Putting Things on Walls

This weekend I finally took the plunge and put some nails in the walls. Putting up the collage wall

Of course, since we spent so much time spackling and painting, I tried to make sure all the holes went in the right places. It would have gone a little faster (all-in I think it took me 2 hours to do the collage wall) had my templates not kept curling and falling off the walls, but in the end I think everything lined up pretty well.

The art in our home is mostly things made by friends, family, or myself; concert posters; and the odd print or two we've picked up in the past couple of years. Pretty much everything is tied to some kind of memory/person, even if it's not a photo of them.

The Sea and the SoundTop row (from left):

Middle Row:

  • My dad's Sargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Album
  • Laura Veirs mermaid concert poster by Diana Sudyka from show at Schubas, Chicago. (I had to sweet talk the doorman to let me take it).
  • Painting by me
  • Horseshoe from house my senior year of college
  • "Sweet Cookin'" Sailors drawing by Brenna in honor of being tap dancing stage hands  for Rough Crossing at Portland Stage
  • Mr. Cleaver's concert ticket collection

Bottom Row:

  • Print by local artist, Shannon Rankin.
  • Postcard. Winslow Homer, Looking out to Sea, Cullercotes 1882 from Portland Museum of Art
  • My dad's Abbey Road album
  • Salt & Sea Piano Keys print by Evan B. Harris
  • "never do this" painting by Biz, birthday gift.
  • Mail-holding Lobster - wedding gift from my sister-in-law and her husband.

Billy and Rae Lake

Over fishtank: Rae Lake. Photo by my Dad.

On top of bookcase:  Alvaro & Christina print by Andrew Wyeth

On Far Wall: "Owl Cat" by Drew Foster (gift from friend/artist)

Bookcase 1

Family Snapshots and old cameras, including our engagement photo by Ryan Ward Thompson.

Bookcase 2 More family photos. Eventually I'll get some books up on these shelves as well.

On wall : (Top) Photo by my Dad, taken when he was in college. (Bottom) Photo taken by me in Seattle.

Fish sculpture: Designed by me, made by my dad.  This is actually the model for the mailbox stand at my mother's house (which is obviously much much larger).

I've still got some more things to hang, but I'm glad I got this much up. It definitely changes the feel of the room and makes it feel more homey.


In other image-related news, I started a Pinterest account and I love it. It saves me from saving all those inspiration images to my computer and I can drool on them from anywhere. Follow me if you'd like, and let me know if you have an account!

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Chicago - My Favorite Places

Chicago Theatre

As long-time readers of this blog know, before my most recent move to Maine I lived in Chicago for a little over two years. I recently had the chance to return to my old stomping grounds for a work conference, and leapt at the chance and added a couple days onto my trip to revisit my favorite places and hang out my my dear friend Kasey (who graciously let me crash at her place).

So below, some of my favorite spots (including a couple of new finds).


Loopy Yarns

Art Institute

Lurie Garden - Urbs in Horto

Seeing "Sunday on the Island of La Grande Jatte"

Hubbard Street Dancers

Dress Forms

Stuffed Pizza


(A quick explanation on this photo: on the way to pizza, Kasey & I found a lost purse. We found an ID card, but  when we called the person on it, we only got a very confused young woman in Philadelphia. So we looked a bit further into the purse and found that the ID was fake, and that the purse owner liked to return one-shoulder leopard print dresses to the store after wearing them to Ne-Yo concerts at local lounges. One classy lady.)

Cuddling Monkeys

Patagonian cavy

Lincoln Park Conservatory



Red Velvet Cupcake

Turtle Races

Katie Cakes

Katie Cakes

I ate my way across the city stopping at The Billy Goat Tavern of SNL sketch fame (get a minimum of a double cheezborger), Giordanos for stuffed pizza (like deep dish, but even better), Thai food at Yes, and two stops at A Taste of Heaven for lunch and breakfast (Katie Cakes!!!).

I took advantage of all the free entertainment the city had to offer - old favorites like Free Thursday evenings at the Art Institute, where I stumbled upon a promo performance by Hubbard Street Dance Company, and the Lincoln Park Zoo; along with new finds at like the Lurie Garden in Millenium Park and the Lincoln Park ConservatoryUrbs in Horto indeed! I did some shopping and picked up another sock's worth of yarn at Loopy Yarns, after visiting a co-worker in the South Loop. I also got to experience some turtle racing at Big Joe's bar.

Best of all, I got some valuable "just hanging out" time with Kasey, which included watching both the Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel miniseries. (Which means I now really want to watch the Avonlea series, which my mom recorded every episode of off the Disney Channel back in the day.)

All in all, Chicago was familiar and wonderful and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to return.

Still good


On a completely unrelated note, I just wanted to make mention of two things:

  • Barbara Billingsley, the original Mrs. Cleaver, passed away while I was in Rhinebeck and I just wanted to acknowledge the pop culture debt I owe to her.
  • In all the Hub-bub, my 3-year blogaversary happened (on Oct 18th), without me even realizing it. So thanks to all the readers out there who keep me motivated to keep putting my words and pictures out there. I truly appreciate you all.


Things I'll Miss about Chicago

This list is in no particular order, but here are some of my favorite things about Chicago:


 Field Museum

Keo the Chimp

  • The perfectly wonderful, perfectly free Lincoln Park Zoo.
  • Shopping with Kasey and finding awesome deals.
  • The non-equity theatre scene.
  • Len & Bob's coverage of Cubs Baseball on WGN.
  • Wrigley Field. 


  • Scoring free tickets to not one, but two original plays involving talking paintings.
  • Concerts and the photo booth, not to mention eating dinner near Eisley, at Schubas.
  • Amy Freeze, the meteorologist on Channel 83. (Take that Tom Skilling!)
  • The folks at Epworth United Methodist.
  • Vogue Fabrics in Evanston and the friendly folks at Loopy Yarns.
  • Going for walks in Andersonville and buying Zanzibar Dark Chocolate Ice Cream at Sweet Occasions.
  • Barbecues on Foster Beach.
  • The doormen in our building. 
  • Being 3 blocks from two grocery stores, a deep dish pizza place, and a Blockbuster.


I'm sure I'm forgetting things, but it's a solid list. Yes, I'll miss a lot about Chicago, but don't worry too much about me. I'm going to Maine!


Acting Touristy

Chicago's First Lady


As of today, I have 10 days left in Chicago, so it was excited to have the opportunity to play the tourist this week with my coworkers.  Every year we take a field trip during the summer. My first year we saw the new baby beluga at the Shedd Aquarium; last year, we went to the Taste of Chicago; this year, we decided to take the Chicago Architecture Foundation's river tour. 


Wrigley Building


We went out on the water at noon on Tuesday, and despite the apocalyptic storm the night before (as in over 800 lightening strikes a minute and its peak and there were tornado sirens!), we had beautiful weather. It was almost too sunny and a lot of my pictures were overexposed, but I did like how some of them turned out.  


Bridge House

And true to the docent's promise, I did learn some really neat stuff about the city and its architecture.  It was definitely worth the trip.

Rivet Buster 1

I'll definitely miss Chicago when we go, but I can take comfort in the fact that I have done and seen a lot of the city. From living in Hyde Park to checking out the museums, I've been a pretty good live-in tourist for the past 2.25 years.


On an entirely different note, I've received The Smile Award courtesy of Stina's Stuff. It's my first blog award so I'm super excited!

Characteristics for the Smile Award are as follows: 

  1. Must display a cheerful attitude. (not necessarily at all times–we are all human)
  2. Must love one another
  3. Must make mistakes
  4. Must learn from others
  5. Must be a positive contributor to blog world
  6. Must love life
  7. Must love kids

These are the rules:

  1. The recipient must link back to the award’s creator (http://www.thebabblingsofmere.blogspot.com/)
  2.  You must post these rules if you receive the award.
  3. You must chose 5 people to receive the award after receiving it yourself
  4.  You must fit the characteristics of the recipient of the award, as posted by Mere.
  5. You must post the characteristics of a recipient.
  6. You must create a post sharing your win with others.
  7.  You must thank your giver.

I'd like to give the award to the following folks:

  1. Bitter Betty Blogs: mother, crafter, vintage sewing diva extraordinare, and all-around awesome lady.
  2. Blue Yonder : I'm inspired by the adventures she shares with her boys and she is only encouraging my desire to raise a bunch of chickens.
  3. Non-Profit Girl, a friend from college, who takes a look at Portland, OR and the non-profit world.
  4. Cult of Domesticity: My blog-land domestic twin, who is expecting her first child
  5. The Fabled Needle,  someone who takes action to follow her dreams and has a wicked awesome sense of style.
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SnB Northside

I know I haven't talked (typed?) much about knitting here recently, which isn't to say I haven't been knitting. I have, just due to high humidity and clammy hands, I haven't been knitted as much.

Prior to this year, I was a cold-weather only knitter. But the ladies of SnB Norhtside have made make the habit year-round, if only to share in their company one night a week.


For my first year in Chicago I went to my knitting circle on and off as my theatre scheduled permited, this year was a little more flexible and they had moved the lovely Kopi cafe, which is nice walk from my apartment.

As Mr. Cleaver can attest, Tuesday nights are often a highlight of my week and even if I screw up on a project, I always come home in a good mood.

Cat & Caroline

This past Tuesday was a farewell party at SnB, with three members (myself included) leaving in the upcoming weeks.  I decided to bring along the camera to capture it all before I go away. So I'm just going to let the photos speak for themselves, with a caption or two (and if I misspell anyone's name I'm sorry!) 

Chandra & Amy

Cat & Caroline

Diana & Miriam

Amanda & Andrea



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Because I can't do anything the easy way

When I got the the summer dress code at my current job last I could have sworn it was written in 1962.  Along with khakis and polo shirts, acceptable "business casual" wear includes: jumpers and culottes. Jumpers and culottes!

When was the last time anybody wore culottes, or even knew what they were? Now granted my portion of the office is generally casual-casual, because I have no air conditioning and Chicago gets rather hot and humid this time or year, so really I can wear pretty much anything within reason. 

But for those days when I feel like following the code, I could always pull out this jumper I made a few weeks back.


Jumpers always make me feel a little like I'm five. Hence the theme of this particular bunch of photos.  Also, I'm running out of things to do in front of a blank white wall, so I'm up for any suggestions.

90-95-100 Ready or Not Here I Come!

This particular project had been sitting on a back burner for about 3 months, largely because I planned to make it out of this beautiful blue linen and I was afraid to cut into it. More to the point though, I wanted to change up the top a bit, and had little-to-no experience with pattern alteration.

The original pattern (McCalls 5577) looked like this:

Yes, I copied the color exactly. Not so creative I know. I loved the skirt of the thing, but the top seemed a little low, even if I was going to wear a shirt under it, and I didn't quite get the v-shaped piece on the upper back. So I pulled out my ruler from my college scenic design class and wrapping paper and started drawing. I added about 2 inches (plus seam allowance) to the top lines of the top piece blending it in with the existing straps and leaving the bottom bit the same so it'd line up as per the original. Then I transferred it to muslin and sewed the top up.

I quickly discovered that I'd need some darts, which I also had no clue how to do and didn't look up how to do until my next project. So I guessed and basted and ripped and guessed and basted until I came up with something that seemed to work. Of course, without the skirt bit attached I wasn't sure how it would all hang, and sure enough when I made the actual jumper I totally had to move the darts and I'm still not sure they're in the right place, but ah well it works.


For the back straps, I took the existing lower straps and lengthened them to about 23". Because of where they fell on the back of the jumper, I eschewed buttonholes and tacked the straps straight unto the dress, as well as securing them to the top of the back of the jumper. 


All in all, it came out fairly well, though definitely not perfect. But to those seeking perfection, I say this:


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Crazy Week

Usually I try to post on Tuesday, but I'm a tad late this week and I'm not even going to cover a project I finished last week yet. It's been a crazy week:


Monday: We turned in our non-renewal of lease to our landlords, so there's no turning back on the move now (not that I'd want to).

Tuesday: I started cutting out a dress that I needed to finish by today (Sunday) to enter in a competition.

Anda collar

Wednesday: My 25th birthday was filled with beautiful flowers, food, cards, facebook messages and phone calls. Not to mention the cake Mr. Cleaver lovingly made from scratch.

Thursday: Stretched by birthday into a two-day affair with cake for breakfast, donuts with my co-workers and lunch with a friend. Picked up a copy of Alice in Wonderland at the Newberry Library book sale, and Vol II. of a beautifully bound book called Wide Wide World. Did a happy dance at the results of So You Think You Can Dance.

Anda Back

Friday: Spent the afternoon at the American Cheese Society's award ceremony, but sadly, had no cheese. Did some sewing. Watched Road to Perdition (it's really good - and it has Paul Newman, not to mention wonderful cinematography). Ate cake.

Anda Embroidery

Saturday: Had some cake. Sewed a lot. Knitted a tad. Went to two different moving-away parties. Loathed the CTA with the fire of a thousand suns.

Sunday: Sewed some more. Embroidered the dress. Took some pictures. Uploaded them to Burdastyle and hoped I get some votes. Wore my new dress for a walk around Andersonville. Ate the last of the cake.

Anda Adaptation

Did I mention I like cake?

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Zoo Day!

So to finish up our 4th of July weekend, Mr. Cleaver and I headed to Lincoln Park for the Green City Market and the Lincoln Park Zoo on the 5th (and yes I know there's still Sunday, but that was dedicated to the Men's Wimbleton Final). Having finally gotten the memory card for my shiny new Pentax K200D, I thought this would be a great opportunity to take it out for a spin.

This is the one picture I took at the Market:

Green City Market

But before you worry about not getting a chance to use my camera much, I took over 650 pictures at the Zoo. Don't worry I won't make you look at them all. (I edited it down to 40 on my computer in any case).

Because we were going directly from the market to the zoo, we didn't want to purchase a whole lot of stuff and couldn't really get anything perishable. We did pick up some rosemary and a half-pint of raspberries, the latter of which served to perk up that overly dry birthday cake.

We picked a perfect day to go the zoo: the weather was gorgoreous and nearly all the animals were awake an active.

The trainers came out and played with the seals:


[wp_caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="357" caption="Della the Grey Seal"]Della the Grey Seal[/wp_caption]

The big cats were alert, if not on the prowl:

[wp_caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="334" caption="Tiger Tiger Burning Bright"]Tiger Tiger Burning Bright[/wp_caption]

The chimps people watched:

[wp_caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Keo the Chimp"]Keo the Chimp[/wp_caption]

And the polar bears swam:


and swam:


and swam:


(I took about 100 photos of the polar bears alone - I though it would make a good subject for my "In Motion" photos for the swap.)

It was also a great day for knocking stuff off our Chicago-to-do list: we hit the Green City Market and we rode the carousel at zoo and as you may or may not know, my love for carousels knows no bounds.

 John on the Carousel

We've got about 6 or so things left on the list, which is good, because we've finally set a moving date : the week of August 18!

If you're interested in seeing more of our day at the zoo, you can check out my flickr set here.


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4th of July

The City of Chicago, traditionally schedules their Independence Day fireworks for 3rd of July, and this year I found out why - they couldn't compete on the 4th. It was as though every father on the North Side of Chicago was competing for the Cool Dad of the Year award - and Mr. Cleaver and I seemed to be only people along the Illinois side of Lake Michigan without a personal arsenal of fireworks. On the Forth, as we grilled burgers and sweet corn, we were treated to the cacophony of whizzes bangs and pops of hundreds of firecrackers and small fireworks. As the evening grew darker, the serious displays began. We saw at least three separate private displays of large-scale fireworks, more or less, continually shot off for an hour and half, and that was before the big show started just behind our backs. 

As it turns out, a golf club located on the block adjacent to our apartment building sends off Fireworks on the 4th, as well as the first and last days of summer - and their display was a real treat. Mr. Cleaver and I agreed that these were on par or better than the Portland or Napa fireworks (our respective hometowns). 

There were in a couple fireflies joining the fray and adding a twinkle or two of their own.

All in all, it was a pretty perfect fourth.

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Quick Catch Up

I try to be a good blogger and post at least once a week, twice on a good week - but last week that just didn't happen. 

So here's a quick catch up on what I've been up to since last we met:

  • I've watched two more documentaries on Everest (for a total of three) and am starting my fifth book on the subject.
  • I went to a REM concert at the United Center.

(photo via marcusglimer)

  • I went to the Printer's Row Book Fair and saw a recent library science grad win the Define-A-Thon

(photo via pantagrapher)

  • I went to the sale at Vogue Fabrics and am stashed up for at least five projects. 
  • I went to my knitting circle and continued working on the pattern I'm devising. 
  • Smocked Tank in Progres

  • My  knitting circle decided (jokingly?) that it would be a great idea to make a calendar of knitted bikini's that we each designed. I started a Ravelry group for it - and started sketching some designs, because I think it's fun - even if no one else intends to do it.
  • I cut out one sewing project...
  • Pattern all taped together

  • and started putting it together. 
  • Preview Shot

  • I worked a rental with nearly 800 patrons on three floors with three front of house staff (not fun).
  • I watched Chicago do really well at the Tonys
  • I helped strike a set.
  • I spent 7 hours in meetings.

And that's about it - I mean, I ate and slept and went to work in the midst of all that, which was a crazy, yet really fun week and half. So I hope you'll forgive me for not posting!

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