accidental parenting.

I had an unplanned conversation with My Teenager. I have always been an advocate for conscientious parenting, but I  also believe that life unfolds and things may seem like “accidents” but in fact are opportunities.

Allison gave all of her girlfriends an emergency holiday survival kit. The jar contained many things, some hilarious. A Band-aid, lighter, tea light, panty liner, candy, quarter, condom etc….  In my holiday hurry I left the jar on the counter where The Teenager happened upon it.  The jar thumped onto the table and the top came off,  questions ensued.

You are smart so I am guessing that you know exactly which emergency item she wanted to discuss. This is a great way for me to take on hard topics. I hate conflict, and this evolved into a conversation between two humans that trust each other. It began with “why is it wet?” then touched deftly on STDs and rounded out with ultimately who’s responsiblity it is to provide such items.  I flashed back 16 years to when I made the conscience choice to bring her into this world and it became abundantly clear which wisdom morsel to impart to her. “You are responsible, you will have to make the choice to adjust and sacrifice your future, your sanity, and your body to emotionally and financially support another human for at least 18 years, or choose to end a pregnancy.”  I jest a bit to lighten the mood, but my tone is as serious as a I can manage, and she hears me.  She hears the passion with which I honor her life with my own.





Those shady Southerlands.

Talk about an ironic title. These Southerlands I speak of are two of the most generous and loving people I know. Did I mention, patient? Well they have waited over a year for their custom lampshades, and not a peep out them until they arrived. Good people with an enviable collection of beautiful Mid Century items so I must do a good job.



It all started in the summer on our annual Wilmington, NC visit, I got sidetracked by their new lamps they inherited from family and promptly set about re-wiring them,  after that the shades simply would not do, with the light shining through the stains showed up.


I tried to clean them, doing my darndest to keep the shape.


I could not save them.  We put them back on and they waited. The next summer I stole the shades leaving the pretty lamps naked.  I did some research and aimed to acquire yet another skill.  They came for a visit and I ended up wanting to spend time with them instead in my zone. They left shadeless and I had another bump in my education. I could not get the old lamp frame rings back to round no matter what I tried.  I decided to order new ones. They don’t make them the like they used to so I had to factor that in to the new shade and do some very dubious math. Then I decided to change the fabric, and the tape, and finally got down to business.

Materials needed.  (I purchased all of my materials from

-2 lamp wire frames, one with bulb or harp holder, and one without. size depends on your shade. I used 12 inch in diameter. (tip- for your first go at this use two of the same size. It becomes much harder when top is smaller than the bottom)

-stryene shade liner (sold by the yard)

-white paper tape.


-clips (I use clothespins)

-masking tape

-Xacto knife


-small paintbrush

-rag for excess glue.

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– tape the very springy lamp liner to work surface and trace the old lamp shade on it.

-cut using an Xacto knife (material rips easily so scissors can be disastrous)

– Tape fabric face down on clean work surface.

-lint roll to remove inevitable dog hair, so it is not permanently trapped between layers.

-lay shade liner over fabric and trace if you wish so the design or weave is straight, or wing it like me.

-slowly peel back protective layer on the stryene while firmly pressing on the fabric.

-once it is fully stuck, cut remaining fabric leaving 3/4 inch of fabric all the way around.

-pin the shade all the way around folding extra over the ring. do top and bottom.


-fold edges of fabric over and glue the seam, add a little weight on top to make it flat. (you might like me think this is a stupid step, but trust me it is important.)

-sit back and think you are really cool while this dries because it gets a bit messy from here on out.

-when seam is dry stand shade up on one end and get busy gluing, make sure you can complete each end without interruptions #The Associate

-damn lost the image, sorry.

-try to follow me.  apply glue to the paper tape with brush and fold over wire and fabric to connect everything together.  make sure your tape line on the outside of the shade is straight in case you don’t apply trim.  do a couple of inches at a time and wipe up excess quickly. let dry.

– don’t give up!

-once you have done both ends, pat yourself on the back and decide if need to cover up any mistakes with trim 🙂

-wait another month until a gigantic box comes into your life so you can send shades to your longsuffering friends.








It is that time of year when I wake up panic-stricken thinking that about the holidays. This particular morning when I awoke fresh as a daisy, I was concerned about a gift I purchased for The Associate from Brookstone. The other day I found a lonely card in the key bowl and discovered it was worth 38 bucks. Can’t waste that. Is there anything useful on the site, not really, is there anything for 38 bucks, not really? I was about to give up scrolling when I found this.


Let’s be honest… She doesn’t deserve a tablet 🙂 and she wastes tons of paper. Perfect. I saw. I ordered. I still owed 7.34 cents. I checked one thing off her list.

My subconscious however had different plans, and I dreamt that it never arrived. Oh no… She isn’t getting enough stuff….(because that is what this holiday is all about right?) So she isn’t getting enough crap,no big deal, she has been pretty bad, and Santa was watching. I will have to call and get a refund, annoying, BUT then I have to troll the endless catalog of useless gadgetry to find yet another mass-produced piece of junk to avoid wasting 38 dollars, NIGHTMARE.


passive aggressive fish care.

The Associate…is…….driving me batty…..It is obviously not me, right? To ignore my contribution to the madness would only compound the issue and impound me further.  Blame is the name of this game, and I fold.

I made a conscious decision to have this child. She is “spirited”, strong, beautiful and exhausting.  I chose her, she chose me.  How many times have I exited her room high and mighty upon the words personal responsibility (tons)? How many times have I looked in the mirror and thought what am I doing wrong (many)? How to make it stick, how to remain strong when utterly spent?

The answer my friends, is to take it out on the fish.

“Katherine the Great, Matthew and Stephanie…… your mother, The Associate doesn’t love you anymore, so I must feed you or you will die from her lack of concern for your well being.”  I know, I know but I won’t let you down.”  I confess to my thankfully ear less friends.

and then giggle, and move on.





dollars to donuts.

The race to consume commences. I make a conscious effort during capitalist crunch time to spend our money on gifts made locally or handmade anywhere. The husband’s gadget fix must be met, and China is most likely involved but you can’t win them all.

I force The Teenager and The Associate into the car in an effort to teach by example and hopefully allow them to knock out their lists.  The Teenager keeps mumbling about donuts, and The Associate piles on.

The Cleveland Flea has been happening here for over a year now and has quickly become a go to event.  I love venturing into unassuming and unappreciated Cleveland neighborhoods to see what local dish there is to eat, although 9 out of 10 times I inhale homemade pierogies.

The Teenager got her wish sooner than we had hoped as we popped a tire at 79th and Carnegie. We had many offers from friendly folks and our neighbor Angelo even happened by, but The Husband came to our rescue and put on a spare tire or as we call them “donut”.  She however did not find this amusing as I laughed somewhat manically at my own wit. Crabbypants.

Not to be detoured we continued on, per usual the Flea is efficiently run and jam-packed. We are slightly overwhelmed and The Associate is not cooperating at all!!!! We lost The Teenager only to find her outside at The Donut Lab with a smile on her face. Finally.

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All in all it was a slow start, next up Cleveland Bazaar, Terra Vista, Zygote press and Art Craft, and most definitely more donuts (hopefully the yummy kind.)


paper to piercings

The Associate is learning about money or cash as she calls in school. Her tissue thin math sheets with crude renderings of coins are neatly lined up on her desk.  Awe, this is cute and then I think that beyond the random quarter she plunks into the parking meter while I hold her up and the very occasional vending machine,  this child never really uses money.  As our culture hurdles toward a paperless economy our children are missing out on very important lessons.

This became abundantly clear when I looked at my phone after the movies, only to see 6 feverish text messages from The Teenager who was at home alone and desperately trying to buy something online.


-Oh nvm

-transfer 30 dollars into my account and I’ll give you the cash


-I’m doing all my chores pls…..


By the time The Associate and I arrived home she had worked through the problem and all was right with the world. I went to bed thinking about this conundrum, and dreamt of toilet paper.

My dream lecture went as follows.

“This is a case of needs and wants, you will always need toilet paper, butt (pun intended) you will want better toilet paper.  While you are mooching off of us you will get used to lush and soft toilet paper, because your father and I have already paid our dues. When you go to college you will be introduced to the single giant roll that can be purchased for 99 cents on the way home to your dorm. You may consider stealing our stash when you visit home but thanks to the luggage fees of air travel you will be forced to abandon your hard won prize at the gate, and stacks of absconded napkins will have to suffice.  After college when things are even tighter, you will have to think hard about this once seemingly innocuous purchase, and you will fondly recall the toilet paper of your youth and work harder. Blah blah blah.

I need a vacation, I used to fly in my dreams.
Grabbing my morning coffee I look up to see The Teenager striding into the kitchen asking  “Can I get my nose pierced?”
I answer “Nope, but your sister needs help with her math homework.”

Done and done.




micro studio makeover.

My kids aren’t babies anymore, I am almost 42 years old and I am finally at peace with my brain funktion (no spell check that is spelled correctly)  It is time to work this out, and the first place is my studio, the smallest room in the house, and now it will be mine! (maniacal laugh)

It is really difficult to redecorate a room when there is a bunch of stuff that has nowhere else to go in it while you are redoing it.  I deftly moved everything into the middle and patched a million holes, primed and did some seriously acrobatic painting while simultaneously painting all of the furniture the same color in the same room.

It is also really difficult to organize a tiny room around a brain that funktions in spurts and sputters, highs and lows, and is always in creative problem solving mode.  Needless to say I have focus issues so I tried to create organized areas for specific purpose.

Here is the before.

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chaotic and haphazard and now that I think about it, hazardous to my safety and to my mental stability.

I moved my desk and arranged my magnetic trays above so that I could organize my thoughts in a visual way.  Each tray will represent a project I am working out in my head or a page of my website.  Please excuse The Associate she was enjoying her last moments of being allowed in my room.


To the right of my desk on my beautifully refreshed garbage picked bookcase I have all of my businessy housey stuff. I put them as far away as I could from the fun areas because nothing can kill a creative buzz like PTA newsletters and bills.

One of the thought morsels banging around my head all the time is how to re-purpose stuff that nobody wants.  Like these oven trays from the GW that I spent a whole dollar on. I soaked, scrubbed and then hung them on the wall to keep my jewelry sorted by what needs to be photographed, and what is up for sale.



wow these pictures are bad, sorry.

The next area I needed to resolve is my collage wall/ scrap booking table.  I no longer wanted to pierce the images that I was working with and splurged on three 2′ by 2′ metals sheets,  once again destroying my meticulous patch job with holes big enough for metal toggle bolts. I organized all of my scrap booking supplies and subsequent paper in the file cabinet and boxes below so they are easy to access.


As far as the large work table is concerned I oriented it differently so I could work on three sides and still easily reach all of the supplies on the shelves above.  I kept all containers the same so my eyes do not jump all over the room when I enter which will likely make me turn right around and leave.



I made new curtains with fabric that makes me happy to replace the ugly ones that were there 12 years ago when we moved in, and hung my currently favorite works on the wall to inspire me.

The cuporama I made a while back is still doing a good job of  keeping small things I use often in sight, providing a good place for seed pod storage and jewelry in progress can be dumped in a cup if I need to clear off my work space.


I streamlined all of my sewing supplies, giving up a lot of items I won’t ever use and made them readily accessible on this caddy.


I am VERY excited to get started using this space, so excited that the tables are already covered with projects and I am about to make a sign that forbids any mess makers entry.  (The Associate and The Teenager)

I would love to hear what you think.



library girls.

I have two rugrats, 7 plus years apart.  One unique advantage of this age gap is that I can clearly observe the developmental pattern because the littler one isn’t getting it directly from the older, rather going through the steps on her own.  For example, they both started dressing themselves in crazy outfits at a very young age,  cut their own hair at the same age, and they both acquired an affinity for lopsided hairdos at 7 years. ETC…..

Now I find myself waiting in line at a quite elaborate library set up in my living room at precisely 7.7 years for both children.  coincidently they are both bossy librarians who force me to return my books before I am even finished with them, and neither kept regular business hours.

The “library” that the now Teenager kept had detailed logs, and as The Associate comes sprinting along in her footsteps she keeps more abstract records, however, she does get points for creativity.  The miniature air hockey table becomes a scanning machine and its paddle becomes the stamper. She does all this wearing the dress she “made” while holding it up with one hand.

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After borrowing, not reading,  and then returning the first 6 books in the Nancy Drew series, she put her hair up. On the right side we have a ponytail (she wouldn’t let me take a picture) and on the left we have  it down, lightly brushed and a clip. I said “You look fabulous darling!”

And then I went to vote to support our local library, because I am a library girl too.

My Icarusey ride…

I was flying high when I entered the gallery and saw myself and my people on the walls.  How amazing to be painted by someone who knows you so well.  I felt like a movie star for 10-12 minutes and it was beautiful.

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Maybe life is always like this, up-_down up-_down up-_down, or maybe I got a little to close to the sun this time because the fall felt sharper then usual as I ended up in the mall.  I hate the mall, but The Teenager needed a dress for homecoming.  (Back story) My offspring are 7 plus years apart, which is good and bad.  Beside the fact that the older can babysit the younger the only other “good” I can summon today is that she and I can reflect together on her poor fashion choices as I guide the younger through THE EXACT SAME THINGS.  Facing the all too stark reality that The Teenager + the current fashion trends = lurching stomach, I awoke to The Associate brushing her hair so furiously that I was afraid she would rip it out.  What in the heck was she even doing out of bed? I usually have to drag her about to get her out the door, but she had “a style” in mind.

I took a deep breath and said,

“let me do it how I think I would you like it and you tell me if it is ok. ok?”

She agreed with me! phew.  As I hurried The Teenager into the car I reminded her of some her particularly bad fashion choices as she complained about her sister, and she recounted my first fashion talk I gave her with amazing accuracy.  I was a shy girl and expressed myself through my clothes, and still do. I was shopping at thrift stores at a very young age, always striving to be different for the least amount of money.  I clearly had a child with the same purpose, and I gave her this talk when she was about 8.  Out of 365 days of the year I get 7 vetoes.  Assuming of course you are appropriately covered because those vetoes don’t count.  She wanted to know why I would ever make her change her clothes and I explained the importance of dressing for an occasion or a gramma.  You can still make your impression but do it with more elegance on those days.  I have never had to say this twice to my eldest spawn, and she hasn’t been vetoed in years. Until, the mall yesterday.   She just happened to be wearing her signature cat eye makeup with her thick platinum hair flowing down and three-inch heels and a “dress”.  She looked stunning and I stammered.

“you looked absolutely beautiful but you look like you would feel at home on a pole, so…… no.” We settled on a less curve hugging ensemble, and she complained about looking like a fifth grade teacher, I smiled, and thought here I go again as I strapped on my wings.

Pictures to follow.




I took the bait…

I took that slimy bait and swallowed because I have a bad habit of not finishing projects, or that is at least what I am telling myself.  It absolutely has nothing to do with the fact that I have little to no control over my second born child.  Either she is the youngest Jedi master ever or I am just plain exhausted. I did find this though which helped her case.


We went to purchase our new family members only learn that we needed to buy more equipment first.  We shelled out cash for a heater and purchased a plethora of colorful plastic plants (thankfully there were no pineapples.)  We asked the same questions of a different employee, got different answers, and scurried out before I got even more confused and irritated.

Two days later….and a warm tank… We are back, hovering in front of a million fish, and the pressure is on. The UV light is highlighting each fish and I try to explain that this is not what they will look like in our tank while the employee that is on duty today says we can get 8 fish at a time (5 more than other employees said on previous visits.) I roll my eyes and wonder exactly how much commission you can make on 4 dollar fish that is on sale for 2.24.  “WE are only buying three fish” I blurt and somehow step away with two additional African dwarf frogs.

I artfully dodge all other adorable items, by illustrating exactly how much money we have leaked, and we are bobbing out the door changing the names of our new friends, for the fifth time.

It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you…….

Stephanie, Kathryn the great, and Matthew.. Tropical tetra fish


Victor and Vanessa the African dwarf frogs (possible daytime soap characters) have yet to come out of hiding, and hopefully will live forever.