Category Archives: Craft projects

Fall Crafting

I am emerging from a hideous period at work. So hideous in fact, that I have almost forgotten what it is like to have free time. Last weekend was doubly hideous because not only did I go into the office on both days, but to kick the weekend off, as I was driving in the right hand lane a car in the middle lane turned right into my truck. UGH. I pulled over, and out got to a clearly intoxicated male, who started screaming at me for ruining his car. I am amazed that I kept my cool (I did), and patiently explained over and over again, that if you turn right, into the left side of my car, into my lane, it can only be YOUR fault.

Apparently this could only sink in when I said “Fine, let’s call the cops”. The other driver and his companion began to freak out, and I began to also freak out when I thought hard about the fact that I was in the “murder capital of Houston” {nice – but also where I just so happen to live}, and had pulled into a dodgy strip mall with shop owners who clearly knew the other driver. DOUBLE UGH.

So I called Wes because really, at this stage, I was at a loss. He turned up, called the police, the other driver jumped in his car and drove off. Wes chased him (with me in the car and the cops on the line)…. the whole thing was ridiculous and stressful. Eventually we lost the perp and returned with the police to our vehicle. Whereupon when I went to get my license out of the car [and THANK GOD I GOT MY LICENSE JUST INE WEEK BEFORE], I dropped my six pack of beer and it smashed and splashed all over me.

“Oooooh”, I wailed “Now I have to speak to the cops about a car accident reeking of beer”. But… we were good, The cops were nice, not only understood but sympathized (with the beer anyway) and furthermore, my mood improved remarkably when I realized one of them looked just like Tom Cruise in his pre-crazy days… or maybe he was always crazy and these were his hidden crazy days… whatever. Anyway, the cop was hot [Not “Channing Tatum” hot, but  “What? Strip search? Why yes I do think that is necessary officer” hot] and I had at least 3 un-smashed beers, so we returned home with me in a better mood than I probably should have been.

Wes went to get take out, and me? In times like this… I bake. Bake and bake some more. The more traumatic the time, the more delicious the baking. So, these fudgey brownies topped with a rich butter cake were the perfect antidote to a horrible start.



Mmmmm… get the recipe here, although I made the chocolate topping myself (4 tbs butter, a handful of chocolate chips and a squirt of syrup in a pan).

I went to the office on Saturday, but had time to whip up some quick crafts for my Fall mantelpiece:


So easy to make. I took several blobs of ‘autumn colored paint’ (interpret as you will) and daubed them on precut letters (from Joanns) and a canvas. I cut the decorative letters and shapes out using my Big Shot and my Scan n Cut, and boom – with the addition of some gourds mantelpiece was ready to go 🙂

Oh, and on Sunday, post office time (did I mention that I spent a freaking huge amount of time at the office last weekend?), I also made Sam’s birthday party invitations:

Thomas train party invites

Aww… my lil’ one is going to be 2 very soon.

All together, not a bad crafty weekend 🙂



Purple Purse Campaign


1 in 4 women will be affected by domestic violence. If this post is a little tl;dr for you, and you want to get straight to the charity part (good on you); please donate to raise awareness and help victims of domestic violence at

Thank you


I so need this weekend. I was sick most of this week, yet have been working 16+ hour days. I am exhausted! I will go to the office tomorrow afternoon, but I have fun planned still for the weekend. Last weekend, despite being ill, I managed to appliqué a Halloween T-shirt for Sam’s birth class buddy:


And bake a British tea cake classic: Battenburg:

What it tastes like more important than how it looks!

What it tastes like more important than how it looks!

I was fairly pleased with the Battenburg. It was tasty, but a little dry. Next time I will use less batter and so not bake it for so long. I also was annoyed at having to shell out $6 for each packed of marzipan, and so got 1 less than I needed – this was a mistake as the marzipan is really important for holding the whole darn thing together. Still, 5 days later we have very little left, so I can’t complain too much! Here is the recipe I used:

BBC Good Food Battenburg Cake

to which I also added yellow food coloring to the yellow 1/2 of the cake. Remember, be generous with the marzipan!

All this in between feeling so ill my friend Heather had to come and help me on Saturday night while Wes was out camping (in fact, the cake was for her, until I remembered that she can’t eat nuts. #friendfail).

I am hoping this weekend will be equally as productive, I plan to make a Thanksgiving onesie for Sam’s friend Hadley, and bake Oatmeal and cinnamon cupcakes to take into work to celebrate my MS summer student submitting her first paper. Woo-hoo!

So, the weekend has started, I have kicked back with a glass of wine to the strains of Amy Winehouse (I put it on as Sam goes to sleep) and caught up with some blogs I read. My friend B had a post which alerted me to the #purplepurse campaign.

“FACT: domestic violence affects 1 in 4 women in her lifetime. Recognize it, talk about it, stop it. #purplepurse”


Purple Purse is a campaign run by All State to raise awareness for, and help victims of, domestic violence. By moving to social media, with the has tag #purplepurse (applied to a picture of you with… wait for it… a purple purse of a purple tassel on your purse) they are hoping to raise even more money and awareness.

I get it – you’re thinking “Another social media campaign? How many will there be?” Well… as many as there need to be to help those in need I guess. I know there are a lot of things people are raising awareness for: cancer, ALS, domestic violence, child abuse. But, isn’t it better that we are aware of people’s suffering, and what is going on in the world around us? I have heard people say “I am sick of this, soon there will be a campaign for me too!”. I find that view offensive; to not look around and realize how many cannot claim to be a healthy, employed, safe parent, with a support network that spans 3 continents would be a tragic dismissal of just how lucky I am. We all draw straws in life: sometime we can rig the pot, sometimes we get what is doled out to us. I always welcome reminders that many people don’t have it as blessed as I do.

And I understand that everyone is asking for money. (Of course, just raising awareness and visiting the website is a big help, and its free!). And I do get the frustration: I have stopped attending our church because so many sermons were a charity drive and I just found it hard to motivate myself to get up for it! I think I get asked to donate to charity 2-3 times a month or so. So as long as I agree with the cause, I give $10. It’s not a lot, but I think about: what if everyone gave $10 when they read about a campaign? How much help could we do? I usually take the money out of our alcohol and Starbucks budget, and I am quite happy to. $20-30 / month is manageable for me, and for that I also very grateful.

B wrote much more passionately about the campaign. I am just helping spread the word. Read B’s post here:

And visit the campaign website here:

Or, take a picture of yourself with a purple purse and post it on Facebook / instagram with the hashtag #purplepurse


What I was up to while M.I.A.

This has helped my recovery

This has helped my mental recovery

I’m back. You may not have noticed that I had gone… but it has been a relatively long time since I posted. I blame busy-ness. I would like to blame time business (too much stuff to do), but I know me, if I want to do something, I make time for it. Really, I have not been in a good emotional place for a while and that lead to a combination of (1) needing to sit on the sofa watching mind numbing TV at night and (2) feeling too raw to write my thoughts down. It is all past (passed? I never know which one to use) me now, so I feel OK to write about it. In a nutshell:

First, I did not cope very well with my MRSA surgery

Actually, that is an understatement. I turned into a giant baby about it. I still don’t know why, but I utterly fell apart over the surgery. It wasn’t even that painful. I will say that it was deeply shocking to me to go to the Doctor’s for some anti biotics, and to leave being told I needed surgery under a general anesthetic. It bought back a lot of the feelings I had going to the OR after birth, and the thoughts I had when I came around in ICU and was told I was not out of the woods, but they were doing their best. Of laying there, with my son watching me, discussing with Wes about who we would call to warn about possible impending bad news, rather than the great news of Sam. About lying there thinking of the people he was telling while he made the ‘phone calls, feeling bad I was wrecking their night (I remember telling Wes not to call Clio becaue it was 4 am in England, and him saying ‘she will want to be woken up Lekki!’) and all the time wondering how the hell we had gotten to this place so quickly.

Anyhoo, the surgery went fine, was a piece of cake, and I came around only slightly sore (I mean geez, a med student with a fish knife could have done it). So, really I should have been fine. I should have bounced back. Bouncing back is what I do. It’s my thing. Like when I weightlifted with a fractured elbow. Or negotiated the gym on crutches. Or finished my training plan with stress fractures. Or fell down a waterfall and climbed back up. Instead I let Wes do Sam’s night feed that night, and on Saturday took Sam to bed with me and refused to move, for the whole day. Wes was pleased, I think, but very shocked. He came and bought me lunch in bed, and seeing all my stuff around me said “Wow, you really are planning to stay here then?”.

Recovery Day!

Recovery Day!

Yes. Yes I was.

That was only the beginning of me starting to lose it. I went to the surgeon two days later to have my dressings changed. I expected to see a cut. A skin wound. I did not expect to see an inch long, and 3/4 in deep hole into my flesh. I did not expect to stare down into my flesh and see all the white and yellow and red and so on. In fact, I was so shocked I handed Sam to the surgeon and promptly lost my lunch.

The surgeon told me I had to pack the hole with gauze twice a day. I had to pull the old stuffing out, and stuff it with new stuff. I had hydrocodone to deal with the physical pain, but mentally, I couldn’t hack having a hole in body. I cried for 40 minutes when Wes told me that I absolutely had to change my dressing. I hid from him. I sobbed. I begged him to leave it. I ranted that no one should have to deal with this (while fully aware that people deal with far worse every day). I shrieked at him “You don’t get it! No one should have a hole in their abdomen! Not an every day person! I know you were an EMT and saw car crashes and dead children and far worse, but that is a whole different spectrum. That is a different scale! On the everyday scale no one should have to deal with seeing their flesh! It’s not at the acceptable part of the everyday scale! This shouldn’t have happened to me!”

A somewhat confused Wes dryly remarked “At least I didn’t marry someone really dramatic or anything”.

To this day, I have no idea why I flipped my lid so utterly. Wes thinks I have not processed everything from Sam’s birth, and that this was a reminder. That burying all my emotions about the hemorrage caused them to surface with this little surgery.

I don’t know… there may be some truth in that… I don’t know. I do know that having hardly spoken about it (heck, I didn’t even really blog about it), I have the urge to grab people by the lapels and go “Do you know what I went through? Do you know they told my husband that they didn’t think I would make it? Do you know they told me that? Do you know what it is like to lie in bed, with your baby watching you from a friggin plastic box, while doctors just look sorry and worried, and use vague phrases like ‘you are not out of the woods’ and lie there dealing with the guilt that your nearest and dearest are hearing about this because you can’t make yourself better? What it is like to hear about a difficult birth and want to be sympathetic, but want also want to yell “you were carrying your sweet kid home, in your arms, with your partner so proud, before I was allowed to be in a room alone with my son, and while my body had failed and I had let everyone down and was just lying there in that stupid state?”. But then I remember that from everyone’s super kind emails to me.. yeah… they do know that, and it is only me who doesn’t 🙂

All that is left from surgery

All that is left from surgery – super recoverer!

On the upside though, (1) I am processing all that as best I can; (2) all the self pity has ended, and (3) the MRSA is totally gone and I am all healed. My surgeon (who is 75! – 75 – !) was so shocked at how quickly I healed, he did a double take. I have no pain, and just a little scabby scab. Sure, my lucrative bikini modelling career is prematurely halted, but I can deal with that.

Me before my MRSA surgery. No, really.

Me before my MRSA surgery. No, really. It was that bad.

So, I dealt with it by sitting on the sofa watching Grey’s Anatomy.

Second, work has been stressing me out. I set myself a number of goals for my first year as faculty: submit an NIH grant every cycle, and apply for one other grant each cycle. There have been 2 cycles, I have submitted 5 grants – boom. I also wanted to submit three first-author papers – done, collaborate with the ARIC group – done and get my student through her exams – done. So I did everything in 9 months not 12, but instead of making me feel good, it made me freak out.

I had my annual review. I understand that when you go for these things, you are supposed to pain a picture of ‘yes, I am awesome. See? I am a wonderful member of your community, worth far more than you ever have realized, and I have identified this tiny, surmountable weakness which when I conquer will make me even more invaluable to you’. Me? When my Chair said “So – how do you think you are doing?’ I had a meltdown and said that I had lost all my time management skills, that I was not only not working to full capacity but barely putting in 9-5, that my motivation had changed and I no longer cared about papers and prestige and that nothing I was doing was sustainable long term and I had been busy but not useful. Then I said ‘it is lucky my annual review was not last week, because I was crying about all this back then. Now I am just stressed about it’.

Ha. Luckily for me I have an awesome Chair. He said that my changing priorities (less about papers, more about advancing Science) was just a sign of maturity and made me a more welcome person in his Department. He said that time management after a family was incredibly hard – that he has struggled with it, but solved it. That he could not solve it for me, but was sure I would solve it on my own, if I just gave myself time and space and patience. We talked about ways of making my research more sustainable.

I also received an email from a dear friend / mentor / surrogate sister who pointed out that I had undertaken marriage, new job, new city, new baby, serious health problems.. all within 16 months. It was OK to lose focus a bit at work. To not have the energy to feel passionate about it. To feel like work and success are the not most important things. To feel that Sam, and our home, and my family are more pressing, and need to be clung onto more dearly.

And my mentor at UT put it most succinctly when she said “I told you not to give yourself a hard time until a year after Sam’s birth! In 9 months, you can give yourself a hard time. Until then: NO.”

So, I chilled and yes, I was very busy getting 3 grants in in Feb, but I was also very busy drinking Chocolate Stout on the sofa. Good times.

(3) I was not quite as chilled about giving up breastfeeding as I had thought. In fact, I didn’t want to give up, so I have kept on pumping, only to the following rules: no more than 3.5 hours a day & no stressing when my supply is weirdly low (think 1.5 oz after 45 mins). I just focus on getting Sam some of the antibodies and microbiota and stick at what I can give. However, it was a hard adjustment. And when I had to go from pumping 8-10 and feeding at night to 100% pumping & dumping and 100% bottle feeds, Sam decided he was not going to take the breast at all anymore. He still prefers the taste of breastmilk to formula, but even when he is super sleepy at night, he won’t drink from me, or even suckle. Little rat (lovable rat). It broke my heart.

But… it is all good now. I pump a reasonable amount and just supplement. I offer Sam my breast, he spits it out. I hug him a little tighter while I bottle feed him. It’s all good, but that also contributed to me need to sit on the sofa and eat Whole Food’s Pear and Almond Dark Chocolate. Yum.

Why wouldn't you do this anymore Sammy-Sam? Rat bag.

Why wouldn’t you do this anymore Sammy-Sam? Rat bag.

So, sofa + Grey’s Anatomy + Chocolate Stout + Pear and Almond Dark chocolate, with my puppy, has been pretty sweet. And very restorative. But, I have not done nothing…

I finalized and submitted a paper, which is now under review at Atherosclerosis. I got 3 grants in, and made a clear plan to my R01 submission (in 1.5 – TWO years – long term). I got my student a good plan to make sure she is productive and successful (that worries me a lot) and I wriggled in some quality time with my son – even bringing him into work if I had been working late and so missing his playtime all week.

Sam with Shine Chang - a very eminent Professor at MD Anderson. He doesn't know how lucky he is!

Sam at work with me, with Shine Chang – a very eminent Professor at MD Anderson. He doesn’t know how lucky he is!

I have also been doing paper crafting (fancy word for making cards!):

Birthday card for Wes

Birthday card for Wes

Baby shower card

Baby shower card for Bing

Good bye card for my OB practice

Good bye card for my OB practice

Thank you card for me WONDERFUL OB who is sadly moving :(

Thank you card for me WONDERFUL OB who is sadly moving 😦

(including some not pictured things on their way to friends in the UK – yes!)

AND, because the other thing making me sit on the sofa and sniggle Walter is my OB leaving (yes, the lovely Dr. Boswell – of to do community work! Sob), I mad some cookie monster cupcakes to say goodbye to her:


I also hung out with friends, and ate excellent Dim Sum (which I have not found since I left the UK!):

Mmmmm.... Dim Sum...

Mmmmm…. Dim Sum…

So… it has been a time of just processing and chilling, and looking after my son and myself. In that time, little Samuel has turned 4 months! So, I will write a post on that next.

Sorry for the brain dump. Feels good though.

Craigslist haul


Ha! There I am, just cruisin’ Craigslist (as I do), minding my own business (as I often don’t do), lookin’ at the craftin’ stuff. To be able to afford a road trip back to Alabama, we are not supposed to be spending any money this month, so it is all window shopping. Just kind of ‘crafting porn’ for me, really. Until I saw a women advertising craft punches on a Craigslist. She had a box of them labelled them as ‘all $30’. Some crafting punches are $30 (or more) new, so I could not figure out if it was the whole box for $30 or not. $30 for each seemed stupidly expensive; $30 for the lot seemed crazily, unbelievably good. I was pretty sure it was not $30 for the lot, so when I emailed to ask, I added a kind chiding “because you know, they are $20-$30 new”.

She responded.




Her listing also listed a box of stamps and ink for $40 and a sizzix die cutter plus dies for $40. After one email she agreed to give me the lot for $80.

So, I agreed to go and collect them bright and early on a Saturday morning. As I drove out to Pasedena, full of Craft-anticipation, I was thinking “It’s a pretty good indictment of society that strangers will just meet each each other without fear… especially in a country with guns”. Then I thought “Ugh. This country has guns”. Then I thought “I could get shot”. Then my thinking spiraled, spiraled into: “This advert was way too good to be true. If you wanted to get a woman off Craigslist to kill, wouldn’t you use something like craft stuff? Something 99% likely to attract a woman?”.

Clio told me never to think.

Turns out the woman was very nice, and didhave crafting stuff, and wasn’t looking to store my head in her freezer.

Thus I now own:

Craft punches

All the craft punches


Rubber stamps

All the stamps

and a sizzix die cutter with 3 alphabet dies.

I have to admit, I felt guilty about low balling her. But she said that she had decided just to ‘throw in’ 50 sheets of scrapbooking paper:


and a free scrapbook:


So she obviously did not feel too screwed.

I am so excited! Weirdly, this has put my scrapbooking on hold while I try to find a way to integrate these into my craft studio. I am definitely having storage issues.

Houston friends: you are welcome over at mine any time to paper craft. If you have an occasion coming up and need to make something, just drop me a line. Your children are welcome too – 3 of my best friends in Alabama were 5, 8 and 10 years old respectively and some of our best times were at my house making things.

Now, I am off to work out how to store all this in a practical, but tidy, way.


She also threw in some glitters, and 15 stamp pads.

Remind me how jealous y’all are?

Sam’s first month scrapbook page


Gah, I can’t believe it has taken me so long to make Sam his 1 month scrapbook page – in just 2 weeks it will be time for his 3 month page. Oh well, little ‘uns (and work, and scrap-booking, and Christmas) keep you busy.

It’s funny to look back at this day… Of course I loved Sam, but he was still a little stranger in our home. A little, beautiful, alien. Sam was everything, and yet, we were still making an effort to fit him in to our routine. We were still in throws of “I need to do X… how do I do it with Sam?”. Still figuring out this little person who had come into our lives.

We only had one ‘routine’ down. Every day, at about 4 am, Sam would get horrible gas and grunt and cry. I was so sleepy that the best thing seemed to be to climb into bed in the nursery and bring him with me. It was amazing, he would melt into my arms, relax, stop his grunting and look utterly at peace. It started out as an anxious time: me watching him, so sad he was in physical pain. Then, quickly, Sam adjusted, as did I, and it became a very special time. Time we would snuggle just the two of us. Time, that even now as Sam gets glorious independence, he is utterly dependent on me, his Mama. It’s almost like we are as close as when he was inside me.

We wake up together, and I love I am one of the first things he sees when he opens his eyes. His biggest smiles are always when he opens his eyes to greet the day, and greet his Mum. I pray he retains that joy in life.

Back at one month, he didn’t smile, but I did. We would sit and read books, look at toys, sing songs. He was floppy then, and so skinny, I can remember how passive he was in my arms. How I taught him even to have his body in a comfortable position.

Wes would come in when he woke. He snapped this shot of us – one of my favorites – and I snapped one of him, realizing that Sam was a whole month old.

A beautiful page for a beautiful boy. Quite different from the one before – his birth page.

I am super excited, some friends bought a very special gift for his 3 month picture:


His hospital outfit, one size up 🙂 I think he will look quite different to this:


I made a blind!

Roman blind of sadness

Roman blind of sadness

A terrible.. terrible blind.

Well, the blind structure is good. The fabric is, as I suspected all along, terrible. Note to self: vintage and old fashioned are very different.

Sigh. Here is how I made the blind…

(1) Cut your fabric & lining 1″ wider than the window, and 4″ longer.

(2) Sew together, with 1/2 ” seams around 3 of the sides (leave the top open), with the outside sides (the sides you want to see) facing together.


(3) Turn right way out and insert a metal pole (I got mine from Home Depot) into the little bag you have created.


(4) Sew three sets of brass rings up from the base. I started 5″ from the bottom, then went at 7″, 6″, 5″, 4″, & 3″, intervals.


(5) Staple gun the open top around some wood, the length of your window frame (I used 1/2″ thick wood) and screw in little hooks for the threads.

(6) Run threads through the brass rings and through the hooks,


Et voila.



I hate my blind.

I am quite pleased with my valance – this was easy peasy.

(1) Construct a valance out of insulation foam (I glued it with my hot glue gun)


(2) Cover with fabric and pin into place:


Et voila a deux:

Blind of sadness

Blind of sadness

Now I have to remake the dratted blind with decent fabric.

Scrapbook page – Sam’s birth


I didn’t know how to blog about scrapbooking, and I have realised after all the comments on my last post that what people want to read about is the stories behind the photos. Well, maybe that was obvious, but somehow it did not occur to me.

I wanted to make a page for Sam’s birth. I had hundreds of pictures to choose from, given that we documented all of the 2 days I spent in labor, and 5 days in hospital postpartum. But already, when I think back, I don’t remember any of that. I have to really think to recall labor – all I know is that the pain really wasn’t that bad for me, even on pitocin. My time in hospital doesn’t seem more than 24 hours, again, unless I really make an effort to recall it. All the nitty gritty, from foley balloons to IV drips, to transfusions and so on just never comes to mind.

What I do remember, and what I relive time and time and time again, and what is reflected in the pictures I chose are those 5-10 minutes when Sam actually came into our world.

Sam descended really quickly and he was crowning in minutes. I could never feel Sam descend – I could feel the contraction, but only by looking in the mirror did I see if I was making progress. I didn’t want to use a mirror – I thought it would be gross, but the nurses kept asking and asking, so I gave in for an easy life. I was glad I did, it blew me away when I saw Sam’s head crowning. It was all blue and red and white and icky, but absolutely amazing to me to see an actual part my son for the first time. It made me cry and I remember thinking ‘I am going to have a baby!’, it is one of the first times I thought of Sam as a baby, really. That realization, and that excitement, is one of my favorite memories. I pushed and pushed for another 2 and a bit hours, and began to worry whether I could get him out or not.

Sam was transverse (just a bit I think, the OB said ‘transverse’ but I guess that has a lot of definitions). My OB for the day, Dr. Dryden, put her hands in and manually turned him each time I pushed. He made fairly good progress when she did that, I think it was just 3 more pushes, but I didn’t know that. By the time the final push came, I had stopped looking in the mirror – it was all hurting so much and I was pushing so hard I was cursing and yelling and trying desperately to focus on all the instructions (don’t hold your breath, don’t push before the contraction has built, legs up, elbows out, think ‘down’). I do remember having a panic and asking if Dr. Dryden needed to use forceps or do a C-section. Her calm words rang very clear to me “No, I don’t need to see him now. I do need to see him soon, but not right now’.

I had had so many unsuccessful attempts to get him out, my head was over to my right side and I shut my eyes and literally put everything I had into a push. I had had hours of pushing and nothing, and this didn’t feel any different, so I was shocked when Dr Dryden announced his arrival and I saw him being lifted up! He had been stuck in pelvis for a while, so he had a few more checks than was originally planned and my view was obscured.

Sam seemed to take ages to cry – I kept asking over and over again if he was OK, but then he did and but he was wrapped up super quickly and handed to me. I have heard people describe this immense love they felt… Elena at the The Art of Making a Baby describes seeing her daughter Lexie for the first time as realizing she had always loved her. I felt none of that. Honestly, my first thought was ‘Oh my God! I did it! I did it!’, just huge, euphoric disbelief. Then I instantly thought ‘He is safe! Sam made it here safely!’. Wes was crying and saying over and over again how proud he was of me, and I just thought ‘this is immense! It’s a baby! I have a son! Oh my God, I have a son for the rest of my life’.

Sam’s face, although I thought it was adorable, just struck me as so alien: I had never seen it before. I didn’t think ‘Oh, this is my son whom I love’ I just thought ‘this is the baby I have to love the rest of my life’. Knowing Sam was mine (ours) forever was overwhelming (in a wonderful, wonderful way). I tried to drink in his features, to etch them on my mind forever because he would be with me forever, but I couldn’t. It was like the enormity of becoming a mother couldn’t be encapsulated by learning a face.

They took Sam to be cleaned and weighed and all I knew then was that I really wanted him back. That I really wanted him in my arms.

10 incredible minutes in my life. I don’t ever really look at the pictures of me in labour, although they are cool to have. Everything changed the minute Sam was here: it was all about him then, not me.

My first scrapbook page

So, at the princely hour of 1.17 am every day I breast feed Sam. I am all good with that part. I am less good with the following 2 am pump (admittedly it could probably be a 1.30 am pump if I didn’t always fall asleep). At first I thought I would work while pumping… didn’t happen. Then I thought I would email or blog… couldn’t happen. As it turns out, my sleepy and sleep-deprived brain is good for only one thing at that heinous time: looking up pretty things on the internet and obsessively ‘pintresting’ them.

Seriously, my previously neglected boards have exploded. My current pretty-thing-to-pin is scrapbook layouts. After much pinning, and a few trips to Jo Ann / Target where I collected papers and embellishments on clearance, eventually, I had pinned (and spent, goddamit) enough to actually decide to give it a go.

So without further ado, here is my very amateur, first pass at a scrapbook page:


It’s hard! I think the more you get and collect, the easier it is. I have learned that I will just have collect stuff as I go along, because it helped to cut up a lot of things – way more than I could use on one page – and just play around with layouts.

It’s not quite as creative or cute as the pins on my scrapbooking inspiration page, but there is beauty in simplicity, right? Whatever, it was a lot of fun to do. Which is really the point of it after all. And it goes well with my new Groovebook app.

Oh, and the main photo was taken on 13th February, 2010, which I have just realised is 2 years to the day that Firework was conceived. 🙂

Oh, and to help poor lost souls like me, I have even added a ‘pin it’ button to me blog. Fancy.

Happy Advent! The First Christmas Craft of the Season

Happy Advent

Happy Advent

Happy Advent 🙂 OK, this is more than a little belated, but now I have wrangled young Samuel into a routine (<—- I owe you a post on this) that involves proper naps during the day, and thus also happy awake times, I actually have some time to blog (at least until grant writing makes me crazy again). I still have to put up the Thanksgiving pictures. Oh well.

This year I have actually got my butt into gear and done Christmas properly. I am not sure why this year I managed it… perhaps ‘missing’ three Christmases by letting advent go un-noticed finally tipped me. Or maybe it is because now I have a house I love and am proud of. Or because there is so much going on juggling work and a newborn and a marriage that I have started to become a ‘planner’. Who knows? Anyone else find this? Hyper organized when a little one came along?

Anyway, We got a tree nice and early which Sam got to help decorate:


Every year, Wes I buy each other an ornament.

Wes to me 2011:

'Our first Christmas 2011' ornament

‘Our first Christmas 2011’ ornament

Me to Wes 2011:


And me to Wes 2012:


And this year I got brave and made a bauble:

Handmade by Lekki

Handmade by Lekki

See? My crafting isn’t always just gluing bits of pre-cut wood together 😉

Then all the Christmas decorations came out:

Advent calendar

Advent calendar




Including the all-time favourite (from many moons ago)

Old friends

Old friends


I got organised and actually wrote Christmas cards (We tried to make a family Christmas card… but failed [attempts at the top and bottom of this card], so people got a photo of Sam in the hospital instead [better luck next year…])

But I did a Christmas wreath using:

  • A Styrofoam wreath form
  • Felt
  • Small cardboard boxes
  • Spray paint
  • Hot glue
  • ribbon
  • baubles
  • Foam
  • Scissors

Step 1: Cover the wreath form in felt squares


Step 2: Spray paint your cardboard boxes:

P1010046 P1010044

Step 3: Decorate your painted boxes:


Step 4: Glue decorated boxes to the felt, and fill in the gaps using baubles and stars cut free-hand from the foam

Homemade Christmas wreath

Voila. A cute decoration, and easy for kids to do too.

Happy Advent y’all:

Sam's Thanksgiving / Christmas outfit.

Sam’s Thanksgiving / Christmas outfit.

New Toy-box and a Final Nursery Tour

Homemade toybox


I have been crafting again – I should do more of this as I really enjoy it. I tend to shy away from craft projects due to lack of inspiration, and a general lack of talent (my Mum used to be an artist – how these genes bypassed me, I’ll never know), but my husband and I agreed that I enjoy it so much, it is worth it anyway. I am going to read some craft / home decor magazines, and I also have found a friend here who is going to teach me to crochet something other than long ‘worms’ which will expand my current ‘painting boxes’ and ‘cake pop’ craft repertoire 😉

Crochet stitch

After many failed internet tutorials, this is the most I can do with crochet. A worm. A pink / brown / blue / yellow worm, if you like. But still, a worm.

So… poor Firework will either be a craft-lover, or a child terribly embarrassed at his mother’s homemade, hokey decorations. Quite frankly, I am OK with either 😉

I wanted a toy-box for FW, but ones I liked were all pretty expensive. I had the idea of using an old apple crate to go well with the tree mural in the nursery… but actually finding apple crates, without paying hundreds of $$s for postage was not easy either. Then a quick trip to Hobby Lobby, and 10 princely dollars later, I emerged with a fake, plywood apple crate. Sweet. Some $5 plywood decorations later (including the name letters – hence the blank square) and I am pretty pleased with how it turned out. At least, pleased for $15. He can totally change it up when he is old enough to care.

I also made another ‘letter box’ – just for funsies.

So, unless the hospital puts us back due to being excessively busy, just 4 days to go. Final bits done to the nursery… all the light switches which were really old and discolored have been replaced with shiny new ones, covers have been put on the sockets (not that we need that yet, but hubby was being proactive) and the last things are in place. We have a changing table:

Changing table in nursery

A bed (it is still the spare room for when guests come, and then FW will stay in the pack ‘n’ play in our room – where he might start anyway) / nursing / play / crib area:

Gender neutral grey Nursery

Creepy uber-cam the husband wanted, which scans the entire room (you have been warned, future guests 😉 ):

Web cam for baby

And a closet full of baby clothes for 3 – 24 months – a sight that makes me smile every time I see it:

Baby clothes in wardrobe

See our bumbo? It’s a must have!

If you have sent us something lovely and cannot see it hanging up, this is because it is for 3 months or under, and is in the changing table ready to be worn! It all seems quite real, and very exciting now.