Especially the uncles.
I hope you had a lovely weekend, dear reader. We had a wonderful time with family we don't get to see very often. There was much laughter, a birthday girl, ambrosia and nectar, a dramatic reading between two turkeys, reflection on blessings, and even a jig that saw the entire house get its Irish on. There was the harvesting of oranges, walks with a dear sister-in-law, and a ride in a very fast electric car with my uncle at the wheel that was reminiscent of that scene from Wind in the Willows.
Now we are home and I am feeling a little tired. Lots of bags to unpack and order to be restored...not exactly my forté, but with a stiff herbal tea and some loud Christmas music I should be in business.
Unless I go with my instinct to hide the bags away and see how long we can make it before anyone misses their underwear.
At any rate, I will be back later today to announce the winner of the MS glitter international giveaway...it's been lovely to see how many people come to Tollipop from abroad. How I wish it was as easy to visit your corner of the world!
p.s. for those of you who are asking, there's still time to enter the giveaway...
p.p.s. I just noticed I said "my uncle" when in reality he is my husband's uncle...I'm happy to have made the slip, however, since it is exactly what I feel in my heart. But he is still a crazy driver.
Dear reader, we are taking a little trip to spend Thanksgiving with my husband's family. I hope you have a wonderful weekend with loved ones, good food, and hearts filled with gratitude for this wonderful world and the many lovely things that come with it.
That wish goes out to everyone, whether you observe this American holiday or not.
And thank you for visiting Tollipop. In the big picture of life this blog is perhaps not the most significant slice on my pie chart, but for whatever reason it means a lot to me and I am so glad there are others who enjoy it, too.
Dear reader, I confess to having a restless night of sleep after it came to my attention, via yesterday's post, that Martha Stewart has failed to stock the entire world with her glitter. What the?! Really, I'm surprised she hasn't made a deal with McDonald's to sprinkle it upon with their french fries.
There is a McDonald's for every square mile of this planet, isn't there?
At any rate...poor Australia! First no hamsters and now a dearth of MS glitter! And here I thought everything was peachy in the land down under, what with their lifetime supply of vegemite and legions of hot lifeguards.
So I came up with a brilliant plan: a giveaway geared to Tollipop readers residing outside these great United States and (apologies to my home and native land) Canada.
I questioned whether or not to allow the French to play, since we all know living in France is reward enough, but how could I refuse le pays que j'adore si beaucoup? Mais, non! C'est pas possible!
So yes, I hope to hear from the French, from the Lithuanians, from the Prince of Pondicherry, and from Qatar. I hope Germany represents, as well as southeast Asia, the Hague, Damascus, and Djibouti. And let's not forget the Australians.
If an Australian wins, I'm sending a hamster along with the glitter.
I'm not entirely certain as to what the exact prize will be at this point...but it will be some combination and permutation of these lovely Martha Stewart glitters I was rhapsodizing about. Pictured above you will note some of that contraband flocking powder I mentioned...and the chick from whence it came.
I know this is a little odd to give away something created by someone else...but it makes me happy to think of sending sparkly things out into the world, especially when they cannot be acquired in any other reasonable manner...unless there is a black market for glitter.
Which, now that I think of it, is a very intriguing idea.
To recap, if you are living outside Canada or the United States and would like to enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post. I will draw and announce the winner on Monday, November 30th.
Wishing you all glitter nirvana...
Dear reader, the other day my sister-in-law and I found ourselves wandering through Michael's with no particular purpose for doing so. Which is a very dangerous time to be in a craft store.
Especially when I got to the Martha Stewart section and discovered glitter nirvana.
Incidentally, I feel I should mention that while I'm trying to maintain a steady, calm voice, in reality I want to write this post in 72 point, all-caps, bold red letters because that's how it's streaming through my head at the moment.
You know how we all lament the capacity for excitement one remembers having as a child? Well, I regained it in Michael's over the weekend.
It has come to my attention that Martha, our fearless leader of all things crafty, has been taking glitter in a whole new direction lately. There is the one you see pictured, with hearts and stars and dreams that come true. There is a new set of fine glitter in a similar colorway. There is yet another set and this time the glitter is shaped like tiny icicles and all I could think of, as I gazed into its eyes, was if a pack of glitter like that would ever be interested in a girl like me.
And then, dear reader, there is this stuff. I'm not sure if it's legal. It looks like the powdery down of baby chicks and it comes in all these amazing shades and Martha's name is on the bottle so...if it's bad then I don't want to be good.
My sister-in-law is going to wonder about my lack of restraint, but I want it noted that I at least waited to use my 40% off coupon...which, incidentally, was renewed when I made this purchase.
And is presently burning another hole in my pocket.
It's just that, well, I hardly feel I need to explain myself on the matter. Take a moment and connect with this glitter, dear reader. Gaze upon it until you see a door. Go through that door. Then you'll see another door. Is it locked? Reach into your pocket and you'll find a tiny, porcelain key. This door looks smaller, but trust me and go through it anyway...
Now do you get it?
Now do you see, as I do, that sprinkling some of this glitter out in the world will make everything perfect and lovely and happily ever after, even if just for a moment?
How could it possibly not??
Perhaps I should explain my track record with birthday parties. They bewilder me. Don't forget, my brain is one that gets washed out to sea over minor logistical challenges (such as clearing my studio table), so the thought of planning for, preparing, and pulling off an event designed to keep a gang of girls from rising up in mutiny leaves me curled in bed, shivering, staring blankly at the walls.
And it's mainly my own fault. Because I have a hard time reading my audience...like the time I organized a craft for a five-year-old party which involved the use of glue guns. Seriously. Prior to the event I visualized the whole thing going off without a hitch, but the second the girls arrived and started making me incredibly nervous about the state of their fine motor skills, guess who ended up assembling ten tiny dioramas amidst a chorus of plaintive voices?
The headmistress on the verge the nervous breakdown, that's who.
Or the time I tried to organize a little stitching activity, only to be pinned against the wall by a throng of diminutive seamstresses demanding to have their needles re-threaded about once every ten seconds.
Or the time, in my madness, I sewed ten little aprons and had the girls decorate sugar cookies, sending them home with the aprons and a sweetly packaged box of their creations, only to be met with with mass hysteria at the doorway when those same little angels realized they were not to receive a bag of traditional party favors (aka: plastic refuse) after all.
I don't know. I just love the thought of a simple, creative party wherein the girls come with their best manners, Ma makes vanity cakes, and Laura tricks that mean Nellie Oleson into wading through a pool of bloodsuckers.
And this time I think I got my wish.
The girls were thrilled to hear there was a pot of carnivorous playdough awaiting them. As they pounded and pumelled it into submission, Sophie and Izzy circled the table adding drops of food coloring, peppermint oil, and fairy dust (glitter).
Let me just say this: the combination of color, scent, sparkles, and something squishy is a big winner amongst girls aged 5 through 40.
Brief aside: Please note Sophie's hand (with the 7-11 Sharpie tattoo)...she swam in a competition that morning and took first place in her heat for freestyle! And second for backstroke! I was so excited for my girl.
The other activity (which we did first) involved affixing, with removable tape, the first initial of each girl's name onto a lunch bag and having the girls decorate the bags with crayons. Once their masterpieces were complete, the tape was removed and the results were lovely.
(gift bag idea thanks to my dear sister Julianna who only a week earlier hosted a similar celebration and talked me through this one).
Beyond that, I just let the girls play, have vigorous discussions over whose turn it was on the swing, eat brownies with whipped cream and strawberries (my birthday girl does not care for cake) and other assorted snacks, open gifts, and hug the living daylights out of each other.
For those of you who may be interested, although I did not keep a stringent account of my expenses, this party likely did not exceed a budget of forty dollars. I did not decorate (that is the Ma Ingalls in me...I think a clean house is the prettiest accoutrement) and I am also the kind of person who keeps vast supplies of brownie mixes, flour, food coloring, peppermint oil, and glitter on hand.
Vast supplies of glitter.
And I think she will, too.
It all started out as normal birthday parties do: with a cauldron of playdough brewing merrily away on the stove. Only this time, I failed to read the fine print on the recipe. Be careful what you google from the internet, dear reader. The words flesh eating should be a giant red flag.
I grabbed my industrial sized wooden spoon and yelled, "En garde!," but what really proved more effective was the bludgeoning method Caroline learned in kindergarten.
Blunt force, dear reader, when you are up against rogue playdough. The meat tenderizer worked like a charm.
Or was it?
Oh, how I love the literary device of woodcutters! They always appear on the scene at the very moment of despair! Plus, they wear the nicest flannel shirts.
And just like that, our villain escaped. Of course we gave chase, but it was surprisingly nimble for a blob.
Carnivorous playdough on the loose...not exactly the words you were hoping to read on a Sunday morning, I'm sure.
But I felt it was my duty as a resident alien of this country to warn you.
I do. It is to visit upon my girls some semblance of the deprivation I knew as a child. You see, I almost feel to do otherwise would be breaking faith with my mother and the long line of hardened women who surely came before her, in their quest to make breakfast an experience akin to scourging.
Here's how the meal went down when I was a kid. First of all, it took place in utter darkness, unlike the glorious 6:30 a.m. sunrise you see pictured above. My mother would go outside and thresh a bushel of wheat from the cold, frozen ground. These kernels of grain would then be cast into a pot of boiling water and subsequently forgotten as a pack of children banged away on a litany of pianos and violins, dreading the moment we would be called to the table.
The porridge was ready when it was burned on the bottom and yielded a viscous film of scum on the top. Oh, and when it had been liberally dosed with a bucket of flax seeds, leaving the impression that our pantry was teeming with mice.
Ah, those happy days of yore. I grew up thinking boxed cereals were against my religion. My husband, on the other hand, grew up just as religiously, only his belief system stipulated to cereals which dyed one's milk shades of pink and green.
It's tough to find a middle ground when two people come from such extremes. Which is why my oatmeal comes sprinkled with a little nostalgia known as flax, and my husband makes waffles every opportunity he gets. They are in the shape of barnyard animals, though, so I am somewhat mollified on that point.
And we do have boxed cereals in the house. But they are about as strict and austere as a church lady...frowning, pinched, sugarless. No hyper leprechauns, no wired toucans, no roided out tigers acting like everything's grrrreat. Everything is not great, Tony. You are probably sterile.
It's not that I wish to compete with the Miss Hannigans, the Miss Minchins, the Katherine Brooks of this world. Such vitriolic headmistresses belong to the pages of literature and there they should stay.
But sooner or later one must ask oneself: what would childhood be without some sort of blight?
A bottomless bowl of pastel milk? An adult life devoid of bitterness, regrets? Closure on every issue known to man?
I hope you see my concern. Such tranquility isn't normal. It isn't a good breeding ground for the imagination. It won't put hair on one's chest. And sometimes I fear the only thing standing between my girls and that fearsome clean slate is me and my handful of turdish seeds.
A little stitching here, some painting there, a furious round on the piano, a scarf that was knit and then unravelled, the advent of some dollies...
Just between you and me, it's my favorite way of doing business.
Is it efficient? Dear me, I should hope not! What role does efficiency play in the curriculum of the Tollipop School for Moderately Well-Behaved Young Ladies?
One that is decidedly minor.