It's A Crafty Advent - Day 22: Moo Cards

 I've needed new business cards for a while.  I've printed my own, done the basics from Staples, and ordered a pre-designed one from an Etsy seller, but hadn't found anything I loved.

I started thinking about a unique logo and had a friend come up with a couple ideas.  But then I hmmd and hawed and lost momentum.

I'd heard about Moo Cards here and there on blogs and in Readymade Magazine but didn't have a collection of photos I was prepared to put on the back.

Then I was almost out of the hodge podge I had left.  And saw someone else's Moo Cards in person at an art fair.  The feel, the quality...  I took the plunge.


And I am so happy with how they turned out!  On top of the customer service, super fast shipping, and fabulous quality of the paper, printing, and packaging, their variety of available artwork has something for everyone.  And, you don't have to pick just one!

As you can see, I picked a variety.  Some of them I really like.  Some of them I love.  I'd love to mix some of the premade designs with some of my own photography next time.

Because, for sure, there will be a next time.

It's A Crafty Advent - Day 20: The Christmas Eve Bags

Things have gotten a little too crafty around here lately.  I had a couple last minute custom orders on top of everything else and have been spending what little free time I've had lately in the studio.  So while I haven't been writing about what I've been making, I've actually been making a lot!

And yet there's so much that could me done!  I told The Dad this morning what else I wanted to make/do and his response was "I think you and I have different meanings for "A Simple Christmas".

But really, we are trying (and I think succeeding) at keeping things pretty low key this year.

One of the things I had on my list to do (and one of the things The Dad scoffed at) was some Christmas gift bags to take the place of all the wrapping paper.  While more work right now (though really not that much more), I hope that they will be reused for years to come.  Especially these first bigger ones.

We have a tradition, brought to our family by my family of origin, of giving pajamas and books on Christmas Eve.  Open one Christmas Eve Present, put on the new PJs, and curl up in bed with some good books.  These bags in the picture each contain new jammies and about half a dozen new books.  I kind of want to fill a bag for myself, too!

Oh how I could shop for books forever.  My Christmas shopping has been done for weeks (really, we are keeping it simple this year) but I just can't stop finding books.  They're important, though.  And I'm so particular about which ones I buy.  But I love finding great ones that just grab me.  Like the Sound of Music Pop Up book I didn't even know existed!  Oh my.

It's A Crafty Advent - Day 8 : Noel Gnomes

Besides the tree and the advent pockets, we don't do a whole lot of Christmas decorating around here.  One thing I added this year, though, is these little Noel Gnomes I fell in love with at the Waldorf Holiday Fair a couple weeks ago.

Every once in a while they get pulled down and played with  - especially the "O" one.  For the most part, though, the kids have been good with my explanation that these are mine.  They're not always happy about it, but they're learning...

"The Felt Lady", as I call her, was talking about all the ways these could be modified - including birthday ones that spell out a child's name.  I look forward to seeing what else she comes up with!

It's A Crafty Advent - Day 6

For about 15 minutes yesterday, the beginnings of our little Christmas Village looked like this.  That's a little felt squirrel, if you can't tell.  I found the two little woodland creatures at Wonderment when we were in Minneapolis.  And in the background - my first attempt at a felt tree (which I love, but which won't stand up on its own) and, of course, our impromptu cardboard-box-manger.

More to be added every day.  Stay Tuned!

It's A Crafty Advent - Day 5: The Auction Dress That Wasn't

So I got the studio picked up.  And spend the rest of the morning making a dress for our nursery school's Winter Auction.  I actually finished the dress in one sitting and photographed it in hopes of listing it as a custom item in my shop.  I took pictures of the front.  I flipped it over to take pictures of the back...  And found a couple spots/fabric flaws I had missed when I ironed the fabric before I started!

So, no longer a viable donation, I switched gears and finished this up for the auction instead - one of those moments where it is good to have a couple projects sitting around half-done.

But really, while it was frustrating at the time, I'm more excited and motivated that I managed to finish two pieces today!  On top of a little straightening up/de-cluttering of my workspace.  I call that a success...

It's A Crafty Advent - Day 4: In the Studio

When the kids started school in September, I really thought I had my chance to get sewing and get my little business off the ground.  O would be in school 3 mornings - giving me one to co-op (he goes to a cooperative nursery school where I co-op 3 mornings per month), one to volunteer at E's school for a little bit and get work done around the house, and one to sew.  Even 3 hours for studio time would be better than what I had.

I was wrong.  The three mornings a week somehow only gave me an hour every once in a while in the studio.

So, today O is starting a fourth day at school and staying all day.  Which means 9-3.  And I am looking at/hoping for 5 solid hours in the studio.

Unfortunately those 5 hours begin with digging my work table out from under this.

I'll see you on the other side!

It's A Crafty Advent - Day 1

 We hung our Advent Garlands last week and filled them last night.  My mom made these for the kids last year and I love them.  Last year they were filled with trinkets and a little candy.  While I loved a lot of the little things, some were really just filler - little pieces of plastic that ended up floating around our house until they made their way into the trash.  And really?  Who wants to feed their child a hershey kiss before they've had breakfast?

This year I wanted to do things a little differently.  I was inspired by Mary Beth over here last year and decided that we would follow suit and do some kind of "Christmas Village" with a mix of things that are new and things that we already had.

I actually bought a Playmobil advent calendar last summer and have had it stashed away to make up the bulk of the pockets.  Mixed in are some new play silks, a new ornament for each kid, a little necklace kit for each, and the pieces of a great hand carved nativity set that my parents bought for me in Holland(?) way back before I had kids.  I'm really excited to see what the kids think.


 Today, in their first pockets, they each received a new ornament.  I especially love the one for O - a great wool felted snowman I bought from Melissa Frueh (of Sqrl & Bee) at the local Waldorf School Holiday Fair before Thanksgiving.  I've known of her for a while and was super excited to be able to see her things in person.  Check out her husband's cool video Wellington Dreams - an amazingly creative couple!


So, I'm excited to watch the little Christmas Village unfold over the next 23 days.  We'll see what the kids decide to do with it all.  I have a feeling it is going to end up looking nothing like I imagine...

Small Felt Crayon Roll

I've seen these crayon rolls floating around the web, mostly fabric ones in various Etsy sites. 
A friend showed me a felt one the other day that looked even easier. 
So after some hmming and hawing procrastination, I tried making one this weekend for a 4-year old's birthday. 

It still needs some tweaking, but I like it!  And really, pretty easy. 
I'd still like to try a fabric one, too.  Hopefully in time for Christmas.
Santa's workshop (also know as my studio) opens this week.  My shopping is done and now it's time for a little handmade mama love...

Happy Thanksgiving

Today I am thankful for all of the things I don't have to worry about.
Because as much as I do worry, there is so much I often take for granted.

Have a fabulous and thankful Thanksgiving.

Adding Some Color of Our Own

That first painting job referenced back here is finally done.  And really?  It was fun!  A few facing pieces to shellac and install and then I'll get some pictures up of the final product.  Of course, with the caveat that our bedroom mantle also has to be cleaned of for a prettier shot...  So it may take a little bit longer...

I love this bright blue.  "Utah Sky", it is called.  My first use of Benjamin Moore's Aura paint and I am sold.  Great coverage and little to no odor.  Can't beat that!  We'll definitely use it again.

Looking for Color

I feel like my last few posts have been filled with browns and grays.  While it has been unseasonably warm here, it is the middle of November and the light has been dimmer and shorter.  So - a little color to brighten your mid-November day.



The Nature Table Revisited

Our nature table is pretty full these days, though not at all as I expected it to be.  I don't know why I thought it might look like this.  Or this.  Ours is definitely more reflective if my children's personalities.  The table is scattered with leaves, pinecones, acorns, and cicada shells (with a couple dead cicada among them) from outside.  Intermingling with some berry containers from the farmers market, two 'toad abodes' E made at her sleepover at the zoo, and a random slinky.

While not how I pictured it, the kids have taken ownership and are using it as I had hoped.  As in, "Look at this leaf!  I want to put it on the nature table!"  Located on a radiator cover on our enclosed porch, it also serves as a nice transitional space from outside to in.  "That can't come inside...  but you can put it on the nature table!"

It's all about the process, right?

Flea Market Find

In another life, or maybe in another year, I would love to frequent some local (or at least not too far away) flea market.  Regularly.  Even every weekend.  With coffee in hand.

This past weekend, on a very short trip to my parents', I joined them at their local flea market.  The one they frequent every Sunday.

And I found this.
This funky 1950s chrome child's rocker.
It spoke to me.
And I brought it home.


After a month of battling cold after cold, fever has finally entered our house.

My poor girl who has always been so healthy is today missing her 4th day of school in 7 weeks and her first fieldtrip on a big yellow school bus.

I see lots of popsicles, books, and movies in our day today.  And lots of continued viewing of some roof repair.  Conveniently located right outside of our den window.

An Update on The Yelling

I didn't yell today.
In fact, I haven't yelled since I read this article and wrote this post.
And you know what?
It feels really good.

The Durability of Mini Cupcakes

Something I learned this morning:

Mini Muffins,
frosted at the last minute and covered with Halloween sprinkles and sugar so that they look like cupcakes,
in little Halloween cupcake wrappers,
packed carefully into a tupperware container with a lid,
carried in one hand while dragging your children down the sidewalk to make it to school before the bell rings, when accidentally dropped - upside down - on said sidewalk,
are actually protected by all those sprinkles and sugar,
and can actually be salvaged and survive to still appear intact for the Kindergarten Halloween party.

Who'd have thunk it?


Pumpkin Muffins with dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.
The Dad and I had a conversation yesterday morning that went something like this:

Him: So, what do you want to do today?

Me: Really?  If I could do anything?  Some baking, some cleaning, some sewing, and some sitting and reading with E.

And really?  I was completely serious.
Even better?  I got to do it all.

Plus a little tromping in the woods.

And the motivation continues: I bought paint this morning for a bedroom project that's been in process for a while.  The first can of many as we begin (soon!) to go through the house room by room and finally add some color!

A new fleecy poncho for E.

Stay tuned.

Yelling at Kids - In the New York Times

The Dad just sent me this article.  I just read it.  After a morning so difficult for all of us that I left O standing naked at the window, screaming, as I pulled out of the driveway to take E to school.

And I felt awful.  More awful than I did already.

Things have been a bit difficult here lately.  Among other things, O's having a hard time transitioning to nursery school.  Once there and settled, he's doing great, but at home?  He is contrary, demanding, sad, and attached to the hem of my shirt or waist of my pants.  And I am trying to be patient.  But I get frustrated, too, and honestly?  I get tired of having him cling to me.

This article?  Really?  Makes me sad.  Not in the "How could people treat their children like that?" sad, but "How did I become this person and what am I doing?" sad.

The yelling in our house hasn't actually been going on for that long.  We have not always been yellers.  But it's worse than it was a year ago.  And better than it was 4 months ago.  And something we're working on.  And talking about.  And working on some more.

But the question I have is "Why do we have to work on it?"  Why is it not something we can acknowledge and change.  How have our reserves have gotten so low that as hard as we feel we are trying we are still so impatient and quick to anger.  Because that is really what needs to be fixed.  That is the root of the problem.  The yelling is really only a symptom, I think.

So that is the challenge I begin to day.  To fill us back up.  To restore peace in the house - even when we feel we are stretched to our limits.  To ensure that at every moment our children know that we love them as much as we do - to the tips of our toes - so deep that it hurts.  That is the challenge.

Lighting Woes

I have a couple things to list in my shop today, but am not having much luck with the lighting out in my yard.  It's a beautiful day out, yet my yard is filled with shadows and even the spots that seem to be bright are dissapointingly grey.  Hmmm...  I may have to take a fieldtrip.  Or wait until later in the day when the sun has moved.

All these little occupational inconveniences I'd never really thought of a year ago.  I have the pieces, I finally have the time, I need the sun too cooperate!

Stay tuned.

Finally - Some Coasters in the Living Room

Delivering my first 'shipment' to Art Star Gallery yesterday has me back in the studio inspired and motivated.  First up, before embarking on another batch of dresses and accessories: Coasters.  Our living room, full of wooden surfaces waiting to be damaged more than they already are, has been calling out for coasters for almost two years now.

I whipped up a small batch from the design in Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts.  Easy and quick, I think there may be many more in my future.  Especially since E tried to abscond with the first test-one as a dollhouse rug...

I'm seeing a set of coasters with a couple mugs and some of the best hot chocolate ever.  All wrapped up together nicely.  Christmas?  Anyone?

After Homemade Granola Bars, You Can Never Go Back

Oh. My. Goodness.

I bought this Annabel Karmel cookbook shortly before E started Kindergarten, all motivated to pack fun and creative lunches every day.  While I have mostly managed to stay away from the standard PB&J so far, I had yet to actually follow one of the recipes in the book before Friday.  I have used some of her great ideas, but hadn't actually made anything specific.

Until these homemade granola bars.  So easy to customize, we used honey and brown sugar, oats, cheerios, almonds, raisins, sunflower seeds, and chocolate chips.

Ignoring the fact that I smooshed them a little too much cramming them into a storage container, these things are amazing.  And so, so easy.  And really, after tasting them and reluctantly sharing them with the kids, I don't see how I can ever buy another pre-packaged granola bar again.

A Visit to the Cockpit

Did you know that they're letting kids up in the cockpit again?  After boarding our flight home from Minneapolis on Monday, there was a bit of a delay while we waited for a couple connecting passengers who were running late because of all of the snow.  E asked the flight attendant of they could see the cockpit...  and she said "Of course!  They've been waiting for you!"

So, without parents (were were only in row five with a great aisle view), the two kids tromped in and made themselves comfortable.  That is E in the co-pilot's seat and her stuffed "Poly" on the steering wheel.  At one point we overheard them telling O "Oh no!  Now we're flying upside down!"  Evidently, they let him pull some lever.

I still remember my first flight, at the age of 6, when my brother and I also got to go up and visit.  That day, they gave us wings (pins) and playing cards with the airlines logo (I think it was American).

So the kids' visit to the cockpit, plus the peanuts (!!) and cookies passed out with drinks, really made it feel like old times.

So. much. fun.

My Creative Independent Thinker

When I picked E up at school this afternoon, her teacher beckoned me with one finger.  I cringed and approached.  She put her hand to one side of her mouth and kind of whispered:
"E cut her hair today.  And her friend's."

Ohhh...  it continues.

Her second week of nursery school, when she was three and we had just seen Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and then proceeded to read the book over and over again, her teacher greeted me in a similar fashion.
"I just want to let you know... (pregnant pause)...  E painted her hair today."
And she had - as red as she could.  Like Alexander.  The teachers had tried to rinse it out, resulting in a stiff crackly helmet of reddish orange that crunched as I lay my hand on her head to lead her out of the building.

Later that same year, at a suburban nursery school she attended for a couple months after we moved, the poor assistant teacher didn't know what to do with her.  She was frustrated because since E started they needed to close the classroom door so she wouldn't wander out.  This teacher, a bit exasperated, looked at me one day and said
"She does things I have never seen any child do before...  And I've been teaching for 25 years..."

But really?  I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.

Today, (using the safety scissors they use in Kindergarten) she only cut a small bit in the front.  Giving one side a little bit of long bangs.

Her friend had her hair in a ponytail when she came out of the classroom.  She has a head of beautiful dark curls.  E insists she only cut a tiny bit.  That her friend just wanted her to cut off one curl.  I'll see for myself tomorrow when her hair is down again.  Until then, I'm just keeping my fingers crossed.

A New Batch of Dresses - And a Plug for the Crafty Planet

It's funny, I went to label this post 'Finally Back in the Studio' and realized it had already been used on this post.  Evidently, these long breaks from the studio and fervent return happen on a somewhat regular basis around here.

After four months of quiet, I am finally starting a new batch of dresses.

What better way to start than with sock monkeys?  This sock monkey fabric actually holds some special meaning for me.  While my Mom taught me to sew when I was a kid and I made curtains for E's nursery before she was born, I attribute my real sewing beginning to a little place in Minneapolis called the Crafty Planet.

Somehow, I got it in my head that I was going to sew little clutch blankets for a craft show way-back-when.  I think it was even before O was born.  And somehow I stumbled on this sock monkey fabric, the whole funky monkey line of it (which was much more minimal back then).  I searched for a brick and mortar store where I could buy it locally and found the Crafty Planet.

I was smitten.  The best fabric store I have been in.  Ever.  It's not that they have a huge selection.  Or fabulous prices.  But what they do have?  It is exactly what I am looking for.  Always.  And the spirit of the store?  It is right on.

So I took a quilting class.  And an applique class.  And an embroidery class.  And two years after moving I still miss it dearly.  Every time I want to go fabric shopping.  Or I see a cool print on line and think "Oh how I wish I could see it in person.  Touch it.  See what would go with it."

So if you're in the Twin Cities area, and you haven't experienced the shop, I highly recommend it.  We're heading back there (for the first time in two years!) next weekend and a little fabric shopping spree is on my short list.  While The Dad takes the kids somewhere else for a little bit.  What's the luggage weight limit these days on airplanes??

To Play Outside Alone...

It sounds crazy when I actually write it out, but for the first time today my kids went out and played in the yard alone.  Without me sitting on the steps with a book or magazine or on the enclosed porch with the door open.

We sat in the dining room talking with friends after brunch, turning around every once in a while to look out the window and make sure they were still there.  And...  They were.

You see, I'm not afraid someone is going to come into the yard and take them.  We live in the city, but on a somewhat secluded corner lot.  Bordered by two streets.  Two streets I am just beginning to trust my children not to wander into.

So today was the first step.

They didn't last too long.  They were soon calling for us to come and join them.  And to fix the pulley system, since The Dad, in building it, had not anticipated that they would try to fit a child into the basket. 

They pulley is the latest addition to The Fort.  Now with a second story and recycled slide.  Hours of fun, I tell you...  Hours of fun...

And Real Life Continues...

So, a week has flown by without my realizing it.  Kindergarten drop off has gotten progressively easier, the fussing at the pass-off tempered by the fact that she is always picked up at the end of the day smiling and hugging her teacher.  The house was cleaned and prepared for the onslaught of friends and family in town for the wedding of Aunt Wendy and a fabulous time was had by all.

The wrangling of my wild children at a weekend of fun parties and events did, though, hamper my ability to pick up my camera and snap some pictures.  Something I sadly realized this morning.  Absolutely no pictures of the kids fully decked out in all their finery as the flower girl and ring bearer...  The closest I got was E getting her hair done beforehand and O in his pirate regalia at the reception.  I really hope the photographer got some good shots!

How cool to be married on International Talk Like A Pirate Day?  The reception was replete pirate paraphernalia, including a kidnapping of the bride and rescue by swordfight set to some fabulous 'pirate music'.

Now, we return to our regularly scheduled programming.  With my return to the studio tomorrow morning!  Hooray!

Stay tuned...

The First Day of School

So today they both started school.  And for the first time in five years I dropped them off and came home.  Alone.

And it wasn't as freeing as I thought it would be.

E cried when I left her at school.  And I worried about her.  O loved it and wants to stay longer tomorrow.  But today I picked him up at noon, on the playground I picked her up on all last year, and I felt like something was missing.

I wish I could say that when I picked her up at 3 she was excited and enamored with the idea of Kindergarten, but this one's going to take a little convincing...

I did however get a couple things done this morning - including the ring bearer pillow O will carry in the wedding this weekend.  If the weather tomorrow is as nice as it is today, I'll get some pictures.
**Something's still a little bit wonky with my text formatting.  I'm trying to figure it out...**

Two More Days

Two more days.

Two more days that have all of the sudden snuck up on me.  Days in which I want to just hold them on my lap a little longer.  Days I want to cram just one more thing into.  But also days in which I mentally add just one more thing onto the list of "Things I will do once they are in school."

Things like:
  • Clean out the refrigerator
  • And the cupboards
  • Finally donate all those boxes and bags to the local thrift shop
  • Get back in the studio and get some new dresses made to fill a consignment order and re-open my shop.
  • Finish all the cleaning and last minute home improvement things from the "List of things to do before Wendy's wedding" (which is really the "List of things to do before we have 100 people over to our house for breakfast")
  • Make and stock the bags to keep the kids occupied (in the front row!) during the less interesting pieces of that wedding.
  • Make the ring bearer pillow!
  • Sit quietly by myself in a coffee shop, checking things off my list that have been done...
Okay, the more I type that list, the more I realize I need to do.

But really?  I just want to relish the next two days, the first time getting both my kids ready for school.  And by present for this huge transition (as much a rite of passage for me as for them) that is about to occur.

Right Now I'm Loving...

...That E is as comfortable dressing up in armor as she is in princess gowns and tutus.  And having lots of dress up accessories that become all kinds of different things in their play.
...Being totally sucked into and absorbed by a book.  It's been a long time since I couldn't put something down.
...This coat.  It's been in my cart for weeks and I just found out it's 20% off.  With free shipping.  My finger is just itching to click on "checkout".
...That O says "my own self" instead of "myself".  And that he is just so excited and proud to be starting nursery school.
All is good.  I just need a little more sleep...
At the dinner table yesterday I looked at The Dad and said "I just don't know why I'm so tired."  E piped in "Maybe you're going to have another baby."
"We are not having another baby", The Dad and I said in unison.
"I'd really like to have a new baby boy", said O.  "And name him Tommy."
"Or a baby girl," said E.  "And name her Tomanika.  Or Sarah."
Oh my, never a dull moment.

30 Days of Summer :: Day 30!!

 After a summer full of rain, this weekend has been glorious.
We were fortunate to spend yesterday at the Rodale Institute picnicking, exploring their demonstration garden, and apple picking.  
Amazing organic apples, eaten right off the tree, in which you could actually taste the sunshine.
If you're in the area, I  highly recommend checking it out.
They've also got a great little shop with all kinds of books.  I picked up three about square foot gardening, gardening with kids, and creating outdoor spaces that invite kids in.  So much to do!

I hope you are having a fabulous Holiday Weekend.
I'll be back Tuesday!

30 Days of Summer :: Day 29 :: The Pillows are Multiplying

I joked here about using lots of some colorful pillows throughout the house to perk up some family spaces, but I was really somewhat serious.  I've done a couple now (including this one) backed with linen that I really like the look of.
While the one pictured above actually seems to blend in with the rug, it pops perfectly on the tan living room couch.
And have I mentioned how much I love Michael Miller prints?

30 Days of Summer :: Day 28 :: A Little Fabric Tissue Case

Evidently, with the somewhat cooler weather, I've been a little more inspired to get back into the studio, even if just for some quick little projects.
I had bookmarked this Tissue Holder Tutorial way back when and finally tried it out last night.  I adapted/adjusted it a little bit and am excited to have one more homey piece to stick in E's backpack when she starts school...  If I can get her teddy bear to release it's new 'pillow'.
I'll be back in the studio for real after the weekend of the 19th and will have the shop re-opened by the end of September.  I'm really excited about some new things coming down the pike.
Thanks for checking in!