Category Archives: restoration

Shopping For Fabric When Making Fabric Handbags


English: Handbags, unidentified material, FW20...
English: Handbags, unidentified material, FW2010 Collection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s say you love handbags and you just can’t get enough of them.  In fact, your closet is filled with so many of them, that it seems as if the store has moved into your very own apartment.  The prices of these handbags can range from very cheap to very expensive.  There are many of us who are gifted with the talent to make our very own fabric handbags.  Creative people who love vintage designs, take handles and other hardware from old out of date bags and apply new / vintage material to them making their own design.  However, what material do you use?  That is the subject of todays article.

It is important that you at least have a general idea of the different types of fabric or material that is available for the type of lifestyle you and your bag will lead.  Much of this material can be found in one of our two stores; either The Treasure Shoppe downtown Colorado Springs, or American Classics antique Mall on North Academy.  Our fabrics are on either on the large racks or in the cubbies.

Materials best for handbags. 

There are certain types of delicate material that need the utmost care when removing stains.  You may not want these for a handbag consistently exposed to the perils of everyday use.  While there are other materials that is easier to maintain, you need to that you pay close attention to the cleaning directions of the different types of fabric.

  • Cotton comes in a wide array of choices when it comes to color, weight, patterns and design.  Plus the material is very easy to manipulate and cut.  It is advisable to pre-wash cotton before making it into a handbag.
  • Silk is not recommended for DIY handbags because aside from the fact that it requires dry cleaning, the material is difficult to handle and is more prone to stains.  Satin is the same, never the less, silk or satin make a great liner for some of the more elaborate designs.
  • Linen.  The bad thing about linen is that it easily wrinkles.  However, the wrinkled look is often desired for that one of a kind design.  Dry cleaning is recommended.  Use no bleach and avoid designs that require crimping or hard folds, as linen fibers will break.
  • Leather is a very durable material. The thing is it requires special equipment when you use this plus only a professional can clean it.  Suede can be brushed which sometimes may remove a small discoloration or stain.
  • Burlap makes a very rustic bag.  Great for that trip to the beach or mountains.  Stains don’t show up as bad with burlap, but even if they do, they tend to give burlap a rustic used look.
  • Canvas is another great DIY bag material.  A little fabric paint for a creative design adds to its long-lasting value.

The fabrics I have mentioned are just some of the many that you could choose from.  I strongly suggest that you experiment with a few.  We have the selection and we recommend trying the vintage fabrics we have before you invest in new modern imported fabrics.  Ultimately, you have the knowledge for what works best for you and your skill in crafting the bag.

Scranton Lace Company – Two Centuries of Quality.


Close-up view of the punch cards used by Jacqu...
Close-up view of the punch cards used by Jacquard loom on display at the museum of science and industry. Photograph taken by George H. Williams in July, 2004. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Scranton Lace Company stood as a testament to quality industry.  The company was the largest producers of Nottingham Lace using massive Jacquard looms brought in by ships from Nottingham, England in 1896.  Construction workers and engineers installed the massive Jacquard looms, planting them firmly on huge concrete footings, then built the plant around them.

Employing over 1400 people in its heyday,  Scranton Lace Company had to be a great place to work.  The plant; spanning over two city blocks, was not only the largest employer in the area, but it also housed its own theater, bowling alley, infirmary, gymnasium and barbershop.  When WWII broke out, Scranton Lace was right there with the troops.  The plant shifted some of its looms into producing camouflage and mosquito netting.  For looms of this size using Punch Card technology, this was no easy feat.

During the 50’s, import competition from a war-torn Japan looking to rebuild and China with its cheap labor force, forced the company to layoff workers.  This hit the town of Scranton very hard as the lace company was it’s largest employer.  Then, when risky investments in the fledging Television industry of the 50’s failed to pay off, the company could no longer compete.  It held on with a skeleton crew producing minimal lace products, until finally in 2002 the company president – walked on to the production floor and during mid-shift, announced the plant closed – effective immediately.  The plant lay abandoned from then on.

Being a lover of fine vintage lace, I started out to write this post to impress you with how lace was produced and to show you one of the best examples of manufactured lace that ever existed.  However, words alone cannot give you the full magnitude of this process, nor the sense of loss you feel when you look upon the abandoned plant.  To appreciate the process fully, you have to see it and to do that without travelling to Scranton, I recommend the pictorial journey through the abandoned Scranton Lace Plant you can find at http://wiseminds.com/thedigitalmirage/?p=136  .  The photographers did a fantastic job of capturing the heart and soul of this plant.  It is well worth your time to see the photography; especially the looms and the punch cards used to produce the miles and miles of lace, that came off them.

I caution you however.  If you love antiques, and long for the quality produced in an era long past, you will come away from the pictorial journey feeling a sense of loss for an era we can never hope to recapture again.  An era when “quality” was a word you heard more often than “profit” in the board meetings.

There is hope for the old plant however.  On December 30 2011, the company’s abandoned building was featured in the pilot episode of the Abandoned TV series.  That drew national attention to it.  In 2012, the factory complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places and then in 2011, plans for restoration were placed before the Scranton City Council.

Getting Things White for Spring – Glorious Spring.


Linen
Linen (Photo credit: Rameez Sadikot)

We have been busy and it has been good but I have been neglectful, so I hope today’s entry makes up for it.  The new site in American Classics is growing in customers and we are happy as can be.  We added the Victorian Section and that too has grown in popularity.  The other day I spoke with a woman who was getting married and she was going to have a Victorian / Steampunk wedding.  Because of our yellow tag sale, she bought things right and left.  That would be a fun wedding to attend.  I hinted my behind off, but to no avail.

Another lady asked me how to get older linens white.  Here’s a quick formula I use for the linens here.  It’s a gentle remedy.

In a large roaster or pot, (I use the roaster we roast the Turkey in.) fill with hot water and several slices of lemon.  Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and add your linens.  I sit the roaster over two of my top burners.  Use a wooden spoon to push them down until they become completely submerged and saturated with the water.  Cover the pot and leave overnight.  I cover mine with tin foil.  The following day, rinse well, wash with mild detergent and water as usual and then lay the items out in the sun to dry.

Another way to do this, especially while it’s still cold outside when you would end up with frozen linens, is to use Biz & Oxyclean  Use 1 Scoop Biz and 1 Scoop Oxyclean to 1 Gallon Hot Water.  Soak in the hot water for up to 48 hours, then rinse and launder as usual.   Use the scoop that comes with the Oxyclean.  This works very well. 

By the way, I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for spring to get here.

New Space, Add Victorian, Go Crazy


When you are facing a raft full of gingham, lace, satins, silks and velvet, what do you think? The first thoughtDSCF3004 that came to my mind was “I need to open a section of Mom & Me’s Vintage Linens and Lace, devoted to Victorian / Gothic (Goth) style. The idea intrigued me so much, the more I thought of it, the better it became. Of course, that thinking led my creative side to go crazy. That expansion led me to adding a partner who’s an expert in furniture and the styling’s of the Victorian era, especially the American Victorian era; where, if you were in the south, extended into the Antebellum era. (After war) Naturally, a theme setting like this, demands authentic furniture and they have some beautiful pieces. The more the idea nurtured and the more we talked about it, the better it became. So, we did it.

We added Furniture like a three-piece parlor set with chairs, footstools and a beautiful couch. Add in matching 1860 velvet couches. Not reproductions mind you, serious Victorian era furniture, including a Barrel top desk and a Victorian dresser with a marble top that will knock your socks off.DSCF3012

Want to see what we produced? Stop in at the American Antique Marketplace and right next to my store in space B30, you will see my new addition in space B26, which include the furniture I just described. If you love Gothic, Victorian, or Steampunk, you will be sure to find something that matches your taste here. Stop in, finger the Satin. Run your hands over the Battenberg lace banquet tablecloth that’s hanging on at the entrance. That’s 123 year old lace you’re holding. Still beautiful to this day and it has many more years left to grace your table. However, if you see me holding tight to the 130 year old Rose colored Watermark satin with Battenberg inserts, please try to understand. I’m having a little separation anxiety.

More pictures to follow.

Something old – something new . . .


Bride and women
Three Generations of Brides (Photo credit: spaceodissey)

As I write this, it’s cold outside, something close to 15 degrees.  It is expected to get to a balmy 19 today.  My husband, dressed in his lucky Bronco’s shirt and sweat pants, sits in his easy chair, outfitted with all the goodies he will need for the big game today.  Makes you think of Spring and weddings doesn’t it?

I never said I was well.  In my defense however, I am sitting here fingering and pricing beautiful damask tablecloths.  When I close my eyes, I can see these on a beautiful spring day, gracing a bride’s table at her wedding. Inauspicious patterns intricately woven together – shimmering when you hold it up to the light.  When paired against a white satin and lace wedding gown, vintage Damask showcases a bride on her special day.

Something old, something new . . .

Of all the vintage linen and lace tablecloth’s I have in stock, Damask is my favorite.  The definition of Damask is a reversible figured fabric of silk, wool, linen, cotton, or synthetic fibers, with a pattern formed by weaving. Damasks is woven with one “warp” yarn and one “weft” yarn, usually with the pattern in warp-faced “satin” weave and the ground in weft-faced or “sateen” weave.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damask) This reversible weave is what makes Damask so durable.  One mother told me of having passed her Damask tablecloths to her daughter, just as her mother had passed them on to her, having had them passed on to her from her mother’s mother.  Four generations and each generation had used the same tablecloth to grace the brides table on their wedding day.  What a special tradition.

My mother’s Damask linens never made it out of the fire they had years ago.  I never had the opportunity to appreciate them as I do these I hold in my hand.  However, as I look over at my fourteen year old daughter, her head bobbing to sounds only her ear buds and she can hear (thank god), I think that in a few short years, her newly acquired Damask tablecloths, mine that I pass on to her, will be gracing her wedding table.  She may be deaf by the time she gets married, but on her special day, she and the Damask will be beautiful.

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You can start your own Damask traditions by stopping in any (or all) of our stores and picking out your favorite pattern of Damask linens.  Be sure to pick up a brochure with the discount card attached while you are there.  And, as usual, if you see a person with her nose buried in the fresh smell of newly laundered linens, it’s probably me.  Say hi.

Recreating an Era


“Nobody wants to live in the past, we just want to be able to step into it when we need to breathe.”  That was the philosophy of the

Armenian needlelace
Armenian needlelace (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

visitor who stood before me, casually fingering the 1860’s Waterfall Satin bedspread I had hanging in the corner. She went on to say, “That is why I created my “get away” room using a Victorian theme. I love everything Victorian. I can step back into that era when ever I want. When things are going too fast, I can close the door and slow the day down. The rest of my house I call modern country but my room is strictly Victorian. I don’t have a telephone or any other modern conveniences in there.”
She stepped around to finger the French Victorian Lamp shades. We were in the Willowstone store and she had been there for about five minutes when we struck up a conversation. She went on to tell me, “I have my books, my Victorian couch, my tea set; which I have filled with Earl Grey, and I have my plush French Provincial chair and footstool, in which to plank my butt in and close my eyes for a while. Sometimes I read, sometimes I merely sit there, unwinding. I may sit there for hours doing nothing but quilting, sewing or reading. Then there are those days when I may only get to sit there for a minute or so. No matter what, this is my sanctuary and I use it.”

She went over to the lace section and picked one of our Quaker Lace tablecloths. “This will look beautiful draped over the back of the settee and used as a shawl.” Just the right weight to keep the chill off the legs in the wintertime, without being as heavy as the wool blankets I have in our living room.”

As she folded it up and stuck in her cart, she went on to say, “ I love to repurpose. Lace of all types are my favorite, plus damask. The quality of the old world workmanship, lives on forever and you can’t find the intricate patterns like you get in bobbin or Quaker lace or the beautiful patterns you see in a pure white Damask tablecloth.” I asked her if her whole house was Victorian Style.  She said, “Oh no, more eclectic than anything else. She was mainly into repurposing. “For example,” she said, “I purchased the entire set of vintage lace curtains you had in your store at American Classics and used those over my windows in my office area. They were vintage Chinese lace; a very delicate pattern. They do well over my modern roll top desk which better accommodates my computer screen. I also purchased that large roll of lace trim you had at the Treasure Shoppe and used that on the walls in the daughter’s room. As you can tell, I shop all your stores. I wanted to do something different, so for their room, so I made a lace-ceiling border, like those stick on borders, around the entire room.”
“I used Elmer’s white glue, watered down slightly to make it paintable with a brush, and then glued the lace to the top of the wall. When it dried, I painted over it. I messed up the first time when I inadvertently stretched it too tight. I got in a hurry. It shrunk and separated from the corners. It was easy to peel off and the second time, I just laid it making sure it wasn’t stretched and I only did one wall at a time.”
She promised to send me pictures I will share with you, but in the meantime, do a Google search for interior decorating lace borders and you should find instructions.
By the end of her stay in my store, I was ready to go home and redecorate. Instead, I sat down and shared her conversation with you. I think she has the right idea. If you are into antiques and vintage, decorate to an era and not just to color, plus, repurpose anything and everything you find for that era. The best part however was her advice on de-stressing by building a “get away” room. Good advice and I’m so lucky to have the perfect stores for it. Now if I could just find that room.

Did You Know . . .


Did you know that in 1846 cans were first invented?  How ironic is it that it took 12 years for someone to invent the can opener?  What did they do with the cans for twelve years; sit and look at the shiny metal lining their shelves; wondering what the contents tasted like?  Of course, by 1858, someone had managed to invent the Rotary washing machine.  This invention provided the young homemaker with other things to do than stare at cans.

How many of you, when you were kids, remember chewing Blackjack gum?  Remember your parents looking screaming in horror, thinking you had swallowed black paint?  (Maybe it was just mine who did this; they were a little over dramatic back then.)  Well, in 1872, the year Blackjack gum was invented, kids everywhere shoved it into their mouths by the bucket full.  Who knew it was so old?  So millions of kids (with black gums) chewed Blackjack on the way to the woodpile, because it wasn’t until 1896 that the first electric stove was developed.  This leads me to my next revelation.

Before 1896, it was little Johnny’s duty to stoke Moms cooking fire.  If he was good, his treat was more Blackjack gum.  Only the rich could afford coal, so wood had to do until the something better came along.  In 1896 “better” came in the form of magic.  The first electric stove graced the family’s kitchen.  Homemakers everywhere were happily cooking away on this newfangled contraption up until 1921, when along comes Mr. Henry Ford – a man who couldn’t stand to waste anything.  You remember Henry; he invented the Ford Model T and Assembly Line Manufacturing, but in 1921 after the electric stove had already been in full use and loved my millions of Moms, good Ol’ Henry brought to us the now-familiar charcoal briquette.  Up until then, no one knew they wanted to go back to wood, but Ford got the idea from the scrap lumber left over from building his model T’s.  He had all this scrap, that he could turn into smaller scrap by heating the snot out of it, and that the resulting (now black – semi burnt – scrap) got very hot and lasted a long time when burned in a stove.  Being the salesperson he was, he sold the public on using his newly coined “charcoal” for cooking.  Low and behold 1921 saw the birth of the “Grill Meister.”

Later that same year the first homogenized gallon of milk showed up on the steps of many a home.  A man in a white coat and white hat, who jumped out of a milk wagon pulled by an old tired horse, delivered the new homogenized milk.  If, in the summer, you didn’t get the milk off the stoop first thing in the morning, you had homogenized sour milk.  You drank it anyway.  It was also in 1927 that Kool-Aid was invented.  It had real sugar in it.  Kids preferred Kool-Aid to the sour milk.  I

The building where Gerard and Edwin Perkins in...
The building where Gerard and Edwin Perkins invented Kool-Aid. Located at 518 W. 1st St. in Hastings, Nebraska (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

think this was the year they also coined the medical term “hyperactive.”

By 1930, a man named F.J. Osius had an idea for a mixer that could chew through anything.  He also had no money.  He went to the famous bandleader – Fred Waring for help.  (They probably got drunk mixing the first margarita.)  Waring ended up lending Osius the funds provided that he (Waring) could put his name on the product.  The pair finalized the deal and then Waring took off, traveling around the country with his band plus a large trunk that opened up into (of all things) a bar.  He would play, blend and demonstrate the mixer, then play some more.

Now for the last one.  Do you know why metal lunch boxes are so collectible?   Because in the early 70’s a group of Florida mothers, fearing for the heads of their children, launched a nationwide campaign against allowing metal lunch boxes in school.  Apparently, they became very good weapons during schoolyard fights.  Little Johnny was getting his bell rung with a metal lunchbox.  Apparently, plastic lunch boxes only rang his bell a little.

You can find these tidbits of history and a ton of other information at a remarkable site called Food and Utensil Chronology at https://sites.google.com/site/coquesters/foodandutensilchronology.  Check this site out. It’s great for vintage collectors who want to know the year a particular item they are coveting was born.  It’s also a great spot for someone who’s been laundering a new batch of vintage linens all week after work, who needed a break and who says to her writer husband, “Please write the blog for this week.”

Sew Vintage


Upcycled Tablecloth Skirt
Upcycled Tablecloth Skirt (Photo credit: Vancour)

Linens, Lace & Faux Mink.
I am often asked for ideas about the repurposing of vintage linens.  For starters, I’m not a tailor; I’m just a lover of fine silks, satins and lace.  I sew my own creations and do small patchwork before I put our material on sale, but being a schoolteacher doesn’t allow me with a lot of time to take on big sewing projects.  Speaking of patchwork, let me first get this off my chest.  I want you to walk into your laundry room and grab your gallon jug of bleach.  On the front of that jug, in bold black letters, write DO NOT USE ON ANY LINEN, VINTAGE OR OTHERWISE.  Any bleach or bleach related product you have in your laundry room, do the same thing.  Now put the bleach down and step away.  Refrain from using it on any linen, new or old.  In the last two months, I have tossed out more beautiful linens pieces, then I care to think of.  I have tossed out Battenberg and Quaker Lace for the same reason.  It hurts me to have a beautiful damask tablecloth fall apart in my hands. When I see bleach burn holes in lace, I want to scream.  Bleach has its uses in moderation, but the culprit is the overzealous use of bleach.  If you must use bleach, rinse twice neutralizing with a ½ cup of vinegar.  I actually had someone look at a small stain on the lace corner of the Rose Victorian Watermark Satin tablecloth/bedspread we have on sale and ask me if they could use bleach to whiten the Battenberg lace inserts.  After I calmed down, I pointed out that this was an expensive Tablecloth/bedspread with ecru lace, which was hand sewn circa 1880 – 1890.  One should not whisper the word bleach in the same room as this piece.

Now that I have that off my chest, I feel better.  The other day, I was going back through some old posts and one of my dear readers had asked if I had any ideas on repurposing left over Damask napkins.  I apparently missed this reader question.  I apologize.  Because old Damask napkins are often large, the first idea that comes to mind is to cut off the damaged part and make Damask placemats.  They would be usable with any tablecloth underneath them.  Another idea is Victorian Doll clothing.

The third is, (if you have enough,) cut the good portions into smaller squares and make a damask quilt.  If you don’t have enough, stop into any of our stores.  We have plenty for you.  A very pretty idea is a linen Damask border with a lace insert, using a vintage lace-curtain panel.  It produces a beautiful tablecloth.  On the reverse side, an old or ruined Damask tablecloth will often produce a large enough usable pieces make a beautiful center, bordered by vintage lace.  Adjust the size of the tablecloth to take full advantage of the usable part of Damask that you have.  Do a search for images on Google using the terms Damask and Lace Tablecloths

What about it readers; have any ideas you can come up with?

One last thing.  Winter is here.  It’s going to get cold.  We just put a large bolt of FAUX MINK into the Willowstone (space 31) store.  But I warn you.  It is so luxurious; and large enough, that – after purchase – you may be overcome with the need to spread it out on the bed and lie naked on it.  When I held it in my hands, my will power was strong, but professional photographers or husbands should take this as a hint.

An Investment in Time


Lace tablecloth

Why invest in antiques and collectables?  Because during a down economy, it makes good economic sense.  The article at: http://antiques.about.com/od/thewisebuyarticles1/tp/aa100208.htm  explains the point in excellent detail.  It’s no secret that antiques increase in value over time.  In a down economy, people sell.  There are bargains are everywhere.  How many investments have you made where the growth can amount to a 50% or more increase in over one year?

Of course, we deal in linens and lace.  When I look through a pile of new linens, I marvel at the thought that the material I hold is still beautiful despite hundreds, maybe thousands, of washings, abuse, stains, rough handling and love over the 50, 60 or more years since its creation.  The other day in our new Willowstone store, we hung three beautiful examples of true Victorian lace in the form of two tablecloths and a Victorian handmade queen size bedspread.  My husband and I speculated about the stories that the bedspread could tell, having been present at life’s moments that are more intimate.  We could almost recount the family conversations held over the lace as it graced a Sunday dinner table.  Having done the research, we marveled at what its value was today, in comparison to what she had purchased it for 20 years earlier from the estate of its original owner.  I calculated that it had grown in investment value by over 400%.  That’s a simple 20% growth per year of ownership.  Yes, I know the value of compounded growth calculations, inflation, etc., but you get the point.  I wish my retirement package as a teacher grew at that rate.

Antiques represent quality you can’t find in today’s products.  Most of the modern furniture that the average newlywed couple will buy today will end up in landfills.  Rarely does a young adult in today’s society want Grandma’s old Victorian couch or parlor set.  They grew up with them.  Even when they inherit them, they don’t see them fitting their constantly moving lifestyle.  The furniture is old fashion, heavy.  They are ready to move on to the new ultra-modern plastic or pressboard furniture.  Then, while that ultramodern couch is deteriorating, the 130+ year old Victorian couch continues to increase in value.  The French Lace banquet size tablecloth hanging in the corner of our store, ready for you to take it home, will continue to outlast even the best of today’s Chinese polyester import.  Its value will continue to grow while the other is long left to the fabric pile.  The hand cut dovetail joint in the drawers of that American Walnut 1790’s Hepplewhite desk, will continue to open and close a thousand times more than the nailed and hot glued joint of your Swedish import.

However, before I start running off on a tangent and jump on my soapbox, I ask my readers:  At what age did you first notice that antiques were an investment and what factors influenced you?

The Care and Cleaning of Vintage Quilts


I just put in a bunch of 1900’s to 1960 vintage quilt pieces (scraps, fats, squares, oh my)  Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Anyway, as I started to say before my mind wandered off to its secret place, I put of load of vintage quilt material in both stores, and this got me to thinking about how to take care of vintage quilts.  I called a friend who quilts all the time. First words out of her mouth were “very carefully.”

my new (new to me) antique quilt! i lurve it.
My new (new to me) antique quilt! I love it. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I asked what she meant by very, she explained.  Never dry clean a cotton quilt since the weight of the ‘fluid’ may place more stress than ‘water’ on old fabric.  I emphasized fluid and water for a reason.  Dry-cleaning fluid is heavy with chemicals. (Who would have thought?)  Its weight will tear old fabric.  Her next bit of advice was “never hang a wet quit on a single line.”  Same reason.  The water pools at the bottom, placing stress on the seams and threads at the top as they drape over the small line.  If you have to dry a quilt outside, then hang it over two or even three lines, evenly distributing the weight of the quilt.  If you have a lot of quilts or need to wash and dry many for sale, then consider making a rope drying rack. The look like an old rope bed.  One of my mother’s friends uses an old king size bed frame she weaves a bed of ropes.  Bottom line of all this is be careful with vintage quilts.  I am sure you have seen some beautiful ones for sale in an antique store, only to turn it over and find the material separated, or the stitching torn out.  Makes you want to cry doesn’t it?

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About Julie:

Julie is a homemaker, mother, teacher of special needs children and an entrepreneur. As a teacher with along history of teaching students in the elementary grades, she obtained her credentials for Special Need teaching and advocacy late in her career, because – as she puts it, “these kids need to be taken out of the corner and given a voice.” As a means to lessen the stress that comes when one deals with bureaucracy, Julie – her Mother-in-Law and her daughter, opened the Mom & Me Vintage Linens and Lace shops late in 2011. Now with two locations in Colorado Springs, (The Treasure Shoppe – downtown CS and American Classics on N. Academy) she has managed to gather a rich following of friends and steady customers who look forward to seeing her come in with an armload of vintage linens, fine lace and the occasional vintage purse or pillow to round out her diverse selection. Julie can be reached by JClark@Linens2Lace.com . You can also follow her blog at www.Linens2Lace.WordPress.com, and her Tweets at #MomNMe.