Vintage goodies

Several years ago, I bought a Holga – a cheap, toy camera that takes terrible photos – and I absolutely loved it. The photos the Holga takes come out blurry, vignetted, or with light leaks... You never know what you're going to get. Some of my favorite photos have come out of that camera:
Sacré Coeur
Sacré Coeur, Paris, 2005

But once I got my digital camera, I stopped going to the trouble of buying film and processing it. It was too much of a hassle. So the Holga went into a drawer, never to be seen again. I've been settling for high quality for years. But no more! Nate got me a Diana (a plastic lens for my digital camera) for Christmas. The blur is back!
I love the soft focus and the vintage look. It's not quite Holga quality, but it's a good film-free replacement. And what better lens to use when photographing this adorable, vintage sweater! This sweater was hand-knit by Auntie (Nate's great aunt) for Nate when he was about Walter's age. I'm so envious of her knitting. The patterns are so intricate and there's not a flaw to be found. Auntie put so much time and effort into the sweaters she made for Nate and I'm so excited that Walter can wear them too.


Merry Christmas!

Rain and ice kept us home this year, but we made the most of it. We had some cozy days just lounging around the house. Walter got to be home on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought him, and we got to see lots of local friends and relatives. It was a very merry Christmas. We hope yours was too!


Tired puppy

Cold weather means less playtime and less walks, which leads to more digging and more chewing. So, Molly gets one day a week to play with her pals at doggie daycare. And, one night a week, we get an exhausted dog. She will not move from this chair until bedtime, when we practically have to drag her up the stairs to her bed. Doggie daycare – worth every penny.
Tired puppy



I still love Saturdays...
Even in winter...
Dog park
How could I not?


18 months and a few days

Oh my, this boy is getting big! Has it really been a year and half already? Walter is such a good kid. I'm not saying he doesn't occasionally throw himself on the floor in a full-on tantrum, but those times are few and far between. And they are usually about something incredibly important. I mean, really, why can't he play in the dog food? We can be so unreasonable at times.
He really is a very happy kid. He's curious and loves to pretend. His vocabulary is pretty limited and we're still communicating largely with "yes" and "no," but it seems like hundreds of words are on the tip of his tongue. His babbling is more varied each day and he strings together all combinations of sounds. And Walter is starting to recognize letters. He knows a "B" when he sees one. "U" is another favorite. I think he's learning this love of typography from me.
Walter's room
He is the greatest little snuggler I know. The bedtime hugs are the best – his head on my shoulder and a nice tight squeeze. My favorite time of day. I'm going to soak this up while I can. I know it won't last forever.
A trip to the doctor today confirmed that he is doing great and he is still a beanpole. Here are the 18 month stats:
Height: 34" – 90%
Weight: 23 lbs, 7oz – 18%
Click on any photo to see more on Flickr.



A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon this blog – "So You Think You're Crafty". It's a reality TV-style, craft challenge blog. The contestants submit their entries, and each week someone gets voted off the blog. There have been several great ideas submitted and in week three, the Cozy Car Caddy was entered (craft #4). I loved it – so cute and a great thing to toss in the diaper bag for those times when a kid needs a little entertainment. We could have used this yesterday at the Christmas pageant our nieces were in. Nate and I loved watching the girls perform (they were so cute!), but Walter ran out of patience about half-way through. We only had a pack of tissues and some wipes to keep him busy. Next time we'll be more prepared. Here's my version of the Car Caddy. I'm not sure if I'm going to save it for Christmas or put it straight into the diaper bag.
Car caddy
Car caddy
It's nice to use my sewing machine for something other than taking in the waists of Walter's pants...


Snow Day

We got somewhere around 15 inches of snow – my office is closed for the day!
Snow Day
The snow isn't slowing Molly down.
Snow Dog
And being stuck inside isn't slowing Walter down.
Now, naptime. I love an unexpected day off...
Naptime Knitting


Brought to you by the letter "W"

Wow. I'm sort of a typeface junkie and I was recently led to this fabulous site – Daily Drop Cap. Jessica Hische is a typeface designer/illustrator in Brooklyn. She draws these fabulous letters each day and generously allows them to be used by bloggers everywhere to help brighten up their pages. Check out her blog and her new website. It's a great source for inspiration on those days when I'm stuck in a rut. To quote Jessica, "Envy can be a big motivator."
I had a hard time deciding which letter to use today, so I went with the house favorite.


Decking the halls

We spent the afternoon putting up the Christmas tree. Walter LOVES it and spent lots of time examining the the whole thing. I mean, there's a tree inside the house! And it has all sorts of cool things hanging from it. Santas and angels and birds and even a giraffe! I admit I'm about as excited as Walter is. I like getting all the ornaments out. They each have a story. Most of my favorites are the ones that Walter overlooks.
Tijou ornament
This one is from our trip to London in 2005 – inspired by Jean Tijou's decorative ironwork in St. Paul's Cathedral.


Pretend play

This boy loves to watch us cook. He insists on being held so he can see what's happening in the pots on the stove – I'm getting really good at one-handed cooking. He takes what he learns back to his play kitchen. He puts his toy colander into the sink, drains his imaginary noodles, then dumps them back into the pot. He pours a little imaginary seasoning into the pot, stirs it up and tastes it. I taste it. Nate tastes it. It's pretty fun play for all of us. But when he's done, he puts me to work, washing his dishes. Hmmm...


Story dice

I am so excited about this very cool game! I originally found it here, but then saw it again here and here, and I just had to make a set for us (and a couple more sets for Christmas gifting). The rules are simple: roll the dice – as many as you like – and make up a story based on the pictures. It's easy, creative, and you can take it anywhere and play with anyone. Walter can't make up stories yet, but he's been having fun playing with the dice. I like the sort of game that he can grow into.
Story dice


Giving thanks

A few things I'm feeling thankful for:
Family visits – Walter got to sit in the laps of lots of grandparents this Thanksgiving.
Reading with Grandpa
Really, really, really good food, and a few nights away from my kitchen. Thank you to all of our hosts!
Buttery goodness
My little cookie thief.
Cookie stealer
The generosity of others. A sweater with elbow patches – hand-me-downs don't get much cuter than this.
Elbow patches
An extended weekend and a husband who lets me sleep in.
And so much more...
Happy Thanksgiving!


Bedtime snack

Walter spent dinner time driving a tater tot around his tray making "vroom vroom" noises. So we had a healthy snack before bedtime. Frozen blueberries. It's been a while. They're messier than I remember.


Rough night

Ish. Nate and I got food poisoning on Thursday night. Walter managed to escape it – I'm actually thankful he refused to eat his dinner this time! It is so wonderful to have family nearby. Gramma and Grampa took Walter for the day and gave Nate and I some much needed recovery time. And Aunt Kristin, Uncle Jeremy, Kyla and Finn were kind enough to let Walter play with their toys while I camped out on their couch. We're feeling much better today. Thank you, family!


Growing dinner

I just finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver. (And by "reading" I mean I listened to the book on cd during my commute. It's kind of like cheating, but I think it's good use of an otherwise boring 20 minutes.) This book tells the story of a family's year-long commitment to eating locally. It has left me fantasizing about digging up our entire lawn to grow a wider variety of fruits and veggies and doing totally wacky things like raising chickens and making my own cheese. I have to keep in mind that the Kingsolver family owns a small farm, not a small suburban lot, and they have the time to work that farm. And getting Nate to agree to dig up the lawn to grow veggies he doesn't particularly want to eat could be a challenge. But I'm already starting to plan next year's garden. I'm hoping to expand a little and mix more edibles in with our flower beds – crossing my fingers that the bunnies will stay away. I have a lot of research to do. I wonder how much space I'd need for sweet potatoes...

You can read more about Animal, Vegetable, Miracle here. Check it out. Maybe you'll be inspired too.


Sweet potato fries

My new favorite side dish – sweet potato fries. Walter gobbles them up in the blink of an eye. He takes after his mama – he likes the sweet/salty combo too. I've learned to make really big batches so we don't have to fight over them.

sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch spears
olive oil
kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Toss potato spears with olive oil - just enough to coat. Spread them on the baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn with a spatula or tongs. Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Nate dips them in ketchup, but Walter and I like them just as they are.


Cooking with Walter

It's been a while since I've posted video. I've started a few projects, but things don't always work out as planned. And sometimes I don't plan at all and cute video clips just land in my lap. Here are a few minutes of Walter's antics while we were cooking dinner tonight. I should just leave the camera running more often. It's fun to see what he does while we're not looking.



I made the salted brown butter crispy treats today while Walter napped. By the time he woke up, half the pan was empty! How did that happen? They have that salty/sweet thing happening and I just can't get enough. I may never go back to the plain-jane crispy treats again.

One last lap

Today was the last day of the outdoor Farmer's Market for the season. It was a beautiful morning for it – Walter didn't even need his hat. We made our usual loop, got scones to share and loaded our bag with farm fresh eggs, chicken, and cheese. The ladies we bought our garlic from were kind enough to snap a photo of us:
Last day of the Farmer's market
A smaller market will be held indoors over the winter so we'll still get our Farmer's Market fix on Saturday mornings. It won't be quite the same without the fresh air and capitol view, but we'll take what we can get.


Nothing is safe anymore. He's figured out how to get on the furniture...


Recommended reading

You may have noticed that I've recently added a list of blogs to the sidebar on this page. My blog reading list changes from time to time and I will change the list here from time to time as well. There's so much great stuff out there in the blogging world.

One of my favorites I'd like to point out: Smitten Kitchen. It's a fabulous food blog, loaded with gorgeous images, and her most recent addition, a baby boy! It just keeps getting better. I don't remember how I stumbled upon this gem, but I enjoy reading it so much that I feel like passing it on to you. She makes a wide variety of recipes, and most would not intimidate the average cook. She gives honest reviews, stories of failures, and advice on how to make things better. And the photos! Did I mention the photos? Lovely. Smitten Kitchen's latest entry – salted brown butter crispy treats. I think I'll be making these very soon!


Oh, to be a kid again

We walk outside and are hit in the face with a blast of cold wind. Walter stops for a second, then grins and throws his hands in the air like he's on a wild roller coaster ride. I guess this is his way of welcoming the cold weather. Maybe I should give his approach a try...


Happy Halloween!

Things have been a bit crazy this week. Work has been busy, home has been busy. Our phone line was accidentally severed, cutting off our phone and internet access, so blog posting has been on hold for a while. But we are back up and running now and I've got Halloween goodies to share.

We'll start with pumpkin carving. It took Walter a while to figure out what we were doing, but in the end, he happily dug his hands deep into the pumpkin goop. He even helped me separate the seeds for roasting. Yum!
Aside: Walter will not put a piece of broccoli in his mouth – he practically gags at the sight of it. But raw pumpkin guts went straight in, without a thought.
Pumkin carving
Pumkin carving
We had a little costume trouble with Walter this year. We were wandering the costume aisle of our local Target and we saw this:

Walter LOVED it. "Neigh! Neigh! Neigh!" All smiles and nods and "Yeah!" We brought the horse home and tried to put it on him. He FREAKED! I've never seen such terror. He would pet it and hug it, but try to put it on him and he would scream bloody murder. Yes, folks, our son is afraid of his Halloween costume. So, back to Target we went, horse in hand, to the returns counter. We settled on a less frightening, homemade pumpkin costume, handed down from Kyla, and before that, Uncle Eddie. He still wasn't thrilled about being dressed up. Don't let the smiles fool you. The only way we got the hat on his head was by taking him outside. (Hats are always required for going outside.) He was costumed for about ten minutes, just long enough for some photos. Then, off it came. Oh well, there's always next year.
Happy Halloween!


Really? More sunshine?

I swear the forecast said we would have rain all weekend. But I'm not complaining. Not one bit. We spent another morning outside, making sure Walter was good and tired for nap time. And there wasn't a single complaint when I put him down.
More leaves



Today's workout:
A walk around the capitol square, carrying Walter and a bag of produce
Several trips up and down the hill in the backyard
Countless laps around the garden, holding Walter's hands as he walked on the stone wall
A horsey ride around the living room
Countless leg lifts with Walter riding on my ankles
A walk through the arboretum
Several laps through the house playing chase
And, a walk with Molly
No, I don't run or bike much anymore. But I have a toddler – that more than makes up for it! I think it's time for some ice cream...

Here are some photos from our day. We lucked out - no rain and even some sunshine! (Click on any photo to see a few more on Flickr.)
Molly and Walter


The game

Step 1: Remove lid from bucket
Step 2: Dump blocks from bucket onto floor
Step 3: Put blocks back into bucket, one by one
Step 4: Put lid on bucket
Repeat steps 1-4 until dinner is ready.
Thanks Emma and Ginny, for the new (to us) toys! They make the wait for dinner much more fun!


Fall photoshoot

I had a little fall photoshoot with some other Billmeyers today. We got some great shots of these very cute little girls:
Emma and Ginny
This very energetic family:
Running Billmeyers
And this very sweet dog:
Eddie the Dog
We couldn't have asked for more perfect weather. It was a beautiful day for playing and picture taking.


We made a trip out to Eugster's Farm Market this morning for their Fall Festival. This place has all the bells and whistles - petting zoo, (not-so) scary haunted silo, corn maze, and tractor-pulled wagon rides out to the pumpkin patch. We had a great time and I learned to be very careful while taking photos in the petting zoo. A goat just might try to jump in your lap!
Pumpkin Patch
Pumpkin Patch
Pumpkin Patch
Click on any of the photos above to see more photos on my Flickr page.



When I told people I was having a boy, one of the most common responses was, "Where are you going to put the train table?" I now have an answer. It's in the basement:
This Thomas the Tank Engine train set is a hand-me-down from Walter's Uncle Eddie. It passed through cousin Kyla's hands first, and now has a home on our old coffee table in the basement. Walter couldn't be happier and he promises to let Uncle Eddie play with them again whenever he comes to visit.



Walter has words! Many words. And many of those many words sound incredibly a lot alike – they sound like "Mama." Mama is Mama, of course. But then Molly is Mama; Grandma is Mama; Elmo is Mama; both Emma and Ginny (Walter's cousins) are Mama. You need a sharp ear and some visual clues to tell you who he's referring to. I don't mind sharing my name with so many others. In fact, I'm pretty darn happy it's one of his best spoken words. Of course, there's only one "Dada."


Good news, bad news

Good news: Walter nodded "yes" when I asked him if he wanted to sit on his potty.
Bad news: He really just wanted to play with his potty – lift the lid, stick his hands in the bowl, etc...
Good news: This is the first interest he's shown in his potty in a while.
Bad news: He pooped on the floor while playing with his potty.
Really bad news: He stepped in it.
Good news: He sat on his potty. All on his own. For quite a while. These are big steps, people! Big steps indeed.



Winter already, it seems. We had a chilly Saturday – 36 degrees or so. Walter and I made a very speedy trip through the Farmer's Market, and even still, my coffee was cold by the time we got back to the car. Then we headed over to the fire station for a look at the trucks on display today. Walter liked the trucks, but wasn't so excited about the person dressed up as Sparky, the fire dog, or the person dressed as Smokey the Bear. Apparently adult size stuffed animals scare the crap out of him. Noted.

While Walter napped this afternoon, I had time to finish off his second hat:
Hat - Version 2
I'm much happier with this version. I actually paid attention to and followed the instructions, (found here, if you're interested) and it turned out great. This version fits more snugly so even with the little bit of stretching that I'm sure will happen, it's not going to be so big it covers his eyes, which is what happened with the first one. My favorite part of this hat, I think, is the cute spiral pattern on the top:
Hat top
Now, on to some mittens so we can keep Walter's hands warm in this cold weather.

Oh, and Molly decided to pose for some photos today, too. She didn't want to feel left out.
Breezy Molly


Silly Walter

I was having Walter point to his ears, my ears, his nose, my nose, and so on. When we got to bellies, he pointed to his, then lifted my shirt and gave me a zerbert right on the tummy! And he nailed it! A big, loud, silly, fart noise! Possibly my proudest moment as a parent yet...


Done! Sort of...

All that creative energy from a few weeks ago finally got Walter a new hat. Of course, when I went to search my yarn stash, I was instantly distracted by a work-in-progress – a sweater for Walter. I put a little more work into it, but it's still unfinished. Nate thinks the colors are too girly, so I may change them up a bit and give it another shot. I'm going to have to make a bigger size by the time I get back around to that one. Anyway, I eventually made the hat I intended to knit:
Hat - version 1

It's cute, but I think that about everything I put on Walter. I'm not really happy with it. It was sloppily knit. I can spot my mistakes from across the room. And it's a bit too big, the stripe a bit too high. So I'm going to do it again, and do it better. Besides, what else am I going to do while Nate is watching all those football games?


A blogoversary!

One year ago today, I decided to give this whole blog thing a shot. Tall Tales has turned out to be a really fun project for me. Looking back at old posts, I'm finding it to be a nice little journal/baby book (without my bad handwriting to clutter things up!) I hope you are enjoying it too. Thanks for reading!



Autumn is here! Walter and I picked up some mini-pumpkins at the Farmer's Market this morning. These might even be more fun than cherry tomatoes. Maybe we'll plant some next year...
Little pumpkin