Saturday, December 31, 2011
Thursday, December 29, 2011
New Year's Eve is upon us and for many, that night means champagne. If I headed out to celebrate this year, I would definitely partake, so I was thinking maybe I should prepare some fancy, fizzy drinks here at the homestead.
Whether you decorate the flute or add a little something to your bubbly, nothing says "Happy New Year!" like some champagne wishes.....
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
At week's end , I will have to decide what to do with my holiday cards. The cards of the non-photo variety can be used for decorations if I am particularly fond of the design or colors.
With just a circle punch or two, they could be turned into a wreath.....
but, with the same punch, patience, and the ability to follow directions- you could wind up with some intricate ornaments for next year's tree.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
There are many ways to make these Santa Hat desserts- I have seen a recipe with butter cream frosting and piped white chocolate. I am opting for the butter cream for my sugar chapeaus!
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
My mother wanted me to illustrate her holiday card this year (her not-so-subtle way of making sure I continue to draw or paint and not get lazy about art), so I did just that (not only because I am still a little scared of my mum and always do what she asks, but because it is so rare for her to ask a favor and I'm thrilled to be able to do something for her for once! ).
I decided to make two designs- a pine cone with greenery and berries hanging from a ribbon and the side door of my parents' house, complete with the holiday wreath.
The images were scanned in and reproduced on stationery. After I had the cards back home, I added just a little color- green in the wreath on the door and red for the berries with the pine cone.
Now I'm especially glad I took on the project. It felt good to draw again- why are moms always right?
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Russell Hoban, author of 60 books for children, passed away yesterday at the age of 86. Although known most famously for those beloved badger books about Frances, my favorite of his has always been "A Mouse and His Child" (1967). An incredibly profound and moving story, I think it deserves to take up room on anyone's bookshelf.
"The mouse and his child, unwound, came to a stop, while their captor sat down on the edge of the hole where the television screen had been and ate his salami. As he looked up into the night, the massed clouds lifted to reveal the sky. The moon had set; the stars were sharp and clear. Low above the horizon wheeled Orion the Hunter, and near the luminous scattering of the Milky Way, in the Great Dog constellation, blazed Sirius, the brightest star of all. Manny Rat liked dark nights best; he grimaced at the stars and turned away.
Standing as he was on uneven ground, the child was tilted at such an angle that he too saw the Dog Star, beyond his father’s shoulder. He had never looked up at the sky before; indeed, he had as yet seen little of the earth, and even that little was more frightening than he had imagined. At first the icy glitter of the far-off star was terrifying to him; he sensed a distance so vast as to reduce him to nothing. But as he looked and looked upon that steady burning he was comforted a little ; if he was nothing, he thought, so also was this rat and all the dump. His father’s hands were firm upon his, and he resolved to see what next the great world offered."
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
So, I have already eaten a small army of gingerbread men thanks to my kids having a special morning of baking with Nana. They were delicious gents, yes, but I love these sparkling gingerbread snowflakes from Cupcakes and Cashmere, complete with recipe! They would be perfect for gifting or making a splash at the holiday party.
I also found a recipe for Gingerbread Lattes from thekitchn.com that I am anxious to try. Sounds like the tastiest holiday beverage....
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
When I was pregnant with Sweet Pea, I spend a lot of time thinking about what kind of mother I wanted to be. Of course I knew I wanted to be a loving and kind mother who taught him to love animals and camping and all that jazz, but I also knew that - despite my lack of natural abilities - I wanted to be a crafty mother.
With this desire in mind I undertook my first crafty project - Christmas stockings for my family unit of three. And, as you see in the image above, I did indeed finish one stocking. But the process of making it was BRUTAL. After getting advice from sewing master Mae, I still completely forgot how to use my very basic sewing machine and so had way too many moments of frustration. For example, I yelled at my husband for trying to help me thread the bobbin, I burst into tears when I ran out of thread, and really, really wanted to throw the whole damn machine across the room for getting jammed with knots. I also thought I could wing the pattern and so first made a majorly jacked up club foot stocking before I used this Martha pattern. I am not kidding when I say that I seriously wasted hours of time - and ignored my son - in order to make this one stocking for him.
In the end, you may ask, what lesson did I learn? Well, I know now that I don't have the patience or the skills to be a sewing mom. But I also learned that I don't have to be good at it to actually do it - as long as I enjoy it (which I actually did - a tiny little bit) and no one gets hurt (my husband's feelings not included).
Monday, December 12, 2011
As a parent of young kids, I am always looking for some holiday projects we can try that are preschool-age friendly. I thought I had seen most of them, from the felt mouse candy cane holder to the Popsicle stick reindeer, but at parent-teacher conferences in kindergarten last week, I spied a new one!
Sunday afternoon we gave these hand print Santas a whirl. It was a simple craft that was a smashing success. All it required was some washable tempura paints, a few brushes and construction paper. We decided to use the dozens of palm-y St. Nicks as holiday cards and gift tags. I will tuck a couple of them away for future Christmas decorations as well.
I would definitely recommend this craft as a fun and easy way to get into the holiday spirit with little guys and gals.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
One of my favorite Etsy shops is efinegifts where everything is on the verge of being ephemeral - so worn, so delicate, or so breakable. I'd love to live in a world of these vintage decorations, but with Sweet Pea's newly grasping and grabbing hands - I might have to wait a little bit longer.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
When is Vivi going to move nearby so that we can roll beeswax taper candles for Christmas gifts? When?!
I am anxious to try this out, but it seems a better project for two ambitious gals given the bulk ordering of the wax sheets.
What a cool holiday project though- rolling some honeycomb tapers, pairing them with a beautifully designed matchbox and packaging them oh so perfectly for those little presents you always need.
Maybe next year.....
I did find a site, Toadily Handmade, that sells sheets of beeswax in many colors specifically for rolling or actual entire kits for family projects (or blogger buddy Christmas crafts) . If you decide to put this on your to-do list for the holiday season, or anytime, it makes it pretty easy!
Monday, December 5, 2011
A package of clothespins is so reasonable and available at most any craft store- really, it is like a bag of potential for a dollar. These examples don't even touch upon all the kids' crafts that start with a clothespin....these are some grown-up ideas for the holidays :).
Thursday, December 1, 2011
For my one year anniversary I got my husband a View Master with a customized reel of us from courtship to baby from the Etsy shop Image3D. I love how it sits all shiny and red on the book shelf. It's awesome. You should get one. Or give one. That is all.
I know I totally sound like a paid shill for this shop, but I'm not at all. I'm just bragging about my occasional gift-giving abilities.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
This holiday treat is just easy enough to be kid-friendly and just tasty enough to be adult-friendly.
Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
6 to 8 drops green food color
1 cup creme de menthe baking chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks
1. Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter, extract, food color and egg until soft dough forms. Stir in creme de menthe baking chips and chocolate chunks.
2. Using small cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Cool 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Serve warm or cool completely. Store tightly covered at room temperature.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I came to terms with this fact after spending a restless night NOT sleeping and instead stressing about the thank cards I had still not sent for the lovely gifts Sweet Pea got right after he was born (he is now 3 months old). So with husband and child sound asleep, I got up out of bed at 4 this morning to finish up writing my notes and it all took my less than a half hour. Seriously. It is ridiculous as to how I can (and do) procrastinate over certain things. I am always on top of the laundry and dishes, but writing a friend back? Impossible for me to do in a reasonable amount of time. Maybe it's the perfectionist tendency I have when it comes to writing. It's something I'm supposed to be good at and so I obsess over it to the point of not doing it at all. So for those out there who are due a thank you note - it's in the mail, it I owe you an email - I'm working on it, and if you are waiting for any thing else from me - write me a note and maybe I'll get back to you this summer.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Here are a few pretty options...from simple floating cranberries to autumn roses, there are numerous options, but generally I think less is more.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
It what has become a spontaneously themed week on anniversaries, I just want to throw my own modest celebration into the mix - my one year wedding anniversary. Just over a year ago I married the sweetest man I've ever met in a ceremony surrounded by those we love most. It was the start to what has been one heck of year that has included major home construction, the completion of a dissertation, and the birth of one smiley and squeaky little boy. We are tired, but also very happy. And even though we really, really hope our next year is just a teensy bit less crazed than this past year, we look forward to collecting up our own autumns in the years to come.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
This fall marks five autumns since we moved from the city to, well, the country really.
Five autumns away from our lives of late night dinners with friends, last minute road trips, and those weekend mornings involving multiple, uninterrupted cups of coffee.
Having a baby really does change your world.....having three babies in five years, flips it all upside down.
Five autumns of first steps, runny nose maintenance, constructing perfectly jumpable leaf piles, and picking pumpkins. Five autumns of waking due to scary Halloween dreams, writing names for the first time, and learning to wave bye-bye.
I was thinking, when I watched my youngest blow her sweet and sloppy 8-month-old's kisses.....five autumns of babies or toddlers and every little incredible thing they do and are- that is something that won't come around again.
So, I should pause and celebrate a little....to five autumns of wonder and more happiness with the changing of every leaf.