Wednesday, December 15, 2010

handmade gifts

The last few weeks have been a blur of stitching, trying to finish up Christmas gifts for my nieces.

Julia, who is three, will receive a handmade toadstool mouse house. Equip with two felt mice and handle for toting around.

and window boxes loaded with daisies.

always thankful for help from my stitching bunny.

Lilly, six, will receive a handmade diaper bag set for her baby. A few cloth diapers, a quilted changing pad, bibs, and a way-too-cute diaper bag.

stitching bunny stuck her nose in my pin container. one time, never again.


The girls were so excited for their first snow! They really weren't sure what to think of it. I was fondly reminded of the children's story Henny Penny - "the sky is falling! the sky is falling!"

India followed everyone around eating the snow off of their backs...until she realized her own back was covered in snow.

My nieces, Lilly and Julia came for a visit. They delightfully hold the family titles of Chicken Tamer and, of course, Chicken Tamer Assistant.

Lilly teaching them to dance for treats.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Today is an example of why I love thrift stores. Not all of them though. Some are oddly overpriced - at least in my 1940s mind. Six or seven dollars for used jeans? No thanks. Five or six for a shrunken wool sweater? Pass. Today however, the price was right. Today was Customer Appreciation Day at the Fort Monroe thrift store... and boy did I feel appreciated! Welcomed with tasty cookies - and an amazing, melty chocolate peanut butter stick! mmmm... I'd go back if I hadn't cleaned that plate up!

Anyway, my steals.

I got three pairs of pants for myself (AE, Calvin Klein), three long sleeve shirts (AE & Target), jeans and two tops for Lillian (Old Navy), a striped dress and shirt (stripes by request!) for Julia (Gymboree), tons of cute baby clothes for Lil's doll.

And best of pre-health-nut-transformation best friend would have arm wrestled me for... brown high-heel, annoyingly pointy Nine West shoes!

All of this, my friends... $5.00 + tax. That's it. That's all. And that's why I don't like buying anything new!
(Those Nine West shoes, new: $80. Thrift store: TWENTY-FIVE CENTS!!)

Oh, the high of second-hand bargains. Saving the planet, and adding to my wardrobe!

the gardens

A few days back we took a little trip to the botanical gardens. We were sad to see the trees are past their peak. Some of the Japanese maples were holding on though. But still, winter is clearly not far off. In fact, snow is predicted for this weekend, or so the rumor goes.

i love how hostas look when they are on their way out - they make me think of little plant skeletons.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


The Smanlon family spent Thanksgiving with dear friends, here in Virginia, this year. Certainly missing our family, but so thankful for friends!

Thanks to the gypsy moth quarantine and the inspections required to ship even a single tree, we had to forgo our traditional holiday package from my dad. And so, for the first time ever, a Hanlon family member BOUGHT a Christmas tree. Thankfully, Lowe's had a good deal on our favorite tree, probably grown in Michigan, even likely grown by a cousin of ours. But importantly, bug-free.

the girls sharing their thanksgiving treat - gingerbread crumbs and grits!

Violet helped mom and dad decorate the tree this year.

made quite the haul from the scrap bin at Lowe's.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Keeping Promises

Yesterday I ran my first marathon. I've told myself for at least three years that someday I would do it - and I did!

The day was really perfect, 35 degrees or so to start and 65 or so to finish. Parts of the course ran along the James River, through neighborhoods with beautiful fall leaves and across a couple bridges, one with an awesome view of the Richmond skyline.

The best part however was the amazing running around my husband did in order to see me 7 times and my dear friends who certainly surprised me at mile 13 and at the finish! I'm so thankful for the support my dear and my friends have given me, yesterday and throughout my training!

Mile 1.

Mile 26!!


Keep the promises you make to yourself.

Monday, November 8, 2010

best visit. best friend.

This weekend was the best. With my best friend. You know the kind of friend you can't believe actually exists because you have THAT much fun together and connect in a really mysterious and wonderful way? We used to often refer to ourselves as kindred spirits. And really, that's about the only way to describe it.

Food was naturally the main focus of our time together. Naturally. The first day we made our way to this pretty rad raw food restaurant. yuuummm... I'm still dreaming about the tofu-spin roll we shared, among a few other delicious samplings.

This was the Olamexi III. YUM.

We also did a little antiquing - found some incredible yellow shutters for Lizard's home and a tiny oval serving plate for mine.

We made roasted red pepper pesto for our grilled mahi mahi and grilled green tomatoes.

We attempted basil sorbet.

We dehydrated about a million apples.

We drank delicious wine and french-pressed coffee.

We really did, made, ate, and visited about 102 really fantastic things this weekend, but the best part, by far, was just chatting together. I'm so thankful for my kindred spirit.

Friday, October 29, 2010

things made

One of my favorite parts of the changing of seasons is the changing of daily activities. Fall means more stew and home-baked bread, more foods that include pumpkin!, warm beverages instead of iced, sweaters in the morning in place of sweat, evenings spent stitching versus summer evenings spent weeding.

Needless to say, we remain busy. Working, playing, making. Kissing our chicks and bunz.

Here are a few of our most recent projects:

House shoes to keep my toesies warm.

Quilted rug that bunz HATES.

Kitchen island made by my dear.

Two painfully cute cross-stitches made for me by my dear.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Nap Time

I looked out the window this afternoon and caught my little pretties getting into some trouble... as usual. After they scratched up all the mulch out of my side garden, they were completely exhausted and had to take a rest. Best place? In the sunshine, in my potato bag!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Our Grand-Egg!

I would like to introduce the world to our first grand-egg! We're so proud!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My girls

My little family has a routine. Every morning mumsie rises between 6 and 6:30 - very active internal clock/very sunny bedroom. I am hurried downstairs by Violet - noisily doing laps in her cage... I let her out and we sit on the rug in front of the kitchen sink together - scratching here and there, and if I quit, she bites me. Grab a quick bite to eat and kick V back in her cage.

She does like to kiss me!

I head outside to a begging choir of peeps. Let us out! Let us out!!!! The girls all scurry out in single file, India is always the last. They begin their morning bug patrol and weed taming while I start my coffee. Usually by the time I get back out with my book and coffee, they are all lined up beneath the grill, where it's shady, taking their morning break. Here we sit, reading and resting, until the sun gets too warm to stand - which is quick these days.

And since dad works nights, he joins us in the late afternoon for musical chickens and playing in the sprinkler.

Friday, May 21, 2010

City Chicks!

Living in a two bedroom apartment, in sweltering west Texas, all I could dream about was farming - stretching my legs out between the rows of tomatoes in the garden as I weeded, dirt under my fingernails, sun burning through the t-shirt on my back. I knew the next place we lived I had to have a garden! As we neared our moving time, I became acquainted with a new friend and love - Urban Farm Magazine!

This fantastic magazine helped to expand my little dream of a simple garden into something...well, larger.

I started to imagine having a miniature version of a farm - a farming system, a huge compost pile, tons and tons of food to enjoy and to preserve, and a flock of hens. Well, I'm here tonight to announce that my dream has been realized! A few days ago my husband completed our top secret, undercover chicken coop and a day later we brought home four bouncing bundles of feathers and joy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010


After five months of below freezing temperatures, snow covered vehicles, turtle-neck sweaters, and hauling firewood in, it is time for spring. Spring time is loaded with anticipation - not just for humans, but for all northern Michigan creatures. It feels a necessity to wear a t-shirt the first day that rises above forty degrees. Forty degrees during the other seven months of the year would require an extra layer but the excitement of spring feels fresh on bare skin. Very fresh.

The birds would agree as they twit around chirping and calling a mate. It's as though they get a little high from the warmer air and buds breaking. Sometimes they get so crazy I fear their heads may pop off in excitement. They tend to settle down a little more as they lay eggs and prepare for a life that revolves around the nest. Their focus becomes feeding and protecting their ugly little babies.

It sometimes seems as though plants can't wait for spring to hit either. Crocuses and daffodils are busting out of the soil trying to catch a glimpse of the warm sunshine. Forsythia threatens to show it's delicate yellow flowers a bit too early. The lilac buds are bursting at their seams. Pussy willows still have a little feel of winter however. They remind me of a grandmother donning her finest mink coat. I guess magnolias seem even more that way to me. They are such a grand flower with a breath-stopping scent. That might be a little more like a granny in a fur coat - perfume almost too heavy, but wonderful. And beautiful.

Trees tend to get a little excited in the first few warm days of spring. In all their liveliness starts to flow spring's finest beverage - maple sap. God's gift to the season's early birds. With nights still below freezing and days nearing comfortable t-shirt weather, sap starts flowing and can't be stopped. So, what does one do? Grab a cup, pull up a lawn chair, and enjoy. I'm pretty sure that was His purpose in making maple sap - to satisfy the taste buds.