Sunday, December 30, 2007

3:00 AM

Well, hello there.
Here is what I know today.
If one combines a too-salty meal with a sick family member, a satellite receiver that cleans its hard-drive at 3:00 in the morning and the Worst Pies in London, you get blogging in the dead of night.

My lovely craft club ladies and myself went to see Sweeney Todd today. Yesterday. Saturday.
I was introduced to this musical in the early 80s when we taped a performance off TV.
I love this musical.
It has everything one could want.
Great music- sweeping melodies, fantastic syncopation, odd instrumentation.
Crazy story filled with drama, humor and pathos.

I will fully admit that I entered the theater with some trepidation.
Could this show work as a movie?
Would they cut out all of my favorite songs?
Would it carry too much Tim Burton-ness and not carry through the Sondheim-ality?
All my fears were assuaged.

First of all, the cinematography was divine.
There was a wonderful cohesive feel to the whole thing.
The backgrounds and costumes were all painted in muted neutral colors to give the most contrast to the occasional splashes (and gushing torrents) of red.

The singing was far beyond my expectations.
Timithy Spall has a lovely tenor, and Alan Rickman's lusty bass voice was a wonderful surprise. Is there anything that man can't make sexy?
I was watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix the other night with the hubby and I says to him, I says "I always feel like watching Truly Madly Deeply after seeing Rickman as Snape to remind me that he can play a nice guy."
Triple that for Sweeney Todd.
One scene from the stage show that didn't make it into the movie and that I didn't miss one jot was the Judge's self-flagellation scene.

The truly shining star, singing-wise was the boy who played Toby, Ed Sanders.
That role is very demanding. His voice was beautiful, very agile. His dramatic scenes were also quite enjoyable.

Johnny Depp.
What to say.
I love him and some day he will grow to love me too.
Same for Helena Bonham Carter.
Also for Tim Burton.
I have loved nearly every movie of his I have ever seen.

I cannot count the number of times I watched the musical. I know this story back and forwards. This adaptation was seamless. Some of the songs were removed, and some shortened, but the story was just as effective. Tim Burton's directing was amazing. The pacing was tight, suspenseful. It has been some time since I felt my heart pound like that during a movie. I was leaning forward in my chair, and I already knew what was happening.

One more thing.

If you're looking for a fun night out, and you see a movie poster with blood dripping down the title, perhaps you should reconsider bringing your 4-6 year old daughter, person in our theater today.
And if you bring said 4-6 year old daughter, maybe leave after the first time Sweeney says Shit, or after the first person gets brutally slain.
Just a thought.

Review ended.

So, how was every one's Christmas?
We had a delightfully stress-free couple of days.
Christmas Eve with my family, followed by Christmas morning at home with the kids.

I had a semi-homemade Christmas this year.
I purchased a set of natural wooden blocks from Beka, and dyed them with a non-toxic water-based wood dye so they are now bright colors.

I was a little stymied about what to get my dad, but I thought that you can't go wrong with a present from the grand-kids.
So I got the wonderful husband to pick up an apron from the store, and I had the Elder Hug-a-Bug to draw a picture on some canvas with fabric markers.
She drew Grandpa and herself and her brother, and they are all holding hands.
I could weep with joy.
I asked her whether she would like to write a message, like merry Christmas or I love you grandpa, and she chose I love you.
So I wrote it down and she copied it over on to the fabric.
Then I made a pocket for the apron of the canvas.

Christmas Day my husband's parents came over and we had a third orgy of present opening.
Dinner was a little bit of a fiasco.
Why, oh why don't I have two ovens like Martha?
I had to let my pork loin out of the oven to roast my veggies and cook the Crescent Rolls (essential for any holiday feast) and the meat was pretty cool by dinner.
Oh, well. The rolls were flaky and delicious anyway, thank you Pillsbury Dough Boy.

The next day my Mom and Sister came over and built a fantastic table in our toy-room, which is really just a big closet with a window.
The kids love it! It is the perfect height for the elder Hug-a-Bug and the younger H-a-B is enjoying climbing up on the top of it.
There is also ample room underneath to play cave.
The TV has been neglected like nothing I have seen since we had snow.
Not that my kids ever watch TV, or recite the Frosty the Snowman movie or anything.

No pictures again today.
Please send me findy vibes over here.
I went through the mountains of mess in the craft area, and was unsuccessful in locating the camera.
It's probably better for us all that I don't have it right now, so you don't have to be subjected to views of the squalor in here.
I guess I will just have to go through every room one by one and look behind every piece of furniture and other stuff you do when you look for lost things.

I can tell that my mind is starting to wind down.
Perhaps I can get a couple of hours sleep before today really starts.

Have a Happy New Year,
if I don't see you,

Friday, December 21, 2007

no pictures

I feel a little like I have lost a limb... I can't find my camera.
No pictures today.
I have been busy, really-
I made scarves for three friends.
I baked dozens of cookies today for my craft club's cookie exchange.
I finished all of the needed-to-be-done-before-christmas stockings for my clients.
And beyond my busy-ness there have been some fantastic views off the bridge that I would have loved to share.
stupid messy house.
who can I blame for that that isn't me? really no one.
I hope that those of you out there that celebrate christmas have a happy one.
I will scrub my house from tip to top -(rolie polie olie fans out there? anyone?)- and search for my camera.
Hopefully the holiday season will bring happiness and found objects at the fifth lamp house.
See you all in the new year!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hug-a-bug birthday part 2

Today is my darling little daughter's 4th birthday.

It has gone so fast.

I know people always say that, but it feels like she was just this tiny little person .
My favorite two moments today:

She runs into the kitchen for breakfast and says

"I am 4 years old today, and look, I still fit in my pajamas!"

I got up to leave her in her bed tonight,

"Can you stay in here and sleep?"

"No, sorry honey, I have work downstairs"

"I have some sleeping work to do."
Have a pleasant wednesday.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Hug-a-bug birthday part 1

Our elder Hug-a-bug turns 4 on wednesday.

We had the family party today.

It went pretty well considering my total and complete lack of planning.

We had intended, long ago, to make this a kid-ful party with games, crafts, something...

Anyway, we decided that we had left it too long to invite anyone.

This morning H-a-b asked if her friends were coming to her party.

I made some last-minute calls, to no avail.

Luckily our friend who just had a baby sent herhusband and daughter anyway so H-a-b had one friend here.

The big present from us was a bookshelf turned puppet theater.

I found a bookshelf with two shelves and no back at my favorite junk/antique mall and removed the upper shelf.

I then reattached the shelf vertically and added some curtains and trim. The whole thing took about a whole day with paint drying.

I think it came out pretty cute.

I lost my camera, so I don't have any pictures of the process, but it was pretty easy.

have a great sunday,

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Hello December

Here is a hello from the Fifth Lamp Down after two blizzards.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


I believe that I have found the secret to easy shoveling.
We were really lazy about our leaves this year, and as a floured cake pan will yield its contents more easily, a sidewalk covered in leaves is really easy to shovel.
No pictures today.
As some of you may know, we here in Minnesota had our first blizzard of the season this weekend and I have yet to brave the 6 block walk to the fifth lamp.
Have a snowy day,

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mamas of the Craft

Saturday, December 1, 2007
Holiday Boutique
St. Stephen's Church
1575 Charlton St.
West Saint Paul, MN 55118

My friday crafty group is making the leap this weekend. We have a table at this craft fair.

We have been talking about it for two months and the time is finally upon us.

We got together last night to do some final pricing and packaging.

It is very exciting.

We did the final quality control last night, and everything looks saleable.

This is my first craft fair.

I have a number of friends who do them all the time, but I never had anything that I made that I felt I could mass produce or was worth the time and effort to sell before.

In a group, however, we are able to make lots of things in a relatively short time.

We made these pendants in two meetings, and we got 46 or something like that.

And the felted soap here we made in one night.

I just cannot express how lucky I feel that I found this group of women.
I say it every time we meet, they are all so talented and full of ideas.
It is truly a joy to come to every meeting.

Hope your Thursday is full of fun.

Monday, November 26, 2007

lots of stuff

I have been meaning to post all weekend, but got busy.
So here are the things with which I was so busy.

The sad thing is that I have to take a hiatus from the Treadle Yard Goods.
Treadle, for those who don't know, is the best fabric store in the Twin Cities.
There are those who would argue that Crafty Planet is also quite good, but I have a special soft spot for Treadle.
I have been going there since I was a fetus.
My mom has been a customer since they opened, 3 months before I was born.
I have worked there for almost 5 years, and I hope to keep working there after I take a break.
My husband is getting busier with work, and he stands to make substantially more money if I can be home with the kids more.
He asked me to cut back almost a year ago, and I have been slowly weaning myself from my jobs.
The problem is that I love my jobs.
I get to go to beautiful places and surround myself with people who love where they are and what they are doing.
That is a lucky situation.
I am looking forward about a year and seeing myself able to ramp it back up, but for now, I have to cut way back.

So, in honor of my last day for a while, I bought a bunch of fabric and stuff, some of which I really needed and some of which I didn't.

We got in some fantastic fabric that is printed in panels with pages to sew a book.

I bought the Woodsy Wonders, and Animals of the World.

We also got a panel that you cut out and sew into a globe, the edges of the panel are little animals to sew and stuff. These last match the Animals of the World book.

Hello Birthday and Christmas Presents!

And they were each less than a yard of fabric so they are about $6.00 a project.

Treadle does do mail order by the way.

Another thing keeping me busy this weekend is the custom knitting. I think that I have reached critical mass for projects that I can finish before Christmas.

Often folks will present me with an heirloom stocking to copy for a new family member, and I have just finished one of those.

This one was for a repeat customer so I had already done the pattern before, that is always a little less work. Mine is the one on the right.
I wish that I could make an exact duplicate but I can't always find the right colors, that is my only qualm about custom knitting.

An aside;
While I was here on the computer, I heard "I don't like it! I don't like it!"
The younger Hug-a-Bug was standing in the kitchen holding the cajun seasoning, having just taken a sip. Guess I should clean up after dinner...

The lovely end to the weekend was that I got to the Smith bridge just at sunset. Luckily I had my trusty camera at the ready.

I have been having terrible luck lately with the Fifth Lamp photos.
The other day there was a flock of birds flying over the river but they were gone by the time I realized that I had the batteries in upside down.
Another time, I saw a boat going west and I raced to the fifth lamp, but the boat had disappeared around the bend by the time I got there.
I was very glad when I could get this one.

Have a great week everybody!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Gone away is the bluebird.

I have just finished my entry for an online holiday ornament swap. I have 10 of these little birdies. They were made by cutting two bird shapes from a felted thrifted sweater and hand sewing them together with wool. the loop and legs are one long braid of wool sandwiched between.
Also, a pic of a drizzly November early evening.
I had all sorts of stuff that I was gonna post about, but I can't remember any of it.
I have had a couple of fitful sleeps the last two nights, and I am not working at full brain capacity.
talk to you all soon,

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


If, for any reason, you happen to be in Bloomington, MN, I highly recommend Denny's 5th Avenue Bakery.

It lies at the corner of 5th Avenue and American Blvd (formerly known as 79th st.)

The aroma is heavenly when you enter, no smack in the face smell of shortening as with some bakery establishments.

Everything there is very tasty, but the food which must be the cobblestones in heaven is the Wedge.

A prosaic name for such a sublime taste treat.

A triangular pastry filled with bavarian creme and topped with a chocolate coating.

Each bite more delicious than the last. Perhaps the most perfect collection of flour sugar and dairy ever assembled.

I used to work in Bloomington, and would occaisionally have one for a special treat.

It has been 5 years now, and every once in a while I would think of the wedge. I remembered the lovely texture of the cream, the flakiness of the pastry, the feeling of joy and solemnity it brings to your very soul.

I decided to get one, as I had a trip to IKEA scheduled anyway. I thought to myself, it can't possibly be that good. I am idealizing this treat.

It is that good.

Please, if you yourself are off to IKEA or the grand Mall, visit Denny's.

But you must call ahead for the wedge, as they are often gone by 9:00 AM.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Why I love our park

This is the view from our park which is 1 block away and an easy walk for 22 month-old legs.

Also an easy ride on a trike for a 47 month-old.

I was feeling a little down today and this trip to the park was just what I needed.

The Elder Hug-a-bug is 4 years old in one month from today. The looming b-day is a source of some anxiety. With all of the toy recalls, I am hard-pressed to allow the mother-in-law to do her usual shower of gifts. I don't want to seem ungrateful, but I also don't want to risk lead-laden toys, or worse.

I think that I will trundle off to my rehearsal now.

see you all later.


Saturday, November 10, 2007


This will be the last post today, I promise.

I have only just now, in the last 15 minutes, after 31 years of procrastinating, realized that there is value in procrastination.

I have been very busy not sewing on my aprons for the craft boutique in December because I don't want to get out the iron and make my bias binding.

As a result the thing I have been busy on is my long-neglected Color-Wheel Quilt.

I am officially over half done! with the quilting.

There are 26 lines of quilting and I have just finished my 15th!!!

Woo Hoo. Sorry for the exuberance, it must be late...

Now comes the tricky part. When I am finished with the quilting, I have to make bias binding for the quilt. Which will I choose? Tune in to find out!


I have mentioned before that we imbibe at Craft Club.
Last night we had very yummy hot chocolate with flavored liqueurs. I had raspberry.
Our project last night was appliqued t-shirts.
I was having a terrible time with one and, to be totally honest, there was a great deal of language that I would hesitate to use in front of the hug-a-bugs.
I decided to quit when my bobbin thread ran out, and I had to go home anyway.
After a good night's sleep, I did three in a half hour.
This tells me that I was guilty of DIYUI (Do It Yourself Under the Influence)
Please help prevent the spread of DIYUI.
Some signs are uneven seams, having angry words with machinery, general belligerence toward knit fabric.
Please, for the sake of the crafts, have your drink after you're finished.
Have a restful rest of Saturday,

cool misty lovliness

Just a check-in from the fifth lamp down...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

My current distraction

The Yarn Store where I work and spend much happy time just got in a fantastic new yarn.

Road to China Silken Jewels from The Fibre Company.
65% Baby Alpaca 15% Silk 10% Camel 10% Cashmere

I am using color Ruby.
Due to the particular classes I teach at said Yarn Store, I have a number of right-hand mittens.
I do not at this point have any mates for most of them.
As the winter is closing in, I realized that I should have something to keep my little hands warm.
Since I like to take outdoor pictures, I decided that fingerless mitts were the way to go. I started making short-fingered gloves, but there was too much fabric between my fingers to be comfortable.
My only twinge about them is that there is only 80 yards per skein and this is how far one got me.
I will literally need the other skein for 10 rounds.

I'll probably start a hat with the remainder and have the happiest forehead in the land.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tuesday Cookies

I finished teaching a class on mittens at the yarn store yesterday and so I took the opportunity to use my mitten-shaped cookie cutter.

I try not to inundate the www with stories of my cute kids, but here is what the smaller hug-a-bug was doing yesterday.

"Robot! Robot!"

Monday, November 5, 2007

Fiber projects

I am teaching a class at the yarn store about teaching kids fun stuff with fiber arts.

We will dye yarn with kool-aid and make fun needle-toppers with Sculpey, we will also use felted sweaters to make book covers.

While I was felting some sweaters I realized that a women's medium vest felted to exactly the size that my nearly-4 year old could wear.

So I cut out the zipper and sewed on a button. It should keep her pretty warm, if she deigns to wear it...

I also made some dinner buns and they looked so pretty rising on the pan that I just had to include them here. They are wheat buns so they also have plenty of fiber.

I have also made a small amount of progress on the semi-neglected sweater. The sleeve is more complicated than I want for watching tv or sitting in a class or ECFE, so I moved on to a front.

Talk to you all out there soon,

Sunday, November 4, 2007

It's coming on Christmas

Shopping at Target on Halloween I saw a strange sight.
November was still a day away and they were replacing the hanging Halloween decorations with Christmas.
Normally I am irritated by this holiday jumping.
Last Christmas Eve they were putting out the Valentine's Day clothing and it seems that the holiday-related stuff and more stuff comes out earlier and earlier each year.
That said, we have a tradition at our house that I must confess.
We have most of our music on our computer.
From February through October we have the music separated into Not Christmas and Christmas.
Beginning November we start listening to the whole catalog on Super-Shuffle and we get the occaisional Christmas song.
When December hits we only listen to the Christmas list.
I also buy 2-3 new Christmas cds every year.

My name is Jess, I am a Christmas Music-a-holic.

By January we are getting tired of the carols and we go to Super-Shuffle with everything and then go back to Not Christmas in February.
I am glad I got that off my chest.

Does anyone have a favorite christmas album?
I have a few:
Ray Charles - The Spirit of Christmas
Harry Connick, Jr. - When my Heart Finds Christmas
Frank Sinatra - A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra
Ella Fitzgerald - Ella Wishes you a Swinging Christmas
Squirrel Nut Zippers - Christmas Caravan
George Winston - December
The Hollywood Trombones (A band made up entirely of trombones, most of the players are studio musicians in Hollywood) - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
A Motown Christmas (Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder)
Der Bingle Bing Crosby (Of Course) - The Voice of Christmas
Anonymous 4 - On Yoolis Night

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 2, 2007

works in progress

Hi everyone.

So, my computer was down for a week or so, and I was unable to post pics.

I did get some work done in that time, and here is a recap:
I made cookies, they turned out well. Peanut butter with cocoa in the dough and chocolate chips. This was about a week before halloween, so we hadn't yet had our fill of shirockuate.
I work most nights, but, miraculously, was able on one night to work on the aprons that are my solo contribution to the craft club's craft fair. Didn't get any completed, but I did make some progress.
I have entered the custom-knitting season. I make christmas stockings and whatnots for folks.
Here is the latest, the third so far this year. It hasn't been blocked yet, I just finished hiding the ends. It also needs the name and date at the top.
I am thinking about working stockings from the bottom up from now on. I have been, though I flatter myself that I don't need them, a slave to the basic patterns for christmas stockings.
It has always bothered me that the stitches are upside down when you knit from the top, but I thought "What do you do? That's the way the pattern is written. Do I really want to do more work?"
Well phooey.
I am a college educated woman.
I can think critically.
I will make this change.
This photo shows another WIP in that the stocking is sitting on my color-wheel quilt which I have neglected. Maybe I can guilt myself into working on it...
Thanks for listening,

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

hungy shirockuate

This Halloween we are giving out reeses' pb cups and my son calls them chocolates. Nothing extraordinary in that except that he pronounces it shirockuate. and says "op it shirock-u-ate! hungy shirock-u-ate!" That may be our family motto from this day onward.
Here is some trick-or-treating in action. Our neighbors here are displaying some truly spooky decorations. The spiderweb didn't really come out in the photo. The glint of aqua is our little princess on a candy hunt.
Have a spooky halloween!

Friday, October 26, 2007


I have a habit of always saying yes.

I have the good fortune to be involved in many fun things.

I sing in a small a capella ensemble on Mondays.

I teach in a fantastic children's choir on Wednesdays.

I teach knitting at my favorite LYS, this week Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday.

I teach piano Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons.

I am spending the day tomorrow proctoring an engineering exam for some extra dollars for the holidays.

Then Sunday knitting classes, Monday singing, Tuesday knitting class, Wednesday Choir School, and Thursday piano lessons.

Top all of that off with craft club on Friday night and I am exhausted.

I should add that my husband is also exhausted.
He had to go out of town for work three days this week and then work the rest of the week with no break.
Also, our hard drive is pretty old and he is in the process of installing a new one, so when he gets home and I have to leave right away for work, then he can't work on the computer until after the kids go to bed and then there is no time for he and I to have together time.

I really do enjoy all of these things, but I fall into the same pattern over and over where I say yes to things I love and then get overwhelmed.

I am sure that after thursday everything will be rosy again. I am allowing myself this indulgent whiny time here online so that I don't have to complain to anyone out here in the real world.

This Blog thing is really helpful!

Since the hard drive is acting up, I can't put any new pics on the computer, but I have been semi-productive in the last week.
I had to replace the front door lock, and I got some deeply discounted lilac bushes from the home depot, and I taught a class on Marie Mayhew's fantastic Wooly Snowman pattern, so I got a good start on a couple of them.

Hopefully pictures next post.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Craft Club

Just got back from Friday Craft Club.

There is a neighborhood group of ladies who meet every fri night and do fun craft stuff.

Tonight we were soldering stained-glass pendants to sell at a craft sale in December.

What fun!

I was talking it over with another friend who just joined (I joined about a month ago) and we agreed that we had until now had a narrow view of Crafting. Sewing, Knitting, Scrapbooking, these were things that we would expect, but cutting glass and soldering and making soap and building things from wood, these are pleasant surprises. The group of ladies in Craft Club are all full of talents and each brings something very special to the experience. I am really glad that I can be a part of that.

Whew, also, we always have fancy drinks, and tonight was hot buttered rum. very yummy, perhaps adding to the verbose nature of the post tonight.

I only have an update on the sweater, I have, sadly, been neglecting the quilt.

I am a little unsure of the fitness of my sewing machine to do the quilting. It gets kinda hot when I sew one long line.

The elder hug-a-bug is a little bit of a camera hog. in the next couple of pics of the sweater back (completed) she is sitting on top of it much like a cat would do.

Also, I was delighted to see that we still have blooming flowers in our severely neglected back garden.

Have a great weekend, all you out there in the web. I hear the weather here in Saint Paul should be lovely on Saturday, so go out and enjoy it.
Thanks for listening,

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Not to brag or anything, but I, with the help of the kids and my mom, got a lot done today!

We decorated the front porch with Halloween pictures,

Dug out the goop from two pumpkins,

did the dishes, covered two chair seats, that one was with the help of my mom, and now I am getting ready to feed the fam a from-scratch pizza. And we went to the Gym this morning.

And then on my way to work, I was presented with this view-

Not that the view has anything to do with my productivity, it was just a lovely way to continue my great day!
I always type with exclamation points, I wonder if I speak with them...
probably an unanswerable question.

And then to finish it off right, I had a great group of ladies in the knitting class that began today.

I bet I lay in a heap all the rest of the week, but today was worth it!
Hope you all had a great day too,

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Lazy sunday

Hi Y'all.

I have had a busy weekend at the yarn store. So I haven't made much progress on my projects.

I will instead share a little of the lovliness of a chilly October afternoon in Minnesota.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sarah the wonder-lady

A big shout-out to Sarah for all of her help on the fitting of the photo into the header!!!!!
Thanks Sarah.

Quilting begun

Hi out there,

I have made a little progress on the quilt.

I pinned it out yesterday, and got a start on the quilting. There are 26 lines of stitching and I have completed 4.

The quilt is rumpled in the bottom picture because its appeal was inescapable for the resident 21 month-old and he needed a snuggle.

I have also made some headway on the sweater...

And here is a preview of my next project. The neighborhood ladies are having a table at a craft sale and more about that later.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

first post


This is my first post.

Fifth Lamp Down is my favorite spot on the Smith Bridge over the Mississippi River.

I have been a skeptic about blogs in the past. Who really wants to read about me?

However, I think this blog here will help me keep focused on the many projects I have going in either sewing or knitting at any given time.

I also don't like the word 'blog'. That said, I will think of this as my blorg.

Currently I am working on two main projects; a quilt for my brother's impending nuptials and a sweater for myself.

The sweater is from RY Rowan Classic book 23 AM to PM.
My husband is always calling me a narcissist, and it must be true because the sweater is called Jess.
I am knitting it in Galler Yarns Prime Alpaca. Loving it! The yarn is undyed and you can really feel the difference. So soft and lovely. Also, I love to imagine a little silver alpaca frolicking about the countryside in Peru.

The quilt is from Joelle Hoverson's fantastic new book 'Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts'
It is the Color Wheel Quilt.

I have the top finished and now the real work begins for me because I have to pin and quilt it.

Luckily for me the wedding date is not yet set, so I have plenty of time.

I look forward to speaking with all of you out in the world wide web again soon.

Thanks for listening,