Monday, December 29, 2008

Before, during, and after.

The last week has been a whirlwind, even though we haven't traveled anywhere. Some days have seemed crazy and others quiet, and in the mix we had a wonderful Christmas. A pre-holiday trip to Urgent Care resulted in a single stitch to the temple of one child, followed by another trip to the doctor three days later (same child) for an ear infection. Add in some snow, an ice storm, an extra day off of school for the kids (thanks to the snow/ice), two weeks of vacation for the husband, some bitter cold days, followed by a spring-like thaw. No wonder it's felt like a whirlwind!

Here, a look at the snow, before the ice hit.


Then, Christmas! Preschoolers at church sang several songs which was adorable, of course. Kirk got this shot during rehearsal and I love it, even though Grace is not in the frame!Kirk and I managed, again, to enjoy time together on Christmas Eve after the kids were in bed. Some Christmas tunes and the makings of monkey bread for the morning made this a relaxing and special part of our evening.
Here, a simple microwave rice pillow, scented with mint and lavender essential oils - I made this one for myself (I know, crazy to actually make something for myself!) - and I managed to make one for everyone else in the family as their handmade gift from me. The best part is that the kids love them. They're great for cold feet at night!
And speaking of making things, check out what my amazing husband made for me this year. That's right, I said made for me! I wanted a handmade, tied fleece blanket and I didn't want to have to make it for myself. So with a bit of instruction (remember that trip to the fabric store?) he whipped this up and it is fantastic. Huge, warm, and how cool that it has Snoopy on it?Finally, one of the favorite gifts from Santa (given to Grace) was a digital camera. A V-Tech Kidizoom camera, to be exact. She loves it and has taken some pretty cool pictures! Here you can see her Barbie still life, as well as a self-portrait. I love the grainy, art-schooly look. And what a gift to us to see the world through her eyes for a change.p.s. I really want to share the details of my gift exchange with Kirk this year. We had some rules to follow, causing us to think outside the box a bit. Soon, I promise!
p.p.s. Happy Birthday, Kirk! You know I love you. You're so good to us. And what can I say...you are the MML. Maybe someday I'll get that printed on a t-shirt for you!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Video games.

I would seriously love to ban Guitar Hero from the household. Kirk and Reed love it, but it sets me on edge. I can rarely even sit in the room while it's being played! Like right now, Kirk is playing a "gig"and all I wanted to do was curl up in a chair, in my warm family room (while sipping a little cocktail) and finish reading the paper. But no sooner did I sit down than the screeching, frenetic guitar/drum craziness erupted! I asked, nicely, to please finish soon. But then I'm told "I'm only two songs away from finishing. I can't stop now." So, I removed myself upstairs while my nerves settle a little. I mean, I'm not asking for Brahms instead - just a chance to sit where I want without risk of a nervous breakdown!

Someday, in the next house, there will be a room for all such "toys." To be kept contained, and away from me!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tagged.

I have been photo tagged by my good friend Sherilyn - apparently the rules are to go to your photo files and open the fourth picture. Easier said than done, considering the mountains of picture files I have (as in, which file would I choose?), not to mention archive upon archive of photos. And, I thought about doing this on my laptop which would mean using the stock picture files that came with the computer - because I have no images of my own on there! So, for a moment, imagine the perfect stock-photo picture of serenity, of a deep blue ocean and a long dock, reaching out to the water's edge....pretty, right?

This one...well, not so much.
I think I was making glassware for someone out of town, and probably took the picture to show the options in glasses. That, or I was trying to decide just how thirsty I really was!

So now I have to tag someone else...OK, I'll tag Robyn, Amy, and Jennifer. I sure hope you ladies have better 4th photos than I do!

p.s. Maybe tomorrow I'll upload the ocean/dock image. It really is quite a lovely one, even if it isn't my own!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hooray for trash!

Did I really just say that?

OK, here's the deal. We recycle in this house. Everything possible. When a child dares throw a piece of paper away in the kitchen trash, I usually only have to say, "Just what do you think you're doing?" To which the paper scrap offender replies, "oh...right...put it in the recycling bag..."

I am grateful that our trash pickup includes recycling service. Yet, it has pained me over the past several years (more like 5 or 6) to ONLY be able to recycle plastic labeled as a "1" or a "2." That leaves out numbers 3 through 6! And a lot of plastic comes in and out of this house labeled 5, in particular (you know, dairy containers with the snap-on lids? Yep, those are 5's).

And so, I actually pumped my fist in the air and said, "Yesssssss!" when, after perusing the official "Waste Line" newsletter (don't you love trash puns?), I saw that our service now includes recycling for plastics 3 and 5. Meaning, all those pesky blister cards (hello, Christmas morning!) and the many dairy/food containers that come our way. Hallelujah. It's about time.

I know larger cities have more extensive recycling programs. At least, here in Omaha, they're heading in the right direction!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dear Santa.

Dear Santa,

How are the reindeer I hope their not sick. When you come and vist me be sure to wake me up. The elfs better not be pulling pranks on other elfs like glueing each other on to a seat stuff like that. I hope Mrs. Claus is makeing some yummy sugar cookies that have good frosting. I've also heard that elfs are very sneaky so you may want to have an elf keep guard. I've heard that the weather will be very snowie so you may want to wear double winter coats. And I've been very good and sometimes bad and my mom will send you my Christmas list soon.

Your friend,
Reed

**a third grade assignment, brought home last week...I kept the spelling/punctuation accurate to the letter...and I especially like the part about "sneaky elfs!"**

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Amazing.

Write this one down in the books. I have something truly amazing, spectacular, something rarely, if ever seen around these parts.

Two out of three bathrooms are clean. At the same time.

It's a Christmas miracle!

Enjoy your Sunday!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Etsy Oath

***I solemnly swear that I will never get jaded to being featured on Etsy's front page, for as long as I shall live, so help me God!***


I am in the top row, left column -The Winter Cowl. Special thanks to this Etsy friend for including me in her lovely treasury!

Edit: Just found this. Blasted! Missed another one!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New.

Some new fabric, perfect for a "boy" sketch roll. It is really, really hard to find good fabrics for boys that aren't babyish or borderline scary (skulls, for instance!). I just love this fabric which I scored locally for a good price. I'm thinking it would look great on baby items as well, like a blanket or even as a baby gift set. Who wouldn't love a Route 66 onesie?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Update on the snowmen.

The marshmallow snowmen were a snap to put together and both Lauren and Grace loved the activity. However, due to supreme naughtiness, Grace was not allowed to eat hers last night. Naturally, she was excited to try hers out after lunch today. She stuffed a large bite off the head into her mouth and excitedly yelled, "these are BRILLIANT!"

A moment later, after swallowing, she said (a little more quietly), "Mom, what does brilliant mean?"

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas books.

A few days (weeks?) ago I mentioned the tradition we have of giving new Christmas books to the kids on December 1st. We were lucky that each of the picks this year were a huge hit! Here are the titles:

Can You See What I See? The Night Before Christmas by Walter Wick - Grace received this book, and despite a few moments of dramatics when she claimed she "hated" it, I think it has actually gone over pretty well. How's that for preschool logic? The book is set up like an I Spy book, with lots of beautiful pictures to find hidden objects. Some of the things are pretty hard to find, so we usually take one page per sitting.

Kids in the Holiday Kitchen by Jessica Strand and Tammy Massman-Johnson - This book went to Lauren and her reaction upon opening was priceless! We have had a lot of fun looking through the beautifully photographed pages to pick out some recipes to try. If you click the link, notice the cute marshmallow snowman on the cover - we just made these a little while ago to have for dessert tonight!

Santa Claus by Rod Green - When Reed opened this, he hesitated for a moment thinking the book was a picture book (in 8 year-old speak this would equate to a "baby" book). I simply told him, "Trust me. You'll love it." And, he does. It is a gorgeous fold-out book filled with all of the minute details of Santa's life and the goings-on of the North Pole. For a kid who is on the fence about Santa, this might extend the belief in Santa for another season. Or, for a kid like Reed who knows the truth about Santa, this book will surely reengage their imagination and let them know that it is really fun to continue to dream about Santa! He has read it cover to cover and claims it is "awesome."

Any good titles new to your house this year? Please share!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Worlds are colliding!

I felt like George Costanza today when I announced to Kirk, in the middle of a fabric store (yes, I did say Kirk was in a fabric store) that "worlds are colliding!" Because, to be out with my husband in the early afternoon on a Friday (without kids) is cause enough for concern. But to be in a fabric store together? Chatting about how quilts are put together and how those fleece tie blankets are made? And then to walk over to the music store and peruse guitars and drums and sheet music for him? Well, that's just plain crazy!

It sorta felt like we were dating.

And no, we didn't just ditch the kids. Two are in school, one was in preschool followed by Mom's Day Out, and Kirk is taking every Friday off for awhile. So what are usually my harried holiday errands became a nice shopping trip together in the morning, then lunch with child #2 at school, followed by the fabric-and-music store trip. We've had these kids for awhile now, so any alone time together that is just normal time...not a night out or a "date"...well, let's just say we really enjoy it and are happy to say that there is still no one else we'd rather hang out with!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Friendship.

Friends are lovely, aren't they? They keep you company, and make you laugh, and share bits of your life as though treasures. If you're really lucky, you also have at least one friend who you talk to or share things with constantly (I belive this is your best friend, or BFF for the text-happy folks). I am lucky to have someone like that in my life!

Yet, friends come and go, too. I am aware of this every year when I look over the list for Christmas cards. Maybe there were friendships of circumstance (having kids in the same class) or were part of a now-defunct playgroup. As much as I value my friends, I am sometimes glad to let these pass. It's okay, they were for a purpose and now that purpose is gone. Or we may vaguely keep in touch, but that's all.

What is fun and surprising is when an old friend walks back into your life. And you remember that your friendship didn't start out simply due to circumstances but it was because you really liked each other. And had fun. And did stupid stuff (if you were young together). And maybe it was circumstances that let you drift apart...but isn't it awesome to come back together and realize that you know exactly why you were friends with this person in the first place?

Friday, November 28, 2008

A good time.

Thanksgiving was great! Good company, good food, good times.

Today, we have worked on "decking the halls." Garland is up (after wrestling with bad strings of lights), house lights are up, and most of the decor is out. Except for the tree - maybe that will come later this weekend. I even successfully avoided all stores today, and made it to the gym. Man, my priorities have really changed in the last 10 years or so!

As for tonight, I have a piece of leftover pie with my name on it (so much for the gym, right?). I have a new project to start for this Etsy friend, and I'm thinking I should try to find a good holiday movie on the tube. I'm really in the mood for Christmas Vacation...wish I had it on dvd!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful.

This morning I was inspired and all fired up to write a lengthy post today about the trappings of holiday shopping, the insanity of mall mentality and about the craziness of early-morning Black Friday deals. Alas, I am too tired to write of those things. Just know that I am very opinionated on the subject!

Instead, I sit here with a cramp in my arm from working on the Thanksgiving table runner (still a work in progress, I will take photos only if it turns out!), my feet are a little tired from standing in the kitchen all afternoon, and there is a vague potato-y, pecan-y, spicy sort of smell to the house. Oh, and I have my new handspun yarn looped over my left arm, ready to be rolled in a ball while I watch The Amazing Race in a little while.

My Thanksgiving plan this year (we are hosting, btw) has been to keep the chaos to a minimum. I love cooking and baking but I don't like being rushed and my kitchen is really only big enough for one person to comfortably work on food. So, my celery and onion are chopped, french bread has been toasted and cubed for tomorrow's stuffing, a pecan pie is under foil, and the most heavenly mashed potatoes are sitting in a crock in the fridge, just waiting to be reheated tomorrow. Tom the Turkey is also sitting in the sink and draining water from the defrost process (and who knows what else is draining) - he will be patted down and stuck in the fridge as well soon.

My hope is that by doing a lot of prep work tonight, tomorrow will be better spent with my family - watching the parade, eating some morning yummies with good strong coffee, getting the table just so, and chatting with my folks and Kirk's dad and brother. I want to be able to be present for Thanksgiving, not just be the cook. It should be a good time!

Wishing you all peace and a thankful heart. We are so, so lucky! Look at that...I did write a lengthy post after all!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Holiday traditions.

A little while ago, Grace excitedly squealed "it's almost THANKSGIVING!!!!!" (insert four year old giggling here). Honestly, I think she's mostly excited about the pie. Certainly Reed and Lauren are cool with having a few days off of school; oh and the pie will be great also! Do you remember being so excited for the holidays just because you got to watch a parade and eat pie?

So, it has been bringing us to lots of discussion of Thanksgiving ("Mom, what kind of pie will we have?") as well as lots of planning and talk of Christmas. We are pretty traditional in the sense that Christmas decor/lights/festivities absolutely do not start until after Thanksgiving! It really bothers me in fact to see homes that are already lit up (strings of lights up are fine, but please don't turn them on yet!). It seems so out of place to imagine a Christmas tree twinkling while we're doing the whole Thanksgiving thing. Anyway, I apologize if I have just offended any of you who like to get Christmas prep done early. To me, it's just one of those things.

OK, the discussion of traditions. We have lots that we have pulled from over the years, and some have stuck while others have gone buh-bye! Like the year or two I thought it would be fun to do a "Christmas surprise" every day (kind of like an advent calendar w/ a gift or treat for the kids) - had to nix that one, because it only served to teach the kids that they needed a present every day.

An awesome tradition we started a few years ago, however, has been the Christmas book. Each year on December 1st the kids get a brand-new book for Christmas. And not just any book...this one is always special (preferrably hard-bound) and is in the Christmas theme. I pick the books for each kid, wrap them and put them under the tree, and then that afternoon or evening they get to open and enjoy. The purpose is actually that we will slowly add on to our library of Christmas books (some religious, some secular) and someday when they are grown they will get to take their stack of books and start a collection for their own families. I'm really excited about this year's choices - a very pretty "I Spy" book for Grace, a loaded-with-pictures holiday cookbook for Lauren, and Santa Claus for Reed. He discovered who Santa is last year (and was pretty bummed) but now he seems to be able to appreciate that you can continue to have an imagination about these things.

I'm also finding it important to ask everyone what traditions they remember and what they want to continue. They know exactly what they want to do again! Lauren mostly wants to decorate the tree while listening (and dancing) to Christmas tunes, Grace wants to open a present (always pajamas) on Christmas Eve, and Reed is excited to watch the favorite Christmas movies, plus a new one or two (A Christmas Story and Elf are on the "new" list for the year).

As for me? I want a few evenings of family baking - some favorite cookie recipes from Kirk's mom will be on the list for sure. I always love Christmas Eve (after the kids go to bed) when we put on some holiday music and Kirk and I prepare the monkey bread for Christmas morning, and I'm also really looking forward to this and this at our church this year.

Tell me, what traditions are important to your family? What are you most looking forward to doing this holiday season?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Some blog cosmetics.

I'm sitting here messing around with my blog settings and realizing how tech-challenged I am! Really, it is fortunate I married a computer guy. Although his talent is more in making something work, not so much in making it pretty. And what frustrates me completely is that I can't make my blog look the way I want it! (which is pretty!) Frankly I'm at a loss, so bear with me while it is in it's "minimalist" phase. (And, why doesn't blogger have more than 10 or so template options? Come on!)

So, besides the look of the blog I have updated a few bits on the sidebar as well. The lyrics are from one of my favorite Christmas songs, written (as far as I can tell) by James Taylor and is on A Christmas Album. Love, love love that album! Listened to it for the first time this afternoon - jazzy and mellow and perfect. If you click the link you can scroll down and listen to clips.

Another new feature is the "Followers" section. I am pretty sure I have more than one follower. Please? Tell me I do! If you happen to subscribe to this blog's feed and you don't show up on the followers, I think you can click the icon and be listed. It's a great way to link to your own blog as well! And if you do subscribe here but haven't left a comment, I encourage you to do so! I love reading comments and I will soon have a giveaway and/or discount for all who follow and/or comment! Stay tuned!

Finally, some images of the afternoon. It's cold outside so the warm light flooding into the workspace was welcome indeed.A new project I will be working on slowly, over the winter. A quilt using this cheater panel, all from Denyse Schmidt's County Fair. It will be slow work, as it will all be quilted by hand. I see lots of evenings with this spread on my lap!Finally, it's a good day indeed when the kids decide they all need showers and jammies by 2:30 pm. All inspired by Grace's new pj's, which state "I'm on the nice list." Hmmm...we'll see!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fabric resources.

Something I have been frequently asked is "where do you go for fabric?" So, in list format (which is my new favorite way of blogging, btw), here is a rundown of local and internet resources.

First, the local (Omaha):
1. Hancock Fabrics - I buy virtually no fabric here! Maybe solid cotton or twill, notions or interfacing if it's on sale, but that's about it! I find the store a bit depressing as well, from the lighting to the layout to the staff grumpiness, it just puts me in a down mood.
2. Joann's Fabric - Great for corduroy in season and they are a little better (but not much) for designer selection. There are a few Alexander Henry prints that I can usually buy here - Apples and Pears, Mocca, and Koto to name a few. The 40% coupons can be great if it is something I need.
3. Mangelsens - They have Amy Butler's Midwest Modern, and a few random Free Spirit prints. They used to have a great Chocolate Lollipop selection but that is all gone now!
4. Country Sampler - They just started carrying Amy Butler's newer lines (Midwest Modern, Daisy Chain) and they have a pretty good range of other designer lines. Anna Maria Horner (quilting cotton only) and a lot of the other Free Spirit designers. No Alexander Henry though. Prices are high, about $9.95 a yard, plus tax. That's why I just about always shop online!
5. Hobby Lobby - this is where I buy Minky. Normally $12.95 a yard, HL considers it a "fleece" and it is therefore just about always 30% off. I did find this sherpa fleece there too. And they can have decent corduroy and twill!

So, now for online resources. I always try to support Etsy shops before looking at bigger sites.
1. Fabricsupplies - I usually try this shop first because they have an amazing selection, reasonable pricing, great customer service, and have always been able to accommodate custom orders for me.
2. Fabricworm - another great shop! Good selection and prices once again, and here I love her Japanese imports. So fun and bright! She has also helped me with custom orders, especially when I was working on this project.
3. Other Etsy - looking for a specific fabric? Under the "supplies" subheading in the search field, type in key words. Designer name, manufacturer, description, etc. You'll probably find 5 or more pages of shops who are currently selling that fabric!
4. Sew Mama Sew - the best part about this site is the "search by color" feature. I love it!
5. J Caroline Creative - great selection, although I often have problems with the site being slow. Still, the customer service is great and once when I had ordered something (it was on backorder and I needed it asap) she made some calls and had it overnighted to me from NYC. That is service.
6. Fabric Depot, Fabric.com, Hancock's of Paducah - Fabric Depot and Hancock's of Paducah are online extensions of B&M stores. Because these are larger operations I have found shipping and customer service to be a bit slower. For designer cotton, make sure to look under the "quilting cotton" section.
7. Let Google do the work for you - can't find what you want? Then Google it! I have found lots of great small online shops that have also given me excellent service, and sometimes when I'm looking for obscure or about-to-be-discountinued fabrics. I would recommend sending them a quick email if it is something you really want and need asap, just so you don't find out after the fact that the item is no longer available or on backorder!

OK, I hope that helps some of you. Happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Overwhelmed.

The studio has been in dire need of organizing for a looong time. I have been fantasizing lately about how I want it to look...pretty, you know? Maybe a nice color on the wall, some cupboards, a long counter against the window with space on either side of me for the girls...you get the picture. Anyway, I have no idea what prompted me a little while ago to do some tidying. Oh yeah, maybe the fact that the usable space on my cutting table has been reduced to approximately 24 inches in length! When I need to measure or cut I simply shift the teetering pile of fabric slightly to the left and, oh yes, there is the table!

As I have been consolidating piles (and let me tell you there are many) I am becoming overwhelmed with the sheer volume of stuff I have. Fabric especially. From yards and yards of a single print (Amy Butler's Full Moon Dot, just about any color) down to the tiniest scrap, I have so much. I'm not sure why I have this tendency to save each little piece of fabric (maybe so I don't feel like I'm wasting money?) - regardless of why, I think it's time to put a plan into action and start offloading some of this stuff. Maybe I will offer some destash scrap bags in the shop. Yes, that sounds like a good plan!

And the irony of the whole situation - I have to order more fabric tonight.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A new toy (for me).


I have wanted to try my hand at spinning (yarn that is, not on a bike!) for a long time. So, I bought myself a kit last week. It arrived Friday and since the husband was occupied after kids went to bed (playing Gears of War on the X Box - that's his idea of a toy) I got out all of my goodies to give it a go. Hmmm, is that a bit of alliteration for your reading pleasure?

The kit came with a drop spindle, some white wool, and two bags of wool/mohair/alpaca fiber. Six ounces in all, I think. I watched some YouTube videos which were definitely helpful. And then, I spun. It was not easy!

My first batch came out really thick (and used up all of my white wool) but I think it will be usable. I'm thinking I need a winter hat, and I hope this will be enough. It's spun and wound into two small skeins at the moment, then will need to be set in hot water and hung to dry. Then I can use it!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The ultimate comfort confection.

Yesterday I said I have been wanting to make these...well, the bee kept buzzing and so last night I gave it a whirl. Do I really need fudge-covered marshmallows around the house? No, but sometimes my creative itch in the kitchen (OK, my sweet tooth also) gets the better of me.

First, the marshmallows were really easy to make. I never would have thought to make my own marshmallows until I saw these on Martha's show about a year ago. With a candy thermometer (a must) and a Kitchenaid mixer, I don't see how they would be hard to mess up. Especially when the mixer does all the hard work! I put the fluff in the pan last night to let them set up and they came out beautifully.

Today's job was to make the fudge, which I knew would be trickier. I mean, I have made fudge lots of times and it always turns out great, but this was fudge that needed to be thin enough to dip marshmallows into. Not so easy. At first they were a total mess because my fudge cooled down and thickened quickly. Fortunately, no children were home at the time to witness me cursing under my breath as I glopped one after the other. I decided to put it back on the stove, on low, and when reheated I was able to do a better job. Still messy and sticky but a much quicker job (and, less cursing).

To be totally forthright and honest, here is a look at one of the messy ones. Not pretty but still yummy!And, here is Martha's version. I don't think I did too badly, considering.
The true test will come tonight, when the kids try them out after dinner!

p.s. Dad, I still like your fudge the best!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A few things.

1. It's not even Thanksgiving, yet already I am feeling like I am behind in holiday prep. Why does this hit earlier every year? (side note: is Thanksgiving a forgotten holiday? I love this holiday and it drives me crazy that Christmas marketing starts even before Halloween!)
2. Today I shipped something to the complete opposite end of the globe - Australia!
3. In attempting to complete said shipping, I tried to merge two tasks (shipping + groceries) and took my package to Hy-Vee (local grocery store that does postal services from the customer service desk). I was unlucky enough to go to the one location that doesn't do international shipping. Every other store in town does. It's my kind of luck to find the only one that does NOT.
4. Fortunately, the preschooler-in-tow was in a decent mood and the post office was nearby. The good people at that branch always take care of me!
5. Unrelated, we stopped by the yarn store before attempting the grocery/shipping thing. My fingers are craving the good stuff lately (something handspun? alpaca? Peruvian highland wool?) but I just can't figure out quite what I want. I may have to search online and really figure out what I want to make.
6. Found this shop today. Love it. Have purchased.
7. Got a bee in my bonnet to make these. Good-bye Zone diet, hello holiday indulgence!
8. Have you noticed I like lists these days?
9. Looking forward to an afternoon with Kirk (no kids!) tomorrow. Excellent!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Front Page, Baby!

I've been on Etsy about a year now...it's been a really great year and a ton of fun! And in all of that time, I have hoped that someday I would make it to Etsy's Front Page. You know, when you first log on to Etsy, and you see the "treasury" of beautiful items all grouped together? Well, today was my day! I won't bore you with the details of how I found out about it, but needless to say I actually missed the moment in time that it was up. Darn. Fortuantely, the good people at flickr have a group devoted to saving the screen shots. Here it is! (My item is the pillow in the third row, middle column)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

From the mouths of babes.

I love this! It came home in Lauren's backpack yesterday afternoon. What an awesome lesson our children are learning, that they can be anything they want to be.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Election Day to you.

Have you voted yet?

Some things I'm looking forward to this evening:
1. Trying out this recipe. I've been excited to test it out ever since I read about it. My goal this winter is to try a new recipe (as in, not canned, bagged, or boxed) every week or two. Last week was chicken tortilla - very spicy, but yum!
2. Eating the baked-this-afternoon cheese and herb bread, thanks to my trusty bread machine.
3. Playing this game with the kids.
4. Getting out any and all books we have on the presidents and talking over random presidential and election trivia.
5. Watching this guy predict, spin, postulate, and analyze. He makes me wish I'd payed a little closer attention in civics class! The most mundane political factoid is fascinating when he describes it.
6. Cheering on my guy!

Tell me, what are you looking forward to this evening?

(photo is of the trees I look out to from my studio window)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween.

We had a stressful afternoon following the school parties (lots of fighting, pouting, whining - you know who that was! - and also a whopper of a tummy ache thanks to four frosted cookies and a handful of candy on the bus). There was an announcement made (I won't give away the child in question) stating "I'm not trick or treating." Grandma and Grandpa came to visit for awhile as well to see costumes, and though it's always great to see them it was in the middle of the stress, the whining, and the tummy ache. Sigh.

In our household, Halloween is best enjoyed when it is a simple affair. So we gave the kids some space. And a very simple dinner. And then we encouraged costumes and a promise of meeting up with friends. And, little by little, some smiles emerged as the costumes went on once again. Eyes started twinkling. Pumpkin buckets (and a pillow case for the dude) were grabbed and swung about.

We went outside. There was a chill but nothing that required jackets. A shout, a run down the driveway, and the night, the simple affair that Halloween should be, began.
I sat on the porch (with a cocktail, thank you) and watched the sky turn from lapis to navy to deep midnight blue, framed by the dark swirling branches of neighboring trees. I could hear the shouts of my own kids from down the street, as they greeted friends and were greeted by others. My own humble jack-o-lantern flickered his smile to passers-by, which were actually pretty few in number. After a half an hour, my troops came bounding to my spot on the porch with more shouts and laughter and half-filled sacks of goodies. My littlest, a pink bunny, decided she was tired of the whole deal and decided she'd most like to pass out candy. It was very cute, watching her take up her post so seriously! I would have loved to photograph her, but the porch lighting (and camera flash) couldn't have captured it properly!
When it was all over, it was a consensus - there are too many trappings and commercial junk associated with Halloween. The expectations on our kids are too high as well. If it could only be simple - a cool fall night, a flickering pumpkin, a bowl of candy, and laughing children, - well, what a wonderful change that would be.
----------------------
Edit - I just found this poem in Lauren's backpack. In parentheses are corrections for spelling.

H otid Hawsy (Haunted House)
A t halloween
L ove candey
L ove Halloween
O n Halloewn
W acke (walk)
E at cand
E vrething
N iet (night)

Friday, October 31, 2008

The long afternoon.

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, when your child(ren) are in a constant, slow whine, all...day...long? Yes, you know what I mean. Well, I had one of those yesterday. It was like having teeth pulled. And yet I still managed to witness moments of sweetness - how is a child capable of this? Of being a little wolverine who kicks and hits and is mouthy and then the next moment is caught up in just a breathtaking moment of...sweetness? I think I lost that capability long ago. It seems like when angered, (or when I feel like a wolverine myself) it takes me a looong time to simmer down. To collect myself. To be sweet.

Because it was such a long afternoon yesterday, filled with the aforementioned kicking and hitting and whining, I tried to do some fun things with Grace. Like, bake Christmas cookies while listening to Christmas music (don't worry, I'm not a freak, I know today is Halloween...but I was desperate and these are only destined for the freezer!). Or how about bubbles, and counting ladybugs (that are literally everywhere these days), or what about jumping in the leaves? It made for a very long afternoon, trying to come up with more and more fun stuff. Because frankly, our afternoons are often more mundane, with quiet play and crafting and maybe a little Curious George (book or tv, either is great). Here are a few images of those fleeting moments of sweetness.Yes, even when faced with a four year-old wolverine, I can be convinced to sit in the leaves myself. And be sweet.

Monday, October 27, 2008

From a year ago.

Looking back at the photo archives, this was an image I took one year ago today. We had made glass bead and wire silverware for MOPS and I decided to try my hand at glassware. Not bad, all in all, though they sit in my cupboard without being used. I have since made other sets mostly as special orders from others. I still find the silverware fun to make but I have not fallen in love with the glass. Pretty, yes...but too painstaking! I recently was asked by someone if I'd be interested in doing something like 400 glasses like this - on a pretty tight budget as well. I had to say no...for me to take on that kind of challenge I would really have to love it. And those, well...I don't!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Notes from Sunday.

1. Recharged for the week.
2. Made a dessert which my dad described aptly as "death in a pan" (oreos+butter+cream cheese + powdered sugar+cool whip + vanilla pudding )
3. Had a spatially-challenged cashier who insisted on throwing cans of beans and chicken broth on top of bread and chips. Grrr.
4. Turned a semi-deaf ear to excited household chatter revolving around the new Guitar Hero.
5. Saw what looked like snowflakes whiz past the window.
6. Discussed future product ideas with my mom.
7. Completely spaced the coming deadline for the Daisy troop fundraiser (oops)
8. Enjoyed a house that was completely dusted and vacuumed this weekend.

These are all pretty random...I also managed some awesome hugs, a few kisses, received a flattering compliment, and counted my blessings. What have you had going on today?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Five things I'm loving today.

I'm inspired by Amanda's post on the same subject - here they are, in no particular order!

1. Wearing dresses over jeans. Or leggings, like I did the other day. There is really no mystery why little girls enjoy dresses so much, so naturally this mama should get in on some comfy goodness as well!

2. Having a wholesale order that is just about complete. Buffe, if you happen to read this, it has been so fun working with you! Best of luck at the holiday mart...can't wait to see what next week brings!

3. When the the pigs, chickens, panda, zebra, and baby elephant all get along and play so nicely together.

4. Having a kid who is just as much into these books as I am. Seriously. It's cool watching a kid grow up. Fun when they start to walk, awesome when they start to talk. But when they learn to read? Oh my. Amazing . The conversations we are able to have, like the other day when he asked me "Mom, who is your favorite character in the Harry Potter books? Besides Harry. And Hermione. Or Ron. They just don't count, mom, because everybody loves them. Me? I like Dumbledore. And Dobby. But my friend Jag? Well, he likes Percy the best. Who knows why. So, Mom? Who do you think? " And on and on we go. So totally fun.
5. This face. Specifically, as it lays cuddled up against one of my nice Pottery Barn pillows. She will snuggle up to anything soft...we've even caught her literally hugging stuffed bunnies and kitties.
Tell me, what are you loving today?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Will it float?

If you've ever watched this show, you've seen their silly bit called "Will it Float?" The basic premise is, of course, tossing heavy and randomly weird objects into a pool and seeing whether or not, in fact, they sink or float. Goofy, yet mildly entertaining and frankly always a little surprising to see that, say, a giant tub of olive oil does float after all!

Why am I posting about this? Well, we had a little version of our own "Will it Float?" going this afternoon and it was actually pretty fun! Instead of a pool, we used plastic food containers filled with water, and rather than giant vats of olive oil or bowling balls or other weird and heavy objects, we instead used little plastic bits from toys and various office supplies.

The result? Well, I am happy to report that the marbles from Hungry Hungry Hippo do float after all. As does a pencil, a leaf, and a plastic moose. The sinkers? A rubberband, a crayon (though another one did float...strange!) and erasers. I know we used other things but they escape me right now.

If you're looking for a great time filler or small scale science/prediction experiment to do with kids, try this one out! And if you happen to have a pool and a huge vat of olive oil...well, then, more power to you!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Busy times.

Lots of busyness going on around here lately. School work, scouts, drum lessons, popcorn sales, preschool, not to mention the ongoing battle with at least acting like I keep a decent house (sadly, I don't). And, of course lots of craft work for me as well. Truth be told, there have also been big chunks of time devoted to finishing up Harry Potter number 7 (for the, um, third time? I know, I'm a dork) and watching some fave shows on the trusty dvr.

The craft work has been exciting for me lately, I must admit! An ongoing wholesale order agreement with a fellow crafter in Indiana, as well as a new venture into the baby boutique business! I just sent a haul of stuff to Urbanite Baby in Philadelphia, where some of my new Beacon Hill things will be showcased (alongside lots of other cool, hip baby products!). I'm psyched about this development...really, every day I get to say to myself, this is so much fun. Yes, that means I am exactly where I should be at this moment.

Here, a look at a few of the things that just flew off to Philly...
a selection of bibs
some blankets
burp cloth sets

Hope you're having a good week. Wishing you all a place in your day, your week, your life, where you have the joy of telling yourself...this is so much fun!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A new product.

I've wanted to do button necklaces for so long - I'm happy to have Beacon Hill as an outlet for this kind of product!

Preschool field trip - the fire station!


As soon as we arrived at the station, the alarms rang and both fire trucks headed out! Luckily "Paramedic Frank" was still around to talk to the kids ...

Hopefully this is the only time these guys will ever see the inside of an ambulance, too.




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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Drumroll please...


...introducing my new Etsy shop, Beacon Hill! Look over to the side, you'll see the goods right there. I am so excited for this new (big) development in my presence on Etsy. I have sooo wanted to create goods for children but I have felt like they just don't jive with the rest of my shop. I imagined someone scrolling down the page, perusing each item, seeing a neckwarmer, a knitting pattern, a tote bag, a table runner, and... a bib??? Or a baby blanket? Nah, it didn't fit. So the time was right to start this new venture and let it be devoted solely to handmade goods for the modern child.

My plan is to operate both shops simultaneously, in order to keep the goods and identity focused. Everyone says having 2 shops is really like keeping track of 4! I can kind of see why...it's a lot to plan (ordering materials, keeping up on production, photos, listing, promotion) when two shops are involved. But, I'm up for the challenge. Bring it on!

A special thanks (more like a huge SHOUT OUT) to the AWESOME Jen Stuart of Studio 71 Design, who worked so hard to produce the amazing graphics for Beacon Hill! She totally came through for me and I love, love, love the look. Thanks, Jen!