Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy New Year!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. We're easing back into real life over here after a very relaxing week of sleeping in (thank you kids!) and eating out. I've declared this week "scrap booking week" and hope to end up only ONE year behind on cataloging our pictures. *sigh* I'll be back to my beloved sewing machine next week and have lots of fun ideas I plan on finally turning into actual things. Enjoy your week!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Jazz up your stocking...



(Again, I took these pictures at night, when most of my sewing happens, so the lighting is weird.) I'm super happy with how this turned out and had so much fun making it since I know the little girl it's for. Enjoy, Baby Elle!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Books We Love

My boys love all books, but these are some of the ones we are reading a lot lately. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle is the perfect combination of vehicles, animals, and their respective noises. It was a lucky library find and I'm hoping Titus gets it for Christmas this year so we can keep it...
This book was a birthday present for Moses (thanks Liz!) and it is WONDERFUL! It has a few pages depicting the real story of Christmas, taken from Matthew and Luke, and then several more pages of punch-out paper dolls of a manger scene (camels and chickens included). Very sturdy and easy to punch out, and the inside cover of the book is illustrated to look like the inside of a barn, complete with pockets to put the dolls in when you are finished. Genius! Moses and I set it up the other day and after we were finished he played with it for over half an hour by himself while singing "Old MacDonald." It is by H.A. Rey, of Curious George fame.

And no post on children's books would be complete without reference to a Carl book, so here is the one we are currently reading. It's my favorite of the Carl books - no words, but the pictures are beautiful and both my boys adore them. There are lots of Carl books, all by Alexandra Day. All of these books are available on Amazon and probably at any local bookstore, in case you are doing some last-minute Christmas shopping. :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Birthday Party

Last Saturday we had Moses' 4 year old birthday party and it was a big success. The night before Brett and I made 24 "gingerbread houses" (graham crackers, really) after the kids went to bed. I had been dreading it, but it turned into a really fun silly activity, especially since we hadn't bought enough crackers and were trying to build structures while conserving every last broken shred of building material. Mine almost looked like houses, while all of Brett's looked like bunkers. (Don't mind the mess in the background, my shoddy attempt at Christmas decorating, or the pants hanging on the chair to dry...)

Moses came up with the idea to use the candy from the piƱata to decorate the houses. I have to admit that I pictured a huge disaster of sugar-crazed children, candy wrappers, and frosting exploding all over the dining room, and tried to refuse, but Brett came to Moses' rescue and the two of them convinced me to let it happen. I'm glad I did - the children LOVED it and they all spent a long time decorating, even the younger ones.

The houses looked so cute and festive! It was a fun, simple party, and a great way to begin the last week before Christmas.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Minis in the Shop:

LinkI snatched a few shreds of real sunlight the other day to photograph a few mini quilts for the shop. They can be found here - this is the girly-est one of the bunch. :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Toy Exchange

Here's a fun, earth-friendly, easy-on-the-budget, wonderful thing to do with your friends: have a toy exchange! I recently did this with the other moms in my Bible study and it was awesome! We each brought a few toys in good condition that our kids don't play with any more. Of course, as soon you decide upon the perfect toy that your kids won't miss, they will fall in love with it again, so the best strategy is to squirrel the unloved toys away after kids are in bed. We compiled all the toys, drew numbers, and took turns picking out "new" ones. I suppose you could do this White Elephant style, too, which would make things a bit more exciting. Having the kids there would make things more exciting too, but probably in a different way. We opted to do it sans kids. I'm wrapping up our "new" toys and putting them under the tree for Titus and don't feel a bit guilty about it - he doesn't care that they were free!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Morning Muffins

My mom made these awesome little muffins every Christmas morning for as long as I can remember - it was the only time she made them and they were always all gone by the time the last present was opened.

This year I made them as the birthday snack Moses took to preschool (yes, he is almost four!) and as one of the goodies for a friend's baby shower I hosted. Definitely a big hit with 3 year olds as well as 30 year olds. Give them a try:

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil

white sugar

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line mini muffin pans (seriously, you have to use the minis - big ones just wouldn't be the same) with paper bake cups.

2. ) Combine dry ingredients and mix well. In a separate bowl beat the egg and add the remaining ingredients, mix till smooth.

3.) Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix just till moistened. This is the critical step - if you over-mix your muffins will be chewy!

4.) Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans and bake about 8 minutes or till golden. (Makes about 36 mini muffins.)

5.) When muffins have cooled, dip the top of each one into melted butter then into a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. They taste best if eaten right away but definitely keep for a few days if you can keep your hands off them long enough! Yum!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fingerless Gloves

These guys were a LONG time in coming. I started them last year when I was on bed rest, completed one, and put the yarn and needles away. Moses has been asking me to finish them ever since, and last weekend I FINALLY made the other one. I'm pretty happy with how they came out, but the thumb gusset is a tad sloppy. I just switched from double-pointed needles to straight needles, knit a few rows flat, then rejoined it in the round. It is already getting stretched out and ugly looking. Oh well, I figure it's not too bad for my first try without a pattern.
I'm working on another pair of adult-sized gloves as a Christmas gift and am hoping to get a few thumb-gusset ideas from this awesome pattern. It's wonderful to be knitting again, though I'm also getting antsy to sit at the sewing machine. Not enough time to make stuff!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Belated Pumpkin News

A few months ago we harvested our three hard-earned pumpkins. Boy, was that a great feeling! I seriously think I would have loved living in the pioneer days (except for the bathing once per week and no electricity... ). I would have loved living off the land and having to make or grow everything used to sustain the family. Moses had a great time sawing through the pumpkin stalk (is that what it's called?) with a real knife and carrying it inside to show daddy.

I hacked those guys in half, saved some of the seeds for next year (I'm really excited to see if they actually grow!), roasted them in the oven and turned them into pumpkin puree. Let me tell you, three smallish sized pumpkins turn out A LOT of pumpkin puree! We've been enjoying the pumpkin goodies for months. (P.S. Try these.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Handmade Ornaments

My mom was obsessed with Christmas ornaments. Every year when we were little we would go on a special family shopping trip dedicated to each choosing our own special ornament. We would also receive an ornament as a gift each Christmas Eve. My mom put lots of time and energy into choosing ornaments that reflected each child's unique personalities and enjoyments. You can imagine what our Christmas tree looked like - every year it held 12 more ornaments than the year before, a mish-mash of ballerinas, birds, cars, balls, rabbits, dogs, musical instruments, comic book characters...

She also had us make ornaments every year, and was herself constantly working on some little ornament which she usually gave away. Happily, she kept a few of them and I was able to steal one for myself when I got married and moved, along with my huge box of ornaments, to our own place. Here it is - a little bit dirty unfortunately, but the perfect reflection of her love of needlepoint and lace:

So cute, and I love that it isn't the typical Christmas colors.

My Grandma also loved making ornaments and would make huge batches of them for all us grand children. I have such fond memories of driving to her house in Napa during the holidays, walking inside and seeing the entire kitchen table set with undecorated sugar cookies in all shapes and sizes, along with dish after dish of fancy candy and sprinkles to decorate them with. Off to the side would be our ornaments, adding even more cheer to the already festive table.

This heart that she made me has the letter "H" hand-stitched on the back. I love that - to know that she made this one specifically for me makes it even more special.

I think this angel is my favorite ornament that my Grandma made. I love her simple little face and calico dress. Perfect.

This year I tried my hand at making a few ornaments, and have put them up last-minute in the shop. I'm really happy with how the little trees came out. I know I'm trying to sell them a bit late, but I don't mind if some are left over for me. :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Snow Day!

This is what I woke up to this morning, and this is NOT a normal sight here in the Silicon Valley, even though we do live in the hills. Snow was falling and everything was covered in inches of snow. Beautiful! For the first time in my life I woke my kids up (rather than the other way around!) so they could see it while it was still falling.

Of course, the day's plans were immediately canceled, friends were called, and it was declared a snow day. We spent the entire morning alternately playing outside and sitting inside defrosting, drinking hot chocolate and eating coffee cake. Brett took a huge ice-chest full of snow down to Moses' preschool so the kids could play with it (I know, awesome, right?) and even skipped out on work to drag Moses and his buddy Keefe around the entire 3 acre property on a make-shift sled.

The roses that decided to bloom last week were a bit confused by the whole thing. Poor pretty things.
The boys were thrilled, Moses especially, who will tell you that his favorite time of the year is winter because we "go to the snow." He could hardly believe that the snow had come to us! I'm afraid I didn't even get many great pictures because I was too busy enjoying it all. I know I'll remember it all forever, though, and that's what really matters.