Sunday, February 28, 2010

Family Fun: Fritz's, a Fairy Tale Village, and the Crayola Store

My sister and her fiance came to visit this weekend (hence, the sad neglect of my blog!).  We had a wonderful time catching up and visiting Crown Center in Kansas City.  My future brother-in-law loves trains like dogs love squirrels (have you seen Up?).  So we stood in the long, wrap-around line at Fritz's Railroad Restaurant to have our meal delivered by train. (The shakes and onion rings are worth mentioning!)


Afterward, we took a stroll through the Fairy Tale Village.




Then I snuck in Chip's Chocolate Factory while the others went on to the Crayola Store.



All in all, a wonderful day!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cleaning up - before and after

Don't you love before-and-after shots?  I do.  Doesn't seem to matter much what the subject is...home decor, personal make-overs, building demolition, whatever.  I like seeing the  transformation.  So today I took before and after shots as I was cleaning the kids' room.



When I was in the hospital getting my gallbladder out, my in-laws stayed here with the kids.  The house was spotless when I came home.  You know how some things are a blessing in disguise?  Well, (sadly) this turned out to be a curse in disguise.  Everything was put away out of sight, but nothing was where it belongs.  (Which is very sad because my in-laws lived with us for 9 months and it's not like I keep stuff in different places from when they lived here.)  I got the kitchen in order pretty quickly out of necessity.  Where on earth did she stash that colander?  Aw man! I can't put the pitcher away until I put the pan where it belongs...oh, the bowls are where the pan goes!  But the toys have just been shoved in any ol' where and still needed to be sorted and put into their proper places.  It's not so hard to keep things basically neat when everything has a place (and not everything is allowed to be gotten out at the same time)!



Yes, I stashed the baby in a box while I worked.  He was quite content to just "read" a book and wriggle as long as he could still see me.  That and gnaw on his fingers -- his new favorite pastime.  When hubby came home I made him let me vacuum while I could still see the floor!  I really need to finish the wall hanging I have cut out and get it up over Miss M's bed.  If only the weather would warm up (and stay dry!), I'd paint her peg shelf and get it up too.



Tada!  It's the best room in the house!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pilcrow pajamas

I finally finished a sewing project...it's been a while, huh?  Little Guy has outgrown most of his pajamas and bodysuits.  He has several onesies, but they're mostly short sleeved which isn't really appropriate for this time of year without a cardigan.  Ottobre to the rescue!  I had traced off the "Naava coverall" (Ottobre 6/2009, #3) but it was already a size too small.  I "remedied" that by simply cutting it out a little larger all around and keeping my original seam allowance...a bit sloppy perhaps, but time-saving!



I actually cut out two at the same time from the same material.  I was going for practicality (something for the kid to wear!) rather than fashion.  The other one is nearly done - just the leg binding and snaps left to do.  Still, I needed to do something fun to spruce 'em up a bit.  The other one was voted by hubby to be video game themed, so I decided to make this one reflect my abject nerdiness personality.  Enter the pilcrow sign!  Also known as the paragraph sign.  I was originally thinking of a semi-colon or @ symbol, but after a quick perusal of Character Map the pilcrow won out.



They turned out so nice!  I used a soft jersey knit from Chez Ami and some rib knit that was given to me.  So cute and snuggly to keep my Little Guy warm day and night!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nativity ornaments

My mom has been paring down, so she brought me some craft supplies.  In the mix were a few kits for these cute Christmas ornaments.



I put them together today while Little Guy was sleeping on my lap.  Cute, no?  I'll put them away for Christmas as part of the Holiday Handmade Crusade.



Monday, February 22, 2010

Gifts for a range of ages

Two of my cousins have boys, only boys, ages ranging from 5 months up to 9 years.  When Christmas comes around, it can be expensive getting (or even making) gifts for all of them.  What I prefer is to think up something that works well for a wide range of ages and make just two, one for each family of boys.

Last year I made two of these canopies.  I printed up little fliers of what the gift was so they wouldn't have to actually open it amidst all the holiday hoopla and then transferred the packages directly from car trunk to car trunk, a foresight that was much appreciated by the mothers. With the exception of the newest babies, all the boys will be able to use the canopies for imaginative play -- indoors or out!  (And as we all know, babies grow quickly, so they'll be able to join the fun in practically no time at all!)

Yes, it's only February, but I'm already thinking of Christmas 2010.  I think it would be fun to make some I Spy books for the boys, and even for my nephew since he'll be nearly four by then.  I had Miss M help me gather up "red things."  Oh my, she had so much fun doing it that we'll definitely be repeating the "task" if only to keep her occupied for a time!


 I pulled out a piece of red fabric from my stash and took pictures of the red stuff she collected.  I think I may re-shoot on a different background though.  It seems a bit hard on the eyes.  Or maybe I just need better light.  It was a very dim wintry day even though I laid everything out by the front windows!  Well, winter won't stick around forever and eventually we'll have nice sunshine again.  By then maybe I'll find some nice cheap photo albums to assemble my pictures into.  (I'll be sure to share when I do!)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Through three-year-old eyes

I gave Miss M my old point-and-shoot camera.  She entertained herself for more than an hour taking pictures around the house.  It was interesting to look at the pictures and see our home through her eyes (and at her eye level!)
 


(a messy bookshelf, me at the computer, me doing dishes, and a door)

She also drew a family portrait on her Doodle Pad.  It's a good thing I asked her to tell me who everyone was, 'cause what I assumed was the four of us and our pet bird she succinctly told me were actually "Daddy, Mama, me, and two toys for me."


We got another 6 inches of snow today, so no more going out of doors for a while.*  Maybe I'll get some actual sewing done this week!  With the end of February fast approaching, I need to get started on the dresses for my sister's wedding!

*Hubby and Miss M went sledding in the backyard after the three of us went for a winter-wonderland-walk-in-the-woods.  We opted not to take the camera with us.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

To all the regular moms

I have been called Supermom in the past.  Just so you know, I'm not.  Here's proof.  I've been working on a sewing project, so this is what my kitchen looks like.  (What you don't see is the stroller and a pile of muddy boots and cast-off jackets by the backdoor).


I now have a choice...to clean...or to sew.  Or to hire a maid...I wish!!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Breadsticks and biscotti

Yesterday hubby came home from work saying he needed to bring "something" to work for Food Day (today!) and the theme is Italian.  My first thought was that everybody'll bring pasta (turns out nobody did, go figure), so then my thoughts turned to these Easy Peasy Bread Sticks.  I also remembered a biscotti recipe I used once that was quite easy and turned out well.


Usually when your 3-year-old "helps" in the kitchen, it's more of a hindrance than an actual help, right?  Well, to my utter delight, I actually found myself being helped by Miss M! She did much better rolling out the breadsticks than I had anticipated and ended up doing almost all of them herself! I did the messy work...dipping in butter and Parmesan.


Don't you just love seeing little chubby hands hard at work?  She was so pleased with herself.  My in-laws came over this evening and she proudly proclaimed, "I made them!  Mama and I made them.  I did a great job!"  (She's so very modest, you know.)


The breadsticks, I might add, turned out amazingly!  The recipe was perfect in every way.

The biscotti recipe I used is D'Amaretti Biscotti from allrecipes.com. I used anise seed instead of lemon zest and left out the almonds since I didn't have any on hand.  It also took about twice as long to toast the slices (10 minutes on each side, rather than just 10 minutes).  Miss M was very interested when I separated the egg yolk from the whites. I don't think she'd seen me do that before.



I'd have loved to drizzle melted chocolate over them...if only I'd had the time...and the chocolate!

Hubby says both the breadsticks and the biscotti were big hits with his coworkers -- even the "big wigs."


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Muddy Boots

Today it was finally warm enough to take both kids out to play.  Miss M has been fighting a bit of a cold, so I bundled her up a lot more than was strictly necessary.  She had a blast playing in the mud.  See her expression...both fascinated and repulsed by the sticky, icky mud.  "It looks like poop, Mama!"



At least the rain boots I bought her are being put to good use!


At one point she was jumping up and down in her boots...they were stuck to the ground and didn't make the jump with her. Ha!

It's supposed to snow again tomorrow...and the next day...and the day after that.  *sigh*

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Indoor Hopscotch

At long last the indoor hopscotch is finished! Or at least, as finished as I'm planning to make it for now.  Eventually I'd like to back it with denim, either yardage or thrifted jeans legs.  I figure that way it'll make a nice picnic blanket and hopscotch-on-the-grass.



It didn't come off completely pucker-free, but the ones that snuck in aren't too noticeable...especially if you're actually hopping on it!  It'll be a great way for Miss M to burn off some energy while the weather's still cold.  We're eagerly waiting for Spring!  There have been more and more birds in the area and the skunks and raccoons are coming out of hibernation.  Still, nothing is green and it remains below freezing most days.



I'm so glad to have this done.  Although it was basically easy, delays (including a stint in the hospital!) made it feel like an unending project.  I started to feel very resentful toward it which, of course, made me not want to sit down and deal with it making it go even longer.  But at last it's done and I can move on!  Little Guy needs some pajamas and I need to get to work on Miss M's flower girl dress so I can do mine and still have plenty of time for the bride's dress.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Freezin'

Freezing just about describes life around here lately.  Not only does it feel like this bitter cold weather will never end (I admit I was spoiled by living in Southern California for 8 years..."winter" is about a week long), but today a truck arrived from Nebraska Furniture Mart to deliver this:


The romantic-looking photo is courtesy of my mad Paint Shop Pro skills.  The frozen veggie distribution is courtesy of Miss M.  The freezer itself is courtesy of Uncle Sam.  It pays to have a baby right at the end of the year!  I'm very excited to have the extra freezer space.  Now I can cook large and put away the extras for those days I just don't feel much like cooking.  I may have to invest in some good freezerware though.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Thread organization

My mom visited us this weekend.  Look what she brought me!



It's a shelf my grandpa made for storing spools of thread!  I look at the thread organizers at JoAnn every time I go, but I always hate to spend that much just for organization.  Now I just need to hang this bad boy up and put all my thread up.  It'll add some nice color to my "sewing room" a.k.a. my bedroom.  Yay!

P.S. I haven't forgotten the indoor hopscotch...it is literally in my sewing machine halfway sewn.  What, you don't sew half a seam at a time and then get interrupted?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Rhubarb Pie

My grandma is the ultimate pie maker in our family.  The most memorable of her pies was the year Grandpa first grew blueberries.  He went out and picked a batch that wasn't really quite ripe yet.  As he put it, they were "almost blue."  Despite their being slightly green, he fully expected Grandma to use them, and so was born the "almost-blue berry pie."  It was insanely delicious!

For Valentine's Day, I thought I'd make use of some of the rhubarb in my freezer (yes, Grandpa grew it last year) to make a pie...after all, rhubarb is naturally pink.


Of course, I used Grandma's recipe.

Grandma's Rhubarb Custard Pie
  • Beat slightly 2 large eggs

  • Add 2 tablespoons milk

Mix together and stir in...
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar

  • 3 tablespoons flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix in 3 cups pink rhubarb. Fill pastry-lined pie pan with rhubarb custard filling.  Dot filling in pan with 3/4 teaspoon butter.  Cover with lattice top.  Bake until nicely browned 50-60 minutes at 400 degrees.  Serve slightly warm.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Shadow box bank


My nephew is turning three the end of the month.  Like many boys his age, he's enamored of trucks of all kinds.  So when I saw this dump truck bank tutorial the other day, I knew I had to make it.  Sadly when I looked at Dollar Tree today, they didn't have any shadow boxes, so I'm going to either have to look elsewhere or improvise some sort of substitute.  Any ideas?

Dollar Tree did have some super cute liquid soap dispensers that looked like real apples, lemons, oranges, and pears.  I loved them, but couldn't think of a good excuse to get them.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pencil skills



Miss M loves letters and words!  She's constantly reading letters wherever she finds them.  She really wants to write letters too, but she doesn't quite have the hand coordination or muscle strength to do it well yet.  Mind you, she's only 3 years old.  I wouldn't even be thinking about it, except that she herself is so eager.  (Is that what they mean by child-directed learning?)  Anyway, I picked up My First Book of Tracing at the bookstore tonight.  The simple exercises are meant to help her learn to manipulate a pencil effectively.  It has 40 double-sided worksheets...Miss M has already zipped through 10 of them!  She didn't have any trouble at all with the straight lines, but the curvy ones are giving her a bit more of a challenge.  Once I suggested she slow down and take it easy, she was able to stay on the "path" successfully...and with great pleasure at her accomplishment!

Seven dollars for a workbook.  Forty lessons.  She did ten in one evening.  I'm thinking maybe I'd better design some of my own or this is going to be an expensive undertaking! Ha!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blogging kudos

Earlier this week I was given a Kreativ Blogger award by beachgirl at Siestas and Sewing.  It's very pleasant knowing that at least one person out there finds me "very creative" and enjoys my blog.  Thank you very, very much!  You warmed my heart!


You know those "life lessons" that seem to come upon you one day and are strengthened as time passes?  For me it's usually something simple that gets ahold of me in a profound way.  Things like, "I'm a sinner" and what that really means.  Simple truths that have the power to change the course of ones life.  Recently it's been the fact that people -- all people and most especially bloggers -- desire affirmation.  Since this profound realization hit me (I know, I know, it's not really such a novel idea, but it is still fresh to me), I have been making more effort to comment on people's blogs and forum posts rather than simply responding in my head like I tend to do.  Scripture teaches that we are to value people, to love them as Christ loved them, and one way of doing that is showing them appreciation for the work that they do.

As I pondered all this, I started wondering where this whole Kreativ Blogger award thing got started.  A quick look on Google landed me at this post on Simon Food Favourites telling about how the award was started by Hulda in Norway who created the original image (with actual scrapbooking materials!) to give to four creative bloggers.

Still, I was hesitant to nominate seven more people for the award.  I really dislike email forwards and chain letters and "put this in your Facebook status for 1 hour" types of things.  But rather than simply let it go, I decided much like Carol that I'd share with you the bloggers I look forward to reading time and time again.  This way I have a good excuse for letting them know how much I appreciate them!

Love Never Fails - for her lovely crafting and well-written, thought-provoking posts.

Melody's Life - for her candid insight into motherhood with all its ups and downs.

Solidity of Rainbows - for her creatively constructed posts about day-to-day life with five kids...love the tomato parade!

The Powell Pow Wow - for gorgeous photography and engaging writing.  (She's one I've neglected to leave comments for as often as I ought!)

I'm offering this award with no strings attached.  Pass it on, if you like.  Or just accept it, be cheered inside, and go on with life.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

He owns me

So if I don't get much crafting done, don't be upset with me.  How can I help but spend half my day gazing into these gorgeous eyes?!  I get lost in them.  Little Guy will be 3 months old on Friday.  He has completely bewitched me.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say he owns me.


I love both my children, but it amazes me how different the love is for each of them.  They are unique persons and my love for them, while equal in measure, is as different in nature as they are.  I enjoy this difference immensely and I find great joy in my children.  Some days I don't get much done, but that's okay because I'm enjoying the journey.  There will be time for "doing" later when they're older and more independent.  In the mean time, I'm loving the "being."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Looking back, looking forward

Almost a year ago, I made a dress for Miss M from some of the Very Hungry Caterpillar fabric put out by Andover Fabrics.  I looked up the pictures I took of her modeling the dress and I can't believe how much smaller she was a year ago!  I hadn't started this blog yet, so I thought I'd go ahead and share a picture of the dress from last March.  The pattern is my own design, a simple tie-neck halter top and shirring in the back.

I'm planning to put this one away for my grandkids (fingers crossed for at least one granddaughter).  I entered it in last year's county fair and won first place! (I also won second and third with my other entries, but truth be told, there wasn't much competition.)

The reason I was thinking about this dress is that I'm using some of the remaining fabric for the indoor hopscotch game.  It seems to be one of those projects that is never quite done despite my best efforts.  Right now, it's all put together and pinned to the background fabric like some sort of freakishly large applique.  Tomorrow I hope to get it sewn down.


Now I'm off to slumberland.  We've been going to bed early and watching BBC movies via Netflix on the laptop while snuggled up under mountains of blankets.  What better way to end these bitter cold days?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Row your boat

Miss M wanted to make a "rower" with a paper towel tube and an empty granola bar box.  A few snips and two strips of packing tape later, she had a new oar for her bilibo boat and I had a few minutes extra time to work on the indoor hopscotch.



I got all the numbers cut out and sewn on.  Hopefully I can get it finished up in the next few days (a couple solid hours and I'd have it finished, but I never get good chunks of time like that!)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

We've Got Mail

Many thanks to Lu Bird Baby for her lovely felt Valentines and tutorial on making felt mail.  As I mentioned yesterday, I picked up an unfinished wooden mailbox at JoAnn and some sheets of felt in red, white, pink, and grey.  Miss M would have been perfectly happy to play with the mailbox just as it was, but I thought it needed a bit of sprucing up.


I was a bit short on white acrylic paint, so it could use a second coat, but as long as you don't look too closely, it is nice.


Miss M was also perfectly happy pilfering used envelopes as I paid the bills, but I wanted to try my hand at felt mail.  I'm so glad I did.  They turned out so cute and Miss M was delighted to have "my own, my very own mail, Mama!"  She has been delivering and checking the mail all day long.


For anyone who's thinking about making mail for their own kids, I find Miss M doesn't have much trouble at all putting the "letters" in the envelopes, but she is exceptionally dexterous for her age (3 years, 3 months), so if you're crafting for kids this age or younger, stick to the postcards unless you want to be stuffing envelopes all day!

I made a bit more progress on the indoor hopscotch I started before last week's hospitalization.  It took me a while to figure out where my mother-in-law stashed the pieces since she "cleaned up" while staying here with the kids.  I know she meant well, but it is really not at all helpful to put things "away" where they don't belong so that they cannot be found.  A week later and I'm still opening my cupboards to get something out or put something away and encountering 2-3 objects out of place that have to be dealt with before I'm able to complete the task I was attempting in the first place.  *sigh*  She lived here for 10 months, you'd think she'd know where I keep things.  It's not like I've changed anything since then!  Oh well, I'm just thankful to have my house to myself again!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

"It makes me want to wag my tail"

If you have young children, you may be forced to endure have watched Blue's Clues over and over without ceasing on occasion.  Miss M watches it on Netflix which she is getting quite adept at navigating (frankly, she can use a computer better than her grandfather...and she can't even read!).  She's loves the part when Blue and Steve get mail and laughs and laughs at the part in the song that says, "It makes me want to wag my tail."

Her fascination with mail and mailboxes brought to mind this post over on Lu Bird Baby.  So while out today on a spending spree (thanks to Uncle Sam and the fat tax return we got this year) I picked up a few sheets of felt and a wooden mailbox.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Happy Friday!

Last Friday was the pits!  Today was much more pleasant and though I still didn't accomplish much (more Farscape and a long nap), I'm pleased to just spend time with my two favorite small people.  I'm still recovering from being ripped away from my babies for three days as much as I am from the surgery!

It snowed all day...a wet, sticky snow that frosted the trees and made every view from my house picture perfect.


(Click on the picture.  It's worth viewing full size.)

Tomorrow I'll try to finish the indoor hopscotch game I started before I got sick.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Best Beef Dip Ever

Since the only thing I did today was cook supper and watch Farscape, I figured I'd share one of my favorite recipes.  It's the Best Beef Dip Ever recipe from allrecipes.com.  I throw it all in the crock pot for a few hours, et voila!  Tonight I served it on ciabatta rolls with swiss cheese, a touch of prepared horseradish and mayo (hubby's preference), red onion, and shredded lettuce.

No picture, unfortunately...not only is there not much left, but the in-laws crashed supper and made the final prep time a bit hectic.  Anyway, try it!  It's worth it!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Handmade abdominal pillow

While at the hospital, I was delighted to be presented with this handmade abdominal pillow.  A nurse gave it to me immediately after I woke up from having surgery with the instructions to carry it with me every where I go and use it to "splint" my tummy if I feel the need to cough or sneeze or the like.


I simply love the fact that it's handmade!  Someone, some volunteer probably, made it with their own hands.  It could have been an elderly woman filling her spare time with volunteer work.  It could have been a young girl learning to sew and donating her services to a good cause.  I'll bet it was someone local.  For some reason that especially warms my heart.  I haven't had the pleasure of meeting many crafters after my own heart in real life (other than family), so the knowledge that there are crafty caring people locally is heartwarming.  Okay, so maybe I'm a bit too drugged, but anyway, this is one much appreciated pillow!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Gallbladder attack

Been wondering where I've been the past few days?  Here's a recap:

Friday - I was pretty sick with a gallbladder attack.  Hubby stayed home from work to help me with the kids and take me to see our family doctor.  She ordered some blood tests and scheduled an ultrasound for Tuesday to look for gallstones.

Saturday morning - Hubby got up with the kids and let me sleep in (which was good 'cause I really didn't sleep much that night due to the pain).  Before I even got up, Hubby brought me the phone.  It was the doctor calling to say that she got the blood test results back and wanted me to get an ultrasound pronto, no waiting until Tuesday.  She pulled a few strings and got me in for one even though it was the weekend (and quite a drive away).  She also put in a call to her favorite surgeon.

Saturday afternoon - I took a nap.  When I got up I was feeling just as bad, if not worse.  The doctor's words came back to me..."listen to your body."  Well, my body was not happy.  I couldn't keep down anything, not even crackers and water.  I figured I could tough it out until Tuesday -- eating practically nothing -- but I didn't want to jeopardize my milk supply or torture myself, so I went to find Hubby so we could go to the hospital.  I could hear Hubby snoring in the living room...and this is what I found!


Yes, they were both asleep...and Miss M was in a diaper box!  My jaw literally dropped open when I saw her there!

Saturday night - I took my copies of the ultrasound results with me to the emergency room, but they were unable to read them, so they did some blood tests and ordered another ultrasound.  They couldn't see any gallstones and decided to send me home once the rest of the blood test results were in.  But that was not to be.  The blood tests showed that my liver enzymes were a complete mess, so I was admitted to the hospital at once.

Sunday - I had a endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (Look at that word! Isn't it amazing? All 24 letters! Love it!) or ERCP in which they removed four gallstones (I have the pictures and they are not pretty!)  Thank the Lord for the good doctor who was willing to come in on a Sunday to do the procedure...and his wonderful family for allowing him to!  It was the first time I've ever been put to sleep for something...I was a bit nervous, but it turned out to be okay.  And my wonderful Hubby was there for me the whole time.

Monday - I underwent an hour long surgery to remove my gallbladder.  The surgery came off without a hitch and I was able to eat for the first time in days.  Despite my illness, my appetite never went away (blame it on being a nursing mother), so this business of being able to eat again was quite a celebration!

Tuesday - home again, home again!  I missed my babies, but I knew they were in good hands.  I'm a bit sore, but nothing serious.  E-boy was fed with formula for about a day -- I had to pump and dump for a bit due to some of the medications I took -- and he did fine despite being a bit gaseous.  It was hard on Miss M to be shuffled back and forth between sets of grandparents so much, but she too came out none the worse for the wear.  In fact, I think it strengthened her bond with her brother a bit which is a very sweet sight to behold!

I am so thankful to the Lord for arranging willing doctors, kind and knowledgeable nurses, loving grandmas and grandpas, and a truly dedicated husband so that being in the hospital for three days was a positive experience and not a horror.  It wasn't the weekend I envisioned, but it was definitely a memorable one!