Inflatable turkey. It's way bigger than you'd think!
We made these card making goodie bags for a Valentine's Day party Delia was having—but then didn't have because I got the norovirus, again! It has only been 6 weeks since my last fight with it. It must have been a different strain. This makes me not super popular with the rest of the population. I feel pretty germ-y. I know my immune system is pretty low right now. And it flared up my back pain again, but I am trying to stay positive. We canceled the party, but a March party has already been planned in its place. My kids are total troopers.
On a better note, I am almost done with the first sleeve of the sweater. I have a huge hole in the armpit but trusted sources assure me this is ok, and stitching it up tight after is not lame. I already have my eye on this vest for a next project. Too hard for me? I'm not sure yet.
Things have been moving pretty slow around here. I'm still making—I sewed a sweater dress last weekend, and a nightgown for an american girl, and I am knitting, and folding a lot of paper, but my buzzzzziness is slow. I am on week 5 of a horribly inflamed sciatica which is keeping me down. The mornings are excruciating for about 10 minutes and then I feel about 80% normal, except sitting is hard—so I am now one of those people toting my own foam wedge around so I can sit on it, and not on the floor, which was, at best, a fire safety hazard in most public places. I am seeing a wonderful acupuncturist for this and feel I am on the med, when I am in a good mood. When I'm not is a good mood, well, you know how that goes.
Anyhoo, the slow deliberateness of paper folding is making me happy, and I am now into folding hearts as many different ways I can find on the internet, which is a lot. I'm not sure why I am so delighted by being able to get the same shape so many different ways, but I am. I think I used this pattern for this heart.
I also just got hip to Brain Pickings, which can be a real time-suck, in a good way.
In knitting—the sweater body is almost done. I keep getting sleeve excitement, only to realize I'm not ready yet. I also have realized I'm not so good at just straight knitting, which I find amusing. Little dropped stitches and weird wraps, I never realized I did this.
We got some some snow! Very exciting. We are gearing up for the nutcracker performances and winter solstice and holiday celebrations and then hopefully a whole lot of nothing but rest—with some knitting, reading, and walk-taking.
Recently, I've been putting on albums and just listening while lying on the rug, like I used to when I was 7-14, back when actually listening to an album was an activity, you know? Not something I did while doing one or two other things. The girls love it. I used to put barbies on the records and would watch them spin while they played. I haven't told them that.
I'm trying to finish up gift wrapping and I have been finding some real gems on pinterest for gift tags to print and use. I just have to limit how much time I take looking, dang it. I can't believe what's out there.
Thank you all for reading, commenting, and just being out there—I hope you all have a mellow and wonderful holiday and see you in 2013.
This is sort of spoiler for my brother, but I'm not sure how often he reads my blog so I'm showing it. Last night I was doing some wrapping and remembered all the science fiction book covers I spotted on flickr a bit back (long story) and as an life-ling science fiction fan, I knew he'd dig this custom paper. I printed out some images onto plain printer paper and there you go. The gifts I wrapped are small enough that one sheet fit perfect—I sure wasn't going to make a trip to the copy shop for over-sized sheets, but if I muster up the energy to do that one day, that would look cool, too. I love wrapping paper from photographs.
Life has been full of hard stuff lately, culminated by this horrible shooting back east and this awful local shooting at a mall here in town. Our family has been dealing with some very challenging health issues (not me) around here and there's a long road ahead—I'm just very sad and tired. Baking cookies has really helped. And wrapping gifts. And talking to friends. I also made this butterkuchen from the December Martha and it is really really good. And for all the sadness out there, this tonglen meditation I link to in this post really helps me, for others' pain and my own.
Making flavored salts has been on my list since I got some matcha salt from mariko years ago. I love it to death. It's so good on eggs, I almost cry a little every time I eat it.
So, I had these jars (a lot of them, for a possible new skincare product, long story) and wanted to use a few of them for gift containers so I can be less self-conscious about how many I have in the garage. This became a thing—trying to figure out what to put in the jars for holiday gift-giving. I didn't want to give sugar scrub this year so the seasoned salts won. I made 4 different kinds, combos that were quick and easy to make that didn't involve drying lemon rind or roasted garlic. They are also tasty and versatile. I used fine sea salt. I was going to use flake sea salt, but wasn't sure if everyone would like the chunkier salt texture. The flavors I made:
For the cumin and coriander salt I toasted whole seeds and ground them. For the other two, I just mixed it in with the salt as is. I used 1 cup salt and about 8 teaspoons total spice/tea, which seems to work great, but I think this ratio is pretty forgiving. I have been using them all on soups, stews, tofu, toast, pasta, rice, fish and eggs. The chiptole & cinnamon would be great in a chocolate bark. Look out!
Here are some reference links I used-
The girls wanted to make their own gifts for friends and family this year all by themselves, so we have been having little gift factory parties. I try to do this with just one child at a time, so they get some one-on-one time and we can more easily thwart disaster.
The middle child wanted to give "something in a jar" and she got hot cocoa mix last year that had both mini-chocolate chips and mini-marshmallows and hasn't stopped talking about it since, so the answer was obvious. She made a master batch of hot cocoa mix:
scooped it into each jar, about half-full, and then topped it off with mini-chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. I tried to get her to add cinnamon or peppermint oil, but she is a purist. To make the actual hot cocoa, I think it's easier to add the whole amount in the jar to almost boiling milk and stir like crazy. The amount above makes 8 cups, but depending how big your jars are, it can vary. I think these jars would make 2 cups of hot cocoa, depending on how sweet you want it.
The circle punch I happen to have fit the lids perfect. Crafty-stars aligned.
I love making things in jars. For more inspiration/ideas I searched "in a jar" in pinterest. It's almost too much. Sometimes I don't even go to pinterest just because I feel too excited/overwhelmed. Like a cat with catnip, minus the napping schedule.
We are now approaching the time of year when I am making gifts I can't show lest I spoil the surprise, and when I am sewing costumes for the Nutcracker the girls are in, so I am fitting this in with everything else, which always seems ill-advised. This year it's a party girl dress. I have already told them it's not ours to keep, so I'm sure I will be sewing a keeper soon.
The super awesome folks at creativebug are showing 5 video workshops for free! All of them are perfect for holiday gift making and wrapping, like this holiday Burlap Bunting Project. I can't stop watching these videos. I loved working with them on my workshops and as people, they just rock, I tell you. I think their production quality is the best out there —I'm so happy they are doing this so you all can see how cool these workshops are to watch. Here are the other free ones:
The whole family is getting a little board game crazy and Catan: Junior has been a great entry point. We all can play, no reading is necessary, and like so many of these euro board games it requires planning ahead and stragety, not so much luck. They play fast, which is great for keeping it fresh. They are so well made and have very pleasing pieces to hold.
I am a huge fan of all of the Usborne books. I went to architecture school and have a lot of those old books still on my shelves, but I wish I had See Inside Famous Buildings back then. The flaps make it fun for the younger girls, but the text is full of really interesting info—great for older kids. There are a few of these books in the flap series and we love them all.
The Fujifilm INSTAX MINI
is soooooo good. It teaches the kids to use film wisely and the look on their face when the photo just pops out is priceless. I need my own for sure.
Tear Up This Book! has been a huge hit. We had to buy 3 copies. It's by the crazy talented Keri Smith (of Wreck this Journal and How to be an Explorer of the World fame) and is FULL of stuff to do. It's creative, wonderful, and clever.
I already wrote about this game, Timeline, but here it is again. I just love it so much. It's addictive and now that we have had it for about 6 months, I can see just how much history they have learned from it. A whole lot, I tell you. "The invention of weapons is always earlier than you think." There is a new version I just got and one on the way.
What is it about these Skip Hop Zoo Lunchies Insulated Lunch Bags? I mean, I do love them, but my girls and all their friends adore them. They also make matching backpacks and roller luggage. They are so cute, well made, and I probably would have bought one when I was in college for myself. There are a lot of animals to choose from (which means Sadie collects them) I'm not saying how many we have in this house.
I hope this list helps. I know it's nice for me to look back and see what toys/books/stuff seemed really worth our money and I love hearing from friends about what their family has really enjoyed and loved over the years. I've linked all these to amazon, but I think most of these things you can buy in your local toy/book/game shop (except maybe the camera?) Portland is full of amazing indie shops—I am so lucky to have them here.
We are getting ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow and I am so happy to have the advent calendar done well before December first.
I got this kit a year or so ago on super-sale at the now closed Paper Zone (sniff) and I have no information on it, sorry. I did a quick online search and came up with nothing. There are some wonderful ready-to-alter items here at Stampington, but not this one exactly. It came as unfinished chipboard and masonite. I had to glue all the little boxes together and make the frame. It was wonderfully time consuming. It took me forever to decide how to decorate it and after being pretty modern/minimal/sparse in holiday decorations in the past, it was nice to really get fussy and Victorian. The girls love it. They have also told me on several occasions the drawers are the perfect size to put Squinkies in. I was thinking more natural items— felt beads, acorns, and wooden-type toys, but you know. They will take turns each day opening a drawer, which works out mathematically, fortunately.
This is the Halloween costume for the middle child. She saw a costume very similar in a catalog and wanted it. I used McCalls 5499, which has quite different lines, but I love this pattern and had enough yardage.
I'm not sure why I already had this crushed stretch velvet, but I did. In three colors, no less. The stretchiness makes it very forgiving. The real fun for me was the head piece. I found super big cotton cording and covered it with fabric and wrapped it with trim. It was like working with huge noodles. Or intestines. In an art installation kind of way.
It's sort of a weird feeling copying janky costumes from catalogs to make for them. These catalogs are not my favorite source material and it's unlikely if it's less expensive to sew them. But because I already had the fabric, it feels like it's free. Especially since I can't remember buying it. This one turned out really pretty and it doesn't itch at all, unlike the catalog ones. The next one I am finishing is a Movie Star costume, also copied from a costume catalog, which is highly questionable and definitely tacky. But whatever. It's been fun to make, too. I need to finish the fur stole, which again, is probably cheaper to buy. We did purchase one costume this year, for the 5 year old— cheerleader outfit. It has sequins, so, you know, it's an extra fancy cheerleader outfit. I got blank stares when I asked "who wants to be a maid?!"
Unrelated, (but in a way related to everything) I just read this quote from a book I am loving.
". . . once you begin to respect what you do —not in an egocentric way, but with appreciation and self-worth—then any activity becomes meaningful. Life is to be respected, appreciated, and lived full—instead of chastised or rushed through.
—Running with the Mind of Meditation, Lesson for Training The Body and Mind, by Sakyong Mipham
This week is crazy! I was able to bake a few cookies over the last few weeks, but nothing like what I usually do. Friends and family used to getting cookies from me will be getting perfume oils instead. I have been making hand-blended organic perfume oil for a bit now and I have some really nice scents to give out. So far, they have been very well received—along with some oils that help with headaches, you roll it on at the base of your neck.
Over the weekend I made marshmallows and dipped them in chocolate and then either peppermint pieces or walnuts with cinnamon and sugar. I didn't make these last year and I missed them.
I'm itching to make the almond cake we make for Winter Solstice every year and then I'm gonna wrap like a mad woman. I had to take my serger in. It broke yesterday, 3 hours before I was supposed to have 3 Nutcracker dresses done (we are in the middle of 10 shows, the girls have 6 left to do) so I have lost my sewing privileges for 10 days while it's being repaired and I think this is a good thing. I was horrified at first, but if the only way to slow me down is to take my machine away, so be it.
Happy Holidays you all and see you in 2012! Be safe and sort of good!
I am so happy I finally made an advent calendar for the kids. This was a project that had a lot of parameters—I had to use what I could find in my craft room (I bought a few things), and wanted it to be fun, inexpensive, not involve sugar (and it involved sugar), and not involve small toys. I love small toys, but I feel like our house is full of small toys. Over the years, we have accumulated so many stocking stuffer type small toys, we have drawers of them. I kind of have nightmares about all the small toys we have, so I knew I didn't want to add to that.
What I ended up using was small envelopes (used for gift enclosures/business cards. I have a ton of these I use for thank yous and for items I sell) and then I had Pete get some cool stickers downtown at Powells— they have a great selection. I cut them up and stuffed them in the envelopes. I also added gold chocolate coins then used my 1" hole punch to punch out numbers and my big splurge was the $7.50 I spent on the digital collage sheets, which I printed and then glued on the envelopes. I love using these sheets and the price is totally worth it to me to have repeated use of these images for all sorts of craft projects. I added some twine and 24 small clothespins (which were hard to find around the house, but I managed)
Okay, then. The girls will have to take turns opening these every 3 days. It will work out. I hope to make a different one next year, it was really fun and felt right. It felt like a good project, not like a "I have to make this and it stopped being fun 20 minutes ago" project.
in other happy news:
I was excited to buy these new cards from Eireann and received them last week, they are even better in person. (Don't look, Grammie) I am a huge fan of Eireann's watercolors and have been using her cards and looking at her calendar every month all year. She has a new one this year, too. And in this lovely post she provides a discount code good for a few more days.
Over the years, I have sewn very few things for my husband. And now that I think of it, I'm pretty sure the only things I have sewn are costumes. And not very many from scratch, mostly altered existing clothes. This dashing tunic is sewn from Simplicity 3519. We were looking for a piece that would work in plays/living history and dress-up and would span the most centuries. You can do a lot with this tunic. I also thought it would be great to wear for solstice. You know, us ladies in the house get pretty decked-out in finery and dad is just sportin' his normal look—it didn't seem right.
So, this came together quite well. I did have to make it harder by using what I had on hand—a top sheet. But it was jersey, and while this makes it quite soft, it was like sewing with pancake batter. The belt is his and the sword is my brother's, of course. We actually had 3 swords to choose from for this photo, which I think is pretty impressive considering we have no boys and Pete has never been a sword type of guy.
He reminded the girls several time this was not his Halloween costume. He says he's going as Jim Rockford. From the Rockford Files. No one will know who that is and even if they do, his outfit is so un-notable that the whole thing is perplexing, so I am choosing to ignore this whole topic when it comes up. Like last year when when threatened to go as Dorf.
I was remembering his past costumes (we have always ran with a Halloween lovin' crowd): A pirate (back in 1991 before they were everywhere) Ed Wood, Evil Knievel, Robbie Knievel (Evil's often injured son, so it was the same costume, only with blood and a cast) Magnum P.I., Carlos Santana (in casual day wear) I'm trying to think of others and they escape me. Oh, a samurai that ended up looking like Freddie Mercury, which was not good.
*And the oils are shipping! Thank you again for all your support. I am still mixing and bottling and working on that video.
We had a lovely time at the 83rd Scandinavian Midsummer Festival this last weekend. The rock star parking we were blessed with made it actually possible. It was a great way to celebrate summer solstice and Sadie, in particular, was riveted by the folk dancing. I suspect classes will be requested soon. Her Kirsten doll came with us (the Swedish American Girl who is retired now, sadly) and was recognized by everyone which was pretty cute. I fell in love with the Sami jewelry by Nomadic Artisty. I have one Sami bracelet that was given to me by Pete a few years ago—but want another in the worst way.
Vernal Equinox is this weekend and it feels like it could snow around here. It's not that cold really, but you know what they say in Portland—it's a wet type of cold. We still plan to celebrate the first day of spring as usual but this might be putting on rain jackets and boots and visiting the few daffodils we have blooming before running inside for hot cocoa.
I had a bee in my bonnet to make small sandwich cookies ala Two Tarts, an amazing cookie shop here in Portland specializing in tiny cookies to die for. I used the basic sugar cookie recipe from The Craft of Baking in both plain and chocolate and then made a batch of cream cheese frosting and a batch of chocolate frosting (super easy, chocolate ganache melted and added to the cream cheese frosting) and they are excellent and gave me a terrible sugar headache.
I started these by myself, the cookie dough and the cutting that is, but then a little creature wanted to help with the frosting and sandwich-making part. I have been doing some fussy baking without them and have stopped feeling guilty about it because sometimes I just want to bake and have it turn out perfect and not be interrupted by the craziness—running with kittens, bathroom emergencies, lost socks, falls and bumps, imperative ballet outfit changes, lost toys, all the things that come up the second I try to focus on anything. Especially if it involves heat and a timer. It's all good if I know they are going to help me, my expectations are wildly different and I just let them have at it, but sometimes I need to just have a project be my thing.
The middle child, the one most interested in cooking, snuck into the kitchen early and was excited to find me finishing these. She frosted, and made a bit of a mess, pressed too hard on the cookies, put the tops on wrong side up, and was so happy, proud, and she thought it was so clever that we could make two frostings out of one batch. She was having so much fun with everyone else asleep while she was doing her secret cookie fairy work. I let my lofty goals go—I had visions of dainty picture-perfect delicate cookie sandwiches and these, while still quite sweet, have a more down to earth look.
She finished up, and I was so happy I bit my tongue about 10 times to not mention various messy/crazy bits and then she smiled and asked if we were done. Yup. Are you going to photograph them, she asked hopefully? Yup, they are beautiful.
We had some fun (and a little frustration) making some decoupage items. We were into a long Victorian England and Charles Dickens theme before and after Christmas and made these Victorian craft inspired decoupage boxes and frames using unfinished wood items from the craft shop, mod podge, and some excellent ephemera sheets from Digital Collage Sheets on etsy. I really like this shop. There are so many shops out there selling digital scrapbook/collage sheets, but I seem to find exactly what I need here. This is my favorite one right now.
I printed out quite a few of these and then we all cut them out and adhered them to the wood with the mod podge, which was okay, but it was hard for the girls to get them to stick. They were on to other things before there was total coverage. I made the heart frame, and I covered the whole piece, gosh dangit. It took a long time! I glued some of the stubborn hang-y off bits afterward with a glue stick and that helped. They love them. They do look and feel really nice.
I was remembering the kids quotation cards I made a bit back and made some Valentine's Day versions, although this one is a quote from me. But it could be from them. I want to ask them about love and then make cards with what they say. Simple, but so powerful! I am always struck when I just use their words, not their drawings, to make cards.
I just found these. I made them a few years ago. I love finding old crafts and thinking, "wow, cool! I can't believe I made these!" which is usually what I think. I just have them up hanging from nails around the house, but I originally made them for a feather tree. Yes, I made a feather tree. This was before kids.
I made a few batches of fudge when I ran out of cookies (and vanilla and spice mix) for the holidays and was once again amazed by just how delicious it is. And it's no fail fudge. For real. This kind was made with a mix of milk and dark chocolate chips, chopped walnuts and a little instant espresso powder. The basic recipe is here and the adorable stickers are from the Small Object. She is out of stock, but it looks like amazon has them. I cut an 8"x 8" pan full into eight bars and wrapped them in parchment paper, and then used the fancy masking tape and stickers. Warning, nothing seems to stick well to the parchment paper, so there was a little swearing here, but they seemed to behave fine in the end. For storage, I just kept them in the fridge, ready to hand out as needed.
I think some new batches of this would be wonderful for Valentine's Day, maybe with a little cayenne pepper. I was going to try caramels, but I just ruined another pot trying to make some. I am really cursed with caramels. I can make caramel sauce just fine, but not the candies. Not yet anyway. I just can't face ruining another pot again. But homemade caramels just make me swoon, especially the fancy ones with the salt. The ones that are like $10 a bag. Grumble, grumble.
I try to see a few movies in the theater during the holidays, which feels crazy and indulgent now with the kids. Mom (Grammie) and I saw The King's Speech the day after Christmas and loved it. It was so well done.
Pete and I saw True Grit, and I also loved it and was very inspired by the costumes (I have been on a Deadwood kick for a bit) which were so lovely and stoic, even if Mattie's braids stay unbelievably tidy during all the overnight camping, vigorous horse rides, and gunfire.
I haven't seen Black Swan yet. I'm not sure I'm going to see it in the theater. Too much? I'm a wuss. I might only be able to hang with it on a small screen.
For books, I am almost done with The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel, which has been the perfect escape book for me these last 2 weeks in that fabulous Brontë/gothic mystery way. A hidden twin! A fire! Ghosts!
The pigs in blankets made by miss emily were scrumptious. That photo kills me, not just because of her stellar outfit but also how funny these look on the plate.
We adults saw some movies (in the theater!) and I read. I tried to sit down and was mildly successful. I got a migraine, but oddly, the timing was okay and it made me take a rest. Oh, and I accidentally erased last year's worth of photos from iphoto. That would be 16,000. Yep. That's what happens when you empty the trash in iphoto, even after you get the warning. So, that I think was the migraine instigator. I have tried some recovery software with no luck, so now I am just looking on my computer for whatever I had pulled out of iphoto and am trying not to think about it too much. We are still cleaning up the house. And I'm only eating fruit now when I want sugar, 'cause dang, I can really tell I've had too much these two weeks. I have a gazillion things to mention soonish—new sewing books, movies, upcoming sewing projects, cooking adventures.
I sure hope everyone had a relaxing and fun holiday and happy 2011! The 3 girls did make it to midnight on New Year's Eve, we were both alarmed and impressed.
Blair was in town for Little Winter (it was so fun meeting all the amazing artists at this show!) and so I had extra motivation to get these together early as a little gifty for her and Melissa. I don't have them all done yet, but at least I got two sets made.
I have been consciously doing a little less around here lately. Taking it a bit slower and just asking myself if I really want to cook/bake as much as I do. Sometimes I feel like it's all I do. It tends to get a little crazy in the kitchen from now until the end of the year, mostly because I make an insane amount of cookies to give away and have been doing this for years. I make them and freeze them and it's fun, but with each additional child, it's become harder to have fun with it, so this year I am trying to do it differently. Usually I have been making and freezing dough for a few weeks now, and this year I haven't even started. Not to sound all Stuart Smalley but I am totally okay with this, it feels good.
I am still going to bake, because it is fun in small amounts, just not when I feel like a crazy cookie robot. I think this time bar cookies are going to be making a strong appearance, as are brittle and fudge, and for some friends, this little gift set of vanilla extract and spice mix will be perfect for them to use before the holiday craziness and to make them happy while baking. It seems a shame to wait to give these out when it seems most useful to have them now. I am still collecting bottles and jars for these.
I was thrilled with the project, Plaster Bones, again from the Martha magazine pages, and can't wait to do more with newspaper and plaster wrap. It was so fun and so easy! The direcitons are a bit vague, but really, it's pretty much just make a plaster bone by, um making a plaster bone. We rolled up newspaper tight into a tube. Added a bit of masking tape. Then made the ends by wadding up newspaper into a sort of heart shape, added a bit more tape, and then wrapped it all with the wet plaster wrap, which is the coolest material. I got a big roll (Activa Rigid Wrap) at Michaels with a 40% off coupon from the newspaper, so the whole project cost $4.99 and I have a ton of plaster wrap left for more projects.
The girls loved it. I pre-made some of the bones for them and they made some—they all loved the plaster wrapping part and smoothing it on. These took two days to be completely dry. They are so Flintstones funny, we can't stop playing with them. The whacking potential is tempting and dangerous, just a warning.
Unrelated: I have a new fall banner and some fresh links, too.
We have been up to a lot of Halloween badness around here.
I had been eyeing these meringue bones in an older October Martha issue. I pull all my back Martha's each month. I have a ton to look through when I get a chance. It's amazing how much I find that I had forgotten about, or how much more is suitable to my life now. (Unlike when I was in my early 20s reading the magazine with no house, kids, a garden, or a dining table. You know what I mean.) Anyhoo, I had a feeling these would be fun to make and tasty to eat (I added vanila extract) and they are. But I don't recommend eating 3 in a row unless you want a fierce sugar headache. I was thinking it woud be fun to make these into an Eton Mess dessert with crushed red berrires to look like blood and bones coming out.
These are not to be confused with her very similar marshmallow bones, a recipe I also found, and then wondered if I was having a senior moment or was experiencing a split duality in time a space. I was thinking, I could have sworn they were meringue, but now they seem to be marshmallow, my brain hurts—wait there are two recipes! The meringue won out. And now I have 6 egg yolks to deal with. Did someone say lemon curd? Or maybe pudding.
My newly turned 8 year old had a lovely birthday, complete with a new pogo stick, a fishing pole, and comics. She requested this dress a bit back and I finished it a few weeks ago. She wanted me to sew an "acting dress" for her and this was the pattern she decided on that was the most like her sketch. The sleeves were the most important part. I used McCalls 6141 and she chose the colors. I pushed her a bit to try and move away from pink, but she insisted, as she should, and I figure I can make one for myself if I want a different color, you know?
This pose was 100% her. She just went into character. It killed me. Especially seeing her 5 minutes later at the breakfast table, reading comics and eating her peanutbutter toast still dressed up—veil and all.
After she tried it on she declared it her Guinevere Dress and asked if she could be Queen Guinevere for Halloween. Be still my beating heart.
Here's some additional info:
We are prepared to have a good time this weekend celebrating our country's Independence Day. We always have a pretty big family shindig dig up at my aunt and uncle's house near Mt. Hood. There are always many animals on hand, lots of great food, explosives of all sorts, and I heard a rumor of an archery contest this year—complete with prizes. We are very excited.
These printable clip art images are available over at Martha's site—the flags are going into cupcakes. The Red, White and Blue Desserts she has are making me nutty. What to choose? Maybe this? Let's hope my nails last through the weekend.
Have a safe holiday and don't blow off a finger! And thanks so much for the sweet feedback on the homemade gift for Liddy!
It's Easter Bonnet time again. I'm not sure if the girls will get new ones this year, the pink linen ones from last year are holding up great. This sewing pattern (it's a PDF now, so you can download it and start sewing today!) is available for a special PDF price of $8 USD. I was able to lower the price because not mailing a paper pattern saves quite a bit in the long run. This pattern comes in 3 sizes —adult, child, and baby.
I love this pattern. It's like an old friend to me now, I have made so many bonnets from it with so many variations. You can make them simple and modest or dress them up with trims, laces, ribbons, silk flowers—you name it. I also make it without the brim, so it fits more like a cap. I made one here in red wool felt long ago as a winter bonnet.
I was digging though my archives to get some ideas for this week and found more Easter items:
The girls and I were in Chinatown a few weeks back having Dim Sum with Grammie and wandered into this little shop and found a book of paper cuts. There are 12, loose, ready to hang—all of Tigers, to celebrate the Year of the Tiger. They are just lovely.
I can't find any just like this online, but there are some nice ones here.
It was a big weekend around here, with Valentine's' Day, the Chinese New Year, Oregon's 151st b-day, and the Olympics. It was a crazy mixed up stew of activities in our house. The Olympics opening ceremonies were crazy! I cried when k.d. lang sang—I just love her voice so much, and that song always makes me cry.
Every Valentine's Day I seem to go back though my blog. And then I mention it in the post, and then I do it again—so it starts to become like a mirror reflecting a mirror reflecting a mirror. But why change now?
Do you have a handmade card to give your sweetheart? If not, may I direct your attention to the heart in eMailrorder #8 ? It's a super easy paper-cut (directions included) and would frame up very nicely.
Some previous Valentine's Day fun-
I'm not sure what I have in store this year except for I have an idea involving fake fur, wooden boxes, a map and chocolates (and possibly heart-shaped lockets) for the girls.
I was tipped to this free Valentine all ready to print out over at Ruffled. So cute! And I must make these felt fortune cookies—I remember when they came out. Perfect for both Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year. There are great tips in the comments.
They worked like charm. I used the recipe I linked to in the last post. These are peppermint marshmallows dipped in semi-sweet chocolate. They are oddly refreshing!
A few things:
I was looking back through my holiday archives (woefully incomplete, random, and missing a ton of stuff which is categorized elsewhere) and pulled some of my favorite holiday projects for my own inspiration.
I think I will definitely have to make homemade marshmallows again. Actually, I want to make all of these again.
Oh! And before I forget, we saw The Fantastic Mr. Fox and loved it.
And I have a new banner.
I went to a cookie party last weekend and these cookies are what I brought. I have mentioned them before, they are the Apricot Crumbles. They are sick with love. A ton of butter and apricot jam with ginger added. The only change I made was to decrease the butter by about 3 tablespoons and double (or even triple) the amount of fresh ginger. I love them so very very much, I only make them about once a year.
The cookie party was a wonderful event because it's just for consuming cookies on the premises. Of course there is extra to take home, but the no-pressure quality of this is genius. This pie was in attendance and I can't say enough good things about it. Really.
The tree went up last weekend and we decorated. It was an equal balance of kids helping and Mama pulling rank and relegating certain holiday items to the play area downstairs. The girls decorated the tree all by themselves (only 3 broken glass balls) and we taller humans finished up on the out-of-reach areas.
A simple mantel.
Here's a better shot of the room and you can see the penny rug above the mantel.
Okay, the holidays are heating up around here. I feel like I am doing a crazy two-step dance of making homemade gifts and having fun holiday activities (going to plays, seeing lights, outdoor events, etc.) while not over-scheduling. I actually think that I have cleared our social obligations/events after this week completely. I feel so good about it getting less busy before Christmas/Solstice than more busy. We shall see if this can be maintained. I am my own worst enemy here.
Thank you all so much for coming out to the book signing and saying hi. We had a blast. I will try to upload some photos soon, and if you all do, let me know—
I had forgotten long ago that I posted this free Holiday Funtime Garland project—you can print out several copies and make your own. I use to have a PDF for this, but I don't know where it is (long story) so here it is on flickr, just hit "all sizes" and download and print the big one.
Have fun! (And please just keep this for personal use, thanks.)
Some very important unrelated links:
May Day was always one of my favorite holidays when I was little. I really did gather posies and leave them on our neighbor's steps and ring the bell—and run off, just like I read about in old timey story books. I am remembering now I always picked the flowers from not my garden, but from theirs. Oops. They were nice enough not to mention that to me later.
The girls are pretty into flowers right now, too. They love going to nurseries and picking out flowers and planting them at home in little pots. Then we read the care cards and memorize the names of the flowers and learn more. It's really sweet. Sadie loves marigolds, Delia likes impatiens, and Liddy likes the dirt (and she's partial to tulips.)
I was telling them about floriography, the meaning of flowers, and got all excited about researching this more. I found a few books online and then, after trying to find a copy of this book here locally I— had a copy already, tucked away, given to me from a friend over 12 years ago. I love that kind of stuff. Also, I didn't realize there are flowers associated with one's actual birthday, not just a flower for a birth month. Very cool.
So, now we are all into flower crafts around here. Perfect timing for May Day. And I was super excited to learn that there will be a may pole at the fairy festival which is tomorrow and boy are we excited! I'm wondering if I should also dress up. I may, not sure. I mean, I think I should just embrace my inner costume nerd and go for it. But then, do I have to make adult sized wings? Oh—so much to consider and so little time.
Sort of related-Sweet Wares, (the excellent bakery supply shop from the owners of Baker and Spice) is having an opening event this weekend, Saturday and Sunday. They sure are nice and they have a great selection of fancy decorations (in bulk!) perfect for fairy sized cupcakes which beg to be adorned in colored sugar sprinkles.
And, since it's May 1st, a new theme is set over at Tie One On.
Easter is approaching and the girls' heads continue to grow, which is a good thing, I know. So, new Easter bonnets are in order. I am using my handy bonnet pattern (conveniently displayed above) which is also for sale. This pattern comes with 3 sizes—baby, child, and adult. Last year I also made a variation without the brim, as shown here, and was thrilled with the storybook cuteness of it. You can see more bonnets made up from this pattern in the flickr mailorder group.
I think for Easter this year a neutral linen would be lovely for the bonnets, with a sweet calico lining. Then we can wear them when we make our butter. Okay, really, no one in the house digs the butter making as much as I do, but they sure eat it up with no complaints. I think I need to try the jar method, so they can actually get into it more.
I made this paper cut for a special birthday girl earlier this month. Those January b-days are so sneaky.
It's monday and I need more of the weekend. I have a ton of projects on deck—some involving fake fur. What the?
Even more exciting, I am 99.9% done with eMailorder #9! It will be available very soon as a PDF download to print and sew at home and there's even a special video tutorial companion to it. Someone take my Flip away from me. Woot!
During the Arctic Blast 2008 we made some ornaments to give away as gifts. They were super easy and fun. Nothing better than shrinking plastic in the oven.
We actually made these in a crazy way. I didn't have sand paper (which I needed for the matte finish) and the girls wanted to use media other than colored pencil on the sheets (which is what works best to my knowledge) so I had them draw/paint/pastel draw on regular paper, scanned that, and then printed it onto the shrink film for ink jet printers which is what I had on hand in the first place-no sanding required. How's that for taking the long road? But they look great.
Here's an update on the CPSC testing handmade toys issue. Looks like there are some tentatively approved exemptions, which is awesome.
I love this ornament. I think it came from Macy's last year, part of the Martha line, I think. Pete got it for me, so I don't know much. It's become very important to Delia, who calls it The Tomten, which is her night time alter ego.
This book is behind it all. It's The Tomten, one of our all time family favorites. It's a thin paperback copy, I'd love to find a hardbound version. It's a quiet story about a little bearded troll type man who walks the farm after midnight. Delia is our night owl, like her father, so she becomes the Tomten late at night. A Tomten costume is what she has requested from Sadie as her handmade solstice gift—which is so sweet and mildly stressful for me. Didn't we just do Halloween? But, I have to help with this, because she wants a white beard. For real. I saw this and am in awe. Now I have to start the pine cone smock. Wow.
The movers are coming tomorrow, so why not rubber stamp? I saw these stamps in the Martha Stewart Craft section at Michaels and had to buy them immediately. And then I had to stamp with them immediately. I think my favorite is this stamped in all black, but this is pretty, too.
I tried to find the stamps online—but it looks like not everything at Michales is available on the Martha Stewart Crafts website. I am loving a very large amount of what I see there.
Okay, we are really moving now so will be away for a bit packing and unpacking (she said).
Another list of random items:
-Find your name in Elvish. Funny. (Thank you, Amy Sly.) I was so excited to learn Amy's elvish name. I was all "I want the link to that!" Yeah, so, I went and, um, my name was the same. Because my name is also Amy.
-The band suggestions in the last post are amazing. Thank you. I hope to list them all in an upcoming post, with links. I was directed to this a few weeks back and then again recently. It's an amazing Fleet Foxes cover on YouTube. So good. I love this one equally as much.
-Where did I see this? Not sure, but it's genius. The Noodle Soup Oracle. Now, that would be a good band name, for real.
This amazing, peculiar, magical fairy-child turned 4 last week. I know nothing about middle children—both Pete and I had only one older sibling. Not that a child is only defined by her birth order, but she is a bit of a mystery to me, in the best way. She has a very sophisticated grasp of potty humor, can draw like no other, and is totally the smoother in the family—while being the most demanding at the same time. There is no one like her.
I made her a make-up bag. This fabric has been in my stash forever. I added some cosmetic pads, a variety of lip balms, some fingernail bling, tissues, a comb, and fanciful barrettes and other items to make her feel extra special. Her older sister took it in stride, but hers is coming very soon, before Christmas, because it was more popular than I realized. This was perfect for her because Delia is a girly-girl, which makes the WWF style smack-downs with her sister even more comical. The little party last week was a hit and she is one lucky girl (all my girls are) as seen by the gifts from melissa and emily along with everyone else.
Okay, we are getting our new house keys today! I am so excited. Next week is going to be insane. Packing, packing, and more packing. I guess I really have to face it now because I have been in denial. The girls' room is being painted very light pink tomorrow. Not by me, thank you very much.
I was super excited to see the winterscape stamp set from yellow owl workshop is available—and now I have it. As you recall, I had a freaky-freak-out over the first set and have been waiting for the new one with bated breath. I was trying, repeatedly, to make a card/tag/something with these before the small hands got to them, but I was too slow. After the 4th effort was smudged, I figured the photo of just the stamps would have to suffice for this blog post, but I plan on making holiday tags and whatnot with these soon.
other items of interest:
-Velocity Art and Design now has a blog. You know this shop, they have been around forever, really they are arbiters of all that is cool online. They wrote a super sweet post about me. (Blush.) John was one of my very first supporters. So cool to see how much has grown for his wonderful shop and their amazing new(ish) Seattle digs, it seems I can't pick up a magazine without seeing Velocity mentioned. Please check out the Velocity blog and shop at the cool store, it's owned by some very good peeps.
-The newest issue of mix tape #6 arrived and I love it. It's the only zine I get now and just holding it in my hands makes me so happy.
-I updated my lists there on the side, the blogs and the happiness items. And my banner is new. I mention this only because I know so many people (like me) read blogs through Bloglines or something similar, so wouldn't notice the updates. So I thought I'd mention it. So I am mentioning it right now. There. It has been mentioned.
Shadow puppet love. These are perfect for the upcoming All Hallows Eve. They are from Orange Moon Toys. They have several different styles, I love them all. I also am busting out my beloved set from Owly Shadow Puppets which I have hidden away from the kids because I get so freaky about them. I think they are perfect to display for the holidays, not just to use as puppets, you know?
Here's some more shadow puppet findings:
On the list today—these are so flippin' cute! I really want to make them. I wish I had seen these a few days ago. I need to remember to check Martha's site earlier then 48 hours before each holiday.
I am in love with these little fans. It's a printable PDF project so I know I can do this with the girls in time for our family party. I'm printing them as I type this.
Happy 4th you all! I'm gonna go blow stuff up with my brother and cousins tomorrow. Some things never change. Our founding fathers would be proud.
Edit: I just tried to make the fans and after a little swearing (the girls are still in bed) I decided to print two sheets per fan instead of trying to stretch (or tear) one into a circle. You will know exactly what I mean if you try this. Much better.
Here's mom (grammie) when she was about 22 hitting a parked car with a baseball bat. There is a story here, I am sure. Something about car paint being impossible to chip? I think it was for a newspaper story she was writing. I don't quite remember, but I think too many details might wreck how awesome this image is. This is before she has us kids, maybe even before she was married by a year or so.
And Grandma with her twin boys at age 22. My Mom's Mom. These two women are huge in my life. Grandma passed away several years ago, but not a day goes by that I don't think of her. Both women larger than life, both journalists—brilliant woman with strong personalities, huge hearts, and senses of humor. I asked my Mom once what she felt was one of Grandma's biggest strengths as a mother and she said it was her ability to love and support her children without judgment, especially of my Mom's parenting. I smiled when she said this, because this is how I feel about my Mom now—100% supportive of what I do with my girls and the choices I make for my family. Or at least if she's not, she's a master of keeping it to herself. Ha! I could write forever about these two women and how much they mean to me. I should stop now before I get completely teared up. Sniff. Seeing my Mom with my girls now is pure magic, I wish I could record every minute of it. We are all so lucky.
Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there—put your feet up if you can.