Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Knight to Remember

Oh dear. Pardon the pun. I couldn't help myself. Anyhow, yesterday's party was a hit. We had it in the basement since it has easy access to the yard and the biggest table. All but one of Adam's nieces and nephews attended and they all had a blast. Adam made Autumn this fantastic castle cake topped with her plastic knights and her favorite of Adam's D&D dragon figures, a blue one she calls Sapphira.
First, the kids worked on a craft project decorating wooden masks while Adam fired up the grill, then we had a delicious lunch of cheeseburgers, hot dogs and baked macaroni and cheese. We drank fruit punch and water out of plastic goblets and snacked on fruit kabob "swords."After lunch the kids were unleashed into the backyard to play with Autumn's inflatable pirate fort--er, castle--and foam swords and shields. This was by far their favorite part of the party. Adam and his brother joined in and took a vicious beating from a bunch of preschoolers.
When the knights and ladies grew tired from their battle we coaxed them inside for cake and ice cream. Autumn blew out all four of her candles and the great castle was demolished. It was delicious.After cake the kids returned to the fort while the adults sat around the table chatting, then came inside again for a game of Pin the Flag on the Castle. After each guest finished they received their favor bags; wrist armor disk launchers and yo-yos for the knights, and costume jewelry and fairy dolls for the princesses. I made red velvet princess dresses and gray knight tabards for the kids, but for some reason never got a good picture of them. I think I have an extra dress somewhere that I'll photograph later. The girls didn't keep the dresses on for long but the boys loved their tabards, and Autumn had a special red knight tabard and helmet that she wore the whole time. They also each got to take home a shield and sword.This was my first time hosting a party of any sort, and I must say it was exactly the way we wanted it to be. Everything went very smoothly, the children loved every activity, and the parents thought it was great too. After all the guests were gone Autumn told me, "Mom, this was the best party ever." That really made it worth all the effort.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Year 4

Happy birthday Ootie. We love you.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lanterns, toile, and a very Bossy Bear

Bossy Bear is very bossy. He is also Autumn's favorite book by David Horvath. It's a story about a little blue bear who wants things his way all the time, but learns to share with the help of a small turtle with a balloon. So my second birthday gift to her is this hat, which I whipped up today while she was at school. Adam loves it and I think she'll get a kick out of it too.
In other news I've been on a major organizing mission in my craft room lately. I'm rearranging and repurposing much of my abundance of stuff as well as parting with a lot of things I've finally admitted to myself that I'm not going to use. I've also been trying to bring a little more personality into the room with the addition of things like these paper lanterns I bought on our summer vacation. Aren't they pretty?
A fellow crafter showed me this ingenious way (one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" moments) to store fabric, by folding and wrapping it around pieces of cardboard to make mini bolts. I think my fabrics look adorable lined up this way on my shelves, and it takes up a lot less storage space as well as making it easier to find what I'm looking for. See that red and cream toile on the right? Delicious. I guess for some toile is a little too old fashioned and stuffy looking, but I'm madly in love with it and pick it up whenever I find it for a good price. This was a thrift store score I got a few weeks back. The fabric was folded up nicely when I bought it and I hadn't thought to unfold it before I was ready to use it, so it sat neatly on my shelf all this time. When I unfolded it to wrap it on my little cardboard bolt yesterday I was in for a very pleasant surprise.
That is my four dollar thrift store fabric trailing all the way down our staircase and about three feet into the kitchen. Holy guacamole. When I found this stuff I thought I was buying a yard, maybe two of some pretty toile that I'd use for a purse or something, but here I've got yards upon yards of the stuff. It really doesn't look like that much when it's folded up, does it? Needless to say, my jaw dropped to the floor and I just stared at it for a while, amazed at my luck. My guess is that someone bought it to make curtains and then abandoned the project for some reason. Bless them for donating it to MY Goodwill instead of letting it gather dust in a closet somewhere. I haven't decided yet what I want to make with it. If I'm feeling adventurous I might try a dress, but for now I'll just admire it on my craft room shelf.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Birthday Crafting

Yesterday was the first day of fall, and already I can feel the change in the air. The weather is cooling, the leaves are starting to drop from the trees, and my little one is nearly another year older.
Autumn's birthday is almost here, so for the past week I've been in my own little crafty world making party favors, decorations and, of course, presents. I'll post more about the party stuff when that time comes around, but for now here are my gifts to the small one, inspired by her recent interest in the culinary arts.

A reversible apron (recognize that puppy fabric?). This was my first time making anything reversible (or making an apron, for that matter) and I couldn't be happier with the results. I didn't use a pattern, just made it up as I went along. Each side has a nice big pocket for holding all her chef stuff, and I used ties instead of a loop for the neck so that it will fit her as she grows, assuming that she'll still want to wear it.
When I finished making these oven mitts, I actually squealed. I think they are just so, so darling. Definitely my favorite part of the set. They were based on this super easy tutorial (if you have the time, My Longest Year is a great blog and I strongly recommend reading more of it) and they were really fun to make. I used some fleece left over from last year's Halloween costume for the batting. I was concerned about the sizing at first, so I actually tried one on her with her eyes closed (it fit). Oh well, better to have it be not quite a complete surprise than see her disappointed on her birthday if they hadn't fit.
And last but not least, the all-important chef's hat, modeled by Donce the shark. My first attempt at the hat got thrown into the scrap pile because the poofy part (?) was much too small and looked more like a beret, but I'm satisfied with this one. I'm really proud of this little set and I hope Autumn loves it too. Tomorrow I'm hoping to finish the last of the party favors and I'll be making one more small gift on Wednesday while she's at school.

Special thanks to My Longest Year for the tutorial, to Crafty Pod for keeping me entertained in my craft room, and to Donce for his awesome modeling.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


When Autumn asked me if I was going to have a birthday party and I said no, I just wanted to do something special with her and Adam, she gave me a look of utter disbelief and said "But Mommy, you have to have a party because this is your greatest celebration of the year!" So of course, I needed to don my most festive stripey stockings and celebrate.
I do love birthdays because they give me a reason to celebrate and indulge in very rich desserts. Yesterday the celebration was at the Rainforest Cafe, a favorite of mine because of the over-the-top, borderline tacky Disneyesque decor and atmosphere, and the dessert was this masterpiece:
The brownie volcano. A tower of warm, fudgy brownies, cool vanilla ice cream and rich, whipped cream, topped with caramel sauce. With a sparkler. Oh yes. This is my kind of birthday. The three of us were able to finish most of it, with just a chunk of brownie and some melty ice cream left on the plate. If it weren't for the pre-dessert crab dip and chimichanga I probably could have eaten the whole thing by myself. Mmm...
What was I saying? Oh yeah. Last weekend Adam took Autumn to the mall where she picked out some birthday gifts for me all by herself. Clockwise, from top left: Glow-in-the-dark stars, a Hello Kitty plushie, a Pokemon key chain, a green bear key chain with "ADAM" embroidered on his chest, Tinkerbell pens, a Hello Kitty ice pack, two Hello Kitty "magic towels", and a Hello Kitty velour coloring book.
These things amazed me because they gave me a glimpse at myself through her eyes. What was she thinking as she carefully selected each gift? Mommy likes stars. Mommy likes key chains. Mommy likes Adam. Mommy really likes Hello Kitty. She knows me so well. Isn't it incredible how the smallest children can pick up on these things simply by observing? I'll cherish every one of these gifts because I know how much thought she must have put into them.
Adam's gift to me this year is a new nose piercing. I had to take mine out last year and it closed up very quickly. He knew how much I missed it, so he's taking me to get it re-done.

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful family. Autumn and Adam's thoughtfulness has made this a wonderful birthday, and certainly my greatest celebration of the year.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Open for Business

Welcome to Cafe Autumn. Have a seat. Relax. Chef Autumn herself has prepared something special for you. How about some fresh felt linguine with pompom meatballs? Maybe a slice of our finest sponge cake for dessert? What's that? You want a french fry pizza taco with orange juice? Sure thing. Here at Cafe Autumn the customer is always right.
Play food is my new crafting obsession. So far Autumn's ever-growing collection includes bacon, a fried egg, pasta, a tiny cake, meatballs, fries, pizza crust (which often doubles as a taco shell for some reason), sauce and cheese. Oh and a tomato slice, as featured in the oh-so delicious fry taco.
Out of all the toys I've made her these definitely get the most play time. Almost every morning while I'm making her breakfast, she prepares mine. She insists that I call her "Chef" whenever she dons her little apron, which she decorated today with a lovely beach scene.
Chef Autumn also got to try her hand at some cooking of the non-pretend variety when she helped prepare an almost-homemade (thank you store bought crust) cheese pizza for lunch. In my completely un-biased opinion, it was excellent. Oh and yes, we baked a round pizza on a rectangular cookie sheet because I can never seem to remember to buy a pizza pan.
Yum yum yum. Think this entry has enough pictures yet? Nah.
This bunny was made for a friend's daughter named Ella, who just turned one. And speaking of business, I'm adding bunnies just like this one and Daron's as well as a few others to the Etsy shop. I'm calling them Charmbunnies, because they sort of remind me of charm bracelet charms, in that they each have their own story and unique personality. I think they're quite sweet and fun to make.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


Well, the day has finally come. Autumn's first day of preschool! She was so excited when she woke up this morning. I packed her a lunch of peanut butter and jelly, baby carrots, Jell-O and chocolate milk and we dropped her off at 9:00. Then Adam went to work and I had the house to myself for a few hours, giving me plenty of time to clean (*coughDesperateHousewivesDVDmarathoncough*). When we picked her up at 1:00 she didn't want to leave until I promised several times that she would be back on Friday. Her teacher Ms. Pam said she was very impressed with Autumn's writing abilities, and she even made a new friend!

Friends and family members have been asking me for the past week if I was going to be a complete emotional wreck on her first day since I'm used to being around her 24/7. I was totally fine. I'm really not the sort of parent who gets separation anxiety any time my daughter is in someone else's care for a few hours. I just relaxed at home and enjoyed my few hours of quiet mommy time and was very glad to see her and hear about her day when 1:00 came around. I'm sure the fact that Autumn's school is so wonderful helped put my mind at ease. It's a very small private school where each child gets plenty of attention and individuality is strongly encouraged, unlike public school where it is tragically smothered. I trust the teachers and director of the school completely, and feel 100% confident that they'll provide Autumn with an education that flows well with our parenting style. It's a place where she can blossom rather than wilt unnoticed in a field of hundreds.

Yes, today is a day of change, but a happy change. I am so proud.