Thursday, April 28, 2011

I Am A Murder

One of my all time favorite movie moments is from "Dan in Real Life".  A widowed father of three girls tosses out the stowaway boyfriend of his barely adolescent and hormonal daughter who then shrieks in pain and agony "you are a murder.... a murder of love."  The quote makes me laugh probably because I've been a hormonal girl and I've raised and lived with a hormonal girls.  I think of this quote now because I feel like a murder today; not of love but of another fellow creature.

Warning, if you can't stand tales of death (or house mice) read no further.

I love all Gods critters, even mice.  I really love fairy tale or literary mice.  The amazing Wanda Gag's "Snippy and Snappy" is about the sweetest mouse brother and sister. (I scored a perfect copy of this when I was in California for $1.50)

 I also adore "Vera the Mouse" by Marjolein Bastin.  I wish I had bought more of these titles and taken better care of them cause Vera is a bit hard to come by now.
However, real mice in my pantry are not allowed.  Outside, live and let live, but inside - can you say Hanta Virus?  I've found mouse sign off and on in the pantry for a couple of weeks and after I scrub everything (thank heavens most of my storage is in jars) and replace the shelf liner I set out a few traps.  I like to use old fashioned spring traps that I bait with some peanut butter.  When said rodent is trapped (whacked) I then toss the whole affair into the trash.  BLHubby gives me a hard time for not emptying and reusing the traps but they cost a whopping 50cents apiece and I would pay ten times that to not empty the trap.  Unfortunately, the mouse plaguing my pantry is wise and crafty.  The mousie would lick the trap completely clean and then leave me a few poopy gifts on the shelf.  I thought the trap must be too tough to trip (though it would snap my fingers unless I was VERY careful placing it) so I bought new traps.  Same results.  I was feeding at least one unwanted rodent!  It was now war. 

 I feel strongly that creatures being. . . dispatched, should be sent into the great unknown quickly and as humanely as possible.  I don't like the idea of using poison (like D-Con).  In doing property management I've seen this go so very wrong (think stinky caucuses in walls and drop ceilings).  I've never used glue traps as they seemed cruel.  The critter isn't dead but permanently stuck.  But I was desperate.  I'd been foiled repeatedly by this mouse eating every kind of bait.  I gave it one last chance, thinking that I left too much room around the trap and I set up the mousetrap in a corner with boxes around it so the rodent couldn't reach the bait without getting on the trap and the trap came up not just clean but polished.  I bought some glue traps and set them out.  The mousy doesn't seem to live in the pantry but visit from time to time.  I checked the traps daily and nothing.  Then this morning there he was - stuck.  It was horrible!  I tried to get the BLHubbs to remove the mouse laden trap when he quit laughing he suggest I should wear work gloves while doing the deed so "it doesn't bite you".  (I will remember this)

No need to harrow your soul with the tale of bagging and tossing (with big gloves) the mouse.  I'm tossing the rest of the glue traps and praying all the field mice haven't mutated into genius spring trap avoiding super mice as here in the country getting a mouse in the house a couple of times a year is inevitable.   Pray for me.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Amazing Dr. Seuss

I'm a transplant to the South (Little Rock, AR) and our family has loved our adopted home.  No place is perfect, and last night's severe weather is one of the few down sides.  It's so hard to be relieved that we're OK when we know that so many near us have lost homes and some their lives.  Another round today, but the sun hasn't come out and it's still cool so hopefully that helps keep the really bad storms from forming though they have just come out with a severe warning for this afternoon (they rarely issue these).

One of the many good things about Little Rock, though, is the Clinton Presidential Library.  Whether you love or hate the Clintons, the library is run by the park service and gets an ever changing  run of traveling exhibitions that we would not see in a town this size without the library. Currently, they are showing The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss  (the exhibit is in conjunction with publication of a book of the same name).   I took the time to visit and remembered how much I love the good Dr.

When I was a sprout we often went to the Orem, UT public library.  It wasn't the elegant building with the wall of stained glass that's there today but a more humble building. The childrens library was in the basement so I would run down the stairs and check out the niche at the bottom where were displayed the Dr. Seuss books.  They were wildly popular and often all checked out.  I (and all the other kids) could check out only one at a time.  Here I met Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose     One of the BLGrandbabies had a school assignment to read a book to a relative and she called me and read this.  It was as wonderful as when I read it when was her age.
 as well as Bartholomew, Horton, and of coarse, The Cat In The Hat.  Several generations now have learned to read with Dr. Seuss but I'm of the age that I was one of the first.  This exhibit made me realize how Dr. Seuss's work almost always had a wonderful moral.  The American Bar Association has a lesson used by many school children that has the children do a  mock trial based on Yertle the Turtle.  It teaches about due process and how to over throw dictators.  Not bad for a kids book.  BLHubby and I were at the Wal-Mart and saw a t-shirt with a Dr. Seuss logo and a simple star on the front.  A clear reference to The Sneetches. I told the hubs that I loved it when Dr. Seuss was a bit preachy.  I love when the Lorax says "I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees."   though that book was written when I was in college. 

The Clinton Library exhibit focused on Dr. Suess's (Theodor Seuss Geisel - called "Ted") early work, before childrens books.  He did a lot of magazine covers and illustration and was a popular political cartoonist  before he wrote childrens books but his quirky style is there even early on.  One of my favorite parts of the exhibit was a booklet he wrote and illustrated when he was in the army in WWII that in classic Seuss mode warned soldiers about  Ann, the malaria caring mosquito.  The "Secret" art was art he did for himself that was rarely published.  It had his familiar style but with funny captions and is delightful.

I know I said I liked the malaria booklet but I was touched and delighted by another part of the exhibit. When his childrens books became wildly popular a major TV advertiser wanted to use his books/art as part of a Christmas ad campaign.  His agent is quoted in the exhibit as saying  Geisel was a genius and a gentleman and that it was easy to represent a genius but hard to represent a gentleman.  The agent knew that Geisel would not like to see these beloved childrens books exploited for advertising and he was correct.  When the advertiser offered an enormous amount of money Ted Geisel painted A Prayer for A Child with it's accomping poem.  He said the advertiser could use this art and text but only if they used it in it's entirety. 

From here on earth,
From my small place
I ask of You 
Way out in space:
Please tell all men
In every land
What You and I
Both understand . . .
Please tell all men
That Peace is Good.
That’s all
That need be understood
In every world
In Your great sky.
(We understand.
Both You and I.)
The advertiser declined to use this (which Dr. Seuss thought he would).  Ted Geisel was supposed to have said that he was proud to have turned down the offer that would have been the most paid ever per line of advertising copy.   The estate of Dr. Seuss produces limited (and expensive) prints of some of his "secret" previously unpublished art ad copies of some of his other work.  I just put "A Prayer For A Child" on the top of my list of "Things I want but won't ever pay the price for".   I think I could be happy with one of his quotes on the wall like this one.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Heirloom Toys

My intent for my work, besides making a beautiful item for play or display, is to create an object that will last and be cherished and passed on - a Heirloom.  I been thinking of what kind of children's products have been saved in the past.  My mother and her brother each had toys that had been played with a lot and they love to this day.

image via
Mom had a large Shirley Temple doll that she loved and saved.  As a child I was so fascinated by her mostly because she had an open mouth in which there were teeth and what looked like a felt tongue.  Mom had clearly played with her and loved her.  She was missing a couple of fingers and had some scratches and dings.  She did have her original wig and clothes.  Unlike the pictured example she had a short pink taffeta dress with pleats coming out of a high waist.  I believe the dress was original, too.  Though Mom played with her she didn't let me or my sisters play with her.  We could see her sometimes.  I believe she now resides with my youngest sister who became quite a doll enthusiast and she's part of sis's collection.

 My Uncle Wayne's favorite toys resided in my grandmother's dinning room buffet.  When we visited her sometimes Uncle Wayne (who lived near by with my cousins) would get the train out and run it.  We heathens weren't allowed to play with it by ourselves.  I have no idea what model it was but it looked similar to the one above. Like Mom's doll this was played with by a child and not a collectors piece.  I hope it resides with one of my cousins in whatever shape it's in.

Rubber Disney 7 Dwarfs
The other toy that could sometimes be found in Grandma's buffet was a set of hard rubber Disney Seven Dwarfs that officially belonged to Uncle Wayne but Mom remembers playing with.  This pictured set is available on Etsy shop My Favorite Things for $270.  I was delighted to see one available.  The set I remember at Grandma's had been loved so much it lost all it's paint but all the details and features were molded in so they still had their personalities.  My mother told us that during WWII, school children had drives where they collected rubber and metals and sent them to be recycled for the war effort.  Apparently there had been a family conference as Mom and Uncle Wayne agonized over if they should send the dwarfs to be recycled to help win the war.  They decided they couldn't part with them, even if it would defeat Hitler, and the dwarfs were saved.  I believe they still live.

What heirloom toys do you have?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Defining the "Best Loved Child"

I've been lurking on a gorgeous decorating blog, Modern Country Style.  She lives in the Cotswolds area in England and has been renovating an Edwardian house in a style she calls Modern Country.  I want to fly across the pond, knock on her door and invite myself in.  Anything to sit in her swoon worthy kitchen.  She's doing a link party on defining what your blog is.  I've been putting some thought into what I want for Best Loved Child so I thought this would be a good time to "define my blog".

I started this to chronicle my design and construction process of Best Loved Child .  I thought I could post extra pictures of product in the shop and keep of record of my life as an independent craft person/artist.

Lately this has expanded to posts about art and design for specifically children and I will do more of this.  I want to share what inspires me and explore some ideas about why we (the collective we) design the kind of toys, clothes and decor we do for our sprouts.  Like this amazing corner.  
From Diaper Style Memoirs
I don't see myself as a "Mommy Blogger".  I'm no longer in the trenches of diapers and play dates, though being a Mom of 6 should give me a good background for relating to moms.  I think I'm more on the level of recording and sharing ideas I would love if I were the kid. 

So here's a big thanks to Sarah of Modern Country Style. Can I come sit in your kitchen?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Etsy Love

I prowl Etsy for research (and fun and to avoid sanding).  I have to keep up with what's out there, don't I?   Here are a few of my favorites. They've been made into a Treasury on Etsy.  If you're not familiar with  the Etsy Treasury function you should check it out.  It's collections - Etsy calls them galleries,  like what appear on the home page of Etsy that are made by Etsy members.  You can search them or just browse.  Etsy gets those collections for the front page from these.  Here's what I found to love.
Barn Yard Plush Play Set - Simple and sweet.  The barn is a bag that holds the soft animals
Three Little Pigs Felt Finger Puppets -  Check out her other finger puppets.
Toy Wooden Boats - Inspired by boats that work the Wilamette River in Oregon.  I LOVE these.  Retro, wooden toys for boys!
Posh Fabric Playhouse - Lace curtains!  Inside finished to look like wallpaper! Ruffled roof!
OOAK Piglet Plush - Weighted and soooo cute.
Beautiful Waldorf Doll - With postage a bit pricey, but not much more than an American Girl doll and so much personality. I think these are prettiest on the web.
Paper Doll Set - Classic Fun
Felt Alphabet Set - Tactile fun and educational
Knitted Penguin "Pudgin" -  You can get him or a pattern to make him
Eco Elephant - Cuddly and politically correct
Dollhouse Pillow - Cute, fun and original idea
Fire Truck Rocker - Lost of wooden rockers on Etsy but this one takes is my fav and at 150$ unbelievably well priced.
Picture Book, Take Two Birds - Not exactly a toy but a gorgeous counting book.  Love that the author/illustrator has gone right to Etsy
Felt Fruit - A whole catagory of toys that didn't exist when my kids were sprouts
Kid Sized Play Kitchen - Use with your felt fruit.  What kid wouldn't love it. This one is so cute.

OK, Back to work.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Goldilocks Returns

I've finished another Goldilocks and the Three Bears set.  I really love how this one turned out.  I'm not sure if this one took too much time to paint or if I was slow because of colds and other stuff going on.  I do need to paint faster.

This little house looks like it belongs in the woods.  In it lives the happy family below.

Here are the Bears at breakfast.

Goldilocks can't resist visiting.  Are you guilty of "spying" on pretty houses and trying to see what's behind fences?

Here's the upstairs with Goldy trying out the beds.

 Listed now in the Shop.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What Are They Thinking? Or Fashion vrs Function

It's that time of year when I start to think of sewing stuff of the red headed Best Loved Kiddlet.  Her birthday is coming soon.  My two BL Baby Granddaughters still let Grandma sew for them which is the reason to have girls.  It's serendipity that the Arizona baby's birthday is in spring and she gets light summer clothes and the New England baby's birthday is in November as she needs little summer clothing but most of the year needs to be swaddled in warmth to stay alive. In deciding on what to sew I found this Simplicity Pattern that I could make several pieces from.
I loved this.  Looked cute and was cool and light with a little sleeve - which I like to see.  Do you see the problem?  If she wears the romper, how will she go to the bathroom herself?  The tie is the back is cute - but- I don't think our first grader could untie and then retie it herself and if  you've ever worn a jumpsuit, romper type garment you know that the only way to "use the facilities" is to take down the romper to your knees - nearly disrobing.  I'm not sure I could do this up again without help.  WHAT ARE DESIGNERS THINKING?  We don't send our girls to school with a ladies maid, and the teacher/play group mom/Mom would not be happy to have to assist. 

I love pretty, stylish clothes for kids but clothes, like any other design, need to FUNCTION.  More than just practical, I think it speaks fundamentally to the child about independence, confidence and self worth.

I won't be doing the romper (but may make it into pants and a top).  Have you seen other design goofs for kids?

Monday, April 4, 2011

More Kids Decor

We do love to decorate a room or space for our kids.  I love this embroidered pillow from Coral and Tusk. 
Hungry Hungry Hippo Pillow

The Hippo has swallowed an alligator, which has swallowed a fruit bat that has a pear in it.  They have another version-

Hungry Whale
This is  a whale that has swallowed a shark that swallowed a peg legged sailor who swallowed a crab that grabbed a fish. 

These delight me even though they aren't very colorful or vivid like I usually adore.  You have to get close and examine them to get the joke.  The Whale seems a bit gruesome - maybe because one of the eaten is a human.  I can see this idea carried out further.  Lets see, a Child eats a shark that has eaten a surfer who's eaten shrimp. . .   Wolf eats Grandma who has eaten cookies. . .   Do you think this is funny or tasteless?

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Llama and an Ardvark (Anteater)

I finally posted the latest Noah's Ark Animals.  First is a llama.

Everyone loves llamas.  There are so many kids books staring llamas.  I think we just love saying "llama".  My favorites are "Is Your Mama A Llama" (which seems to be out of print or at least out of stock at Amazon).  More current is Anna Dewdney's "Llama, Llama" picture books.  "Llama, Llama Red Pajama", "Llama Llama Misses Momma", "Llama Llama Mad at Momma", "Llama Llama Holiday Drama".  The third littlest Best Loved Grandbaby loves to quote from these extensively.

The other new animal if a Giant African Anteater - or an Ardvark if you prefer. 
I saw these on a nature show and fell in love with how amazingly goofy they are.  They are about six feet long when fully grown and are perfectly designed to tear apart termite or ant hills and lap up the contents.  Amazing.  Their unique colors are wonderful.