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Monthly Archives: April 2011

does two make a trend?

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Or does it need to be three to be an actual trend? Whatever the case, the past two gifts we made have involved faces. The first, for my mom’s birthday, a custom family-version of Old Maid:

This was an idea from the pages of Family Fun (which, and I know I say this waaaayyy too often, has had awesome ideas over the past year) so I really can’t take any credit for its marvelous-ness. But it was a ridiculously fun project to do and I highly suggest you tackle it for your family. Consider these steps:

  1. Choose great/entertaining/funny/possibly mortifying pictures of all family members from young to old (in this case we had 25).
  2. Think of appropriate Old-Maid-style names for all family members and utilize alliteration. These can be complimentary or slight digs. Examples from our deck include: Ticket-writing Tim (for our police officer brother-in-law), Liberal Lisa, Daring Diego and Kissable Kelsey. 
  3. Choose a non-controversial and non-mean-spirited Old Maid. We chose our old chicken, Val. Choosing a real person to be the Old Maid is tempting, but not recommended.
What’s not to like? Fun, fun and fun.
The second face-filled gift we made was for a little school friend of Pia’s. It was a memory game made with pictures of all the kids in their class. We glued the pictures to metal frozen juice lids, added a layer of glue over the top of the photo, and then (in a silent nod to Robin) sprinkled glitter around the edges of the faces.
The best thing about juice lids? They fit like a dream into old Pringles cans. The best thing about using old Pringles cans? The eating of the Pringles. We covered the can with rainbow paper (what 5-year-old girl doesn’t love rainbows?) and added a custom label.
Now I need a first communion present for my nephew that I can make in less than two days. Suggestions are welcome.

catching up

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It was brought to my attention today that I haven’t posted in awhile. I was, of course, aware of this. But it was nice to know that someone else noticed. Even if that someone else was Robin and she would have to try very hard not to notice. Anyway, there were many times in the past month that I had planned on posting. Like the playgroup day when our lunch ended up like this:

Or the day that we discovered the awesome amazing bubble bath by California Baby (hands down, best bubbles ever):

Or the afternoon when Pia worked quietly in the corner on this ribbon man (which blew me away and, naturally, had me convinced she would become a world famous artist someday):

Or the spontaneous Sunday afternoon when a friend dropped by for knitting help and Pia sat with us and finger knit and it was just the loveliest afternoon ever:

But all these moments passed and then I would lose the energy and just like that weeks slip by without a post. But I’m back! And as luck would have it I found a Glory Days wine at the Piggly Wiggly and I feel that this Bruce Springsteen inspired beverage will aid greatly in my blogging over the next month. (Those of you who are familiar with this wine might quibble with my assertion that the wine was inspired by Bruce. The label may depict a baseball scene, but as you may recall, the Glory Days video relied heavily on the idea of Bruce as a washed up baseball player, so I feel that the vintners used the baseball imagery hand in hand with the name to reach out to true fans.)

Boys with dolls

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My boys are very nurturing.  Strike that.  My boys can be very nurturing sometimes.  When they’re in the mood, they like to devote lots of loving attention to their stuffed animals and dolls.  Their dolls, with only a few exceptions, are my dolls from 423 years ago.  White girl dolls.  I thought they were overdue for a few more dolls that look like they do.

So the main thing they got in their Easter baskets this year were fabric dolls I found from crafters on Etsy.  Let me tell you, it’s not all that easy to find dolls that looks like my boys.  There are a few, but compared to options for white dolls, the pickings are slim.  I am happy with these, however, and the boys already seem quite attached.

Pea’s doll is from Clover Green Design.  It’s very soft, hugable, and seems appropriately indestructible.  He has named it, appropriately, “Doll”.

Tea’s doll is from Viola Studio.  It was a bit fancier, but I just couldn’t resist this adorable boy whose shirt says “Milwaukee” across the front.  (Tea was thrilled about the train on the shirt, which I hadn’t even noticed.)   Tea has named his little boy “Pia”.  Sorry, Pia.  Or, congratulations?  I think it’s supposed to be a compliment…

It makes me happy to support artists who craft unique toys for kids. Especially after just finishing a sewing project of my own.  I definitely don’t feel like attempting dolls any time soon.

Tea has, however, requested a sleeping bag for Pia.  A rectangle?  I think that’s a project I can handle.  Heck, I could make that with duct tape.

Eagerly awaiting their crispy destruction

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The first signs of life have appeared in the veggie garden – the arugula seedlings have sprouted.  I feel a disturbing combination of parental pride and an eagerness for them to grow up big and strong so I can nosh them to bits.

Drink up, little ones.  Soak up that sun.  You will be a tasty pesto soon!

Random points that are just an excuse for Easter pictures

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  • The boys thought today was pretty great – not only did they get to spend the day playing with their Nana, Grandad, cousin Cricket and lots of other family, but they got to eat chocolate for breakfast and then devoured two dozen goldfish cracker-filled eggs before lunch.

  • Tea is apparently feeling stifled by his mainly vegetarian diet – he insisted on eating the head of the lamb cake.

  • After lunch, the boys were paid a penny for every rock they removed from my parents’ lawn.  They made a dollar.

  • My adorable niece likes me.  At least until my sister enters the room.  This makes Pea very jealous.

  • My aunt, who is a Toddler Whisperer, taught Pea how to play the “which cup has the ball hidden under it?” game.  He’s a pro and I’m taking him to Vegas.

  • Our house now has the perfect amount of chocolate in it – tons.  My personal favorite are the dark chocolate-covered marzipan eggs from Aldi.

  • We forgot to dye eggs.

  • Pea is a little confused about the holiday and wished everyone a “Happy Easter Bunny”.

With 2 hours to spare

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There may have been slightly more cursing involved than is appropriate in the creation of Easter baskets, but they are finished.  I sewed all three, and then took the first one apart and re-sewed it.

Of course the basket that needed to be fixed was my nieces.  I’d thought I was being smart when I sewed hers first, assuming I wouldn’t actually finish all 3 but at least I’d have hers completed.  But I should have worked the kinks out on my own kids’ baskets because Cricket’s basket was so incredibly puckered I couldn’t bring myself to give it to her.    (If it’d have been one for my kids I would have let it be – what does this say about me or the standards I think my one-year-old niece holds me to?)

Kyle lent me tremendous moral support as I picked out ninety-bazillion microscopic stitches stuck in batting.  Actually, he refused to commiserate at all, smugly insisting it’d work out fine in the end and then all the pain would be forgotten.  I am writing this down to document the pain.  It is not forgotten.  It was intense.

Sewing became significantly easier when I discovered this handy dial on my sewing machine that reduces the presser foot tension.  Wish I’d have seen that earlier.

I calculated that if I were paid minimum wage for the hours I spent sewing, this project would cost me $101.50 in time.  Add that to the $19 in supplies and these 3 baskets cost…drum roll please:  $120.50.  Wouldn’t you know it?  Fifty cents more than the (four, not three) baskets on Etsy I didn’t want to shell out for.  But of course I have the satisfaction of doing it myself and the knowledge that I’ve gained from the experience.  Which is namely, next time just buy it.  It’s easier.

Note to self:  Never, under any circumstances, calculate the number of hours it takes to complete a knitting project.  You will never pick up needles again.

But I will admit that I do sort of love the different colors and the floppiness of their ears.  And Pea was excited about them – he pointed at the first one and repeatedly yelled “Pretty cool!  Pretty cool, Mama!”  He seemed extra jazzed when I told him that one was just for him.  If he thought the basket was exciting, just wait until he discovers what it’s filled with in the morning.  Guess I’d better hop off to bed so the Easter bunny can visit.

Happy Easter everyone!

I have only myself to blame for this mess

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Awhile ago I saw some cute but overpriced fabric bunny baskets on Etsy.  I thought, “Hey!  I can probably figure out how to make those.  They would make cute Easter baskets.”

Fast forward one month during which time I did nothing but find a tutorial on how to sew a similar basket.  Today, assuming it was logical that I could still pull them off, I headed to the fabric store to purchase things totally foreign to me like interfacing and batting.   I have never worked with them, but how hard could it be, right?  I still had 60 hours until Easter morning.

Only I failed to anticipate the difficulty of ear placement, of finding a new sewing machine needle when I broke mine on a pin, of the absolute nightmare that is feeding the batting through my machine, of the impossibility of sewing a circular piece of fabric to a rectangle  (this is a talent I will never have), and worst of all: of locating the seam ripper in my disaster of a sewing room.

So…the original baskets on Etsy were perhaps not so overpriced after all.  You could not pay me twice as much to make any more.  And as wonky as these things are turning out, you wouldn’t buy them from me, either.  I am not sure if these will be finished by Sunday morning, but I will try my darnedest.

And of course, I just looked more closely at the photograph that was my original inspiration.  Good grief – they had square bottoms, not round ones.  Now that would have been a whole lot easier.  But do I have enough fabric to switch gears now?  Of course not.