March 30, 2012


The Puget Sound during our visit last June.

This afternoon at 3:32 the girls officially start Spring Break and we're leaving on a roadtrip to the Seattle area to visit Gary's father, sister, and sister's family in the Skagit Valley for a few days. We're all so exited to "get out of Dodge" for a bit and head somewhere a little greener. The forecast there is calling for rain, but that's pretty much what you'd expect from Western Washington this time of year. At least there will be flowers and delicate ferny ground cover and it won't get below freezing at night.

Gary and I have made this trek so many times I think we could do it with our eyes closed – and sometimes in that really flat part of Eastern Washington I feel really tempted to do just that (take a wee nap) and then Gary will make me pull over so he can drive.

I hope to continue posting while we're in the Skagit Valley but my father-in-law is approaching his 80's so I think he might still be on dial-up internet?

March 29, 2012

And we've got ourselves a blanket!

I told myself that I wasn't allowed to start the embroidery project until I finished the blanket I've been working on, so I rushed through my day and finished the last three rows! Yippee! The pattern was one I made up myself and I like how it turned out. I thought I might call it my Fair Isle Throw because it reminded me of an Eddie Bauer "Fair Isle" sweater I had years ago. But then I Googled "fair isle" and although the pattern is somewhat stripey in nature it is a lot more fancy than this.

Izzy doesn't care what I call it as long as she can use it at nap time.

Three's Company

1. Our First Crocus of the year

2. Izzy, Tule & Piper doing what dogs do during the afternoon: lounge around, eat sticks and watch for squirrels or deer to bark at. I love them, they are so funny. Isn't that a hoot - the way Piper lays with her back legs splayed out like a human?!

March 28, 2012

They're back!

I first heard a far-away drone of an engine and then it grew louder, slowly advancing like a flock of chatty geese migrating from the South. I stopped working, glancing up, then as the ground began to vibrate a bit I looked toward the window thinking "What the –?" And then it dawned on me  – They're BACK!

The migration has begun! Street sweepers have returned to the North Country!

When the street sweepers arrive it's as if they are announcing the real beginning of Spring in Missoula. The new season is now truly upon us as proclaimed by city officials, who must have met yesterday and decided that they do not foresee any more need for dumping gravel on ice-covered roads. And so this morning they started up the fleet and sent them to the streets to gather Winter's grime and wash the asphalt clean – readying it for children's bicycle tires, rollerblades and bare feet.


March 27, 2012

Nesting like a Spring-crazed Chickadee

I don't know what sort of crazy energy elixir someone put in my Diet Coke this morning but I am busy as a bee and there's no sign of tiring out. I mean I can practically feel my insides humming with energy and you should see how hard I'm chomping on my gum right now! I'm. On. Fire! :)

So far today I've completed an invitation I was hired to design, nearly finished an entire annual report layout for a client, grocery shopped, painted the stair skirting that the flooring guy needs to install Thursday, went on a run, crocheted a row on my blanket, cleaned the entire car (oh the snack crumbs those kids create!), swept the garage, cleaned part of my bathroom, and squeezed in a lunch with two of my besties! And I have at least a dozen projects that I'm pining to work on yet today around the house – cleaning, touchup painting the trim, laundry, organizing the bottom of the pantry (I did the top last night!). I don't know what's gotten in to me! I didn't have this much of a nesting instinct when I was pregnant. Granted, I did have a lot of hip and back pain toward the end and walked around like a hunched old woman most of the time. You can not get a lot done in that condition. It gave me a lot of insight into how bad your bones must hurt when you're 80 years old.

While I was out earlier I picked up a few flour sack towels and plan to start mentally prepping myself to try something new – EMBROIDERY! I am sooo excited! This all started when a month or so ago when I cyber stumbled onto the blog of Alicia Paulson ( and instantly fell in love with her, the blog and her hand work. She has patterns and kits that are to die for! Not only do I wish she was my personal new best friend but I also wish I knew even the tiniest bit about embroidery so that I could tackle her Daisychain ABC's Sampler. But I don't . . . sooo, I'm beginning my journey slowly and with trepidation (what if I mess up!?). I dug up some needles from an old sewing kit we inherited when G's aunt passed away, I've now purchased the flour sack towels and I'm going to Alicia's blog where she has graciously uploaded a free embroidery pattern for "Pleasant Kitchen Dishtowels." There's a towel design for each day of the week. Perhaps tonight I'll pick which day I plan to tackle first.

*You can download the vintage image I used on this post at The Graphics Fairy

March 26, 2012

Baby cows & Spring Squalls

We spent a night at a Forest Service cabin on Rock Creek this weekend. It's an annual tradition. The first time we spent a weekend there Emma was only 8 months old. That was fourteen years ago and we've managed to make it happen every year so far. On the drive up we oohed and aahed over the newborn cows, some old enough to leap and play, while others still lay curled and damp. There were baby sheep too - so white and fuzzy we wanted to pull over and snuggle them. A bit of nasty weather hung over the mountains but never amounted to much. That evening the clouds cleared and the night sky was peppered with thousands of stars.

March 25, 2012

Lovely spaces

My friend Karin lives in the most beautiful, historic home in the cozy University area of Missoula. Not only does the house contain many of it's lovely original features (see the original wood floor above - it even matches her papillon, Petunia!), but Karin is one of those people who can make a space even more beautiful with her magic touch.

As I previously mentioned, Karin also knows how to sew and so on my Friday visit she set up her sewing machine on the dining room table and got to work showing me how to make a cover for a pillow form. They were so easy that she had covered a pillow for her daughter's room in a fun zebra print within a half hour! I need to recover some throw pillows for the basement couches and this new skill is going to come in handy! Plus, I can remove them and throw them in the wash after the next time I host ten 13-year-olds who decide to eat a bag of Cheetos.

Sadly we got so busy chatting as she worked that I did not take the promised photos of the process, but I plan to make one soon and will upload step-by-step instructions so you can make some too!

March 22, 2012

Little Darling, it seems like years . . .

Here comes the sun!

And boy, does it feel good! What started off as another dreary day took a turn for the best and by the time the girls got home from school the sun was glinting off the sidewalks. Everyone was giddy - kids, dogs, and grownups.

Tomorrow my friend Karin is teaching me to sew a pillow cover. I am soooo excited. I haven't done much sewing but suddenly I'm all about it. I keep mulling over patterns for cute dresses and lined pea coats, but then I tell myself to slow down and start at the very beginning - hey like that song in "The Sound of Music!" "Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start . . . " In that vein Karin has invited me to her lovely historic home (I should post photos – it is truely lov-e-ly) where I will watch, help, and take notes while she makes a pillow for her daughter's room. I stopped by the fabric store this afternoon with the intent of picking up a yard so I could follow along a bit, but I became so overwhelmed by the choices – what weight? should I start with a solid color? is 100% cotton best? I wandered around a while then gave up and purchased a skein of yarn for a baby blanket I'm plotting to crochet for my brother's "in utero" baby. Tomorrow I will just have to watch and learn. I'll take pictures and fill you in later, in case you're hoping to learn as well.

March 21, 2012

Dust of Snow

Dust of Snow

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I rued.

~ Robert Frost

March 20, 2012

Girl, Thirteen


Later today I am going to go watch my daughter Emma play in a middle school volleyball game. It thrills me to no end to see her out there on the court whacking that ball, or missing it completely – but at least giving it a good try.

When I was her age, thirteen, I had an incident with volleyball that ruined the sport for me for life. I haven’t touched a volleyball since. Must have been tragic you say? Well, I’ll let you decide but I will say that when I told my girls about the incident they were like “Mom! You let THAT make you never play volleyball again! GEEZ!” So, maybe I am a little more sensitive than most. Anyway . . . the story…

So, there I was. Thirteen, small for my age, quite shy, and brand new at this Junior high school having moved to the area the summer before. Now throw me in to a coed unit in P.E. and we’ll see how I do (seriously folks, why do they this to 13-year-old kids? It’s just not kind). The square dancing was tolerable and then we started volleyball. 

I’d never played before but I could usually hit it over the net with minimal bruising on my arms – still I wasn’t a stellar player and I was feeling very self-conscious about that. The last day of the unit we divided into our coed teams and started a game. The ball was back and forth and back and I was just mostly trying to defer to the stronger players when someone yelled “heads up!” and the ball came down from quite a height and whacked me squarely on the head (and super hard I might add). Because he was thirteen and loud and popular Kelly Green, a boy on my team started laughing up a storm. I mean he was doubled over slapping his thighs and punching other guys in the arm as if to say “wasn’t that awesome?!” I think he even said something to me like “Way to go idiot.” Anyhow, as everyone stopped and laughed along with Kelly Green I could feel the blood rising in my face and I told myself that I sucked at volleyball and then swore I would never play volleyball again. And I haven’t.

Now, as someone who’s had nearly 30 years to ponder this event and who has a thirteen-year-old of her own, I feel a little miffed at my younger self. I mean the guy’s name was Kelly Green for pete’s sake! Why didn’t I say something like “Shut up you big 'Crayon'”  – or . . . okay, maybe not THAT, but something! I could’ve even gone with a more grown-up approach like “Excuse me but your comments are hurtful and mean.” But I didn’t say anything darn it. 

The crappy part is that Kelly Green undoubtedly has no recollection of me or of this event but I’ve let him keep me from enjoying this beachy sport, which my daughter, by the way, says is tons of fun! Shame on him for being so unkind – but mostly shame on me for letting him win.

Now off to the game. May my daughter (and all thirteen-year-old girls everywhere) always feel strong and capable and confident – even if the ball hits her squarely on the head.

Guilty Mom Thought of the Day

Am I a bad mother if I am really happy (completely giddy actually) that both my girls opted out of the voluntary school Science Fair? Those things stress me out.

March 19, 2012

Teeny Tiny Houses! Oh my!

Recreation of Laura Ingalls Little House on the Prairie, Independence, Kansas

After ten years of talking about getting rid of the vinyl in our kitchen and having hardwood put down, we are finally doing it. It's nearly done and it looks amazing! I couldn't be more pleased. Additionally, we took the opportunity to replace out baseboards with something a little nicer during the process.

Then, just as I was feeling so excited and thrilled with the upgrades I stumbled on to a whole pile of "Tiny House" videos on YouTube. I'd seen one of these before by Jay Shafer who has a small company manufacturing these little homes for people, but I'd forgotten how much I loved the video. Then a quick search brought up dozens of more videos and before I knew it the clock was bonging midnight and I was still engrossed. There's this part of me that SO wants to live in a tiny house (I mean these things are like 200 square feet!). And then there's this other part of me that keeps thinking about all my pretty things, all that scrapbook paper, all those divine books I own. Oh yeah, and then there's my husband, my kids, the dogs, the bunnies – I mean who am I kidding?! If we lived in that size home we'd all want to poke our eyes out, or poke out each others!

But, oh my goodness, it just sounds so fun, doesn't it? And freeing – to be rid of all those superfluous possessions.

I'm definitely going to add "live in a tiny house" to my "List of Things to Do at Some Point in My Life."

Here's the link to a house I really liked. Just type in "tiny house" on YouTube for hours of video fun.

March 18, 2012

Slow Spring Sunday

Spring is so slow to come to Montana. It's almost painful, the waiting. Yesterday it actually snowed for a short spell, leaving the Robins in a complete panic. They perched on the fence posts and stood in the middle of the paved road in confused groups as if they were all discussing what they should do or who's lame idea it was to come North so soon.

Today was rainy and chilly so we spent the day doing quiet things. I worked on the blanket I've been crocheting and heated some leftover homemade veggie soup for our lunch.

The rain is feeding the roots of my Spring bulbs and they're slowly stretching and pushing up through the soil. It's just a tiny start to the new season, but it's enough to lift our spirits and remind us that there's more to come.

March 17, 2012

That's why you don't give little dogs rawhide

Well there’s nothing like the second post of a blog to get you swimming in someone else’s life – mess and all – but, hey, this is life and sometimes it’s pretty darn messy, right? So I’ll tell you about how my day began yesterday. Warning – there’s dog poop involved so you may not want to read this while eating chocolate mousse.

It started like any other school day. I dragged myself out of bed and packed lunches, fed the dogs, and signed school papers all while Kate, my eleven-year-old,  told me the most recent developments in the last book of the Hunger Games trilogy.

Our yorkie, Izzy, who’s normally jumping all over us with excitement in the morning was sitting quietly in her bed, but I didn’t notice or care because I just wanted to be sure the girls made the bus so I didn’t end up driving anyone to school. But once the kids were out the door and I’d said farewell to Gary as he headed out to work, I noticed Izzy still sitting there. 

“What’s going on?” I asked her in a concerned voice (because I’m one of those people who talk to their dogs) and she gave me a squishy somewhat embarrassed face. I went to pick her up and realized that she smelled like poo. A quick check and OH MY HEAVENS there was a whole crazy mess going on under the tail! EEEEEEWWWW! I knew immediately that there must have been complications with the little rawhide stick I’d given her the day before. I’d read that little dogs aren’t supposed to eat rawhide but I was giving them to my two big dogs and Izzy looked at me with those big brown eyes and I thought “Well, okay, just this once.” But, now I was gonna pay for my error.

I ran to the bathtub holding her out in front of me like a . . . umm, well, like you would hold something covered in dog poo. Very far in front of me. I had to rinse, wash, drain and clean the tub, then repeat the process to finally get her clean. Then she dried by the heater while I scrubbed the tub with disinfectant and then jumped in the shower myself and scrubbed three times with Ivory. 

The whole mess brought back memories of similar episodes when the girls were babies. Emma, in particular, had a knack for having huge “blowouts” that involved poo shooting out of the top of her diaper and up her back. There are many days when I miss having a baby or a toddler around, but I have to say that I am relieved to be done with diapers and other potty adventures.

Anyhow, back to yesterday - by the time I was drying my hair it was 10:30 and I had only a half hour until I needed to leave for a meeting. Sadly, I chose this day to also use the one-application trial packet of hair oil that I’ve had lying on my bathroom counter for months. It claimed to be derived  from some sort of special Moroccan tree and promised to make my tresses shiny and flowy. My hair, however, ended up looking greasy and slightly damp . . . But I was out of time so off I went to my meeting, feeling greasy, still a little ill from the poo smell, and in need of a long nap.  Izzy was luckier - she got to stay home and snuggle back into bed (see photo above of a clean sleeping yorkie).

March 16, 2012

Welcome to Audrey Finch!

Welcome to my blog. My name is Jenny and I am a happily-married, mother of two girls, living in beautiful Missoula, Montana. I’m a self-employed graphic designer and love working in my cozy home office with my little dog Izzy lying at my feet.

So I can already hear you asking, “If your name is Jenny, why is this blog called ‘Audrey Finch?’” Well, let me tell you . . .

I’ve decided to name this blog after two people who inspire me to be better in little ways. "Audrey" is for Audrey Hepburn, who was not only a super classy gal but a humanitarian. She lived life with grace and poise. When I see photos of her or watch Roman Holiday for the millionth time I feel inspired to be a little more like her in any small way I can. So, that’s where the Audrey comes from.

The “Finch” is after Scout Finch, the wonderfully precocious and brave little girl in my favorite book “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I first read that book at the age of 11 and have reread it many times since and I never tire of it. Oh, to be so bold and adventuresome. To roam a small town with Dill and Jem. To have Atticus Finch for a father (especially if he was just like the Gregory Peck movie version!).

Anyway, so that is how I came up with the title for this blog. Mind you, I am almost always just my flawed and flustered self – but I will see this blog title and it will remind me of this lovely, ficticious person – Audrey Finch. I imagine her to be refined and classy, but with lots of spunk, a sparkle in her eye, and dirty knees - and with a father who fights for social justice.

Of course, there are many other people who inspire me and I would love to try to be just like all of them – from the great writers to the selfless humanitarians to the folks who create all of those amazing things on Pinterest (yes, I’m addicted) – there are so many gifted, lovely people in the world, aren’t there!? I wish I could be just like them all.

Some days I’m dying to live on a small farm in the country and some days I dream of life in a brownstone in Boston’s North End, schlepping groceries home from the corner market. *Sigh*  I just wish there was enough time in life to do it ALL!

As a favorite poet of mine once said “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with this one wild and precious life?” and to that I say “I want to do it all!”

So join me as I journey through life. Expect to hear about my many creative pursuits, my parenting ups & downs, novice gardening fiascoes, books, music, adventures, and life in Montana.

I promise to try to always add a dose of humor and keep it whine-free.