Friday, May 30, 2008

What the committee is up to

committee, originally uploaded by Brett&MeganZalkan.

Not sure what their assignment was in these tin cylinders but I do note that both boats are without the proverbial paddle.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Little consumers

I think it's time for me to think about reading Born to Buy, an interesting book that was detailed in a series of 18 discussion posts over on The Simple Dollar, one of my favorite newly-discovered blogs. I've skimmed the book discussion and thought this looked interesting, but it didn't hit me until today that my kid is already showing signs of being inundated by child marketing.

Sofie doesn't watch television, except for maybe ten minutes of Curious George on PBS once or twice a month. She doesn't watch me watch television, so she doesn't see ads much. But what's getting her interest are catalogs. Boy does she get the concept of toy catalogs! She digs through our recycle bin looking for random Fisher Price or Step One catalogs that come in the mail and then studies them, page by page, until she finds something she really likes and brings it over to me. Usually this thing is a $999 swingset, complete with multiple huge slides and a fort and three or four swings. "Park!" she says. "Park! Side!" (slide)

Now I don't really think she knows that you can BUY the things in these catalogs yet or is asking me to run out and get her one. But she knows these are things one can play with and that maybe she can have something like that one day. And studying these glossy pages full of kids having way more fun than she can even imagine has got to be the first step towards consumerism, I think.

Makes me stop and think a little bit.


On other fronts, Sofie's language development is taking a couple of interesting turns. She's starting to use articles -- "A BALL!" she screams in delight every time she sees a ball. For a long time an article was used only with respect to balls, but just in the last couple days she's started applying it to other things. "A truck!" she said this morning at Jack's house. "A car!" Kind of cool. She's still not really working out any short sentences, but hey, my kid uses articles. :)

And just today she started calling herself "me." She holds her arms up when she wants to be lifted into her highchair and says "me! me! me!" and later when we were heading out for her weekly playdate at Jack's house she ran to the door and said "me! me! me!" As if to say, "don't leave without me!" Very cute! I don't know when that development typically happens but I sort of thought this was a while off.

Having a kid is like having the most interesting field study ever in cognitive development. Very, very interesting, watching her little brain grow and work in new ways. Add that to the list of things I just love about this whole experience.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Playdate with Jack

Sofie visits with her friend Jack every Wednesday morning -- one week at our house, the next week at Jack's house -- so that Jack's mom and I can get a little concentrated time to focus on our part-time writing and editing work. This has been working out beautifully because these two kids LOVE each other. Sofie's so excited on the morning when Jack is coming over that she can't sit still for breakfast, yelling "JACK! JACK! JACK!" over and over. She also loves going to his house, where there are fabulous toys that we don't have.

And for his part, Jack loves coming here, not in small part because have trains!!!!

Here are some pictures of the two of them playing with our new trainset (thank you again, Fran and Amy!!) a few days ago:

Watching the train go by...

Jack lines them up

We love trains!

Taking a break to play with big bird while Sofie digs in the toy box

More pictures with Grandpa

A few more pictures from Grandpa's visit:

At Gymboree...

Helping Sofie play...

Circle time....

Monday, May 26, 2008

Kisses from Bobo

Kisses from Bobo, originally uploaded by Brett&MeganZalkan.

Sofie, looking pleased as punch after getting a kiss on the nose from Gymbo the puppet at Gymboree on Saturday.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Grandpa Kitty

IMG_0077, originally uploaded by Brett&MeganZalkan.

Sofie and Grandpa Kitty are getting along famously, thick as thieves. Art is here for a four day visit and I'm delighted to see how much Sofie is enjoying playing with "Papa"!

More soon. :)

Friday, May 23, 2008

A few crafty things

Just a little bit of show and tell today -- first of all, here's a cat I made for Sofie out of one of her winter dresses (a really cute purple fleece) that I just couldn't bear to get rid of. Her friend Hazel has a cat that's laid out like this and which Sofie just ADORES and carries around every time we're at our house, so I drew it out on paper, approximating its design as well as I could from memory. And I stuck a bell in it, because Hazel's has a bell. :)

I'm happy to report she loves it, stumpy misshapen legs and all.

And - I haven't really shown a picture of the work I've been doing on the Quiltville Mystery Quilt, because up until now it's just been a series of small pieces that weren't that interesting in themselves. But for the last two weeks we've been joining all of those small pieces into a larger block called a spinning star:

And we made thirty of them, which laid out on the floor actually looks like a quilt!

That said, I don't think the final quilt is going to look much like this -- the quilt is called Orange Crush and the major fabric in it is orange, plus there's a bright turquoise accent fabric I haven't used yet either, which we haven't even used yet, and a whole other set of small pieces we haven't incorporated. There are three more steps until we're done. I can't wait to see what it looks like!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The immediate forecast: sunny

Miss Sofie has been in the most delightful mood the last week or so. And no, I don't mean that sarcastically! I don't know what's going on, but she's just been extra special sunny and smiley and cuddly for about a week now and I LOVE IT. We've had lots of giggles and laughs, she's spent long periods climbing up on my lap to sit and play with something, and she's developed this funny habit of cheering wildly when she asks for something and I figure out what she wants and get it for her. Like "YAY MOMMY YOU GOT IT RIGHT! GO MOM!" So, so funny.

The absolute height of this cuteness was yesterday, during a diaper change, when I looked down at her smiling face and said, "I love you!" and, little parrot that she is, she immediately said "LOVEYOU!" right back. Awwwwwwwww. I don't know if she actually knew what she was saying or was just mimicking my sounds but my baby said she loves me and I'll take it, either way.

I'm of course fully aware that this phase is probably going to be followed by one which is much less fun, so I'm trying to enjoy and appreciate every second of it while it lasts.


Also worth mentioning is that Little Miss no longer likes to hear her bedtime books at night and instead insists on hearing a wide selection of songs. Two of her current favorites are Amazing Grace and Kumbaya. I get a kick out of listening to my Jewish husband sing Kumbaya to his kid at night. How cute is that?

Me, I like the song because it can be strung out forever. Sometimes we make each verse narrate a portion of her day or a part of the going to bed process. "Someone's rocking, lord, kumbaya. (repeat for a whole verse) Someone's singing lord, kumbaya. (Ditto) Someone's napping lord, kumbaya. Oh lord, kumbaya."

Today I was stringing it out even further out of sheer desperation to keep it going until she settled down enough to sleep. "Someone needs to nap, kumbaya." "And I don't mean me, kumbaya."


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Gnomes garden party finished!

I just put the last stitch in this quilt for Sofie -- called Gnome Garden Party, and based on a piece of novelty fabric I bought on our last trip to Hawaii. I knew I wanted to build a snowball quilt around it, and ended up liking how the primary colored nine-patches set the whole thing in motion.

Here's the front:

My only regret now is that I didn't miter the corners -- but oh well! Live and learn.

Here's a closeup of the wonderful stitching -- I had this longarmed by City Quilting's talented Alayne Pettyjohn, who did a combination of spirals, rings of circles, and stippling:

And here's the back, also pieced. I need to label it but I haven't made the label yet, so I'll do that some other day:

I can't wait to give it to Sofie -- as soon as she gets up from her nap it's hers. She's going to have fun picking out the mice and gnomes who are partying all over the front, and unlike a lot of her quilts, this is a nice big one she can use as a blankie when she moves to a toddler bed.

Trains in the toilet

Trains in the toilet, originally uploaded by Brett&MeganZalkan.

Sofie doesn't show much interest in using her little potty for its intended purpose -- but it does make a nice place to store trains.

Monday, May 19, 2008

New raised bed

New raised bed, originally uploaded by Brett&MeganZalkan.

Spent most of Sunday getting this beast, one of two new raised beds, put in out in the front yard. It's about 3.6 x 6.6, and 10 inches deep. The corner posts are copper and I lined the edges with copper tape in an attempt to keep the snails and slugs from devouring everything in it, but we'll see. So far I'm waging a losing battle against snails, who lovelovelove cucumbers and peppers.

Thankfully they don't like tomatoes much or I'd have to go all rambo on them.

Planted in here so far: four peppers, one remaining tomato that never found a pot, two cucumbers, two zucchini, random parsley, and some lettuce and carrot seeds. Which, if the zucchinis and cucumbers survive the night, will be plenty to fill it up.

We have a second bed on its way right now which should be here by next weekend, so that one will go in behind a similar short hedge on the other side of the front lawn. That one, I hope, will mostly grow beans and eggplant. I'll probably move one of the zucchini over there too since two in a box this size is really too much.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tulip wreath for MiniatureQuilter

Now that it's arrived I want to post some pictures of this quilt, which I made for Lisa over at MiniatureQuilter. She likes applique and doesn't really do that technique herself, so in exchange for her beautiful pineapple quilt she made for me, I made her this tulip wreath:

Here's a closeup showing some of the quilting from the back -- basically outlined stitched both sides of the wreath and did some swoopy scallops in the borders:

Once again I must bemoan my relative lack of skill at the actual quilting part. I'm getting better, but I'm still not great at it. I'm signed up for a machine quilting class in June, though, which I've been dying to take for a while now, so hopefully that will help solve such mysteries such as how on earth you pull the bobbin thread up from the back, or how you manage changes in direction when you're not using a freemotion foot.

And here's the full back -- just didn't have QUITE enough of that pretty green fabric, so I had to put a pink strip across the top and bottom.

And here's a post of it not only received but already hanging on the wall in her house!

Yay! Now back to focusing on my orange crush mystery quilt. And my nephew's quilt. And my log cabin top. But really, that's all. :)

Flea market purchase - lap quilt made from baby clothes

Bought this at a local farmer's market today -- I loved the bright colors and the fact that some of the squares are obviously from baby clothes due to their texture or smocking. Isn't it cheerful? And next to nothing, so that's a bargain. It's just the right kind of quilt for playing in the grass at the park or snuggling up to read a book.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Toddlers are weird, and other news

So today's evidence that toddlers are just plain weird? Sofie, clutching her gloworm (which she has recently named GayGay) to her chest, standing in the middle of the dining room crying big fat tears because I'm trying to get her to stay up and play for a while longer instead of taking a nap at what seems like way too early a time.

"No! Nap! Nap!" she sobbed. How could I be so cruel as to encourage her to play? I'm such a Big Meanie.

So down she went, a full 45 minutes earlier than normal, but what the heck. Apparently she was tired. Except that she's been in there yattering ever since and no actual sleeping has commenced.


And what is it about motherhood that makes it so you can instantly sense whether your kid is crying in their room because they're trying to fall asleep or crying because they pooped? I have poop radar. I was sitting in my office fixing a retarded mistake I made on MiniatureQuilter's wall quilt, listening to Sofie yatter and occasionally squawk, when suddenly my brain said, "Oh hey, she pooped. You better go in there." And sure enough.

Poopdar. My super power.


No more migraines this week, although I did take a cautionary pill the other night when I may or may not have been having my warning blind spot. Sometimes it's really hard to tell if I'm actually having a blind spot and have ten minutes before the world explodes in my head or if I just looked at a lightbulb. But not wanting to take any chances, I used one of my prescriptions.

Last night I couldn't sleep for some reason, and ended up sitting up until after midnight watching old reruns of Sex in the City. The movie of which is coming out soon, and which I will be at come hell or high water for opening weekend. Or very soon thereafter. I no longer wear fancy clothes or really nice shoes very often, but I can live vicariously through those who do.

This Friday Brett and I have a date. An actual dinner date, with Sofie left at home to play with one of her favorite other-mamas. We debated for a while trying to fit in a movie too but I'm actually dying to just have a long, leisurely, not-in-a-rush-to-get-somewhere-after dinner at a grownup restaurant - in this case Brasa, downtown. With tablecloths that little hands are not constantly almost pulling off the table. Maybe with actual candles. And wine. And - gasp - dessert. It's going to be great.

I should also mention that I had a very nice mother's day! Brett and Sofie gave me several cards (apparently Sofie couldn't decide between two and gave me both) and also a gift certificate to the Quilting Loft, a swanky fabric store in Ballard. We all went out to breakfast at our favorite diner and then had a nice day of lounging around and playing. I even got to take a nap. What more could I have asked for?

That's all for now.

Monday, May 12, 2008

One quilt retrieved from the ether

Tulip quilt, finished, originally uploaded by Brett&MeganZalkan.

Was I ever relieved today to hear that the tulip quilt (above) finally arrived in Brazil. Apparently it took a long detour through Costa Rica, where it was beset by a pack of wild dogs who chewed some holes in the package and then taped it all up again, and it made its way to its new home bearing a "Damaged in Transit" stamp and various doggie footprints. (Ok, I'm kidding about the dog part.) The envelope was a mess but the quilt itself was just fine!

No word on the churn dash quilt which went out at the same time -- I suspect it got there but its recipient isn't answering any inquiries from me or the swap organizer. But I mind that a lot less than I minded the idea of my little tulip opus being lost in transit!


Next time I send to South America I'm going to follow my friend Mike's advice and use DHL.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Spring Doll Quilt Swap

Spring Doll Quilt Swap, originally uploaded by Brett&MeganZalkan.

Just yesterday I received my Doll Quilt Swap quilt in the mail from the very talented Marianne Smith, along with a nice bag of goodies for me and Sofie. Is this not the cutest thing ever? And perfect for a garden-aholic like me. :)

She mentioned in an attached note that the green flowered fabric is a vintage tablecloth, which I think is super cool.

I love it Marianne -- thank you so much!!

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Not a lot happening this week. I've been having migraine clusters this week -- one that lasted over 36 hours, followed by a day off, followed by another one that struck last night and has lingered through part of today. Bleah. So I'm not getting a lot of anything done other than just managing to keep up with Sofie and do some minimal house upkeep.

Migraines are an odd thing. I get the full aura kind, where you have big huge visual disturbances preceding the actual headache -- either bright flickering rings, blind spots, or (a new one for me this week) double vision. Yay. The visual distortions last twenty minutes and then the headache kicks in. And if you catch it early enough in the visual stage and take your prescription, you just MIGHT lessen the headache.

So it's always a race. Like last night, when I was two blocks away from home letting Sofie "take a walk" (a veeeeeery slow affair) when the blind spot hit. I actually had to pick her up, tuck her under an arm and sprint home to try to get a pill in time. I try to keep one with me but I don't always succeed. Now I'm stocking up again -- all my bags, coat pockets, etc. Because my brain is probably going to ambush me again any second.

Makes me feel like my brain isn't working right. Which, technically, it isn't. But it's a disturbing idea, that.

On other fronts, here's a little bit of quilting news. Two things in progress right now, although neither is progressing very fast. First, here's an update on the log cabin quilt -- I showed a bit of this a week or so ago, but have since finished the top. It's on the pile of stuff that needs to be quilted:

I haven't measured this but it's something like 3 x 4 feet. I'm not sure if I like what I did with the borders, echoing the log cabin design like that. But it's a finished top and it's pretty and it'll be easy to quilt.

I'm also working on getting borders on the little quilt below and finishing it up -- this is the first thing on the work pile right now. It's for MiniatureQuilter, my Internet quilting friend who sent me the beautiful pineapple quilt earlier this spring in exchange for a piece of applique from me:

So far today I put two borders on it, decided they were horrible, took them off stitch by stitch, and put on a new inner border, then decided I better take some tylenol and leave well enough alone.

It continues to be unseasonably cold here -- mid May and it's 44 degrees every morning. I've got a tray-ful of sprouted seed potatoes sitting on my dining room table waiting to be planted, not to mention a second set of tomatoes waiting to go in the ground. The tomatoes can survive, but I'm not sure about the potatoes -- the instructions say DO NOT PLANT UNTIL THE GROUND IS OVER 45 DEGREES. Which I'm sure it isn't. But they've grown nice little eyes and the eyes are turning into sprouts and they've just GOT to go in. So I guess I better get around to it by this weekend, warm enough or not.

The lilacs are blooming, finally, and all the planted tomatoes are doing fine. Both apple trees are blooming, including the one I thought I killed last year, and the herb border in the garden is doing great. The tarragon, especially, is almost knee high and just so beautiful. I'll have to make tarragon chicken soon. I planted extra chives and sage this year, and now I've got almost everything I like to cook with (rosemary, italian parsley, sage, chives, oregano, tarragon, fennel, etc) on hand in the garden. Yum.

Sorry for this sort of flat-toned entry. I still have a headache and it's the best I can do. Signing off for today...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

This year's tomatoes

Hey! I'm looking at my stats, and I'm on track to hit my 100,000th visit sometime in the next two or three weeks. Woo hoo! I'll have to come up with some kind of giveaway or prize for whoever that person is. Stay tuned!

On other fronts, this weekend was the big Seattle Tilth plant sale. My friend Erica and I were two of the thousand or so people who stood in the rain lined up all around a park the size of a city block to get in at the opening bell, all because they are such a fantastic source for heirloom tomatoes and eggplants and peppers and other things that you just can't start from seed in Seattle because of the short length of the truly hot part of our otherwise long gardening year.

So, here are my thoughts on tomatoes this year:
  • Last year sucked for tomato growing because the very end of the summer, when it's usually 90 degrees for weeks on end, was unusually cold and rainy, so most of the long season tomatoes never came through.
  • Last year my soil mix sucked rocks, which didn't help.
  • The few late season ones that did decently were the ones I had in the ground and not in pots, because they stayed a little warmer. So anything late goes in the ground this year.

Therefore I'm planting almost entirely early and mid-season tomatoes this year. And I've mixed a lot more compost and some lime and some tomato fertilizer in the soil in each pot this year. So that should go better.

Here are the tomatoes I'm planting this year:


  • Isis Candy, Indeterminate, 67 days, yellow cherry (repeat from last year)
  • Sweet Million, Indeterminate, 60-75, Red cherry
  • Chocolate Cherry, Indeterminate, 70, Black cherry
  • Sungold, Indeterminate, 65 days, Yellow cherry (repeat from last year)
  • Peacevine, Indeterminate, 70 days, Red cherry
  • Sasha’s Altai, 59, Indeterminate (but small), red
  • Urbikany 65, Determinate (small), red
  • Cosmonaut Volkov, 68, Indeterminate, red
  • Langley’s Silver Tiger, 70, Indeterminate, Red/yellow
  • Grushovka, Indeterminate, 72, Red (repeat from last year)


  • Tuscany Roma, Indeterminate, 78, Red
  • Green Zebra, Indeterminate, 75-80, Green (repeat from last year)
  • Juane Flamme, Indeterminate, 75, Orange (repeat from last year)
  • Valencia, Indeterminate, 75, Orange
  • Debarao, Indeterminate, 72, Red paste
  • Black plum, Indeterminate, 79, black


  • Mr. Stripey, Indeterminate, 80 (repeat from last year)
  • Brandywine, Indeterminate, 80+ (repeat from last year)

And yes, for those of you counting, that's one more than last year. Plus four eggplants and three peppers. And scallions.

I'm not insane. Really. Although this year's growing season is off to an unusually cool start so I suppose I could be kidding myself that this year might turn out well.

Friday, May 02, 2008

File this under "Inexplicable"

So if any of you reading remember my dilemma I posted last year (oddly enough, almost a year ago today) about a strange situation I found myself in at a local mall, here's another chapter in the seamier side of urban life.

Yesterday, a group of mom friends and I gathered at a local playground for a little birthday party. There was a fancy car parked there that sort of viscerally struck everyone as “wrong” somehow. The occupant, just barely visible through the tinted black windows, never came out. For two hours, they just sat there, never opening a door or a window. Facing the kids.

Of course we all thought “pedophile” and were a little creeped but basically tried to ignore it. After a couple hours, though, I went to put something in my car (parked next to it) and noticed that I could see a woman slumped over in the front seat – head to the chest, arms splayed wide. Looking more than a little dead, to be honest.

When I told the others, one of them walked over to take a closer look through the driver's window and saw what looked like a pipe in her lap, and a bag of powder, and some kind of stove-like thing. Uh oh. So of course we thought overdose, and we called 911.

And what a horrendous experience that turned out to be. What could the 911 dispatcher be thinking? They kept my friend on the phone for almost 20 minutes and kept asking for someone to go over to the car and knock on the window, make noise, try the door, try to rouse the occupant.

Who was holding a crack pipe.
And had drugs in her system.
And who was a total stranger.
And whose car we couldn't really see into clearly.

There was no way to know for sure what kind of state she'd be in if she woke up, or what or who else might be in the car. And we had our kids with us, for pete's sake.

We did go back up to the car a few times at the dispatcher's request, including setting off my car alarm to see if we could rouse her, but finally my friend (who, bless her heart, is a tough lady and can clearly stand up for herself) put her foot down and said we all were holding babies and didn’t feel comfortable fielding any more requests and they just needed to SEND SOMEONE. NOW.

At which point the dispatcher finally seemed to come to his senses and told us to “back away from the scene” and that the police were on their way. Great advice, now that you’ve encouraged us to take our little ones right over to the scene five or six times and put everyone in harm's way.

AND -- even then we had to stick around because the dispatcher said someone had to be available to direct them to the right car when they arrived, even though we’d given them the license plate, description, and parking location. So we waited. And one of us waved the cops in.

Seriously. Is this really how these situations are supposed to be handled? This is why people hesitate to get involved when they see something like this, why people might think twice about even calling 911 to help someone they don't know. It was a fragile and scary situation and the emergency dispatcher, in my opinion, was incredibly unprofessional.

The police, to their credit, were all business. When they showed up, we watched for a few minutes from the other side of the park and then finally got out of there. The occupant was alive and even standing up by the time we left. Who knows what the outcome was. It wasn’t immediately clear if she was going to be arrested or not.

But I really wish I knew where to direct a complaint or inquiry about this. Perhaps the dispatchers of this town need a little more training in what is and isn't the job of a bystander vs. the police. A lot of bad things could have ensued from an innocent bystander's being told to go meddle in a potential drug bust. Thank goodness none of that came to pass.

I’m thinking our next outing is probably going to be indoors.

Four seasons quilt swap received!

Came home from running errands today to find a big white envelope on the porch containing my Four Season's Quilt Swap quilt, from Jessica in Oregon. What a great thing to come home to! It was a quilt I'd never seen on the flickr group where people post their work in progress, so it was doubly fun because it was a total surprise!

When I first opened it up, I saw this side of it and oooohed and aaahed delightedly for several minutes before realizing that this is actually the BACK of the quilt:

Then I turned it over and was just blown away by the beautiful, whimsical front:

Check out the closeup of the dark-haired little girl on the swing:

Also in the package was a lovely card and a little hat for Sofie with a cat face and ears. She went to bed for her nap wearing this and I don't think she's ever going to take it off:

Here's Sofie expressing her true feelings about her new quilt, which will be hung in her room:

Thank you Jessica!! We love it!

Progress on Sunny Lanes

Progress on Sunny Lanes, originally uploaded by Brett&MeganZalkan.

Not a lot new here, but thought I'd post this showing the design coming together. The bottom block has an error in it that I need to fix, which you can see if you look closely at the positioning of the "white" pieces.

Only thirty more (gulp) to go. It's not hard, but I'm doing this in fits and starts between a gazillion other projects, which makes it seem like it's taking forever.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Can you believe it?

I think the tulip quilt is lost in the mail. The post office estimated 5 to 10 days for delivery to its destination in South America, and it's been 15 with no sign of it showing up.

Oddly enough, it doesn't look like my churn dash quilt has reached its recipient either. That was only going to the east coast and should have taken about three or four days. It's been twelve.

I mailed them two different days. Doesn't it seem unlikely that two quilts mailed two different days would both get lost?

Hopefully at least one of them has arrived and the person just hasn't posted or emailed about it. I'd hate for the tulip quilt, in particular, to be lost.



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