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.