!

Sunday has been busy, too. We moved more furniture from my Mom’s basement and my muscles are really protesting the unusual activity levels.  In the mid-afternoon, Rowen and I took off with my Mom’s dog to go to a poodle party being hosted by The Ark Animal Shelter. Kelly, Mom’s dog, was a little aloof initially, but after a rousing walk through the blueberry barrens, she felt much more relaxed. Rowen loved the whole thing and is already excited about the possibility of another party next month. The Ark has recently rescued a number of standard poodles from puppy farms, and the fun afternoon not only gave us a chance to admire one another’s pooches, but gave the dogs a valuable chance to learn socialization skills. I won’t get up on a soapbox, but the next time you or a friend is thinking about getting a furbaby addition to the family, please don’t overlook your local shelter – not only do you give a wonderful animal a needed home, but your decision helps undermine the economy that keeps these puppy mills operating. ‘Nuff said.

poodle collage

i went to a poodle party

Rowen mountain collage

I wrapped up my day with a joyous visit with my Daddy, who’s just returned to town from his Florida winter. Welcome home, Daddy and Mary!! :D

midweek merriness

Here is how my day began – a warm and delicious cranberry/raisin/cinnamon/orange scone with a cup of piping hot coffee. Mmmm.

the scone of goodness

And believe it or not, the day just kept getting better. :) Friend and responsible local politician Katherine Cassidy came by, followed by friend and artist /journalist Sharon. Arden thought he was at Grand Central Station. I had a great time. Luckily, the house cleaning is nearly complete and I didn’t have to hide in shame. For those who’d admired the ‘corner bookcase’ in the library – the whole library is actually full of shelves; there’s not a bit of wall space. Here’s the whole thing – you can see where I’ve set the corner up as a sort of stitching station (although I usually stitch in the living room).

library collage

When Sharon was here, we sat in the library and she kept exclaiming that she didn’t know where to look because there was just so much to see. :) Here are a few of my favorite treasures.

library treasures collage

The pillow in the above photo is actually from the Arbor Day exchange. Raffaella made it – isn’t it amazing?! I absolutely love it. Here’s a closer view of the stitching itself (Seasonal Samplings by Hillside Samplings). Thank you, Raffealla, for a really gorgeous exchange (and for your very sweet card!).

seasonal samplings

I made something much smaller for my partner, but hopefully she didn’t feel slighted because I included some fun Arbor-day related things I’d been watching out for and hoarding up for a while. ;)

arbor day exchange

And finally, my favorite library treasure (cheerfully ruining one of my paper bookmarks, I might add!).

arden in the library

I’ve also had a haircut, rummaged around the thrift shop, got a job with the census bureau, and enjoyed the fine spring sunshine. All in all, a pretty excellent day. :D Thanks for sharing a bit of your day with me – I hope  the sun is shining on you!

the birthday bust and spring cleaning

I’ll skip the part about how busy it’s been – I guess when I’m away from the blog this long, it’s obvious that Life has kicked into overdrive. And because being just busy isn’t enough, I decided we also have to do spring cleaning and unpack every single remaining box, and put everything away in a beautiful & creative way, and we have to bring over all my Aunt Hattie’s photos and organize them … and so on. I suspect I’m driving the Chaos Crew crazy. I’ll come home from running errands one day and find out they’ve changed the locks on me. ;)

But the big news first: Max is 12. (Some days it feels like he’s a “real” teenager, and my heart quails at what lies ahead.) Because he thought the Bangor mall was boring, but he did feel like wandering in and out of shops, I took Dawn’s advice and drove the family up to St Andrews by the Sea in New Brunswick, Canada. No doubt that it’s a charming and interesting town … in season … but do not go there out of season (which begins mid-May). Here’s the main drag:

Max birthday weekend in St. Andrews

Here’s Max:

Max's birthday in St Andrews NB

Uh oh, right? We did find  one restaurant open (we later found a second one, but were glad we went to the Sweet Harvest Bakery – the people were so nice and the food was yummy). Food, not music, calms these savage beasts. Things began to look up, if marginally.

Max's birthday in St Andrews NB

After eating, we tried to find some interesting shops that were open. There was a gallery that we wisely avoided – it sure didn’t look child-proof. ;) There was a shop selling scented soaps and the like, but Max made a face when I suggested we go in. There was the hardware store, which unfortunately closed at 1:00. There was a Dollar Store, where we spent four dollars – one thing for each kid. And there was this kind of nifty shop, but unfortunately Rowen pitched something of a screaming fit when she wasn’t allowed to get what she wanted.

Max's birthday in St Andrews NB

So we walked down the pier … and it was cold.  We were the only souls about – it was like a movie stage or something. The absurdity of the situation even got Max to crack a grin.

Max's birthday in St Andrews NB

Niek assures me that in future years, this will just be a funny story we tell. I hope so. I felt pretty bad about wrecking Max’s birthday. Four plus hours in the car just to go to a Dollar Store and walk around in the freezing wind. Sigh.

Sunday heated up with some serious cleaning and rearranging. Max was at my Mom’s, so we finally got his bedroom furniture set up the way he wanted it. The meant taking down his bed, putting another one together in there, and cleaning. I was a slave driver, but it was worth it in the end. (Ignore the pink wallpaper – it obviously wasn’t Max’s choice, but was simply the way the room was already done.)

spring cleaning

After Max’s room, we moved the party upstairs. Although I still haven’t painted Arden’s bed, I finally set it up in his room and he absolutely loves it. Hooray! (Arden’s room was also pink when we moved in. The owner had three daughters, can you tell? LOL.)

arden finally  has his bed

And Nick and Rowen’s room both got massive cleanings done on them and the kids have been sternly cautioned to put things away after using them, or else! I also cleared out the upstairs landing and hallway, and Niek and I moved some of the owner’s furniture around – some is now in the shed, and other pieces have been put in places that make more sense for us. It’s looking a lot different around here.

spring cleaning

spring cleaning

I’ve been working on the library, too, which looked like a helicopter flew over, dropped a load of a couple thousand books, and kept flying. I’m not done in there, but it’s looking a lot more inviting.

spring cleaning

And I’ve finally begun hanging up our own stuff, after taking down the owner’s dark oil paintings and such and storing them in an unused closet. Niek says it finally looks like we live here. ;)

spring cleaning

spring cleaning

spring cleaning

Arden says, “Mommy hasn’t done much here in the living room, everyone!” Kids, huh? Blabbermouths! ;)

spring cleaning

Phew! There’s more, but it’ll have to wait. Next post, I’ll share some stitching, including the gorgeous Arbor Day exchange I received. Thanks so much for visiting!! :D

feel-good moment

There is actually a  lot to share, but time is in such short supply! The kids are growing and changing every day, and I have periods where I feel like I’m superfluous … and I feel sort of down about it. I didn’t know that kids grow up this soon! But tonight Nicky lost his very, very favorite stuffed animal in the dark and the pouring rain. I went out after he was in bed to find it because I knew I wouldn’t be able to relax thinking of it out there. When he saw what I was tucking into his bed (cleaned and only moderately damp), he came rushing after me  hug me and say thank you. And I had one of those moments when you just know it’s all worth it. :)

a little prim on the side

Today I finish-finished a project (a kit by Niky’s Creations that I stitched before we moved to Maine) as a birthday gift for a relative. I was going for one of my prim-fem finishes and I’m pretty pleased with how it came out. :D


Then I made a couple of batches of blueberry-pecan muffins. The inspiration for the recipe can be found here, but I did some tinkering to get the measurements into things I could understand, and to reflect the ingredients I have on hand.

blueberry pecan muffins

My version goes something like this:

Sift together:
1 cup flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

Mix in a separate bowl:
1 egg
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c milk
1/4 melted, cooled unsalted butter
1/2 t vanilla

Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the wet ones using a sieve and fold in, stirring as little as possible. Then fold in, again stirring as little as possible:
1 c blueberries
1/2 c pecans (mine were chopped)

Spoon into muffin papers or well-greased muffin tins. Top with:
1/2 c pecans (I used walnuts, as I was out of pecans) mixed with 1/2 c coarse sugar (I used turbinado because I had it on hand).

Bake in a prewarmed 400F oven for about 25 minutes. Double this, as I did, to make 12 regular muffins and 18 mini muffins.

I also stopped back at Berry Vines (where I got my cool Easter stuff) and found this way too adorable stick/make-do ‘doll’. Oh boy am I going to have fun dressing her! Finally, I doll I can get into. (No face. The faces just creep me out! LOL!) Here’s our entry nook now. This decorating stuff is kind of fun. :)

decorating the house prim style

decorating the house prim style


I heard from Kirsten that the chart and the model for my first sampler don’t match up completely. :( I stitched this in a hurry on vacation last summer because the original start date for the series was several months earlier. Lessons learned: Don’t rush, and don’t stitch important things on family vacations. Please don’t let it put you off the design. Consider it … pre-personalized. ;) Thank you very much for your support and encouragement – your kind words really make my day!

how does that bunny do it?

We’ve had such a great Easter  – I’m just hoping that your day was as as sunny and happy as ours.

The day began around 7:30 when the Easter bunny hid some eggs out in the back yard (s/he did a good job finding a safe spot where the dogs haven’t visited. ;) ) but the egg hunt took place quite a bit later in the morning. First, of course, was the joy of the Easter basket. This year the Easter bunny made edible birds’  nests (filled with mini eggs) in addition to the fun yummies in the communal Easter basket. Max was a little concerned if these were truly edible, but a couple of tentative nibbles soon banished his doubts. The kids all had little gifts, some homemade and some not, as well as jelly beans and chocolate and Peeps.

easter morning treats collage

The sunglasses brought out the goofiness in everyone. :)

the future's so bright

Then we finally had the egg hunt. Max is a little too old to find this a challenge, and Arden is so young that we have to be sure to leave some in plain sight, and Nick and Rowen go at it like gladiators who’re battling to the death. There were some moments of high drama, but we all survived and Arden made up his own egg hunt afterward and enjoyed finding every single egg. ;)

egg hunt collage

After the egg hunt, it was too lovely to go back inside. Mom and Niek walked around while I watched Arden and Nick roll endlessly down the hill. It was a gorgeous day with temps up in the mid 70’s. If I hadn’t already put a chicken in the oven, I’d have skipped lunch completely and simply enjoyed the fine weather. As it was, however, I had to go tend the chicken and finish up the holiday dinner preparations.

rolling down the hill

No food pictures today – we ate it too fast! Roast chicken with roast baby potatoes, stuffing, asparagus, and beets with beet greens. Yummo.

After everything was cleaned up again (or what passes for clean here at Chateau Chaos), I packaged up my Arbor Day exchange so that can go out in tomorrow’s post. And now I’m off to watch a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. What an excellent Easter it’s been! :D

sometimes it hurts my eyes

It is so incredibly gorgeous here. Back when I was feeling homesick in Gouda, a part of me figured I must be rose-tinting the reality … but you know, now that we’re back, I have to say that it’s even more beautiful than I daydreamed about.

This morning, Niek and I (and Lola!) took part in a group walk along the Sunrise Trail. It was my first time on these trails, but it won’t be my last! What a treat to have such well-maintained walking trails right here in town! On today’s walk, we struck out in the direction of Machiasport so there was water on both sides of us for the entire walk. The scenery was incredible. I’ve chosen a few of my favorite snapshots for this little collage (which aren’t even a drop in the bucket compared to the real thing). It was a misty-moisty morning, but not too chill or damp to cut into our pleasure. We’ll be meeting up again next Saturday at 8 am if anyone’s interested in coming along!

our morning walk on the Sunrise Trail was gorgous

After the walk (and a hearty breakfast at Helen’s Restaurant, undoing all the benefits of walking, LOL), I walked down to the library for a lecture on organic gardening. I was so pleased they offered this – I’d missed out on one in Belfast last month – and apparently so were a lot of other people. The room couldn’t have been much more filled than it was. ;) The speaker was funny as well as knowledgeable and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. I took a few pictures on my way to the library – the river in particular was full and wild today – and you can see how nicely the weather cleared up.


And now I have to get ready for a ‘girls night’ at my Mom’s. It’s Rowen’s turn to spend the night with her Grammie and she has insisted that (1) we have a girls’ night and (2) I cut everyone’s hair again. LOL. Tomorrow we’ll be busy with Easter eggs and all the joy that’s part of this season of rebirth & renewal. For the first time in many years, I’ll also be making a holiday dinner. No ham for us, but a nice little chicken with some baby potatoes and asparagus. I hope your weekend is joyous and loving!

Thread Medley

Join Jan on her needlepoint design journey

Deep Green Permaculture

The Sustainable Organic Gardening Guide for Self-Sufficient People

Important Things

by Sarah Carson

Nina Gaby

Essays, art, and healthcare


life, the universe, and stitching

Scratchings from an Urban Chicken Farmer

Raising two children on 1/2 acre of land

Katie and The Carrots

life, the universe, and stitching

Yellow Flower Meadow

life, the universe, and stitching

Eye of the Needle

life, the universe, and stitching


life, the universe, and stitching

Stitching in Lobster Land

life, the universe, and stitching

Quietly Stitching

life, the universe, and stitching

Sweet Needle of Mine

life, the universe, and stitching

Stitches and More

life, the universe, and stitching

Quilt Obsession

fabric, needle, thread & thimble

Days of a Sampler Lover

life, the universe, and stitching

Aussie Stitcher

life, the universe, and stitching

FogCity Dweller

life, the universe, and stitching

Stitched Memories in Time

life, the universe, and stitching


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 98 other followers