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Thanksgiving and The Black Friday Scorecard

27 Nov

I am Thankful for Thanksgiving. Is that a little redundant? Well it’s true. Because without Thanksgiving and its accompanying two-state-wide blizzard as an excuse, my sweet hubby probably would not have sat in a unheated bus station from 10:30 at night on Wednesday until 3:00 Thursday morning waiting for the  Greyhound that would bring him home to spend two and half blissful days with the kids and me. Without Thanksgiving and said blizzard, B would have stayed in Blackfoot, and, even though we would go to see him next weekend, he would probably not have had the chance to come back to Missoula again for a very long time. And, I may have mentioned this before, we love Missoula.

But we did get snow and we did get B and we did get turkied and pied and stuffing-stuffed, and snuggled and smiled and hugged and all-around familied (yes, I just verbed a word again) for two whole days.  And I am thankful.

Random crafty note: We made these little place markers for the table out of walnut shells, twigs, construction paper and candle wax. They’re supposed to be ships… like everyone’s own personal Mayflower. I think they turned out cute.

And then there was Black Friday.

Okay, let me just step up onto my soap box and say that I think the Black Friday shopping hullabaloo we Americans plan,prepare for and participate in year after year after year represents something seriously wrong with the spirit of our nation.  The commercialism! The indignity! The unabashed greed!

And down from the soap box… Wanna hear about all the stuff I got?

I have never gone out shopping on Black Friday of my own will and accord (once I was coerced- but I didn’t buy anything, I swear!), until this year. See, on Monday I was dropping some things off at the Goodwill donation door, getting ready for the big move and all, when the friendly, helpful, Donation-Taker Man ( that’s an official title) mentioned in his friendly, helpful way that on Friday the store would open an hour early and everything would be 50% off.

50% off on thrifty goodness? Vintagey-why-would-anyone-get-rid-of-this-awesomeness? I cracked. Yesterday morning, my MiL and I were third in line outside those shiny glass doors.

Here’s the breakdown: While all those suckers over at the mall (no offense to any of my readers who might be mall suckers) paid $75 for a pair of socks, a bottle of cologne and a food processor, I laid down $ 74.86 for:

3 pairs of (practically new) jeans for me

3 sweaters for me (including this pea-green vintage awesomeness)

2 dress shirts for B

1 scholarly- looking corduroy suit coat for B

and 1 pair of never-worn GAP khakis for B

Good deal, huh? But wait! That’s not all! I also wrangled:

1 skirt, 1 jacket, and 1 sweater for L

1 shirt, 1 pair of pants, 1 pair of Handy Manny overalls (from Disneyland) for R

6 (count ’em) 6 matching picture frames

2 box sets of Pippi Longstocking books

5 American Girl books

And approximately 25 other excellent books in excellent condition for the kiddos.

Add my Black Friday haul to the handmade Christmas craft-stravaganza already in progress in my sewing corner, and my gift- giving is practically done. Snap. All hail the thrifting Queen.

I hope your Thanksgiving was as heartwarming and your Black Friday as frugally fabulous as mine.

Love, AM

No little old ladies were trampled by mob-mentality coupon holders in the making of this post.



Aren’t They Beautiful?

6 Nov

I have two sisters- one older, one younger- who have been on my mind a lot in recent days. Maybe because I came across these lovely pics that I hadn’t seen in for-ev-er.

They both live far far away. And our lives are so different from each others’ that sometimes the distance seems amplified. But when I see the things my sisters create, the little bits of freshness and beauty and love they put into this crazy world, the miles disappear and we are sitting, the three of us, side by side on the hearth of an old stone fireplace in a living room with red shag carpet playing When I Grow Up.

Little Sis (always certain): When I grow up I want to be an artist.

Middle Sis (I went through stages): When I grown up I want to be a writer…or maybe a teacher…or maybe an artist…and a mom.   Definitely a mom.

Big Sis (she dreamed big): When I grow up I want to be a fashion designer/ rock star.

And now Little Sis is a student at the prestigious San Francisco Academy of Art University. Middle Sis is, well, you read about my life here, and I’m living all my dreams in my own way. And Big Sis lives in Hollywood, doing a lot of creative things that I don’t entirely understand that all have a lot to do with fashion and design and rock stars. And I am so beyond eXcItEd to be going to CA to see them both in just one month’s time. I miss sitting on that hearth and believing in everything we said we’d be. But I believe in us still. And I’m so proud to call these two women my sisters. Aren’t they beautiful?

Check out Big Sis’s new fashion blog: Full-Time Fancy.

On a completely different note, you faithful readers (all 2 of you)  may have noticed that I’ve been messing with my blog’s theme lately, trying out a few new looks. I like what I’ve got now- all except for the headline font at the top. It’s much too Extra Extra Read All About It for my tastes. But I can’t figure out how to change it. I’ve been reading all kinds of tips and articles on designing a custom blog background, but none of them seem to apply to wordpress blogs. I’m seriously considering going back to blogger… Of the three blog hosting services I’ve used (blogger, wordpress, and typepad), it seems the most user-friendly as far as customizing things. Advice, anyone?

Keep Soaring,


All Things Autumnal

22 Oct

I love fall. I may have mentioned that a couple (dozen) times here on the blog. Okay, just once more: I ♥love♥ fall.

I find more inspiration in nature -for writing, for art, for homeschooling, for cooking, everything- during the autumn than at any other time of year.

Last Saturday the kids and I went to a Fall Festival at our local community farm, in a beautiful area of Missoula known as The Rattlesnake (I know that doesn’t sound so beautiful, but trust me on this one). There we found an abundance of All Things Autumnal. For example: Great Pumpkins, Charlie Brown.

Not to mention a pumpkin patch (in the background behind the adorable short fellow with the mischievous grin)…

…which was occupied by its very own (grayish) black cat. Ophelia.

Then, of course, there was apple cider and bobbing for apples…

…which is harder than it looks! R and L both  tried the lip-suction method, but ended up biting the stems of those few apples that had them. And they may have used their fingers. Just a little.

There were pony rides, and a tractor-pulled hay ride…

And hay bales to run and jump on.

As you can imagine, we had a rollicking good time.  We only wish B had been there with us.

Happy Fall!

Love, AM

I’m in Love…

11 Oct

…with these books. Here’s a new list of Super Reads.


The illustrations in this book are all hand-stitched quilts. It is mind-boggling. And the story is simple and heart-warming as well.




Classic Cicely Mary Barker who, like her fellow Frederick Warne and Co. author Beatrix Potter, was educated at home and self-taught in art.



A semi-fictional tale of the childhood of the poet Pablo Neruda, written with unforgettable beauty.

And I had to take my own photo of this one because the one on Amazon just doesn’t do the artwork justice:


I may have mentioned before that some books make my stomach jump up to meet my heart, and my breath catch in my chest…
… you know, the way you felt when you were in elementary school and that certain special someone walked around a corner and looked at you…
… or sat by you, or brushed your hand as you walked by. This book does that to me. Funnily enough, that’s also what it’s about. First love.

And I hope my posting those pictures is not totally illegal.

Anyway, Free Unsolicited Advice: Read these books. And after you’ve read The Dreamer, join me on my Pam Muñoz Ryan kick. I read Becoming Naomi León yesterday, and Paint the Wind and Esperanza Rising are on the list next.

Anyone else fallen in love with a good book lately?


A Deuce of Moose, etc.

4 Oct

Random things I’ve been wanting to share for the last month or so…

A little homeschool fantastico:

New books to kick off our new school year. We are reading Little House in the Big Woods first, and doing things along with the Ingalls as much as we can.

We harvested our little garden as the Ingalls family harvested theirs.

R is learning his letters, one per week. This is our letter A monster. Because the A says AAAAA!

More letter learning...

...this alphabet is yummy!

We did an art project from the 'Barefoot Book of Earth Tales'...

These are our take on Aboriginal Song-Line Paintings.

R went mixed-media with paint, leaves, grass, and a bucket of wooden clothespins.

Our travels…

The Deuce of Moose (drinking river juice). *snort*. Ah, I just can't help myself. In the Tetons, in case you couldn't tell.

And our new pup, Camper. Because, as R put it, "He will like to go camping with us."

Parenting: Touching the Hearts of Our Youth

22 Aug

Parenting: Touching the Hearts of Our Youth.

Abitus Sed Non Oblitus (apparently this is Latin)

20 Jul

Not sure why I chose Latin. Perhaps I’m feeling classical. But anyway, Abitus Sed Non Oblitus is Latin for “gone but not forgotten,” which is how I am feeling about the first half of this summer. And by the way… how is the summer half over?? Wasn’t Memorial weekend only a few days ago? And now, suddenly I have a virtual (literally) stack of outings and events and crafty stuff I’ve been meaning to blog (I call this ‘The I Need to Blog This Stack’) with more being added every day.  This is, after all more than just a blog. It’s my journal, scrapbook, and family album all rolled into one. And there are so many things I don’t want to forget. Like:

Father’s Day, and the fun craft the kids and I made for B (it’s a key chain). And thanks to my friend Mariam for the idea…

Making Bog Babies with my babies…

The Fourth of July…

The way R ended up with these ‘Star Wars’ shoes instead of these shoes, even though he really, really wanted the supremely ugly Spiderman ones (I told him if he picked the shoes I liked I would buy him a toy to go with them. Yes, sometimes even I resort to shameless bribery. I couldn’t let my son walk around in those shoes. Look again. Seriously, look again. They have purple glitter on the toes)…

Camping at Holland Lake and sticking it out despite the thunder storm, then hiking to Holland Falls the next day…

This cute (if I do say so myself) skirt I made for a church fundraiser…

My L as the tiniest and cutest seahorse ever in Missoula Children’s Theater’s The Little Mermaid…

And me and B celebrating our 10 year (10 year!) wedding anniversary. I love you honey.

Not to mention doing Glacier National Park with the kids and Nanna, but that will have to have its own post because O. M. Guggenheim.

Hope your summer is keeping you busy and soaring as well.

Love, AM