May 31, 2012

Run for Cover

Never judge a book by it's cover? "Impossible," I say! Book covers are one of my favorite things to judge. I LOooooVE a good cover. I shudder at the bad. I swoon over the beautiful: the fonts, the paper choices, the color pallets.

The other day I was in Target, browsing their book section on a whim (I'd gone in for makeup remover, sugar and a birthday gift for a friend of Kate's). After browsing through some titles, and then spending 45 minutes speed reading nearly an entire book (do you ever do that? read a book standing there in the aisle with your cart?) I happened on to a collection of classics with newly designed covers by Penguin Publishing. I literally gasped with excitement. Embroidered cover art! Aren't they beautiful?! and incredibly clever! I came home and did a little research. This series, called Penguin Threads, features the work of artist Jillian Tamaki. She sketched them in a traditional illustrative manner, then hand-stitched them using needle and thread. The final covers are sculpt embossed for a tactile, textured, and beautiful book design. They are beyond amazing. You should run to a bookstore right now and see them in person.

Now I'm thinking – wouldn't it be cool to embroider a book cover as wall art? You could create your own design of a favorite book or use an image from an existing cover. I'm definitely putting that on my list of things to do. I think I'd do "To Kill A Mockingbird" and then hang it in my office. I could even try to duplicate this cover:

I just love this cover. It's probably my favorite of all the versions for this book. I think I'll need to improve my embroidery skill A LOT to be able to attempt something like this, but someday . . .

Oh, one more note on covers: did you know that books usually have differently designed covers for the UK and US printings? They're sometimes similar, but often VERY different. I think it's interesting that people in different countries prefer a different look in cover design. I wonder why. Hmmm. I may have to see if I can find out more . . .

May 30, 2012

Come Rain or Come Shine: A Love Story

Twenty years ago today Gary and I tied the knot in a chapel in Austin, Texas. It was a smallish wedding with lots of family and our closest friends. The ceremony took place in the afternoon with a relaxed reception at an estate out in the Hill Country. I was just 22 years old, which now sounds a bit young but at the time I felt grown and very sure of myself. We'd been dating for three years and I was ready to make it forever.

Twenty years later I can honestly say that I had no clue. Does anyone really? I thought it was perfect, I thought we were MFEO ("Made For Each Other" - remember that from "Sleepless in Seattle?" Well it's a very cute movie and you really should watch it often. I do.) I thought we'd end up as two little hunched 90-year-olds, resting side-by-side on a park bench and holding hands as we carefully hobble down the sidewalk.

But now I know that life is largely a journey of mystery. We make decisions, big and small, using the limited knowledge and experience we have – the rest is just a ride on the river. We paddle the raft, avoiding rocks when possible, we hang on when the water's rough and pray during the bad rapids, we rest and laugh and soak up the sun when the river's calm, sometimes we catch a few fish or feel the wind in our hair, sometimes the riverbed runs dry and we have to pick up the barge and carry it over the dusty rocks. We do our best, but we are never really in control. We're just along for the ride and our journey depends on so many unknowns. The weather, the obstacles, the other boats, accidents and setbacks.

All I know about marriage is this: It's great. It's frustrating. It's hard. It's easy. It's fun. It's crazy. It's an adventure. It's the worst. It's the best. And that, my friends, is love.

I sure hope that Gary and I can keep the boat intact. I hope we still have more good times than bad. I hope we make it through these years of teenage daughters without too many late-night-parenting-squabbles. And I hope we're still both on board when we reach the ocean – or wherever the heck this river takes us. 

May 29, 2012

5 Reasons Why I Love Philipsburg

1. The street signs are still still carved in wood. So sweet. (This is the street our little house sits on. It's 2 blocks off the main street so we can walk to town.)

2. The town reminds me of the TV series "Northern Exposure." And the people are just as friendly and interesting. The man who sold us our house told us he once woke up to find a moose in his front yard. As soon as he said "moose" I was sold (I had already been thinking how this place was just like Cicely, Alaska and then he said "moose." I was a goner).

3. It began as a mining town so there's lots of really cool history and nearby ghost towns to explore.
Now there are about 950 folks in town.

(Emma wasn't too excited about visiting the museum there this weekend though. Here's a photo of what she was doing while we were all looking at the exhibits.)

4. There's no WiFi or cable TV so we all bond a little more . . . 

5. . . . and get creative (These are some hearts, people, and two ducks Kate needle felted this weekend)

There are about 100 other reasons I love it. Gary loves it too. Sometimes we wonder if we might live there full-time someday.

May 25, 2012

Good Weather for Ducks

Lots of wet. A little sun in between. Then a bit of grayness and drizzle. That's the forecast folks. Put on your wellies  . . .  er, I mean rainboots.

We head to Philipsburg in the a.m. to spend the long weekend at our cabin. P-burg is only a little over an hour from Missoula but a little higher in elevation. The forecast there says rain showers/possible snow!?! Ugh. We'd hoped to do some area hikes and other outdoor adventuring but instead I'm bringing lots of reading materials, yarn, roving, colored pencils and fabric. Also bringing a couple movies to watch with the girls and supplies for Gary to make "the big breakfast." He loves the big breakfast (eggs, bacon, fruit, papcakes or waffles, etc, etc). 

Have a good weekend all.

May 24, 2012

European Yearnings

I think I've gone mad.

Ahhh, see just then when I wrote the word "mad" - that's my problem. I've been reading far too many British blogs lately. I'm reading them when I should be tending to the laundry pile I talked about a few weeks ago, or when I should be dealing with client work, or when I should be painting the trim that's been sitting unfinished for the last month. I'm reading them when it's 11:30 p.m. and I should be going to sleep, for pity's sake! It's all rather addictive – and it's got me saying things like "rather addictive" and "brilliant!" and "lovely" and all sorts of other fun expressions. I've been talking about taking a "holiday" and telling the girls to "don their wellies" before going out in the rain.

This morning I started Googling "Pimms" (a delicious-sounding alcohol the Brits are constantly swooning over) to see if I could find a local source when I thought "Jenny, that's enough now. Put down the computer and get it together girl. You are NOT British. We do not own a "loo," the trunk of the car is not called a "boot" and you are never ever going to call cookies 'biscuits' again." I told myself I needed to get away from the computer and start tending to my life – here in the United States (even if the computer is a lovely option on such a bloody awful rainy day).

Life's hard. You realize that there are these other cool lives out there, in these really great places – but the bottom line is that you're not going to be able to live those lives. They're someone else's. You're just going to be living yours. That's it. Just yours.

I won't ever be British. I won't ever live in one of those 300-year-old stone cottages or take a holiday at the sea. Sure, I could move there. I could drink a lot of tea and walk along the hedgerows but I won't ever get to be British. And chances are I won't ever move there either. I know all those brave people on House Hunters International do it (I love that show). They sell all their belongings and hop across the pond to start a new adventure. But the reality is that there are a LOT of hurdles to jump to accomplish something like that – plus my kids and my husband would throw major hissy fits.

So, for now I will try to cut back on my Brit Blog addiction. I will try to sound more American when I talk (I was starting to freak out the kids) and I will try to enjoy all the things that make my life unique and exciting.


May 23, 2012

Gatsby's Going' Hollywood again

Just this morning I discovered that Hollywood has made a new movie version of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It will star Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Carey Mulligan (I LOVED her in An Education) as Daisy, and Toby Maguire as Nick. I am so excited! I think the casting is fantastic!

To be totally honest The Great Gatsby is not one of my favorite books ever. I mean, I enjoyed it just fine, it just doesn't top my all-time favorites list. HOWEVER, the era (the 1920's) and the setting (New York) and the fashion (oh those hats and dresses!) DO top my "List of Places and Time Periods That I Wish I Could Live In," and apparently the movie does a wonderful job of showing us all the glitz, glamour and corruption in America during the Roaring '20's, so it should be historically fun to watch.

Given this news I think I will go back and read The Great Gatsby again. And I invite you to do the same. It never hurts to revisit a classic and it will be a good refresher for the movie. It opens in theaters this coming Christmas Day so you have lots of time to get 'er done.

Happy Reading!

May 22, 2012

Little Red Table

Remember when I went to the Prairie Sisters Antique & Vintage Show in April? (I talk about it here.) Well, this is the little kitchen island that I fell in love with and had to bring home in the trunk of my car. Isn't it cheerful!? I love it so much. I'd been looking for something to put in that small spot and this is the perfect fit. Crazily, it was only $65 . . . practically a steal!

May 21, 2012

The Blustery Day

Looks like our usual Spring weather is back after a long stretch of 75-85 degree days. A light rain is falling and the temps have dropped. Our local weather folks are saying this will be how it should go all week, which is probably a good thing. Our yard was already getting a bit crispy and things all over Missoula looked a little parched. When we don't get enough moisture this time of year it can mean a nasty "fire season" come July and August.

Emma and Kate enjoyed a leisurely weekend of playing with friends until the sun set on Sunday night. Emma and the clan of 13-year-olds watched movies, roamed the neighborhood, jumped on the trampoline, ate frozen yogurt, and had a great big water fight. Kate and her 11-year-old posse swam in the hot tub, had a picnic on the trampoline, painted nails, and videotaped two of their own short films – one about kids in the lunch room and one about girls camping in the wilderness. Gotta love all that creative energy. Remember when you were young, hanging with your peeps all day long? Barefoot, ponytails, nothing you had to do, just your best girlies and you? Ahhh. Life.

Over the weekend I made this quick, fun piece of window art that you or your kids might enjoy making as well.


Round up a thick piece of scrap paper - card stock works, although a bit heavier is nice. Cut into a fun shape – a star, a sun, a cloud (on blue paper would be cool) or whatever shape you can dream up. Using a thumbtack, poke holes in your paper to form lines, curlicues or shapes. (Use a piece of cardboard underneath your paper while you poke to keep from stabbing yourself.)

Ta da!  Hang your art with a piece of string or tape it to a sunny window.

May 19, 2012

Oh, Hello

May 18, 2012

Flour Sack Towel Embroidery #2

I took a little inspiration from the book Doodle Stitching and came up with this design for my second embroidery attempt. I'm happy with how it turned out! I have yet to try satin stitches although I did try a "lazy daisy" and the results were less than attractive (notice that I am not showing you a picture of said "daisy").

Weekend Plans:
Crochet on the new blanket, finish reading Cutting for Stone (excellent so far, BTW), paint trim in kitchen, plant remaining herbs in garden, take some items to Goodwill, and tonight – dinner at El Cazador downtown and watch "The Descendants" with Gary.

Happy weekend to you all!

May 17, 2012

Izzy + Me = True Love

I forgot to show you the card Izzy gave me for Mother's Day. Wasn't that sweet of her?! And inside it says "I'm so glad you found me and made me your 'baby'! Awww.

The story goes that I found Izzy on Craigslist. As a self-admitted Craigslist Junkie I turned there when I started my search for a little dog. Tule and Piper are wonderful doggy friends but they are big-time shedders and Emma is very allergic, so they spend a lot of time outdoors and only inhabit our mudroom area when they're in the house and at night. I wanted Emma to have a pet she could hug, and I wanted someone who could keep me company while I work and putz around the house during the day. I quietly started my search for a snuggy, tiny, hypoallergenic dog. I wanted it to be a rescued dog (I selfishly enjoy rescuing things). I searched humane society listings all over Montana and eastern Washington, and I checked Craigslist every day. 

There were a few contenders, but not many little dogs make it into shelters. Mostly they are filled with large breeds (a lot of Pitbulls, Cattle dogs and black Labs). I felt sad that I couldn't take them all home with me. Then one day I looked on Craigslist and there was a listing for a Yorkie, 5 mos old. Her people were moving and needed to find a home for her. I emailed right away. A guy called me and we agreed to meet in the REI parking lot. I would take her for a few hours to see what I thought. 

I emailed Gary these words "If I tell you something do you promise not to get mad?" It's a line from the movie "She's Having a Baby" (John Hughes, circa 1988) we occasionally recite to each other. He called to find out what the heck I was up to. He promised not to get mad, so I told him that I was "test driving" a puppy, which made him sigh heavily and note that no one actually returns a puppy once they take it for a test drive.

It turns out he was right. Izzy came home with the girls and I in the car that afternoon in early December 2011 and she never left. My family teases me that she is the third daughter that I always kinda wanted but we never had. I remember even thinking that if I had a third girl I might name her Izzy . . . it's a sign that we were meant to be together.

May 16, 2012

Bookworm Wednesday

There are certain children's books that I claim I "bought for my children" when in fact I bought them for myself. "Whose House Is This?" by Graham Percy is one of those books – although in the end my kids loved it too. 

I've always been a sucker for houses . . . real houses (quaint ones, tiny ones, cottagey ones), dollhouses, aquariums decorated like houses for their inhabitants, you name it. So when I see a book like this one, I know it's coming home with me.

This extra large board book features 26 people who inhabit a letter of the alphabet. The Letter houses are decked out with curb appeal on the outside, then lift the flap and see the HGTV-style interiors. From Andrew the Astronaut living in his letter A to Zelda the Zoo Keeper who keeps her office in her letter Z, each letter is an exploration in detail.

Here's Ursula's home. Looks like she does her upholstery work downstairs and lives upstairs.

Here's Fred's place. I really think I could live here. His bed looks so cozy and I like his clothesline (and his cute dog).

This is the front of Ned's house. He's a naturatlist. Great location, Ned.

Here's Xavier, busy at his Xray Tech job. Geez - he needs a window so he can enjoy that view!

A favorite in our family was Debbie the Dancer, who wanted to be a prima ballerina, just like my Emma. I can tell this door has been opened MANY times by the worn edges.

Man, I love this book!

Now, the terrible news – I went to Amazon to find you a link and discovered that it is out of print! WHAT?! Well, that is just SAD. Although my copy seems to be worth a fair amount now, which is good for me I guess.

Happy reading!

Olive Us

I often read Gabrielle Blair's blog, Design Mom. Gabby is a mother of six, a designer/writer, and she is currently living with her family in a centuries old country house in France. The stories of their life in France and the photos of her home seriously leave me drooling all over my keyboard.

Now her children are stars in a video series called "Olive Us." The first episode (just a short 5 minutes) came out yesterday and it is soooo charming. Her children melt my heart and the video reminds me of something the British would produce - very BBCish.

You can check it out here.


May 15, 2012

Tuesday Tip

Did you know that the lid from a Parmesan cheese container screws perfectly onto a glass canning jar? Well, I just found that out, and now I have this awesome sugar shaker. I love how it looks "casual country" and the handy flip top has a side with holes for shaking and a side with an opening large enough for a spoon. Perfect!

May 14, 2012

Ida Ho!

 At the park on Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Walking the boardwalk. A few minutes after I took this photo Kate and I witnessed a marriage proposal! Kate was so excited. "I just can't get it out of my mind" she kept saying, "Today we saw people get engaged!"

These Phlox were growing wild in a wooded area near the soccer complex. Kate and I pulled a sprig to plant in our yard. We also found half of a beautiful, tiny blue robin's egg. Kate has it under glass on her bookshelf.

~ Emma and her team played their hearts out and went to the semi-final game. ~ We all got a little sun burnt.

It was a good weekend to be a mother.

May 11, 2012

TGIF! 3 Thoughts & a Poem

Thoughts today:

1. Check out the  pic of the bleeding hearts. Aren't they so amazing! So intricate and so pink! Although I feel a little disturbed that their name is "bleeding hearts." I understand why I just don't enjoy saying "bleeding hearts." It kind of gives me the willies. And it definitely reminds me that I would make a terrible surgeon. When Emma was two-years-old she fell against the coffee table and cut her gums. There was a LOT of blood, but she was ultimately okay. I was . . . I'll be honest here . . . I was HYSTERICAL. In the end she had stopped crying and was consoling me! "It's okay Mommy. See I'm fine. Calm down." No one wants a doctor who's more alarmed by your bleeding gashes than you are.

2. Aren't Tule and Izzy so cute out in the yard together. Izzy really wants to help chew on this stick, but she's too shy to ask. Tu's hoping Izzy will make a grab for it so she can start a big game of "chase."

3. It's a beautiful day outside and the sun is supposed to shine all weekend in Coeur d'Alene too. The lake will be a deep blue vision of beauty and boats. I will post photos so you can enjoy the view too.

With that said. I'd better go pack the bags and load the car. I'll leave you with a poem I wrote and wishes for a happy Mother's Day to my mom and all the mothers out there. It's the best thing ever – being a mom – isn't it? 


The Coming of Spring

A charming breeze delivered the bees
And a handful of wrens at my door
The afternoon sun made the creek waters run
And the crocus turn purple ‘til four
The brown hills did gleam with fistfuls of green
Uncoiling from Earth’s warming core
And in the dimmest half-light, a meadowlark’s flight
Whispers promises there will be more

copyright 2012 Jenny Scheuch

May 10, 2012

Neurotic Freakout Alert

So, tomorrow we roadtrip to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho for a weekend of soccer tournament fun. I am really excited for some family windshield time, scenery photo ops, fun activities in the town, and watching the games . . . but I am not looking forward to the hotel.

I don't know what happened to me. When I was a kid staying in a hotel was on the top of my "best things in the world" list. The ice machines. The bouncy beds. The cable TV. The long hallways. The POOL! Then suddenly, somewhere in my twenties everything changed. All I could see was the germ-infested door knobs. The nasty beds with those horrid paisley coverlet thingies (thank goodness The Hampton's starting a trend of white duvets). That ultra-nasty booger-pee-dirty-flithy dark carpet. The threat of bringing home a herd of bed bugs in your suitcase. Aaaack! I don't care if it's a 4-star hotel, the whole thing just nauseates me enough to make me consider sleeping in my car. 

Honestly people, if Gary would allow me, I think I would sleep in the car.

I know this isn't normal. I mean sure, no one's really super comfy in a hotel room. But I think my infliction is borderline looney and I fear I'm passing it on to my kids. "Shoes ON at all times," I yell when I see one of them has kicked off their flip-flops. "Eeeek - do NOT set your duffel bag on the FLOOR!" I yell as I whip the bag up onto the credenza. Poor girls. I try to relax, really I do. But I just can't stop myself.

And don't even get me started on gas pump handles, the elementary school door handle, or public restrooms. There's a whole LIST stuff you can't touch or do in a public restroom. I'm just glad I birthed girls so I can be there to show them how it's done. If I had boys they would be running amok with Gary in the men's restroom and I would have to slather their entire bodies with hand sanitizer when they came out. Have you SEEN a men's bathroom? I have and it scarred me for life.

May 9, 2012

Bookworm Wednesday

Summer is only six weeks away! It occurred to me today as I scowled at the weeds in my flower beds and shook the kitchen tablecloth off in the warm breeze out the back door. It got me in the mood for summer food. Tiny sandwiches, barbeque chicken, potato salad, cool drinks, watermelon (oh how I love watermelon! Once I ate an entire large one in a single day!). And when it comes to summer food in my house one cookbook gets a lot of the attention: The Summer Book by Susan Branch.

More than a decade ago I discovered Susan Branch's cookbooks and I quickly bought them all. Let the record show that I don't own many cookbooks and that I am not much of a cook, but I do own all of these for one simple reason – they are beautiful. Each page is handwritten Susan's perfectly happy penmanship and decorated with the loveliest little watercolor drawings throughout. Susan selects the sweetest quotes about the seasons, friendship, food, tea, happiness, and all things good. She lines the edges of the pages with these words and decorates the borders. Each book is like a treasury of "home." I often open one of her books to a favorite page and display it on my cookbook easel as a piece of artwork.

The recipes themselves range from quick-n-easy (my style) to more complicated and exotic (not my skill level) but I must say that every one I've tried has been delicious.

As a bonus for me personally: Susan lives in Martha's Vinyard in an adorable white house and I love all people who live in Martha's Vinyard or anywhere in New England really. Naturally, I'm completely convinced they know a lot about how to live an amazing life because I'm quite sure the grass IS greener there. :)

Thanks Maurice

Sort of scary, very magical and definitely wild – that was the gift Maurice Sendak gave children everywhere.

May 8, 2012

Existential Thoughts on Tuesday

I've been thinking a lot these last few days about being a mother, what it all means and what the heck I'm supposed to be doing – not just as a mother and a wife, but as a person here on this planet. I do this sort of existential thing quite often so this isn't some ground-breaking thinking going on, but just an ongoing conversation I have with myself.

This current bout started when I visited with a friend of mine in Billings. She told me I should check out a very inspiring blog she loves, The Nie Nie Dialogues. So I did. Stephanie Nielson, the author, is a mother of five who began writing a blog many years ago to chronicle her daily life with her husband and children. Always upbeat and in love with her family, her blog was an inspiration to other mothers to embrace life and mothering to the fullest.

In 2008, shortly after her husband received his pilot's license (the lessons were a gift from her) the two were in a near-fatal plane crash. Both Stephanie and her husband were badly burned. Stephanie's husband was burnt on 30% of his body and spent some time in the hospital. Stephanie was much worse off and had suffered burns on more than 80% of her body. She was in a coma for several months and is now extremely disfigured. As soon as she was able she began updating her blog.

Both before AND after the accident Stephanie writes her posts like a modern-day Pollyanna, filled with positivity and a child-like happiness. She is pushing through her new life with the grace and determination that I feel like I don't even display some days in my own far less-adverse situation. She feels it's all part of a plan and she is constantly buoyed by her faith. She is a Mormon and from what I understand about the church, she is an example of all they stand for and value. Married at 19, five children by age 30 – Stephanie dotes on her husband, desires only to serve her family and sees her mission in life is clearly to be a mother and wife to the fullest.

When I read her posts I am in awe of her dedication to her job as mother/wife. I'm in awe of her strength to stay positive in the face of her tragedy and the ongoing pain and surgeries that she will always endure. But there's a part of me that shakes my head. This can't be all for real. I am so confused . . . and I keep asking myself so many questions:

Am I attracted to her dedication because of what our society continues to consider "perfect" despite decades of women's equality efforts? Is there still the notion that if you're dedicated to your family, wear an apron all day (she does) and run to meet your husband at the door at 5:00 that you are truly living the "American Dream?" If I could be that way would I feel like a better person? (I think maybe so). But didn't we learn in the 1950's that being content with ironing and cooking is often just an act and the boredom that accompanies that life often leads to depression or anger? But maybe if you truly embraced that work as your "calling" and lived in the moment (a zen-like life) perhaps you could find the ultimate happiness? And then I wonder if it's good for children to have a mother who dedicates herself only to their happiness? But maybe if she doesn't seem unhappy in doing so then it's the best thing you could give children? Maybe the only reason I question it is because Americans have gotten so self-focused and individualistic? Perhaps getting "outisde yourself" is the key to contentment?

Maybe my attraction is in seeing someone who is so sure of their purpose. I mean SO SURE. Like, she never says, "Hmmm . . . maybe I could make something and sell it at a craft fair" or "Gee, I wonder if I should go back to school for my MA in Creative Writing." Even one of my favorite lines of poetry shows that I can't seem to find clear answers . . . "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" I've always loved that line because I feel like it keeps me thinking and growing, but maybe I'm the one living the farce. Maybe the discontent is in the wondering. I don't think Stephanie ever wonders. 

I guess I envy that.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

May 7, 2012

Late Bloomer!

This little gal seems to be taking her sweet time and is just now blooming, while the others are all spent and limp. What a sunny, independent little thing. Everywhere there's the hum of lawn mowers and the laughter of children playing in the afternoon sun. It's getting dark much later now – closer to 9 p.m. It's always tricky getting the kids to sleep this time of year. And it won't get any better for many months. By the end of June it can be 10:30 or so before it's finally dark. It's almost like having extra hours in the day! Yippee for more time!

It's a lonely evening for me tonight. Gary plays soccer until 8 and the girls both have plans for dinner with friends. I'm flying solo until 7:30 or so. This happens more and more now. Sometimes I enjoy the solitude and I'm never one to cry when I don't have to cook dinner, but sometimes it's just plain weird and sad.

In other news, you should see the disastrous condition of my office. I feel like one of those people on "Hoarders." There are piles of paper (all so beautiful and unused) and gobs of random craft supplies mixed with design books and project files and client folders. It's pure craziness.

See? I wasn't exaggerating. Maybe I should be doing a bit of tidying while the family's gone tonight. The problem is I don't even know where to begin.