Wednesday, April 29, 2009
But, some other things have needed my attention lately. Some are minor and inconsequential (but nonetheless, demanding that I take action) and other things are of much significance and require all my energy, focus, and time.
I'm finding it a little challenging to be fully present in my daily life and then not spend too much of my day writing about our day. Obviously, real life takes precedence over blog life, but I can't ignore the desire to document some of our life with words and pictures too. But, I don't want blogging to overshadow actually living the life I blog about living. Ugh! I know I'm rambling. I hope that makes as much sense in print as it does in my head. Anyway, it's a tough balance to strike (for me, that is).
Anyway, I plan to be gone from this little space for a few more days at least. Then, hopefully, return fresh and clear-headed. :)
Saturday, April 25, 2009
They were really easy. Just some scrapbook paper, corkboard, Mod Podge, and 1/8" ribbon to go around the edges (I originally painted the edges a matching green paint, but I thought it looked sloppy, so I glued ribbon over the paint instead). The most time-consuming part was getting the ribbon around them. I had to glue one side at a time and let each side dry (and I'm not patient enough to hold the ribbon to the cork, so I had to rig a contraption to hold it for me so I could go do something productive while it dried) before continuing around the corner to the next side.
I finished them off by painting several layers of Mod Podge over the top and sides, to protect the decorative paper from becoming soggy from water rings. Here is one of my coasters at work :) :
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Now that I believe we have safely passed the point of getting a major snowstorm, I thought it was time to pack away my favorite winter print until next autumn. I was immediately drawn to this piece of work the first time I saw it: in the hands of a woman in front of me in line at Michael's. Of course, when I went back for one for myself, they were sold out. So I ordered it online. The title of it is "Solitude," by David Winston. It evokes that feeling of absolute stillness, when you go for a winter walk and the air is eerily quiet and peaceful, especially during or right after a snowfall. I love it paired with my favorite old wood barn frame, with the black hinges. I've enjoyed my little dose of serenity all winter and early spring, but now it's time to freshen things up.
I've put away the pinecones and other heavier, winter decorations. I've brought out of hiding, some light and airy pieces. Including this framed print by Ruth Silverman called "A Round Bed"
To me, nothing symbolizes Spring and new life better than a bird's nest. Truly, nests are works of art. I marvel at what those little feathered friends of ours can craft (and without hands, no less!). Amazing. I was going to share a link to a blog I recently viewed that showed some up-close photos of some nests they discovered (the intricate details of these nests were unbelievable...they looked like they were made by humans--almost too perfect to be real! Sadly, I cannot find the blog at the moment).
Along with the artwork changes, I'm exchanging our fleece throws for cotton and sewing some new covers for our throw pillows as well. I feel so ready to say goodbye to winter for a while. Although, admittedly, summer is my least favorite season. I'm usually craving "sweater weather" by early August! For now, however, I say bring on the warmth, sandals, fresh berries, the smell of freshly cut grass, window boxes overflowing with cheery flowers, and all the other many pearls of Spring and Summer!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
So, happy Earth Day 2009! We spent the day doing back-to-nature stuff. Namely, trying to beautify that plot of dirt we call our garden. Sadly, it has always looked like it suffers from mange. Plants scattered here and there, with ugly patches of rock/dead leaf/weedy dirt in between. Not a pretty sight. I've always had aspirations to make it look better, but no matter what I've tried (and I've spent more money and sweat and time than I care to recall), the garden looks rather pathetic.
In fact, because she is currently obsessed with the life cycle of trees, I bought her this book for Earth Day:
This one is another favorite on the same subject:
And because you can never have too many books about dead and decaying trees:
So, we had a good day around here. Busy, but well-spent. Hope you all did too. Off to watch Lost (they say it's a "special" Lost. Hope it's not all a lot of hype! Because they never do that, do they? ;) ).
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The supplies are simple: vinegar, oil, and food coloring (well, and hard-boiled eggs, of course). I followed the instructions from this website. And it wouldn't be complete without step-by-step pictures, would it?
Aren't they pretty? I was tempted to stop at this point, for fear we might ruin them! :)
Once Rascal woke up, he was drawn to them like a magnet, making my photography session quick and painful ;)
A-ha! We have contact!
Needless to say, we will be eating these eggs sooner rather than later, as they all suffered some major damage after being investigated by Rascal (no name ever seemed more fitting!).
I think they turned out pretty cool. I think it would be really neat to add this technique to Easter egg decorating next year (I'm thinking some pinks, purples, yellows, greens). If you decide to try this yourself, make sure you follow the instructions on the website to create "whirlpools" in the cup before dunking your egg. This whirling, swirling action is what makes your egg look "earth-like" rather than an all-blue egg that was dipped in green. Found that one out through first-hand experience (patience is a toughie with 3 year olds!).
Monday, April 20, 2009
I am thinking...since our out-of-town family is leaving today, it's time to get back into our normal routine. While it's fun to have company (the kids loved having a constant playmate or audience, as the case often was), it's nice to get back to the familiar rhythm.
I am thankful for...my daughter's quick recovery from an illness over the weekend. She had a fever of 104, which always scares me (even though, rationally, I know it's her body working to fight off infection). But I concentrated on praying feverishly (no pun intended :) ), keeping her comfortable, and letting it run its course. The next day she was much improved. Thank you, Lord.
From the kitchen...an easy dinner of chicken salad sandwiches, tomato soup, pasta salad. Maybe, if there's time, some freshly baked zucchini bread as a snack this afternoon.
I am wearing...navy blue yoga pants with matching hoodie, black tank top, hair up in a ponytail.
I am creating...lots of fun little pretties: some sewing, some paper crafting, some painting. Maybe something worth showing in this space...we'll see.
I am going...to make a concerted effort to get the children outside every single day this week. I guess that means getting out of my pajamas every morning though, doesn't it? :)
I am hoping...to get all the Easter stuff packed away, as I never did get around to that last week.
I am hearing...Roo jingling some toy keys for Rascal to reach for; the dishwasher running; and "On the Sunny Side of the Street" playing on the radio. That song makes me smile.
I am praying...for my dad's business to pick up (he's been struggling for the past few years, but it's continuing to spiral downward). I'm also praying my continual prayer for health, hope, and happiness for my family and friends.
Be sure to swing by Peggy's place for the links to all those taking part in the Daybook Society!
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Today was a wonderfully dreary, cold, wet day! The kind of day that makes me want to hole up in the craft room and create. So, that's just what I did! I made myself a cup of cocoa, threw on some extra layers (the windows in here provide no insulation from the cold at all), put on some music, closed the door (one of the key components around here), and got to work. Pure bliss, I tell ya.
After an extremely rough night with our youngest, I felt the need to recharge. Sometimes that means sleep, but today that meant doing something crafty. So I puttered, experimented, and played while the rest of the family played downstairs.
There is something about the rain that makes me just itch to sew or craft. I have always loved the rain. Maybe it's because we don't see much of it around here. Growing up, we spent summers back East, where it is not uncommon to see consecutive days of rain. I remember my Mom and I were the only ones not grumbling or complaining about the gray, wet days. Together, she and I reveled in the rainy days. Then, when the storms passed, we would go out walking: splashing in puddles and breathing in the smell of freshly scrubbed earth!
We had snow mixed with rain ALL day today. It was glorious! I'm almost a little sad that tomorrow is supposed to be warm and sunny. Oh, which reminds me, the rain is where I found my snippet of sunshine today, where's yours?
Friday, April 17, 2009
Our Nest is a wonderful poem turned storybook. The folk-artsy illustrations are saturated with color. I'll admit I have a soft spot for books that rhyme. Rhythmic, rhyming text just ties books up in a nice, tidy package for me. I don't know why, but I'm drawn to them. I'm also drawn to books that bring the story full-circle, and this one does just that. The first time I read this one, I had checked it out from the library. After that first read-through, I knew I'd be purchasing it for the home library.
Sun Bread is one of those books that we originally checked out from the library. However, we read it so many times in the few weeks that we had it, I just knew this would be another one going onto the shelves of our home library.
The pictures are so vibrant, lively, and greatly detailed, giving you so many things to look at on each page. It's one of those books that shows you something new each time you read it. My daughter and I have pored over those pages, pointing out new discoveries every time we open it. I'm a huge fan of Elisa Kleven. We've probably read all of her books available at our library.
I chose it for the Spring basket because it's basically about saying good riddance to wet, sloshy, cold winter days and willing the bright, sunny days of Spring to make their appearance.
Sunshine on My Shoulders is a favorite around here because John Denver is a favorite around here! I sang this song to Roo as a baby and so I had to buy the book when I saw it on Amazon (complete with an audio CD so she can listen and follow along in the book). The pictures give me that warm, fuzzy feeling. Cute, indeed (especially the picture of the child blowing the dandelion "fluff").
All the Places to Love is beautifully illustrated and acts as a gentle reminder that simple is best, and all the associations we have with our childhood home and surroundings stay with us forever.
Marsh ponds, sailing bark boats, picking blueberries, ducklings, green valleys -- a fresh perspective on the beauty all around. A timeless story about what really matters.
I can't speak as to whether these books are as good as they seem, but I have seen a few of them on the sidebars of other bloggers (whom I trust when it comes to book choices) or they have received mostly favorable reviews on Amazon (which can be hit or miss as far as reviews go. Sometimes I've really disliked a book that got great reviews and sometimes my favorites get lukewarm Amazon reviews. So, who knows? What I do know is that I always try to pre-screen a book through the library before buying it. If that's not possible, sometimes I'll just take the plunge and buy it sight unseen).
Well, I think that's all I have time for tonight (and I wouldn't have even gotten this post accomplished if I hadn't started it a couple weeks ago -- thank goodness I saved it as a draft). It's been a crazy, not-quite-ordinary week around here and I'm not able to spend as much time on the computer as I am accustomed (which is probably a good thing!). A Spring storm is raging outside my window and I'm off to put extra blankets on the little ones. Have a good night!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Hello, Robots was a fun, silly read. I found myself chuckling out loud during the second half of the book, which made Roo laugh too. She loves sharing the book with visitors (like Grandma and her aunt) and explaining to them what wackiness had transpired as a result of the robots getting caught in a rainstorm.
The Old House is enjoyable because you get an insider's view from the house's perspective. It is centered on an old, delapidated house that no one wants to call home. Until one family discovers its hidden charm and the old house finds his purpose. Even my husband didn't mind reading this one multiple times!
If You Were My Baby is a great introduction to animals and their habitat. It explains how mama and papa animals love, protect, and teach their babies just like human parents do. A really sweet and comforting read. Each animal gets a two-page spread that fills up the entire page, so it's quite engaging even to the youngest audience.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Frankly, this particular technique was a little too time-consuming for egg dyeing with a 3 year old and a 10 month old. So, with our last batik egg, we decided to leave the wax on the colored egg for a groovy, 3-dimensional look:
All in all, it was fun to try something new. Our batik eggs aren't going to win any beauty contests. The technique itself is not bad, it just needs some fine-tuning (or I just need to acquire the patience to scrape gently--a tedious task if you dripped as much wax onto the eggs as I did).
But as with most crafts with kids, if they enjoyed it, I'm happy. And they did enjoy it. Okay, the three year old in our life enjoyed it. What's not to love about colored dye, candle wax, and special egg dippers (like giant egg tweezers)? The 10 month old was clueless. Cute, but clueless. All he wanted to do was get his hands in that dye and eat the candle. :) A fun day.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Then, use the spray bottle and lightly spray all over the filter (don't worry if they get a little too saturated--my daughter loves water and was a little heavy-handed with the sprayer):But it's all good, because they just need time to dry:
Once dry, fold each filter accordion-style. Bend the pipe cleaner in half and wrap it around the center of the filter a few times (I don't have a picture of this, but basically you are gathering the filter in the middle and splaying each side out like a fan). Don't forget to curl each end into "antennae." Tie string or wire around the base of the antennae and hang around the house for a festive Spring touch. They look especially nice hanging in front of a window!
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Roo watching for Peter Cottontail hopping down the bunny trail...
As it was done for me, so I want to do for my children: I want to steep the holidays with as much tradition as possible. While I was making plans this week for Easter, I realized that we do not have as many traditions for this holiday as we do for Christmas and birthdays.
I thought back to what I remember about Easter when I as young. The standouts for me are:
*Coloring eggs: this was a family affair. Even my dad got involved and he is the farthest thing from artsy/craftsy. I recall using the same white china cups to mix the vinegar and fizzy color tablets every single year. Why did we use my mom's fancy dishes to dye eggs? I didn't wonder back then, but as a mom, I do wonder now. White, fine bone china, for dyeing eggs? Seriously?
My parents moved from the East coast to the Midwest, both leaving their large families behind, to raise us. All holidays were spent with just us, our small family unit. Perhaps since my mom was no longer able to use her fine china to entertain her large family, she put it to use in a new way. The only time I can remember those beautiful white cups seeing the light of day was when it was time to dye eggs.
*Making Hot Cross Buns: I remember my sister and I getting to lick the icing bowl after helping my mom drizzle the cross on each bun. I also remember picking out the raisins because I didn't care for raisins in my food (I still don't).
*Hunting for our Easter baskets: they were never just out in the open, we always had to search for them on Easter morning.
*Countless rounds of hiding and searching for eggs: as we got older and became better "hiders," my parents started limiting the egg hunts to one room only. Otherwise, the hunt could go on all day. I remember one year, we had to encourage our dog to sniff out one lone egg, as my dad had forgotten where he hid it.
*Easter outfits: my mom can sew amazingly well and often made our Easter dresses. Prior to Easter, we went shopping for new white shoes or sandals and, some years, hats. I have seen pictures of my sister and me with little purses and white gloves too. I have always loved dressing up and I think it got its start with Easter.
So, those are my top 5 associations with Easter. I have proceeded to incorporate these traditions with my little ones, but I'm looking for more. I like having options! If any readers would care to share their ideas, I'd love to hear. What Easter tradition do you recall from your youth or what new traditions have you created with your family now that you're all grown up? :)
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
This little gal is Lambkins. I made her for my daughter two Easters ago. I followed this easy pattern. For the fabric, I chose to use my daughter's first sleeper PJ's (you know, the kind with the feet). She practically lived in that pajama sleeper all winter and I was so sad when she outgrew it. I couldn't bear to part with it, so I wanted to make the pj's into something "permanent." The soft muted colors and fuzziness (from being washed every other day for months!) looked just right for a little Spring lambkin.
It was my first attempt at making a stuffed animal, and I think that is evident by looking at the picture above! ;) Not quite sure what happened to the poor thing's nose, it seems to be non-existent. But, my daughter loves it anyway.
I was thinking about making a second Lambkins for my son this Easter. Goodness knows, he has a plethora of sleeper pj's to choose from (it seems to be my go-to outfit during winter with my little ones). But, so far he has not shown a fondness for cuddly objects. When he sees his sister's Lambkins, he tries to stuff (no pun intended) as much of the lamb's head into his mouth as possible. That seems to be the extent of his enjoyment for stuffed animals. So, rather than add one more thing to my To-Do list this week, I think I'll skip making Lambkins: the Sequel! I do have some ideas floating around in my head with regard to projects made with his clothes, though. Hopefully, something will come of my ideas and I'll have something to show here before long.