Paper Dolls for Boys

Raising 2 crafty boys and thrifting every chance I get.

True Story June 30, 2008

Filed under: Random Bits — twlowenstein @ 7:26 pm
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One time I was walking home through Harvard Square (like the way I dropped that name in there) and I heard someone running up behind me. A woman, around my age (then early 20’s) said, “I’m looking for a friend.” So I asked her if she could describe this friend, maybe I had seen him or her. She said, “No I am looking for a new friend!” oh. She was in the States for a couple of months from Japan doing some sort of exchange and she was looking for someone to hang out with. uh. ok. So we went to dinner a few times and went to a couple of movies and turns out we both found a friend that day. I wish I could say we were still in touch but what has stayed with me is her courage. It takes guts to do something like that, balls and faith.

And on an unrelated note, here is a sneak peak of something going up in the soon to be shop! edit:  Opening in August.  You are invited to the Grand Opening & Wine Tasting!  Good thing about a virtual wine tasting is you don’t have to have a designated driver!

It’s a pair of metal deer bookends that, I think, are quite fetching. Out of curiosity, how would you price these? And I will be taking different photos of these for the shop, FYI!


Junk Explosion June 29, 2008

Filed under: Random Bits — twlowenstein @ 2:17 pm
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And not the cool kind of junk either.

We had a yardsale on Saturday and it was a plastic mess. I am embarrassed to say it wasn’t even everything that needed to go but it was a good start. The things that didn’t sell are boxed and awaiting a trip to Charlie and Pat’s for donation. Feels good to make space for the avalanche of stuff that steadily heads this way.

While hauling stuff out of the garage we found the signs I had saved from our last yard sale but couldn’t find earlier so I ending up making some of the half-assed signs I always complain about when other people make them. My son enjoyed being a walking billboard and asked if he could keep the signs to put them in his “treasure box”. Maybe now we will know where they are for the next sale!

Funny I didn’t choose to take photos of this stuff when I was playing along with Toy Week at Green Jello. Keeping it real, real JUNKY, ya’ll!

I was happy (but surprised) these did not sell. I’ll tuck them away for my future kitchen that doesn’t suck.

At one point I was thinking I should charge admission as a playzone to supplement slow sales.

My favorite part of the day was talking with all the friends and neighbors who stopped by and meeting nice new neighbors. One of which gave me $2 for a truck I offered to sell him at $1. My new FAVORITE neighbor is what I like to call him.

Some of the Friends & Neighbors

Look at those legs!

My boys and their buddy had a blast playing with all the forgotten toys. We negotiated a bring back ONE policy and overall the boys did a great job of hanging out, playing, and seeing their stuff go.

Here was my favorite yard sailor of the day. She pulled up in style and bought what would have been the item that made ticker tape fall from the sky with a big neon sign saying, “You picked a winner!”, if I had that kind of power.

Rumor has it my mom is a big reader of the blog, so I need to take a moment to say, “Mom, this was a great hat. The boys loved it but it was time for it to move on to a new home. You understand.”

She was such a sport to model the hat for me. She bargained hard but in a non-obnoxious way. Thumbs up for kindness and fun at yard sales!

And here is my tribute to a treasure lost.

I got this trunk for a steal in Davis Square many years ago. A woman I worked with and I managed to get it in her convertible and we got it up to my 3rd floor apartment. For a long time I used it as a linen closet and then we used it to put the television on. It had a mystery drawer that was locked and we enjoyed imagining what riches were in that drawer. My parents even hired a locksmith to open it but no dice. When we moved to this place I stored it in the basement and then the garage, always planning for it to have a place of honor when we get our own place. Unfortunately it got alarmingly moldy and beyond help. My downstairs neighbor took his power tools and crow bar to it and we solved the mystery of the formerly impenetrable drawer – empty. But I did get some of the hardware off and may go back down to the curb for the rest of it.

Here is my favorite shot of the day. My little guy poached this from our neighbor’s portion of the sale.

Yard Sale wrap up – it is not nearly as exciting to HAVE a yard sale as it is to GO to them. I never really thought about it until yesterday but wouldn’t it feel so much more satisfying to parade your best treasures in your front lawn for friends and neighbors to admire? But then I wouldn’t have 130 bucks burning a hole in my pocket now would I?


Captain Huggy Face June 28, 2008

Filed under: Random Bits — twlowenstein @ 12:20 am
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Love & Antibiotics (And Not in an 80’s Glam Rock Kind of Way) June 27, 2008

Filed under: Family & Friends — twlowenstein @ 1:05 pm

My son picked these for me on the way home from the park with little brother and dad. Better than antibiotics. He did the whole behind his back thing when presenting them to me, absolutely heart melting.

Total reenactment of endearing presentation:

But I swear, the matching colors thing was not intentional. No child was made to switch clothes in the making of this post. You HAVE to believe me.

I have felt overwhelming love for my boys these past couple of days, I MISS them. Silly because they are right here. Right here arguing over who gets which playmobil guy or jockeying for just the right spot on the sofa. But I can’t snuggle them and kiss them like I want. I think I am feeling sentimental and anxious because of my bacterial issue and the meds but my boys seem so BIG and I am feeling so sad. And did I mention anxious? That is my calm, blog way of say fearful and that is my ‘trying to sound half-way smart’ way of saying scared shitless.

I taught a child a long time ago, that was the kind of kid you just knew you were going to hear great things about. The kind of kid who you could only imagine was destined for good on a large scale. Those things still might be true but things have taken a heart breaking turn. He is incarcerated under suspicion of being an accessory to murder. I’m writing this not as a reporter full of facts, representing the whole story, but rather as me. A former teacher and a current mom of two small boys who is thinking of this kid and of his mother who had such different plans for her son.

I remember whispering in my son’s ear after I found out, “I hope all your mistakes can be fixed.”

Sometimes being a mom is so scary and it feels too BIG. Most of the time I am able to live in the moment and appreciate the now (very Baba Ram Dass) but today there is this feeling of things being fleeting and uncertain.

I hope to follow up this downer of a post with tons of thrift store finds because as soon as I am able to deal with the dust, I am heading to the shops to calm my nerves.


Fish Sticks & Ichthyology June 25, 2008

Filed under: Random Bits — twlowenstein @ 10:28 pm
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We have visitors who are summering with us.

Not only are they hard to catch with the net, but apparently they are elusive to the camera as well because this tank has about 30 fish and a gang of snails. These little guys usually live in the school library but we “volunteered” to fish-sit for the summer. I am really glad we did and for a number of reasons.

1.) We are not pet people (allergies, poop aversions, etc.) but I am glad the boys are experiencing being responsible for another living creature.

2.) I told my 5 year old today that he was born to be a fish namer. He immediately named the fish with the most identifiable markings, Moses. And another fish, Sister Moses. For the record, he has been to Temple all of once and that was for a Bat Mitzvah. Now, in an effort to more easily classify the fish, he has named them all the “Moses Clan”.

3.) They have inspired our first “summer study”. My eldest and I brainstormed a fish study plan tonight at bedtime. We’re going to do some fish crafts: fish printing, fish hats, fish observational drawings and imaginary fish scrounge sculptures. We’re going to learn more about the kinds of fish represented in the tank. We’re going to dissect a fish (not from the tank). We’re going to learn about fish skeletons (bones, a very exciting topic in this house). We’re going to eat some new types of fish. We are going to freeze some plastic fish in huge chunks of ice and have a super fishy tub time. We are going to go on a field trip to the aquarium. I am so excited to see the look on my little guy’s face when he’s surrounded by all sorts of swimmy creatures. He kisses the tank often and takes his feeding turn very seriously!

Does anyone have any suggestions for us? Any craft, science, math, music, or any general fish fun to share? Any good developmentally appropriate links?

More fishy updates (hopefully no eulogies) to come…

Edit: I decided to add a photo that I didn’t take at bedtime, not much better.

Since my camera doesn’t have a “fish in tank” setting (seriously, it has a “soft flowing water” setting), can someone tell me how to take a decent photo of captive fish before we hit the aqaurium?


The Right Tool for the Right Job June 24, 2008

Filed under: Craft,Random Bits — twlowenstein @ 6:54 pm

This is one of my catch phrases as a mom. I always feel proud of myself as I use it to depart a lesson on say patience. I often put off art projects with the kids because we don’t “have the right tool for the job!”. No styrofoam printing yet because we are still waiting for that rubber brayer to fall out of the sky (or freecycle). We talk about it in terms of math and science thinking. I use it ALL the time.

Typically, I do not follow this rule in the slightest. I tear off store tags with my teeth (once it is home and paid for, of course) and use paint brushes for the glue knowing full well I’m not going to rinse them and they will end up as frozen evidence of my neglect, to name just a couple.

I am the queen of jimmy-rigging. I am only now going to tell you that the number of helpful people at my son’s school who went to open the car door for my son only to shockingly find themselves a few steps away from my car holding my door handle firmly in their grasp, door still firmly shut is greater than 1. I am telling you now because after months and months of the spit and muscle technique we took it to the shop. edit to say a big Thank You to the Auto Shop for making me feel less like a lazy fool. My five year old ripped the “fixed” handle off the car today. Turns out that new handle they “ordered and installed” was a big ineffective dollop of super glue. I choose lazy-lite over shady & illegal every time!

Today my first born suggested we do an art project together so I braved the “craft room” (I’m still sitting on those “before” shots because I’ve yet to achieve the “after”) thinking we’d do Anna Marie Horner’s animal silhouette project. I grabbed some cardboard, felt, modge podge, paint brush, and vintage patterns. I then realized this was going to be a project “inspired” by her project because it needed to be done fast and by me and a 5 year old. So we downloaded some simple silhouettes from the internet, just google imaged it, and started to cut out the shapes. I then hit my first roadblock. I have 2 pairs of tiny tiny scissors, perfect for scherenschnitte even. They have been swallowed by the craft room and I am hoping they will turn up (not in my foot) when I do my big clean. So I went ahead with my clunky fabric cutting scissors even though I knew I DID NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE RIGHT JOB. While my son worked on his puma, color pencil, glue and felt creation (as yet unfinished) I worked on this:

It’s not finished either. I had planned to add some old text and maybe another couple of layers to it but all the white bits that are ever so obvious at the hands and wings (if you click, you will see) are bumming me out. I think I am going to have to stop thinking of myself as a “free spirited” crafter and own up to being disorganized and a touch lazy. (edit: To all my potential employees who may be perusing this as part of the hiring process, let me just say that, PROFESSIONALLY, I am organized to a fault (almost) and am full of pep. Lastly, I would like to say, “pick me!”)

And before you analyze me too deeply, Dear Reader, via the big swoop going down in the collage, let me say that I am on day 3 of being housebound with a ridiculous summer cold. A cold I am trying to pretend isn’t strep throat but will go get the right pills for the job tomorrow!

(Has anyone noticed I am an avid over & mis user of parenthesis? ) My husband said this post is too self critical. I am leaving the house tomorrow, sick or not!


Who Am I Kidding? June 22, 2008

Here is what summertime REALLY means to me:

Yard Sales! With a few rummages thrown in and an estate sale sprinkled here and there!

Yesterday was a fruitful day. My big little guy and I had took some time to ourselves and we hit the sales.

All the old guys and I scoured the garage at our first estate sale. It had been striped of all the vintage tools by the time my son and I got there. I did come up with this beauty. It will go well with the orange shoe shine stand my brother gave me a few years ago. Check out that wooden container for the shine!

I picked this up at the same estate sale. 1 dollar. I think it was a salt or pepper shaker at one time. It’s heavy and delightfully bug eyed. I am smitten.

I also picked up these cameras for 8 dollars a piece. I’ve got a collection going now. Mostly vintage super 8s with a few cameras sneaking in.

I also got these books at a thrift store last week. I’m going to do a separate post to share their illustrated goodness.

I rescued this vintage textile from a yard sale.

It’s not exactly my style (I AM a sucker for orange) but I feel like it was lying there, indignant at the low price tag stuck on it’s rich fibers, calling for my help. I’m a saver.  Anyone know where it’s from?

My soon to be 6 year old passed by the plastic toys and went right for this at another yard sale:

He asked the woman having the yard sale how much it was and she said, “Are your parents interested in this?” Like I was using my kid to try and get a lower price. I didn’t want to offend her with what I was thinking, “Are you freakin’ kidding me? That is not going in MY living room!”. So I assured her it was all my boy’s idea. He bought it for 5 dollars and repeated a number of times throughout the day, “Isn’t it beautiful mom?” He’s hooked and I could not be more proud.


Summer ToDo List

Filed under: Random Bits — twlowenstein @ 12:09 pm

I’m fighting that feeling like summer is almost over and I am not going to accomplish all I’ve planned. It’s not so much that it’s almost over but more like our summer is booking up fast.

So here is my list of things to do. Hopefully it will hold me a little more accountable to put it in writing.

1. Clean and organize craft room. (Halfway there)

2. Put stuff up for sale on Ebay.

3. Start Etsy shop.

4. Have yard sale.

5. Make place mats for swap I foolishly signed on for. kinda

6. Sew new pillow case for my bedtime pillow (embarrassingly, it’s my lovey and I can’t sleep without it but it is BUSTED).

7. Make car organizer for trip. Oh so much easier. Never figured I’d find the lazy answer from Martha but thank you!

8. Make tri-corner hat prototype for birthday party. or just buy ’em

9. Switch playroom and boys’ room.

10. Paint curbed desk with big guy for his “work”.

This list is a work in progress. Hopefully most of the editing will be crossing off jobs well done not just adding more!

What are you working on this summer? And as usual, any tips or tricks are appreciated.

Now I’m going to stop writing about stuff to do and go try and do something…


Summer Loving :: Day 5 June 20, 2008

Filed under: summer loving photo week,Uncategorized — twlowenstein @ 3:58 am
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This concludes Green Jello’s week long Summer Loving Photo Challenge. Thanks Anne, so much fun! Wish she planned everything for me. What should I make for dinner tonight?

I’ve enjoyed digging through my “archives”, aka boxes and boxes of photographs in my closet.

Here are some photos of Noi, my nanny, and me on the beach in Pattaya my first summer.

I wish I still had that watering can and doesn’t that hat look very modern and Amy Butler-ish?

Enjoy your summer!


Summer Loving :: Day 4 June 19, 2008

Filed under: Family & Friends,summer loving photo week — twlowenstein @ 6:45 am
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Vintage Summer

Family Archives: