To South Africa...


South Africa book

The daughter of one of my customers was going to be spending the summer at a children's camp in the bush of South Africa. I asked if they thought their daughter would be interested in doing a swap between the girls and the children at the camp. She was very pleased with the idea. The girls made a bunch of pictures to give to the kids and we made up a little book with info about A & M. They put in a map of where we are, a picture of them in the snow and a list of their favorites (animals, food, toy, book, etc.) It was such a nice project to work on together and gave us some context for talking about South Africa. We met up with B. the day before she left and delivered the package. We also added a bunch of gum and pixie sticks (we wanted to make sure she was the favorite at camp) the book, some American kids books, Chicago Cubs coloring books and pictures. We had a lovely visit and wished her well, we can't wait to hear all her adventures from S. Africa.

I have dreamed of travelling to Africa most of my life and seeing this 20 year old heading off to the middle of nowhere was really very amazing. As much as I wanted to do those types of things in college I never made it. I am inspired by B. and the confidence she has to fulfill her dreams. I may not have lived all of my dreams (yet) but I do hope that I am raising Annie and Maddie to be adventurous and confident and to follow their dreams.


marytree looks for trees


Not sure if all of you are familiar with the site, here is there little blurb...
Etsy is an online marketplace for buying and
selling all things handmade: clothing, music, furniture, software, jewelry,

It's a great place to find some really unique items and buy them from the artisan/crafter. Being a crafter myself I am all for supporting the talent. I thought I would look around to see how much tree related stuff I could find and give ya'll some links. Enjoy.

Art and Paper goods
Love This and

these notecards are lovely

these are sweet

and these-not all trees but really great

more cuteness here and here.


here, here and here


here, here, here,

Other places with tree themed items..

This- I may need one of these

and this

and from One Good Bumblebee

this and this

Look Ma, no hands.....


garage sale haul

It's been awhile since I've been out to the garage sales and even longer since I posted about any good garage and thrift store finds. Today Dan had a phone meeting so I packed up the girls and a box of doughnuts and headed out for some treasures. I scored, big!

See all that great stuff up there. The ugly shelf was only 3 bucks and a good sanding and coat of paint will make it perfect for the play room. There were assorted other goodies, 4 halloween buckets for $1.00 that the girls had to have and a big tin of these letterpress stamps for $5.00. the sweet little green fabric was basically free. There was also a big box of costumes all for a buck.


I found the cute little ice cream cups at one sale ($2.00 for 7) and then found not one but 2 ice cream makers for $5.00 and $2.00. What a yummy summer it will be.


The biggest score of the day was a Kitchen Aid stand mixer for $40.00. and it works (with a bit of jiggling). I have been wanting one of these for a really long time and have been holding out for awhile. Dan even bought me a sunbeam mixer for christmas one year but I returned it because I really wanted the kitchen aid. Sometimes patience and a bit of luck do pay off because I am thrilled with my find. Sure I would love a yummy little pistachio colored one but.....$40.00 !
Now when I am baking it will be "Look Ma, no hands" as I give my hand mixer a rest. (I think Annie was a bit dissapointed that she won't get to hold the mixer anymore).

kitchen aid

Oh, almost forgot I got all those tart tins for fifty cents, they had lots more baking stuff but I had to draw the line somewhere. They will be great for sorting buttons, rocks and shells and as paint cups.

Hope you find some treasures of your own this weekend.

Just add water...



Really what more is there to say. Go find yourself some mud.

Nature in your backyard....


Annie with Cicada
click on the picture to see the full set

I try to get the girls out for a bit of nature exploration as often as I can.
We love to check out our forest preserves or head to a state park. These trips often take all day or a few days. There is not always time for these types of trips. I am always on the look out for chances to explore nature in our backyard or those of really good friends.
If you have not already heard the chicagoland area experiencing a the 17 year life cycle of the cicada. Certain suburbs have become overrun by the cicadas and their noise. My friend Sara invited us over for some cicada fun at her house. It was really a great experience. The girls had no reservations about playing with them and the quickly learned how to pick them up and and differentiate between the male and the female. We left our friends a bit more cicada savvy and with a big box of cicadas to take home! Annie really wanted to eat one but I just wasn't so sure. There are still a few weeks left to let her try one and really the next time she can try is when she will be 22!

Maddie with a cicada

We also have a favorite park that is right on the river and has a creek. It is usually a good spot to see some birds and maybe a few fish. Today we got very lucky and happened upon a boy who was hunting tadpoles and showing them to all the kids. When I was a kid there was a creek by our house that was always full of tadpoles. Searching out the tadpoles and playing in the creek is one of my favorite memories. The tadpoles I remembered as a child were like this.....

annie with a tadpole

the ones we found today looked like this.....
maddie with a tadpole

Nothing like a little nature in your own backyard.

Where do you go to find nature?

A Fairy Tea Party


A few weeks back we had Annie's birthday party. She requested a Fairy Tea Party. We had been talking about this party for months, but I just couldn't get it all pulled together until a few days before. The lucky guests that got invitations- 5 days before the party (opposed to a phone call - "Umm, would you like to come to Annie's Fairy Tea Party tomorrow.") were treated to a card that Annie and I collaborated on. Annie cut out this image with fancy scissors and glued it on lovely paper. Seriously, there are some great points to having a five year old, making invitations is one of them.


Annie had decided she was going to be the queen of all the fairies. Note regal way she holds her hands. the kids made wands from ribbon and dowel rods and we used pipe cleaners and fake flowers to make head wreaths. I spent a few nights before sewing skirts for Annie and Maddie-the rain boots were Maddie's own touch.

The Fairy Queen and her court

Fairies fairywands

Just a darn cute picture and Avery enjoying a fairy wand.


I drove through the neighborhood across the street to find some branches the kids could use to make fairy houses. (no fairies residing in them to date).


We had a fairy treasure hunt which led everyone to Grand Tea Banquet. The fairies dined on cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, jelly sandwiches and iced raspberry tea. (I love finding an occasion to use my silver pitcher!)


I tried to make these great cupcakes but it didn't really work out so well, they still tasted good and had Red Hots to boot.

We sent them home with homemade Make a Fairy Friend bags that included fake flowers, fabric scraps, wings and clothespins. The boys each got an airplane kit. The weather held up great and all the fairies got to slide down the fairy slip-n-slide and take a swing at the fairy butterfly pinata. I got make my little girl into a fairy queen and visit with lots a great friends.

pegs Consignment Store



My sister-in-law's sister opened up a consignment store in Madison Wisconsin last year and I have been dying to make it up there. I haven't made it yet but I keep hearing about how cute it is and all the great stuff she has. Today my sister-in-law sent me link to a news feature about the shop- peg's consignment, 2134 Atwood Ave. 216-9839.

Check it out and if you live in the area stop in and say hi to Peggy, tell here marytree sent ya.

Here is the link, soo darn cute....

and a great article in Madison Magazine.

Gim-Bahp with Mom-


Daddy aka Dancing Dan is guest blogging for the first time. Say hi and welcome him to the blogging world.-mary

Until I was about 12, I ate rice, seaweed, kim-chee, and Korean beef 3-4 times a week. I never could eat the pigs feet or squid ( I still get squirmy picturing the squid boiling in the pot). Recently, I learned my mom stopped cooking us Korean food because one of us was teased for the “smell”-things sure were different back in the late 70’s, early 80’s.

I have had a craving for some traditional Korean food for years; but I can't cook it, and my mom would never make it. One day, Mary brought home some sushi rolls from Dominick’s and I watched my Maddie and Annie wolf them down. (Annie proclaimed "I love seaweed") I decided to give it a whirl. How hard could it be? Turns out hard for me, but easy for Mom. When I told her what I was up too, She jumped at the chance to make Gim-Bahp with the girls.

As best I can remember: Gim-Bahp the Mom way:

4 cups Rice -no Uncle Bens, no instant -
1 cup Rice wine vinegar
Seaweed Sheets
4 or 5 Eggs
4 or 5 Carrots
Serrated Knife
Glass of warm water.

measure rice cleaning rice

1. Put in a pot, rinse with cold water until water runs clear.
2. Fill pot with cool water until it is twice as deep as rice. I.E. if rice is 2 inches deep water should be 4 inches
3. Bring to a rapid boil, Remove from heat, lid pot and let sit for 10 minutes. Then heat under a very low flame -lowest setting you have for about 10 minutes (rice may crust on bottom of pot. That’s ok) It will be sticky.
4. Let Rice cool to room temp.
5. Add rice wine vinegar and salt to taste.

Mixing rice

1. Heat non-stick pan untill HOT.
2. Add oil (cooking spray is good)
3. While pan is heating up, beat eggs with salt paper, parsley, etc…
4. Pour ½ egg mixture onto pan right after it’s oiled, twirl pan a bit and lid it until egg is cooked through. Omelet should slide right out of pan. Repeat with other ½.
5. Cool to room temp, roll and slice into ribbons.

1. Boil 'em and cut 'em into strips. Cool to room temp.

laying eggs

1. Place seaweed on mat.
2. Cover seaweed with Rice.
3 Lay a strip of carrots and egg across

rolling 2

4.Use the bamboo mat to roll her up very tightly.

cutting the rolls

5. Gently cut through about 1 inch of roll. Do not press down. Ideally you will not need to saw through.
6. Place blade in water and wipe. Repeat cut.

finished rolls

Eat em Up.
It made a lot (4-5 rolls)

My mom also made an inside out roll but I wasn’t paying attention. The girls had a blast. She also showed me how to cook the seaweed the way I remember it. (I call it the common way with oil and salt)

Thanks for the guest blog daddy.