Friday, November 30, 2007

Twelve Days of Crafting

I have a plan. A challenge for myself that involves some hard work and commitment on my part, but with enough effort I think it will be very gratifying. Adam and I moved in together in January, and this is my first year living away from home (i.e. not under the roof of my mother or grandparents, i.e. being a real live grown up). The thing about having your own place is, you have to start from scratch because the things you always took for granted aren't there from the start. Things like furniture, dishes, appliances, towels, and of course, holiday decorations. I know, shocking, right? You mean my new townhouse doesn't come fully stocked with this crap? Well we pretty much covered the furniture, dishes, appliances and towels in the first couple of weeks, but what we don't have are Christmas things. You know, the things that are supposed to magically appear from a cardboard box in my grandparents' basement? We have no ornaments, garlands, knickknacks, stockings, baubles, tchotkes, or thingamajigs. No doodads! No whatchamacallits! So what's a holiday cheer deprived homemaker to do? Run to K-Mart and fill a cart or two with the entire Martha Stewart holiday collection? I think not my dear friends! It's time to get crafty! So here is my decoration crafting to-do list.

50 ornaments and a tree topper
3 stockings
1 wreath
4 placemats & coasters
2 throw pillows
1 advent calendar + 24 thingamajigs and/or doodads to go in it
an undecided number of soft trees
1 tree skirt

And probably a couple of other odds and ends that I forgot. And I didn't forget about my Handmade Pledge this year, so along with buying a few things from Etsy I am making something for everyone on my list, adding up to about 15-20 individual items, give or take. Doesn't sound too daunting when I have almost a month to get it done, but that's where the challenge comes in. I'm going to do this in 12 days.

Why 12, you ask? Well I don't have any logical explanation other than the fact that I was listening to The Twelve Days of Christmas when I thought of this, and it seemed like a good number that would be challenging but doable. Oh and I'm a masochist.

So starting tomorrow, for the next 12 days I'll be sharing my progress on my blog and probably venting many frustrations and "Why am I doing this to myself?!"s along the way. I'm glad I have this blog because posting about it will help keep me on track. There's a certain accountability that comes with challenging yourself publicly. It's one thing to just set a personal goal for yourself and forget about it, but when you make it public you're more driven to follow through. I think this will be a lot of fun in a frequently stressful, oh-lord-what-was-I-thinking sort of way, so I'll be checking in tomorrow as soon as I finish my first project.

P.S. Before I forget (well, I did forget, and came back to edit this in) I wanted to share this idea I found on Craftster with you all because I think it's so adorable and easy to do if you don't have a lot of time (or crafty skills) this holiday season. It's a photo advent calendar with family pictures behind each numbered window. You can just print out the PDF and add your photos and presto! Instant cuteness.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Holiday Shop Update

Giving handmade gifts this holiday season? The shop has been stocked with some great holiday goodies and stocking stuffers, including scarves, hats, Crayprons, and even a stocking craft kit for the kiddos (click the pictures above to go directly to Etsy listing--I just figured out how to do that and I'm all proud of myself). I'm adding new things this week so keep checking back!

< / shameless self advertising>

Friday, November 23, 2007

Giving Thanks, and a Turkey Debacle

No, not the sort of turkey you're thinking of, thank goodness. I offered to help Adam's mom with Thanksgiving dinner yesterday and she put me on dessert duty, making cupcakes for the kids that were supposed to look like this. She bought these hilarious silicone cupcake molds and couldn't find any candy corn, so we got jelly beans in fall colors instead. "No problem," I told her. "This will be so easy," I said. "They'll look even better than the picture."
Now before I show you the result of my overconfidence and lack of competence I must make one thing clear. Despite my craftiness, I am severely domestically challenged. Severely. I really shouldn't be allowed in the kitchen if what I'm making involves much more than boiling water, and even that goes wrong sometimes. Baking, especially, is not my forte. I had no idea that in order for the frosting to stay nice and stiff on top of the cupcakes to make that cute little turkey head it needed to be refrigerated first. So I just plopped room temperature icing on top of them and hoped for the best. They looked really adorable. For about five minutes. Then Tom Turkey began to droop. And slide. And flatten...Until I ended up with a flock of sorry looking turkey cupcakes, half of which looked like they had been beaten about the head with a shovel and the other half with melting faces. Yeah. Lesson learned. At least they tasted good, and everyone had a good laugh. These, on the other hand, turned out pretty cute. Probably because they didn't involve any feats of engineering with icing.
Now for a few things I am thankful for this year:

Adam. Not only is he a wonderful partner and father, but he works so hard to provide for our family and afford me the opportunity to stay at home with Autumn. He is gentle and patient and sometimes understands me more than I understand myself. I can't imagine sharing my life with anyone else.

My sewing machine, "The Beast." The Beast (please tell me I'm not the only one who names her sewing machines) is the best sewing machine I've ever used. He's a Singer Quantum Futura and he is more user friendly and chock full of features than any other machine I've owned. He was given to me by Adam's mother Michelle, which brings me to...

Grandmothers. Oh what would I do without grandmothers? They know just how to make a cranky preschooler smile when her mother is too flustered and worn out to think straight. They always put their grandchildren first and always have a helping hand to lend and advice to give. Michelle, my mom and my grandma are all wonderful grandmothers and I am so thankful for all of them.

Autumn. My sweet little Mini Me. She has brought so much joy to my life since the day she was born, and though I know it's a parent's job to educate her children, I think I've learned even more about life from her.

The fact that I can eat all the pumpkin pie, stuffing, and mashed potatoes I want without feeling guilty. I've finally realized that all the time I've wasted fussing over my imaginary body issues can be spent actually enjoying life and the time I have with my family.

Last but not least, I am thankful for you, my blog readers. I smile every time I read your comments and know that someone out there, be it a close friend or a stranger, can relate to what I'm saying and has stories of their own to share. Thank you so much for being a part of my blog.
By the way, dinner itself was great. I managed not to screw up reheating the vegetables in the microwave and pouring drinks. My grandmother came down from PA to visit for the weekend, and today we went to the Festival of Trees at the Maryland State Fairgrounds. More about that tomorrow, because now Adam and I are off on a rare outing to see an R-rated movie (another reason I'm thankful for grandmothers). Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Picture That

A fun little idea blatantly stolen from robot jumping rope.

1. Type your answers into Google image search.
2. Post a picture from the first results page.

The age you will be on your next birthday
A place you'd like to visit
One of your favorite places
Your favorite object
Your favorite food
Your favorite animal
Your favorite color
Name of a past pet
Where you live
First grade teacher's last name
Your middle name
A bad habit of yours
Your favorite holiday
I know many of you readers have blogs of your own, so let's see your answers!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bee Movie. And costume. And snacks.

Ever since we saw Bee Movie a few days ago Autumn has been obsessed with bees and their honey. As soon as we got home from the movie theater she rummaged through her dress up box to find a suitable bee costume. The closest thing she could find were some fuzzy pink antennae, fairy wings and a too-small black and yellow sock hop dress, but it was good enough for her. Now we've been asked to address her as "Autumn Bee Princess" whenever she wears this creative getup.
She tried honey for the first time and now wants to eat it every day. Whether that's because she actually likes it or because she just wants to be more like a bee I'm not sure, but at least she's trying new things. She eats honey and peanut butter sandwiches, apple slices dipped in honey, honey on bagels and, once, just a spoonful of the stuff. I had to draw the line at letting her drink it straight from the bottle though. While searching the 'net for honey related recipes I found a simple sweet treat over in the archives of Kids Craft Weekly. They're called Honey Joys, but Autumn likes to call them Crunchy Munchy Honey Cakes, after the catchy Wiggles song.I'll admit I was a little skeptical about how good these would be, as I usually am when trying a new recipe. But they tasted fantastic and were so easy to make. I'm posting the recipe here along with a warning: they are VERY addictive.

Crunchy Munchy Honey Joys
4 cups corn flakes
1/3 cup sugar

6 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon honey

Melt butter, sugar and honey in a saucepan over medium high heat until the mixture starts to bubble. Pour over corn flakes and have your little Bee Princess or Prince help stir until completely coated. Spoon into paper cupcake liners and bake at 150 degrees for 10 minutes. If your oven is like mine and only goes down to 170 (what's up with that?), bake for 10 minutes anyway. It really doesn't matter. Allow honey joys to cool and let the addiction begin!Happy munching!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Director of Photography: Autumn Rose

Okay Mommy. Stand still.
Now walk that way.Turn around. Smile.
Now how about you put this dollar in your hat.
Lay down on the grass Mommy. No not there. Right here.
Okay now I want to lay down with you and you take the picture and I'll close my eyes because of the sun.
You did a good job Mommy.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Two Scarves and Swap Goodies

I've had this red polka dotted fabric sitting on my shelf for a while now and I've really been itching to do something with it, but couldn't figure out exactly what. Last night I decided to try making a kiddo-sized patchwork scarf. It was super easy, and I loved it so much that I decided to make an adult-sized one today while Autumn was napping. For a while I was torn between keeping the scarves and selling them on Etsy, but in the end I was too attached to them to give them up. So now we have matching scarves for fall.
And yeah, we're wearing short sleeves. It's not quite cold enough for scarves yet, but when it is we'll be prepared! Hers has a little felt loop on one end to hold the scarf in place. I might make a few more similar scarves for the shop, but these are definitely ours.

My last three packages from the Sweat Shoppe Swap have arrived, and I love everything! Swapping has been so much fun, and I'm looking forward to doing it again. First, just in time for Halloween, Roxanne sent me this gorgeous beaded black widow pendant:
Hmm, that picture is kinda Myspacey, no? Oh well. Next came a Boo Boo Bunny from Cara, which Autumn fell madly in love with. She pretends she has boo boos all the time now so she can use it.
And last but not least, PJ pants from Kate, which fit Autumn perfectly and look adorable on her. Ignore Adam's messy office in the background.
All of my swap partners did a fabulous job and I am so grateful for the amazing work they did for me and my kiddo. Thanks everyone!

Friday, November 2, 2007


Yesterday we made an altar for Dia de los Muertos. I framed some of my favorite photos of Grandpa and surrounded them with candles, tools, and wooden fish. I made a banner out of scrapbooking paper and ribbon, and we didn't have any fresh marigolds so I made a bunch from felt and pipecleaners.Autumn made the one with the pink stem. She also added a plastic Ninja Turtle and Grandpa's stuffed fish, Reef, who was given to him while he was in the hospital and passed on to Autumn after he died.For those of you not familiar with it, Dia de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead) is a holiday to honor the dead. The tradition is that once a year the spirits of the dead come to visit their living loved ones, and families create altars with candles and fragrant flowers (since our flowers weren't so fragrant I lit a scented candle) to guide them home and include photographs and a few of their favorite things to make them feel welcome. They eat their favorite foods, play their favorite music, tell stories about them, and just spend the day remembering. It's not a time for mourning or feeling sad. It's a happy holiday for celebrating life and being grateful for the time we spent together. We aren't Mexican, but you don't have to be to celebrate this beautiful occasion. I think it's a wonderful tradition to start with your family if you've lost a loved one, and it's especially good for children as it helps them understand and cope with death. You can research the holiday more with the link I provided above, but I think we should all feel free to celebrate it in our own way, whether that's super traditional or not so traditional.

We also lit candles for Adam's grandfather, who died when he was 12. Both of them are missed and loved, and today we celebrate their lives.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Trick or Treat! (prepare for picture overload)

Well as you can see, the costume was finished on time. She wore it to her school's Halloween party and brought home a bag full of candy before we even started trick-or-treating. Sadly since October has been an unusually stressful and busy month for me I didn't have the time or energy to make a costume for myself this year. But I still managed to be festive in my Halloween t-shirt, poofy handmade skirt and stripey tights. Oh how I love my stripey tights.
After school we took our pumpkins into the basement for carving. I don't know how, but Autumn managed to pick the thickest, hardest-skinned pumpkin in the entire pumpkin patch. This thing was a real brute. My arm was aching after spending 10 MINUTES cutting the top off, and after I cleaned it out I passed the carving duty onto Adam because I didn't think my hand could take it anymore. Autumn drew not one, not two or even three, but four faces on her pumpkin for him to carve out, and he did a great job on it.I, however, decided to paint my pumpkin after seeing how tough Autumn's was. Carving isn't really where my talent lies anyhow. Autumn painted a little one for Rosie, her favorite teddy bear, who also dressed up for the occasion.
That evening we went out with Adam's sister and her four children as well as his mom, who wore a fantastic witch costume. When I walked downstairs and saw her standing in the hallway I didn't recognize her at first and she scared the crap out of me!We went to maybe 15 houses or so. It was Autumn's first time trick-or-treating in a residential neighborhood. She had a blast with all the other kids, running from house to house in their colorful costumes. Luckily the weather was nice enough that we didn't freeze to death, so a good time was had by all.After a pizza dinner at a neighbor's house we headed home and Autumn set out most of her candy for the Halloween Fairy, who came in the night and left her a little purse with a kitty-shaped pocket in the candy's place.Despite not being able to do everything I had originally planned on, Halloween was great fun for us this year.