Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Cookie Workshop

This is the time of year I channel my mother and Grandma Lena, and my great grandmother and probably her mother as well, and make our family's traditional Christmas cookies. Reese was a huge help on the Pizzelle Iron. Last year I broke down and bought a new-fangled Cuisinart model. The one I had prior, purchased from the estate of a recently deceased Italian lady in Chicago Heights, had seen at least 50 Christmases. Maybe more. I just got tired of holding the iron shut manually. Nothing says Christmas like carpal tunnel.

Reese ready with the hand mixer. Grandma Carol made the apron.

Yes, you read correctly. Seven eggs for a half-batch. I guess the full recipe fed the whole village in Sicily. I substitute almond extract for the anisette/ouzo my mother uses. I was never a fan of that black licorice flavor.

Grandma Lena taught us the trick of keeping the spoons in a mug of water so they don't get too (technical term alert) "glumpy."

Reese had this routine down by the third try. I drizzle melted chocolate over the Pizzelles or dust them with powdered sugar. These are great with black coffee. They smell like Christmas to me.

Also made today: Dark Chocolate Truffles, four dozen Pecan Tassies, about six hundred Pumpkin Chocolate Chips and Sugar Cookies.
No. I'm not making dinner.
p.s. If you are wondering where Conn was -- he and Reese spent the night at their buddy's house. Reese passed out about 1am. Conn and John pulled an all nighter, playing XBox 360. Their secret for keeping the sandman away? They split a 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew. Conn was sleeping it off. Still is.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Merry Christmas - this year's card

In order to make up for Mark being the snowman last year, I made him a buff GI Joe. His head is still the size of a 5 gallon paint can, but hey, he's my bucket-head. Love ya, honey.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Cranky Doodles

I have a confession to make. I fell off the daily art wagon a couple of months back. It was so hard to keep up with my square-a-day with the book projects and writing and general life. So, after about nine months I unofficially stopped. As a result, I did accumulate a wonderful stash of 1.5" collages, many of which have been incorporated into other pieces, framed in a series, or hung on a necklace. One even went to Norway. The experience gave me even more respect for my pal and co-author Debbi. She's as reliable as the sun and moon and hasn't missed a day in what? 5 years?

I have been doodling lately and toying with the idea of making doodles my art for 2008. Yes, I am going to get back on the horse next year, but I think I may do weekly art instead. I'm just not as disciplined as Debbi, or Jeanne Williamson, or this guy. It's a fact. I'm proud of myself for having kept at it for almost nine months, given my nature. I mean, I wasn't even pregnant for a full nine months, I cut it down to just over six. When you look at it that way, it's a huge achievement.

Here are some of my cranky doodles. I think I was inspired by Reese's upcoming orthodontics.

I call this one: Ian and his Puppet.

Gift tags for Christmas presents, arriving daily from Amazon.com.

And since Mark doesn't read my blog (I bet he doesn't even know the address) here is one of the two doxie themed presents he has coming.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

"You'll never believe what she was wearing....."

My dolls are paying homage to my pal Lori E's Creepy Dolls, while gossiping amongst themselves.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Lots of exciting things happening this week in our happy, colorful, over-the-rainbow world! There are some common threads in these current events, see if you can spot them:
  1. Vintage Cate launched a blog. Go through the gate and partake of her Charmed Life. Close it behind you, don't want the dog to get out.

  2. Season 4 of Project Runway premiered complete with little vignettes of Santino tooling around LA in Saturn supplied vehicles. Yay. What writer's strike? We need to dish on Elisa later. Not sure if she's the ambassador of "mixed media" I would elect.

  3. Last but not least, Anna Maria is going to be on Martha Stewart. TODAY. Just in time for her daytime TV debut, AM has a new website. I have a suggestion for her FAQs: How is it that Anna has time to conquer the world while raising five kids and looking adorable all the while?

If the common threads you spotted were nice Greek girls, Tivo worthy events, and internet eye-candy you win!

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Today, I came across this photo taken at O'Hare airport almost exactly eight years ago. Reese, Connor and Mark were there too. We were leaving Chicago for New York. For good. I had gotten a job there and we were off on a big adventure. One that ultimately led to Atlanta and who knows where from here. Like my carry-on? That's our beloved Winona. I still miss that girl.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

When I found out this summer that my doll, 13:13, had been accepted in Lark's 500 Handmade Dolls I was really thrilled. The book was jurored by Akira Blount whose work I've since seen in person - it's fabulous.

I was inspired to try my hand at making a doll after seeing Laurie Mika's doll in Beyond Paper Dolls. In fact, it was Laurie who told me about Lark's call for submissions and encouraged me to give it a shot.

I received my complimentary copy on Monday. If I was thrilled before now I'm TOTALLY STOKED! There are so many wonderful artists' works featured -- it's really flattering to be in their company.

Of course you should order the book , but in the meantime here's just a short list of some of the artists whose work I really found compelling:

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Black Monday

Our home computer crashed and we had to do a system restore. This is basically starting over with a blank slate, as if you just pulled the CPU out of the box. We are having to reinstall EVERYTHING. Hardware, software. Start from zero. Life altering catastrophe? No. Big huge annoying time waster? You betcha.

PC, don't you know me? It's me, Cheryl. Say you remember something, anything. An email address, a web favorite, a font setting, a custom icon. Anything! Here, look at me. Familiar? Don't you remember the way I type? More backspacing than letters, see? Say you know me. Say you remember.

Nothing. Just default wallpaper. Total amnesia.

I backed up my photos about 6 weeks ago so at least I have everything to that point. Luckily, I had emailed a draft of book stuff to Debbi the night before "the accident" so she was able to send it back to me so THAT wasn't lost.

I'm getting a thumb drive. Backup is my new middle name.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ready or Not

No, I'm not hiding, just trapped under several deadlines.

Tomorrow is going to be extra sad. It will be the first Halloween since The Carmens moved away. Every year Carmen and I would drag our chairs, bowls of candy, and libations (!) down to the curb to greet the Trick or Treaters, thus saving them the trip up our killer driveways.

Speeders Beware! I've been known to whip Laffy Taffy at cars that are driving too fast.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Viking Flu

I was humming along on my machine, furiously free-quilting when I ran out of bobbin thread. I wound a new bobbin, dropped it in the well and tried to raise it. Done it lots of times. No dice. I tried new bobbins, checked the needle, rethreaded the machine, lit a candle to the Patron Saint of Swedish appliances, mustered a magical incantation: bibbity-bobbin-y-boo, all in vain.

I even called the Husqvarna Help Desk in the form of my M-i-L , Carol, who generously gifted me the Viking. She is really more of a Bernina expert, as her new one has a thumb drive with more computing power than the space shuttle. But all to no avail. I shut the machine off and took a nap thinking fresh eyes and some REM sleep may be able to solve the problem. So much for that idea, I had a dream that, oh never mind, don't want to give the prosecution more ammo for the sanity hearing.

I reluctantly took my ailing appliance to the sewing machine ER, plopped it on the service desk and watched the nice lady write up my ticket and immediately raise the bobbin thread. I felt REALLY stupid, but then it's not like I unwittingly left my car running for four hours, well, not today at least.

I left it for service anyway. Seeing as we were there, a checkup seemed like a good idea. (M-i-L should stop reading here.) Though I don't use it terribly often, my machine does get a lot of abuse. As you can imagine, not all of my substrates are fabric and I have been known to use the carrying case as a cradle for a hot glue gun, as is evidenced by the melted hole in the top. (Ok, Carol, you can look now.)

So my machine is in the shop till Wednesday. I guess I'll have to resort to working in paper in the meantime and find another place to prop my hot tools.

Friday, October 19, 2007


I know. I KNOW. Just popping in here for the last couple of weeks and leaving a couple of pictures (albeit mostly cute ones) is kinda like calling someone when you know you're going to get their voice mail -- that way you can leave a message to let them know you're thinking about them without really having to talk.

Lots has transpired in the last several weeks, but here are the highlights:
  1. Trumpet is now a finished champion - yay Trumpy! No more shows!
  2. The boys turned 12 and celebrated with Whirlyball and Halo 3 (Warning: The next person who says "Oh, and next year they'll be 13!" is going to be punched in the chops for their crackerjack math skills as well as for not letting me adjust to the idea of my babies being 12 before aging them a whole year.
  3. I lost my ability to make coffee and park a car.

Number 3 illustrates the actions of a person who has too much to do and not nearly enough brain power to accomplish it.

So. The coffee. My parents and my aunt were in town for the boys' birthday. The guys had an 8am soccer game that day -- apparently some people get up that early. On purpose! I found my way down to the kitchen around, oh, dark:thirty and made a 55 gallon drum of coffee to premedicate for the game.

My dad wandered in and asked for sugar in his. To normal people, this request would be simple enough to accommodate. But, alas I don't take sugar in my coffee, just half-n-half, and neither does Mark. Mark drinks his with fat-free, hazelnut, non-dairy, yuck-yuck which is too long to say so I just refer to it as "stinky creamer" for short. I accidentally drank out of his cup once and almost sprayed that nastiness right out my nose which would have been tragic because I'd still be smelling it. It's synthetic and super foul - if hazelnuts really smelled and tasted like that I wouldn't love Frangelico, ok?

Back to "the coffee incident." The day prior to our company arriving, I got out all my cute fall decorations and chatchkies, including a small ceramic pumpkin bowl that was filled with sugar. Sugar doesn't go bad does it? I mean, it had been in the buffet for a year, but no bugs were evident upon inspection. Good enough. I heaped 4 spoonsful into Dad's coffee. Bleary-eyed, we all piled into the car with our travel mugs and headed to the soccer pitch.

Given the hour and the amount of wine consumed the night before, we were driving in relative silence, when my dad asked me:

"What kind of coffee is this?"

"Starbucks Verona blend."

"Did you put sugar in it?"

"Yes, Daddy, I put sugar in it." Sheesh.

(long pause)

"Cheryl! You put salt in my coffee!"

Oops. It seems I had put salt in that little pumpkin last year, not sugar. Who can remember that far back? Must be why the bugs left it alone. Reminds me of that Greek urban legend dad used to tell us about the old lady who put rat poison on her cookies instead of powdered sugar and killed the whole village. Too bad I wasn't there, I could have made the salty-coffee to go with the killer kourabiedes.

Honest mistake, you say. Not such a big deal? Heck, if that's the worst of it, you might still be sane and relatively functional, Cher. Please reserve judgement, kind reader, and let me admit exhibit B for your consideration.

At quitting time on Monday, after a particularly stressful day in the world of recruiting, I was eager to get home. I rounded up my cell phone, purse, sunglass and, hey.....wha.......where are my keys? Y'all seen my keys?

I looked under my desk, in my pockets, dumped my purse out. No keys. My cube just isn't that big. And my keychain is. They were nowhere to be found. I reluctantly came to the conclusion that I must have locked them in my car and went downstairs and out the lobby already dreading the call I'd have to make to Mark -- "Hi honey. could you come to my office in rush hour traffic and unlock my car for me cuz I'm an idiot." But guess what? I didn't have to make that call - you wanna know why? Because although I left the keys in the car, in the ignition no less, I had left the car unlocked and RUNNING. For. Four. Hours.

Take that Al Gore.

Frankly, I'm shocked I put the car in park. I mean, what was preventing me from absent-mindedly rigging a bungee cord to the steering wheel and let it circle the building until 5pm?

Makes you kinda long for the posts with the cute pictures, huh? Next time, let your voice mail pick up.

Go Trumpy, It's your birthday

Seen above with two of his littermates.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


And you thought having a baby was painful. Try popping three of these out.
Click here for more ridiculously cute pix and silly captions.

How to tell you're not Mom's favorite

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Wanna Be

Am I too old to be wearing cropped, stretch leggings? What's the cutoff?

Maybe I'm on the Borderline.

Used to play this LP in the morning when I got ready for school. (Kids, ask your Mom or Dad what LPs are, um, were.) It gave me fashion inspiration.

The leggings make me nostalgic for the 80s when my hair was big and my butt was still defying gravity.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


If I were my mom I'd say, "This computer hates me!" because Blogger is giving me fits. If I didn't know that everyone has these blankity-blank Blogger problems, I guess I might be more like Mom and take it personally.

I tried to post pictures of both Betsy's and Marilyn's projects, but Blogger kept kicking me out!
Me and Blogger made up and the pix are now posted. Huzzah!

Linda must be too busy hunting down bad guys to email me photos of her pieces. *sniff* And Lynn? Well, there's only a little time left till her mom's birthday and then I'll start publicly nagging her for pictures, too.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Hero Worship

I watched the first ten episodes of Heroes season one last night. It felt great to escape the grinding stress of the job and the book deadline and life in general. My brain got to go out and play and today I feel totally refreshed, even though I had half the sleep I usually get. Mental vacations: cheaper and less fattening than taking a cruise. No sunburn or stomach virus either.

Heroes is the kind of story I wish I had written. Like Firefly, the characters are as rich and vivid as the multi-layered plot and special effects. Season two of Heroes premiered last Monday. I have to finish season one fast so I can catch up with real time viewing. I need a TIVO. Or the power to bend space and time.

I have always loved science fiction. It's like fairy tales with lasers and cyborgs. (You know our twins are named after the two good guys from the Terminator dontcha? Kyle Reese and John Connor. If they had been triplets? Neo, Trinity and Morpheus.) I read I Am Legend (The Omega Man) in fifth grade. I devoured everything by Harlan Ellison I could get my jr. high school hands on - we even met him once at Iowa. Remember that, Dad?

Pending Apocalypse, precognition, time travel, and explosions/implosions as a back drop for (ooh, here comes the girly-gratification part) love, drama and relationships. What could be better than that?

Last night was not the first time I retreated into a comic-book colored world when life was pressing in on me. It's sort of a reoccurring self-defense mechanism. The first time it happened it nearly prevented me from graduating high school.

It was May 1985: the Saturday before finals week. I picked up a hard cover copy of Stephen King's The Stand at a yard sale. A bargain at $1 because the dust jacket was missing. I made the dire mistake of opening it that same day and barely slept for the next six.

I read for hours at a stretch, until the panic of flunking an exam or not finishing a paper would overwhelm me enough to eclipse the threat of total nuclear destruction. I would then reluctantly pound out a few pages of a term paper on a borrowed typewriter (it had a navy blue ribbon) before returning to my adventure in post-apocalypse America. Can you blame me? I mean how could I concentrate on trivial stuff like earning a diploma when the ENTIRE WORLD was in Peril? I aced my finals and the world was saved. It was a good week.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hair Apparent

In what appears to be a show of solidarity for the GM auto workers, my hair has gone on strike.

It is refusing to style, do anything cute or arrange itself in something resembling organization until....what? WHAT? There's no ransom note. No list of demands to be met. Just tell me what to do and I'll do it!

I made a frantic phone call (she's on speed dial) to Denise, my fabulous, Aussie, hair diva but had to leave a long, explanatory voice mail for her at the salon. She won't give me her cell number. What's with that?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Call off the search party

Ok, ok, you can stop the concerned "Everything ok?"emails and harassing phone calls (Dad). There have been confirmed Cheryl sightings in Saluda and parts there bouts. I have to disappear like that every once in a while just to see if y'all notice and are missing me and I did and you were and I'm back!

I had a great time with a whole bunch of creative and talented ladies last Saturday at Random Arts. Jane was a wonderful and gracious hostess, the food from the Saluda Grade was great, and there were plenty of Almond Macaroons on hand (now on thighs) to go around. I wasn't sure how this whole 1.5" square thing would go over, but it's contagious, everybody dove right in. You know small is the new big, right?

I wish I had pictures of every body's projects, but I was so engrossed in our end of class crit and hugging everyone goodbye that I just wasn't thinking. Below are three canvases by Betsy - they feature her mother and two of her aunts. Betsy and several other ladies used metallic paints on their canvases and it looked really wonderful. You know how I love shiny.

The lovely triple-composition below is Crystal's. I am always fascinated by the diverse results the same instruction yields once it is filtered through 18 different points of view.

Ostensibly, I went to Random Arts to teach, but I ended up learning about new materials, getting a fresh perspective on composition, and meeting really interesting people. Would you believe there was a Homicide Detective in the class?! She used a paint technique that mimicked a blood spatter pattern. ; p She had some wonderful Katie Kendrick inspired drawings that she reduced and collaged onto her tiles. Katie, how cool is that? Your drawing inspiration and my 1.5" squares - we're combined in Linda's artwork!
Linda, you were supposed to email me pictures, you bad girl, but I won't insist since you are almost certainly armed and know exactly how to dispose of my body without getting caught.

A few of the ladies had to go before we took the group photo you see here, but you can admire one of the very talented and very absent Marilyn's three pieces below.

The day went so quickly, but my favorite part (besides the Macaroons) was the last 30 minutes when everyone got to see and comment on each other's work and talk about their own pieces and the process.

I hope Jane will have me back soon. Next time I'd like to do a double header two-day class and a double billing - whatcha think Debbi? Maybe by spring we'll be able to leak an idea or two from our upcoming book.