Packing List

Whenever we are leaving on a trip, the last minute scramble to get things packed is always just that:  last minute.  While I am packing us up, the girls seem to get into things, making a big mess right before we leave.  About a year ago, I came up with a packing list for them so that they could be busy in a productive way while I was packing my own clothes.


This is today's list.  We went over it together and later, when I am ready to put things in the suitcase, they will go gather what they need and bring it to me.  Occasionally, I will have to edit their choices to make sure that they are appropriate for the season (no tank tops in winter, no corduroys in summer, etc.).  I just send them back to get the right thing and keep packing my own stuff.

Kate wasn't reading when I started using this system, so I drew each item and wrote its name beside it.  Although she's reading now, I still use the drawings because it makes it cute.  And really, cute makes the whole thing fun, you know.  I've thought about making a master list that I can just print out each time.  Would you all be interested in that?

This is a great tool for grocery lists too - draw little apples, bananas, gallons of milk and loaves of bread and then divvy up your list between your helpers.  It gets them involved and keeps them happy in the store.

We're off to Telluride in the morning.  I'll be checking in from there with some other things to share.  See you next week.

I heart three day weekends

Over the three day weekend:

I read this book.

I watched this movie with Fatty, the girls and one of Jane's friends.  Scarier than I remembered.


I pieced the back for the x quilt.

I ran three miles two days in a row.  Woo hoo!


I helped the girls cut and sew nine-patch pillows.  And then ran out of stuffing.

I wanted to chuck the little machine out the window.  I hate it.

I made ribs. And corn salad.  Twice.

We went to some friends' house and let the kids stay up too late.

I made my craft for my local craft swap.  And then swapped.  Details to come.


I took lots of photos of peonies.

It was great - hope yours was too!

Our Handmade Christmas - For the Dad

Jane and Kate love to draw.  In our house, we go through paper and crayons and markers and pencils at a very fast rate.  And it is just not possible to keep all those masterpieces.  We keep a pile of artwork and edit it down from time to time, keeping the ones that tug at my heart the heart and the ones they absolutely cannot bear to let go.  Some have been embroidered - the tree shirt that Kate made last year being my favorite.  My idea for Fatty's gifts from the girls was to transform something that they drew into a shirt for him.  I was thinking freezer paper stencils like Hannah did for her husband's birthday.  But then we had a change of plan.  Enter the print gocco.

The first time I used the gocco, the girls were mesmerized.  After I had printed about 10 cards, Kate said, "Can I use it, please?"  I looked at her and a light bulb went off over my head.  I said, "Another time" and thought, "Oh yeah - she can make something for Fatty with the gocco."  A week or so later, she was home sick from school and in a matter of 15 minutes, we had the drawing.  Ten minutes later we had the shirt.



Not to be left out, Jane wanted in on the action.



Jane came up with her idea on her own.  That's a bowl of cashews next to the frothy beer, in case you were wondering.  Perfect gifts for the beer-selling (and drinking), bike-riding dad who happens to like t-shirts very much.  He loved them and has worn them both - in public!

Something else that Fatty enjoys is cooking.  He does grill duty on a regular basis and often cooks one-pot meals on Sunday.  So you can probably guess what I made him.....his very own apron.


He had made a comment about how much he liked that blue and green fabric when I was making Finn's elephant.  I already had bought the blue twill for his apron and was going to use a different print, but this one really is perfect.  The straps are a bit long - I need to fix that sometime.  My favorite part was using the print to hold the d-rings up by the neck.  I am pretty sure he was surprised.  I don't think he had any idea what I was making - in fact, if I would bet he thought whatever it was would be knitted.  He really likes it - he's told me so many times.  And I am sure he will wear it.  I am keeping my fingers crossed for Sunday.  I am counting on a nice one pot meal.

Our Handmade Christmas - For the mom

I was completely taken aback by the gifts the girls and Fatty made for me.  I really thought I would get some paint-your-own pottery.  The girls love to do that and it would be easy enough for all three of them to accomplish when they went on their secret mission.  I was wrong.  So wrong.

Instead, Fatty took the girls to blow glass!  Blow glass, people.  I have never blown glass and I had no idea that six and eight year olds would be able to blow glass.  Well, they did.  And I was flabbergasted when I opened the package.  Inside were three gorgeous ornaments, each unique and lovely.  If the packages hadn't said who they were from, I think I could have guessed.  All three glass blowers thought of my tastes, but they each put a great deal of their own personality into their creations.


White, blue and green from Jane


White, pink, purple and red from Kate


Green, red and yellow from Fatty

They outdid themselves, didn't they?  I am in awe of this gift.  I think these are too pretty to sit in a box all year long, waiting for December to be hung.  I am going to hang them in front of a window next to our kitchen where I can admire them all year long. 

Lucky, lucky me.

Coming up for air

Thanks for all the sweet birthday wishes for Jane.  When I got to my inbox yesterday, there were over 100 emails waiting to be answered so I made the executive decision not to reply to the birthday comments.  I really do appreciate you all coming by and wishing my sweet girl a happy day.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Ok....big exhale.  Three birthdays and Thanksgiving in three weeks time is enough to bog anyone down.  It's been busy here - the crazy, good busy.  I am a bit behind on the Christmas shopping and definitely don't have all my decorating finished.  The advent calender is empty, but I am hoping to rectify that situation today.  Time to get all my ducks in a row so I can get to the fun stuff - sewing and knitting!

Jane had her birthday party at our house on Saturday.  This is the second time we have decorated gingerbread houses for her birthday and I really think that this is my favorite kids' party idea.  It's fun for them, requires little work from me (I use the Wilton kits - bought on sale at Target and put together before the party), and provides a good activity and party favor at the same time.  The kit is great for a family activity, too, or you can do as I did last year and leave it for a babysitter to make with your kids when you are out at all those Christmas parties.



After we finished decorating the houses, we had chocolate cupcakes and peppermint ice cream - yum! - and a little impromptu dance party.  Eight is pretty great.

More good stuff coming later this week including my adventures with the print gocco, some finished knitting and hopefully some sewing, too.  Enjoy your Monday.

Dreams do come true

Do you remember Jane's shirt designs?  I shared this version awhile back.  After reading all those encouraging comments, Jane was determined to see one of her designs become reality.  Many more drawings later, she settled on this for herself:

For this artist it is all in the details.  For this mom it is all about practical.  So we compromised and started production.  I channeled my inner Hannah and printed the words straight from my computer on to freezer paper.  I cut out the stencil, leaving the "o" intact.   I found a long-sleeved striped t-shirt from Target in an acceptable color combination and then paired it with a short-sleeved shirt (also from Target) we already had.  Jane did the painting.


Jane chose the fabric for the star and I did the applique on my sewing machine.   I cut the sleeves off of the striped shirt at the shoulder seams and then grappled with how I was going to attach them without some weird visible stitching.  I decided to sew them into the short-sleeved t-shirt at the shoulder seam allowance and it worked perfectly.  The key part:  I don't think that this would have worked if the shirts were different brands.  Both sleeves had the exact same profile.


See that smile?  Jane is one happy girl.  She designed it and we made it.  She wants to wear it.  All the time.  I couldn't be happier, either.  The experience was a good reminder for me that dreams can come true.   You just need to chase them a bit.

Jane also designed a shirt for Kate.  You can see it here.

Creative Summer

Here is something I love:


Kate is at it again.  She asked me if she could embroider something to make a pillow.  Of course!  She drew this frog and I traced the back side of the drawing with a transfer pencil and then ironed it onto this cotton.  She worked on it for about 30 minutes a couple of days ago and then put it down.  This is why it takes her six months.


Not to be left out, Jane is working on a swan from the Sublime Stitching book.  She really wasn't interested in stitching one of her own drawings.  She is a wonderful little artist, but she likes lots of details and that doesn't always come across well with embroidery floss.

Something else I love:  the Creative Summer flickr group started by Molly.  Wow!  There are lots of great ideas over there and I plan posting as much as I can.  I am especially enamored with Mama Urchin's lily pad toss game.  Such a wonderful idea.

What creative things are you doing with your kids this summer?

Tissue Paper Flowers and Orange

Project::Tissue Paper Flowers

Kate received this paper flower kit for her birthday back in November.  Because the girls' birthdays are close to Christmas, I often put a few gifts aside for a rainy day.  We pulled the flower kit out a couple weeks ago and they have been making tissue paper flowers almost non-stop.



They are so easy and fun for kids of all ages (yeah, I like making them, too).  They would make great party decorations.  Actually, we made some red and blue ones for the Fourth of July, but they got ruined in the rain before I had a chance to take a photo.


Color week::Orange


The girls made my parents each a flower when they came to visit last week.  My mom wound hers around the handle of her new orange bag.  Jane and Kate really liked that.

This tree grew in only six months

...or it took Kate six months to embroider this shirt.  You choose the title.


She started this embroidery project in January.  The drawing is her own - I used a transfer pencil to trace it and then ironed it on to the shirt.  She picked it up now and again over the course of six months - most often when I was embroidering something.  She did the trunk first, then the pink flower, then the "hair", as she calls it.  I did the face.

When we took the hoop off, it had a nice big ring around it.  Yep, a big white circle where the hoop was and dirt and food and finger marks everywhere else.  I popped in the wash after a liberal application of stain stick and - voila! - a perfectly white tee!  Well, a white tee with a super cute smiley tree worn by a very proud five year old.

That's my girl.

Hi Jane! I'm Jane, too!

Meg's daughter, Jane, and my Jane had themselves a little swap.  These super crafty girls had been working on their goodies for a few weeks and sent the packages off last Thursday.  Sadly, I don't have photos of the package that arrived.  (Call me a bad blogging mom, but the camera battery was dead and I didn't have the heart to make my sick kid wait to open it all.)  You can see it all here.


Jane was so excited and very happy with the goods!  She loves her hot dog buddy and "J" shirt.  Jane also sent my Jane a cd full of great music.  We've been rocking out in the car!

To see what we sent off, head on over to flickr.

Thanks Jane (and Meg)!  I'd say the whole thing was a hit!


We spent the weekend resting.  And did I need it.  I am finally feeling better and so are the girls.  Taking naps and being lazy have a way of making a sick girl well.  So do margaritas...



My favorite recipe:

2 oz. lime juice
1.5 oz. tequila
1 oz. Cointreau
1 scant tablespoon fine sugar

Pour into a shaker filled with crushed ice.  Shake well.  Serve over the rocks into a salted glass.  Makes 1.


I got back into the crafting groove and spent some time sewing.  The girls decided to embroider:  a t-shirt for Kate and a gift for Jane.


I am in love with this smiling tree Kate drew.


And I am very impressed with Jane's design and her even stitching.  It's amazing the difference four months makes.

Happy Monday!

Hands Off Crafting

In an effort to keep the girls busy so I could get some stuff done, I set them up with some of their own crafts today.  This one was a big hit at the Brownies meeting a couple of weeks ago, so I pulled out the leftovers and Jane showed Kate what to do.

What you need:  styrofoam craft balls, fabric scraps (cut into strips), straight pins, sequins and ribbon.


You start by wrapping the fabric around the ball and securing it by pushing a pin through a sequin.  Jane did this with no problem.  Kate need some help wrapping the fabric.


When one fabric strip is finished, start using another one and wrap in the opposite direction.  My girls like the sparkles so the more sequins, the better!  When you've covered the ball and are finished embellishing, add a ribbon to hang it.


The best part?  My plan worked - the girls were busy for at least an hour.  And I only had to add the ribbon. The rest they did on their own!  Jane even went back later and came up with this "doll."


Pretty great, huh?

As for me, I am still crafting.  And cleaning.  Then crafting some more.  With a little shopping thrown in to spice it up.  The to do list is long, so I am going to take a little blogging break.  See you all in a couple of days!

Let the games begin

Three out of the four members of our family have birthdays in the next 3 weeks - everyone, but me.  Kate is up first so we spent the day making favors for her party.




Ta da!  Soap!

We had a great time making these letter soaps.  I melted the glycerin blocks in the microwave, Kate chose the colors, mixed them up and I poured the hot liquid into the molds.  The best part?  It is super easy to clean up afterward.  Just use water!  Tomorrow we are finishing off the goody bags and then Saturday is party time.  She can barely wait!

A Blank Page

Draw, cut, glue, color, write - this is what my kids like to do.  They are creating all the time.  Today started out with some Halloween-themed post-it notes turned into portraits.


Mr. and Mrs. Cat by Jane - I love the title and artist tag cut out of an index card.


Mr. Frankenstein by Kate - I think those are braces on his teeth.

Their friends, Bailey and Lilly, brought them each a blank notebook when they came over for a play date this afternoon.  Everyone in this house loves a new notebook!  They took their notebooks outside with a box of markers and a bag of crayons and intermittently drew and played for three hours.


Jane's outdoor nature study - funny how many of these things are not natural at all...and that phonetic spelling always makes me smile.


Jane's self-portrait - in reality, she only has about three freckles all on her nose.


Kate's drawing - of what, I am not sure, but I love the color combination and she did tell me she was practicing some lower case letters.  Not too shabby for a 4 1/2 year old.

When their friends left, they moved inside.  I found this in Jane's notebook.


And when they were finished, they left this behind:


I will admit that the mess drives me crazy.  It is constant.  I feel like once we get it cleaned up, it reappears almost instantly.  However, I am so happy that they are creative and that they enjoy exploring different crafts that it really doesn't matter.  Not a bit.  They have so much still to learn and so many different doors open to them.  My wish is that they never lose this curiosity and creative spark.  I hope that they always will want to explore new media and new subjects.  That in some way, shape or form, they will always be artistic.  I know it will serve them well because it has for me.

Rain, Rain Go Away

We spent Friday and Saturday trying to stay dry.  The amount of rain was crazy - at one point I heard that we got five inches in four hours.  And it kept raining and then raining some more.

Everyone in this house was a bit restless.  The girls were bickering and getting on each other's nerves.  I was in an especially foul mood starting Friday night when I realized my weekend plans were not going to pan out as I had hoped.  To top it off, I was having small issues with the Olives, no doubt exacerbated by my state of mind.

I took a shower and cleared my head.  When I came downstairs, the girls were collaborating on this:



Jane made the horse and Kate promptly made some grass for grazing.


Amazing how some popsicle sticks made me smile!  The day got better with the end of the rain, the arrival of the babysitter, and a date with my man.


Isn't it great that the movie tickets were the color of sunshine?


Remember this guy?  Jane finally finished her embroidery and I finally made it into a pillow.  Jane chose the lime green gingham for the back of the pillow and had to have the pom-pom trim.  We are both pleased with how it turned out.


Tuesday has been better than Monday.  Susan's package is in the mail and I have been working on the circle project.  Hopefully I can post that one soon.

Ready, Set, Stitch

Inspired by Mia (and her mom) over at Little Birds, I set up the girls to do some hand embroidery.  Being artistic, Jane jumped right in.  She drew a cute kitty that I transferred to linen using a water-soluable pen.
After picking her thread colors, she started stitching the cat's outline.  She has been working on it a few days now.  When she finishes we are going to make it into a pillow for her room.