Stamp Making

31 05 2010

Many years ago, I heard about this hobby called Letterboxing, which is sort of like a low-tech, crafty version of geocaching. The idea is that you create yourself a stamp and a booklet, then follow clues you find online to various letterboxes. The boxes include a book of their own and a stamp that belongs to that box. You exchange stamp marks with the box, so that everyone who has been to a particular box leaves their unique mark there and then your own book ends up looking like a traveler’s passport. Or this is how I understand it, anyway, I have never actually done this. Yet. Part of what is holding me back is that I tried it once, at the Olympic Training Center here in town, but the box was missing. But a bigger part is that I didn’t really understand how to carve my own stamp and it somehow seems less personal to buy a pre-made stamp. And it’s not like I have a major resource full of free craft-making instructional videos at my fingertips. So, a few weeks ago, this subject came up at our knitting (and other fibers) group and there just so happened to be a mama there who’d been carving stamps since she was a kid, so she brought a kit and taught us all how to do it. Here’s what I learned.

Michael’s didn’t have the fancy stamp-carving kit I was hoping for, but they did have a set of carving tools. The stamp-carving ones were smaller, but these work fine for me, a beginner. I happened to have a few white erasers leftover from last year’s Back to School clearance, so I pulled them out and got to work. Since the stamp for your letterbox should be personal, I decided I’d use the zebra belly from this blog’s banner, which was originally from a photo I took years ago on a trip to the zoo. I can’t imagine being anything but ZebraBelly at this point.


I sketched the design onto a piece of paper (you can also trace a design using tracing paper), and made sure to leave a nice, thick layer of pencil lead (or whatever it is these days). Positioning the paper, drawing side down, where I wanted it on the eraser, I rubbed it with my thumb nail to transfer the pencil to the eraser.

image applied

When I carved, I made sure to carve the parts that I wanted to appear white.


When I was finished, I neatly rounded the edges and tested it out. You can re-carve as needed, but I was happy with mine. Next step: create or buy a book to record stamps in! And then to find my first real letterbox!

stamp finished!

Sofia’s Wedding

30 05 2010




The Flowers I’ve Eaten This Week

27 05 2010

Last week while the kids and I were touring the farm where we went to pick strawberries, we got to sample some of the other crops along the way. The farmer encouraged us to taste the flowers from each plant and I was really surprised at the fact that they tasted exactly like their leaves.

wild arugula

It was such an odd sensation, this delicate white flower that had the punch of peppery arugula behind it. We also tasted cilantro flowers which come in their own miniature bouquets, again, tasting exactly like the leaves I eat so often.


This week, I was at a friend’s house and she offered me some chives from her garden to take home and who am I to say no to free chives? They had spicy purple bunches at the tops of some stalks and when I was making some avocado dip this week, I decided to throw the flowers in on top. I’ve always thought chives look pretty on their own, but when they are purple flowers, they look way prettier.

avocado dip with chive flowers

From now on, I’ll eat all my greens in flower form just like a fancy princess. FYI.


25 05 2010

Those last two entries contradict each other a tad, huh? Ah, what can I say? I am complicated.

Golden Rule

25 05 2010

I can’t tolerate having people in my life who don’t treat me with love and respect. I can’t tolerate having people who lie or who won’t take responsibility for their actions and mistakes – particularly when those mistakes effect me. I can’t tolerate people who hurt me without making amends.

I don’t expect people to be perfect. I simply ask that if they screw up, they afford me the respect of apologizing and then learning from their mistake and not repeating it.

This is how I try to treat people, and how I expect to be treated in return.

Unfortunately, this means I lose a lot of people. Especially family.

I admire this respect that I have for myself – that I insist my loved ones treat me well, that I am willing to forgive when apologized to, that I am willing to apologize when I am wrong (even though it’s often very hard for me to admit I’m wrong).

And, yet, I find myself with less and less family. And I wonder what’s wrong with me that I can’t let bygones be bygones like most people I know. I don’t feel I hold grudges – all I ask is that people make amends with me when they’ve hurt me. I usually open up completely when they’ve healed me with the kindness and love that a simple apology gives. But I’m incapable of letting go of hurt when there hasn’t been closure or healing to it. I am incapable of faking it, of pretending everything is OK when it is not. Again, a quality I admire in myself – honesty – but when I look around at others, I just feel broken. Everyone else I see can find a way to love despite hurt, and without apology. I don’t know if this is more right than the way I work, but it certainly is the expected way to handle things in society.

I told this to a close friend the other day and she told me it’s a quality she admires in me and she wishes she had the strength for.

But I still feel broken.

Guilt is a Lie

19 05 2010

Years ago a wise woman told me she didn’t believe in the word lazy. She felt that if you didn’t do something there was probably a reason. And I feel that’s true. I can see that sometimes those reasons aren’t positive – depression, for instance, has kept me “lazy” a lot in my life – but no matter how I think about it, the supposed laziness is the result of some imbalance. It is never true sloth.

I don’t know that I can explain it because my mind works in weird and wonderful ways, but that philosophy somehow led me to think about guilt and how it’s all bullshit.

Today my son sat in story time quietly listening to the stories, completely engaged. But he wasn’t always engaged that way, in fact it was only in the last six months or so that he was ready for story time, despite the fact that his sister sat quietly engaged from the tender age of two. And the thing is that I used to feel guilty that he wasn’t ready for story time. WTF? Our society is so rooted in literacy (which is wonderful) that I took on the guilt of one who doesn’t expose their children to literature despite the fact that I do and the fact that my son was simply being himself. I hung on to this guilt when I truly had no control over the reasons for it.

A few months ago I read a blog entry proposing that Mommy Guilt is really a natural defense to do the right thing and that we should embrace it and follow our guilt. While I know what the writer was getting at, I can’t help feeling that such an entry is leading us further into this bullshit path away from our instincts. Take, for instance, a woman raising children in a community that embraces the teachings of Ezzo. Her instincts tell her not to let her baby cry, but she will feel guilt if she follows them.

Perhaps at one time guilt was Nature’s way of speaking to a person. Or perhaps it was man-made to begin with. But in any case it’s a horrible and completely useless emotion now. And I have spent too much of my life entrenched in it. Over religion, parenting, relationships, things I should be doing, things I shouldn’t be doing – I took on guilt and wallowed in it, drowning. These days I have shed the cloak of guilt and I refuse to take it on anymore. If it creeps in, I evaluate it. If it’s about something I should be doing, I either do it or I determine where the “laziness” stems from and I give myself a break. Guilt has no hold over me. And I feel so free.

Recently, with the aforementioned negativity in my life, I have been handed a new garment of guilt. And so I threw it on the ground and stomped on it. I won’t wear it. They can, if they like, but they cannot expect me to.

This isn’t to say there aren’t other emotions I cannot release. Sorrow is the heaviest at this point. But with guilt involved, it would be magnified, far too much to bear.

And I feel so blessed to have learned this lesson. To be free of that sucking mud which holds me down. Today, I can walk on, guilt free.


18 05 2010

Last week Threadless announced this cool shirt and I bought it that instant. It arrived Friday night, just in time for me to wear on my son’s birthday – to his party and out to dinner afterward. Apparently, he was too busy thinking about Legos all day to notice because this morning when I put it on again we had this conversation:

E: Mommy! When did you buy that shirt from the computer?!
Me: Last week, silly. Don’t you remember I wore it on your birthday?
E: *thinks* No, Mommy. You must have had your back turned to me.


15 05 2010


You can read his birth story here if you like.




baby face


up?  up?  UP!


he says hee

happy boy


this dream was brought to you by the letters "y" and "w"

Today, my youngest child is five. Probably I should stop calling him “the baby” now.

indiana jones hat

Mother’s Day

9 05 2010

Despite some negativity (that’s an understatement) in my life this weekend, we had a pretty nice day. We went for a hike at Torrey Pines. I’d hoped to try a new trail but we ended up doing the same one down to the beach that I did with grown-up friends last month, this time without a massive earthquake. I love this trail and I was impressed at how well the kids handled it – they were champions! They climbed up Flat Rock with Dad and got to see some tidepools. We all had a ton of fun and I can’t wait to do it again.

running down the stairs

this was the best picture of the series

flat rock


Yesterday, I took my kidlets to a local park to grab a couple of quick shots for a post on SOAM. They have become some of my favorite photos.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mamas. ♥

Springtime Tweets

5 05 2010

Dmn vwl tg!
8:22 AM Apr 1st via web

E is getting his first professional haircut. That means it will actually be straight this time.
10:08 AM Apr 1st via mobile web

All these years later and still seeing planes heading toward downtown on their way to landing at the airport makes my heart skip a beat.
10:12 AM Apr 2nd via mobile web

FINALLY finished the Loch Ness Monster (now named Princess Leia).
6:55 PM Apr 2nd via web

ZebraBelly is surprised to feel slightly less murderous when watching The Doodlebops in cartoon form. But only slightly.
8:05 AM Apr 3rd via web

Is it a bad work ethic to text with the boss’ wife while working?
11:00 AM Apr 3rd via mobile web

OMG, bugs, will you kindly stop leaving your dead bodies for me to dispose of? It’s bad manners and makes me feel all ooky.
11:14 AM Apr 3rd via mobile web

ZebraBelly just bought Mexico for only $3!
7:16 PM Apr 3rd via web

ZebraBelly just heard a rumor about an ostrich loose in Chula Vista. I’m bitter I missed the horses. Anyone know about this?
11:32 AM Apr 4th via web

DUDE. It is bizarre when the mountain begins shaking beneath your feet. Holy crap.
3:50 PM Apr 4th via mobile web

ZebraBelly thinks we may have a pox. Pok? How do you singularlize it? Margie wants you all to know it’s HER pok.
7:49 PM Apr 4th via web

ZebraBelly never realized a side effect of chicken pox is screaming at brothers.
10:20 AM Apr 6th via web

ZebraBelly is pretty sure Elliott has one tiny pok. Want at least a few more, pls.
3:12 PM Apr 6th via mobile web

Turns out chicken pox makes it hard to watch Lost.
10:35 PM Apr 6th via web

ZebraBelly is stalking the USGS Earthquake Map. It’s quite busy.
10:36 PM Apr 6th via web

ZebraBelly is out running errands. Happy to report the world outside does, in fact, still exist.
10:48 AM Apr 7th via mobile web

As it turns out, running errands without kids goes really fast.
11:29 AM Apr 7th via web

5.5 – First I wondered why I was dizzy. And then why my vertical blinds agreed with me.
9:52 AM Apr 8th via web

Why hasn’t anyone else noted that Eloise said “It’s about time” to Des? Am I the only one who found that interesting? #Lost
9:06 PM Apr 8th via web

ZebraBelly has decided to celebrate the end of Pox, and the birth of a (nearly) eight-year-old with a trip to Disneyland! ♥
9:14 PM Apr 8th via web

ZebraBelly is making some nut butter bars-recipe by the folks who brought you the “Impossible Pina Colada Pie”. Let’s hope this one is less impossible.
11:31 AM Apr 9th via web

Every so often I wonder why all the grown-ups left me alone with these kids. And then I remember I *am* the grown-up.
9:31 PM Apr 9th via web

ZebraBelly is wondering why no one ever cooks MC’s like a pound of bacon anymore. Mmmmm bacon.
5:53 PM Apr 10th via mobile web

ZebraBelly is getting a pedicure and some tattoos today. Body Art by Margie.
10:53 AM Apr 11th via web

ZebraBelly has been imagining earthquakes all week.
6:12 PM Apr 11th via web

ZebraBelly has officially forgotten her age. It’s all downhill from here!
9:27 PM Apr 11th via web

3.4 @ 7:20ish… No one else felt that? For the first time Twitter’s Quake Response has failed me.
7:49 AM Apr 12th via mobile web

Margie: I have NEVER believed in imagination. I want you to remember that and I want it to ECHO in your brain.
2:59 PM Apr 12th via web

ZebraBelly is joining the world of the living again. Hello, park! Hello, sun, and breeze!
1:52 PM Apr 13th via mobile web

OMB Desmond = 42. But I always knew that. #Lost
9:26 PM Apr 13th via web

ZebraBelly has GOT to stop reading Lost theories online and get ready to go to Sea World.
8:09 AM Apr 14th via web

Oh, Mr. Seagull, you can’t fool us. You sit there looking so regal, but we all know you are actually an asshole.
5:45 PM Apr 14th via mobile web

Can anyone please explain to me why I ordered live caterpillars and earthworms when I won’t need them until later in the curriculum? WTF?
9:37 AM Apr 15th via web

ZebraBelly licked lemonade berries.
3:03 PM Apr 15th via web

ZebraBelly was playing FlashForward with the family at dinner. We fell asleep and then shared what we saw ourselves doing in 6 months. #raisinggeeks
6:46 PM Apr 15th via web

Why yes this IS the record that will save the world when the Martians come. #MarsAttacks
8:51 AM Apr 16th via web

I don’t eat pork. Except for bacon. And carnitas. And pulled pork. And ham, too.
5:24 PM Apr 16th via mobile web

I think if Margie ever starts showing interest in Hannah Montana, I’ll steer her towards Tiffany instead.
8:38 AM Apr 17th via mobile web

As it turns out, Fry’s Electronics does not sell Nikon cameras or supplies. WTF?
1:25 PM Apr 17th via mobile web

FYI- Disney Store does not sell basic tickets to Disneyland. FAIL. You’d think today is Thursday.
4:32 PM Apr 17th via mobile web

Spacemen. USA cape. Rap? Robot dances. Kesha scares me. But I think I might love her. (In the same way I love Twilight.)
12:16 AM Apr 18th via web

Elliott says: Oh no, Spaghetti-O’s!
12:44 PM Apr 18th via web

You know, if you REALLY loved me, you’d make Lost be on tonight.
6:35 PM Apr 19th via web

ZebraBelly is going to have to stop watching True Blood if I can’t stop picking up the Southern accent.
11:17 PM Apr 19th via mobile web

ZebraBelly is making granola bars. But because I’m a snobby snot who can’t force herself to follow directions, I’m only hoping they end up good.
4:26 PM Apr 20th via web

Granola bars = delicious awesome. Will they hold together? Or did I just bake some fancy cereal? Will test and report in the morning!
6:55 PM Apr 20th via web

Margie: Is that awesome? Or is that FRICKIN awesome?
1:07 PM Apr 21st via web

ZebraBelly just spent 30 minutes trying to pound juice from carrots with my own fist. Part of that is only partly true.
5:48 PM Apr 21st via web

More earthquakes and a snow day in late April in San Diego county? Pretty sure this is the end of the world.
11:26 AM Apr 22nd via web

Annoying people annoy me.
1:23 PM Apr 22nd via mobile web

FRICK. WTF is 30 Rock on NOW? WTF? Because I SERIOUSLY needed some Liz Lemon time. Screw you, NBC. Not that I am bitter or anything.
8:54 PM Apr 22nd via web

God loves me. I know because there’s MORE 30 Rock on tonight. Even so: screw you, NBC. This time for being totally unclear.
9:38 PM Apr 22nd via web

Margie is making up interpretive dances to the Disneyland Soundtrack.
7:59 AM Apr 23rd via web

ZebraBelly just offended her husband by asserting that there are some similarities between Star Trek Next Gen and The Love Boat.
10:32 AM Apr 23rd via mobile web

ZebraBelly just offended her husband AGAIN, this time by asserting that the San Onofre nuclear power plant looks like boobs.
11:20 AM Apr 23rd via mobile web

Holy cow those mountains are COVERED in snow! In April!
11:29 AM Apr 23rd via mobile web

Most disgusting fact learned today at the Discovery Cube: a hockey player’s sweat weighs 3 lb.
1:45 PM Apr 23rd via mobile web

The whole town??? #Pomona #ObscureReference #ThisMustBeThePlace
3:40 PM Apr 23rd via mobile web

Walking to the trams we overheard a little girl shout, “Wow! Look at all those tramps!”
7:28 AM Apr 24th via mobile web

Submarine made both my kids cry.
9:39 AM Apr 24th via mobile web

Omigod I am the mother of an 8 year old. It just hit me.
10:38 AM Apr 24th via mobile web

Mmm… Dole Whip….
4:25 PM Apr 24th via mobile web

Being at Disneyland really brings out the patriotism in me.
4:56 PM Apr 24th via mobile web

Um, FYI, Disneyland, a ragtime version of A Whole New World? Fail.
8:25 PM Apr 24th via mobile web

ZebraBelly is remembering how much she hates LA traffic.
1:35 PM Apr 25th via mobile web

ZebraBelly has found a new love: candy cane beets.
1:03 PM Apr 27th via web

My son just walked through a swarm of migrating bees. That counts as school, right?
3:16 PM Apr 27th via mobile web

ZebraBelly is pretty sure she just heard someone on NPR say, “Homey don’t play that.” Is pretty sure this is the way the world ends.
11:14 AM Apr 28th via mobile web

The difference between a cow and a bean is a bean can begin an adventure! #IntoTheWoods
11:39 PM Apr 30th via web


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 261 other followers